Miss Polly the Dolly

Perhaps a little over-ambitiously, I wanted to make at least ONE gift this Christmas. Since Miss Mei wasn’t the happy recipient of any crafty items from me on her arrival, largely as a result of my working full-time and lavishing any spare attention on her brother in the gestation period, I felt compelled to remedy this lack now. The obvious first project was to make her a stocking to match her brother’s…but then I wanted to make something to go IN the stocking.

Enter Miss Polly. Five years ago I saw something similar online – probably on someone’s Etsy site. Sadly, this pre-empted Pinterest, or I’d be able to share my source with you…I have to confess to being quite derivative in my crafty activities, so I drafted a pattern like the softie I saw online and made a Miss Polly the Dolly for our soon-to-be-Kazuo baby. Although he is not a big doll fan now, he did go through a baby phase of cuddling and chewing quite happily on Miss Polly.

Since it is a nice simple pattern and one I could zip together in nap time, I chose to make the wee girl her own Miss Polly. Here she is in progress:

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The fabric is from Dotty Brown as I have made cushions and chair covers for Mei’s nursery – when we finally get to that point – using fabric I ordered from them earlier in the year. Miss Polly is stuffed with organic cotton wadding I ordered from the US for toy crafting – here she is being stuffed :

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Mei has recently started grabbing at things and Miss Polly has already had a few bemused cuddles, here she is in her final sleepy incarnation, I think the little pocket would make her a good tooth fairy doll if you were so inclined.

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Christmas Stocking

It took me a couple of weeks to get around to checking if the Japanese step-down transformer Akira’s mother had sent me would work on my sewing machine after it arrived from the States last month…and then until this week for the postie to finally get through the snow to deliver the replacement transformer we ordered when we found the fittings were incompatible on the Japanese gadget.  And it was not until this weekend that our wonderful long table made it into the house – it is such a great workspace, I have been longing for it for weeks!  So it was with some joy (and a little trepidation) that I set up to finally sew Kazuo’s first Christmas Stocking.

We have been reading numerous books lately that make reference to bulging stockings at Christmas time…and though the Christmas festival still has little point of reference for him, Kaz seems happy about the prospect of hanging up a stocking.

Although there are lots of lovely tutorials and patterns on the net, our printer is out of ink…so I just decided to draft my own.  Thus, like all my cobbled together projects, I do not have a pattern to offer you, and a few errors of construction were made along the way…and if I were to do this again I know what I would do to improve the output…but my non-sewing family members are happy, so I think it turned out well enough to share with y’all.

I used some leftover beige linen for the sock and some stripey fabric I used when constructing fabric items for Kazuo’s nursery for the trim.

First, I cut two pieces of trim and a strip to make a loop for hanging.  I ironed down a small turnover on the shortest sides of the trims and sewed up the strip, folded it out and ironed it ready to insert in the top seam.

Then I appliqued a freehand ‘K’ onto the front of the stocking using the stripes.

Next I sewed the trims onto the top of the stocking, with RIGHT side of the stripes against the WRONG side of the linen stocking.  As you can see from the seam ripper and thread pile…I got this wrong the first time – the instinct to sew right side to right side is so ingrained!

When sewing on the back trim, insert the loop – folded in half, with the edges flush with the outer seam edge – into the seam so that it is attached when you turn out the seam.  Then topstich down the ironed edge of the trim.

Finally, with RIGHT side to RIGHT side, sew around the outer edge of the stocking, matching trims at the top and (hopefully) bottom edges.  Zig-zag/overlock this seam and then trim corners before turning out.

I am looking forward to hooking this up for the wee one in a couple of weeks and filling it with a few treasures so that he has a Christmas surprise.  Now I just need to turn my mind to other Christmassy things…the weather and the relocation have both really slowed down my holiday preparations this year, we are still unsure if we are going to be able to source a tree…but I am determined to use the next couple of weeks to come up with some festive ideas as we begin to build our own family holiday traditions.  All ideas gratefully received!

