Monday, October 27, 2014

Happy mail for a friend

So, in case you weren't aware, I'm lazy.  Like REALLY lazy.

My bestest friend had a second child about two years ago (I think that's accurate--I'm bad with little kid ages) and I never made her a "welcome to the world" gift.  See, it's easy with the first kid because it's a big ole deal.  First baby and baby shower and the whole works.  For the second kid, well, I'm lazy so I just plain out forgot.

But I have remedied that situation.  This weekend I finished a happy mail gift for not only the younger child but the older child, too.  I don't have kids but I do remember being one and it always chapped when a sibling got a random gift and you didn't so I made a small item for each of them (as a kind of Halloween treat) so the older child doesn't get miffed that little sister gets a random gift out of the blue.

Blah blah, PICTURES or it didn't happen!

First, credit where credit is due.  I made the monkey doll from a free pattern I got HERE.  I've had the pattern FOREVER but just didn't have a reason to make it.  I thought about making it for the Fluff Project but it seemed too fussy for that.  Really, it's not.  I've made fussier things for the Fluff Project.  I also worried it would take too much fabric but it's not a fabric hog, either.  Especially if you don't use directional prints.  Using corduroy for the body does mean you have to keep the wale going the right way but that's not a big deal, either.  And as for fussy details, the face isn't any fussier than the damn guinea pigs I made for the Fluff Project.  The only down side I can find to making these for the Fluff Project is they're kind of large.  So mailing them would be bothersome.  But making a few to add to a big box of stuff wouldn't be a big deal.



How damn cute is this monkey?  Yes, that damn cute!

I had to make a monkey.  See, I made a sock monkey for the older child but I just didn't feel like making a sock monkey.  I love them and all but making them can be dull.  I needed to try this pattern out since I've had it forever.


Cheeky monkey is cheeky!  It's a bit of hand stitching but not that bad at all.  I thought the ears would be super fussy but they were really simple and turned out better than I thought they would.


The body is cotton.  Sock monkey print for the win.  It really worked so well.

If you checked out the pattern link you'll see that my laziness did rear its ugly head.  I didn't make the skirt, hat, and shoes.  I really didn't want this monkey to be a lot fancier than the sock monkey I made for the older child.  If memory serves, that monkey might have had a diaper and that's it.  If it was dressed, it was probably wearing actual baby clothes which I assume would have been used on the baby (but what do I know).


This monkey does have the socks.  The other pics don't show the color well.  It's light blue with white bubble looking dots.  I had it in my scraps.  So this pattern can be a scrap buster, too.

Ok, I have to review the pattern a bit now.  Overall it's an easy pattern BUT. . .there is one issue I have with it.

The tail.  Specifically, how you attach the tail to the body.  They have you stuff the tail then attach it which is a dumb way to do it.  Especially considering the arms and legs are attached un-stuffed.  The pattern has you attach all limbs before you sew the front and back together, so you get a nice smooth attachment, which is good.  But getting the tail onto the back was a pain in the ass (hah! pun intended).  It would have been a ton easier to attach an unstuffed tail to the back seam and then stuff it after you turn the body right side out.  No different than how the limbs are done.  I'm making a note of that for future uses.

The pattern also wants you to put the face and ear details on after you assemble the doll (but has a note you can do it before) which I think is backwards, too.  Attaching before you assemble makes it easier in general.  You just have to be a little careful to get the pieces properly centered so you don't end up with a crooked face.  I just find it easier to embroider on a flat surface then trying to embroidery on a rounded (stuffed) surface.  I always get nicer result embroidery on a flat surface.

So, that's the monkey.

Next. . .


EEEEEE!!!!

So g-darn cute I wanted to keep them for myself.  No joke.

Mice finger puppets!


Yes, one is a little bit bigger but not as bad as this picture makes it look.  They are a little big for a child's finger but a child should be able to put two fingers in them to make up for the extra room.  I just couldn't make them any smaller since the faux fur I was using was super plush.

