November

It was a frosty morning today.  Low of 25 degrees last night, and I had to bundle up in my winter coat, hat, scarf and gloves when I walked the dogs this morning.  Time to put away the Halloween decorations and start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas!  I’ve actually been thinking about Christmas for quite awhile, but I’ve mostly been doing thinking and not a lot of doing.  Time to put things into gear!  In the meantime, I need to put the garden and yard to bed, and plant some bulbs before the ground gets too hard.

I dug up my carrot crop the other day.  I planted my seeds about 3-4 weeks too late, so they are all very tiny.  But, they are so sweet and yummy.  I roasted a bunch for dinner the other night, and will probably do it again tomorrow.  I’m definitely making sure that I plant them on time next year.  Hubby built a special deep square foot box for them (4′ x 4′) which is what put us behind this year.  No excuses next year!

And before I start talking about Christmas….if you missed it last year, this Montessori practical life buttoning felt turkey was a huge hit with all the kids in my son’s Montessori school (age 3-6 classes) last year.  Think about making one for your own little one!  It was really quite easy.

When I made the second and third ones, I switched to a zig zag stitch as I went around the outside of the turkey body and the feathers, and it looked a lot better.  The face is hand-embroidered.

Also, if you are really thinking ahead, I thought I would share my wool felt advent calendar that I made two years ago.  I just *love* it!  It was so worth all the time that it took to make each individual pocket.  If you start now, you can still be done by December 1st!

The chickadee pocket is one of my favorites.

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Felt Flower Garden House Embroidery Project

I used Checkout Girl’s awesome Little Pink House tutorial that was posted on Sew Mama Sew awhile back to make this!  I didn’t break out much from the pattern, but it was my first project like this and I wanted to get my hands around it first.  Now I need to sketch something up to make something new!

My "Little Pink House"

Close-up of the flowers

The background is linen, and the felt is all wool.  I just love the spring green color of the leaves.  I can’t remember where I bought that color but I’ll have to figure it out because I love it.  The orange and aqua colors are some hand-dyed felt that I got from Felt-o-Rama.  Gorgeous colors, but the felt is a bit thin (1mm according to the website, as compared to the wool blend which is 1.2mm).  Fine for this sort of project though.  They sell hand-dyed embroidery floss to match.

Montessori Word Family House

J’s teacher showed me an idea that she got from a blog and asked if I could come up with something similar for their classroom.  Well, how can I say no to such a challenge?  **Update** I finally found the link for the original inspiration for this project at itty bitty love.  She has some examples of word family cards that the children can choose from.  Check out her blog.  Great Montessori ideas!

Word Family House

The purpose of this work is to put a word ending in the top attic window.  So there will be a card with “AT” on it for example.  Then, the child will have more cards with the “AT” ending which the child places down the right-side column of windows, cards with beginning sounds, and then objects that match the words that can be created…”CAT” or “BAT” for instance.  I’ll try to get some pictures of the work in progress once J’s teacher puts it out.

The size of the red house is about 12×12 inches, which was just the size of the pieces of wool-blend red felt that I had (purchased from Felt-o-Rama).  The white windows on the red part of the house are 2×3 inches.  I sewed those on with my machine and a straight-stitch.  So here was my process:

1) Cut out two pieces of tan for the roof.  Attached the window in the center of one piece using white embroidery floss and a whip stitch.  Then, I used a back-stitch and dark gray floss to make the window panes, and to outline the window.  I then put the two tan pieces together, sandwiched in a piece of dark charcoal (a felted sweater scrap) and used a decorative stitch to sew the roof together.

2) Cut out the main house window pieces.  I attached these to the front house piece with Heat-n-Bond Lite in order to get them to stay on securely when I was sewing them on.  I find this works better than just pinning which can cause the pieces to turn out a bit wonky by the time you are done if you aren’t careful.  Then I sewed them in place with my machine, matching thread, and a standard straight stitch.  I hand-stitched the window panes with a back stitch and dark charcoal embroidery floss.  You could put the windows on by hand with a whip-stitch but I was trying to save a bit of time with eight windows!

3) I then embellished the house a bit with the purple coneflower, grass and butterfly.

4) While watching the awesome skating on the Olympics last night, I put together the two red pieces by hand with a blanket stitch.  Stitched all the way around all sides.  I then attached the roof using a whipstitch along the bottom edge of the roof where it meets the front piece of the house.  I didn’t tack it down in the back at all.  I didn’t really feel like it needed it, but I can do that later if it turns out to need some additional support after it’s been used awhile by the children.

Purple coneflower embellishment on the house

Butterfly embellishment

This was a fun project!  I can’t wait to see it in action in the classroom.

“Not my gumdrop buttons….”

Gingerbread boy ornament

Gingerbread boy ornament

I recently ran across this pattern/tutorial on Elsie Marley’s site for a half-eaten gingerbread boy ornament, and I had to make it!  He’s so adorable!  It’s an interesting technique to sew the front cut piece onto a rectangular back piece, and then cut the back piece into the correct shape after sewing.  Worked very well.  My only hint on making this would be to stuff it a little bit when you are halfway around instead of waiting until the end.  I had a hard time getting stuffing into the far arm and leg, and it would have been easier if I had stuffed as I went along.  I also used a backstitch to embroider the year on the back of the piece.  I can’t wait to hang him on my tree when we put it up in a few weeks!

