Friday, August 28, 2015

Fall Friends, New for 2015

I designed a full range of forrest creatures for fall this year! There are a few returning friends from last year (the squirrels made from vintage polyester fabrics, the big badger, and the little wool owls) but otherwise everything is brand spankin' new! Here's the full lineup:

From left to right: Owl made from vintage wool fabrics, 'Bigger Badger', Hector the Hedgehog, Randall the Raccoon, Marsha the Mole (with glasses), Stuart the Squirrel, Marvin the Mole, North American Brown Bear, Larger Sweater Snail, Franklin the Fox, Sasha the Skunk, the mini sweater snail, cork and recycled sweater mushrooms, and Harold the Hare.

North American Brown Bear is made from vintage chocolate brown velveteen with real leather on the soles of his feet, his nose, and the inside of his ears.

Sasha the squirrel is made from vintage polyester fabric.

Franklin the fox is two contrasting faux suede fabrics. he has a leather nose and a colorful 'burlap' bow tie.

Harold the Hare is made from a vintage wool plaid blanket, with appliqued eye patches, and a hand made pom pom tail.

Hector the hedgehog! Faux fur and vintage wool, with safety eyes.

I still haven't gotten a great picture of the moles, but they are made from scraps of vintage wool, with pink wool noses and feet. Marsha has wood-framed glasses.

Randall the Raccoon is vintage black and white houndstooth wool. He has a black wool 'mask' a burgundy wool scarf, and a very dapper top hat!

Sasha the skunk is made from recycled black wool, with pink wool accents. She has a pink nose, and her tail his scented with lavender! 

The sweater snail was made using a scrap of recycled wool sweater, that I hand embroidered the facial features onto. Her shell is made of a long tube that knitted using a crank style knitting machine, that is then stuffed and hand sewn into a spiral.

This itty-bitty snail is made the same way as her large counterpart, but the shell is i-cord made with a hand held spool knitter. she is only 2.5 inches tall!

The fall friends will be available at all of our upcoming fall and holiday craft shows, starting with the Independent's Day festival in Columbus, OH the second week in September, and Art Hop at our beloved Bookbug here in Kalamazoo the first Friday in November!
If you would like to see our fall friends from 2014, you can find the post about them here, or want to place an order with us, check our our Etsy page. Feel free to send us an Etsy email if you'd like to order something that hasn't been listed in the online shop yet!

Farm Stand Update!

I've been gradually adding to the farm stand all summer, which is sometimes difficult since I committed to making the fruits, veggies, etc, ONLY out of recycled fabrics. This means that even if I really want to make cauliflower, it can't happen until I find something suitable that can be recycled into the object I'm wanting to make. The one exception to this so far is that the new pasta options are made from new eco felt, since I couldn't find something suitable in that color.

The fill farm stand now includes: rainbow trout, free range chickens and eggs, bowtie pasta and ravioli, clementines, mushrooms, bicolor sweet corn, kiwi fruits (which look a bit like potatoes in this photo), carrots, heirloom tomatoes in assorted varieties, slices of cantaloupe melon, Detroit red beets, yellow and green squash, eggplants, soft pretzels, strawberries, purple and green asparagus, pickles, and pineapples (my personal favorite). 

The chicken and eggs are the newest addition to the farm stand, having literally been made in between photo shoots yesterday! Our sweet hen is made from vintage houndstooth cotton, and a scrap of red wool from an old skirt. she has machine quilted wings and tail, and child safe eyes. The eggs are needle felted and made from raw un-dyed wool from a farm in Allegan, Michigan.

The bow tie pasta and ravioli are both made from new eco-felt, which is made from recycled post consumer plastics.

I really love the pineapples, which were made from a vintage woven wool table cloth, and have varying shades of handmade pom pom toppers. I weighted them a little bit in the bottom of each one so they truly feel like a real pineapple!

The crate of clementines is also new, and they were all made from a textured fleece sport jacket. 

Most of the play food can be found in our Etsy shop, and is only available in limited quantities. Since each variety is made from recycled fabrics, once they are sold out, they're gone forever!

