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Funky Friends Factory

A Round of Fabulous Custom Orders

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Do my customers have good taste, or what? These were so fun to bring to life. I’m so grateful for your support, thank you!

Custom Unicorn, by Stitchified Custom cloth doll, by Stitchified Custom elephant, by Stitchfied

 

Custom Plaid Hippo

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plaid hippo, by StitchifiedOne of the scariest things about opening an Etsy store is being asked to do custom orders. It is challenging to interpret someone else’s creative vision. And then there’s the whole timing thing — my creations are time intensive, and I’m terrified of getting in over my head. If there is such a thing as high-risk softie-making, custom orders are it for me. Which brings me to the story of a certain plaid hippo.

This little guy has left his mark on me. The little girl’s mom selected a beautiful large scale flannel plaid for a custom hippo. Mammoth flannel is wonderfully thick and heavy, and once it arrived I knew this was going to make an amazing softie… BUT OMG THE PLAID. The plaid freaked me out, guys. It’s beautiful, but it’s busy. So busy! I balanced it out by using creamy white accents, but then there was the issue of pattern matching.

I considered (and even got the mom’s generous okay!) not to match the plaid. I mean, the pattern is large scale, and the repeats are far apart… and we’re talking about matching plaid from the nose to tail. Curved seams! Perfect mirror images! It seemed like an impossible challenge. But the longer I stared at it, the more hesitant I became. It sat on my WIP bench for a week and my indecision tormented me. I turned a lot ideas over in my head, and decided to give pattern matching a shot.

I didn’t think my plan was going to work, so I didn’t take photos to demonstrate my technique. Figures, right? But in the end, I was more or less able to match the plaid across all the seams — and I’m so in love with him. He was totally worth the extra effort, and I think the challenge pushed me to do some of my best work to date. I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking…

plaid hippo, by Stitchified

Those eyes! The little secondary design along his back!

Custom plaid hippo, by StitchifiedAnd if only you could hold him! The combination of mammoth flannel and wool stuffing is the very definition of comfort object. He is waiting to be presented on his little girl’s birthday, but I know that they are going to be the very best of friends!
plaid hippo, by StitchifiedMoral of today’s story: High risk, high reward!  … and an obligatory butt shot! 🙂

Happy sewing!

Linking up with CrazyMomQuilts and TGIFF over at http://www.arabesque-scissors.com/.

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I’m not one to keep up with fashion trends, but sewing trends are a totally different story. First it was owls. And now it is foxes. And next? My money is on elephants. Yep, it’s totally elephants.

And as luck would have it, my niece is going through an elephant phase… and asked for a friend to keep her Momo Hippo (now affectionately named Hippo-y the Hippo) company.  Now that she is a full fledged kindergartner, her tastes have shifted to the girlie side — purple, pink and yellow. Well, say no more little lady. This is a phase that Auntie can get behind for Christmas presents.  

I knew I wanted a beautifully light, almost silvery, pink velour for the main body fabric.  I also knew that Aneela Hoey‘s style would be a perfect match for the feminine, but slightly retro vibe that I was going for. But which to choose? Posy or Sew Stitchy? I pulled the fabrics and stared at them for days.  It wasn’t an easy choice, but the pops of red in Sew Stitchy won me over in the end. The little hexies are sweet, but they also provide some good contrast against the velour.

Next I reinforced all my fabric with fusible fleece and light interfacing, traced my templates, and cut out my pieces. Fast forward four hours later… and my Ellie Elephant from Funky Friends Factory was ready for sewing.

I won’t go into a bunch of detail about the pattern, other than to say it was well written and comes together very cleverly. Especially the tusks. Better yet, by the end of the holiday weekend I had one less holiday gift on my To-Make-List. 🙂

Handmade Elephant, pattern by Funky Friends Factory

Handmade Elephant, pattern by Funky Friends Factory

I had way too much fun making this elephant, and see more elephants in the near future! 

A Wombat for Grammy

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It’s been a very rainy week, and I didn’t dare bring this guy outside for pictures. So I setup an  impromptu quilt-backdrop, and squeezed in a photo shoot just before we headed out for Grammy’s 50th Birthday Bash.

Like Poppet, this guy is made out of contrasting corduroy fabrics – a paisley print and a solid leaf green, both from Kaufmann’s 21 wale corduroy collection. His nose and claws are black wool felt, and he is also stuffed with wool for the best squish.

Oh, and he originally started out with three eyelashes on each eye. I’d blame the toddler, but it was actually me who got overly zealous when stuffing. Whoops!

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My step-mother is turning FIFTY this weekend. We’ll be celebrating in style with an all day party, but I wasn’t sure what to do gift-wise. So I asked. And you know what her birthday request was? A wombat to call her very own. Yep, she’s cool.

