Saturday, 30 March 2013

Tiny Felt Coat

With warm spring weather fast approaching, I'm switching gears and getting ready to post spring and summer themed patterns over the next few months. But first, I give you one last dose of winter, just like the weather has been.

This pattern is part of the Snow Day Ornament Set from Posie Gets Cozy that I received as a gift from a lovely coworker. I had to make the Red Wool Coat ornament immediately. The really fine details are what make this pattern so cute. However, as you may know, I'm absolutely incapable of making something from a pattern without some kind of fundamental modification, so mine became a yellow wool coat.

I'll admit that the colour I chose kind of takes away from the winter warmth vibe you get from the red coat, but I did inadvertently discover an interesting thing: this pattern would make a darn cute spring raincoat if you substituted an umbrella or a pair of wellies for the mittens.

This little coat requires doll buttons, which I'd never used before. I tried all of my smallest regular buttons, but none of them looked right. I ordered the doll buttons on eBay, used three for this project, and now have two hundred tiny (1/4" diameter) buttons to find projects for. I'm pretty excited about that.

The coat ornament was fun to make, and I plan to use this pattern again. (The pattern set also includes mitten and polar bear ornaments.) The one thing I did notice is that the pattern doesn't include a picture of the back of the coat, which would have been a useful reference. Here is what the back looks like:

If you're a fan of tiny felt clothing, here are some freebies that might also interest you:

This felt corset pattern from Flickr user Rectangel has been on my bucket list for years. I'm hoping to get to it soon.

Next time you're at the local library, consider picking up Softies: Simple Instructions for 25 Plush Pals in order to make this Paper Doll Dress by Alicia Paulson. While looking up this book, I found a Steampunk Softie book too! I've placed a hold on it, and should be receiving it soon.

For a coat in a different style, check out this peacoat ornament pattern which includes directions for a tiny little wire coat hanger. You can also find a doll sized kimono pattern at Nuno Life (this blog is full of squee-inducing patterns, pop in and take a look around!)

What does one do with all of these tiny felt things anyway? How about building a sticky board on which to display and play with them? This Smile and Wave tutorial teaches you how to make the board, and includes lots of simple patters for tiny felt clothes to put on it! This is geared towards kids, but I think it would make equally great interactive wall art for an adult.

Check back next week, when I'll be starting on spring with a fluffy cloud and raindrop set!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Templates for a Full Set of Polyhedral Felt Dice

A few months ago, I saw this Geek DIY video guest starring Wil Wheaton, in which he mentions how awesome it would be to have a full set of oversized felt polyhedral dice. I instantly realized just how hard I could rock that project, and rounded up a ruler, protractor, and cardboard index cards to get started.

Many months later, here they are!

Ok, so they're not pillow sized. They're about the size of a big man's fist, and there's a reason for that. Designing templates for a set of three dimensional objects is easy, but designing them in such a way as to make all of the objects in the set the same size after assembly is actually pretty hard.

I started by making a bunch of card-stock models to experiment with size. The cat loved these.

Once I was fairly confident that everything would fit together appropriately, I cut the required number of templates out of felt and hand sewed a number onto each. How long did this take? About one hour per face. Total number of faces: sixty. (Don't worry, I did this mostly while travelling or watching TV.)

The number distribution on a die is not random. There's a rule that determines the position of each face relative to the others. I used actual dice as guides during assembly to make sure each side was in the correct spot, and facing the right way.

Here they are, sewn together and ready to be stuffed:

I considered stuffing the dice with polyfill, but it seemed too light to be satisfying. Walnut shells are another common stuffing material (usually for pincushions), but they lack the springiness that one looks for in a proper throwing die. I settled on good quality cotton as a stuffing. It's got a nice weight, and still manages to be a little bit bouncy.

The finished dice turned out great! The hand sewing makes them look really fun.

So here is the really awesome part... since I've done all the work of designing these dice templates, I can now share them with everyone else who wants to geek out and make themselves a set. With International Tabletop Day coming up on March 30th, how can you resist?

Click HERE to download the templates!

These templates make dice in the size pictured. However, I'm also scaling these up to true pillow size eventually!

Update: Looking to simplify things by making dice out of colourful card-stock? Check out this awesome page for platonic solid paper projects and printable/foldable templates!

Next week on Felt Pattern Friday, I'll be moving on from the woodland series to something new for spring. Stay tuned for a preview of the cuteness to come. In the meantime, here's a last look at my favourite die!