Creature Feature!

I think I have more new projects in the works for fall 2015 than I have for any other fall season yet! I'm really excited to be branching out and working on some brand new accessory options, and hopefully a limited edition line of children's clothing and shoes this year. When I made the set of clothes and accessories for a baby shower gift a few months ago, I enjoyed the process so much that I couldn't go back to only making toys.

I started off by making a set of sleep masks with a creature theme. I've always been a huge fan of naps, but I also enjoy having a lot of natural light in my bedroom to help me wake up in the morning. Lately, I've found it difficult to fall asleep for a nap, since there is so much sunlight in our bedroom in the afternoon. I started using sleep masks and I LOVE them. There's no reason to have a plain one when it could be something cute, and why have just one when you could have a whole set?

The fox mask is made from a scrap of vintage orange wool, with machine embroidered eyes and a leather nose.

The owl mask is made from a scrap of vintage burgundy velveteen with appliqued scraps of vintage wool and large plastic buttons.

The cat is vintage wool fabric in sage green, with machine embroidered features and faux leather accents in ultra-pale pink.

The bear is a gorgeous chocolate brown woven vintage wool with machine embroidered eyes and real leather ear and nose features,

When I made the tiny little shoes for the baby gift this past spring, I got totally addicted to making mini shoes for mini feet. I have a lot of vinyl on hand from years of making coin purses, so I decided to design the line of animal shoes I've always wished I had in my own closet. I used the animal themes from the eye masks as a jumping-off point for what creatures should be featured in the shoe designs, and ended up with this set of 6 pairs:

The raccoons are vegan leather in silver with dark purple and white accents, and black rhinestone eyes.

The owls are burgundy vegan leather with accents in sage green, bright yellow, and eggplant purple, and black rhinestone eyes.

The fox shoes are a patterned vegan leather in orange, with bronze and beige accents, and black rhinestone eyes.

The cats are black vegan leather with gold accents, machine embroidered whiskers, and silver rhinestone eyes.

The bears are bronze vegan leather with gold glitter accents and black rhinestone eyes.

The bunnies are ultra pale pink vegan leather with magenta accents and black rhinestone eyes.

There are a few modifications I would like to make to a couple of the pairs (mostly I'm not 100% satisfied with the cat shoes, and would like to go back and revisit that design) and I have a handful of other animal shoes I would like to try out as well (I'm already working on frog shoes!); but I really love the first set, and wish they all came in my size! These will be up on Etsy soon, in a range of baby and maybe toddler sizes, as soon as I finish drafting the pattern for each individual size.

Block Printing!

I've been frying my brain the past few weeks developing new ideas for the fall and holiday show season, and I find that the best way to relax and unwind is to do some sort of methodical repetitive task. In the past I have enjoyed such things as washing dishes and folding laundry, but I recently re-discovered block printing, and it's totally my jam now. 

I started with making 'The Cat's Pajamas' because there's nothing better than an art project and a bad joke rolled into one. I carved my own stamp, modified an already existing pattern for the underwear, and drafted my own racer back tank pattern based on a hodgepodge of tops I already own and like. The grey set is made out of a fabric I bought at a discount fabric store on the east side of the state, and the orange set is made from an XXL men's golf shirt I bought at a thrift store and re-purposed.

I used a black and white four-way stretch knit for the waist band and leg openings, and then made matching cat face masks out of a glittery  sequined boucle sweater knit. The cat mask for the orange set is backed with a scrap of orange silk taffeta, and the other is backed in black quilting cotton. All of the garment seams were serged or finished with a double needle appropriate for stretch knits. I have lots of plans for more sets with other prints and patterns, and I'm hoping to have these up on Etsy within the next week.

The second stamp I carved was a saguaro cactus. I plan on making a 'prickly pair' top and bottom set with it, but in the meantime I started by taking apart a thrifted suede skirt and printing some panels that I used to make a fold over leather clutch purse. It's fully lined, and I printed it using a specialty stamp pad that's loaded with fabric ink. 

