Book Giveaway + Halloween Wrap-Up**

First of all, Stash Books is holding a giveaway for a free copy of my book!  Details here.  Winner announced tomorrow, so head on over!

Now...almost half-way through November and I'm just getting around to summing up last month's fun. We've been busy!

October was full of the usual activities...

The hay maze out at the pumpkin patch on the coast (south of Half Moon Bay)...

pony rides...

and pumpkins.

We watched and cheered through a month of baseball - and were quite happy with the result!  


As far as Halloween costumes, I didn't do a whole lot this year. My oldest was Alice (store-bought) and my youngest was some sort of pink and purple confection**.

My middle daughter wanted to be a pirate.  So, I made a really, really basic skirt and sash for her out of Sarah Jane's Out to Sea fabric.  Paired with boots, a pirate hat, an eye patch, and a hook and sword - and she was all set. The blouse she's wearing is one that my mother made me 30+ years ago!  It was part of this Gunne Sax outfit ( I actually still have the skirt and vest, too!).  It's an antique :-P.

And when your 7 year old asks you to make a matching pirate costume for their doll...it's hard to refuse.  I know all too well how quickly she'll out-grow this stage.  So, I also made a quick matching skirt for Noelle and a shirt (shortening and slightly narrowing the basic dress pattern included in my book).  Because it's a pirate shirt...I just used pinking shears to finish the sleeves and neck line, too.  Easy!

We couldn't leave out Humpty.  He sits perched up there above my sewing table.  His little pumpkin costume adds a bit of Halloween whimsy to the pink room.  

And yes, he's getting a Santa Suit next month :).

 **Just in case you think it's all sugar-and-spice around here (it's not!), or that I'm done talking about Halloween, I'll have an upcoming post about some ZOMBIE DOLLS that the girls and I made last month.  Watch out :)


A Vintage-Inspired Corduroy Horse

Meet Henry the Horse.  

This red and white Henry was the final prototype I made before sewing the actual toy featured in my book (see photo with dolls below).  Many, many prototypes were sewn before him.  But when I stuffed this particular toy, I knew I had the pattern I had been striving for.

Henry was inspired by an illustrated toy horse featured on a vintage birthday card I stumbled upon years ago.  I don't actually have the card - just a tattered page with a picture of the front of the card.  Like many of you, before the advent of Pinterest, I used to print and pin "inspiration" to my bulletin board.  This horse was literally pinned years ago!

I really wanted the toy horse pattern in my book to be reminiscent of this sweet horse above.  Simple and timeless.  Perfect for boys and girls of all ages.  And I am happy with the result.

I adore this horse in red and white fabrics.  But when I looked at my collection of toys as they were all nearing completion, it seemed like I had a lot of red fabrics.

So for the book version of Henry, I used blue and white corduroy instead.  In my opinion, he looks just as charming.

Truth be told, the blue and white combo was inspired by my sewing chair.  

And now I can't help but think of this toy horse whenever I see my chair.  It makes me smile.

Obviously, this horse looks great in any color - solids, ginghams, or spots!

I hope some of you make a Henry (or two).


bybido on Facebook

Last night I set up a Facebook page for my blog.  I've been finding myself following more and more blogs over there (with posts leading directly to blogs).  I thought it might make it easier for some of you who use FB regularly.

I was also thinking that a Facebook page would be a great place to share photos of dolls and toys made from patterns in my upcoming book.  If you email me photos, I'll feature them over there (if you'd like).  I'll also set up a Pinterest board, too.

There is a link to the FB page on the sidebar over there ---->.  It's hard to miss.  I probably should reduce the size of that image :).

If you want to follow along on Facebook, just click on the button and it will take you to my page.  Then just click "like" and you'll receive updates from me from time to time.

I added a few old posts to the blog (not everything).  All new posts from now on will also have a link posted on Facebook.  I'll also be posting photos here and there of other projects I'm working on, while they are still in progress.

I'd love to have you follow along!


Tiny Puppy

One of our side projects around here has been making tiny dogs from patterns in these two books.

By the talented Chie Hayano, these popular Japanese books ("Mame Wanko") were translated into English a few years back. Both books have tiny dog patterns and one includes several adorable tiny dog accessories.

I'm working on the carrier and dog bed. 

The girls have made the dog bowls and bones and some of the toys.  The bowls still need to be painted. 

To make the dogs, I needed some type of short pile fur.  We decided to recycle some Beanie Babies.

My Grandmother was a collector...and one of the things she collected were Beanie Babies.  She had hundreds.  She had boxes and boxes of new Beanie Babies and when she passed away six years ago, I volunteered to find homes for all of them.  

Most have been given away to preschools, friends, and the girls all have dozens of their own.  Still, we have many stored out in the garage.  I weeded through and took a few that we have many duplicates of and decided to take them apart.  I kept thinking of what my Grandma would say...but considering we are just reusing them and making them back into toys...well, I think she'd be okay.  We're just making cute into cute(r)!

