Archive for the ‘soft toys’ Category


June 15, 2010


Oh, I am so pleased with this. Look, those are cables; crochet cables. Crochet cables!  I expect everyone else in the world has been crocheting cables since they were toddlers, but they are new to me.  There was much swearing and unravelling of swatches before I got the hang of them, though that’s mainly because I was trying to teach myself to do them with the aid of a pattern for a swatch in a 40 year old book that said something like this: 1 RtF round each of next 2RtF, 1 RdtF into next RtF, then keeping hook at front of work but behind the 2Rtdf just worked work Cr5B….”  WTF????

This pic doesn’t do the hat justice at all. Obviously, the best thing to do would be to take a picture of it on my head, so you can see it properly, but that would involve not only washing my hair, but also blow-drying it, and either taking a picture of the back of my head, or having to put on make-up, and I can’t be bothered to do any of those things today.  Or most days, really.

Sock monkey

Oh dear, he’s a bit ugly, this sock monkey.  Never mind; he’s off to Australia where he can give someone else nightmares.

Baby cardigan

For a new little baby, born in April.  I’m hoping this is a size 6 – 12 months, so if I don’t get round to posting it off to the UK straight away it won’t matter…


Yup, no change.  Still not finished.

And something new in progress…

Based on this Cath Kidston tea cosy, though mine isn’t going to be a tea cosy.  I’m not quite sure what mine’s going to be, yet, but tea cosy is definitely not one of the options.

(Sorry about the crappy pics.  Mid-winter here…)



May 26, 2010

Unfinished doll.

Unfinished hat.

Unfinished baby cardigan.

Unfinished sock monkey.


November 3, 2009

This is the first thing I’ve knitted since I was 10.


I looked on facebook one day, and saw my friend had written, “I wonder if Auntie Ce Ce can make a Clanger* for Iggy.”

Oh yes, I replied, of course I can, forgetting that I hate doing knitting. So, I looked on the internet to brush up my skills, and the gloriousness of continental knitting was revealed to me here. I love it! And short row shaping – who invented that? Genius. (This tutorial has a really clear depiction of how short row shaping works.)

And I love the Clanger. I don’t really want to send him off to England to live with my godson. I bet he hasn’t even heard of The Clangers.

Pattern here.

*The Clangers are a family of knitted pink aliens who featured in the eponymous British children’s television programme which debuted in 1969 and was shown throughout the 70s.

Sock monkey

June 5, 2009

As soon as I saw the sock monkeys Little Miss Flossy made, I wanted to make one myself.  It’s taken me a while because not one shop in the town where I live sells socks. Not one.  I checked them all.  Mind you, round here, people are still going to the supermarket in bare feet, so maybe there’s not much demand for socks.

In the end, I asked my friends in Auckland to take pity on me and send me some socks, and I have finally made my first sock monkey.  Here he is.



April 29, 2009

This is Makimaki Monkey.  Hello!


Makimaki is Maori for monkey, and is pronounced Markymarky.  Though technically, Makimaki Monkey is an ape, not a monkey, as he doesn’t have a tail.

He’s sitting on my bed because it was the only spot in my house I could find that wasn’t covered in pet hair or mud.

I made him using the same pattern as the other monkeys, but Makimaki is made from a 50% wool 50% acrylic blend I picked up at Spotlight.  It was horrible to work with, and I have three blisters on my fingers from making him.  He’s stuffed with 99.9% polyester fibrefill and 0.1% dog hair.

He’s currently squashed up in an envelope on his way to start a new life in Australia, where he will live with my friend’s baby.  Hopefully they will have lots of adventures together.  I’ve told my friend he’s stuffed with 100% polyester fibrefill, as Makimaki Monkey and I decided she didn’t need to know about the dog hair.

Also in the parcel is this book which I found in an antiques shop in Cambridge last week.

book-1Excuse the dodgy photography.

It was a real wrench to part with this book as I love old books, especially old books that are over 100 years old.


It’s a first edition, too.


I hope she loves it as much as I do.