I'm keeping my eye out for more suede or leather garments I can take apart to make more clutches! I currently only have two of these bags available, and they will be for sale this Friday at The Go Roundss new album release show here in Kalamazoo. If either of them are left after that, I will toss them up on Etsy!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Tiny Things!

I've always been a strong believer of the concept that everything looks better in miniature, so when I got an invitation to a good friend's baby shower in the mail, I decided it was a great opportunity to make something tiny for the upcoming arrival of their first baby girl. My friend and her husband live in Naples, Florida and love going to the beach, so when I found an adorable teal cotton fabric with little mermaids and sea horses on it, I knew what direction I was headed.

I had originally planned on making a little dress, and then a matching toy or doll, but as per usual when I try something new I got rather carried away. Each time I finished a portion of the gift, it made me want to create another item to go with it, and by the end of the process I had put together that I think is generally referred to as a layette (?), or set of items to welcome the baby home. I deliberately did NOT make a blanket for this one, since I know the new mama lives in a warm climate, and had heard that they were doing just fine in the blanket department. All things considered, I REALLY enjoyed the process of making a whole set of interchangeable mini things, and can't wait for an excuse to do it again!

The full set included four pairs of shoes (in two sizes so they would last longer) a newborn mermaid costume made up of an embellished onesie and a cotton mermaid tail 'skirt' with an elastic waistband, a mermaid print tunic/dress with adjustable straps for ages 6 months and up (fits like a dress for the baby, and works as a tank top as she grows), a lightweight cotton jacket, a mermaid doll, a reversible dress in NB size, and a set of three coordinating elastic headbands.

: A little closer up detail of some of the items.

The adjustable mermaid dress is sized for a 6 month old, but since the straps are just custom bias tape ties, and the bodice is gathered, the garment is loose enough to fit as a tank top later on. I edged it with some white pom pom trim from my stash.

The four pairs of shoes were one of my favorite parts of this process. I made some of them in newborn size, and some a bit larger since some of the clothing was in larger sizes as well. All of the shoes are 'vegan' (made from faux leather marine vinyl) and have reinforced stitching. A lot of the commercial patterns for baby shoes leave the upper edge raw, but I think it looks much cuter trimmed with the brightly colored elastic. The loop at the back of the shoe covers the seam that might have been uncomfortable, and makes it easier to pull the shoe on, while the cross strap helps keep it on the little one's foot. This gold vinyl was one of my favorite fabric finds in LA this past winter, and I wish I had bought more of it! All of the shoes are now available in a full range of sizes in the shop

I was REALLY happy with how this little jacket turned out. I used a vintage 1950's pattern for a size 6 months, and made the whole thing out of pre-washed cottons so it would be durable, washable, and not too heavy for the Florida weather. It is a soft sea foam color liked with the mermaid fabric and trimmed with some teal ribbon with gold anchors. I added vintage buttons from my stash for the closure.

This little cotton dress is newborn size and totally reversible. 

It ties at the shoulders and has a little fringy trim along the bottom edge. It took me forever to decide what the two main fabrics should be; since you can see the opposite color when the shoulders are closed, I wanted them to coordinate well.

It's hard to tell in the picture, but the swirly pattern on the teal color is actually a shimmery metallic. The striped fabric I used for the pockets on this side was a remnant of the fabric I used for the bias tape straps on the mermaid dress.

I am super excited to hear how the tiny little mermaid costume works out!

I used the same cotton fabric for the tail that I used for the doll, and some scraps of the gold vinyl to make the starfish 'necklace' on the onesie.

I made three little matching elastic headbands, and then gave one of them another little gold starfish.

The icing on the cake was this sweet little mermaid doll. I used scalloped cotton for the tail, and a scrap of stripes for the bikini top. Her skim is an unbleached muslin with machine embroidered facial features (totally baby safe!) and felt hair. I also stitched on one last little gold starfish to mimic the headband I made for the baby. Now I keep hoping for more requests for tiny baby clothes and shoes!