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Archive for 'Toys'

Big Soft Spheres by Susan Wasinger

Perfect for your budding superstar, these soft and squishy playthings are lovely to kick and roll and throw and catch and even just hug.

This tutorial is an exerpt from Susan Wasinger’s beautiful book:  Sewn by Hand.

Here is the tutorial:

Materials

scraps or fat quarters of light-weight
cotton prints (each ball requires
6 different prints)
heavy-duty thread
fabric scraps for stuffing
eco-friendly fill (see note under Fabrics)
bell or rattle (optional)

Tools

standard sewing basket
paper for template
washing machine/dryer
stiff brush (optional)

Fabrics

For the spheres: Since this will be used by a child, organic fabrics would be an excellent choice here. You really only need a few inches of each print, so raid your stash for suitable scraps.

For the stuffing: This is a great project to try eco-friendly fillings like those made of organic cotton, kapok, and bamboo.

Spheres in two sizes, 6 inches or 8 inches in diameter

Notes
Since these soft toys will be getting a lot of love and squeezing and maybe even a nibble or two, the stitching must be nice and tight to keep the stuffing safely on the inside. Use a small backstitch that has virtually no gaps to make it secure. For even more security, do a double row.

Portability factor: { pretty high }
Small pieces, very few notions, sew them anywhere, but leave the stuffing for home.

Prewash all the fabric for this project–very important! Cut out six of the pattern templates in the size you choose (click the image below to open an enlarged size and print the template for use).

 

The balls are most fun if each section of is a different fabric, so raid your deep stash! Try to position the template at a 45° angle to the grain of your fabric; this will give the best fray. Save all the cuttings and scraps (more on that later).

Wet each cut piece and rub it vigorously between the palms of your hands to rough up the edges as much as possible. Repeat the process until you see the edges start to fray. Once you have roughed up the edges on all the pieces, throw them in the dryer with something rough (like towels or jeans). This will help the edges really “bloom,” creating the soft, fuzzy fray that makes these balls so lovable. Continue the entire fraying process until you are happy with the amount of fray. You can see why it was so important to pre-wash your pieces–otherwise they might all have shrunk to different sizes through all this wetting and drying. Lightly iron your sections so they lay flat, but not so much that you squash the fuzzy edge.

Lay out your sections in a pleasing sequence, alternating dark and light, tone or pattern until you are happy with the effect. Remember that the pieces at the far left and far right will ultimately be adjacent to one another when the sphere is complete.

Lay the first two sections on top of the other with wrong sides facing. Pin then sew along one edge from point to point about ¼ inch or less from the edge, using a backstitch and heavyweight thread. Start and stop about ¼ inch from each point to leave room for the point of the adjacent piece. Knot your thread at the end of the stitching, but no need to cut it as you can use this same thread when sewing on the next piece.

Pin on the next piece to this first group, lining up the points, wrong sides together. Sew as before. Continue until you have attached all six pieces. Leave open the last seam for stuffing.

To give the ball a little more heft than just plain stuffing can provide, bundle some of the fabric scraps and maybe a jingle ball in a small square of scrap cotton.

Squeeze it together into a small ball, then tie off the top with a few stitches and a knotted thread. Wrap stuffing (I used bamboo fiber stuffing) around this bundle and stuff it inside your fabric sphere. Keep adding stuffing until the ball is round and firm. Make sure to work stuffing all around your bundle to keep it in the center of the ball. It is hard to over-stuff these spheres.

Pull the final two edges together and pin. You will need to compress the stuffing a bit to finish this seam, but it will spring back nicely. { photo 4 } Sew the final seam closed. Knot and bury the thread deep inside the ball. If necessary, you can tidy up the apexes of your sphere, where all six points meet, and close it off completely with a few little stitches.

Featured Stitches
Backstitch

Posted by Living Crafts on Jul 13, 2012 09:26 AM | 52 Comments

A Doll for Every Child- Clothing Patterns

By Katja Magus

“I truly believe that anyone who has basic hand and machine sewing skills can successfully complete this doll with these detailed and photo-rich instructions. If you feel you’re not up to the challenge right now, you can reach out to a family member or friend who sews and offer to do an exchange of skills.  Every child deserves a beautiful doll to cherish for years to come!

