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Twinkletoes First Shoes + Giveaway

How to Make a Pair of “First Walker” Shoes

By Sharon Raymond of SimpleShoemaking.com

How many pairs of shoes does a child grow out of before he or she is fully-grown? I don’t know the number, but I do believe if we were making some of those shoes, the cost of raising a child would plummet (a slight exaggeration) and our children’s feet would be healthier.  And, if we use recycled materials to make them, our children’s shoes would have a smaller “footprint” on the earth.

Here’s a pattern and directions for making simple children’s shoes in a “first walker” size. The pattern can be reduced or enlarged on a photocopy machine by about 8 percentage points without becoming too distorted to be usable.

I think these shoes make great baby shower gifts. There will, no doubt, come a time when these “first walkers” will fit perfectly.

Consider checking the sizing of this pattern by making a “mock-up” from inexpensive felt to try on your child before cutting into your actual shoemaking material.

Pattern and Materials:

Pattern: twinkletoes shoe pattern by Sharon Raymond

Uppers: Make the upper parts of the shoe from thrift-shop leather goods, leather or fabric upholstery remnants, hand-made felt or felted wool coats, recycled denim or canvas.

Soles: To make children’s footwear as flexible as bare feet, there are a couple of materials I use. For those who want their children’s shoes to be made of all natural materials, natural rubber soling is available on my etsy shop. A child wearing shoes with natural rubber soles can feel the topography of the earth, yet will be protected. This soling must be stitched with a stitching awl as described below, as holes pre-punched in it seal right up.

Another option, readily available and thin enough to provide that barefoot feel, but in no way “natural”, is the grey hall-runner available at home building centers. It has rubberized material on the backside that can serve as soling. If you put a few layers of fabric or felt, or a single layer of leather over the fuzzy side-up, the texture won’t be noticeable underfoot.

A third option is to cut them from thrift store leather goods. If you use leather, I suggest that you use two layers, with the “fuzzy” sides facing out. The fuzzy side on the bottom provides traction and the one on the top absorbs perspiration. This is the option I have used on the sample pair of shoes shown here. If you prefer rubber bottom soles, cut them from bicycle inner tubes.

Thread: I use heavy-duty waxed braided cord from Tandy Leather. Four-ply waxed Irish linen or stitching-awl thread can also be used. It’s best to use a synthetic thread when stitching the upper to the sole, as organic materials deteriorate when in contact with the ground.


Elastic: For this size shoe, I use six inches of  3/8″ elastic for running through the channels. To get the elastic through the channels, make a little tool from a piece of plastic milk carton, about 5″ long and 3/8″ wide. Cut a little slit at one end. Use like a sewing needle or bodkin to pull the elastics through the channels.

To make colored elastic, I use permanent markers to “dye” the elastic in the area where it is exposed, between the toe piece and the heel piece.

Tools:

The tools for making these shoes are simple – a decent pair of scissors, a “scratch” awl from the hardware store for punching stitching holes, a couple of layers of corrugated cardboard to place below your upper material when punching holes with the awl, a glue stick, a marker appropriate for your material, permanent markers for “dyeing” the elastic and a couple of tapestry needles for stitching leather shoes, or sharp needles for stitching fiber shoes.

If you want to make proper round stitching holes in leather, the 00 round-hole drive punch from Tandy Leather, # 3777-33, is the tool for you. You will need a plastic cutting board to place under the leather piece while punching, and a rubber mallet or other non-metal hammer for pounding on the punch.  The little “spring punch”, # 3236-00, from the same source, can punch holes nicely if they aren’t more than 1/2″ or so from the edge.

A stitching awl (Tandy Leather # 1216-00) can be used for stitching the upper to the sole. A video showing its use can be seen at www.simpleshoemaking.wordpress.com.

left to right: spring punch, stitching awl, 00 drive punch, scratch awl, rubber mallet.

