Friday, October 25, 2013

Monster Rag Doll Tutorial

* I have now updated this pattern & it is for sale in my Etsy store! *
I have realised I am hopeless with this blog thing! I haven't posted anything since June! Well, it's not because I haven't been busy....actually it's quite the opposite! In between being a mum to four beautiful, growing and crazy kids, I have found time to make things, some of which I'll share one day. But for now, with Halloween approaching, I've posted a 'Monster Rag Doll Tutorial'. I came up with this doll pattern for a friend's daughter who wanted to me to run a 'sewing party' for her 9th birthday! She wanted to make 'monster dolls' based on the Monster High dolls she is obsessed with. I think these ones  are a great alternative, especially for younger girls like my almost 4 year old!

Step 1

You can buy the pattern now on  my Etsy store: EilishTree Etsy Store

Print off pattern (it should fit on A4) and cut out pattern pieces. Choose skin colour and trace around body and ears onto the back of the fabric with a pencil. Choose fabric for the arms and legs (I like to choose all different fabrics to make my monster dolls more bohemian looking!) and do the same thing, tracing around the pattern pieces with a pencil on to the wrong side of the fabric.

Step 2

Cut out pattern pieces leaving about 1/2 cm seam allowance around each piece.

Step 3

Sew the legs, arms and ears together following the pencil line.

Trim aorund the curved edges making small cuts around the curves so that they turn easier (be careful not to cut through the stitching!)

Step 4

Cut out some clothes for your doll based on the body pattern. I traced around the doll body (leaving out the head) and made up a few dress patterns but you could do anything...patchwork, vests, stripes etc. Make sure the clothes cover all of the body and add belts or patches to jazz it up a little! This is your chance to get as creative as you want, remember, she's a monster so crazy and messy is good!

Sew clothes onto the body of the monster doll, on the right side of fabric, front and back. I use zig zag stitch to cover up the edges (around the neck, and over the sides of the belt). You want all edges on the right side of the doll to be well attached so they won't come off or fray too much.
Try to match the belt so when the bodies are sewn together they match on the seam.

Step 5

Before sewing bodies together you need to turn your arms, legs and ears inside out (I push a pencil in the end & push through as shown in pics). Then stuff your arms and legs nice and firm. Put a little stuffing in ears too (although not too much). 

Step 6

This is probably the trickiest step of the doll making process. Put the two body pieces right sides together. Match where the ears should go (according to marks on pattern) and pin ears inside the head (point facing down).

Do the same with the arms placing them inside the body, between to the two inner layers, and pinning the edges together. 

Then pin the rest of the body together so it looks something like this (a bit lumpy with the ears and arms pinned inside)....

Next, sew body together, following along pencil line. This is a little tricky as you need to make sure you are sewing the arms and the ears in well, but I find that if you take your time and go very slow it works fine.

Step 7

Before turning inside out, make small cuts around the curves of the head as you did with the arms and legs earlier. Then turn your monster inside out. Your arms & ears should be neatly attached, seams on the inside.

Stuff your doll nice and firm, especially the head! Leave about an inch of space at the bottom.

Step 8

Pin the stuffing in the doll about an inch from the bottom (this makes it easier to sew the bottom hem). Fold up the bottom of the doll with about a 1cm seam. Insert the two legs (each one placed right against the seam edge with a gap in the middle) and pin into place.

Sew across the legs as close to the bottom edge as you can. You may need to sew this twice to make sure the legs are secure, just make sure it's fairly tidy as this seam can be seen. If you want to make it more hidden, you could also hand sew this seam. Remove the pins holding back the stuffing.

Step 9

Your doll is now finished and just needs hair and a face!

I made my hair by ripping pieces of fabric into 1cm strips and adding various shades of wool, but you could use anything you want! 

I attach my hair by dividing it in three sections and pin a section behind each ear and one in the middle of the head, just to balance it out. I then hand stitch the hair to the doll's head, making sure I go through all the layers of hair a few times so they don't get pulled out.

I also twisted some of it in front of the ears and stitched it in place on the side of the head just to frame the face. Make sure it is stitched in well, especially if kids are going to be playing with it!