Katja Majus, author of these patterns, our doll pattern and tutorial available here,  and the article “A Doll for Every Child” in the Living Crafts Winter 2012 issue

Materials:

  • Small pieces/scraps of knit fabric for clothing/diapers/etc. (can be from recycled clothing or there are beautiful cotton velours from the listed sources) *
  • Optional ¼ inch elastic for doll gown and pants
  • 2 closures for each diaper (sew on snaps, hook and loop tape fasteners, etc.)
  • Sewing machine (or lots of time and patience!)
  • Living Crafts  “A Doll for Every Child Doll”  Clothing Patterns:

Doll Diaper Pattern

Doll Hat and Pants Pattern

Doll Shirt Pattern

Doll Gown Pattern

*Starred items can be found online at www.weirdollsandcrafts.com and www.achildsdream.com, other items can be found around the home or at a local craft store.

Sewing the diapers and clothing:

You can use recycled children’s clothing or scraps from your sewing stash to make the diapers and clothes. All of the patterns are designed for cotton knit (stretchy) fabrics; they DO NOT include seam allowances. I didn’t need to add elastic to the bottom of the gown or to the waistband of the pants due to the stretchiness of the fabrics (skipping the elastic makes the clothes easier for little ones to take on and off), but if you do, use 1/4” elastic and look for directions on the package or online.

Making the diapers:  Doll Diaper Pattern
1. Using the diaper pattern, cut out two diaper shapes from a light colored cotton knit fabric with the stretch going across the diaper. With right sides together, pin and sew around the diaper, starting at the back notch/line and going all the way around, topping at the next notch/line to leave room for turning.
2. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam. Clip/trim seams as described in the doll making instructions, turn diaper right side out. Blind or whipstitch the back opening closed or leave open to have a “pocket” diaper and make inserts for it. Add fasteners to the flaps and the front section.

Making the shirt/gown: Doll Shirt Pattern and Doll Gown Pattern
1. Fold under the seam allowance on the top curved edge across the shoulder flaps and neck, and sew with a narrow seam. Then lay the front and back pieces end to end with the shoulder flaps overlapping (matching notches/lines). Make sure both flaps are going the same way before sewing.


2. Baste this armhole seam using a longer stitch, 1/8” from the edge, to make sure the flaps don’t slip as you add the sleeve. Fit the curved edge of the sleeve to the armhole along your basting line, matching up the center of the sleeve with the notch for the shoulder flaps. Sew a ¼” seam for the armhole.


3. Fold up seam allowance at sleeve edges and sew. Lay the gown/shirt out flat with right sides together and match the underarm and body seams. Sew a continuous seam from the sleeve edge to the bottom of the garment. Turn up the bottom hem and sew.

Making the pants:  Doll Pants Pattern
1. With right sides together, first sew both crotch seams.

Then hem both leg bottoms.
2. Next, lay the pants out flat and sew one continuous seam up the inside of one leg and down the other.

Fold under top edge and sew, adding elastic if needed.

Making the hat:  Doll Hat Pattern
1. Place two hat pieces right sides together and sew along the curved edge. Try the hat on your doll before sewing a hem along the straight edge. You may need to snip the seam, as mentioned before, along the curved edge.
 
Time savers and other tips:

I can complete a doll in 4 uninterrupted hours or in many small bits of time over a few days, but give yourself much more than that if this is your first doll.

To save time, skip the hair and add a hat, the doll can “grow up” over the next year and be presented later with a full head of hair. Also to save time, skip the face embroidery. Many cultures have created faceless dolls for their play and I think this would be especially suitable for a young toddler.

Present a finished doll without clothes, wrapped in a blanket or play silk and let the child know that making clothes will be your special project together.

For the younger child, loosely sew on the cap and gown to avoid dolly being left naked all the time, these can be unsewn later as the child matures.

Treat the doll as if it were real and your child will follow your example, make sure it is rocked, clothed, and carried gently. When picking up toys, treat the doll with reverence and make sure it has a special place to sleep.

