Hexagons!

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Because have no resistance when it comes to starting new projects… I’m working on a hexagon quilt. I’m really loving it too, it’s mindless and soothing. Much easier than I ever expected it to be!

And for some reason, I just cannot bring myself to sit at my sewing machine right now. So it’s nice to have a lap project that I can do anywhere.

I’ve looked at a bunch of tutorials, but this is the main one I’ve been referencing.

And now I’m going to get back to it! (It’s very addictive, you’ll see! Smile with tongue out )

Archie

My adoring fans have reminded me that it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. And she is they are right.

As I mentioned a while back, I’ve been participating in the Sewing Buddy Challenge at Whipstitch.

Our first challenge wrapped up this month, and my partner and I won 2nd place! We were to collaborate to make a pair of boy/girl projects, which works out perfectly since I have Dexter and Elisabeth has her baby daughter, Cate. We made these precious little dolls from Wee Wonderfuls called Olive and Archie.

This pattern was absolutely worth the money. I only had one problem with it, which I will go into later. But, for your $15, you get the patterns for both Olive and Archie, plus all sorts of clothes, and accessories including backpacks, sleeping bags, and a cat pal.

Elisabeth and I chose a color palette, using Moda’s A Walk in the Woods line as our inspiration. I would have loved to just get some of that fabric, because it is PRECIOUS, but I’m trying to stash-bust. So I had to bring that vibe to my doll while keeping down extra purchases.

I created a few sketches, with three major goals in mind:

1. Use what I have as much as I can.

2. Stick to the color palatte/theme we chose.

3. Make the little guy look as much like Dexter as possible.

I easily found a felt in color similar to Dexter’s hair. I ended up getting a blend because I was trying to keep costs down. I can tell that it’s pilled a bit, but overall I think it’s fine.

But finding a skin tone nearly drove me crazy. I shopped at Joann Fabrics, which I normally really like. But they had a whopping total of two fabrics that could possibly work for skintone. One of them was too orange (we are an extremely pale family) and the other was thinner and weirder looking than I’d like. I made the smart choice and went with thin and weird.

I started stitching my hair on. So far so good. Except in this photo, you can see straight through to the paper under the fabric. But surely that won’t be a problem, right? Right??

I’m 99% certain I washed my fabric before cutting. But I really can’t remember now. After sewing all my hair on and starting to assemble the body, I ironed some seams, and suddenly the weirdness of the fabric became an actual problem.

The fabric melted/shrunk. The photo above shows the difference between the pattern piece and how much shrinkage occurred. In retrospect, desperation to find the right color may have caused me to get something partially synthetic. But I will never know, because when I went back to Joann for a replacement, I couldn’t find the mystery fabric.

So I came some with the too-orange fabric, washed it… and then realized under our lights that it was yellow.

Long story short, I went to Hobby Lobby and found an acceptable fabric. The twist: A few days after I submitted my doll, I found my own stash of fleshtone fabric. Sigh.

Aside from that, the pattern started out ridiculously easy. But there comes a point when the creator tells you that you will be cursing her name, and she was not wrong. I didn’t curse *her* per se, but I nearly lost it several times. The problem is that wretched bottom panel. If you’ve made this pattern before, I’m sure you know what I am talking about. If you haven’t and plan to, you *will* know what i’m talking about! I Googled and searched and pleaded to the internet fairies to give me the answer and I never found it.

In the end I just had to wing it. So Archie has a funky butt.

I thought it might bother me that my handstitching is so awful, but I’m just glad that part is over. And as with childbirth, I’ve almost forgotten the pain and would do totally do it all over again.

The eyes where my only other creative difficulty, because I wanted Archie to look like Dexter, but Dex has hazel eyes that are difficult to replicate.

I almost settled for these plain dark eyes, which I love, but I just really wanted light eyes, even if they were still wrong. So I chose to do a circle of charcoal gray with pale blue on top to create irises.

I stuck on all the features, subbing felt scraps for the mouth and nose, to get the correct placement and shapes. Then I just stitched on the face.

