Mollie Makes - My Elephant!

Have you seen the latest issue of Mollie Makes here in the US?  We picked up our copy the other day at Kepler's.  I've been patiently stalking watching magazine racks for the last few weeks.  I was so excited when I spotted this issue.  My favorite magazine...

...and look at that!  I am so thrilled to be included in this beautiful publication!  

And I'm so happy that my elephant sewing caddy project is featured.  This was a project I had in the back of my mind months before I started working on the book.

A bit of background on this project - a few years ago, I was browsing images of old toy patterns on this website (there was free access for a short time), and I came across an elephant sewing caddy.  It had a very different look to it (more "turn-of-the-century" with tassels and "Victorian" accents), but it served the same function.  I loved the idea. So I started sketching my own mid-century inspired version.  I wanted it to look playful, with a wide open mouth and big eyes.  And I wanted it to be button-jointed, so it could be posable.

Here is a photo of the actual sketch from my sketchbook.

This project is entirely hand-sewn and can be made in a few short hours.  Use a quality wool felt and stuff firmly!

I used a tomato pincushion - and snipped off the strawberry emery bag to attach to the end of the tail.  I enclosed the tomato, along with a bit of stuffing, inside the drum pincushion.

I actually have this elephant on my sewing table now (it was one of the last toys returned to me).  I use the pincushion quite a bit, and the elephant sits to the side holding my thimble when I need it. The blanket on its back holds spare scissors and needles.  

I think this project would make a particularly sweet gift for a child learning to sew.  My kids each want one of their own, because this one is *mine*.  I actually do want to make one in light aqua....and one in pale yellow might look cute...lilac might be nice...  Hmm.



Annabelle after 3 years of love.

I was recently asked in an interview whether I make toys for my girls or for home decor.  Without needing to think, I responded, "Absolutely for my kids."  If you stepped inside my house, this would be quite evident.

Bed head.

My middle and youngest daughter still play quite heavily with their handmade toys. My oldest sleeps with a few, and uses her dolls primarily for sewing doll clothes.  But between the younger two, their collection of toys moves back and forth, from beds, bedrooms, the living room, to Grandma's house, etc.  These toys travel.

I sometimes sigh when I pick a handmade doll off the floor, or find one crammed at the bottom of the bed, and take a closer look at their signs of wear love.  But then I remind myself - this is why I make them.


So I quickly pat their hair back into place and tuck the doll back into their bed, doll bed, or trunk.

Gumdrop after 7 months of love.

Sometimes I know beforehand that the yarn I choose for hair won't hold up very well over time.  Other times, it's just trial-and-error.  I knew that the yarn I used for Annabelle (Blue Sky Alpaca) was going to be fuzzy.  I was ok with that.  And i had no doubt that Gumdrop's hair was doomed :). 

Gumdrop's hair after a few "scrunches"

Still, my youngest thinks Gumdrop looks perfect (big advantage of making things for little ones), so I just scrunch Gumdrop's ponytails and put her back on my daughter's bed.

 Rose Doll after 4 years of love.

Yarn choice is important when considering signs of wear love.  I think wool ultimately holds up well.  But, unless a doll just sits on the shelf, even the best wool yarn will show signs of love over time.  My middle daughter sleeps next to her Rose Doll every night.  The top of the doll's head is a bit fuzzy now, but her ponytails look great, all things consdered.  I feel like I could "clean-up" Rose Doll's head a bit if I wanted.  Hmmm...I wonder if a sweater shaver would work?  But then again...why?  Toys are meant to be loved.

Mohair, pictured below, holds up, too.

(Floppy) Poppy after 4+ years of love.

Still, floppy necks will happen over time.

Along with other signs of love.

Sometimes, these signs can be cleaned up...

Bunting Doll after almost 8 years of love.

Sometimes this "love" is hard to remove.  That's eyeliner on the Bunting Doll above.  I tried to remove it years ago.  Nowadays, it reminds me how much my middle daughter liked to "explore" the vanity/bath area at our old home.  I remember the day that I found my daughter perched precariously on a chair (she was about 1 1/2 ), coloring on this doll.  Seems like yesterday.

I'll spare you a photo of the handmade doll that fell victim to a stomach virus...as in, my middle daughter got sick in bed...and the doll was next to her.  :(  

That doll ended up being scrubbed and eventually put in the washing machine...and she's still stained.  I knit her a turtleneck sweater which mostly covers the stains.  Mostly.

Sigh.  Poor kid and poor doll.

Kit, Chloe, Louise Doll after 4+ years of love.

In a few cases, I plan to "do something" to these loved dolls and toys.  Like the doll's leg pictured above.  That's silly putty (?!?).  Why was silly putty in my daughter's bed?  I don't know.  But in this case, I plan to replace the leg at some point.  Easy enough.

For the most part, however, I'll leave the "love" alone.  

When the toys I make my kids start getting dusty sitting on the shelf...when I stop picking them up off the floor and seeing new signs of love...I'll know it's time for me to re-evaluate making additional toys for my girls.

But for now, these toys are loved.