Monday, March 23, 2015

Make a Mini Beaver - a Refashion & Free Pattern

Did you know that April 7th is National Beaver Day?  If you didn't know, don't worry. That just means you've got plenty of time to create this little mini beaver to help you and your child celebrate this day in style. I'm an Oregonian, so my beaver roots run deep! 

After creating this little guy, I found a tin for him to sleep in.  Then I made a mini woodland pillow and blanket. I also made him a pine tree to take to bed with him just in case he gets hungry in the middle of the night.  I just love little stuffed creatures that have their own storage containers, don't you?

I started this project with a wool sweater that was accidentally put into the laundry and not caught until it came out of the drier. Sadly, this sweater shrunk way too much to ever fit a normal sized adult! Occasionally, my sweet husband does the laundry which I dearly appreciate.  Needless to say, we've had a few discussions about reading tags on questionable clothing like sweaters. Back to this project, a shrunken wool sweater is perfect for making a beaver!

Supplies needed to create a stuffed mini beaver friend:
  • felted wool (or one shrunken wool sweater)
  • 2 small black beads for eyes
  • black embroidery thread
  • fiber fill
  • thread that matches your felted wool
  • 1" x 1" scrap of light brown felt for the face
  • a tiny piece of white felt for the teeth
  • dark brown and black Sharpie markers
You can download this free pattern HERE and create your own mini beaver too. BEAVER WARNING, you've got until April 7th to download this pattern for free. Make sure your "fit to page" is not checked when you print this pattern.  Once finished, this beaver measures 3 1/4" tall and is 2 1/2" wide. 

If you download this pattern, I expect as payment a comment telling me how you found this post. I'm always curious what leads people to my blog. Now, that's not too much to ask, is it?  Thanks for amusing me! 
  • Cut out the pattern. I like to trace my small patterns onto mylar or heavy plastic with a permanent marker so that the pattern pieces are easier to cut.  When you cut out the body, leave one of the ears cut out exactly like the pattern and the other, leave the ears uncut.
  • Layer the 2 tail pieces on top of each other and add stitch lines using a sewing machine. Use the edge of the foot to keep your lines evenly spaced.
  • Sew around the tails edge with a finishing stitch.
  • Sew the snout and legs together. Turn those pieces right side out.
  • To the snout, pin on the accent face piece tucking the teeth between the accent piece and the snout. Hand stitch this piece in place.
  • Hand embroider the nose and face lines using black embroidery thread.  Set this piece aside. You'll sew it in place after you sew the body together.
  • Using a sewing machine, sew the tail onto the bottom, center of one of the body pieces.
  • Using a sewing machine, sew on the legs to the bottom, center of the other body.
  • Using a sewing machine, sew the front of the body and the back of the body right sides facing together. You will not be able to sew completely around the whole body.  I left the body open between the ears.
  • Turn the body right side out and stuff the body and the legs.
  • Sew by hand the bottom of the feet to the beaver's legs.
  • Hand sew the snout onto the beaver's face.
  • Sew on the whiskers by knotting the embroidery floss and sewing from the inside of the beaver to the front side. Knot the thread twice by going through a little fabric and the threads. Cut the whiskers at about 5/8". You'll want 3 whiskers on each side of the beaver's face.
  • Hand sew the eyes using at least four strands of black embroidery floss.  Tie off the threads on the wrong side of the project.
  • Pin the ears together and now you'll trim your ears so they are the exact same size. Hand sew the opening between the ears closed.  I used a blanket stitch.

  • With Sharpie markers, add a little brown ink to the ear area and accent the bottom of the ear with a touch of black marker. 

  • Also with Sharpie markers, add marker lines to form the beaver's webbed feet. 
So more about why I created this little guy. Like I said above, I grew up in Oregon and that was our state animal.  It's also New York's state animal and Canada's national animal... Any other Oregonians, New Yorkers or Canadians reading this post? Whatever the reason, I hope you enjoy making a mini beaver or even a colony of mini beavers!  xoxo Grandma

Linked to: Sew Mama Sew, 6 Weeks of SoftiesThe Dedicated HouseThreading My Way, Nap Time Creations

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Knotty Red Smocked Sundress

So glad for sunshine and cute children! This darling little lady is modeling my latest creation... a knotty red smocked sundress. 

To create this dress, I started with a free pattern from Me Sew Crazy. This free pattern is March's Project Run and Play challenge.  

