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.

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 OwlsΒ 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.

Spelling Tuesday

“He respects owl, because you can’t help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn’t spell it right.”

A.A.Milne

Here’s to Tuesday, here’s to not being perfect, here’s to loving handmade and all its little quirks….

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Hand painted with love by Winter Owls.

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A white owl peeks from a vintage wool blanket bag.

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Original hand painted brooch available in Winter Owls Shop

A definite chill in the air

It’s 5.00 pm and time to feed Ruby, my naughty dog. Stepping outside I thought ooh, winter is on its way, there is a definite chill in the air. I quite like winter for a few months, snuggling inside, hot soup and coffee and perhaps a little chocolate too. Of course, I tire of it after a while and long for spring to arrive. For the moment though, I’m relishing the cool change. I’ve spent the day making Wayne the Wombat from a two toned vintage wool blanket. It’s perfect weather for working with wool. I’ve also started knitting a jumper. Sadly, just as I finished the rib band, I discovered I had made a mistake in row two, so I will not be showing you that…. Instead you can see how Ruby enjoys the cold weather. She loves nothing more than snuggling in her bed by the heater.

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Wayne the Wombat is available in Winter Owls Shop

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Ruby the snuggler

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Ruby the Pugalier with her thrift shop blanket