I made a little red jacket last minute using the hoodie pattern included in the set. I didn’t finish the seams, because I was running out of time. But I really wanted that pop of color to complete the look I was going for. It was then that I realized that I didn’t like the placement of the arms, beause with the jacket on, things look a little weird and the jacket actually doesn’t want to stay on.

But, I was extremely happy with how he turned out!

More importantly, Dexter is extremely happy with him. I wish I could have captured how thrilled he was initially. I gave him the choice of whether he wanted to change the name and he really liked “Archie”. Or “Artsy”, as he calls him.
And he sleeps with Archie every single day.
Even if I didn’t win anything in the challenge, this would have been enough!
But I won’t say no to the 1/2 yard bundle of fabric 2nd place gets :-P.

Tiny Dresses and Bees

Dexter and I had a lovely evening at the park today. He was thrilled to find the entire area swarming with bumblebees. It was actually quite relaxing to watch them go about their buzzy business.

My mind has been preoccupied with lots of different types of bees lately… Particularly quilting bees.

I never manage to catch the beginning of a quilting bee, I just see blocks showing up on blogs I follow. So I’m toying with the idea of starting my own, although I honestly don’t know if I could come up with 12 interested quilters.

*If* I do this, these are the things I’m mulling over:

I’d definitely want it to be continental US only, because of shipping. During my research I saw some people say that there are 2 ways of doing things. You can either mail out fabric so you can control what goes into your quilt, or you can agree to use your own stash to create blocks for each quilt. The first option will be pricier. I am open to suggestions on that point.

I’ll also judge by interest whether to do a year long bee or a 6 month bee.

And I will be thinking about how many blocks each person should make, depending on the number of people interested and the agreement of quilt size and block number and size. (A typical bee consists of 12 members, 12 months, 1 block per person per month.)

So leave a comment if you’re interested in something like this. I will continue to update the status of the potential quilting bee when I have more info!

And for my followers who may not know about virtual quilting bees and really just keep up with my blog because you love me, tell me if you want more info. I didn’t go into what a quilting be really is because it’s getting late and I still want to watch TV with Alex :).

Finally, I made some dresses for my sister’s baby (Full disclosure, I may be more excited about this baby than any other baby besides my own. I LOVE the dickens out of all my nephews. But I’m really REALLY excited about this little girl person!) and I wanted to give a heads up that I will be putting out a tutorial and pattern for them very soon!

 

 

Postage Stamp Quilt-Along Update

I’m a little behind on my post this week. I was stressed out about it because I thought I’d solved all my technology problems from the past few weeks. I was wrong. I think technology hates my blog. I was so mad the other day that I almost swore off blogging. But my husband helped put things into perspective: “No one is wailing and smashing their computer because you haven’t posted in time. They’ll see it when they see it.” Oh, Alex, you keep me grounded in reality. My response was, “Well, they *should* be.”
But, I’m still here, and (dare I say it??) think most of my tech problems are solved.

I’m excited to say I have already completed my February Postage Stamp Challenge! I solemnly vowed to sew all of quadrant 1 into sets of 4.

Sewing is done.

And ironing is done.

It was pretty awesome to iron these out. I started getting a feel for how things are going to look!

There were some sad ones. Several are like the one below, where the seams just don’t quite match. I didn’t have any tragically off-kilter ones, but I’m a little concerned about how it might throw things off. Of course, I’m worrying too much about it..

And I found a fabric I sewed on backwards. It’s the orange in the upper right. I *almost* took it apart to flip it, but I realized that it just doesnt matter and that I may like the backside better anyway.
And then there’s this bad boy… He’s more than a little snaggle-toothed. I am going to see if this block can be salvaged, but I suspect I will have to take it apart and maybe replace a couple of the squares. It might be for the best, all those lines going in different directions make me a little nauseated and anxious lol.

But overall, I was really pleased with how they look. I definitely have some favorites! The one below just makes me really happy for some reason.

A few produced some color combos I’d never really considered. In the future, I may look to these for inspiration:

I really liked this one with the frog.