So, I’m stuffing (and stuffing… and stuffing) this evening. Her head is taking shape nicely.  BabyBee is, of course, helping me. Every teeny-tiny bit of stuffing in the wombat has been subjected to a full on hug-assault. Let it also be known that Baby Bee has strict quality control standards. Wool stuffing might be prone to minor imperfections, but she’s made sure to remove any “suspicious” tufts (read, “too curly” or “too yellow”). Only the best for Grammy.

And in between all her helper-duties, BabyBee is hosting a lovely tea party for her friends.

Life is definitely good. Very good.

Poppet the wooly wombat

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I adore wombats. It’s a fondness that started with the book Sometimes I Like to Curl up in a Ball — a wonderfully sweet story, made even better by the fact that it was our very first baby book. I received it early in my pregnancy, but definitely a pivotal moment for me. Needless to say, it’s been a very special book for BabyBee and I since the day she was born.

At any rate, when I saw the “Wodger Wombat” pattern at Funky Friends Factory it was just a matter of time before he was mine. I even cut into my Chiocopee Corduroy for this one. To say I was intensely picky about how this one came out would be an understatement. Since being “finished” she has endured more than a little plastic surgery, but more on that in a second. Even so, I am finally satisfied with her, and have named her “Poppet.”

The wombat pattern has quite a few pieces (at least compared to the Hippo), and comes together in a really cool way. And the corduroy was also a pleasure to sew with. In fact, everything seemed to be coming together perfectly until I stuffed her. Something about her eyes just wasn’t quite right. They almost look uneven, except that they aren’t (I took out a ruler and everything!). And her nose was crooked. See for yourself…

Pre-face lift photos, not pretty!

So, I took out all the stuffing, and gave her a bit of an eye lift. To do that, I looped a strand of embroidery thread through the backings on the safety eyes, and tightened. I also restitched her nose, lining it up along the curve of her muzzle (as opposed to centering it over the seams). Those two changes made a pretty big difference. When I restuffed her I was very happy to come out with this:

As you can see, pulling in her eyes contoured her nose nicely, and puffed out her cheeks. I think she has a much sweeter expression as a result.

If I ever make a second wombat, I’ll be a little more generous with the darts. The instructions suggest 1/8inch seam lines for the darts, but I’m programmed to use scant seam allowances from my quilting.  Next time I would be sure to use a generous 1/8 inch allowance on the darts, and definitely not a scant 1/8 inch. Whoops.

The other huge lesson learned? Wool stuffing. I’m a complete convert. It is squishy, but retains it’s shape well  too. And my hands enjoyed a really nice moisturizing session (well sessions) thanks to the residual lanolin in the wool. Now I just need to find a way to get a huge five or ten pound box delivered!

I think this will be my last stuffed animal for a little while, I’m ready to dive back into some quilting. Straight lines, here I come! 🙂

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I’m officially going through a softie making-phase. I thought I could stop at two Heather Hippos after finding that pattern on Craftsy. Except then I entered my Momo Hippo into the Funky Friends Factory’s “Make My Monday” Contest, and to my surprise (and honor!) I won. And so I was forced to choose a favorite from all of Pauline’s creations — which was impossible. In the end I chose Raff the Giraffe as my prize, and bought Wodger the Wombat. And then I went shopping. In a big way.  Turns out quilting and toy-making aren’t as compatible as I thought, here’s why:

  1.  Quilting cottons are fun for toys, but fuzzy fabrics are *more* fun! Witness project fuzzy stash acquisition,  just a week in the making: It’s all corduroy, minky, and one bit of linen. Not pictured? Some seriously awesome pink and green faux-fur. For the record, there are two half yards of Chicopee corduroy in there, and they.are.divine. I don’t see these going into a quilt, um, ever.
  2. Batting is not the same as stuffing. At one point I told myself that toy-making would be a good way to use up all those cotton batting scraps. That would work, and probably even work well. Except cutting up all those scraps into itty-bitty bits would take time, and I’m a sucker for instant gratification. So I stuffed with cotton stuffing. And then tried poly-fil. And now there is some sheep’s wool stuffing on order. Going forward I plan to stuff minky with polyfil, but I really feel cotton/corduroy toys benefit from natural fillers like wool and cotton.
  3. I only quilt with Aurifil cotton thread, but I think I prefer polyester for softie making. So now I need build a second thread collection. Awesome.

Other strange consequences?

  1. I will go to great lengths to procure *wool* felt. Real wool felt is my new candy. Any acrylic felt left in my craft bin has been relegated to toddler-fodder.
  2. I will never look at a pair of hemostats the same way. I almost asked my doctor for a pair yesterday (they were headed for the trash!), but decided against it at the last minute.

And for all this craziness, I decided to reward myself with a toy. Because I’m 10. And, less selfishly, so Henrietta can have a little wombat friend for tea time. So excited about this one!

It’s a good thing I have the best and most supportive husband ever!

Homemade birthday presents

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My niece is turning five this week, and I really wanted to have a handmade gift for her. After last week’s success with Henrietta, I thought another stuffed animal was in order.

