Saturday, 27 February 2016

Mr Potato Head Bag

One other thing I made for Toddler I's birthday was a Mr Potato Head bag. 

She already had one Mr Potato Head for Christmas, but I bought her some more accessories for her birthday, as she seems to like playing with him.

However, I felt a bit guilty, as I could see so many little bits kicking around causing a real nuisance to her Mummy and Daddy. Toddler I is pretty good at putting things away provided there is somewhere to put them. So the obvious answer was a bag to put all the bits in.

I found a nice canvas bag that I thought was quite potato coloured. That made life easier. I drew a potato on the bag and used a tight zig-zag on my sewing machine to go round the outline of his face. All the other bits - hat, ears, hands, feet, mouth, nose, moustache and eyes - were cut out of felt and appliquéd on again using a tight zigzag. (I used a small blob of fabric glue to hold the pieces in place before sewing.) I tried as far as possible to use a matching sewing thread to the colour of the felts. I would have preferred to make his trousers/feet in bright blue but didn't have any bright blue felt to hand, so the best I could do by the way of contrast was orange. I didn't have any templates for the felt but made my own, it wasn't too difficult. 

I made the eyes by cutting out black circles with a pie slice taken out, attached to a larger white circle. I added some additional stitching in red across the mouth. And I attempted to give the idea of separate fingers by stitching extra white curving lines between them. Those lines don't really show up on the photo.

Anyway, he seems to have been successful, and here he is ready for action amongst some of Toddler I's other toys.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Another Birthday Outfit

Having made a birthday outfit (no, NOT a birthday suit!) for Baby a's first birthday, I thought I would also like to make an outfit for Toddler I's second birthday. 

I still had some more of the lovely reindeer fleece material and the denim left, and this time I thought I'd make a dress, and a waistcoat. (Eventually I added a hat.)

Both of these owe a lot to the Small Dream Factory patterns. These patterns and templates are free, so a huge thank you to Small Dream Factory for this. (But the patterns should not be used for commercial purposes. I only use them to make things for my grand-children!) To find out more, read on.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Easter Finger Puppets

I promised that I would write more posts on finger puppets, having described how to make templates here.

It's a little while till Easter, but my time seems to vanish when I'm not looking, so I thought I'd better make a start. So far, we've got an Easter bunny, a chick, and a lamb.

The bunny was based on my template #1. In addition to the body template, I made templates for ears and inner ears, a muzzle, and paws. 

The inners to the ears were attached first with a tiny blob of fabric glue to hold them in place, then over-stitched by hand for security. Likewise, the paws and muzzle were glued to the front of the body. Then the paws were oversewn; and the whiskers, made of a single strand of ordinary charcoal grey sewing thread, act as over-stitching for the muzzle. The eyes are French knots made with two strands of black embroidery thread. The nose is a little pink bead. I could probably have used another French knot, but I had the bead, and I shan't let the baby chew the puppet, so why not? The ears were lightly tacked to the back of (the front layer of) the head. Preparation done, I machine zigzagged the bottom hems of each piece (front and back) of the body. Finally, I machine zigzagged all around the body (leaving the bottom open of course!) but trapping the ears between the layers.

The chick is made from the more rounded shape template, #2, with two slightly squashed circles added on separately for the head (i.e. back and front). I'll reflect on how wise this was later!

Preparation: after cutting out the pieces, I made all the embellishments (largely impossible to do once the main pieces are attached together.) His beak was a very small square of orange felt folded on the diagonal and attached to the face piece. His eyes were again French knots made with two strands of black embroidery thread. I also made him some feet on the body, with a tiny chain stitch of one strand of orange sewing thread. He had two little wings which were tacked to the inside of the front body piece. Finally, I zigzagged the bottom hems of the front and back pieces. This isn't essential, using felt, but I think it gives nicer finish.

I mentioned that he has a head separately made from his body. It would probably have been more intelligent to make a template for an all in one body and head (using a combination of templates #2 and #3). But somehow, I'd already cut the body and head out before I thought how much easier life would be if I didn't have to join the two together. I have seen finger puppets where a separate head is attached just to the front of the body piece (so the finger only goes up to the top of the body). I did use this approach for the lamb, see below. However I wanted the finger to go inside the head as well, so I had made the head with a front and a back. Because I'd made it  the head and body separately, I had to join the back and front of the head to the back and front pieces of the body, before I joined the body pieces together. I just had to be careful that I matched them  so that the overall shapes of back and front were exactly the same.
I did this by loosely tacking the inside seamlines first. Then I zigzagged round the bottom of the chick's face where it overlapped the body. (This gives him a chin.) Finally, I put the back and fronts of the whole thing together and zigzagged all the way round, trapping the wings between the two layers.

With hindsight, I could have drawn the head and the body all in one, and still given him a chin by zigzagging a curve between the two sides of the 'neck'. Still, you live and learn. I'll use a hybrid template next time.

The lamb was the third one of the three to be made. Again, I used my first template, #1. I cut out the body with my zigzag scissors to give an idea of lambswool. This time, I did want a separate head, but having learned from my trials with the chick, I made a single layer head, which was just attached to the front of the body. If you look at photos of real lambs, they are much cuter than all the cartoonish ones! Real lambs have disproportionately large ears, and otherwise small features, and often have a black muzzle. So I drew the face based on a photo of a real lamb.

I made each ear in two pieces, a pink or flesh coloured inner, and an ivory coloured outside. The outside of each ear was made with a part that would fold down over the inner part. I glued the inner inside and just stitched it down just at the end that would join the face.

They were attached to the back of the head piece, as was the fluffy 'hair-do'. This is a piece of the same ivory felt, cut as a semi-circle, and then cut with the zig zag scissors. The eyes are formed of white satin stitch followed by small black French knots, and the mouth . nose / nostrils are made of black stem stitch and two smaller French knots. 

The front legs were attached by blobs of glue and light hand over-sewing. Attaching the black hooves made a bit of a mess of the ivory felt (the black fibres got all over the ivory and needed a bit of cleaning up).

I attached the head using a machine zigzag round the 'chin' from ear to ear. This meant that the head was slightly free from the body at the top between the ear tops. So when I came to zigzag the front and back together, I could get behind the head with the machine. In other words, the top of the head is a little bit higher than the top of the body part.

So we are good to go for some Easter fun!

And Toddler I loves them. Chick is the favourite.

Finger Puppets

I've been trawling the internet for patterns or templates for felt animal finger puppets, but hadn't really found what I wanted. So I decided I'd make my own, and share them. It will take me a while to add all the finished finger puppets, so I'll blog about them a few at a time as they are made. Here are the first few, made for Easter:

A requirement for me is that the finished finger puppet should be recognisable as what it is supposed to be! I hope the ones above can be recognised as an Easter bunny, a chick, and a lamb. Here is my current wish list of some of the animals I'd like to make. I may add others if these go well.

Bear, Bee, Bird, Butterfly, Cat, Chick, Cow, Crocodile, Dog, Duck, Elephant, Frog, Giraffe, Hen, Hippo, Kangaroo, Ladybird, Lamb,  Lion, Monkey, Mouse, Octopus, Owl, Peacock, Penguin,  Pig, Polar Bear, Rabbit, Reindeer, Baby Seal, Tiger, Whale.

I chose animals my grand-daughters would be familiar with, either through personal experience, or through their favourite story books and toys.

I've got three main template shapes, plus some special templates. To find out more about the templates, and making finger puppets in general, read on.