A Teensy Bit Crafty

Summer doesn’t really make me feel like battening down and spending time being crafty.  But there is some impetus right now to (a) finish up projects before we move so that they are ready for the autumn/winter when we arrive (b) use up some crafting supplies so I won’t have to ship them or dispose of them (shudder) (c) make stuff rather than buy stuff to conserve our meagre resources in the face of impending great expenditure (d) make good use of the little bits of nap time I have each day. So lately I have finished a couple of little projects:

A duvet cover for Kazuo, hardly necessary now, but hopefully useful on the new bed in the new house, he was excited to see the Elephant (‘eeeeeeee’ – that is what they say you know!)

A button-brooch for a gift, inspired by this great gift

A pair of recycled t-shirt  shorts for the wee guy who is currently persistently grazing his right knee and needs things that go down over that precious skin

So that is where I am up to this past week.  I discovered again how much I LOVE my sewing machine’s ability to churn out wonderfully automatic and uniform button holes.  I got re-inspired and cut out about six new projects for upcoming babies and some things I want to make for Kaz before we depart.  AND I finally cast on the jersey I want to knit him for the winter (because we all know it will take me six months or more to come near to completion) to go with this hat.  So plenty to keep me busy.  Better get off here and get cracking!

Hats

Way back in November I cast on a hat for Kazuo for the winter.  I am such a slowpoke knitter, esp when I only do a row or two once or twice a week.  But some lovely peaceful girl-alone nights in the past couple of weeks finally led to the end of the hat.  Just in time for winter to give way to spring with a burst of uncharacteristically HOT days – no need for a woolly hat now Mama!

Since I will not be able to persuade the pop to wear this little creation, here it is being modeled by the living room lamp instead:

It is a version of the flower hat from Susan B Anderson’s Itty Bitty Nursery book that I got at Knitty Couture when I was pregnant.  I knitted it in the 6-12 mths size as the newborn size was really generous and still fitted Kaz’s two-year old sized head this past winter.  But that was in cotton, so this lovely woolly one might not be still in use next winter…we shall see I guess, his head is not growing that much now – we imagine his little body has a bit of catching up to do!  It was knitted on circular needles to begin with and then transferred to bamboo double-pointed needles to finish off – the decreasing is my favourite part and goes really quickly.  Why did it take me all winter though??

Anyway, now it is too too hot, and in good Kiwi-Mama style, I want to shade my wee guy’s face from the terrible effects of the sun.  Once again, debate ensues in the Eason-O’Connor household as Dada insists I am being over-protective and Kaz will survive.  But I persist and make him a hat anyway.

I found this freebie pattern on Make Baby Stuff.  Super easy and quick to run up.  I experimented with my theory that relocating the sewing machine to the kitchen and turning on the noisy extractor fan would mask the sound of my quiet little machine, and hey presto, I can sew when the baby is sleeping!  Yayy.

Here are the pieces cut out and ready to stitch up:

So by lunchtime yesterday there was a new hat to try on when eating the summer lunchtime sandwhich:

And of course it was unceremoniously ripped off (even with elastic to anchor it) as soon as we got to the park in the afternoon…but since he spent most of the time in the water fountain anyway, it would have not been too much protection:

Ah hats…Mama likes to make them…Kazuo is not too keen on wearing them…sigh.

Winter Sewing – Part I

Cushions are my latest obsession.  I do go through phases.  They are nice and easy to sew, and I can construct a couple while Kazuo is sitting at the table watching me sew if they are cut out the night before.  Before Christmas, the only handmade Christmas presents I managed to construct were the two cream felt cushions I made for my mother-in-law.  I based the covers on a design I had admired at the 2008 Rock n Roll Craft Show at Third Degree Glass Factory.  I took them with me to London and got some inners from IKEA that fit beautifully and did NOT break the bank.  They looked substantial.

