Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wee Wonderfuls...Where Are They Now?

Friends and fellow crafters, I'm so excited to blog about our newest STC Craft book to hit stores! Wee Wonderfuls is a collection of doll patterns from Hillary Lang that I had the honor of working on last fall/winter. As I carefully read the pages, I found myself with a sudden unmistakable urge to make just about everything in the book. It was coming up on Christmas, so handmade gifts were going to happen no matter what. I asked myself, why not make these little stuffed dolls for my parents and big sister? I mean, who says a grown man won't love a striped, stuffed giraffe?

And that's precisely where we'll start. Wes, the Baby Giraffe! (Ahem...pardon the quality of the book photos here...I didn't want to bug our design department to acquire nice jpegs of photos from the book so instead have captured them using PhotoBooth on my Mac. Trust me, it goes with the theme of this blog post...amateur photography at its finest!) I was so smitten with the baby giraffe that I decided to make one for my dad in a retro print with wide yellow, orange and brown stripes. A friend aptly noted that the giraffe was made in "70's stewardess uniform fabric." I like that! Hopefully Dad does too.

So I asked my family to send me photos of the creatures I created since I didn't get to photograph them adequately before I gave them away. Plus I was curious about their new homes! So it was much to my surprise today when I received this photo from my dad showing that Wes, the Baby Giraffe apparently lives inside of a junk drawer. I actually have no idea what's going on here! Why is there a punch bowl filled with antique glasses? And so many old knives? Can you even spot the giraffe? (There were actually better photos of the giraffe than this one, but I was just amazed by the "styling" choices in this shot and had to share.)

Next up was the topsy-turvy doll (which Hillary has named Margot). This one was such a challenge! A topsy-turvy doll is essentially a two-headed doll--you flip up the skirt on one of the dolls, and beneath (like where you would expect her legs to be) is the other doll's head! And on the reverse of one doll's dress is the other doll's dress! Amazing, right? I wanted to wow mom with an extra-challenging construction, so I knew this one would be for her.

Here is my own rendition of Margot (alongside Wes, the Baby Giraffe in his cart!). This side of the topsy-turvy doll is the "pretty" side. She has a nice up-do, created by weaving yarn in and out of her head and then twisting her braids into neat little buns. Her dress has that sweet little green ruffle at the bottom, and her expression is just a little bit coquettish. I love her!

And then there's the other side...she turned out a little, well...homely. And her face is just the teensiest bit lumpy. Her's was the first side on which I attempted to add the hair. I learned the hard way that, when sewing on the hair, you need to pull the needle from the center of the head out to the edges...not from the outside edges toward the center. When you do the latter, it warps the shape of her face and gives it a slight Jay Leno effect. It's okay, though...that's what the other "pretty" side of the topsy-turvy doll is for!

Finally, there was Bjorn Bjornson, the button-joint teddy bear! I am absolutely madly in love with bears, so knew I had to take on at least one of the teddy bear projects in the book. And who better to give it to than my sister, who dutifully buys me a bear calendar every year?

Here's the photo that Erin took of the bear on her camera phone. (At this point, I didn't even think it was worth it for her to send me a real photo as it might look too good compared to the other photos in this post.) To mix it up a bit, I used a pink heathered tweed for the bear's body instead of the white polar fur shown in the book. I know, I know, it gives the bear kind of a piggie effect. Especially with those little beady eyes and its tight, rotund belly. But I adore how his arms and legs swivel on their button joints so that he can put his hands to his mouth as though surprised, or have a seat on Erin's couch (as he's doing here).

All in all, they were an odd crop of characters, but everyone was delighted! As Hillary says in the introduction to her book, "there is a toy for every member of your family and circle of friends, boys and girls of all ages--nobody's left out." I couldn't find that to be more true!

As for the quality of my toy-making skills, I must say that I'm sort of in love with their quirks. And I love how much I learned in the process! So now I must quote Hillary once more as she sagely points out the real spirit of toy-making: "You'll find there is a lot of wiggle room when making toys: uneven seams, wonky embroidery, lumpy stuffing....still cute. With handmade toys, imperfection is part of the charm."

Once again, I couldn't agree more.


  1. I love how the giraffe is all snobby toward poor ugly face. He won't even look at her! Wes just wants to go back to his knives.

    My bear has a name! I never knew that.

  2. Wes is sitting on the desk in family room, which has on it stuff from all kitchen drawers while we re-model. I guess you'd call it the junk desk.

    Wes actually lives on a shelf in the bookcase in my office along with all the other "crappy crafts" I've collected from you, Erin & your mom. Dad

  3. I can't believe you used the messy desk picture. Remember, we're remodeling the kitchen! Love your blog!!!

  4. And the whole fam speaks up! Nice. Mom and Dad: I love the "junk desk." That is the best answer you could have possibly given! Glad to hear all the critters are safe and happy in their homes.

  5. Hello.

    I have been looking for tips on sewing on yarn hair, and am making Margot for my daughter...I just have a question about your suggestion to pull the needle from the center out to the edges. What exactly do you mean? Do you mean, start in the middle of the forehead and work your way to the edge? I would love a bit of clarification in the hopes that this doll will turn out well for me. Thank you.