Felt Hobby Horse

IMG_6430So, I am here. Really. I’ve just been taking a loooong off-screen break. I guess I just needed it. But with the new year, naturally I thought I might be a good time for a blog reboot. A just over year ago I was frantically packing my bags down to the last ounce to prepare to head back to Galapagos.

But this year, I have no immediate travel plans. In fact, we might not board  flight the whole year. But that’s okay. We’ve entered a new phase of our lives as a family of five, and we’re settling into it, for the next little while, at least. Anyways, enough talk. Here is a project that I started a year ago, and I’ve just now finished it up. Some scrappy felt hobby horses. IMG_6426 IMG_6400 IMG_6411 IMG_6416 IMG_6419 IMG_6422 IMG_6426Oh, you say you’ve seen this before? Well, you have. But, in case you were interested in making your own, I made a second one (well, I had to anyways, because I pretty much have to make two of everything these days; luckily sweet girl number three hasn’t demanded too much crafting from me yet) and decided to make a tutorial for you guys. 

(Just so you know, it took much longer than I expected it would to put this tutorial together, and I’m sorry if there are any errors; pattern-making isn’t my forte.)

Here we go.

Materials:

  • Felt scraps (a whole lot, in squarish shapes, are best; of course, you can always use whole pieces of felt or really any material you’ll want) You’ll need enough to make approximately a 2-foot square piece of material to cut your pattern pieces out of.
  • Stuffing (I prefer wool for quality reasons, but whatever you want is fine)
  • Thread (you’ll want some heavy-duty stuff, especially for hand stitching on the eyes, ears, and finishing the closure)
  • Buttons for the eyes
  • A 1-inch thick dowel, about 3 to 5 feet long, depending on how tall you want your horse to be.
  • Yarn in a coordinating color
  • Freezer paper (for tracing your pattern, it’s my favorite way to cut out felt)

Tools:

  • Scissors and/or rotary cutter
  • Sewing machine
  • Cutting mat
  • Iron
  • Stiff cardboard or a book, about 5 inches wide and 8 inches long.

Make your scrappy piece of felt (if you are using a solid piece of fabric or felt, you can skip this part)

  1. Basically, you will be butting up two pieces of felt together and zigzagging over both sides so that the two pieces become one. (See this post for a better explanation)
  2. As you go along, continue building up your scrappy piece with more pieces. I like to make several scrappy blocks and then sewing this big blocks to each other to make your big piece of fabric.

IMG_3149 Cut out your pieces.

  1. Print the template. Click on these links for the four pages of the template: gusset gusset 2 horse neck 1 horse neck 2
  2. You’ll need to choose “print” under the tools menu. I am not a professional pattern maker, so these may look a little rough, but hey, it’s a free tutorial.
  3. Cut out you’re pieces and assemble the ones that are in segments.
  4. Then, you’ll want to trace your pattern pieces onto freezer paper (ignore the big notch in the horse’s head down in that picture, I was just using a scrap of freezer paper and it didn’t all fit). The long gusset piece is a little extra long to give you some wiggle room when finishing off the opening for the stick, so just keep that in mind.
  5. Arrange your pieces on your felt. I only drew out one horses head, and cut two the same way, since there is not “wrong” side to my felt piece, I could just flip the cut piece and it was fine. If you are using material with a right and wrong side, make sure to do a reverse side of the horses head, too. When arranging your pieces, try to leave about 1/2-inch in between the pieces for your seam allowances.
  6. Once you like the arrangement, iron one of your freezer paper pieces down to the felt.IMG_3164
  7. Baste stitch all the way around your first piece. This is  your way of transferring your pattern to your fabric.
  8. Cut out your first piece, leaving a 3/8ths inch margin around your basting for seam allowance. You don’t need to be too careful about getting perfect seam allowances; you will use the basting to guide your final stitching, not the seam allowances. The gusset piece includes the seam allowance, so just skip the basting and cut right along the pattern piece. IMG_3175
  9. Continue this process of iron-baste-cut for your other pieces.

Now for the mane.