I definitely have a weakness for aqua, red, and black together. All my favorite blocks turned out to contain green/aqua, red/orange, and black and white!

Now I’m going through and squaring up all my blocks. Does using a rotary cutter make everyone’s elbows burn, or am I doing something wrong??

Bring on March’s challenge, Mary!! I’m ready!

 

Felt Piglet Tutorial

We’re having a Winnie the Pooh craze around here. Craze may be putting it a little strongly, but Dexter is frequently Pooh, pretending to suck honey off his hand and telling me he’s spitting out bees. He asked the other day if I’d make him a piglet… so I paused for a half-second and said, “Sure!”

If you’d like to use the exact pattern* I traced out, here it is:

 
I’ll show below how to assemble him and how I drafted my pattern.
*1. Where the body meets the legs, use the top pink line. The lower one was a mistake I didn’t remove. *2. My pattern is not symmetrical. It just didn’t occur to me until it was too late. This will be most obvious on the ears, the inner parts need to match the correct ear, unless you care to correct that on your pattern.

You can do this with any character really. Piglet is pretty simple in that he’s almost entirely made up of 2 colors. I found a picture online, blew it up to the size I wanted, printed it… and realized it wasn’t quite as big as I’d expected. So I roughly traced around it to enlarge it.

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You can see that I did a lot of correcting throughout the whole process. I was flying by the seat of my pants and really didn’t spend anytime in the planning phase! But all of these corrections should be reflected in the PDF pattern.

I folded over my felt and traced the pattern onto the side of the fabric that would be on the inside. Then I cut out both layers together.

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Next, I went scrounging for fabric for clothing. I didn’t want to have to hem anything, so I used only felt and t-shirt scraps. I didn’t have any dark pink, and I felt like he just HAD to have stripes. I figured purple would work too. It’s a warmer purple than it looks in all these pictures.

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So, lay Piglet down where you’d like the stripes to fall. Again, fold your fabric, with the wrong sides facing out.

I used a Sharpie to mark the points at his neck and crotch, and then traced the sides of his tummy.

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You’ll get a an outline that looks like the picture on the left (if you do it without the pattern I linked). Then just connect all the lines, making a dip at the top for his chin.

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Then I turned all the pieces right-side-up and started building Piglet.

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Cut out all the facial features. He’s starting to look pretty cute! Also, he looks a little broader than normal, but when he’s stuffed, it turns out just right.

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Sew on all the dark pieces.

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Next, layer the snout.

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Then add the little nose triangle.

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Then sew the clothes to the front and the back. Remember, you have not put him together yet, your back piece should still be separate from the front.

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Flip the sides and trim off any excess t-shirt fabric. You’ll want to check the front side after you do this and make sure you trim the parts you can’t see from the back.

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Now you create your Piglet sandwich (hmm…) and sew around the outside, starting below one ear, and ending at the bottom of the next ear.

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Piglet’s head should be floppy and open like this:

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Stuff the arms and legs first, leaving it slightly soft where they connect to the body, so that he won’t be completely stiff. Then talk some little kid into stuffing the rest for you. Actually, he got tired of this pretty quickly and I had to finish. He just wanted to shred the stuffing.

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Then I stitched across the arm joint to give them a little range of motion. I didn’t bother doing this with the legs, but you’re welcome to try if it pleases you.

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Round the Polyfil at the top, keeping it clear of where seams will be. I didn’t put any stuffing in the ears.

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Sew around the curve of the head, still ignoring the ears.

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Pin the pink parts onto the ears. Keep in mind that if you used my pattern, the ear parts are not interchangeable.

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Sew around the edge of the dark pink, both attaching it to the ear and closing the ear openings.

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Then trim off the threads and he’s good to go!!

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The first thing Dex did was cram him down into a jar. Poor Pickled Piglet.

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And he felt like he needed to compare the pattern to see if they matched up.

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He now sleeps with Piglet every night, which is awesome. I should add that felt starts to look a little ratty when it’s handled by sticky hands everyday. Just a heads up.

