Monday, January 21, 2013


For our next project we decided to make a horde of Gremlinz. Again, these creatures are inspired by creatures we found in Plush-O-Rama (The gremlins were designed byJessica Croker).

The trick with finding projects for kids to do is finding something that will result in something fun and useful. WE could have sewn round pillows or something but (yawn-oh) how fun would that be? So something fun and/or useful that sort of pushes the limits of their abilities but not so far that they become frustrated and give up…. It’s a fine line… very fine. I kind of had to really push a bit to get them to finish these – it took us a few days to get them all done. But they’re done and everyone is exceptionally pleased with their resulting critter (which will hopefully motivate them to stick with it through more ambitious projects!)

The Gremlinz were considerable more complex than the snakes we did last week.

(Remember: click on the pictures below to see a slightly larger version)

Cutting out bits from the pattern I marked out.

And more cutting… (We should probably invest in some better scissors!) 

Then stitching…

And stitching…

And more stitching…

Mine went a little quicker  - as I’m pretty quick with the hand stitching and am pretty focused once I start a project. The kids would stitch together a limb and then say they’d work on it again the next day…

So, my first gremlin was finished up the evening we started….

The kids had a few more days of stitching ahead of them….

As it was -41°C with the windchill on Sunday and we skipped going to the Suzuki Strings Midwinter Concert… and Irish Dance… and just stayed at home all day I got them going on doing more than one limb… 

This was mostly done by presenting alternative activities that were even less fun than sitting and stitching all afternoon… I’m a slave driver, what can I say… but sometimes they need that little push to accomplish something and the rewards always justify the means…

Stitching limbs onto the body – getting there!!

Threading needles…

Finnegan stitching the back on his creature

Keira stitching the back on hers.

Stuffing! Almost done!

Still stitching…

Finnegan’s finished Gremlin.

Sewing up the butt.

Keira’s finished Gremlin.

The whole gang – including Bluey MacB and the Snakes.

What to do next!?

Coming soon on Tim’s Art Blog:

Probably more stuffed critters. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bluey MacB

Carrying on from our Straight Snake Project, I decided to make a new critter out of some pretty blue-ish plaid material I've had kicking around for a while...

Meet Bluey MacB.

I have to say Bluey was inspired by "Batty Cat Bubbles" from Plush-o-Ramma by Linda Kopp. (Batty Cat Bubbles was the creation of Amy Proff Lyons)

Bluey MacB is about 25cm tall and was entirely hand-stitched. I learned a lot from his creation. Now what to do next...

(I starting to see how a sewing machine could actually be handy...)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sewing Snakes

Oh, we’ve been doing stuff. I just haven’t been posting much here… That’s all I’ve got to say about that…

My grandmother’s house was always full of magical stuffed creations. Cats, I remember mostly, and these stuffed “old folks” made of stockings… I’m sure there were other things (many, MANY other things), but those are the ones I remember most clearly. I’m sure she sold them (or maybe just gave a lot away!?). I had a few at one time or another butonly one remains – my elephant – who is sadly missing an ear.

I also have a touque she made for me when I was five. But we’re talking about stuffed critters right now…

Anyway I’ve long thought about making my own stuffed critters (inspired by my grandmothers creative output) but never really got around to it. I have to admit, I don’t really know how to sew. I don’t have a machine. What little sewing I do by hand. I learned how to do that because I was a super-keener cub-scout and my mother quickly tired of sewing multiple new badges onto my uniform every, dang week… So she showed me how to sew them on myself and washed her hands of it. Everything else I sort of figured out on my own…

I got to thinking more about making stuffed critters again lately. Even signed out a few how-to/inspiration books from the library (or picked up a few from cheapie online book outlets…). I have a small box of sewing supplies and even a bit of material I’ve picked up over the years during an inspired moment (I even made a few hats a couple years back, later I made a few more with a machine… but didn’t post any pics…). When my mom was asking what she could get me for Xmas I asked for some stuffing (like to stuff plush toys with) and some material and anything I’d need for making simple toys. So she bought me some stuffing and material and passed along some supplies she had – some of which may have belonged to my grandmother…?

This week I finally got around to trying something out with the kids. While I have some pretty grand plans I had to do something super simple as they have never done anything like sewing ever… something small they could actually accomplish in a couple hours and not get frustrated and give up. At one point in our discussion about what to make Finnegan suggested making snakes. Boom. That was it. Snakes are… when you straighten them out… more or less a straight line. How much more simple could it get than THAT!?

(Remember: click on the pictures below to see a slightly larger version)

Finnnegan sorting out thread. He picked up on the making knots and threading needles bit pretty quick and was off and running in a hurry.

Keira sewing along. I honestly thought she’d be quicker at it for some reason. She seems better with fine details – at least in her drawings – and can spend hours devoted doing one thing… She had a harder time figuring out how to make knots and getting started her stitches were huge and loose and she kept dropping the thread off the needle and having the hardest time getting it back onto the needle…

Finnegan started out great technically but as he got to about the halfway point sewing his snake he lost patience or just got too excited and HIS stitches – which had (surprisingly) started off nice and small and even and straight – got very long and erratic!?

What ever… he was having FUN!?

There is something truly… liberating…? Mind-blowing…? For kids to discover they have the power/freedom/creativity to make their own damn toys!  

Somewhere in there there was a moment where it was like: “hang on… if we can do this… We could make ANYTHING?!?

Anyway… the snake… We started yesterday afternoon. I finished mine in the evening. The kids had to finish up theirs this afternoon .

Finnegan and his snake.

Keira took a bit longer.

Keira and her snake

Our family of happy snakies (mine is the longer one in the middle). What do you call a group of snakes? I’d jokingly called them a herd and was promptly informed that that was WRONG – that herds are only herbivores. (Someone should tell that to Robert Kirkman).

A tangle of snakes? These snakes are so short and straight I don’t think they’re in any danger of getting tangled. Ever.

The kids interest has been piqued and have realized the possibilities are endless, so I think there more… soon…

Stay tuned.

The kids and I did a series of self-portraits for Amanda for Xmas. One of these days I'll get around to posting pictures of those....