Toadstool Cottage and Mushroom House: free pattern and tutorial

November 3, 2008

Toadstool Cottage (left) and Mushroom House (right)

Now, I know that craft blogs are full of mushroom pincushions, but when I decided I had to have a mushroom pincushion of my very own, I couldn’t find a pattern or tutorial for the shapes I had in mind. Not that the ones I found weren’t lovely, just that I had a very specific image in my head of how I wanted my pincushions to look.

Failing to find a pattern on the internet, I again had to resort to making my own pattern, this time using a compass, a protractor, a ruler, and my rusty knowledge of geometry. Now, either my knowledge of geometry was much better than I thought, or I was incredibly lucky, because the pattern worked.

If you want to make your own, here’s how.

First, get a compass, protractor and ruler…. Only kidding.

You’ll need the following materials:

Red & white felt: a 9″ (23 cm) square of each will be big enough to make Toadstool Cottage and Mushroom Cottage unless you enlarge the pattern. Or, you can use any other colours you like.

Embroidery floss or wool:

  • White, for attaching the spots (you could use normal sewing thread for this instead)
  • Green, for grass and stems
  • Brown, for the door and windows
  • Selection of colours for the flowers. I used red, pink, blue and yellow

Scraps of coloured felt (or other fabric) for doors and windows

Sewing thread, embroidery needle, etc

Stuffing: I used toy stuffing for mine as I wanted them to be washable, but you could also use pellets or rice, or even wood shavings as stuffing.


Download the pattern file

Click here for the pattern. That link will take you to a PDF of the pattern pieces. If you print the document at 100% of its size your Toadstool Cottage will be approximately 5″ or 13 cm high, and Mushroom House will be approximately 4″ or 10 cm high. (Unless I really messed up the production of the file, in which case let me know…)

You can enlarge or reduce the pattern to make different sizes.

Please note: this free pattern download is not for resale. All rights reserved. No part of the pattern may be reproduced in any form. The written instructions, photographs, design, and pattern are intended for personal, non-commercial use only i.e. you are not permitted to sell any items made using this pattern.

Cut out the following pieces

From red felt

  • Either 4 x cap top 1 for Toadstool Cottage or 4 x cap top 2 for Mushroom Cottage

From white felt

  • Either 1 x cap bottom 1 for Toadstool cottage or 1 x cap bottom 2 for Mushroom Cottage
  • 1 x stalk
  • 1 x base
  • 8 or 9 spots (I used 9 spots for Toadstool Cottage and 8 spots for Mushroom House)

From felt colour for door

  • 1 x door

From felt colour for windows

  • 4 x curtains

Make the cap

Step 1: take two red cap top pieces and pin together. For Toadstool Cottage, sew down one of the long sides, using a ¼” seam. For Mushroom House, sew down one of the sides without the notch, as shown below, using a ¼” seam. Repeat for the other two red cap pieces.

Step 2: open both the sewn pieces out flat, and pin to each other, matching the corners and seams. Sew together, using a ¼” seam.

Step 3: turn right side out, and sew the white spots to the cap using running stitch. If you prefer, you can attach the spots using fabric glue. I used nine spots for Toadstool Cottage, and eight spots for Mushroom House.

TIP: it is easier to sew the spots to the cap before the cap is stuffed, but if you prefer, you can sew them on later.

Step 4: turn the cap inside out again, and baste the cap bottom to the edge. Sew using as small a seam allowance as possible, a maximum of a ¼” seam (I used an 1/8″ seam, but both work).

Turn the cap right side out again, taking care not to stretch the cap bottom.

Make the base

Step 1: place the door in position on the stalk piece and baste into place. Note: the base of the door should sit about ¼” above the bottom of the stalk, as shown below. Sew the door in position using chain or back-stitch, and make a French knot for the door handle. Then baste the curtains in position, and embroider the window frames, again using chain stitch or back-stitch.

Step 2: embroider the stalk with any details you like, leaving a margin of ¼” round the edge of the stalk piece. As you can see, I embroidered lots of flowers, because that’s what I wish the front of my house looked like. I used a combination of detached chain stitches, back stitch, and French knots for my embroidery.

