Kids Art Dolls

My heart was absolutely melting as I stitched these dolls up! They are so damn adorable!

My heart was melting as I sewed, these dolls turned out super cute!

Making and designing dolls is super fun! I have been doing it since I learnt how to use a sewing machine. It wasn’t long before I started drawing my own outlines aka pattern to sew my own designs. To make something that you can then play with is super satisfying and such a proud moment for children! It amazing to watch children proudly play with their dolls and tell everyone that it is their design! But it isn’t limited to children! I had a lot of fun coming up with the concept! I now have a mini me! haha

These dolls are a simple rag doll, which encourage creativity and develop a usable resource at the end. I had children do the drawing, whilst I did the sewing, but you could use it as an introduction to sewing as well, whether it be hand sewing or machine sewing. We just weren’t quite there yet.


To start with I drew a simple template, and then traced this onto fabric, leaving enough room around each doll for seam allowance. I used an off white homespun I had left over from another project. I think you can get ~7 dolls per metre of fabric (fronts and backs).

Basic doll template
Trace around doll template onto fabric. Don’t you just love my template!

Then I gave this to the children (they had two each) along with a bunch of fabric markers. We were using “Stained By Sharpie” and the fabric markers from Ikea, along with some normal sharpies to round out the colour selection (still to be determined how these withstand the test of time). I am looking for a full set of fabric markers with a decent range of colours (hoping for brown, beige, light pink), if you find some, let me know!

We used “stained by sharpie” , Ikea fabric markers and a few normal sharpies to round out the colour selction

Then have fun! drawing, colouring, decorating. Make one to look like yourself! A friend? Your favourite character, a character you made, a super hero, JUST DRAW and be creative. There are no rights or wrongs.

I took the drawings back to the studio to sew up. The children did not totally stick to the template. I tried to stay true to their drawings where possible, so I too diverted from the template whilst sewing. This was mostly in the head area where they had added hair, ears and bows.

To sew, I took their drawings and laid it right sides together with another piece of fabric. I used the same plain homespun, but if I did it again, I would use something with a pattern. Stitch on the line from the template, or close to the drawings. Make sure you leave a turn out gap!

pin right sides together

Cut the pieces out a 1/4 inch away from seam. Clip curves and turn right sides out. Use stuffing (poly-fill or something similar) to stuff. Hand stitch opening closed.

Stitch on the edge. I mostly stuck to the template line, but also tried to stay true to the childrens drawings, so in some parts I have sewn around the drawing instead of staying on the template line.

Wala! A gaggle of gorgeous custom dolls!

All the finished dolls

I would love to see what you (and your children) come up with! I do intend on trying to make some simple clothes for them, but that might be a while off yet!

Have a creative week

<3 Cate

March Making Madness

Happy “National Craft Month”! I’m not entirely sure which nation this celebration belongs to, but I’m claiming it as my own! Any excuse to celebrate the art of making is a good excuse!

I started the month of making strong! I ventured into my community for a bit of a sewing bee for the local preschool!

Hard at work! And yes, those boxes were full of gorgeous fabric!

Six lovely ladies came together to sew cushion covers, tutus, capes and skirts! We were lucky to have several boxes of gorgeous fabrics donated to us to assist in this adventure! Honestly, we had a better selection of fabric to work with than what you would find in my cupboard right now!

Sew, sew, sew!

So thank you to Tammi for organizing and Caroline, Dea, Denae and Jodie for coming out to sew! Twas a good morning (and a very productive one at that!)

This is what we achieved in just under 2 hours. Capes, Cushion covers, skirts, tutus, fabric play squares.

I currently have two quilts spread out all over my living room. One is for a friend, and will be gifted later this month, so you will have to wait a little longer to see that one! I have taught myself so many new things with this quilt!

A sneak peak of the quilt current;y taking up most of my time! It’s not all dinosaurs…

The other is for the local playgroup. I wandered off with an armful of pre-cut squares after the sewing bee, and have been spending 5 mins here and there putting it together. It will become a floor quilt for children to sit on to read stories etc. I absolutely love making quilts that will be used.

A floor quilt in progress!
I grabbed enough pre-cuts to make another couple of quilts for the school!

So I’m pretty much set for projects for the next few weeks!

What are you working on?

Have a creative week!
<3 Cate

Rag Rug

A couple of years ago, my Aunty approached me to do a demonstration at her local museum which she runs. She asked if I could demonstrate a crochet rag rug, which my mum had actually made.

Now, I had not made a rug before, but said yes anyways.

