Toys+Plush

Katie Startzman blogs at Duo Fiberworks. She writes about simple wood carving, knitting and felting, and is right now obsessed with making sandals and shoes.

Knitting pattern: felted milk & juice bottles for pretend play

I like making small felted toys for my two sons. We’ve been working on adding to our play kitchen by making play food from wood, but I wanted to bring some softness to the space.

These sturdy felted bottles are just the thing for a pretend glass of milk or juice. You can knit up both bottles in an evening, and the pattern includes illustrated directions for how to hand felt, embellish and shape the bottles.

The bottles are knit in the round and require only simple shaping. It’s a great project for beginners because minor mistakes will be unnoticeable after felting. The yarn choice determines the finished size, the juice bottle is knit with a heavy worsted wool and is a bit larger. The bottles are adorned with a simple wool-felt label and the cork stoppers are an old-fashioned touch.

Download the PDF knitting pattern here.

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Amy Adams is a Designer and Crafter who blogs under the name LucyKateCrafts where you can see more of her softies and patterns. Her first book was published in April 2011 by C&T Publishing as part of their imprint range, Stash Books, and is full of cute and quirky softie patterns for all sorts of wildlife including a swan, otter and hedgehogs. There are other insects, such as a dragonfly and bumble bees, to go along with the ladybird, in the book.

Lady bird felt softie

You will need:

  • 1 piece of fabric 3” x 6” (7.5 x 15cm) for the body
  • 1 piece of craft felt 3” x 4” (7.5 x 10cm) for the wings
  • 1 piece of craft felt 1” x 2” (2.5 x 5cm) for the eyes
  • 2 small buttons
  • sewing thread
  • stuffing
  • small pebble to weight the ladybird
  • plus the usual needle, pins, scissors etc

Making the body

  1. Cut 2 body shapes using the template provided from your chosen fabric, place them right sides together and pin.
  2. Sew round the edge leaving the turning gap open.
  3. Turn the body right side round, stuff with a little of the stuffing, then pop in the pebble to give the ladybird a little bit of weight. Continue to stuff until it is almost full then fold in the raw edges of the turning gap and sew it closed.

Adding the eyes and wings

  1. Cut 2 eye circles from the smallest piece of craft felt. Hold one in position on the body (the opposite end to where the turning gap was), and anchor in place by attaching it on with one of the small buttons.
  2. Repeat for the other eye.
  3. Cut 2 wings from the other piece of craft felt and attach one to the body using small random straight stitches along the short straight edge. Flip the other wing and attach in the same way so both wings line up as indicated on the template.

Embroidery embellishment

  1. Add some french knots dotted around each of the wings. To do this, anchor your embroidery thread to the ladybird’s body with a knot underneath one of the wings. Bring the thread up through the wing, wrap it round the needle 3 times and then take the thread back down through the body, coming up where you want the next french knot to appear, pulling the previous knot tight as you go.
  2. Add some antennae by passing a short length of embroidery thread through the head from one side to the other, just above each eye. Remove the needle and tie a knot in each end of the thread, trimming the length if need be.

Your ladybird is now complete. If you have any trouble getting hold of small buttons for the eyes, here are some ideas of other alternatives.

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Katie writes for Ohdeedoh, but her number one job is taking care of her 3 kids, an overworked husband, and an antique cat. She’s addicted to making stuff, and tries to share as often as she can at Ohdeedoh or at her personal blog, matsutakeblog.

Autumn is my favorite season, and here in Minnesota it’s especially beautiful. I started making this corn maze marble run for my kids, and ended up going totally overboard with the Fall details.

The marble starts in the farmer’s wagon (made of tiny raisin boxes) and you have to get it inside the barn (a small milk carton) by tilting the whole thing (a cardboard file box lid) in your hands.

Be careful to avoid the duck pond and the pig’s mud puddle. To make these obstacles, just cut a hole in the bottom of the box and glue a piece of cardstock on the bottom of the box to cover the hole.

Then you have to choose between going through the pumpkin patch or past the old apple tree to enter the cornfield. You can find a tutorial for making the tree at my blog. The little felt hay bales keep you from going straight into the barn yet.