Unlike Henrietta, who is made entirely of minky fabric, this hippo is made from a mix of quilter’s cotton and minky. As it turns out, it’s a lot easier to sew accurate seams with cotton (no sliding layers!), but the cotton also highlights puckers and/or pleats. Overall, a lot more seam ripping was involved in this guy. Lesson learned: minky might be a pain, but it’s a lot more forgiving.

For the body, I chose the signature fabric from Momo’s Oh Deer! line in creamsicle. I’ve been hoarding a yard of this print in my stash, and I was so happy to  find the perfect project for it. Such a large print can be tricky to use in a quilt, but it was a perfect match for a stuffed animal!

I also picked up a SewLine Fabric Pencil for this project, and right now it’s my favorite new tool. Using the pencil I was able to I fussy cut each pattern piece to showcase a different portion of the fabric. In addition to tracing the pattern pieces, I used the pencil to sketch in my seam lines. I think that made a huge difference in my accuracy (Oops, thought I had taken a photo of the marked pieces  but looks like I somehow missed it. Maybe next time!). I’m really happy with all the secondary designs hiding in this hippo, hopefully my niece will enjoy picking them out, too.

I have to say, I’m a little tempted to keep this guy here with us. Just look at how cute he and Henrietta are together! But, alas, BabyBee helped stuff him with hugs meant for her cousin (literally hugging the stuffing before she put it in), so his days here with us are few. I hope he is loved and played with for years to come!
As an aside… Pretty sure there are (more than ) a few softies in my future. My copy of Stuffed Animals from Concept to Construction arrived Friday and I.am.smitten. I haven’t been able to put the book down, and I can’t wait to start sewing through it. Until now I haven’t  been able to find a good resource for softies, which is crazy to me given the availability of modern quilting books/blogs/magazines/craftsy classes.  Not only is the book filled with great projects, but it teaches you how to design your own patterns. Super excited to dive in!

 

Meet Henrietta

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After March’s quilting insanity I took a break, and packed up my sewing machine. I thought that if I removed the temptation I might even tackle some home improvement projects. Haha. Yeah, that didn’t happen. As it turned out, I pieced a gazillion paper hexagons instead, but that’s another blog post entirely.

Admitting defeat, I brought back my sewing machine yesterday. Well, I must have been *really* hungry for some sewing because I churned out this charming little lady in one afternoon/evening. It was wonderful to sew again, and this little project packed a lot of instant gratification.

I have never sewed anything like this before, and there was definitely a learning curve (literally, there’s a lot of  curved piecing!). I also made things ridiculously more difficult on myself by choosing minky fabrics. I’ve never done any curved piecing either. Combining minky + curves + first toy was a cruel thing to do to myself. But, it was great practice, and now I’m much more confident in all three. Though, honestly, what on earth was I thinking?

The main body fabric is an old out of print Robert Kaufman minky that I had in my stash. It is has cutest apple green background with yellow, chocolate brown and pink flowers. To offset the main fabric, I chose a mango-minky with ribbed texture. I absolutely love the color and texture combination of the two, though I can’t seem to get a shot that’s true to color.

The pattern is by FunkyFriendsFactory, and can be found here: Heather the Hippo or on Craftsy. I tripped up a few times (I got confused about the ear placement, but figured it out in the end), but overall this pattern was wonderfully easy to follow — even for this total newbie. The one thing I wasn’t expecting? The three hours it took me to trace and cut out all these pieces.  Next time I’ll queue up some good TV 🙂

The sewing itself went pretty smoothly, though there were a few dark moments. Like this one. I stared at this seam for like 5 minutes in disbelief. I took a deep breath, pinned it, and was still unconvinced. But, my Janome and I pushed through it, and amazingly enough it worked!

I also re-sewed one ear in a record FOUR times. Tricky little sucker. Thankfully my sister called in the middle of round II, so the seam ripping passed by quickly enough.

But mostly there were a lot of highs…

Here she is with her head all finished. After struggling with the ear placement, this was a great victory.



And here she is really starting to come together. I was so excited when she transformed from an amorphous blob into something vaguely animal-shaped. 



And here she is with her head stuffed and freshly added eyes. The felt eyelashes were my own idea, and I’m pretty proud of them. Not sure how they will hold up to a toddler’s wear and tear, but I love them!

 And here’s the original finish shot. Taken very early in the morning, but ready to surprise a little girl 🙂

And lastly, a tummy shot. How cute is that yellow?! And the textured minky couldn’t be more perfect here.

In case you can’t tell by the photo overload, I’m pretty proud of this project. It was much more technical than anything I’ve done, and definitely a far cry from the 2D world of quilting. I’m already planning a second (in quilter’s cotton this time!) for my niece’s upcoming birthday.

And Henrietta’s new owner? Well, she is beyond thrilled. On first sight, she declared Henrietta “so huggy” and they played very nicely together all morning. We’ve since discovered Henrietta loves kiwis and watermelon from the play kitchen. And Henrietta has been given a place of honor during naps/nighttime, directly in the bed 🙂