So I spent some time figuring it out, and then writing some instructions, and today, I’m going to share those instructions with you.

Rag rugs are a great way to transform old, worn textiles into something that is both practical and beautiful. You can crochet your own from materials you have on hand.

Last week we looked at ways of making yarn. Now it’s time to crochet!

I will give you a run down on how to crochet an oval rug. You could make it any shape you desire of course! But the oval is a good place to start. With the oval rug, you increase on the ends and maintain the sides. the longer the starting chain, the longer and skinnier your rug will be. The shorter your starting chain, the shorter and fatter your rug will be. Be prepared to wander from these instructions. It is hard to give instructions on how to make a rag rug, as variances in yarn can change the way the crochet material acts.

When choosing a hook, find a nice big one. The size of your hook could depend on a couple of factors. The width and thickness of your yarn, and your tension – how tight or loose you crochet. I am using an 11.5mm, I find a 10mm to be a nice size too. Test out a couple of hooks and see what works best for you, your yarn and your tension.

You will need to know how to work a chain and a single crochet. I abbreviate these through out the instructions to – chain (ch) and single crochet (sc)

To begin, make a chain (ch). I find 12 ch to be a nice number. The last two ch equals 1 sc, giving you 10 stitches to work with.

Work a single crochet (sc) into the second chain from the hook. Continue to sc into each ch until you reach the last ch.

In the last ch do 3 sc to increase. Continue around with 1 sc in each chain until you reach the last ch to increase.

On the sides of the rug you will continue with 1 sc into each. Only at the ends will you increase.

For the second round of increases sc into each of the stitches on the previous row. When you get to the 3 sc increases on each end, do 2 sc into each. Continue to 1 sc into each sc on the sides.

Continue in this manner, 1 sc along the sides and increases at the ends. For each round your increases will get further apart. For example, on the third round you will do 2 sc into one, then 1 sc into one, 2 sc etc. Then on the fourth row increase the sc between increases to 2, so you have 2 sc in once, 1 sc into one, 1 sc into one, 2 sc into one etc. The 5th row you will have 3 sc between increases and son on and so forth until your rug reaches the desired size. You may need to play with where your increases fall and experiment with what works best for your yarn.

This diagram gives you an idea of how to begin a rag rug, and the first few rows of increases at each end.

The finished mat! I added a scalloped edge!

Trouble shooting

Your rug may start to go wobbly or maybe even start turning up like a basket. If it goes wobbly, it means you have too many increases and need to do less increases. If it starts turning up like a basket, it means you have too few increases and you will need to put a few more increases in.

If, when you finish, your rug won’t lay flat, you can try blocking it. To do this you will need to lay it out on something that can get a bit damp. I have a piece of acoustic board which I cover in towels, and I can pin directly into. A plastic sheet on some carpet will work the same as well. Lay your rug out and pin down. Moisten the rug with water. Move your hands over the cloth and press down on any places in need of smoothing out. Stretch, pin and shape as necessary. Allow to dry, then unpin.

Another project in progress. This one became a cat bed. I stopped increasing for the last few rows to allow edges to form. I have made baskets and bags in this way too.

I love working with scrappy yarn, it gives so much texture. There are many different things you could make besides a rug. What else can you think of?

Have a creative week!
<3 Cate

Making Yarn for Crochet Rag Rugs

When I worked retail in a craft store I was often confronted with the question “What yarn can I crochet with?” In which I responded “Any of them” and then the reply came “No, I don’t want a knitting yarn, I want something to crochet with” *sigh* I pointed them in the direction of ‘crochet cotton’. They didn’t know they were talking to the girl who has tried to crochet things most people couldn’t comprehend, things like plastic bottles, copper wire, her favorite t shirt…

I want to share with you some instructions for a crochet rag rug I wrote a couple of years ago now, but I thought I’d break it down into two parts. Today I want to show you some ways to turn textiles you have laying around the house into yarn, which I consider nice yarn for these rag rugs.

scissors laid looking like its cutting into fabric which unravels into yarn and a crochet hook lays looking likes its crocheting
cutting t-shirt yarn to crochet

Making Yarn for rag rugs

Rag yarn can be made from various textiles, including old clothes, bed linen and off cuts from craft fabrics. The best I have found to work with are old cotton t-shirts, bed sheets and all the long strips leftover from quilting projects.

