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:Β 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.

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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)

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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.

A mess of buttons

After showing you my organised cupboard last week, I find myself in a mess of buttons, threads and doilies. The table is covered with little hills of vintage purple, gold, blue, cream, white and red buttons. Fine velvet ribbons curl around each other and doilies lie piled up like pancakes. This is my favourite part of the creative process. I sort and swap, arrange and shift, pick up and put down. When finally I’m happy, I start to stitch.

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An upcycled doily, with velvet ribbon and vintage buttons,

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turns into,

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a lovely little necklace. Available in Winter Owls Shop.

Birds do it too

On our nature strip, we kept finding wire coat hangers. In the bin they’d go only to reappear. The mystery has finally been solved. Our street tree was pruned by the council and sadly that included our magpie’s nest. Luckily the chicks had flown the nest already. We had marvelled at how it had stayed in the tree through a wild and windy spring storm, but now we know why. The ingenious nest maker, was also an upcycling master. The nest was interwoven with wire coat hangers, string, and various pieces of wire. Sometimes, I feel clever, and a little virtuous too I suppose, when I upcycle. This nest though, has put me in my place. Fancy making your whole home from upcycled materials!

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An entirely upcycled home

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Look closely and you will see all sorts of materials being repurposed.

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