These finger puppets brought back crazy happy memories for me, too.  I had a white mouse finger puppet as a kid.  I got it from a school craft fair and I loved that thing nearly to death.  It had a faux fur tail (unlike mine with bright pink ribbon tails) but I was afraid the fur would just fall apart if I cut a small strip of it and that would just be sad.  The ears are felt and the eyes are tiny pom poms all lovingly STITCHED to the puppets.  NO GLUE HERE!  (though you could probably glue the eyes on without issue--the ears not as much since you need to get that curl and you need to stitch them to get that).

I debated putting noses and whiskers on them but I decided not to.  Adding noses would be easy if the kiddos wanted it.  Just a few stitches of embroidery floss and bob's your uncle.  Whiskers would be easy, too.  Just knot off some embroidery floss (leaving a decent tail after the knot) and, viola, whiskers.  Or if you wanted to get super fancy, use filament thread to get a more stiff, whiskery look.  But filament thread is a pain in the butt to work with, even if it does make for nice hidden stitches (I love it and I hate it all a the same time).

I hope the kidlets like the swag.  I had a blast making it all.  Especially the finger puppets.  (no pattern for them, it was just a rectangle of fabric and then I stitched a curve over one open end and then straight down the bottom and left the other end open--super simple but my machine was hating on me for wedging all that fake fur into it--I seriously thought it might not fit under the presser foot!).

Shhh, we're sleeping!

Time for a small cat break.

Sunday, this is what the whole family was doing.


Good thing we have a big couch.  It can hold both cats, me, and the hubby.  Perfect for lazy Sundays.

You think I'm exaggerating?  Really, we slept all day.  It was just like being a cat and it was wonderful.

And cats are so much easier to photograph when they're sleeping.


Could Eugene *be* any more precious in this pic?  Actually, he did get even cuter when he covered his face with his paw but the pic of that just looked like a fuzzy gray ball.  You couldn't see his face at all and it was hard to tell what exactly you were looking at.


Sleepy Murry.

This might be the first pics of Murry I've shared here.  Our sweet girl, Olive, died about a month ago and it really hit the whole family hard.  Eugene the most.  He loved Ollie like no other and being an only cat wasn't working for him.  It also wasn't working for us so well.  We are a two cat household and being a cat low left us feeling empty.  Enter Murry.

He's about 11 months old now (so still a youngster) and we're just starting to see his personality emerging.  He's sweet and cuddly and has enough energy to race around the house with Eugene (and wrestle--they love wrestling).  When we went looking for second cat, we were looking first and foremost with Eugene's needs in mind and I think we did well on that front.  It's a bonus that Murry is more of a lap cat than Eugene.  We do enjoy lap cats around these parts.



Even if the "lap" is the side of your neck.  Murry does enjoy sleeping near your head.  He gets into bed with us and wakes me by nipping my ears and grabbing in my hair.  As long as he doesn't fart, I can live with it (and he does fart, he's a total stink bag).

As for Olive, we picked up her ashes this weekend so she'll be able to celebrate Dios de los Muertos with us this year.  I got the urn I really wanted for her and it's so perfect for her, it makes me smile every time I see it.  I wish she was still with us, but if she has to be gone at least her urn does her crazy personality justice.  I'll make a post about the ofrenda once I get it all finished.  I have a few more things to get organized before Saturday.


Friday, October 24, 2014

For a swap: Dios de los Muertos Ninni monster

First up, a link to the free tutorial and pattern used:  Ninni monster.

For the swap, we used that tutorial and made whatever type of ninni we wanted (you could even play with the size but the regular size is easy to work with).

I decided to go with the regular size but I hemmed and hawed on the design for a bit.  First I was thinking I'd do a hipster ninni, with corduroy pants and big geeky glasses (maybe even a beard) but then I was looking over my swap partner's profile (I really wanted this to be good, since I swap with this partner a lot and she always makes great stuff so I have to bring my A game with her) and BOOM. . .sugar skull design.  So timely and a little easier to do than the hipster.


How damn cute is this little monster?  I was THRILLED at how well it turned out, too.

I was confident the design would work (it's just simple embroidery).


Felt details for the eyes and nose with embroidery around it.  All basic running stitch with some french knots for a little pizzazz.  (the felt details are sewn on, too.  I was worried glue would make it too crispy)


I was worried the heart wouldn't turn out right since I just did a random free hand design (for both the felt heart and the flames).  At first the red looked bad to me, but then I looked at it for a while and low and behold it kind of looks like a wee crown.  I totally didn't plan it that way but I'm happy it turned out like that.

