merry and bright : last minute christmas trees for me and the mice

mouse house christmas party with make do tree

mouse house christmas party with make do tree

The question of their Christmas tree has been on my mind. What would the Admiral and Mrs. Croft do? Mice borrow and improvise and repurpose. Mice work with what they’ve got. Mice make do. I identify strongly with this.

norfolk pine tree decorated with paper snowflakes

I’m improvising too. I still have not un-storaged my Christmas stuff so I made a last minute tree with what I had and just a little time, some paper and wax paper snowflakes and a few super simple paper garlands. There was a little foil, tinsel and mylar involved too.

And technically there are two Christmas trees (not counting the mice tree). The little Norfolk pine is new this summer and it got a tiny bit decorated too. Pretty festive.

Wishing you a very happy Christmas,
ann

a cozy spot and something to sew : what’s on my worktable

fabric needle case stuffed to bursting with important scraps

fabric needle case stuffed to bursting with important scraps

They get better with age and use. All sorts of important treasures are stuffed in here. The original ribbon closure blew out a while ago as the girth increased and was replaced with a red string that wraps around. I love the red string, a happy accident.

stitch experiments on my worktable

I’m working on some smaller needle books, just one or two pages, really just for needles. There were a bunch of little stitch experiments (I think the original idea was amulets) hiding in the above over stuffed book that are being incorporated into the covers. A couple are for gifts and there will be a few in the shop too (post holiday I think).

Little pin dishes will be available in January too. They are glazed and waiting to be fired right now.

and little dolls

sewing fabric hair to a tiny doll

The hairstyle on this tiny lady is a little different than the style in the pattern – it’s super easy.

1. Add about a quarter inch to the length of the hair fabric.  Other than that follow the pattern instructions until the hair is attached. Tuck in the edges of the end and gather.

2. Twist the fabric.

3. Wrap around the head, pin and whip stitch with tiny stitches to tack it to the head. So sweet.

tiny doll with fabric hair

tiny rag dolls in progress

It’s been ages since I worked on tiny dolls and wardrobes but now I’m on a roll. I’ll show you more next week-ish.

not a creature was stirring…

christmas card with water color illustration of a mouse, seen through a baseboard mouse hole, decorating a tree

christmas card with water color illustration of a mouse, seen through a baseboard mouse hole, decorating a tr

Except this guy.

A brand new card made from a daily painting. Also note in the background the beginnings of a Christmas tree. The Norfolk pine has been on Christmas tree duty since 2014. It was my first tree as an adult. Some years it’s fancy and some years it’s simple. I’m still on the fence about this year. So far it just has a little tinsel. It takes me around ten minutes to place a single strand of tinsel. I’m one of those people… Next week I’ll get serious about decorating and wrapping and will of course report all developments to you here.

Are you decorating? Have you made ornaments or garlands or cookies? Are you sewing gifts? How long does it take you to place a strand of tinsel? Let us know in the comments.

lamb ornament DIY

These little sheep are super fast and very easy to make. And the pattern includes two sizes so you can make little sheep families.

DOWNLOAD THE PATTERN

You will also need:

  • basic sewing kit
  • scraps of fabric – cotton, flannel, or light wool all work
  • black felt
  • glue stick
  • stuffing – I like wool
  • chopstick or similar
  • embroidery thread – black and ivory

1. Pin the body pattern onto doubled fabric -right sides together – and cut out. Pin the head, tail and leg to a single layer of felt. Cut out one head, one tail and two legs.

2. Clip out the little triangle mark on the body.  Draw on the seam allowance and indicate the area to leave open.

3. Separate the body pieces so the right side of the fabric is facing you. Place the body pattern on one piece of fabric – matching the little triangle notch.

4. Mark the three dots on the pattern on the fabric with a pencil or disappearing marker. You only need to mark one fabric piece.

