Thursday, April 23, 2009

Some Very Fun Creative Crafting Time

I need to post a project I have been working on because the first part of this project I did over a month ago and have already forgot some of the info on how I did it. I spent this week working on making the little extras to go with it and I don't want to forget how I did it (in case I want to make another someday or if someone asks me for instructions I will be able to remember how I did it).

A friend's daughter just turned 3 and likes My Little Pony. I figured if I plan to stick with my handmade (no store bought junk) for gifts that should include gifts for children. My first thought with sewing for girls is always to make clothes, shoes, purses, and hair things. At first I thought an outfit with My Little Pony painted or embroidered would be a good idea but then I decided against it because this girl is such a different build than my girls I know I would get the sizing wrong. I know making an outfit that doesn't fit right is not a good gift to give. I had no idea what to make until her mom told me she was looking at getting her My Little Pony bedding for her new big girl bed. Hearing that gave me some ideas on what to make.

My first thought was I could make a stuffed animal (my version of a My Little Pony) to put on her new bed. I decided against it because I remember my friend telling me once how she doesn't like giving her children stuffed animals. After a bit more thinking I thought a small pillow might be a better choice. I thought making a pillow with a pony pillow case might be the best way (I did this because I assumed she didn't like stuffed animals because of they quickly become dirty dust traps and pillowcases are washable). A few minutes later I had whipped up a small pillow.

Next I got started on a pillow case. I started thinking that a hand embroidered pony might look nicer than a fabric cut out or painted pony. I did a quick search online for a coloring sheet and used the basic outline to embroider my pony.

After embroidering the pony I sewed up a sham style pillowcase. That part went fast. The following day I was planning to finish it up by adding yarn hair. After all My Little Ponies are known for the hair! I noticed that I didn't have any nice My Little Pony colors of yarn for hair. I started getting excited over not have pretty yarn because that gave me a reason to dye! Every excuse to craft makes me happy. As I was looking at my undyed yarns and started thinking about how it isn't only wool that dyes quick and easy. I have had good luck with silk and nylon. I had some silk but I would need to spin it up first so I went looking at the nylons I have stashed in my yarn and craft boxes. Nylon cords, nylon fishing line, nylon thread, unwaxed tooth floss are all choices I had to choose from and I thought they would all work because when I dye yarns with nylon the nylon always takes the dye (even when I use food colors to dye with). After taking a look at a few little My Little Ponies we have laying around I decided to use nylon thread (looked the closest to the real toys to me). I used food colors to dye so I knew they would be nontoxic. I dyed up a bunch of it and sewed it on the pillow. I did add a dab of you can wash it glue to make sure all the tiny hairs didn't fall out when a child plays with it. I then had the idea to add a comb attached to a ribbon to do the pony's hair. After taking another look at the My little Ponies at my house I noticed ours all have matted, combed into a knotted mess hair, because of that I decided to skip on the comb idea. I hope doing this makes the pony hold up better than the toys we have.

Several weeks after making the pillow I talked to my friend on the phone and she told me that she does allow stuffed animals she just doesn't like collecting a ton of store bought ones. I was happy when she said that because I still hadn't seen her little girl to give her the gift so I rushed off to do some more crafting (again every reason to make a new craft makes me happy). I drew a simple shape of a horse on fabric (this time I did it myself free hand without looking at any coloring pages) cut two layers (one white the other a large flower print), sewed them together, and stuffed. I then dyed some yarn and sewed it on for hair (I gave it lots of hair).

After that was done I started thinking about how I should put the stuffed horse in a pocket. I didn't want to mess up the pillow trying to add a pocket so I decided to whip up a bag to hold the pillow with a pocket for the small stuffed pony. I figured the bag would work nice for the gift wrap. I used a satin ribbon for a strap, satin covered buttons (don't you love covering buttons), and simple satin ribbon loops to close the bag.

Picture of empty bag.
close up of loop and button closure.