I totally cheat when I embroider, too.  Especially on felt.  I draw the design in ballpoint pen (light) on the back so I have a basic guideline to follow.  Sometimes I deviate from it a bit (the mouth in particular didn't follow the pen marks exactly at all) but it keeps me from going too crooked or wonky when I'm stitching.

I kept the design really basic.  I didn't want to overwhelm the little monster.  If I had been feeling more brave, I would have added some petal type shapes at the hands and feet and maybe a little bit of scrolling down from the arms and along the edge of the body.  But I was kind of worried about the seam allowance (it's built into the template you use) and I was sewing felt to cotton so I opted to not embroider right up onto the edges.


This is the back.

How much do I love that fabric?  I've been hoarding it for (no joke) YEARS.  I got a remnant of it back when I thought I was going to make myself a Mimi Kirchner tattooed man/woman (she gives the pattern for a mini sized one in a book I have) but I never got around to it.  I knew I wanted to use skeleton/day of the dead themed fabric on the back and I have a bit to pick from and I had pretty much forgotten about this until I got poking through my DotD/halloween fabrics.  That image is the perfect size for the back, too.  It was meant to be!

I was worried that the seams would be too bulky when I turned out those little ears and hands, so I used a smallish seam allowance.  I don't remember what the allowance was on the original but I'm going to guess mine was about 1/8"?  I just set my needle as far to the right as possible and then used the edge of the regular presser foot as a guide.  I know at the regular (middle) needle setting, the presser foot edge is a tiny bit more than 1/4" so. . .It was perfect.  I didn't have any issues with getting too close to the edge and risking a blow out.  I did have to pick the ear seams out a bit with a thick needle when I turned them (just to make sure I really go it fully turned) but that wasn't a big deal.  If I was going to make this all in felt (and turn it) then I'd add a bit for a bigger seam allowance.  For all cotton, I'd just go with 1/4 inch.

I love the design of this little monster, too.  You can do a TON with it.  And it has a bit of a cat look to it which made me tempted to make a second one to add to the ofrenda I set up for my cats.  But I'm just about done with the special item I made for it this year and I'm thinking I need to make a mat for it, too, so maybe I'll do a ninni sugar cat for next year.

I just mailed this off today so it should arrive by Monday.  I can't wait for my partner to get it.  I really think she'll like it a lot.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

For swaps: Dotees and a patch

First up, two dotees.


Patchwork octopus for (what I think is) the last dotee in the "rainbow" series.  This one was for all colors (aka rainbow) so I dipped into the small scrap bin and had some fun.


Yes, there are indeed eight legs there.  Each is different.  The light one there in the middle has cats on it.  In fact, there is a lot of cat fabric on this octopus.


Look at that cute face!

I tried to get the mouth even but after trying it twice I gave up.  Pachwork-topus has a wry, crooked little smile.  He's up to something, you can just bet.


See, more cat fabric on the back.

MEOW!

Next up was the Autumn Dotee.


Aww, dead leaf is sad.

Poor guy.  Don't feel bad.  I LOVE walking through the dead leaves and listening to the tales they tell.  It's one of the most relaxing sounds around.  (when I walk, I like to go into the cemetery and walk through the leaves)



Such a sad face.

I was really hemming and hawing on this dotee.  I couldn't decide what I wanted to make and I was really leaning toward an acorn but then as I was pawing through some scrap fabric (looking for autumn themed prints) and the bag of random stuff I use for dotees and patches I came upon that golden mesh.  Someone had sent it to me as an extra and I never would have guessed I'd use it for this.

It was really simple to make the leaf.  Just layer the mesh between the fabric (right sides together with mesh in between) and sew.  Turn and then top stitch the veins on.  The face could be optional if you just wanted to make plain leaves.  At first I was going to try doing a reverse applique type thing but after a brief experiment I gave up on that.

I LOVE how this leaf turned out.  You can squish it up a bit to get a more curled "crunchy" look.

