Poppy and Blossom

I’m not going to write much today, just show you how I make my Koala stuffed toys, step by step. You can then have a go yourself, or if you can’t be bothered and desperately want one, you can buy them here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/WinterOwls.

To start with, you’ll need some wool fabric, I get mine by upcycling vintage pure wool blankets after throwing them through a hot cycle in the washing machine. You’ll also need some stuffing. When I first started making toys, I used polyester fill, but now I’m using clean washed Merino fleece. It’s eco friendly, but it is more expensive and a little harder to use as stuffing. It tends to jump out of where it has been placed! As well as fabric and stuffing you’ll need some embroidery thread for little details and something fluffy ear like. In the past I’ve used Jumpers, shawls or the fringe of mohair blankets for luxurious ears.

I sew the main outline with a sewing machine, but you could sew up the whole thing by hand easily. I then close the stuffing gap by hand and outline the arms with embroidery thread, once the body has been machine stitched.

You can also gather little scraps of other fabrics, lace or doilies if you want to add accessories to your koalas. Go wild, they love dressing up!

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First cut out your bodies, front and back. Just draw a simple outline and cut around it.


Choose your front and embroider eyes and mouth. I have sewn on a nose but you can do whatever you like. Hand stitch on any accessories such as collars, buttons, pants etc. Note that here, I’ve shown the front of Poppy and Blossom.

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Next tack on the ears to the front side facing in towards each other and then flip them, so they are facing outwards and you can see what they will look like. I hope that makes sense! You will need to flip them back in, before you sew the two halves together. (They will be covering the eyes when flipped back in)


Pin the back and front together with the right sides facing inwards. Make sure those ears are tucked in well. Sew around the outside about 1/2 cm in from the edge leaving a 3 cm gap where you would like to put your stuffing in.

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Now turn your koala right side out and remove the tacking from the ears. Use a spoon, chopstick or whatever you have handy to put the stuffing in a bit at a time. When you are happy, hand sew up the opening.

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I like to whip stitch the ears to the head for extra stability and I top stitch the arms to define them, but you don’t have to.

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Finally, make yourself and your koalas Poppy and Blossom, a nice cup of tea. You deserve it.

Showing you around

I thought, I might show you around my new neighbourhood, just a little. Today I’ll focus on the river, my beautiful Yarra. Ruby the Pugalier and I like to walk along the meandering river, listening to the bellbirds chime. I relax as Ruby eats grass and has her head down, madly searching for food.

Johnston St Bridge

Following the path under the bridge, Ruby the pugalier and I like walking along the river.

Every time I wander, I spot something new, like this mysterious tree creature below.

Tree face

Can you see a face in the tree? My son thinks it looks like a lion, I see a fairytale creature.

What is it about water that makes us relax? Is it because we once swam inside our mothers? Is it the sound? All I know, is that I can feel my shoulders dropping, the tension sliding away….


Slowly, slowly drifting on, close to the sea now.

The river is the peaceful part of the neighbourhood which is a mixture of small industries, historical terrace houses and workers cottages, a children’s farm and open bush, all wrapped around the river. It’s a bit grungy, a little arty, busy at times and quiet at others and only three kilometres from the city. I love being up a little high, not too high though. I can look all around me and gaze and gaze and gaze. Next time, I shall show you how I made Miss Poppy, posing below.


Poppy the koala and I are loving living the high life, by the Yarra.

Falling off her perch

Did you wonder if Winter Owls had fallen off her perch?

Well, she did for a while, she moved from a pretty 1920’s weatherboard in the suburbs , to an apartment in an Art Deco converted silk spinning mill, in the inner city, just above the Yarra River. Her family, naughty dog and goldfish came with her.

She had to cull lots of treasure (a.k.a clutter) and was still faced with this when she moved in:


90 boxes to unpack. Eeekk!

She has had lots of fun decorating with things like this:


Sky planters swing from the heating pipe three metres up. Quite a challenging exercise to get them up there…

Most of all though, she has fallen in love with this, just a minutes walk away:


The Yarra River, flowing through Melbourne’s heart.

See you all very soon,

Jen x

Making diamonds from paper

l’m sure you’ve all seen book sculptures before and if you’d like to make one just do a search for “how to make a book sculpture” and you’ll find lots of different tutorials. I’m not going to do a tutorial here because I forgot to take photographs of steps as I went along.

Now I know that some of us feel terrible if we tear up, fold, cut or paint on old books. It’s because we were taught how carefully to turn the pages, how valuable they were and how much we could learn from them. All of this still applies to books and I would never just damage a book for the sake of it. There are many books I have at home that I hope to keep always; books that were given to me and inscribed by special people in my life. I still have my Enid Blyton books and my Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder (which sadly has one book missing from the box).

I don’t feel guilty though, folding an old paperback into a lovely diamond shape. I did this with a group of disengaged teens and they really enjoyed it. Two boys raced to see who could finish first, but the rest of us, just carefully folded and folded. It felt meditative and we found it a lovely quiet soothing task.

Making diamonds from paper

Making diamonds from paper

Hello there

I have been away from this little blog for a while but I have been busy living. I hope you have been well and happy and I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to.

Last year saw lots of changes in my life and I lost my creative spark. Well, it’s back. I have so much to show you and tell you. First, I was lucky enough to have a much needed holiday in Fiji. This is the painting I did after that holiday. When I look at it I can smell coconuts, frangipani and the warm sea breeze…


Coconuts, Frangipani and a warm sea breeze

Fiji Time 75 dpi for etsy

Fiji Time


Hippitedy Hoppitedy

I’m glad I made so many of you laugh at my magpie predicament in my last post. Thank you also for sharing your swooping adventures with me. Baby magpie has matured very quickly as birds do, and is now able to perch high up and so, mother and father maggie have relaxed a little and are no longer in attack mode.

Being inside did give me lots of time to make a special order request from my Winter Owls Etsy shop.I was asked to make two of my bunnies in sleeping bags for twins. I made them from lovely angora/ wool jumpers in pink and yellow. Their sleeping bags were made from vintage blankets. On one side, they are asleep and on the other awake. I think I love making bunnies because I had (still have actually), a much loved Miffy toy. She still makes me smile.

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A little Madness in the Spring

“A little Madness in the Spring Is wholesome even for the King.” Emily Dickinson

It was with great amusement, that we have been watching some rather unusual behaviour from our neighbours. We observed neighbours exiting and entering their house under large umbrellas on a sunny day, a business man, whirling his suit jacket wildly above his head, people ducking and weaving, a woman holding a clipboard on her head and my father, visiting with magazines atop his head.

It was all very funny, until, the swooping magpie parents, turned their attention to our side of the street. Going out to check the mail box has become a thrill seeking adventure. You cast your eyes about, then swiftly run to the mailbox. To your horror you hear tck tck and feel a brush of wings stir your hair. I now wear a hat to collect the mail.

In order to share my experience with you, I have been fairly brave. I stood photographing the magpies, standing my ground, until the last moment, I ran shrieking inside.

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A magpie in our tree, with me hiding under the safety of our porch.

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Magpie pretends not to be observing me.

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Here she comes, I hold my ground.

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A blurry magpie but I was not going to stand and focus.

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Hidden safely in the shrubbery, the prince or princess awaits their lunch.

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Ah, lunch is approaching…