Once you’re inside the cornfield, you have to avoid making wrong turns into a dead end. To make the corn, cut cotton swabs in half and paint them yellow.


Once you pass through the grain silo (a toilet paper tube) you can roll around to enter the barn. You’re done!


Be sure to glue all the parts down really well so that nothing flies off while the kids are playing.
Happy Autumn! Thank, Kathreen!

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For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

Anna Hrachovec is a Brooklyn-based designer and fiber artist who creates strange and adorable characters for all ages. She divides her time between designing knitting patterns that she shares with the crafting community and creating complex knitted worlds for exhibition. She is the author of two books of knitted toy patterns, Knitting Mochimochi and Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi, and you can find her blog and patterns at mochimochiland.com.

Knitting Teeny-Tiny Toys

I’m really excited to be guest blogging on Whipup again!

This time I want to share with you my biggest (but actually smallest) knitting obsession over the past two years: really tiny knitting. I’ve been knitting toys nonstop since 2007, but in July of 2009 I decided to challenge myself by designing and knitting a new miniature toy every day for a month, and sharing a photo of the finished project on my blog. My subject matter was about as random as you can get: animals, foods, people, and any kind of object I could think of. I started with a Tiny Brain.

Some days it was more of a challenge than other days (a Tiny Mailbox turned out to be a tricky project, for example), but I was having lots of fun with it and getting encouragement from my blog readers. So I decided to continue the challenge on a weekly basis, and 130 Tinys later, it’s still ongoing to this day! I never thought I would stick with it this long, but it seems that there is no end to the things that are fun to make in miniature knitted form. You wouldn’t think that a Tiny Asparagus would be so cute, but often I am surprised by which random things turn out to be my favorites.

So I started out the project because I was looking for a challenge, and I continued it because the challenge was so much fun. The fact that it turned into a book was a huge bonus! Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi was just released by Potter Craft in August (at least in the US; the release date for other countries is happening this fall).

Designing a Tiny takes about one to three hours, depending on how complex it is.

I start with an idea of something that I want to knit, whether it’s a frog, a hamburger, or a fire hydrant. I make a sketch of what I think that thing looks like. I think it’s valuable to put on paper my imagined idea of what this thing generally looks like (I’m not a skilled illustrator by any means, so it truly is a general idea).

Then I usually do a Google Images search to see if there are any important features that I left out. Sometimes I’ll look at other simple line drawings, like clip art, although I don’t want to be too influenced by another person’s artistic rendering.

Next, I go back to my notebook, and keep sketching until I arrive at a design that’s as simple as possible while capturing the essence of whatever it is I want to represent. Sometimes this means sketching something over and over again, until something takes shape. In the end, I usually have one basic shape with just a few details. And a pair of eyes, of course!

Now it’s time to knit. Since I’ve been knitting toys for about five years now, I have some go-to formulas in my head that I use for basic shapes. But there’s nothing better than trial-and-error when knitting toys, and since the designs are so small, it doesn’t hurt to just start knitting and then start over if I have to.

For the main piece, I usually work from the bottom up, or from back to front, because the closed-up end looks better than the cast-on end. I almost always knit this main piece in the round using double-pointed needles.

Time for details. For flat pieces, I will often pick up the stitches, which looks like this:

And for long, thin pieces, I make an I-cord and thread it through the main piece. I do this with lots of arms and legs on animals and people.

Embroider on the eyes and a few other details, and we’re done: a tiny blue penguin!

It’s so simple and quick, I bet any intermediate knitter could tackle their own Tiny toy design. Let me know if you do! You can see all of my Tinys on the Mochimochi Blog. Happy knitting!

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Abby Glassenberg is an artist, teacher and mother living in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Abby works from her home studio sewing soft toys and soft sculptures. Her book The Artful Bird: Feathered Friends to Make and Sew was published by Interweave in January of 2011. Abby blogs at www.whileshenaps.typepad.com.