Oh, and for the record, it is stuffed.  Just super lightly.  I guess you could also just use batting but I wanted a lumpy look for the crispy effect.

Speaking of lumpy (and last but not least) is the October Teesha Patch (note:  the month isn't the theme, it's just a monthly anything goes patch series).


Since it's anything goes, I decided to use this cute fabric my sister just got me.  She scored some super cheap remnants and this fabric was among them.

Really, how dang cute is that spider?


I just embellished him a tiny bit.  He needed some fuzzy feet and wild spider hairs.


I made the patch in the classic Teesha Moore style, where it's stuffed with fiber fill for a lumpy look and your stitching shows on the back.

I have to say, I like the lumpy texture of the classic style but seeing all the stitching on the back still disturbs me.  I just feel like I'm being messy letting all my work show like that.  I can't decide how I feel about the edging.  I like the simplicity of the classic style (where you just sew two pieces of fabric together and then roll the edges over) but I like the neat mitered corners of the way I do them (where you make it more like a quilt with a backing piece of fabric that you wrap around the front like binding).

Making that leaf and the patch made me want to put my free motion foot on my machine and practice with it again.  But I have a lot of regular sewing projects I want to complete first, like a monkey and some finger puppets and that quilt top I started.  (in my defense, I had to stop work on the quilt top when we got our new cat, Murry.  He was up in the spare room where I was planning to lay out the quilt squares before sewing them together into the top--Murry's out in the house now so the room is now mine again so I need to get back to that).

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

For a Swap: Halloween Dotee (different one)


MUMY!!!


I can't believe this idea never occurred to me until I received a mummy dotee from my partner in the other Halloween dotee swap (the one I made the bat for).

Super simple to make, too.  Just a free hand drawn peanut style body (with the hanger sewn into the seam since I like a neat hanger attachment like that--it's spider web ribbon).  The body fabric is a gray mottled print.  Then I wrapped it with two fabric strips I tore from some white cloth (and tacked down in a few spots).

The first strip I tore didn't go the full length of the piece of fabric, so I took that skimpy piece (and another skimpy piece) and added them after I had done the full wrapping, so I'd have some bits flapping off the doll.


The eyes are black sequins held on with dark red beads.

The tail is just embroidery floss with a spider flat back "button" on it.  Let me just pause to say how much I DESPISE when there are flat backs in a package of cute buttons.  Is there a way to add a shank to those?  Not to my knowledge.  Thankfully that spider had a little divot in the back so it was a perfect spot to hammer a nail into to make a hole.  That was after I tried to heat a thick needle and burn a hole through it.



Eugene, what are you doing on the table?  You know better.


No, that's NOT a cat toy.  You're a bad boy.  Get down.


*sigh*  I said GET DOWN, not "lick your butt".  Don't pretend you don't know what I'm saying to you.

Gene's been more needy since Olive died.  My poor baby girl Ollie has been gone for about three weeks now (after she got sick and slowly went downhill over the course of four weeks).  She had FIPV, which is a virus that has no cure or any real treatment.  It's still so upsetting to realize that we only had her for a few weeks over one year.  She was barely an adult and now she's gone.  I'm making a special item for my Day of the Dead shrine this year to honor her.  We don't have her ashes back just yet, but should shortly (in plenty of time for DotD).


Friday, October 3, 2014

Fluff Project WIP: DONE

At long, loooong last I have the next shipment of Fluff Project goodies ready to box and send.  Now I just need to find a box big enough for them all (or a few bags?).


16 ghosties.  BOO!

and


4 reindeer

That's 20 items.  Too bad it took me way too dang long to get them done.  But at least they'll arrive before Halloween so maybe they'll get to the kiddos in time to not be too late.  Well, the christmas ones should be (but maybe not the halloween, oh well).

These are both My Funny Buddy patterns which are always easy to follow and produce a nice end product.

Closeups of the wee ghosties?

OK!


The ghost pattern comes with four sizes and five designs.  Four designs to make a family (mom, dad, daughter, son) and one design for a more classic "scary" ghost (with a black oval mouth versus a cute stitched smile).



Mom has the cutest purse.  You can put the bow on her, too, but I didn't feel like it.