There are lots of steps, but this was a pretty quick project. All told, it took me about 2 hours to complete, including drafting the pattern and taking pictures.

I’d love to see if anyone comes up with any other characters! I hope to make a Winnie the Pooh sometime! But then I’d probably lose it and end up making the whole Winnie the Pooh family. Felt is dangerous!

The Chronology of Croup Week

Last week is just a blur. This was the sickest Dexter has ever been, and it was pretty rough. My husband and I talked about how it was like doing the newborn stage all over again, because Dexter would wake up every half hour or so, coughing and panicking until I could comfort him and give him a drink of water. He slept all night with us for the first time ever, because it was easier to just hold him and a sippy cup of water than to fumble around like a zombie in the dark.

I have mental snapshots of events, but not a great recollection of what really happened. As I was going through my phone, I realized I had actual snapshots of events, mostly the nice parts (I don’t need pictures to remember the hard parts, those memories are pretty clear!!), and I was surprised by how much occurred in just a week. (Spoiler: A lot of these pictures involve food.)

Day 1

We had a wonderful family day at the aquarium, followed by supper at Jet’s Pizza. Super yummy pizza, as evidenced in the 3rd picture: Dex was dismayed, nay, horrified that Alex was putting the pizza away.

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Playing with action figures at Jet’s has become a family ritual. In the middle picture you can see Dexter’s guy performing pirouettes on some pizza crust.

At some point Dexty asked for some cupcakes. And so Alex decided to surprise us by taking us to Gigi’s Cupcakes. I seriously am not a fan of cake, but this was amaaaazing. Mine was Wedding Cake. The only reason I took a break from inhaling it is because I had to send a picture to my poor sister, who loves cupcakes. Sorry, Deb!!

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Little did we know, in a few hours Dex would wake up barking with croup.

Day 2

This not-too-bad day included making some no bake cookies. They look deceptively good. Trust me, they were weird.

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I started some soft pants for Dex using the basic pants pattern from Made. Poor Dex got worse soon after I started these, so they still aren’t finished. (Oh, and also because I start more projects later…)

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Day 3

The week included lots of lots of blankets, lots of snuggling, and  LOTS of tv. Poor Dex didn’t even feel like sitting up most of the time. Without pictures, my timeline is a little fuzzy. This may be the same night we took him to an urgent care clinic and were there for 4.5 hours. It was awful, he was feverish and crying to go home almost the entire time.

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Day 4

I tried out my Grandma Ona’s tuna fish patty recipe. They were so good, and one of the few things, besides croutons and dried berries, that I could get Dexter to eat. Of course, it was during a rare period of playfulness, so he had to be a sting ray and I had to feed him pieces of tuna fish patty like raw shrimp. (This is not completely random, we get to do this at the aquarium.)

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Day 5

By this point, Dexter and I were pretty much joined at the hip. We slept together, we ate together (or I ate and begged him to try), and we watched Scared Shrekless 30 times together.

We were settling down for a nap and he asked me to take a picture of us napping together.

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Day 6

The child still felt awful. Here he is with his bowl of croutons and 2 of his 5 or more cups. I offered him all sorts of drinks out of different types of cups to see what would entice him. He really appreciated getting to drink from mugs from my collection.

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A little while later, he was feeling ok, and asked for some play-doh. And I absolutely made him some play-doh.  I was so exhausted I just looked online for a no-cook recipe, and I actually really like the one we made. I’ll link that another day, because I made some changes. It was so easy that this is probably the play-doh I’ll make from now on!

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I stayed awake during one of his naps to get just a little bit of time to myself, where I could do something enjoyable and watch something besides Scared Shrekless. So I worked on matching up some squares for my postage stamp quilt.

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Day 7

I didn’t take any pictures on Friday, and I honestly could not account for anything that happened. Like I said, everything is a blur. I’m sure it involved a lot of blankets, a lot of snuggling, and A LOT of tv.