Acquiring similarly priced inners in St Louis is nigh-on impossible.  The cheapest I have found are twice the price of the IKEA inners, and much less robust.  So, with tarting up our plain old living room sofas in mind, I made a foray to my fav local Goodwill and got me a bundle of cheap old cushions that I can recover.  Not something I would do for a gift, but perfect for us as they are made of much better stuff.

Round one I managed to construct this week.  I was fortunate to receive some of the lovely paua-style fabric from Cushla’s that I had coveted in my Christmas Wish List (thanks Mum!) and so I used a little to make panels in the centre of some black cotton.  The cushions all have 12″ zips in the back so that they can come off and be washed.

One thing I want to know…how do crafty Mamas manage to sew with toddlers around?  I know my mother used to set up the sewing machine inside the playpen and have me outside pottering about, but I don’t think that Kaz would have a bar of that, and besides, we don’t have a playpen.  This week, I succumbed to food-bribery (to which I usually have a deep aversion), since I could not stop the pop from trying to use the foot control – kinda unnerving when the machine races away while your fingers are fiddling about by the presser foot!  So I trussed him up in his clip-on high chair, and gave him a couple of these tasty crackers, and one of the tiny gingerbread men we got in the UK.  Not a big treat, and nothing too filling, but diverting enough for me to sew up two cushion covers and keep Kazuo in a friendly state of mind.  We even played hide and seek behind the sewing machine.    But if anyone has any other bright ideas, then I am all ears.  I can’t sew when he is asleep, it is too noisy in our wee apartment.  And he is past being diverted by toys in the high chair, just throws them instantly to the ground.

Well, the cushions made it through production.  Here they are cheering up our rather muted living room:

Sleep Sack

The weather has definitely turned.  Kazuo is also getting much bigger and the lovely cool cotton sleeping bags my mother made him for the summer were just not keeping him warm, nor were they giving him the room he needed.  We turned on the heating in the interim, especially since my sewing machine chose this time to break down and so it needs to go back for major repairs.  Sigh…

But this week Tarah lent me her machine, which is lovely and sturdy and purrs along like an industrial machine, thanks to all the wonderful metal parts (not like the flimsy plastic on my dear little machine… they don’t make them like they used to!).  So I foisted Kazuo onto Akira yesterday morning, and then propped him up in the living room with loads of toys this afternoon so I could make some cosy fleecy sleeping bags for the winter.  I drafted a pattern based on his measurements now (and leaving room for growth) and using some jumpers as a guideline (the top is much like the up-cycled cardy pattern I made).

Thus, cut 1 back, 2 fronts and 2 sleeves from whatever cosy fabric you can find, like so:

Back Fronts Sleeves

For our boy, who is about 26in long now, I made the back and front about 30in long, and 44in at the widest point all around, so it would take about a yard of fabric.  In this case though, I just cut up a fleece blanket I got cheaply, and so I managed to get another sleeveless sack by piecing together the remainder of the fabric.

First: zig-zag across the hems of both sleeves…

Hem Sleeves

then with right sides together, sew the centre front sections together up to the bottom end of the zip opening, I used a 22in zip, so sewed up to 21in from the top…

Sew up Fronts

then with right sides together, sew the fronts to the back at the shoulder seams…

Fronts to Back

then sew the sleeves into the armholes…

Sleeves to Armholes

then sew a seam all around the bag, starting from the left arm and finishing at the hem of the right sleeve…

Sew Up Bag

then insert the zipper into the right front opening

Zipper

and finally zig zag the neck opening for a tidy finish.

Finished

Here is our wee guy after his first sleep in his sleeveless sack, which will be best for now, though with the cool weather creeping up on us, the sleeves will come in handy really soon.  Hope this gives you some ideas for keeping your little ones warm… it is such a simple process, I churned each bag out in about an hour, start to finish!

Kaz in Sleep Sack