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.

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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.

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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….

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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.

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

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

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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Awake

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Asleep

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.

A gentleman’s wardrobe

Poking around in a local opportunity shop, I found a locked cupboard with a price tag of $35.00 dollars on it. The manager asked if I wanted to look inside and she opened up what she referred to as “a gentleman’s wardrobe” made in 1931. The wardrobe stands at around 4 foot high and has a hanging space on one side, perfect for pants and shirts but too short for dresses. Perhaps this was designed, so the lady of the house couldn’t take over? On the other side is a handy set of shelves and drawers, just perfect for stashing crafty bits and pieces I thought. The very elderly manager and her even more elderly assistant, would not let me help put this in the back of my car. I felt very embarrassed standing by watching. They were very efficient and obviously furniture removal experts. I suggested they could start up a removal company. Perhaps “Gran with a Van”?

So, now you know what my last post’s key was for. Pom poms make sure I don’t lose the key. I had lots of fun organising the wardrobe. Standing guard over it all, is my latest creation, Charlotte the koala. She’s made from a vintage wool blanket, a mohair cardigan and wears a little doily apron. As she’s smiling, I think she approves of my latest find.

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A pom pom clad key

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A gentleman’s wardrobe

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Handy storage for craft bits and pieces

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Embroidery threads find a home

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Charlotte the Koala surveys the room, she is available in the Winter Owls Shop.

Eat your pom poms

 It’s raining it’s pouring, it’s freezing in Melbourne. Perfect for snuggling in and doing a bit of crafting. Today I made some little pom poms using a fork. I wish I could give credit to whoever first came up with this method because it’s so easy. A perfect activity for children or any age really. Speaking of crafts for children you might like to visit Easy Crafts For Children and Living Simply Free. Both of these wonderful bloggers have clever ideas for recycling what others might throw away to use in craft projects.

Back to the pom poms. I’ve made a little photo tutorial for how to make pom poms with a fork. I have used my pom poms to decorate an old key so that I won’t lose it. What is the key for I hear you ask? Well, you’ll just have to wait until my next post to find out….

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Three completed fork pom poms.

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First get a fork, wool, and scissors.

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Next, cut a piece of wool about 30cm long and place through the middle of the prongs. This will be what you use to tie the pom pom. I have doubled my wool because it is quite fine and I wanted it to be stronger.

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Wrap your wool around and around the prongs about 30 times. You can wrap it more if you want a really thick pom pom.

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Using the first piece of wool you placed through the centre, tie a knot tightly around the wrapped wool.

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Remove the wrapped wool bundle from your fork gently.

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Cut the “loops” of the yarn, being careful not to cut the thread you tied it together with! You can fluff up your pom pom and trim it if you like.

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Three completed pom poms ready to be…

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The waiting key.

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I threaded a cotton string through a key leaving two hanging pieces of string. Finally, I used a large needle to thread through the pom poms and tied a knot on the end. No more lost key! Hmm, perhaps I could do this to my glasses that I’m always misplacing.