  1. Wrap your yarn around some stiff card board, or a book. It should be about 5 inches wide and at least 7 inches long.
  2. Wrap it a lot, but if you find you still need more yarn for your mane, you can always wrap more, so don’t worry about it too much. IMG_3178
  3. Now cut the yarn along to top. IMG_3184
  4. Then cut along the bottom. This will give you a bunch of yarn approximately the same length for the mane.IMG_3186
  5. This picture is to show you about where on your gusset piece to start sewing the mane.IMG_3195
  6. Now sew the yarn down. Start with about an inch bunch of yarn. IMG_3200
  7. Using a small stitch length, start sewing the yarn, about 3/4ths of an inch in from the edge of the gusset. Continue to add more yarn, a couple inches at a time, and sew all the way down till about 4 inches from the bottom of the gusset piece. You’ll want to use about 2/3rds of your cut yarn for this. IMG_3206
  8. Then sew down the other side of the gusset over the yarn, about 3/4ths inch from the left side. IMG_3209
  9. Now finish by sewing 1-inch bunches of yarn right down the middle of the gusset.IMG_3213
  10. When you are done sewing, it will look like this:IMG_3217
  11. Yes, not very mane-like, but never fear. Just start to mess it up with your fingers, and hey-presto, you’ve got a nice full mane going on. IMG_3223

Sew your horse head together.

  1. Okay, here’s where I apologize for the lack of great explanation and pictures for this step. But hey, it’s a free tutorial, so you get what you pay for, right? (nervous laugh) Generally, you are going to sew all the pieces together, right sides together, leaving the bottom of the neck open, and then turn the whole thing out. This is how I did it. I pinned the one side of the horse’s head  to the gusset. The pointy part of the gusset will sit about where the little notch is at the bottom of the mouth, and the rest just follows along the top part of the horses head. Make sure when you pin, that you have the side piece facing up, because you will want to sew along your basting stitch. Also, make sure you have all the yarn from the mane tucked out of the way where you are going to be stitching.
  2. Sew from the tip of the gusset to the bottom of the horse’s head, but don’t sew all the way to the end of the gusset piece. Try to follow your basting line as close as possible. IMG_3228
  3. Now line up the other head side so that it is in about the same position as the sewn side of the head, in relation to the gusset piece, pin, and sew. (Again, follow the basting stitch, and make sure to keep the yarn from being trapped underneath your stitching.
  4. Now, pin the bottom side of the horses muzzle and neck together, feeling to see that the basting stitches of the two sides line up as closely as possible. Sew from the point of the nose gusset down to the bottom of the neck. Actually, I started by sewing about an inch from the end of the nose gusset, up to the point, because starting the stitching with all those layers is hard on my machine. It’s easier for me to get the machine going before powering into that thick part. Then I turned the piece around, and sewed down the bottom of the muzzle to the end of the neck. IMG_3232
  5. Leave about a 4-inch opening in the bottom of your horse head. This is approximately what you’ll have:IMG_3235IMG_3238
  6. Now reach in, grab the horse by the nose and gently turn it right-side out.IMG_3249
  7. Here’s your horse all sewn up.IMG_3254

Finishing your hobby horse. This part happened right before we moved back to the states, so the pictures didn’t really happen as much.  Sorry about that.

  1. First, I transferred the pattern pieces for the ears to the felt using the basting technique I mentioned before. IMG_3241IMG_3242
  2. Remove the freezer paper. Then zig-zag stitch all the way around the piece. Then cut it out right next to the zig-zag stitch. IMG_3247
  3. Now here is where you have options. You can leave your ears flat and stitch them on, or you can stitch the bottom corners together and then whip stitch them on kind of sticking out, like I did.
  4. Sew the eyes on like you would any button. Make sure to make it really strong, because little hands will be rougher than you expect.
  5. Stuff that thing. I mean really stuff it. I filled mine with some wool, but you can use fiberfill or whatever you like. I packed the wool in really tightly. Once you get fill to about in line with the bottom of the chin, go ahead and stick the, well, stick, up in there, and pack the stuffing around it. I didn’t use any adhesive or special tricks to get the stick to stay stuck, I just packed the filling tight. Yes, your kid can get it out, but you just stuff it back in, if that happens. If you’ve packed it tight enough, a hollow space for the stick will remain if the stick is removed, as long as you don’t crush the head down after removing the stick. Does that make sense? Hope so.
  6. Finally, you’ll want to slip stitch up the bottom. I just tucked any loose ends in around the stick (if the end of the gusset piece is really long, you can trim it down). Then I slip stitched with heavy-duty sewing thread up and down both sides of the opening to make sure it was really secure. (For some pictures and further explanation of the slip stitch I used, see this post.)