I made the "son" of each family a little different, too.  You can use the bow (on the daughter/mom) as a bow tie for the son but I wanted to just have a plain cute ghost for the son (since I wasn't making the "classic" look--I didn't like it as much as the super cute version and I didn't have enough fabric to make it and a full family in each size).


I love the mustache on the dad.  And his monocle.  It's just so darn CUTE.

All the sizes are nice, too.  The bigger ones would be great for littler kids and the small ones for teens (who might think it's not cool to have a stuffed toy but still want one).  You can also put hanger hoops on the littlest size but I opted not to just to keep everything simpler for me when I got to the mass producing.

Even though there's a good bit of hand stitching on these, it goes really fast.  I cut out all the bodies for everything and then cut out each size face details as I sewed.  So cut out all the big faces and then stitch them on.  That broke up the small cutting and hand stitching a bit (and kept me from worrying about loosing pieces as they sat waiting to be stitched).

I got my flannel from the remnant bin at Joann fabrics and the faces are all wool blend felt from my stash.  The deer are all from stash fabric.  The light colored ones are small wale corduroy and the dark one is some funky fuzzy faux fur (short nap, shiney on the back--little bit thick to work with but not as bad as full nap faux fur which is a pain in the butt).

I'm going to take a small Fluff break for at least a month while I work on some projects for me.  I want to make my big ole whale and work on my postage stamp quilt and other quilty stuff.  But I just bet I'll get bored of those projects and find some fluff I just need to make (I do have a lot of patterns floating around).

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Painting: Work in Progress: Mermaids

It's been a while since I showed off my painting.  Class started back up last week so it's time to keep myself motivated by showing off the progress report shots.

Before:


After:


This after is actually two rounds "after".  I just forgot to do an update on this painting in a while and then class broke for the summer and. . .yeah, I paint slowly too.

It's coming along nicely and I think I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel on this one.  Like I mentioned, I paint s.l.o.w.l.y.  Like painfully slow.  Like I'm using an eyelash on a toothpick to make every stroke, slow.  Slow.

This canvas has taken over a YEAR.  And that doesn't even surprise me at all.  But I'm ready for this canvas to be done.  I was really hating it at the close of the last semester but not looking at it all summer definitely made me more fond of it when I looked at it again.  I'm not exaggerating, I hadn't even laid eyes on this canvas in MONTHS.  So I had completely forgotten how awful it is (it's not really "awful" but I felt that way about it before--I always hate my paintings at least once in the process, and a few I still hate even though they're "done").

I'm working right to left on this one (just turned out that way) so I'm really feeling the gray haired mermaid is very close to done.  I might need to shade the dots a bit, since I put them on the tail after I had the tail shaded.  I'm still debating if I'll put the details on the hair or not.  I'm leaning toward no right now but when I start playing with the canvas again I might change my mind (or the instructor will gently push for me to add them--he's good like that).

I'm really liking the detailing on the blonde mermaid's tail.


I was worried it would suck royally but it's coming out fairly decent.  See, it's details like this where being a tediously slow painter comes in handy.  These swirls are slow work with a small brush which is basically how I work an entire canvas so I'm right at home (with my eyelash on a toothpick!).

The middle mermaid's hair needs a lot of work.  The details aren't there just yet.  They feel very. . .flat?  Not matching enough?  Something.

The background is pretty much where I want it.  It might morph a bit as I work the mermaids, especially if I have to clean up their edges at all.  Though I'm trying to make all the edges a bit more blurry so they look more like their underwater.  That's a struggle for my anal retentive painting style.

I'm excited to get this canvas done because I'm more than ready for something different.  I think the next canvas will be an abstract.  Not a full on abstract, but one based on a photo.  A full on (no pic to work from) abstract would make my head explode.  I'd just stare at the canvas and then have a complete breakdown.  I really envy the folks in class who are abstract painters.  They just sit down in front of a big ass canvas (like the size of a small wall, big) and just start glopping on paint and when it's done it looks GOOD.  I love watching them paint when they just squeeze paint right from the tube onto the canvas and then just mash it around with a palette knife.  How can they be so freaking FREE?  Clearly they aren't worried they are "ruining" the canvas by making mistakes (ie painting) on it.  I really need to get over that hang up.