Making accessories for the doll, such as, scarves, sleeping bags, rugs, hats, and blankets are wonderful ways for an older child to relate to a doll, while practicing their hand crafting skills at the same time. Older siblings can also be involved in helping to ready a doll for a younger sibling.

Most dolls only need to be washed about 1–2 times per year. The general rule of thumb is to wash a waldorf doll as you would wash a real baby. Run a sinkful of warm water and place the doll in the water, gently surface wash using mild soap, dunk the doll a few times to rinse (no squeezing, rubbing, etc.) and wrap in towels to dry. The drying may take 24–48 hours so you might need to do it “on the sly” so your child won’t be too anxious about it. A doll that has been washed can have new “cheeks” applied and a new outfit. Then, presented again to a grateful child – rather than giving a new doll each year!

Posted by Living Crafts on Feb 8, 2012 10:21 AM | 1 Comment

A Doll For Every Child

By Katja Magus

“I truly believe that anyone who has basic hand and machine sewing skills can successfully complete this doll with these detailed and photo-rich instructions. If you feel you’re not up to the challenge right now, you can reach out to a family member or friend who sews and offer to do an exchange of skills. Every child deserves a beautiful doll to cherish for years to come!

Katja Magus, author of this pattern and the article “A Doll for Every Child” in the Living Crafts Winter 2012 issue

MATERIALS (to make two dolls)

  • Cotton knit fabric in skin color (½ yard) *
  • Wool batting (½ lb) *
  • 2” wide tubular stockinette (1 yard) *
  • Doll making needle (5” long) Note: a regular sewing needle will NOT work*
  • Embroidery floss in colors for eyes and mouth
  • Cotton twine or sturdy cotton yarn (white)
  • Sewing thread to match skin tone fabric, hair color, and clothing fabric*
  • Regular sewing needles
  • Red beeswax crayon or natural rouge/blush for cheeks *
  • Double pointed knitting needles (size 3) for knitting hair cap
  • Wool yarn (mohair is best) for hair (1 ball) *
  • Small pieces/scraps of knit fabric for clothing/diapers/etc. (can be from recycled clothing or there are beautiful cotton velours from the listed sources) *
  • Optional ¼ inch elastic for doll gown and pants
  • 2 closures for each diaper (sew on snaps, hook and loop tape fasteners, etc.)
  • Sewing machine (or lots of time and patience!)
  • Living Crafts  “A Doll for Every Child Doll”  Pattern: LivingCraftsDollPattern.

*Starred items can be found online at www.weirdollsandcrafts.com and www.achildsdream.com, other items can be found around the home or at a local craft store.

 INSTRUCTIONS
Note: If making twins, do each stage (inner head, skin, etc.) at the same time so they will be more consistent in shape and size.
Making the inner head:
Measure and cut a 10” piece of tubular stockinette. Tie off one end about ½” from the end using a 10” piece of cotton string. Trim ends of string. Turn tubular stockinette inside out and set aside.
Lay out wool batting and separate the layers until it is one thickness. Tear off a long strip (going “with the grain”) about 3” wide and as long as you can.
Wrap the wool into a ball, pulling it firmly and changing directions as you would when winding a ball of yarn so that the ball stays round and very firm. Continue until ball is 9-10” around the “equator.”   It should be firmly enough wrapped to stay together when you set it down. A soft head will lose its shape quickly, so take it apart if necessary and re-wrap until even and firm.
Tear off a square of batting about 10” by 10” and place the ball onto it, gather the square around the ball as you would if making a tissue paper ghost.



Place the ball side into the tubular stockinette and push it all the way to the knot at the top. The extra wool from the square should stick out the bottom of the stockinette.


Cut a piece of cotton string 18” long and tie tightly around the stockinette very close to the bottom of the ball. This creates the neck (it should be about 2/3 head and 1/3 shoulders). Trim ends of string.
Working with the tubular stockinette and the wool under the head, arrange your doll’s shoulders so they are going side to side under the part you wish to be the face. Push in the wool stuffing that is hanging out the bottom of the tubular stockinette and sew the bottom shut using a whip stitch (it won’t show). If the wool won’t fit, tear some off. Once sewn, the bottom will resemble a clamshell. This is the doll’s shoulder pad.