Le Challenge

I am participating in the very first Le Challenge, a monthly themed challenge for crafters. The kickoff theme is geometrics. This is one of my very favourite elements to any project, and these dice were probably my most complex geometric project so far. (Working in 3D is hard!) I am happy to have the occasion to share my geekcraft!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Felt Squirrel Pattern

No woodland pattern collection would be complete without a squirrel! I know there are people out there who aren't fond of them (mostly people with elaborate bird feeders) but personally I'd rather spend my day watching squirrels than birds. Birds are colourful and fascinating, but they don't often frolic.

My first squirrel prototype (on the right) ended up looking more like a confused beaver holding an acorn, so I tried again with a new tail. The final pattern looks more like the grey squirrel. If I get around to making a second woodland animal series, the earlier design will be adapted to make a beaver.

Click HERE to download the free pattern!

This image can be resized to make anything from a tiny squirrel pin to a large squirrel pillow. Basic assembly instructions are included as well. If you would prefer a PDF version of the pattern, it's available through Craftsy HERE (but this one can't be resized).

A squirrel attacked me once. It was in Ottawa's MacDonald Gardens park, which is thought to be haunted since it was built on the site of a former cemetery. Around the time of the 1874 smallpox epidemic, the cemetery was filled to capacity and graves had to be moved. In 1911, the city removed all of the gravestones, piled the unclaimed remains into a hill, and put a pretty gazebo on top. (You can see a picture of the gazebo atop the hill here.) It's now a really nice park, and a wonderful place to spend hours reading in the summertime.

One particularly nice summer day, I went up there to do some school work under a big oak tree. A squirrel came up to me, looking really really cute. I took out a granola bar slowly, and started ripping off pieces to give him. This was during the pre-camera-phone era, but luckily I'd brought an actual camera.

This squirrel was not shy about coming closer to get snacks. Eventually, I got the brilliant idea to see if he would take food out of my hand. So here I am, holding out a piece of granola to a perfectly sensible looking squirrel.

I was excited to get a picture of this adorable moment! Instead, I got a shot of a bloodthirsty beast pouncing at me to rip off a chunk of flesh.

Everything I'd learned about wildlife up to this point should have told me this was going to happen, but I got carried away in the cuteness of the moment. Years later, an Ottawa Haunted Walk tour guide warned us about the squirrels in this park. I was able to confirm that they do indeed have a taste for blood. The next felt squirrel I make will have to be a zombie squirrel in memory of this little guy.

Looking for more free squirrel craft ideas?

How about a rosy cheeked holiday ornament for your tree? Check out these tutorials for an embroidered felt squirrel from You Go Girl, or a squirrel holding a candy cane from Imagine Our Life.

Simple squirrel silhouettes are popular appliqué designs for clothing, bags, pillows, towels, and just about anything else. Visit Ellen at The Long Thread for two patterns you can use, and instructions for attaching your squirrels with fusible webbing. There is also a sew-on silhouette template from Woman's Day magazine, and Virginia Sweet Pea offers a tutorial on how to turn it into a pillow. If you prefer a dishtowel, these instructions will show you how to make them using a template for a tote bag by Country Living. All of these silhouette templates would work really well with fabric paint too! Just draw the design onto freezer paper, cut out, and fuse the negative to your project as a template for painting.

If you have squirrely friends in your yard, consider getting (or making) a squirrel diversion feeder. These are designed to keep squirrels entertained and away from your bird feeders. They also incorporate items like miniature chairs, rotating wheels, or bungee cord for your viewing pleasure. Northwest Nature Shop even offers tips on designing a squirrel obstacle course suitable for their acrobatic abilities.

In preparation for International TableTop Day, I've decided to do something completely different for next week's Felt Pattern Friday. It should be geektastic!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Blocks of the Month for February

Since I've run out of batting, I've been using my quilting time to get ahead piecing blocks for my colour quilt. I made the first 12 blocks of this quilt last year as part of the Quilt Matters Colour My World Challenge, and this year I'd planned to make one complimentary colour block each month, and then quilt both. Instead, I've been making two colour blocks, but quilting none. I hope to fix that soon! (Although, if I keep this going for just three more months, I'll have all of the blocks pieced which also sounds pretty exciting.)

I am sharing my progress so far with the folks at Let's Get Acquainted Monday, and my fellow quilters working on the Try Something New Sampler at The Cute Life, which provided the inspiration for this month's orange block.

You may remember my improvised orange block from last September. This was my absolute favourite of the series. I added a strip of background fabric to it this month and it's now ready for quilting.

To complement this block, I made two of the Try Something New sampler blocks out of the same fabrics. I chose M-R's trapunto block, and Amy's bargello block. There are other designs from this sampler that might show up in future blocks.