Here they are, ready to ride. You may notice those dandy little felt bridles (my favorite part of the whole project, go figure). Well, those are just some long pieces of felt that I magic braided (but really, you can just regular braid some felt and stitch the end so it stays braided) and then fashioned into a simple loop and halter piece. The d-shaped loops are optional, but they sure add a feeling of authenticity. IMG_6425 IMG_6406Enjoy! Seriously, you might want one for yourself. You’ve been warned. IMG_6412 IMG_6418 IMG_6429

Have a great Wednesday!

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Scrappy Hobby Horse

Do you have piles of felt scraps floating around? Felt food, hair clips, fancy flowers, and a myriad of other felt crafting fun can leave you with quite a heap of felt bits floating around. Or, if you can’t get enough scraps, like me, you might purchase a big old box of scraps from some felt supplier. These scraps can come in handy, but I’ve found them hard to use in bulk, until now. I decided to try piecing some fabric together out of all the scraps. After I got about a third of a yard worth, I decided it was time to make something. Of all the different projects I had in mind for this lovely patchwork fabric, I decided a felt hobby horse was most appropriate, because it’s usually made of re-purposed materials (most commonly a sock, but you get the idea).

collage 1

I drafted my own pattern, fully stuffed muslin and all, and then with a few alterations, I stitched up this guy. My favorite part is the mane. It may look involved, but stitching the mane was almost the easiest part (besides attaching the button eyes, of course). collage 2

It’s stuffed firm with scrap wool (i.e., wool that is too short, scratchy or icky to use for anything else). collage 3

Did I mention my little girl is obsessed with horses? She’s already completely smitten, and I think this may be the start of a beautiful scrappy friendship.

This is another project that I think deserves a tutorial, though it might take me a little while to get around to it. Busy, busy, busy. But life is good.

Have a great day.

Felt Modular Storage

If you were to skim through my archives, you would probably see that it’s no secret that I love felt. Let me get that straight. I love 100% wool felt. I’m a felt snob, I guess. I think it is one of the most perfect creative materials ever to come into the hands of man.

Before I left for the island, I stocked up on some really wonderful 100% merino wool felt (I used some of if for this project). And now that I have some time and  great little studio space, I’ve been dreaming up ways to use it up. One of the first that came to mind was some storage space for the never ending supply of little things that find there way onto my desk. Pencils, scissors, thimbles, etc., that just never want to stay in their designated drawer, no matter how often I put them there.

So I came up with this.

It was a lot of hand sewing, to which the callouses on my fingers can attest.

I figured out, half way through, that some rubber finger tips made the job go easier, but it was still pretty tough.

I even broke one of my favorite curved needles, which made me sad.

But all the work and pain was worth it. I love it.

I played around with the arrangement, and finally decided to go with point-side down (though, if it had been a little more practical, I would have totally gone with the leaning side position).

This is made with scraps of 5 mm felt. It seems pretty sturdy. I would have made it bigger (meaning, adding more triangles the same size) if I had more big scraps. Maybe I’ll have to pick up some more felt while I’m in the states.

Have a great day!

How to Make a Scrappy Felt Clipboard: Mini Tutorial

Here’s a quick little project that I whipped up in a little over an hour. I’ve been wanting to make something like this for a while, and  time, materials, and ideas all met in perfect alignment last week, so I just whipped it up. What is it, you may ask? A scrappy felt clip “board.”

It was super simple. I just zig-zag stitch (with the widest stitch width possible) the pieces of felt together. Don’t overlap the edge, just make sure they are cut straight, and then butt them up together as you feed them through the machine. This is made with some scraps of beautiful 2 mm 100% merino wool, but it would probably work just fine with whatever kind of felt you use.