Knitted and woven fabrics give you different effects. Knitted fabric, with a light tug, will roll in on itself and give you a nice round yarn to work with. Once crochet, it has a nice clean, contemporary look about it. Woven fabric on the other hand, stays flat and has an inherent fray to the edges. This produces a rustic look. Both are beautiful in their own right. And both equal in their ease of use.

Once you have created your yarn, I reccomend rolling it into a big ball. This will stop it from tangling up. Now, I’ve always hand rolled my balls, but recently I’ve seen Gypsy Weaver Studio working with rag yarn using a ball winder, and I think this is a fabulous idea!

When cutting your yarn, it is ideal to have a width of 1.5 – 2 inches. A rough estimate is all that is needed as any discrepencies will dissappear in the crochet stitches.

To cut continuous yarn from a t-shirt, cut straight across the top just below the arms. starting at the bottom, cut in a spiral to the top.

Cut t-shirts in a spiral

To cut continuous yarn from a sheet or large piece of fabric you have two options.

The first option is to round off the corners and cut in a spiral until you get to the middle.

cutting fabric in spirals

The other option is to start on one edge and cut strips twice as wide as you want your finished strips to be, making sure you stop about 2cm from the edge. Then, from the other edge, cut straight down the middle of those strips, again, making sure you stop before you get to the edge. I use this technique a lot, especially when dealing with fabric off cuts that are a tad too big and need to be cut down.

Cut from each side, making sure not to cut right through!

Now, I personally work with a lot of patchwork off cuts (mostly because people are always giving mum scraps!) and that means working with a lot of smaller lengths, so of course you are going to have to join them! You can just knot them, and use them as a feature! Marion has successfully done this with a rag rug and made the knots sit on the top of the rug for a kind of “pile” look. But it that’s not what your going for you will need a some what invisible way to join them. You could sew them together. I’m too lazy for that and use a slip knot technique.
Cut slits in the ends of the pieces you want to join. Slip the end of one of your strips through the slit of the other, then through the slit of itself. gently pull until the join rests neatly within itself.

Joining ends with a slip knot

Cutting can be hard on your hands. As can crocheting with bulky yarns. Make sure you give yourself plenty of breaks and listen to your body!

By all means, this is not the only ways to make yarn! And of course these are not the only things you can make yarn from! Please share your tips and tricks and the craziest things you have made yarn from 🙂

I’ll be back next week with a brief over view on how I made a rag rug!

Have a creative week!
<3 Cate

Happy Valentines Day – A Softie Portrait

Lets flash back to 2014.

I made a soft portrait of the one and only Guy.

For the first six years of our relationship, everything was about paintball! Guy lived, ate and slept paintball! So it made sense (at least at the time lol) to portray him in his paintball essence!

I started out sketching a pattern, then starting to work in fabric.
I worked the details with embroidery. Can you see all that beautiful hair I embroidered, just to sew a sandanna over the top! haha!
Arms and legs were stitched directly to the body.
Even the pants got the embroidery treatment to look more like paintball pants!
I shaped a pb marker and goggles from wire, aluminium foil and polymer clay, and Guy helped me paint them.
More embroidery for the jersey. His actual real life jersey is on the left.
and all finished
The real life Guy
The Softie Guy

If I were to make a softie portrait of Guy today, It would be suite wearing, cheeky grinning corporate Guy! But his heart is still the same funny, cheeky, caring one that I met some 11 years ago.

Happy Valentines Day. Even if you don’t have a “valentine” I hope you take a moment to appreciate those that you love, those that take you on those crazy adventures and those that make your life that little bit special!

<3 Cate

Crochet Shrug

I had an “Aha!” moment one day at work. The children were “make your own costume”ing, in which, they were given a bag fabric fabric and let loose! The pieces of fabric I dug out of the cupboard for this experince were decent sizes, the smaller ones 1m x 50cm, up to pieces approx 3m long.

The “aha!” moment came when a child made a hooded vest from a rectangle of fabric and one line of sewing. They folded the fabric in half, and stitched one short edge together, this formed the hood. They then cut arm holes. This made me realize that garments don’t need complicated pattern drafting, simple can be really effective!

And thus I set off exploring ideas of what I could make with a simple shape of fabric and a few well though out cuts or seams.

I decided to have a go at making a crochet shrug from one granny square.

