Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Showing Off? Who, Me?

This episode is just some of the things I've made lately that I'm prouder of.  Note: Pictures were taken on my phone so I can't guarantee quality.

So first of all, I signed up for one of those "Pay It Forward" deals on Facebook.  I tried that last year but didn't actually make anyone anything... my bad.  So this year, I told people they needed to remind me, told them I'd make stuff out of yarn, and for them to give me ideas so I didn't delay by thinking "Well, what should I make anyway?"

And then one of my friends told me she wanted me to make her one of her characters, a centaur.

I've made a few dolls before, but... wow.  I've never tried something quite so... ambitious.  So I told her I wasn't going to make it out of yarn.  But then I thought, well, why not?  I mean, all I really need to do is make a horse body - four legs and a cylinder, not so hard - and half a person, which I know there are patterns for online.

She gave me quite a description of this character and all of the stuff she carries and her personality and so forth and I had ideas of how I could put this together, but as I went through, I gave up and just did the body.  Said body description: Black Clydesdale body with white feathered feet, tan skin, purple stripes in hair and tail and purple eyes.

The body part, as I'd suspected, was not so hard.  Easiest part, in fact.  Then I started adding a body.  I wanted to give it something of a ribcage so I decreased stitching and then panicked that it was getting too small and too long and the body ended up looking really strange and bulbous.  But that was fixed later by nestling the human half into the blobby front part and making the back legs go all the way up the body to fill out the hindquarters.

Then came the tedious part - hair.  I may have been overly ambitious at this point, as I decided to tie crochet string on to give her an actual head of hair.  The tail was not so bad, but the head... that took forever.  This is where a lot of the accessories I'd thought of adding dropped off the table because I just wanted to get finished.  And for the longest time, since I was working from the bottom of the head upwards, she looked like some Chinese kung fu master with serious male pattern baldness.

But in the end, it turned out looking pretty good, I think.

The other thing I wanted to show off was the baby gym I made.  For those who weren't aware, I am in fact having a baby.  Soon.  Anytime.  Get out now please.  :)  At some point in the past little while I decided that I wanted to make a baby gym.  You know, one of those things that you put them down in to keep them entertained with little dangly toys and things to play with and excite neural functions or something.  

My original thought was to just make a rectangular-ish pad with maybe a pool noodle across the top for hanging toys.  But as I was looking up ideas online, there was someone who'd already made one (why am I not surprised?) and she said she'd tried the pool noodle thing and it didn't work.  I think it probably could, but I'd need to make adjustments.  However, it doesn't matter, because I liked her alternative solution - hula hoops.  Of course, that also necessitated a circular mat.  Which wasn't much harder.  (Credit to

The only challenges I really ran into were:
 1) The fabric I wanted on the back wasn't big enough, so I cut it into strips and made it trim instead; 
2) By the time I was putting together 2 pieces of heavy fabric, a batting interior, and an extra strip on top to hold the batting solidly in place, my sewing machine foot was having trouble getting over everything, but I'm stubborn enough to make it work; 
3) I tried to make the loops to hold the toys on the hula hoop covers out of the heavy cover fabric which ended up being really thick and trying to sew it together caused problems of the not-sewing-together nature so I ended up hand-sewing it tighter after putting them on the hula hoops; 
4) I'd planned on using regular snaps but ended up not having any so I just got the diaper snaps she'd suggested in the first place; 
5) the exterior lining didn't quite match up on the back so I sewed around the outside in 3 different places to make sure it stayed on well; 
6) the strips of fabric I'd made had to be sewn together to make them the proper lengths; and 
7) I ran out of ideas and fabric for making toys so there are only 4 at this point, with 5 empty loops waiting to be filled.

This is the base mat, pinned together.  It was sitting on the floor like this and Bryan walks past and says "That looks unsafe for a baby - maybe you should make something with fewer pins."
Sewn together and put on - observe loop issues.
Mat and both hula hoop arches

Loops for the hula hoop cover, pre-sewing into a tube.

Okay, so I could have actually measured and made the lines straighter, but still...
I sewed the cross lines on before sewing the border on so I could get those inner bits under the outer lining.
Glad I thought of that before going forward.

The mostly finished product.
The toys I made to put on it are a little "rattle," which I made by cutting down one of the plastic tubes of sugar-free drink mixes and throwing some pinto beans in, then sewing that inside a tube of fabric; a mirror because I hear those are good for mental development and I have a few small craft mirrors, sewn into a fabric backing, which was tougher than I thought it would be; a crocheted square with bells on the corners; and a crocheted sea turtle.  They're mostly also green and white although the square and the turtle have some blue so Bryan's happy.


  1. Amazing stuff! The centaur gives me all sorts of evil ideas.

  2. When my kids were babies, I was given some plastic, textured link toys. I found that the links really convenient for hooking small toys (also given to me) onto something I had that was like this. So you get a soft, squishy toy with loops on the side and you use the links to put it on your loops, and the baby either sits their, batting at it, or they try to grab it and put it in their mouths. It was fun!