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.

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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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Eco friendly lantern

At this time of year it’s easy to overspend, perhaps we don’t have anything to spend, or we just want to reuse, rather than add to the clutter in the world. Here is a very quick and easy candle holder to make, that addresses the points above.

All you need is a clean glass jar with the label removed, a paper doily, a piece of wire if you wish to hang your candle, some Mod Podge and a tealight candle.

Simply cut the paper doily in half, paste the Mod Podge on the jar, and place the doily on top, one half on each side of the jar. I chose to put the cut half on the bottom of the jar. Then paste more Mod Podge over the doily. If you want a handle, wrap a piece of wire around the top of the jar and then curve a second piece of wire, put a small loop in each end and attach to the wire already on the jar. And it’s done!

If you don’t have paper doilies you could also use an old book page, tissue paper, or newspaper and make cut outs too. PVA glue can also be used as an alternative to Mod Podge.

Safety warning; the wire handle will get hot when the candle is lit. Somebody, who shall remain nameless, picked up the candle by the handle during the photo shoot and burned her hand…

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Christmas Crafting

Last week, with my group of women and one man with moderate intellectual disabilities, we made Christmas trees. Christmas can get very expensive, so I thought I’d share this idea with you. It’s also quite eco-friendly. I was inspired to make these after reading Living Simply Free’s blog. Lois has been making a series of Frugal Christmas posts, with lots of great ideas. I gathered nine pine cones from my mother’s garden (thanks Mum!). Next, I saw a new fence being made across the street with a big pile of off-cuts. I asked the fencing man, if I could have some little Cedar Pine squares, that were lying on the scrap pile and he nicely said yes.

The ladies and man in my group sanded the rough edges away from the squares (which smelt marvellous by the way). Next they glued the pine cone to the block with PVA glue. With some white acrylic paint they frosted the edges of the cone and shook some laser glitter over the top. Once this was dry, they glued sequins on. I think they look beautiful. It was a terrific craft idea for them to do. They could do everything themselves Β and really enjoyed it from start to finish. One lady did say though ” I’m not having glitter on mine Jenny, I don’t like glitter, it goes everywhere, it’s too messy”. That’s fine I said, it’s your tree and you can decorate it how you like. I did have to laugh that night though, when I looked in the mirror, I was covered in glitter…

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