Cut two 24” pieces of cotton string to become the “eyeline” and “earline” and set aside.  Working as if the head was a globe, first examine it to see which side you’d like to be the face and keep this side towards you. Tie the first string around the head at the “equator,” starting with the middle of the string at the back of the head, bringing the ends towards you, tie a half knot in the middle of the face, bring the ends back to the back of the head, and pull tightly to indent the face. Tie a double knot at the back of the head.

 
For the “earline,” do the same with the second piece of string, this time starting with the midpoint under the chin, tying the half-knot at the top of the head, pulling tightly, and tying the double knot under the chin. Rearrange strings as necessary to keep them even and straight.
Using sewing needle and light thread, stitch the section where the two strings meet at the ears, using deep stitches to catch the underlying wool and stitching between the strings in an “x” shape so they won’t move out of place in the next step. Repeat on other side.


At this point your doll’s head should be pretty symmetrical, but it won’t look much like a baby. Now for the magic, at the back of the head, pull the “equator” line down under the head to the back of the neck, to meet the neck string. Your doll will now have a smooth round curve at the back of the head just like a real baby.  A doll is born!  Take a deep breath; the hard part is over.

Preparing the doll’s skin:

  Spread out your piece of skin tone fabric. If using the source listed above, it will be a tube, so there is no need to double up the fabric. If using other fabric you will need a double thickness. Lay out the pattern pieces for the legs and arms onto the fabric with the direction of stretch going from side to side as indicated on the pattern pieces. The pattern pieces DO NOT include seam allowances, so add at least ¼” before you cut, either by eyeballing or using a ruler. In between the legs it is impossible to add ¼”, so just cut a slit to the top of the legs as marked on the pattern piece.

    It may be helpful to trace directly around the pattern piece onto the fabric with a contrasting soft pencil so you have a “stitching line,” this is especially important around the hand and thumb and at the bottom of the feet. Set arm and leg pieces aside.
Now it’s time to trace the head shape onto fabric so your doll will have “custom” head skin. Place the doll’s face next to a fold in the fabric tube, so that the forehead and chin are touching the fold. Holding your pencil straight up and down and starting at the top of the head, trace the doll’s head, creating a moderately straight line from the front forehead to where the head starts to curve at the back (if you curve down at the forehead, when sewn the skin will have a “widow’s peak”), down the back of the neck, indenting at the neck string and out again at the shoulders and then straight down 4-5,” ending with a straight horizontal line at the bottom. If your shoulders are significantly narrower than the head, add a little there, because the inner head has to be pushed thru the shoulder area as it goes up. Again, add seam allowances before cutting.

 

Machine sewing the skin pieces:

   These steps can also be done by hand using small straight stitches. On all pieces, use a skin tone thread, regular straight stitch on your sewing machine and backstitch at the beginning and end of each section. Leave the space between marks/notches open (shown on pattern pieces as lines and in photos as pins).
Sewing the legs/torso: Sew from the underarm notch down the outside of one leg, up the inside, make a gentle curve over the crotch and come down and up the other legs, ending at the armhole notch.
Sewing the arms: Beginning at one notch, carefully sew around one hand and thumb, stop at the next notch and start again on the other arm.  Go slowly to achieve a good finished hand shape.
Sewing the head: Using your pencil line as a guide, start at the forehead and sew around the head and down the shoulders, but leave the bottom open so you will be able to place the inner head inside.


Clip into the curved areas of fabric seams right up to the stitching (but not touching it) using sharp scissors, especially at the back of the neck. You can try turning the hand and foot fabric right side out. If it is hard to turn it smoothly and you see little bumps all along the seam, turn it inside out again and trim the seam to 1/8” in those areas.


Turn arm, leg, and head pieces right side out using the eraser end of a pencil to help you turn smoothly.

 
Creating the finished head:

   Place the inner head inside the head skin, being careful to place the “face” towards the smooth front of the skin and having the stitching line go down the back of the head. You may have to squeeze the head a little, but if stuffed firmly, it will recover well with a little squishing.
If the doll’s head has a point at the forehead, fold it back in a triangle as if wrapping a package and stitch it down. It will not show under the hair or hat.