5. Put a dot of glue stick at the center of each leg.

6. Fold the felt legs in half – forming  V shapes.

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holiday ornament roundup : 9 sweet little project ideas

Patterns and DIY’s I think you’ll love. Easy and pretty quick projects you can make a bunch of with stuff you probably already have. Little extras on a package, tiny unexpected presents are magic.

tiny fabric mitten ornaments

1. Let’s start with these super sweet mittens. I love a thing that you can tuck another thing inside of.  They work as ornaments, wrapping extra’s, advent calendars, garlands etc. etc.. And there is a free PDF! Find it Oliver and S Patterns.

2. Also from Liesl Gibson:   these tiny walnut ships! Hot glue, a walnut shell, toothpick and paper. Brilliant.

The next 2 use my free patterns as starting off points and add super clever details.

3. This raccoon!  @erinpcf used the mouse pattern and added raccoon details. It would make an adorable ornament.

fish advent calendar

4.  Kates Creative Space used the lucky fish pattern to create this charming advent calendar.

5. Make macrame trees with this detailed tutorial by The Pretty Life Girls.
And if macrame appeals to you you’ll love this too.

6. This is a great one to do with little folks. Everybody loves a pompom. Find this instructions on Project Kid. That tree!!

owl ornaments made from scraps

7. Rocky the owl! From the free pattern page here. This group is by @cjasews You can get the owl pattern here.

8.  Pinecone people have a very firm place in my childhood holiday memories. Check out Lia Griffiths super cute video tutorial for these elf friends.

nostagi christmas light ornament diy

9. So nostalgic! And clever. Old fashion fabric christmas lights tutorial.

Plus don’t forget these other holiday gems from the free pattern page! woebegone pines, paper swan treat  boxes, and easy waxpaper snowflakes.

Are you making ornaments? have a favorite holiday DIY? let us know in the comments.

news from the notecard department

painting table with notecards in progress

painting table with notecards in progress

All of a sudden there’s a real notecard department. It’s taken about 2 years of research, experiments and failures (so much failure) to put together this little collection of 11 notecards. The imagery is from the daily paintings. They’re printed on super deluxe, thick cotton paper. Totally frameworthy.

cat notecards 4 images - cat with fish dinner, cat with frog soup, sleeping cat and cats on a tiny island

The cards a re 4.25 by 5.5 and are packaged with a heavy weight craft or natural white envelope. And you get a discount on multiple cards – 20% of 5 or more with code – artcard21

My first (and only card) last year was square. It features an interspecies friendship and I love it but it turns out square cards need extra postage. Such a pain. So lesson learned, the square card is being retired and you can get it a an awesome closeout price.

card with illustration of goats in a snowy twilight

The response to the new cards has been outstanding and I’d love to add more stationary items next year with daily paintings imagery.  And maybe fabric.  After the holiday busyness I’m going to explore some hand printing methods and maybe try making some repeat patterns.

There is so much involved in choosing paper and learning about printing. I found a ton of help here.  And the paper saga continues. Did you know there is a global  paper shortage?  I bought all I could find and hopefully it will get me to next year when stuff will be available again.

find all the notecards here

Are you a snail mailer? Is there a design from the daily paintings you’d love to see on a card?  Let me know in the comments.

frog (or toad) doll tutorial

Think “elf on a shelf” but amphibious.

They are remarkably expressive. A combination of the long limbs and eyes that follow you everywhere, silently judging you. An amphibious elf on a shelf. Why not.
Do you need more supervision? They are easy to make.

frog doll pattern sheet and supplies

download the pattern sheet

You will also need:

1. Fold your fabric with the right sides together. Pin one leg and arm along the fold and pin the body and cut out.

2.  Refold the remaining fabric, place the arm and leg on the fold and cut out. Pin the oval to a scrap of contrasting fabric and cut out.


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3. Fold over each bottom edge of the frog body – wrong sides together – and press. Mark all your seam lines.

4. Stitch all seams. You can sew by hand or machine.  Leave open as indicated.

5.  Trim little triangle section around the curves of the head. Be careful not to snip the seams. Trim away about 1/2 of the seam allowance on the arms and legs.