My shrug story may have started with an “AHA!” moment, but the supplies started with a box of wool roving, leftover from making my wedding bouquet! (I’ll admit, I bought extra, so I could spin some!)
The roving turned into gorgeous hand spun yarn!
And then I started crocheting one big granny square, using my gorgeous hand carved hook I made years ago!
Once I had made a square big enough to go around me (occasionally check by using safety pins to hold it together) I gave it a bit of a wash and then pinned it out onto a piece of acoustic board I picked up at the Green Shed.
I folded the square together and stiched partway along the edges. This made arm holes. After that, I crochet about 3 rows around the main edge.
The finished shrug on the dress makers dummy. I think i need to make a nice wooden shawl pin! It’s currently held together with my wooden crochet hook!
The back view, you can really see the granny square pattern 🙂

It’s still wayyyyy too hot to wear this! But I’m all set when the weather starts to turn! I think it will be nice to wear over a long sleeve shirt for a little extra warmth!

I’m so in love with the hand spun yarn I used for this! I have one ball left! Do you have any suggestions on something small I should make out of it?

As for making garments from simple shapes, there are many more ideas to explore! I’ve seen a few circle shrugs made from crochet, where they leave arm holes in the making process. I would also like to explore something hooded. So many possibilities!

Have a creative week!
Cate

The Wedding Dress – Continued

My wedding dress started off life as the wedding dress my Grandmother wore to her wedding in 1954 to my Grandfather. It was then worn by her sister, Joyce. By the time it came into my possession, it had spent many years in storage, was full of holes and had little yellow spots all over it.

I wrote a little about starting my dress here.

I chose the song “Shut up and dance with me” by Walk the Moon, to walk down the aisle to pretty early on in wedding planning. I took inspiration from the lyrics “a backless dress and some beat up sneaks” and went searching for a pattern that was tea length and backless!

After scouring pattern books for a suitable dress pattern that fit all my requirements, I settled on Simplicity 8289.

I used Simplicity pattern 8289 to make my dress

I made a tester dress from lace and satin I bought off the discount table at Spotlight. I shortened the length of the shorter dress pattern by 6 inches. This was a great length for a party dress, but maybe a little too short for a wedding dress! I made the wedding dress three inches shorter than the pattern, which was perfect!

The test dress! And a test set up of our glasses display! And a hair/makeup test too!! A day of “tests”!

Once I started working with Grandmas dress, it quickly became apparent that the lace was extremely delicate and would need some support. I decided to sew each piece of lace to a piece of tulle. I used seed beads, Swarovski crystals and seed pearls to stitch the two layers together.

Before cutting into the lace, I cut the pattern from the tulle and basted this to the lace, then cut around this.
To be able to cut the entire skirt from the lace of grandmas dress, I had to make the front panel into three sections, this meant I wouldn’t have a seam down the middle of the front of the dress.
Seed beads, Swarovski crystals and seed pearls have been stitched to hold a layer of lace to a layer of tulle. Photo credit Studio Vita

The pattern sewed up relatively easy once I had beaded all the pieces. I did struggle with were the facings meet at the front, and ended up having mum hand sew them into place, which did the job.

Sewing in the zipper. I really need to get an invisible zipper foot if I even need to do this again!

I even managed to salvage two button loops from the cuffs off Grandmas dress and use them as the closure on the neck of my dress, with some of Mums pearl shell buttons!

The dress has three layers. The outer layer is lace from Grandmas dress, sewn to tulle. The middle layer is silk, sourced from op shops, the bodice has silk dupion to give it a bit of structure, whilst the skirt is a very light weight silk. The lining is cotton voile.

Photo credit Studio Vita
The front of the dress
Photo credit Studio Vita.
The back of the dress
Photo credit Studio Vita

I absolutely LOVED have a circle skirt, especially since our first dance was swing! I wore a rainbow petticoat underneath, and I was just like a little kid, showing off how high I could make my skirt twirl!

Photo credit Studio Vita
Photo credit Studio Vita

It was important to me to make my own dress. It was an absolute honor to be able to re-purpose my Grandmas dress. And I hope that this dress will be continued again, maybe my children or niece will re-purpose it? I hope this story isn’t finished! I hope this story will continue writing itself!

I have to add, I never completely finished the dress. There was some beading around seams that I just never got to. But it kinda felt like one of those structures, that if it was ever truly finished, it would cause some kind of apocalypse! haha.

A Wet Felt Wedding Bouquet

I’ve shared with you some progress shots of HOW I made my wedding bouquet, but never showed you the finished product!!

And I defiantly think it’s worth showing off!

Photo credit to Studio Vita!

Photo credit Studio Vita

I wet felted all the flowers. I used a rainbow of merino roving and a little bit of sari silk fibre to give some interest to each flower.

Photo credit Studio Vita

A felted ball become the centre for each flower, and beads were hand stitched around these to add some sparkle.