Day 8

Alex was finally off work. Through the week, Alex had to work, while I took care of Dex. Then Alex would get a short break, and then usually had to go back for conference calls. Then we were both up all night with Dex. But this wonderful Saturday, he took over completely, and he gave me the ENTIRE day to craft.

I worked on  a dress for myself until I realized I didn’t have all the fabric I needed. Boo. After that I started a quilt. There is a reason I decided to push all my other projects to the side and work on this. I’ll write about that another time.

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I thought it was kind of neat that I used up a bunch of nearly empty spools of thread. But that’s probably only neat to me. 

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Day 9

Dex was finally acting like himself!! He ate, he played!! I am one of those people who loses perspective and starts to believe that whatever is happening at the time is what my life will be like forever. So, I was certain that the cloud of sickness would never lift. But it did!

At this point, Alex and I looked around, and realized that our entire house was trashed. I’m not kidding, it looked like a family of hoarders invited a punk rock band to come and destroy their home.

So this was Get-It-Together day. Not just basic cleaning, we went all out and started decluttering as well.

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 Day 10

Today is pretty great. Dexter is playing and eating and drinking. He lost over 5lbs, which I obsessed over for days. But he is doing quite well now. Our biggest problem is that he is kind of a punk right now from getting his way for days. He definitely milked it, telling us, “I have a sickness!!”

He’s still enjoying that play-doh. And while he was working with it, he told me, in his stuffy little voice, “It’s impordant to make sings!!” I couldn’t agree more, baby :).

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Felt Food Tutorial and Patterns

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Here is the moment we’ve all been waiting for… (there’s totally a drumroll)…

I learned to create patterns in pdf form!!!!

I’ve been saying I’d do this for the longest time. It really wasn’t as hard as I was worried it would be. One day I’ll post about that for the other chickens out there Smile .

Patterns:

You’ll notice that most of the patterns call for cutting 2 pieces of felt, even for something flat. This is for stability, because you can warp or even tear felt pretty easily.

I tried to keep everything simple. All the stitching is on the outside, there’s no flipping or turning things inside out. And I did everything by machine.

Assembly Tutorial:

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Cheese: Probably the easiest thing you’ll make in the felt food world. Cut 2 rectangles of felt, and sew them together. Tada! You’ve made cheese. You have some creative options here: you can change colors for different types of cheese slices (think off white with stitched sprinkles for Monterey Jack), oval for provolone, and if you want Swiss, my suggestion is to sew circles, and then trim the holes.

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Bacon and Eggs: Felt food must-haves! Cut 2 egg whites and 1 yolk for each egg. Sew the yolk onto one of the whites, leaving a small opening. Very lightly stuff the yolk with polyfil and close the opening. Then put your 2 egg whites together, with the yolk on the outside, and sew all the way around.

For the bacon slices, I only cut 1 layer, because I felt like those lighter strips would be secure enough. Cut your darker bacon slices and 2 lighter strips for each slice. Just freehand those stripes, there is no reason to try to conform them to a pattern, and I think it would be more difficult to do so. Lay the light strips on top of the darker fabric and stitch around the strips.

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PB&J Sammy: I wanted everything to be as simple as possible, so these bread slices are flat, flat, flat! For each slice, cut 1 dark piece (that will become the crust) and 2 lighter pieces. This was actually the most difficult thing I did, despite trying to keep simplicity in mind. Sandwich those 3 pieces (light, then dark, then light) and pin the layers. You want to stitch around the edges of the light felt, catching all 3 layers. One of my slices came out perfectly the first time. The other slice slipped and I had to redo it a couple of times.

For the peanut butter and jelly, cut 2 pieces each and sew together. Super easy.

If you want to go a little further, you could make sandwich meats out of circles and ovals. I also want to make lettuce and tomato slices one day, but I just didn’t bother this time. Dexter already has a wooden sandwich set anyway. 

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Broccoli: I had a lot of fun making the little veggies! I was inspired by Dana at MADE for the broccoli and chicken legs for sure. In fact, I was probably most inspired by her felt food, because I saw how simple it could be instead of trying to create incredibly detailed 3D models of food.