6. Use the chopstick to turn the body right side out. Use this trick to turn the arms and legs:  insert a turning tube or straw cut in half into a limb. Push the straw all the way in.

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project 2 – the sewing room *or : how to eat an elephant

fish, cats and other small sewing prjects haung on a white wall behind a vintage sewing machine

There is a little room at each end of the new place. The back room was the first project, a place for painting and drawing mostly. The room at the other end, the front of the building, is for sewing and shipping orders. It’s currently about half way painted and somewhat furnished…

That’s the elephant part. The saying goes:

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

I’ve been getting things done here a little bit at a time.  The pace is slow but steady and completing each little task builds momentum and helps me feel less overwhelmed by all there is to do. I’d love to show you what I’ve got so far in the sewing/shipping room, I’m super pleased with it and putting it together has been generating lots of new ideas.

Remember the pink painting table from the old place? That’s a sewing machine table now. A bunch of little projects are hanging on the wall above it. Hanging the fish and chickens and cats etc inspired idea’s for more sweet and simple shapes to sew. Groups of things you could hang together or make garlands with. I love the idea of odd, sort of random groupings and maybe others with a story to tell. I’m working on some now and I’ll share the patterns soon. It’s easy to hang them, Just a stitch of embroidery thread across the back and a little nail or tack in the wall. So many possibilities. The wall makes me happy.

fish, cats and other small sewing prjects haung on a white wall behind a vintage sewing machine

chalkboard made form top of a cedar chest

You might also recall the damaged cedar chest that was repurposed as a container garden. I got it for pretty much free at a flea market.  The top has made an excellent chalkboard.

sewing room with large chalkboard

You can’t have too many chalkboards. The paint is just flat black craft paint and so far so good. If it doesn’t hold up I’ll spring for real chalkboard paint.

DecoArt brand craft paint

There is more to come, shelves and some sort of super cozy daybed situation for sewing and visiting dignitaries but the essentials are in place and I’m looking forward to lots of hours in this sunny little room making stuff. There are one million ideas percolating at the moment. All sorts of patterns and maybe some mushrooms and other little things for gifts and maybe the shop this holiday season.

Have you started sewing holiday stuff? I’m determined to be done before December.

onward,

ann

3 mini mushrooms sewn from vintage textiles in my handget the pattern buttonPS Did you know October 15th is international Mushroom Day? It’s a real thing, I had no idea.

PPS – It is officially soup season and this is a great one. I consider it my civic duty to remind you of it each autumn.  Have you got a favorite fall soup? I’m always on the look out.

sewing tutorial : long pincushion and raw edge patchwork

11 inch long thin pin cushion with patches

11 inch long thin pin cushion with patches

September is National Sewing Month! I didn’t even make that up – it’s completely real. Thanks Ronald Reagan.

Let’s make a long pin cushion. Or a couple. It’s a perfect way to celebrate National Sewing Month and I’ve been meaning to make one for ages. Just right for the front of the sewing machine and great as a pattern weight, it’s stuffed with crushed walnut shells. I love them. You can find them in big bags at most pet supply stores (not a good idea if you have a nut allergy though). You could use wool stuffing (packed really firmly) as an alternative.

This is also a great project to experiment with raw edge patchwork. I love it when I see it but I have a had a hard time getting myself to do it. Not neatly folding those edges under feels like breaking a rule but I’ve been messing around with it lately on some jeans and a super old and worn quilt and liking the results.

Back to the pincushion

I took a meandering approach to adding my patchwork, a pleasant afternoon on the couch with piles of scraps adding little bits of fabric. The lack of planning invites all sorts of happy accidents. This is a great project to do with friends and a low pressure project for a beginner.

scraps sorted in piles by color on a coffee table with scissors and thread

For the pincushion you will need:

  • 6 X 11.5 inch piece of tightly woven fabric
  • scraps for patches
  • basic sewing kit
  • embroidery thread
  • filling – crushed walnut shells are ideal
  • small funnel

1.  Gather some scraps for patches. I sorted mine into piles for two pincushions – the one in warm pinks at the top of this post and another in berry-ish and indigo shades that I’m demonstrating with.