These patterns are tiny.  Really teeny tiny.  Definitely not something the kids can sew (yet).  I might enlarge a few of the patterns so my oldest can sew a few on her own with felt.  But for now, I have to sew these little pups up.  

Our pup is a Lab-mix, with a white chin, chest, and paws.  So I used the pattern above and some recycled panther and unicorn fur below.

And this is the end result.  It's not perfect, but it's okay for my first try. 

I've sewn a few more since this first pup, but with a bit of baker's twine, they make really cute Christmas ornaments...so I'll have to show them closer to the holidays.  

Don't want to ruin any surprises :).



Meet Glinda

Otherwise known as "Gahlinda", "The Good Witch", and "Glinda the Good - officially!

 I told you she was "pop-u-lar."  

"I know about popular..."

The girls and I are working on making puppets from Wicked.  My oldest and I went to see the musical two years ago when it was in San Francisco.  It is returning to the city in January and my husband and I plan on taking our two older girls.  Cannot wait!

Needless to say, like so many Wicked fans out there, we love the soundtrack.  Love it!  We listen to it often.  All three girls know the songs quite well.

Several months ago, while listening to the CD in the minivan, we started talking about putting on a puppet-show performance of Wicked.  Just a hallway performance for family...nothing fancy (though the girls are dreaming up a menu of green food to offer during intermission, etc.).

I was tasked with three of the puppets:  Glinda, Elphaba (she's almost done), and Fiyero.  I already had two discarded puppet heads, so it was easy to get started.  The girls are responsible for all of the other characters.  And the scenery/backdrops.  I'll work with them on the doorway puppet theater.  

The puppets are in various stages of completion.  Several still need a lot of work...

Madame Morrible's head in progress.

While we were shopping for green fabric for Elphaba at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley, we came across some beautiful, bright pink ruffle fabric.  It reminded my oldest and me of the dress that Glinda wears during "Popular".  

We bought some and knew we had the perfect fabric for Glinda's simple puppet body.  (The Instagram filter makes the pink look crazy bright in these photos...and I pinned the flower on the wrong side of her hair in these photos, too.  Oops).

It works...but I also wanted to make Glinda look like her more recognizable self - you know with the crown and wand?  As my girls would say, "sparkly"...

 Source: www.broadway.com

I considered making a removable dress/puppet body.  But I opted for just sewing a simple cape that could be securely fastened around her neck with velcro, sort of masking her dress underneath.

"That's why...I couldn't be happier
No, I couldn't be happier
Though it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated"

Her crown and wand were made using pipe cleaners and some plastic Christmas ornaments.  Lucky, super inexpensive finds that seem to work perfectly here, don't you think?

Elphaba is on the worktable this week...

I should add that the puppet head and body patterns are included in my book (and instructions on this hairstyle)!  The hand puppet set in the book is not Glinda (more about the puppets in the book later).  But this just shows how easily a basic hand puppet pattern can be adapted to become so many characters....anything you or your little one(s) dream of!


How to sew a doll dress (a how-to for kids!)

If you and/or your child are new to sewing doll clothes and you're looking for a quick, easy method that kids can eventually do on their own, try this one out!  It's rudimentary, but it's a method that my oldest has used many times over the past few years, including here, here, here, here, and here.

So when she got the urge to make a "witch" outfit for her doll yesterday during our Sunday lessons, she went to work on the pattern.  Below, you'll see her model placed on a sheet of freezer paper. 

I drew the two perpendicular lines/right angle for her to follow.  The vertical line runs from the center of the doll's neck down the center of the doll's body.  The horizontal line marks the top of the sleeve, with the arm extended out to the side.  She marks how long she wants the sleeve and how long she wants the dress.  Since she was using a scrap of black fleece fabric, there was no need to add extra length (no hemming planned/required).  At this point, she knows to give more than enough space for the arm and the side of the dress.

I still help her with ironing.  First, I fold the fabric lengthwise.

Then I fold the fabric widthwise.  There are now 4 layers of fabric (one big fold on top and two on the side).

I iron the pattern in place and then pin it (again, to hold the four layers together).

After your shirt/dress/nightgown is cut out, unfold the fabric (I forgot to take a photo of this) and then refold again along the shoulder/sleeve, placing right-sides together*, and you'll have this below.

At this point, you can either cut all the way down the front or back of one side of the fabric (for a front or back opening), depending on your personal preference. If using fabric that will fray, the raw edges can be finished with a small hem or bias tape, etc.  This step could also be finished after the sides are sewn - but it is easy to do here while the freezer paper is still attached.  Since my daughter was going for "quick and easy", she just cut a few inches down the back of the dress (eventually finishing the back with a hook-and-eye closure).  

I pinned the sides for her.  Notice, she only has to sew under the arms and sides of the dress.  Easy!  She sewed these by hand using a backstitch.