Back to the broccoli. For each piece, cut 2 stalks, and sew those together. Cut 2 florets, my recommendation is to cut ovals just slightly bigger than you want your floret to be. This is another time where freehanding is going to be easier on you.

Ok, I said oval, but what I did was more like a little mushroom cap. You take your 2 little mushroom cap shapes, and freehand a broccoli shape around the top, leaving the bottom open.

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Next, take a little bit of polyfil and stuff the top. Then poke your little stalk into the opening, and stitch it closed. Like this:

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(Bet you can’t tell that I’m sketching these out as I go…)

Then trim your broccoli tops, and you’re done!

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Beans/Peas: Cut your 2 pieces. Sew along the curved back, leaving the inner curve open. Ball up polyfil into 3 little pea-sized… well… peas. Or beans. Put them in a row inside your shell. Sew up the inner circle.

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Carrots: These go together like the broccoli pieces. Sew your little carrot tops together, then sew the carrots, leaving the top open. Stuff with polyfil, then put the stem inside the opening and stitch shut. Then, I ran these guys under my sewing machine to create the lines. It wasn’t super easy, I had to help them along. Don’t “help” them so much that you break a needle. But some light pressure should be ok.

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Chicken Legs: I’m in love with these little chicken legs. Sew the 2 meat parts together, leaving the bottom open. Sew the 2 bone pieces together, leaving the top open. Stuff both sections with polyfil. I stuffed these a little more firmly, leaving it a little softer at both of the openings. Insert the bone into the meat opening (Ok, I just realized how creepy meat assembly sounds!), and stitch across all layers. 

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Cookies: You can make different kinds of cookies. Whatever you make, sew the add-ons to the top before you sew and stuff the actual cookie (or if you plan to hand stitch, you can do the add-ons at any time). Then sew most of the way around the 2 cookie layers, stuff lightly (you don’t want these to be too puffy), and then sew across the opening.

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Pancakes: These were the first items I made, and I couldn’t find them when I did my photo shoot, AND I only took one phone picture of them before I gave them away. I did not think ahead to when I’d be doing a fancy-schmancy tutorial.

At the time, I did these a little differently than I would now. You can probably see the batting peeking through. That was before I realized that stuffing with polyfil works just as well and actually looks better.

For the pancakes, cut 2 pieces, sew most of the way around, stuff lightly with polyfil, and close ‘em up.

For the syrup, cut 2 pieces, sew together.

For the butter, cut 2 pieces, sew 3 sides, lightly stuff, sew the 4th side. (I feel silly for typing out all these directions, since most of them are “cut 2, sew together”, but I wanted this to be as easy as possible for anyone making them!)

Now, when I made these, I thought I had just created the most amazing thing ever. And then I found these on Etsy. I guess there are only so many ways to make felt pancakes!

Oh, I also indicated on the pancake pattern that this is also what I’d use to make a hamburger. And yet, I have not created a hamburger bun pattern. I will do that soon though, because my sister has requested a hamburger for her boys. I’ll probably tackle the lettuce and tomato slices at the same time.

Links:

Now, I promised links to all the felt food that inspired me, but it was extremely hard to go back and find those!! I will add what I found, and maybe this was all. I know for some of the items I just did my own thing, making them look the way I thought they should look. But I truly don’t want to take credit for something someone else did, so I am sorry if I missed a link!!!

Dana at Made (The cutest little almost-2D picnic set! And I just noticed she has bread slices in there too, so maybe that’s where I got that inspiration as well as the broccoli and drumsticks)

Pickle Things at Black Wagon (This is likely an inspiration for the cookies.)

Stitches by Krustal (I didn’t get my cheese from here- I don’t think that sad little cheese slices are particularly inspired, as they are just squares- but I plan to use this as a jumping off point for my future hamburger bun, because the style is very similar to my felt food philosophy. And if you don’t want to wait for my version, which will probably only be slightly different, this would be a good place to go for a simple bun.)

Now, go have fun felt-fooding it up!!