Cut another 24” piece of cotton string and tie it around the neck as before to redefine the neckline, pull any gathers towards the back, pull the string tightly and tie off at the back. Leave longer ends when cutting so they are easier to tuck in when you sew the doll’s body together. Set aside the finished head.

Stuffing the arms and legs:
 
While stuffing the arms and legs, it is helpful to tear off a large rectangle of wool and lay it over your fingers before placing it down into the arm or leg hole.

   Add additional tufts of wool inside the tunnel your finger created, this way the layer closest to the skin (which will show!) is smooth and free of lumps. A firm dense doll will hold up to “love” over the years better, but the doll also needs to be flexible enough for the child to bend the arms and legs while playing.
Stuff each arm, hand, and thumb (roll up a little ball of wool for the thumb), leaving the spaces where the seam is open free of stuffing.
Once the arms are stuffed, hold the arm piece “thumbs up” and reach up through the bottom opening, and then through the top opening of the arm piece with your fingers. Grab the shoulder pad of the head and pull it down through this opening. Fold the raw edge of the top opening towards the inside around the neck.


Stuff legs (using same method as the arms) up to the crotch, then repeat the “wool folding” technique for the torso area by wrapping your hand in a large rectangle of wool and pushing it into the torso. Add extra wool into the pocket near the bottom at the back for “cheeks” (pick which side is the front and back for your doll) and extra wool in the middle of the front for a tummy. Some wool from the pocket should be sticking up out of the torso skin and that is fine.


Nestle the head/shoulder/arms piece into the torso, making sure some of the torso “pocket” wool comes over the chest and back to create continuity. If you can’t get the shoulder to fit deep into the torso (right up to where the seams stop), take out some wool from the torso until it fits.   Tuck in extra wool.
Once the shoulders are snug in the torso, fold the square corners of the torso in towards the neck (on front and back). Also fold under the raw top edge about ¼” across the front and back neck. Once sewn, this folding of the torso skin will create the arm crease that allows the doll’s arms to bend forward.


Using contrasting pins (don’t lose any in the baby, some people like to count them first!) and beginning at the armpit, pin the torso skin to the shoulder piece using straight pins stuck straight in towards the stuffing.

  Make sure all the raw edges are folded under and the shoulder stays snug to the torso. Work your way up to the shoulder seam with pins and then across the neck.

    At the shoulder the front skin will overlap the back and the pin will act as a “button” on overalls, holding the seam in place.


Using skin tone thread, regular sewing needle, and a blind/invisible stitch, sew one long continuous seam beginning at one armpit, up across one shoulder, around the front neck, across the other shoulder, around the opposite arm hole, back across the shoulder (just slide your needle underneath, no need to sew it again), across the back neck, and finishing back at the first armpit. When sewing the shoulder, you will sew a straight line across the shoulder to the neck, If you’re having trouble visualizing it, take a look at a t-shirt for help, one seam all the way around the armhole and one seam from the shoulder to the neck. Tuck in any strings and raw edges as you sew.


At this point your doll’s body is perfectly presentable, so if you’re running short on time, skip to the face section and start there. Otherwise, it’s time to do some “sculpting:”   The use of stitching to define various parts of the dolly’s body. Sculpting is done with a doubled skin tone thread and a regular sewing needle. Though if you find your needle is getting “lost” in all the stuffing, try the doll-making needle.
Leg creases: Have your doll sit up on the table so you can see where the natural creases will be, mark the beginning of each crease at the crotch and the end at each hip with a straight pin.

   Sew a line of running stitches along each crease, pushing your needle straight through all the layers of the doll’s leg and out again at the back, making sure to watch what the stitches look like at the front and back of the doll.

  Pull up tightly as you go to indent the leg at the crease. Secure threads.
Bottom “cheeks: On back of doll, sew a line of running stitches from the crotch up about 2” along the middle of the bottom to form “cheeks.” Pull up tight to gather the stitches and secure threads. You may need to run another set of stitches in the same line if it is hard to secure. Push wool in from surrounding areas to further fill in the “cheeks.”


Belly button: Mark placement of belly button with a straight pin and sew a circle of running stitches ¼” to ½” in diameter around the pin. In general, a larger circle makes an “outie” and a smaller one, an “innie.” Pull up tight and secure threads.