And there you have it!  A super easy doll dress that a kid could make.  I topped off the outfit with a floppy, kinda ridiculous, over-sized witch hat.  She's all ready for Halloween.

*In full-disclosure, I didn't pay attention to the fleece, and even after my daughter told me I pinned the fabric wrong-sides together, I told her to "just sew...it's fleece...there isn't a right or wrong with that fabric".  Well, after she sewed up the sides, I took a look at it and noticed that, yes, there actually was a "right side".  Yikes!  I had her turn it wrong-side out, sew it again, making french seams.  So the dress has extra bulky french seams.  It's a little wonky.  Lucky for me, she made the pattern extra roomy and she isn't a perfectionist.  I should definitely listen to her a little more closely.  *Ahem*, lesson learned.


Guess who?

Her face is complete.

Now on to her puppet body and hair.

She is Pop-u-lar...


A Velveteen Bunny

Well, not actually "velveteen".  This little bunny above is made of super soft, cuddly minky fabric.  He is such a squishy, snuggly toy!  I made him last month as part of a baby shower gift for a very dear friend.  We were asked to bring our favorite children's book for the baby.  I chose The Velveteen Rabbit and decided to make a toy to go along with it.

If you're looking for a stuffed bunny pattern, you'll find this pattern included in my book!  It is one of the easier projects and one of my favorites.  Even better - it's a quick project!  You can sew up a bunny or two in an evening - no problem!

I've mentioned before my fondness for rabbits.  

Me and my husband and my bunny...many years ago.

So when sketching out what toys I wanted to design for this book, a bunny was a MUST.  I decided on a simple design.  And I'm so happy with the result.  A lot of little kids in my family will be receiving some stuffed bunnies in their Christmas stockings this year.

The bunny below was one of the "final drafts" of this toy, "claimed" almost immediately by my youngest daughter (it's been slept upon many nights).  I used cotton velour and cream organic cotton sherpa fabric.  He is stuffed lightly with wool and is so warm and cuddly. 

My youngest's stuffed bunny perched on her pillow in the dim, Pink Room.

Here is a better photo.  I love this pattern!  I hope some of you love it, too!


Puppet heads

As I mentioned before, we're working on a little production over here.  Nothing too exciting.  Just something fun for the girls and I to work on together - a puppet show.  We're making all kids of puppets...stick puppets, sock puppets, you name it...

I've been able put a few of my discarded/wonky puppet heads to use.  I have a bin of random doll and toy parts leftover from the book and I hate to see them just sit there...

This head above will be getting an embroidered face today.

And that is a whole lot easier to do with these ladies off to school everyday.  They started back last Tuesday after a long, fun summer.

Hopefully, I'll be back with a finished face or puppet soon.


My Book!!!

I wrote a book!

Two summers ago, I received an email from Susanne Woods, then the Acquisitions Editor at Stash Books, inquiring whether I would be interested in writing a book.

After a few months of thought and discussion with my family, I decided to go for it.

The end result, so many months (years!) later is a sweet collection of dolls, stuffed animals, puppets, pillows, and more - all reminiscent of handmade toys from the 1940s and 50s.  All of the projects were inspired by vintage toy patterns, old illustrations from picture books and vintage greeting cards, and photos of old toys themselves.

Half of the 16 projects are dolls (including the main doll pattern I use and the topsy-turvy Goldilocks above) and the other half are nostalgic toys.  There is something for everyone - boys or girls of all ages.

I really can't wait to show you more over the next couple months.

While some online stores, such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble, won't be shipping the book until December, you can order directly from Stash Books and receive your book in November!  Perfect timing for those of you hoping to make a toy or two for the holidays!


A Little Toy in Tin (Free!)

Some of you have probably seen the various little toys in tins/matchboxes circulating around these days. Last Fall, as I mentioned in this post, I purchased a bunch of DIY matchboxes and my oldest has been slowly filling them with little felt animals (mostly using patterns from Japanese craft books).

A few months back, we happened to stumble across these little felt hamsters in issue 5 of Mollie Makes.  (As a side note, I love this magazine!).  The templates are available FOR FREE here. My daughter is now making a collection of hamsters to fill a few more boxes...and some spare Altoids tins that we've been saving up.

I finished this little project during our Sunday Sister Sewing Sessions yesterday.  I obviously moved the ears to the side a bit to make a bear, but we have made 4 or 5 hamsters from these templates.  The bunny it's holding was made simply by adding ears to the pattern for the bow (see original template).

There are some incredibly cute tutorials for making little toys that fit in tins...but this pattern, besides being free, produces some awfully cute toys that fit perfectly in the tiny tins...

 ...which fit a lot better in little preschooler pockets.

The hamsters are so cute.  This little grumpy guy is holding (and guarding) some gum balls.  And has a few extra gum balls tucked away in its cheeks.

It's my youngest's hamster.  Her hamster likes gum, of course.