I didn't have water soluble thread on hand for the trapunto block, so I used regular thread that I can pull out later. In other words, don't worry, those lopsided white thread boxes will be gone once this block is quilted, and you'll be able to see how nice and puffy the squares are (at least I hope so, it's my first ever trapunto attempt).

Since both of these blocks were exactly half the size that I needed, I joined them together into one block for my colour quilt. I like the amount of negative space in this block. I think it will look great once I've quilted that negative space to give it texture.

The second block I made this month is based on the little houses from the Bee in My Bonnet Row Along. I have to admit, I'm not entirely happy with this block. I think the cutting instructions for the chimneys and windows somehow got switched around. It might have been a mistake on my part, but if it was, I wasn't able to find it when I re-checked my cut pieces. So if you're planning to make this block, avoid an hour of frustration and do the math before you start cutting just in case!

I only figured it out when all of the fabric had been cut, and most of the pieces had been sewn together. The bottom section of each house was a bit too small, and the top was a bit too big. It would have been hard to adjust at this stage without re-cutting some pieces (or cutting the points off both roofs) and I wasn't about to do either of those things. As a result, some sections are baggier than others, with corners that aren't quite pointy. Luckily most of that will disappear with some dense quilting. At least it came out looking cute!

This little house block goes with my TARDIS blue wonky log cabin from last November. I gave that block some extra sashing to make it the right size and it came out looking even more awesome than before. Yay! (I still wish I'd refrained from using the dinosaurs though...)

That's eight blocks so far, and four more almost complete for March (this month it's white & cyan). If you missed the first four blocks for January (red & grey), here they are:

Friday, 8 March 2013

Felt Shamrock Pattern

With St-Patrick's day coming up, the internets are filling up with clover (all of which will be gobbled up shortly by the Easter rabbit invasion). I made two of these out of felt last year, and I think they turned out very well. I still had the original drawing kicking around, so I thought I'd share with those looking to make pins, appliqués, or ornament of their own. Think of all the party gear that could be made more awesome simply by hanging a handmade shamrock on it: wine glasses, garlands, balloons, lamps, hats, shirts, shoes... and, around here, toques, mittens and scarves.

Party tip: Attach a string to your shamrock in order to slip it around the neck of a beer bottle. It will help you remember which one is yours on a crowded table.

Click HERE to download the free pattern.

This pattern image can be resized to make anything from a small shamrock pin to a large shamrock pillow. A PDF version of the pattern is also available through Craftsy HERE (PDFs can't be resized though).

Want more adorable and free clover themed project ideas for your St-Partrick's day party?

If you are looking for some easy wearables, there are no-sew 4 leaf clover pins, or shamrock hair barrettes

Happy St-Patrick's day all!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Felt Skunk Pattern

I was really hoping to tell you all about my skunk pattern last week, but time somehow got away from me. The skunks are very disappointed at having been left in my draft folder for a week, you can tell by their tilted heads and beady little eyes. Or maybe they're just curious about you.

Click HERE to download the free pattern.

This pattern image can be resized to make anything from a small skunk pin to a large skunk pillow. A PDF version of the pattern is also available through Craftsy HERE (PDFs can't be resized though).

This skunk is actually based on my badger pattern. Someone had mentioned that it looked a bit like a skunk, so I thought I would make a badger in black & white to see what happened. This was the result :

This wasn't quite what I was going for, but it was a good start. With a few modifications, it became the pattern you see above. This skunk has no tail, and for that I apologize. It's the badger's fault... He didn't have a tail, and I couldn't quite figure out where to add one after the transformation. This is where your imagination will come into play!

The way I would do it, if I was making a skunk ornament, is to add a white stripe all the way up the back. You can use the skunk diagram from the pattern (shown on the left) as a template for cutting out the back (shown on the right). Then, you can get as creative as you want adding a white stripe. Sew the front and back together to complete the project.

Want more adorable and free skunk project ideas? There aren't many out there, it turns out. Skunks seem to be one of the more underrepresented of the adorable woodland creatures. It's up to us to change that!

Crochet a Punk Skunk Hat for your rebel toddler, created by Craftsy designer SewMuchLove.

Learn how to sculpt a clay skunk with a fluffy tail thanks to this kid-friendly tutorial.

Knit a funky skunk scarf from this pattern, designed by Goodnightgram.

Next week on Felt Pattern Friday, we'll be switching gears and talking shamrocks in preparation for St-Patrick's day. The woodland creature series will wrap up the following week with squirrels, and news about the upcoming series.