Step 10

Now you just need to make your face!! Sew on buttons for eyes, felt for a patch and draw on your face with a waterproof marker or you could embroider it instead! Don't forget to add some monster features like fangs or a stitched mouth!!!

I also added some extra embellishments like a button on the foot or a bow on the dress!

You're doll is finished! Enjoy making many different dolls, they are addictive!!!

I hope my you can follow my tutorial as it is my first one! Any problems, feel free to make a comment below so I can help you!
Happy Halloween!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Coastal colours of the west of Ireland...

Last weekend we camped on the far west coast of Ireland on an island called Achill. It is beautiful spot, very rugged with tall jagged cliffs carving the coast interspersed with pristine beaches. The last time we were there was last winter when the wind nearly blew us off the beach! It was still beautiful but last weekend we were blessed with heavenly warm weather, no wind and had the chance to enjoy this amazing part of Ireland at its best.

One of the things I really love about Ireland is the variety of colours in the landscape, especially when the sun is shining. The grass is not just green but you can see here the yellows, rust, oranges, lime and dark greens that come through in the above picture. Stone structures like this abandoned house in Achill's deserted village, stand out even more against the stunning rich background of the grass and hills.

I truly find living in this place so inspiring to my creativity and every day I am thankful for God for bringing me here (yes, even when it rains too!). Sometimes I really wish I could paint landscapes (to be honest I've only tried a little and I don't have the patience for it!) and try and capture the colour and feel of these unique places.

The colours of these gypsy caravans for hire at the campsite where we were staying in Keel were just asking to be photographed! Great inspiration for a painting or embroidery.

Dugort Beach on the other side of the island. Perfect place to spend a perfect warm summer's day.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A new idea to try...

I have been desperate lately to try out the idea of blending fabric with paint! The two things I love most are painting & sewing so I've been wondering how I could combine the two. I made this fairy last year on some canvas fabric. I made her really quick but am quite happy with the result.I used watercolours in the background then fabric for teh collage. I sewed the design on top. I love doing this sort of free-hand sewing and I am really happy with the eyes!

Last week I decided to try the technique on a canvas already stretched. I'd had promised my youngest son a painting & he wanted a superhero so I sketched a whimsical superhero sitting on the moon. For the background I created a patchwork of fabrics (I am absorbed with some of the techniques in Kelly Rae Roberts book "Taking Flight", you can find her blog here). Kelly Rae uses papers for her patchwork but I decided to use the stash of amazing fabrics I have.
After applying the background I then separately cut out the fabric to piece together the superhero & the moon. I free-sewed them onto some fabric using matching colour thread. Then I stuck the collage onto the canvas with some gel medium after coating the fabric with clear gesso.

A close up of the head. I painted the hair with acrylics & basically painted & highlighted over the fabric.

I finished it off with spatters of white & silver to make stars. I am pretty happy with the overal picture but unfortunately the fabric has bucked a lot more than I would like. It does add texture to the piece but I think next time I might have to sew the pieces separately & stick them on to the canvas one by one. What do you think?
The main thing is that my son loves it! It was a good first experiment & most of all I enjoyed doing it!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Even when it rains....

When my husband and I moved to Ireland nearly three years ago we made a pact not to complain about the weather! Not a very Irish thing to do but we felt coming from the sunny skies of Australia to the grey chalky skies of the Emerald Isle might be a challenge so not complaining about something we couldn't change seemed like a great idea.

This was yesterday for example:

And this was today.....

When you're used to waking up to sunshine, this can be hard to get used to. A glimpse of summer promise than gone..... But if there is one thing God is teaching us during our time in Ireland is that life is full of hope, and that even in the small bits of sunshine, He is good to us & reminds us of how blessed we are. We live in a beautiful part of the world which wouldn't be so green if it didn't get as much rain as it did! And yes, we do miss our balmy, hot, dry summers....but now I if I moved back to Oz I would miss the crisp cold air, the soft rain making muddy puddles in our yard, the joy our daughter gets from jumping in those puddles & of course, snuggling in front of a warm, cosy fire.

Ireland is the most magical country when the sun shines. But it is also beautiful when it rains. A little bit like life sometimes....Life is full of blessings when things are good but life is full of blessings in the hard times to. We sometimes just need to look between the raindrops to find them!