2. Cut and pin on a couple scraps and start sewing. You can stitch around or through or whatever you like. I’m using embroidery thread and a little sashiko thread.

3. Notice I kept most of the interest toward the middle of my base fabric, the seam will be on the bottom so this will be the most visible part. And in a bold move I used some bright red thread. I love the contrast with the cool colors.

4. When you’re done patching fold it in half, right sides together, carefully matching the edges. Sew the long side seam with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

5. Press the tube with the seam in the middle. Press the seam open.

6. Sew one end closed – also 1/4 inch seam allowance.

7. Turn the tube right side out – a chopstick or similar helps for pushing out the corners.

8. Put a box or bowl or dish under you to catch spills.  Insert the funnel and add the crushed walnut shells a little at a time.  Tap the bottom and push the shells down to completely and firmly fill the tube.

9.  Fill the tube to about one inch from the top. Optional – a little wool or cotton on top helps the fill not spill while your closing the tube.

10. Fold in the edges and stitch closed.

I love it.  It’s an awesome pin cushion and an excellent weapon if things get weird. I hope you make one!

 

long pin cushion on tool chest with antique sewing machine

P S- In honor of national sewing month, my first sewing memory : standing next to my mother as she sewed this little draw string bag for me, made from grandma moses barkcloth, on the machine above. I must have been about 4.

What’s your first sewing memory? Did you start young?  Happy National Sewing month!

happy cats : a free sewing pattern

small stuffed cats in two sizes - sewing diy

Happy cats to sew, in two sizes! Cause I’m nice like that. They’re quick and easy and there’s tons of room to experiment – add some applique and embroidery to make it resemble somebody you know and love. You can sew by hand or machine. I’ve made a bunch so far and I’m not ready to stop, there is something satisfying about this growing crowd of cat friends.

small stuffed cats in two sizes - sewing diy

They are straight out of my daily paintings, the funny little cats who wander around the cobblestone streets and forests. This is a great beginner project and there are a couple tips mixed in the instructions. Let’s make happy cats!

download the patterns

You will also need:

  • cotton fabric
  • a basic sewing kit
  • chopstick or similar
  • stuffing – i like wool
  • buttons
  • embroidery thread for the features

patterns and supplies for sewing happy cats

1.  Download and cut out the templates. There is a small and large, you could make a whole cat family. I’ll be demonstrating on the large. Cut out your template and pin it on a double layer of fabric – right sides together. Cut out.

2. Separate the two fabric pieces and mark your seam line. I measure the quarter inch and make little dots around the pattern – every couple inches – as a guide and mark in pencil. Pro tip: place a sheet of fine sandpaper under the fabric piece and it won’t slide around so much. I always recommend marking the seam line and it is essential in this pattern for getting the legs just right. Also mark the area to leave open.

3.  Make guide dots for the face.  Decide which direction you want your cat to face while looking at the right side (printed side) of the fabric. Mark the dots. Push the pencil through the paper as shown and mark for guides or alternatively you could trace the whole face onto the fabric.

back to the happy cats in just a moment:

It has been a priority here for years to create high quality and fun free patterns (there are tons) like the happy cats on an ad free site. There are not very many of those left and it is becoming increasingly difficult. In an effort to keep the free awesomeness flowing I’ve created an opportunity for you to support and show some love to my free pattern library.

support the ann wood handmade free pattern library with a happy donation 

Support free patterns like happy cats with a happy donation. 

Click here to add your support.

 

Back to the happy cats:

sewing the seam

4. Pin the fabric pieces back together – right sides of the fabric together.  Use lots of pins.  Sew around the seam line. You can hand or machine sew. I’m sewing on the machine. Leave open as indicated for turning and stuffing.