Gingerbread boy has already been a hit with J

Already being played with by J

Montessori holiday buttoning activity – Turkey-Lurkey

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Laura over at My Montessori Journey posted the cutest felt turkey last year that she made into a practical life buttoning activity for her class.  Well, I saw it last year and marked it, but then it got lost in my legions of crafting bookmarks.  Well, thankfully she recently re-posted it and J’s teacher saw it and forwarded it to me!  I worked on it last night while watching HP Order of the Phoenix (have to brush up before the DVD release of Half-Blood Prince next month – already on pre-order, yes, I’m one of those people), and then finished it up this morning before taking J to school.  We were a few minutes late, but I think his teacher forgave us when she saw the turkey!  And we were thankfully there in time for J to respond with a chipper “Bonjour!” when she called his name at circle, although he was still at his cubby putting on his inside shoes.

It’s made of wool and wool-blend felt that I had in my stash.  I hand-sewed on the facial features with a basic running stitch and just used whatever buttons I had on hand that were approximately the same size (so the kids could put the feathers on in any order).  I made it with two layers of felt for the turkey body, and the feathers.  So I sewed those together with my machine.  It would have been nice to hand sew those, but that would have taken considerably longer and this is just as durable and nice.  Especially considering it’s an activity that will only be out on the shelf for a few weeks a year.  The feet are just one piece of felt, and I made sure to go over them twice with my sewing machine just to make sure they wouldn’t get loose.  Hmm….I probably should have used brown thread in my machine.  Oh well!

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It turned out great and I really can’t emphasize enough the difference it makes when you use wool and wool-blend felts.  It’s so much nicer than using acrylic felt.  It just has a better textural quality, both in terms of working with the materials, and using them.  100% wool felt is pretty expensive, but the wool felt blends that you can buy at places like Prairie Point Junction and Felt-o-Rama are also quite nice.  The green and red feathers are actually scraps from my advent calendar from last year.  I keep every minute bit of wool felt scraps, LOL!  The black eyes are some tiny scraps of recycled wool sweater (felted in my washing machine).

Halloween Houses and Random Crafting

Pumpkins carved by the boys

Pumpkins carved by the boys

Well, October has not been a good blogging month.  I have been busy crafting (and working like a dog at the paid job), just not blogging about it.  And I was able to get together with my girlfriends this weekend for our annual Girl’s Weekend!  Fun!  We went to the White Mountains of NH and it was gorgeous and perfect weather.  A bit chilly, but it is mid-October after all.

I also had my monthly crafty night with my local friends last weekend and got to work on some things.  I made some mummies for the Halloween Houses, and also some ghosts!  I dusted off the scroll saw and made the ghosts from the hubby’s scrap pile.  The first ghost I made from pine, so I decided to paint him with some acrylic paint.  The second ghost I made from some gorgeous curly maple, so I kept him unpainted, and just used a beeswax polish on him.  Love them!  I also did an inaugural run on the wood burner, and burned in the ghosts’ features.

Wooden ghosts

Wooden ghosts

The mummies are just “men” people turnings and I wrapped little strips of an old white sheet around and used some Aileen’s craft glue.  Before I glued on the strips of fabric though, I painted them white with some acrylic paint, and used a thin brush to make some tiny eyes.  I got the idea originally from looking at the little gnome mummies that were posted on Wee Folk Art last year.

Mummies!

Mummies!

And since I had the wood burner out, I pulled out a penguin that I made many months ago on the scroll saw for my youngest.  I hadn’t finished him because I wanted to wood burn the lines in before painting with the watercolors, in an effort to keep the watercolor paint from bleeding into the different areas.  I thought he turned out very well!  Stocking stuffer!

Wooden penguin

Wooden penguin

I have also been working on a little embroidery.  The “pink house” tutorial that Melissa posted on Sew Mama Sew a few months ago.  I love her stuff, and was so excited that she posted a tutorial!

My "pink" house embroidery

My "pink" house embroidery

And then all the other stuff of fall, like pumpkin carving, apple picking and cider making, soccer games, football in the yard, watching football on the TV (Go Blue!), and starting to anticipate winter.  I was watching the Patriots play in Foxborough tonight and it was snowing!  Eek!  Just rain here….so far.

Our new favorite backyard game -- "tackle soccer"

Our new favorite backyard game -- "tackle soccer"

Oh,……and did I forget to mention the super-cute wet-felted wool acorns??  More on those later…

Wet felted wool acorns

Wet felted wool acorns

Felted Knitting Needle Case

Felted knitting needle case from Warm Fuzzies

Felted knitting needle case from Warm Fuzzies

I have been thinking about making the knitting needle case from Betz White’s Warm Fuzzies: 30 Sweet Felted Projects for awhile.  My good friend’s birthday was a few weeks ago, and I thought it would be a perfect gift!  I used a nice wool sweater that I had picked up at Goodwill awhile back.  It was gray with a pretty orange border around the cuffs and bottom.  So, I tried to incorporate that into the design.  The project in the book has a sunflower embroidery, but I used the nest/bird embroidery that was featured in the family photo album project.  Inside is some cream, butter yellow, and orange 100% wool felt from my stash.  It came together very easily.  The directions were great and I had no issues at all.  It was a bit difficult to sew the bottom of the pocket just because of all the layers – sweater and two layers of wool felt.  I had to go over part of it a second time, but it looked fine.

Inside of case, used a decorative stitch on the flap

Inside of case, used a decorative stitch on the flap

Inside of case

Inside of case

Front of knitting needle case

Front of knitting needle case