The goal was to sew the pattern as designed or to remix it.  I chose to remix the pattern, starting with machine smocking on the front bodice. I used the ties from the original pattern but rounded their ends, cut them out of dotted Swiss on one side and a light white gauze  on the other side. The final touch was adding black and white trim between the seams. This trim was also sewn on the top of the pockets and as a finishing touch to the hem.  I also added two rounded pockets to the front of the dress.  

A kind neighbor let me borrow her darling daughter to model this sundress and snap a few photos. Thank goodness for kind neighbors who help me with my projects! This sweet girl is about the size of one of my granddaughter.  She's a little shy, so I had to do some bribing with her favorite treat... plain milk chocolate (don't worry, it was mother approved).

Good thing for cute pockets to hold the candy while this sweet girl got her photo taken.  

I had what I thought was a great idea for the back of the dress but after I took the photos, and looked at them, the knot on the back looked goofy.  Which was confirmed by one of my daughters not my nice neighbor.  So I unpicked that knot and removed it from the dress and now I like it.  As I was doing this, my memory whisper the Bauhaus philosophy, "less is more".

I like the crisp red, black and white color combination and the adjustable straps on this sundress.  It supposed to be a high of 70 degrees today.  I love when the weather gets warm because then it's sundress time.

In June, my granddaughter will be visiting for a whole month - triple YEA!   Her family will be moving this summer a lot closer to her grandparents, putting their family within a full day's drive from us. I'll save this dress to give to her when she arrives at Grandma's house. Even though this sundress isn't her favorite color (pink, of course), I'm hoping she'll like wearing it anyway.  xoxo Grandma

Monday, March 16, 2015

My Blog Won an Award!

I'm pleased to announce that my little blog has been awarded the Liebster Award!  The WHAT award, you may be asking?  Well, the idea behind this award is to recognize and promote new bloggers.  So, a gigantic thank you to Beth Cavanaugh behind the Beth Being Crafty blog for nominating my blog for this award.  

I've seen this award around the internet and am honored that a fellow seamstress and Oregonian would like my blog enough to nominate me. This award aims to promote smaller blogs, who have less than 200 followers. If just 18 more people would sign-up as my followers, this blog of mine wouldn't be considered small, hint, hint.  So, please sign-up to follow this little blog of mine, if you haven't already done so.  If you're one of those who have signed up...thank you, thank you, thank you for your support!

Now, if you are new to my blog, here are just a few things to get to know me better with a little Q & A... 

1.  Do you have a favorite thing to sew? 
You bet! I love sewing costumes, I always have. Some of my favorite costumes were created this past year for several of my grandchildren:



2.  What got you into sewing, and what keeps you going with it?  

Growing-up, my mother always had a room full of fabric, a huge metal tin filled with old buttons and almost any sewing supply needed for creating projects.  My sisters and I were allowed to dig into my mother's stash. She taught us to hand sew doll clothes, embroider pillowcases and create, create, create. One of my earliest memories was "getting" to thread the needles for my Mother and Grandma Mills when they were quilting in the middle of our living room.  "Our eyes were better," we were told and so we got to help by keeping a good supply of threaded needles ready for them. 

I sewed as a young mother but quit when my children complained that they didn't like what I was making.  Ugh, kids, right?!  Fast forward 30+ years when I found out I was going to be a grandmother and I started creating baby quilts.  Once those grandchildren arrived, I began making burp clothes, blessing outfits, toys and every day outfits. The smiles on my grandchildren's faces when I bring them my sewn gifts keeps me sewing.

3.  Who do you sew for the most?  

See those cute kids up there? They are who I sew the most for... my grandchildren of course! I still need to make something (besides burp pads and a car seat cover) for my ninth grandchild who joined our family a few weeks ago. Yes, that photo on the bottom right is me holding that precious new grandson. I love being a grandmother. Making gifts for them helps me feel connected to them.

4.  What project has been your biggest splurge?  

My biggest splurge on a project was when I took this coral dyeing class in Okinawa. The class was reasonably priced, but the airfare to get me there was crazy expensive. But it was so worth the time I got to spend with my youngest daughter and her family.

5.  As a blogger/seamstress what is something that you struggle with? 

I struggle with not having my grandchildren closer to give me their stamp of approval when I'm creating projects.  I also struggle with writing blog posts, especially when I'm out of town visiting my family who live so far away. 