Assembly:

Make the soles: If your material is sturdy and sueded on both sides, you might only need one layer for soling. If your soling is different, cut out the leather or fiber topsole, then use a glue stick to adhere it to the bottom sole material. When the glue has dried, cut out the bottom sole to match the topsole. Mark the stitching holes onto the topsole with silver pen or permanent marker.

Cut out the upper pieces: Draw around the toe piece and the heel piece onto your upper material, then cut the pieces out. Be sure to flip the patterns over when drawing the second shoe.

Punch out the stitching holes: Punch out the stitching holes on the patterns and transfer them to your shoe pieces. Also, mark the center of the heel and the toe, and the location where the heel piece meets the toe piece, indicated on the patterns by a spiral. On fabric or felt, use whatever mark-maker that is suitable for your material, to mark the location where stitches should go through the fiber.

For leather, I like to use a silver gel pen to mark the location of stitching holes, it usually comes off with soap and water applied with a cloth.  After marking, punch out the holes. To accomplish this, either place your shoe part on a few pieces of cardboard and punch down with an awl, or use the 00 punch as described above.

Make the channels for the elastic to pass through: if you are using leather, punch out the stitching holes along the two lines shown on the patterns. If you are using felt or fabric, you have made stitching marks. You can turn the channel either to the inside or the outside. Use the “simultaneous running stitch” to stitch the channel.

For the simultaneous running stitch, cut a piece of thread about four times the length of the distance you are going to stitch, and put a needle on each end of the thread.

For stitching fiber shoes, attach a sharp needle to each end of the thread. Stitch into the first mark on one end of the heel piece, then down through the corresponding mark on the sole. Bring that thread back up in the second mark in both sole and heel piece, and tug on your threads so they are the same length. Pass the second needle down into that second mark, while holding the thread that is already there to the side, to protect that first stitch from being split.

Give a good tug on both threads after each stitch to create a nicely-seated seam.

Keep repeating this process.

Hiding knots: Each time you stitch, at the end you have two loose threads. To tie the threads in a hidden knot, put each needle through only one layer of your shoe material so the threads meet inside the area stitched. Tie a tight square knot, then run the ends of the threads under a few stitches before cutting them off.

When working with leather, you will have punched stitching holes. Proceed as described above, and for the neatest appearance, develop a pattern of which thread goes into the hole first (from the top or bottom) and whether the second thread goes to the right or left side of the first. Consistency is the key – and that’s why your work won’t look as neat if you make a running stitch with one thread all along the seam, then fill in the gaps with the other thread; you’re missing that tug on both threads after each step that makes the threads grab each other and settle in.

Embellish: Embellish the shoes if you like – embroider, applique, reverse applique, stamp, paint.  Since I made shoes from leather, I punched holes along the decorative lines on my pattern, about 3/16″ apart. I then transferred the marks to my toe piece, punched them out, then stitched with 4-ply waxed Irish linen.  It’s fun to add a little touch of embellishment to the heel piece also.

 Run elastic through the channels: Use the plastic bodkin to pull the elastic through the channel so it emerges at the other end. Put one end of the elastic through the slit, then pull it all the way through with your plastic strip.  Once the elastic is through both channels, check for twisting, then overlap the two ends about 3/8″ and stitch them together. After stitching, pull on the elastic until the stitching is hidden inside a channel.

Stitch toe-piece and heel-piece to the sole: Now that the uppers and soles are complete, stitch the shoes together. I usually start stitching on the inside of the shoe, where the heel piece meets the toe piece. Cut a length of non-degradable thread about four times the distance around the shoe, which is about 12 inches x 4 = 48″.

For fiber or leather soles, use the “simultaneous running stitch” described above to stitch the shoes together, unless you are using a natural rubber sole. As described above, a stitching awl is needed to stitch a natural rubber sole to the shoe.

In the toe area, the distance between stitching holes or marks is greater on the toe piece than on the corresponding holes on the sole; this causes the toe area to “pop-up” and not press down on the child’s toes. I usually wet leather when stitching in this area so it’s moldable, and do my best to gather the leather so it doesn’t overlap on itself.