Bag with pillow inside.
Picture of horse in pocket. Notice in this picture how the buttons are too close to the top! I did later reposition them lower so the bag closed nicer (two pictures above are with the buttons lowered).
I thought once again about adding in a comb (only because my son said one was needed so she could do it's hair he pointed out how with no comb it was a looking no playing kind of gift). I decided once again that a comb would make the hair very messy very fast. After another day of thinking about this the idea to add hair accessories popped into my head. I think adding hair clips would make it so the little girl could do her hair and her pony's hair (making this a playing not just looking gift). I quickly grabbed some hair clips from my craft box then ran off to dye a bit more yarn. A couple hours later I had it all done. I used my cotton lace yarn for the pink flowers. The purple is yarn I dyed.
I added some tiny clips to add a bit more fun play time to it. I now feel it is a completed birthday gift.

Right now I am thinking that I should personalize it by embroidering her name (well her nick name because the horses are small). Yes, I think adding the little girl's name (tattoo style on the pony's tush) will complete this project.

Note to anyone who reads this. Feel free to copy and use any of this however you want. All I did was take the little bits I have learned about of dying, sewing, embroidery, and such and put them together to go with a little girl's interest. I know this isn't the best looking gift set. Whenever I make things it always takes me 3 tries until I end up with one I feel is "real nice looking". I am sharing this first try because I know that it is unlikely that I will have a reason to make 2 more to have that real nice one (for that same reason I am giving this far from perfect gift just as is). I don't know a lot of little girls who are big into My Little Pony right now. My girls each want one but I am not going to take the time to make them each one only because I am busy working on some other projects for them right now.

Notes to self....

I need to remember Pillows are a fun and quick sew.
I still like hand embroidering when I have the free time to do it.
I need to think "gift set" more before starting projects so I can finish it all up faster (remember this project took well over a month to put all together).
I need to think of the bags a bit more like a gift than just simple gift wrapping (I keep viewing bags as quick wrapping paper and don't spend enough time thinking about how a bag this size might be used later on by the receiver of the gift). This bag is on the thin side and it is a bit large. If a child fills it with toys in the way my children do it is likely to tear.
I need to use heavier fabric when making a bag or lining it so it can be reused for a very long time.
When I have ANY thoughts that I might hand embroider a stuffed item I need to remember to do the EMBROIDERY FIRST not after the thing is made (I was planning to paint this one but ended up wanting to embroider after I sewed it and because of that my embroidery on the softy doesn't look so hot.
crochet button hair clips are fun to create and I need to make a pile up for my girls.
I didn't use a pattern for the hair clips, pony, pillow, or anything else (except that one coloring page when I started). I want to remember this so I don't go tearing the house apart looking for a pattern I never made (I do this a lot because when I draft by hand right on the item I give away I sometimes think I might have had an original paper sketch and stashed it in a box)
I think something this style but adding PJ's (if I know the child's size) would also make a cute gift.
I think I can do the same thing for a little boy gift. A pillow with a favorite character, a bag with a pocket and a matching soft toy.
I had a lot of luck using apple cider vinegar in my food colors when I did all my dying on both days. I couldn't find my white vinegar so I splashed in some apple cider and I love the way it turned out.
I didn't use my normal steam method for dyeing. I used coffee cups, 1/4- 1/2 way full of water, with a few drops of food color, a splash of apple cider vinegar and 1 & 1/2 minutes of cook time (did this twice in the microwave). Very fast, fun, no mess, great success way of dying for me.
Last and most important! Amber! Please remember how much fun this was! When you don't waste time worrying what other's will think and just have fun being very creative (using the gifts God has given you) you always enjoy every second of the creating things. It is OK if the child doesn't like it at all. Your fun is not in sharing the little girls joys it is in the having fun making it. I need to make more things in this scrambled mixed crafts, mixed media sort of way soon. Remember how both Zee and Demi begged, cried, screamed, and fussed trying to get me to give them all of this stuff, so in a few months if I run out of things to make I can make something like this for both Demi and Zee.

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