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Archive for 'Toys'

It’s Nutcracker Season


When I asked Laura Lee Burch, author of Sew Magical for Baby (reviewed in Living Crafts Fall 10 issue) and Sew Magical for Kids (reviewed in the current Winter 2011 issue), to design a needle felted doll with moving limbs, she immediately came up with the idea of a Nutcracker, which I loved, of course. Having seen her website, and adoring everything in it, including her logo I knew it was going to be good, and it was! When I met her Nutcracker, I immediately fell in love with how warm and cushy and beautiful he was.   We found our Clara model in New York, and asked April Cornell to send her a petticoat as her nightgown. I absolutely love these petticoats, which come in both White and Ecru. They used to come both in long sleeve, and sleeveless, but now they only carry them in long sleeve. I wish every mother would buy (or sew) them for their girls, and make them wear it until they go to college!

Laura Lee Burch
Laura Lee Burch Logo

Here is a peek at the nutcracker Laura Lee Burch designed exclusively for Living Crafts in the current Winter 2011 issue:

Living Crafts Nutcracker
He has moving limbs and it is easy to make with basic needle felting skills.  You can make him in a mini size as an ornament for your tree, or for your children’s dolls as gifts! 

Nutcracker Doll

But recently I discovered a mini felt nutcracker online designed by Hillary Lang, the author of Wee Wonderfuls, another book reviewed in the Fall 2010 issue of Living Crafts:

Felt Nutcracker

Hillary has designed her own Clara doll, and Nutcracker, and I thought you might enjoy the tutorial. Her nutcracker, like Laura Lee’s can be made into an ornament in a smaller scale. Here’s her tutorial for the Nutcracker. Be sure to download the pattern for all the pieces you need to make the “basic” doll into a nutcracker.  Also check out how she curls her Clara’s hair. It is a great technique for using on other dolls you make.

Clara Doll Hair


Posted by Living Crafts on Dec 21, 2010 12:41 PM | 3 Comments

Good Toys Bad Toys

This is a great discussion on toys by Touch the Future.

You’ll read two interviews on Good Toys – Bad Toys. The first on open-ended toys is with Jane Krejci, a grandmother, early childhood educator and former consultant to Brio Toys, USA. The second is with Dr. Toy … Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D., an educator and author of Smart Play – Smart Toys, How to Raise a Child with a High PQ. We all know about IQ – the Intelligence Quotient. In Stevanna’s book she describes PQ, the Play Quotient: a child’s capacity to play which is actually related to intelligence. The more a species plays the greater their intelligence. A child’s play quotient depends on the parent’s ability to be playful. (I am now feeling bad about all those times I was not playful!)

I’d love to hear from you on your thoughts about it, and how it relates to your family.



Posted by Living Crafts on Dec 19, 2010 05:32 AM | No Comments

Wee Folk Art – The Mitten

The lovely folks at the Wee Folk Art are giving away 5 years of Living Crafts magazine starting today! The giveaway includes 3 years of back issues, along with a 2-year subscription which starts with the current Winter 2011 issue, featuring their own article. The mother-daughter duo’s article includes a complete tutorial for a beautiful hand-sewn felt mitten and a set of woodland animals, exclusively designed for Living Crafts, based on the children’s classic fairytale, The Mitten by Alvin Tresselt.

Please visit Wee Folk Art blog and leave a comment to enter, until Monday, December 20, 9:00 p.m. EST.

Once you make the wooden animals from this article, you’ll be ready to make any wooden figures for your children. Here are some of the photos from their project:


Lacing the mitten

The finished mitten

Posted by Living Crafts on Dec 18, 2010 07:29 AM | 137 Comments

Wooden Tops

by Fiona Duthie

These wooden tops are easy to make and fun to use! Make them with your children by putting them together but letting the kids do the coloring and painting (or help them complete the entire process). Over the years, my children have spent hours and hours with these toys, making up games with the tops as characters and seeing how long they can keep them spinning.

Wooden Tops


  • 2.5″ wooden wheel
  • wooden dowel 3/8″ wide x 3″ long
  • wood glue
  • optional: watercolor paints, pencil crayons

You can use any size of wooden wheel for these tops. Adjust the dowel size to the hole in the wheel – it should be a tight fit.

Wooden wheels are available through many crafts stores and online at specialty woodworking shops such as:

Cut 3/8″ dowel into 3″ lengths. Sharpen one end with a pencil sharpener. The tip should be a little flat at the end – not completely pointed as for a pencil. Lightly sand the flat end of the dowel to smooth the cut edge. Push the dowel through the hole in the wheel. The closer the wheel is to the point, the more evenly it will spin; the further away, the more wildly.  If your dowel is a tight fit, you can test it in different spots to get the spin you would like. Once you have the placement, remove the wheel, apply a small amount of wood glue inside the wheel hole, and push the dowel through to that placement point. Wipe away any excess glue with a damp cloth and leave to dry for an hour. If desired, paint the surface with watercolor paints or color with pencil crayons. Let the spinning begin!

Wooden Tops

Wooden Tops

Posted by Living Crafts on Dec 14, 2010 08:08 AM | 4 Comments


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