Embroidering the face:

  You must embroider the face before adding hair or a hat, because the knot ends of your eye and mouth floss will show at the back of the head.  Mark placement of the eyes and mouth using straight pins, placing the two eye pins along the eye line and the mouth pin midway between the eye line and the neck string in an equilateral triangle with the eyes.


Cut a 24” length of each eye and mouth colored embroidery floss, divide the eye floss into 2 parts with 3 strands in each part. Leave the mouth floss as is.
Using one of the pieces (3 strands) of eye colored floss, thread the doll making needle. Poke the needle straight into the doll’s face slightly to the side of one eye pin and through to the back of the head.

  Take the needle off the thread and make a knot at the back of the head, there will be floss hanging out at both sides of the doll’s head. At the front, pull on the floss to take up the slack at the back and rethread the doll making needle. Make 4 horizontal stitches across the eye pin (remove after first stitch) and then 4-5 vertical stitches covering the horizontal ones.

Make sure to “dip into” the underlying wool stuffing as you do the eye stitches, as they will hold up better if anchored in. The entire eye should be about ¼” square. Push needle through the face until slightly to the side of the other eye and repeat stitching for other eye. (Photo 34- DSC04482)

On last eye stitch, push the needle all the way thru to the back of the head and tie off.
For the mouth, use the same starting technique and all 6 strands of the mouth colored floss. Begin the mouth with one straight stitch centered across the mouth pin, about ¼” long. As you finish the first mouth stitch, come up slightly to the side of the mouth and at an upward angle doing one stitch back towards the first mouth stitch. (Photo 35- DSC04484)

   Repeat on other side for a gently curved mouth, 3 stitches total.  Push the needle through to the back of the head and tie off.
The colored knots at the back of the head will be covered with hair or a hat and are easy to snip off later if you need to replace the eye or mouth over time. You can certainly customize eye and mouth color to match the recipient of the doll or as your heart desires, but I do believe that as waldorf philosophy suggests, simple and realistic faces are best.  This leaves room for the child’s own imagination and also allows the doll to be more “sympathetic” in times of sadness than a doll wearing a large smile.

Instructions for knitting and sewing the hair:
 
Almost any natural fiber yarn can work for doll’s hair but this knitting pattern was written for the mohair doll hair yarn found at the sources listed above. You will need to adjust the needle size and perhaps the pattern if using other yarns. The pattern is the same for both the straight mohair and the curly boucle yarns. Patterns for sewn doll hair, long hair, and crocheted hair can be found in the books listed in the doll making resources or by searching the web.

Gauge note: this cap is so small, that doing a gauge swatch would be tedious, just start making the cap and if you can’t get it on the doll or it’s too big, change needle size or # of starting stitches and try again.
 
Knitting pattern for hair:
1. Using size three double pointed needles, cast on 30 sts in the round, placing 10 on each needle.
2. Knit every row until 3” long, then begin decreases every other row.
3. First decrease row: K3, k2tog, repeat until end of row.
4. Knit 1 row.
5. Second decrease row: K2, k2tog, repeat until end of row.
6. Knit 1 row.
7. Third decrease row: K1, k2tog, repeat until end of row.
8. Knit 1 row.
9. Fourth decrease row: K2tog, repeat until end of row.
10. Break yarn and using yarn needle thread through remaining stitches and weave in yarn ends on whichever side of the cap you choose as the “wrong” side. The cap is fully reversible, but I find the inside/purl side to be the most realistic hair. The cap may look too long, but the extra length will be taken up by the width of the doll’s head and any extra can be tucked under at the hairline while sewing it onto the doll.
11. Stretch the finished cap over the doll’s head, adjusting it along the hairline so it looks natural. It should touch the base of the neck and come in a little near the cheeks. (Photo 36- DSC04487 and Photo 37- DSC04488)

You can pin it if necessary but mine usually stay put pretty well. Using sewing thread to match the hair color and a regular sewing needle, blind or whip stitch the hair along the hairline beginning at the back neck, making sure to “dip into” the underlying wool stuffing to anchor the hair. Secure thread ends. For a wilder look, you can ”brush out” a mohair cap (not boucle) with a stiff hairbrush or clean metal cat brush to make slightly longer hair (you can even put a bow in it).
12. As a final touch, you can add color to the doll’s cheeks using eco-friendly non- toxic rouge/blush or with a red beeswax crayon. For the crayon, first rub the crayon on a scrap of cloth and then use that to add color to the doll’s face. For either method, make large gentle circles of color on the “apples” of the cheeks. You will need to reapply the color every once in a while, but be careful not to let the child see you “coloring” on her doll.