6.  What was the first thing you remember sewing?  

The first things I remember sewing were doll clothes for my Barbies.  I'm still sewing doll clothes.  In fact, my doll clothes creations are some of the most popular items I share on my blog.  Have you read "30 Things to Make for an American Girl Doll"? That'll keep you busy for a while! 

7.  What is your guilty pleasure?  

My 2014 guilty pleasure was to purchase a new sewing machine, a Baby Lock called Elizabeth.  It sews beautifully!

8.  How did your blog get its name?  

My blog got it's name because I sign everything I send to my grandchildren "xoxo Grandma". 

9.  Is sewing a hobby for you, or something more?  

Sewing is absolutely a hobby for me.  I did sell a few doll outfits and a few vintage patterns on my Etsy account last year (at the encouragement of my children).  After blogging for almost two years, my blog actually made some money in 2014 but it's just such a little amount that it really makes me laugh when I consider the time I've invested in this adventure.  

10.  What is the best book you read in the last year?  

I read a lot! In January, I posted this:

My favorite book I read preparing for that post was The Seamstress: a Memoir of Survival, by Sara Tuvel Bernstein. Last year, I also read two other excellent books: The Rent Collector and Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project.  I try to keep track of all the books I read on Goodreads. If you like to read too, please send me a "friend" request HERE. I'd love to share with you.

11. Where are you originally from and how did you get where you are now?  

I grew up in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon.  In the summers, my family would spend most of our time in Joseph, Oregon, where my father owned a ranch. After high school, I attended college at Brigham Young University in Utah where I got a degree in interior design.  My junior year of college, I met my husband, a Bay Area native.  After graduation, we moved to the Bay Area.  When I was pregnant with my youngest daughter, we moved to the Salt Lake City, Utah area for my husband's job. We've been here ever since.   

Enough about me, here are my nominations for the Liebster Award:

Zuzana is the creative woman behind Like a Feather.  She makes fun, European style things for her daughter and herself.  She lives in Belgium. Don't worry if you can't read French, the blog is translated into English.

The Tea Cup Incident Sharon Rohloff is an artist living in Boulder, Colorado.  She keeps a visual journal of her softie making, crafts, recipes and photo excursions.  She's a fantastic fabric artist.  I recently discovered her blog from Sew Mama Sew when she entered a softie in their contest.

An amazing seamstress, photographer and crafty person is Kimberly aka Kimmie Sew Crazy from Mankato, Minnesota.  Not only does Kimberly create amazing projects that she blogs about but she also sells unique items on Etsy.

Cherie Davidson is quite the fabric artist. She's recently gotten into creating unique creatures using needle felting and they are pretty incredible!  You can find her blogging at Darling Girl Creations

Art Bella Creates is a brand new blog and so far, she's sewing up amazing things!

The rules of the game:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and put a link to her/his blog in your post
2. Answer the 11 questions you received from the one who nominated you.
3. Nominate several other bloggers with less than 200 followers (this is not an exact science, just focus on blogs that could benefit from this extra promotion).
4. Create 11 interesting questions for your nominees to answer.  Please answer the same questions I answered.
5. Do not nominate back the blog that nominated you.

Hugs to all of you who read this whole post! And thank you again for your support xoxo Grandma

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bonny Bunny - a Softie

This 10 inch stuffed bunny was started over a year ago and has accompanied me (unfinished) on several trips to visit my grandchildren.  When I get bored on long flights, I'll read and often entertain myself by sewing.  This bunny came as a sewing kit called My Little Tagalong, named Bonny Bunny and was designed by Lois Thompson.  Little by little I've been embroidering all the details. I was motivated to finish it a couple weeks ago when I read about "Softie Week" at Sew Mama Sew.  Imagine my delight when I finally finished all the needlework!  On Friday night, I sewed the backing onto this bunny and stuffed it.  With the finishing touches, I incorporated the 10 Tips for Stuffing + Finishing Softies found in THIS post.   

I changed a few things from the original kit, like adding lace into the bottom of the shirt and on the cuffs, instead of sewing satin stitching. 

The kit came with a floral print to use to finish the back of the bunny. I decided that print would look goofy and used white fleece instead, which made this a real softie for a child to snuggle. To keep the back side of the bunny interesting, I hand-stitched a little pom-pom tail.