If you are concerned that stitching through the soling might result in these stitches wearing out sooner than you’d like, remember that the part of the foot that touches the ground is the part you can see when walking barefoot in wet sand. However, if your child does wear through stitches, you have the skills to re-stitch!

When you’ve stitched all around the shoe, hide your knot as described above. Spray water inside the toe piece of a leather shoe, and stuff it hard with fabric or paper bag scraps. Let it dry for a few hours until it keeps a nice, rounded shape.

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For twenty five years, Sharon Raymond has had a passion for making simple footwear. She first learned shoemaking when living in England in the early 1990s; since then she has written seven books about shoe making, and taught the craft of shoemaking to hundreds of students. She delights in learning, then sharing, how to make simple footwear, often inspired by ancient and far-away cultures.

Sharon disseminates her joy of shoemaking from her home studio in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts.

You can read more about Sharon’s work on her website:

www.simpleshoemaking.com

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GIVEAWAY!

Sharon will send out a PDF of her book, How to Make Simple Shoes for Children with Your Own Two Hands! to five lucky winners! Enter a comment on this post by Sunday March 24th,  Midnight PST for a chance to win.

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March 21st, 2013: A note from Sharon:

“Beautify the earth, sister!”   Now that’s a comment in response to the “First Walkers” tutorial that brightened my day! Along with the other 100 and more – I’ve never experienced such an audience!

In gratitude, I will send a pdf of How to Make Simple Shoes for Children to anyone who makes a pair of these shoes and sends me a photo at  sharon@simpleshoemaking.com by Thursday, Midnight, March 28. I’d love to post a gallery of them on my Simple Shoemaking facebook page.

Plus, I’d like to learn how the pattern works when made in a variety of materials, from fiber to felt to leather; what types of embellishments you create; tips that you would like to share with others, and how the pattern might be improved.

Please feel free to email questions that come up along the way, and have fun “beautifying the earth!”   Sharon

 

Posted by Living Crafts on Mar 10, 2013 06:31 PM | 115 Comments

Beads and Buttons Tutorial and Oakmeadow Giveaway!

 Beads and buttons are fun to make, especially by children who love hands-on learning, but clay can also be used to explore any academic subject.  Here are just a few ideas to get your imagination started:

- Create letter and number shapes for alphabet and math learning.

- Sculpt bird heads when studying how bird beaks are shaped differently fo rdifferent purposes.

- Make a model of a Mesopotamian ziggurat, a Mayan temple, an adobe dwelling, or an Egyptian pyramid.

Enjoy this craft from Clay Fun, an Oak Meadow original publication, which is part of our Second Grade curriculum.

MATERIALS

INSTRUCTIONS

===================

Giveaway

Oak Meadow Curriculum and School has generously offered a complete homeschooling curriculum package for one grade of your choice (preschool through 8th grade). That’s a value of $120-$420! Simply visit Oak Meadow’s latest issue of Living Education, a quarterly journal that inspires and informs home learning with strategies, tips, and crafts.

Leave a comment here with feedback and/or suggestions for future issues and you’ll automatically be entered in the giveaway! We will pick one lucky Living Crafts winner on Tuesday, December 18th, 2012.

Posted by Living Crafts on Dec 6, 2012 09:50 AM | 369 Comments

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

Wind Waver

 

This Wind Waver project from Oak Meadow’s Kindergarten Curriculum is perfect to make at home or outside while at a picnic or camping.  With a little summer breeze it works great and is a great item for the porch or above your tent while camping.  

Materials:

- Round cardboard container (like Quaker’s Oatmeal)

- Construction paper

- Paper glue

- Crepe paper or fabric streamers

- Scissors

- Paper punch

- String

- Crayons

- Wind

Instructions: 

1. Cut the end out of an empty round container.

2. Using construction paper, glue and crayons, cover and decorate the container.

3. Using the paper punch, punch several holes around the bottom of the container.

4. Cut streamers about 3 feet long.

5. Thread one streamer through one hole until both ends are even, and tie a double knot that secures the streamer near the hole. Repeat with the other holes.