5. Before turning the cat right side out clip little notches around the curve of each foot as shown on the front foot above and the tip of the tail. Clip off the points of the ears near the seam and remove a little of the seam allowance. Clip a notch into each of the corners where the legs meet the body, Clip notches into the curve  where the tail and back meet and at the neck.

6. Turn the cat right side out. Use a chopstick to gently push out the legs, ears and tail. Slow firm pressure and twisting a little help. Stretch and massage the curved seams a little with your fingers to smooth them.

7. Stuff -I’m using this wool stuffing.  Add a little at a time and be careful not to block the legs and tail with clumps of stuffing until you’ve filled the toes etc.

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the new place : project 1

In the new place (upstairs from the old place) there is a little room in the back with big windows, and a view of sweeping, weeping pines that crows and ravens roost in. Guilford Connecticut has a crazy amount of crows. Also my little garden is right below. It’s the first thing I look at every morning.
The first project after getting basic order shipping capabilities set up was to make that room delightful. It had been laundry/storage. There was indoor outdoor stained carpeting, dingy paint, wire shelves and great potential for charm. You can check out a before below- almost a before – I had already torn the carpet out.

Under the carpet was just a plywood subfloor. I painted a super simple gray and white check. The paint job is light for a worn in feel. Plus that was quick and easy to do and I like the softness of it. The walls are painted bright white (Benjamin Moore Snowfall White). And the curtain fabric is from India via Etsy.

The laundry closet is covered with a textile gift from a friend, a Peruvian (I think) poncho. I stitched the neck opening closed and added inexpensive rings. It is magically exactly the right size with no further alterations.

It’s a place I love to be. The light and breeze are excellent. There is room for a cardboard castle and all the other essential things. This place is for painting and sketching and some photography.

One of the many reasons for making a painting everyday is the wealth of ideas they generate. Most recently the funny little cats that wander through the many little towns in those paintings became a sewing pattern . You can find the free happy cat pattern right here.

Project 2 is the sewing room. Stay tuned for more on that. It is also currently full of potential to be delightful.

onward,

ann

make a miniature camping scene with this doll tent diy

The spot was chosen long ago. A cool and sheltered little rise in the foothills of the mountain, far above her home in the Green Valley. Generations before her have come here each year in summer to  gather berries and mushrooms and herbs.

miniature tent, campsite and doll with miniature dishes and a paper chicken

The camp is neat and cozy. She has a stove and a camp fire for warmth.  A favorite hen comes along for companionship. The days are long and the work is hard, joyful and satisfying.

miniature tent, campsite and doll in forest

Tiny Rag Doll patterns and kits are on sale until 8/1!

tent with ministure wood stove, teacup, stool, quilts and a pillow

She sleeps soundly in a big pile of quilts. The chicken does too. Her day starts at dawn with strong tea in her favorite cup and saucer.

The pattern and instructions for the tent are below. You might also be interested in tutorials for the stove, dishes, quilts and chicken  – find them all here.

You know who else loves to camp? Mr. Socks.

While he is a mostly “under the stars” kind of guy in certain situations he enjoys the comforts of a tent.

cat doll with mini tent and campfire

Let’s make the tent

It’s reversible and everything!  The size is perfect for the tiny rag doll or mr. socks and super duper easy and quick to make – you’ll be miniature glamping in about an hour.

download the tent pattern sheets

You also will need:

  • A basic sewing kit
  • 2 pieces of fabric – 16 X16 inches each
  • tape
  • embroidery thread or light string
  • optional – little scraps for patches
  • optional – laundry starch

materials and pattern sheets for doll tent

1.  Download and print the templates – there are two sheets.

2. Cut out the templates and tape them together to create one pattern piece. Fold one of your fabric pieces and place the pattern on the fabric with the top edge on the fold as shown. Cut out.

3. Unfold the fabric and place it – right sides together – on the other piece of fabric.

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