Congratulations, you have completed a beautiful doll!

 
Time savers and other tips:

  I can complete a doll in 4 uninterrupted hours or in many small bits of time over a few days, but give yourself much more than that if this is your first doll.

To save time, skip the hair and add a hat, the doll can “grow up” over the next year and be presented later with a full head of hair.

Present a finished doll without clothes, wrapped in a blanket or play silk and let the child know that making clothes will be your special project together.

Also to save time, skip the face embroidery. Many cultures have created faceless dolls for their play and I think this would be especially suitable for a young toddler.  (see pictures of Avery loving the unfinished dolls)

For the younger child, loosely sew on the cap and gown to avoid dolly being left naked all the time, these can be unsewn later as the child matures.

Treat the doll as if it were real and your child will follow your example, make sure it is rocked, clothed, and carried gently. When picking up toys, treat the doll with reverence and make sure it has a special place to sleep.

Making accessories for the doll, such as, scarves, sleeping bags, rugs, hats, and blankets are wonderful ways for an older child to relate to a doll, while practicing their hand crafting skills at the same time. Older siblings can also be involved in helping to ready a doll for a younger sibling.

Most dolls only need to be washed about 1–2 times per year. The general rule of thumb is to wash a waldorf doll as you would wash a real baby. Run a sinkful of warm water and place the doll in the water, gently surface wash using mild soap, dunk the doll a few times to rinse (no squeezing, rubbing, etc.) and wrap in towels to dry. The drying may take 24–48 hours so you might need to do it “on the sly” so your child won’t be too anxious about it. A doll that has been washed can have new “cheeks” applied and a new outfit. Then, presented again to a grateful child – rather than giving a new doll each year!

Posted by Living Crafts on Feb 5, 2012 10:56 AM | 25 Comments

Flying Felties!

We’ve been having so much fun making and using these flying felties with our young visitors this summer.  I think they are better than fireworks and just as beautiful as they fall from the sky! Children from the age of three can make them, with some assistance, and both children and adults have fun tossing, flying and chasing them!

Materials:

1 wooden or plastic egg 2.5-3.0 inches (6.5-7.5cm)  long

0.3 ounces (8 grams) wool roving or batting in assorted colors

5 x 30 inch (75cm) lengths of ribbon in assorted colors

1/2 cup beans, rice or lentils ( we used black turtle beans)

bowl filled with warm water

natural dishsoap

small piece of bubble wrap

sewing needle and thread

Tip: sometimes we’ve used the felted pouches that remain once we’ve finished using a felted soap scrub- perfect for flying felties, or little felt treasure necklaces!

Open up the wool fibers by gently stretching them, keeping the wool in long strands. Wrap the egg completely with the wool,  turning and wrapping like winding a ball of yarn.  The egg should have about three layers of wool wrapped around it. Play with alternating colors.  Feel for any thin spots and add more wool with an extra wind covering that spot.

Cup the wool egg in your hands, add a drop of dishsoap, and dip into the bowl of warm water.

Lift the wool egg out gently and start squeezing it between your hands, turning occasionally. Do this for a couple of minutes until the wool develops a felted skin. Start rolling the wool egg in your hands. Rolling…rolling…rolling….Roll the wool egg under your hand on the bubble wrap.

Bowls of soapy water and bubble wrap hold lots of potential for play!

To finish felting, roll the wool egg in the bubble wrap and roll for a few minutes.

Squeeze out any excess water and leave the wool eggs to dry.

Cut open the bottom of the wool egg in a cross. Squeeze out the egg. Fill with beans or rice.

Sew up the opening at the bottom of the feltie, leaving a small opening to insert the ribbons.  Tie your selected ribbons together  in a knot at one end, insert the knot into the opening in the feltie, then finish sewing up.  Be sure to stitches are tight so no beans will fall out and to secure the ribbons well!