6. Punch four holes in the top of the box.

7. Cut four pieces of string about 2 feet long.

8. Lace one piece of string through each hole, knotting the end on the inside of the tube. Tie all four strings together on top. Tie to a longer piece of string.

9. Hang your Wind Waver outside where it can move freely
and watch the wind play with it!

This tutorial is courtesy of our friends at Oak Meadow Curriculum and School.  You can find more simple crafts in Oak Meadow’s First Book of Crafts or Book of Nature Crafts.

Posted by Living Crafts on Jun 22, 2012 08:51 PM | No Comments

Mother’s Day Felt Flowers Tutorial



Felt flowers are fun, fresh, and best of all super simple to make. Even very young children can make the most delightful blossoms. These are an ideal craft for young children because they don’t have to be fully felted to be beautiful and wearable as pins, so when the child is finished felting the flower can be considered finished also!  Although generally children do love to play with the soapy bubbles and wool and this project can take as little as 15 minutes to felt! Every flower will be as unique as the child who makes them!



Materials:

Small amounts of wool roving or batting- ideally a quick to felt variety like merino

piece of bubble wrap and/or bamboo sushi roller

small amount of warm/hot water and a drop of dish soap



You can work on either a piece of bubble wrap, a bamboo sushi roller or a combination of the two, as we have. Any of these will work beautifully.
Lay out the wool fibres from the center, spreading out at the edges. There will be more wool at the center, and the outer “petals” will be more light and airy. Encourage children to work with thin wisps of wool, as though they are fairies painting the flowers.



Add some details to your petals by laying on wisps of wool in other colors. You can add a bright flower center too.



Make a felting solution of about half a cup of water with 2-3 drops of dish soap-not too much or this will slow down your felting!)
Wet out the felt flower by flicking water over the surface. It takes only a very small amount of water for such a small project. Use less at first, and then add more as necessary to wet out.



Cover with another square of bubble wrap, or fold over the piece you are using, and press down on the wool to wet out. Don’t rub, just compress with your whole hand. This flattens the wool and moves the felting solution evenly through the fibres. Check to see if you have any fluffy spots, add more water if necessary, then finish compressing.



Roll up the flower, and roll under your hands for 5-10 minutes, opening it up every now and then and changing the direction that you roll in. It is fine just to roll just with the bubble wrap if that is what you are using. It may be helpful to roll a pencil in the middle, to give the bubble wrap roll a little more structure.



Your flower should be quite felted at this point. Remove it from the roll, squish it up in a ball, dip into some fresh warm water and squeeze at and roll it in your hands for a few minutes to finish the felting. Rinse well and wring out any excess water.


To shape the flower as a pin, we need to create a flat backing. Place a coin in the flower center and gather the edges over the center and secure with an elastic band. Allow the felt to dry. The felt will hold the random ripples created by shaping this way.

Sew a pin onto the back and voila! A quick and totally individual gift every Mum and Grandmother will love to wear! You could also glue a magnet onto the back to brighten your fridge door!







You can also shape the flower to create a pendant, or to attach it to a felt stem. We used this method once to make a felt flower fairy garland for a forest tree house. Place the flower center over the eraser end of a pencil, or a piece of dowel. Gather and secure with an elastic band and leave to dry.


To make the Flower Stems:



To make the felt stem (or any felt cord), use a small amount of wool, roving laid out on your work surface. The wool should be about 1 inch in diameter for the stem, or the thickness of a carrot.

Wet out as above and then roll up in your bubble wrap. Try the keep the wool as round as possible as you gently roll.



Now place your wool right into the fold of the bubble wrap or sushi roller, place your hand on top of the fold and press down, pulling it towards you. The felt stem will roll along, under your hand, staying in the fold. This keeps the stem round, and will firmly felt it. Each time after pulling the roll towards you, you’ll need to open it up, reposition the stem at the top of the roll and then repeat.



Remove the felt stem from the roll and squish it up in your hand, dipping it in fresh warm water. This will finish the felting. Rinse well, and squeeze out any excess water.