I then used my pinking rotary cutter (I thought it echoed the stitching nicely, but you could use a regular rotary cutter, or pinking shears) to even out the edges. Then I sewed a strip down the middle, and tacked it down at intervals, so there was a place for the clips to go. To hang it, I added some loops of felt and then put a nice piece of driftwood through them, then tied them with a little string and hung it on a nail. Sweet and simple.

Here it is load up with the material I intended it for: some of the things I’m using to teach the little girls.

 

Good luck with your own clipboard. Have a great day!

 

A Few Little Things

Christmas and New Years flew by in a blur, and now I’m battling a nasty stomach bug, so I’m not feeling up to much. I just thought I would share a few little things with you. First, Christmas. It was small, on my part, very small. I whipped up a couple of little felt lovelies for my daughters. With life and our future living situation still up in the air, and living out of suitcases for the last month, I didn’t want to add too much to the toy load, but I did want to give them a little something to make this Christmas special. First, my older daughter is OBSESSED with horses.

So a little felt horse finger puppet was an easy choice.

My younger daughter’s tastes are a little more simple, so I went with a nice little felt ball. It’s fun to chew on and to throw.

With the year before me a complete unknown, I decided to ground myself with a few goals (resolutions) that I want to make happen. I even wrote them down, in a nice little word-collage, but of course, I forgot to photograph it, and now it’s dark, so I decided to let the post go without a picture. My goals are mostly small, but after all, it’s the “small” things that make life wonderful.

Anyways, I hope you all have a wonderful week. Hopefully I’ll be feeling up to posting something for real next week!

Quiet Book, Pages 13 and 14

(If you’re interested, you can read more about my quiet book. Go here for the overview, here for pages 1 and 2, and here for pages 3 and 4, here for pages 5 and 6here for pages 7 and 8, here for pages 9 and 10, and here for pages 11 and 12.)

We’ve reached the end! Thanks for indulging me while I shared this year-long project with you.

This page was kind of a freebie, nothing new was created, so I just made another fun page for my baby to play with. Of course there is some symbolism to go along with the story of the creation, but I’ll leave that for you to interpret.

I love the snake (is that bad?).

But for the record, I think the dove is great, too.

Now it’s all ready for some serious (quiet) playtime.

Looks like it was a hit.

The end.

Honestly, I wish I had shown more of the process, because that would probably been more helpful to anyone who would want to make a similar book, but I have this thing about letting people see what I’m working on before it’s done. I have a habit of doing things a little different from the norm; a lot of my projects go through this crazy-messy, what the heck is that? intermediate phase, and I’m afraid that people might just write it off as a dumb and click away. When I’m asked in person, I usually say “it’s hard to explain” and leave it at that. I can’t do that on the blog, though, because that just looks lazy. So I just don’t usually show the process before I’m finished, but I’m starting to think that maybe I should.

What do you think? Do you want to see my long-term projects in process? Thanks in advance for the input, and have a great weekend!

ps. I’m linking this up on tatertots and jello and at skip to my lou, and at sun scholars.

Felt Quiet Book, Pages 11 and 12

I put off this page as long as possible. Well, to be more specific, I put off doing the figures for as long as possible. I mean, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, in a children’s book? I was a little stumped.

In  the end I think they turned out a little silly looking, with their little portable bushes.

But it fit my purpose well enough, so I went with it, and I think they’re kind of cute, even if my husband does tease me about them.

As you can see, there isn’t much going on in this page.I wanted to leave it nice and open as a little play stage for my baby to use all the little figures on. In light of that, here are a few more animals that I wanted to add to the Garden of Eden.

You’ve got to have a lamb and a lion. A must.

The lamb’s wool is done using the Pekinese stitch. I like the effect here, and it adds some texture for my baby to enjoy.

And my daughter loves bears.

And here’s my inclusion of the reptile family.

(It’s based off a picture of a giant tortoise that we saw in the Galapagos.)

Theoretically, I could keep adding and adding and adding animals, but I had to cut myself off. I had to be able to call my project done at some point.

One of my favorite thing about my animals pieces is since they are magnetic, they can have a whole second life as fridge magnets or toys. My daughter loves sticking them up there. I was tempted to do a whole Noah’s ark this way, but I think I’ll have to leave that for another time. I’ve got a pretty good start, though.

ps. I am linking this up at skip to my lou.