Step 3: once you have finished decorating the stalk, fold it in half with the embroidery on the inside, and the two short sides matching up, and sew using a ¼” seam, then turn the right way out.

Join the cap and base together

Step 1: lightly stuff the cap. Don’t stuff it too much, as you need to be able to insert the stalk into the opening.

Step 2: insert the stalk into the opening, and baste into place.

Then sew firmly using ladder stitch.

Step 3: once the stalk is attached, finish stuffing the cap firmly. Then stuff the stalk, but loosely. You shouldn’t have any stuffing poking out of the bottom when you’ve finished, or the pin cushion won’t stand up (check that it stands up before you attach the base, and adjust the stuffing if needed).

TIP: if you’re using pellets or rice or something similar for stuffing, it maybe useful to cut a circle of card or plastic to line the base with.

Step 4: attach the base using running stitch.

And ta daaaaa! You’re done.

If you make any of these, please post a pic to The Little House by the Sea flickr pool or send me a pic, as I’d love to see them.

Toadstool or mushroom?

August 30, 2008

Another Toadstool Cottage… or is it a Mushroom house?

This one is about 3.5″, or 9 cm high.

I’ll post a pattern and tutorial for these some time soon.

What I did yesterday instead of work

August 27, 2008

Toadstool Cottage

Because making a pincushion is so much more important than doing the two reports I have to write, making the dolls I’ve promised the children, taking the dogs for a walk, or doing housework.

Cheeky monkeys

August 8, 2008

I’m making more of these dolls at the moment for my niece, my god-daughters, and a little girl whose godmother I might just pretend to be as she’s so cute.

Annoyingly, after cutting, basting and sewing 24 pieces for six heads, I started stuffing one, and realised I had used an earlier version of the template, and the doll looked like a blockhead. Why did I decide to do six at once, and not try one first to check I was using the right pieces? Grrr.

So, no more dolls to show you, yet, but here are some monkeys I made last year instead.

The big monkey is called Shanadee. He was named, and accessorised by my niece.

The pattern for these is Cedrich the Monkey by Roxycraft.

Meet Molly

July 25, 2008

A few months ago, I came across this adorable doll, Ruby on mollychicken. Isn’t she lovely? I don’t know what I liked more – her cheeky little face, her cute little dress, her shoes, her hair, or the lovely pictures and story. I fell in love, and had to make one.

I searched the blog high and low in the hope she was made from a pattern, but – grrrr! – clever old mollychicken had designed her herself. But all was not lost – in a later post she wrote:

My best bit of advice with toy design, is probably to get your hands on as many vintage books as you can. They are a great source of inspiration, I have a whole stack of them. By studying the basic techniques, you can adapt them to achieve the sort of look you’re after. And then it’s trial and error, trial and error, and trial and error again.

Note that “trial and error bit”. When I read it I thought, ha! No trial and error for me! I am going to find a pattern on the internet, tweak it a little, and voilà – a Ruby-alike would be mine .


Two weeks later, I conceded defeat. Plan B: make my own pattern. I grabbed my graph paper, and, putting the tiny little detail of having no vintage toy books, no previous experience of designing patterns nor any previous experience of making dolls out of my mind, set to work. After all, I can sew, I’ve used a lot of patterns, how hard could it be?

Well, designing the pattern was easy. Designing a pattern that produced what I wanted – not so easy.

For weeks, I drafted patterns, cut and sewed, stuffed and rejected various body parts, until my room looked like something out of a toy-shop horror-flick with dismembered body parts lying all around. I was beginning to curse mollychicken and her cute little doll.

Then, one day, as if by magic, this little girl emerged from the carnage:

My 1,064,573rd pattern worked!

Her name is Molly, in honour of mollychicken. She is 25 cm tall, and is made from old curtains. Her arms are fixed, as I thought that would make it easier for designing clothes for her, but her legs are moveable, and are attached using hidden button moveable joints (there’s a good tutorial here). I made her dress using this pattern (also on mollychicken – have I said how much I love that blog?)

Hmmm, she needs a haircut, but apart from that, I’m pretty happy with her.