Pull the stem straight and leave to dry, and create a curly stem by wrapping around the end of the pencil. The stem will hold it’s twists once dry. Sew stem to the flower back. These can be enjoyed as a table centerpiece, made into a pin or hat decoration. You could also use the directions above to make a long cord, working on one section at a time, then sewing on a group of flowers as a garland, or use each stem individually and join like a daisy chain.

A lovely May Craft for everyone!

GIVEAWAY

Leave a comment here by Sunday, May 6th midnight and enter in a drawing to win enough wool to make two of these beautiful flowers.

 

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 May 2, 2012 04:09 PM | 33 Comments

Felt Valentine Garland and Woolhalla Giveaway!

by Natalie Weeks

 

 

Materials:
Several sheets of wool felt, available from Bear Dance Crafts
Sewing Thread
Small amount of wool roving for stuffing (optional)
Yarn or string for hanging
Thumbtacks or tape

 

 

 

 To make the garland as shown you will need to cut out 6 large hearts, 2 medium hearts and 2 of each of the letters.

 

 

 

Blanket stitch around each piece.

 

 

 Measure the area you want to decorate (my doorway is 32 inches-80 cm), space your pieces evenly and then sew a thread to hang them onto your yarn or string.  Your garland is now ready to hang!

 

 If you like you can make the whole garland out of hearts, put small hearts on the big hearts, or even spell someones name for a personalized garland.

 

Happy Sewing!
Natalie

 


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Woolhalla Giveaway!
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One lucky Living Crafts Reader will receive a beautiful Valentine Horse and Dollhouse Doll from Woolhalla!
  Valentine, The Woolhalla dollhouse doll is handmade with all natural materials, including felt, silk and cotton. She has a fabric head with a body can be bent to pose and stands about 4.75″/12 cm tall. Valentine has blue eyes and white-blond pony tails.
  Pink, The Woolhalla dollhouse size wool felt horse stands 5.5″/14 cm tall.  These items are made by hand and contain some small parts and some fuzz from the mohair, so are intended for children ages 3 and up. 
  Please leave a comment below by Midnight (PST), February 13th, to enter in the giveaway for this lovely playtime set.

 

And the winner-chosen at Random.org is:

Comment #59 : Fleur de Paix

Congratulations!

 

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    Natalie is a WAHM of 3 who loves to craft with natural materials. She is the owner of  Bear Dance Crafts  offering Waldorf doll making, wool felt and fibre supplies as well as craft kits since before 2000.  Woolhalla was born as a creative outlet for her own creations and patterns.  Besides life in the craft world, She enjoys family activities, being out in nature, and  refereeing roller derby.


Posted by Living Crafts on Feb 10, 2012 09:44 AM | 125 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

Valentine’s Day Friendship Bracelets

Beautiful Valentine’s Friendship Bracelets tutorial from Purl Bee.

We loved making these friendship bracelets as children but have never made any with patterns like these, especially designed for Valentine’s Day!

What a great craft to make for  a special friend…time to get out the embroidery floss and check out the tutorial!

Posted by Living Crafts on Feb 2, 2012 11:01 AM | No Comments

Kaffe Fassett Video


A 2011 interview with Kaffe Fassett, discussing how he designs and how he inspires others to create and express their inner color, filmed at his London studio for Ehrman Tapestry.  You can find Kaffe’s latest needlepoint designs at www.ehrmantapestry.com

  Kaffe Fassett was our Living Crafts sage in the Spring 2010 issue.  He is a master of color, and one of our favorite designers.  He’s teaching right now at Vogue Knitting Live in New York, and don’t we wish we could be there!  For those of us that aren’t, we’ll enjoy this video inspiration, instead!

There is also another wonderful video interview of Kaffe at his own website.   Be sure to watch it!

If you have made one of his designs, or have taken any of his workshops, please do leave a comment or a link to share.  Thank you!

Posted by Living Crafts on Jan 14, 2012 08:35 PM | No Comments























  




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