Photo credit Studio Vita

I added a few trinkets, a pink brooch Mum had given me at some point…

Photo credit Studio Vita

A butterfly that belonged to my Grandma…

Photo credit Studio Vita

I tied coloured ribbons around the stems to hold it all together.

Photo credit Studio Vita

I love it so very very much. And the best bit? I get to keep it forever!!

I purchased an Ikea lightbox to keep it in, and it is now proudly displayed on the side board in the living room!

Produce Bags

In an attempt to reduce our plastic usage, we have moved to using reusable produce bags for our fresh fruit and veg. I was given a handful of curtain sheer remnants, which were perfect for making these bags! I have a lot more curtain sheer fabric leftover from making curtains for the entire house, so I will be making many more of these to share around!

Materials:

  • Scraps of sheer curtain fabric (or other light, meshy, fabric)
  • Cotton drawstring (or ribbon, something that can be used as a drawstring)
I cut rectangles of fabric approx 14 inches by 22 inches. This size can be varied depending on what size bag you like. The size of my fabric remnants determined the size of mine! But they turned out to be a great size!
Fold your rectangle of fabric in half and pin the edges.
Sew the edges together using a quarter inch seam allowance.
Trim the seam allowance about half way. We are going to sew the seam again to make sure its nice and strong and able to carry a bag full of apples!
Turn inside out and sew edges again, enclosing the first seam. This gives you an enclosed “french” seam for an extra strong finish.
sew
I squared off my bottom corners. To do this, take the corner and flatten it out so there is fabric either side of the seam. Use a ruler and pencil to mark one and a half inches from the point.
Sew along the line.
Turn right side out. You can see how it gives it a nice boxy bottom.
Now to make a casing around the top of the bag. Fold over about half an inch, then again another inch. Pin.
Sew, leaving a gap at one edge to pull drawstring through.
For the drawstring, take the drawstring, tie a knot, then push a safety pin through the knot. Push this through the casing you just sewed around the top of the bag.
Knot the two ends together.
And now your all set to go shopping!

Shopping Bag Pouches

I wrote the tutorial for my shopping bags last year. For Christmas this year, I made sets of shopping bags for Guys side of the family. Instead of just giving them a stack of bags, I decided to make it into a shopping bag kit of sorts, making a little pouch for the bags to go in, complete with a key ring to keep a trolley token on!

I made the pouches using the leftover fabric from making the bags.

After cutting out bags out using my shopping bag pattern, you end up with scraps looking like this. To make a pouch, you will need the scraps from two bags.
You will have a large section of fabric, with curved corners, and pieces attatched to the sides. Cut the attached pieces off, so you are left with a rectangle like shape with two curved corners.
You will have four pieces of fabric the same size, that look like these. If they are not quite the same size, trim them a little so they are.
cut a rectangle approximately five inches long
iron both edges into the middle, then in half.
stitch close to the edge
Pin two pieces together along the top edge, right sides together.
sew along pinned edge
iron seams to one side
Lay the two pieces rigth sides together, making sure centre seams line up. Pin at centre. Fold loop piece in half. This will be sandwiched between the two layers to one side.
The loop is sandwiched in between the two layers, about an inch down from the centre seam. I put a key ring on the loop before sewing in, as it is easier to do now rather than later. Then make sure it is pinned in. Then pin right around.
Sew right around the edge, leaving a opening on the end opposite to the end you attached the loop to. This will allow you to turn out the pouch.
Turn right sides out. It should look something like this. Stitch the gap closed, I was lazy and did a top stitch with the sewing machine close to the edge, but hand sewing this could be neater. It will be on the inside though, so should never really be seen!
And then the magic happens. You kinda just stuff half the bag into the other half, smoothing out edges and corners as you go. It should look something like this. Top stitch around the top seam, this will hold everything in place. I also added a snap in the middle to hold the top closed. I didn’t get photos of that process, but follow the instructions on the snaps packet and you should be sweet 🙂

In most of the bags I made, I put a keyring on the loop before I sewed it in. I didn’t do that in this one, I put it on after, which made it a little harder, but equally achievable!

Since the laws in Canberra changed, forcing all supermarkets to chain their trolleys, we have had to carry a coin to detangle the trolleys before use. We sourced little trolley keys, which come straight out after unlocking the trolleys, so you don’t have to worry about finding another trolley to get your coin back!

The set of bags complete 🙂

I hope all that made sense 🙂 Please feel free to contact me with any questions!

Have a creative week!