Ready for flying!

Hold the feltie by the ends of the ribbon, wind up and toss and watch the feltie fall to the ground, ribbons flying brightly behind. Make a chalk target on the ground and see if you can get your flying feltie to land inside.  Toss and juggle with a friend….Hours of summertime flying fun!

 

 

Fiona Duthie

Fiona Duthie is a regular contributor to Living Crafts.

In her studio on Salt Spring Island, BC, she creates in a bountiful beauty of color, wool, and texture, inspired by the natural world. Fiona designs fine feltwork, felting and knitting patterns, gives workshops in natural craft, and runs her hand dyed, artisan fibre company, Kattikloo. You can read more about her fibers, projects and creative living at www.kattikloo.com and on Facebook.

Posted by Fiona Duthie on Aug 21, 2011 10:04 AM | 37 Comments

Good Finds: Imagine Childhood

Imagine Childhood

About Imagine Childhood:

… a little nature… a little imagination… a lot of play. Toys, tools and activities for growing minds. Imagine Childhood is a family owned and operated company offering high quality environmentally conscious toys and activities that encourage exploration, creativity, and open-ended unstructured play.

MOOV

About MOOV Construction Kits:

Possibly the most exciting toy we’ve played with in quite a while, these award winning Dutch construction kits by Berg MOOV are nothing short of awesome!

Made from incredibly sturdy materials that can be configured to the suggestions in the manuals or any other shape you can imagine, they require no tools and can easily be constructed by kids… or adults that just wish they were.

Build anything from a bike to a go-cart to a crane, a scooter and so much more!

Made in Holland for kids age 5 -12

Giveaway:

Today the folks at Imagine Childhood are giving away a MOOV 3-in-1 starter kit valued at $249.00! To enter for a chance to win leave a comment by 11:59 p.m. Monday, June 20th, listing your favorite item from the Imagine Childhood Shop.

Posted by Living Crafts on Jun 16, 2011 06:39 PM | 514 Comments

Felted Rings for Baby

When my baby was little I worried about all the plastic toys that came her way. One of the most beloved toys of a baby is the rings made of  - you guessed it – plastic! I wish I had thought to make this gorgeous hand knit and felted wool baby ring! Made by Babus Toys you can find it on their Etsy site.

Posted by Living Crafts on May 29, 2011 10:05 AM | 1 Comment

Knit Toy Face Embroidery

Do you struggle with putting the finishing touches on your hand-crafted toys? Here’s a great video tutorial on embroidering the face on a knit doll, courtesy of Susan B. Anderson of Spud & Chloe. Though the video shows how to embroider Spud’s face you can apply the technique for embroidering facial features on other knit toys.

Posted by Living Crafts on May 23, 2011 08:14 AM | No Comments

Strega Nona Wooden Playset

Check out this beautiful wooden play set by Crunchy Family Rising, inspired by the Strega Nona story book.

If you want to make your own wooden play sets, please find complete instrusctions in the Living Crafts Winter 2011 issue.  It has instructions on how to make the play set for The Mitten story.

Winter 11 issue with complete instructions for making The Mitten story book wood figures

Posted by Living Crafts on May 15, 2011 08:26 AM | 4 Comments

Quilted Mad Tea Party

This tea set is entirely hand sewn and just gorgeous! Better yet, you may not have to go shopping for supplies; you can make it from your extras. If you’re looking for a portable toy, this is the perfect item while you travel with kids this summer, or while out at the park, or the beach. You’ll find the tutorial and pattern at the Instructables.

Posted by Living Crafts on May 5, 2011 09:18 AM | 1 Comment

Playhouse by Artful Parent

I don’t know how I ever missed this wonderful playhouse project posted on Artful Parent blog more than three months ago. Everything about it is so perfect. It is easy to sew. It is easy to recycle sheets, pants, table cloths and other items for making it. It is easy to store, and use! Every child uses the dining table or desks for making forts. Why not give them something to make it easier to play? Got some fabric? Go for it!

Posted by Living Crafts on Jan 14, 2011 09:41 AM | 3 Comments























  




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