Thank you, Kathreen, for inviting me as a guest on Whipup.net today! As you may know, I love to make softies and I especially love to design my own softie patterns and teach others to do so as well. I am currently writing a book about soft toy design (due out with Lark Crafts in the spring of 2013) in which I am showing step-by-step how to design your very own softie patterns, from beginner techniques to advanced jointed, gusseted toys. Writing this book is a dream come true for me!

I thought it might be fun to share a pattern for a hobby horse here on Whipup.net today. My daughters, Stella (5) and Roxanne (7) have a dearly beloved handmade Hobby Horse named Blackberry that they ride around our upstairs hallway many afternoons after school. I hope you’ll enjoy making this hobby horse for a special child in your life.

Hobby Horse Pattern & Tutorial

(Sewing pattern by Abby Glassenberg for personal use only)

Materials:

  • brown wool-blend felt, 1/2 yard, or felted wool sweater in brown
  • scraps of wool-blend felt in lighter brown, white, blue and black
  • white embroidery floss, 12 inches
  • fiberfill toy/pillow stuffing
  • wooden dowel 1 inch wide or narrower, broomstick or tree branch, about 36 inches
  • rag or fabric scrap for wrapping the end of the dowel
  • twine, ribbon or string for the bridle
  • brown yarn for mane
  • all-purpose thread in white, black, and blue

Tools:

  • cardboard and a pencil
  • sewing machine
  • hand-sewing needle
  • embroidery needle
  • curved upholstery needle
  • scissors for fabric
  • disappearing fabric marker or tailor’s chalk
  • hot glue gun (optional)

Steps:
Notes on pattern: The pattern for the horse’s head is large so you will need to piece it together. No seam allowance has been added in the pattern so you will need to add a 1/4 inch seam allowance to all of the pattern pieces except the eye and eyelid. Transfer the pattern to stiff cardboard and cut out. Pattern pieces can be downloaded here in 4 parts: Part 1 : Part 2 : Part 3 : Part 4.

Step 1: Place the head and head gusset pattern pieces on the wool-blend felt or felted wool sweater and trace around them with tailor’s chalk or a disappearing fabric marker. Cut them out, transferring markings.

Step 2: Cut two ears in light brown felt and two in darker brown felt. Place one light against one dark and stitch around, leaving the bottom open. Repeat for the other ear. Trim the seam allowances to 1/8 inch, clipping across the tip of the ear near the stitching line, and turn the ears right side out. Fold each ear on the fold line and pin to hold.

Step 3: Place one ear against one head piece where marked, lining up the raw edges, and baste. Repeat for the other ear.

Step 4: Stitch the head gusset to one head piece from point A to point B trapping the raw edges of the ear in the seam as you go. Repeat for the other head piece.  Stitch the remainder of the horse’s head, leaving the bottom open. Clip the curves, especially at the neck and turn the head right side out.

Step 5: Stuff the head firmly until it is about 3/4 of the way stuffed. Wrap the end of the dowel or stick with a rag. Tie the rag in place with twine.  Insert the dowel into the head pushing it all the way up to the crown. Push stuffing around the dowel so that it is snug inside the head. Finish stuffing the head, leaving about 2 inches at the base of the neck unstuffed, as marked.

Step 6: Tie off the base of the neck with twine. Use a double knot to secure. If you’d like, put a bead of hot glue underneath the felt, where it meets to the dowel, all the way around to secure.

Step 7: With no seam allowance, cut out two circles of felt in black for the pupil, two in blue for the eyeball, and two in white for the white of the eye. With floss, take three small straight stitches in the pupil to form a highlight. Layer the eye and stitch each layer in place with coordinating thread.

Step 8: Place eyelid pattern piece on a folded piece of brown wool-felt. With no seam allowance, cut out. Repeat so that you have two eyelids. Nestle eyes between eyelid layers. Stitch the eyes to the head.

Step 9: For the nostril, use brown yard to tie a French knot on either side of the muzzle.

Step 10: For mane, thread curved upholstery needle with a single 36 inch strand of brown yarn. Take a small stitch at the top of the head, pulling yarn through so that it leaves a 3 inch tail. Cut yarn 3 inches from the head. Tie yarn ends in a double knot to hold. Repeat to create a mane of desired thickness. Trim mane to desired length.

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