Felt Quiet Book, Pages 9 and 10

This was actually the first page I started. I sewed the basic page pieces together while  watching a world cup game in Ecuador.

That little bird (it’s an egret, I think) was the first animal. They have birds like that in the peninsula region of Ecuador, and I liked the idea of having something that would remind us of there. I’ve been wanting to do some paintings of this bird ever since I saw it for the first time, during our first trip to Ecuador.

Next was the horse.

Then this lovely little ladybug.

The tiger, salmon (yes, I’m aware that salmon don’t really live in ponds, creative license here), and elephant came later.

My least favorite is the horse. Obviously I need some help with the satin stitch. Plus, I really wish I could find a decent way to transfer my drawings to the felt, because freehand stitching (or whatever you call it) just doesn’t always work out for me.

This page was like the plants page; I had lots of ideas about the kinds of animals I wanted to do, but I had to settle for just my favorites. I tried to represent all the animal kingdoms, but unfortunately I didn’t work in some reptiles/amphibians. I did, however, make some more moveable animal pieces for the other pages, but they could really go with this page, too, to add to the diversity.

Just a few pages left. Have a great weekend!

p.s. I’m linking this up at 30 daystatertots and jello, and skip to my lou.

Felt Quiet book, Pages 7 and 8

We’re past the halfway point for this project. You’d think I’d be tired of talking about it now, but nope, I’m not.

This set of pages is all about the plants. I tried to choose a variety of plant types, but really, I didn’t have room for all of them, so I just went with my favorites.

Each plant has a corresponding seed and a wee pocket to plant the seed in. In case you can’t tell, there is a pine tree,

an oak tree,

poppies,

and sunflowers.

I got a little more creative with the stitches on this page. For petals, stems, and leaves I used the granitos stitches, back stitch, and fern stitch.

I also used French knots for the poppy seeds, satin stitch for the acorn, and something like lattice work for the pine cone.

My original concept was to make the seeds with little magnets, but I just couldn’t reconcile myself to the thought of putting magnets into bite-sized pieces, especially after all the warnings about not swallowing these things (if you can imagine, two magnets meeting inside your body is not a good thing). Anyways, in an effort to avoid choking hazards, I attached the seeds to the pages with some braided thread. I would have used some other attachment method, but nothing else came to mind, and I didn’t have any thin green ribbon, so this was how it had to be.

Also, another thing that made it a little more complicated was that because I was embroidering on the flap, I had to make it a double thickness. I decided to add a magnet so that the flaps would stay opened/closed easier. I like how they blend in with the background, whether opened or closed.

Just three page sets left, and the next three are my favorites. Thanks for indulging me, and if you just can’t take another quiet book page, come back in a week and I hope to have a new project (tutorial?) to share with you.

p.s. I’m linking this up at 30 daystatertots and jello, and skip to my lou.

Felt Quiet Book, Pages 5 and 6

(If you want to know more about my quiet book, go here for the overview, here for pages 1 and 2, and here for pages 3 and 4.)

I love this set of pages. It includes my favorite and most time-consuming piece of stitching, and I really like how the darkness to light is portrayed.

The sun and moon are detachable, and there are two magnet places on the page for each, with opposite magnetic poles facing up, so they can be flipped back and forth between the light and dark side.

Of course, the Earth is my favorite. I looked at some NASA images of Earth to get some ideas of how to do it, and then I just freely stitched around to give it a primordial feel.

All the stitching is chain stitch, which meant a lot of time and a lot of thread.

The Earth also goes from dark to light. It took me a while to figure out a way to do this that wasn’t too cumbersome or goofy looking. I guess it helps to work on a project for a year: lots of time to think things through.

Finally, the stars appear underneath little tabs.

Rather than try to do a bunch of 5-pointed stars, I went with the like a diamond in the sky idea and used the gods eye stitch to make them.

Hope you aren’t getting tired of seeing my quiet book, dear reader. I’m not done yet. Have a great Monday!

p.s. I’m linking this up on and on tatertots and jello.