My last alteration was to add two small mother of pearl buttons to the bunny's shoes. 

On a side note, the directions that came with this kit were HORRIBLE!  Good thing I know how to sew. It certainly made traveling more interesting. 

Do you take sewing projects with you on trips? Would love to see them! xoxo Grandma

Linked to Crafty Allie, Nap Time Creations, Threading My Way

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Miniature Clothes for a Little Doll - Free Patterns

Right before I left town to help with the birth of a new grandchild, I provided you with a free pattern to make these miniature dolls HERE. Today, I'm going to show you how to make two super easy outfits for these dolls. Yes... I said super easy. I promise. 

Here's how to make the mini tutu dress (as shown above in the left photo):

  • Sew together the decorative elastic to form a circle.
  • Fold the netting in half, length wise.
  • Tuck each piece of the netting into one of the bottom holes.
  • Thread the netting through the hole.
  • Pull tight.

Told ya it was easy, right? Try this tutu dress on your miniature doll and tie the shoulder straps into a small bow.

Now, let's make the mini sundress for this doll.  First you'll need to download THIS free pattern.

Supplies needed:
  • fabric at least 12" x 4"
  • bias tape
  • about 4" of 1/4" elastic
  • lace - optional
  • thread
  • 20" of ribbon, no larger than 1/4" wide, cut into 5" pieces
1.  Cut out the pattern. 

Optional: If you want to add some lace to your sundress, sew lace at 3/4" below the raw edge to one side, between the armholes. 

2.  Sew the seam together to make your dress into a circle of fabric. 

8.  Sew the ribbon onto the edges of the armholes.

That's all there is to it.  Your sundress is ready to try onto your doll.  I hope you have a little one who will enjoy this doll and her new clothes.  xoxo Grandma


Monday, February 23, 2015

Fabric Doll House & a Free Pattern to Make a Mini Doll

I've found the perfect project to use up all your little scraps of fabric, random buttons, lace and tiny seed beads!  Make a doll house and with all your random leftovers, create dolls and a wardrobe for those dolls. I feel like that book The Hundred Dresses, only instead of drawings, I've created about 60 articles of clothing so far. I decided to make four of these doll houses. One for each of my children's families. It reminds me of the time I made quiet books which were a lot of work but a lot of fun! Below are examples of some of those outfits and the adorableness of this fabric doll house and the mini doll I created along with the dolls created from the original pattern.

For this fabric doll house and my first group of dolls, I started with this 1973 McCall pattern:

This pattern is available HERE
I liked the portable house idea but I didn't like the handles on the side of the house so, I moved them to the roof of the house.  In the pattern, the clothes looked dated and the dolls hairstyles were so time consuming that after making two dolls, I figured out how to do the doll's hair another, quicker way (see below). Here's a view of the portable house's exterior:

Here's a few view of the interior of this fabric doll house:

Don't you just love how the bed was designed so that a doll can be tucked into it?  And that wardrobe on the other side of the bed, is just so great!  The wardrobe Velcros shut and holds all the doll's clothes which is one of the brilliant ideas of this fabric doll house. 

Notice the doll in the middle, this is the one I redesigned. I'm calling her the Livy doll.  On the original doll, the neck is just so chunky and her head seemed out of proportion to her body. I made four of the original dolls like the pattern directed and then I rebelled and redesigned this doll and I'm glad I did.

HERE is the pattern you'll need to make your own mini Livy doll. This doll has a smaller head and neck. I also added underwear to my pattern because a doll's bum shouldn't be exposed, right? At the last minute, I decided that the shoe pattern that came with the original pattern was ridiculously small and most children would just loose those shoes if I was crazy enough to make them. So, I created tiny shoes that are sewn right onto the doll and the best part is the child can't take them off. 

Make sure to print this pattern at the full image meaning the "fit to page" is not checked when printing this. Got it?  Print the pattern off & cut out the pattern from whatever ethnic color fabric you want your doll to be. Then, follow the directions below:

Are you ready to make a few dolls like this? HERE are the two free patterns and tutorials on how to make the mini tutu dress and the black and white sundress that are pictured in the tutorial above.  Have fun sewing this project with your scraps!  xoxo Grandma

I've linked this to Sew Mama Sew Softies Contest.  One doll house was completed to create this post & the other three sewn after Feb. 23rd.

You also might like these softie patterns: 

Linked to: Threading My Way, Nap Time Creations