Day 302 – Adding a face to the nesting bears…

Day 302 – Taking quality photos of projects is a challenge. The iPhone is a mediocre camera in artificial light late at night. So I replaced last night’s photo with this composite of photos taken outside on this overcast day. Imperfect, but much better. I’m still working on the bears – the faces at least. I’m playing with a few accessories like bows, glasses, and binky. I’d like the accessories to be changeable rather than fixed, but that may add too much complexity to the toy. It may be best to stick with the basic concept of nesting, closures, and numbers 1-5.

I absolutely love the originality and quirkiness of John Murphy’s Stupid Sock Creatures.  These two crazy figures are made with Red Heel socks and are based on “Red Wetty” and “Estelle” found in Murphy’s book called, of course, Stupid Sock Creatures.


In an effort to add more art curriculum to our daughter’s school, my husband found this not-for-profit called Trash For Teaching. “Trash for Teaching collects clean and safe cast-off materials from manufacturing processes (that would otherwise become trash) and repurposes them as educational resources.  With those materials we provide a comprehensive arts education program in local school districts, which includes teacher workshops and classroom instruction.” (excerpted from their website)

For a nominal fee per pound, my daughter and I scoured the numerous bins of materials and filled two bags with stuff like giant spools, tape reels, yarns, fabric scraps, etc. When we got home, we dumped everything out, excited to make something.  My daughter had the idea of making a doll.  A few weeks later, we made her a friend, and she named them Romeo + Juliet.  Once they were a couple, it wasn’t long before, yes, a baby girl was born.  With baby swaddled and tied to Juliet, the family is happy and complete.

From Sketch to Soft Sculpture…


So your kid just drew the cutest little creature, and you are thinking “That would make a great stuffed animal!” Whether for fun, or because you believe you’ve just designed the next Ugly Doll, with a moderate amount of time and skill, you can create your very own plush toy. But just remember that when your work is completed, you may actually prefer to display it high on a shelf rather than hand it over to your kid as a toy.

This fuzzy, pink creature, named Reesy, was inspired by my 3 yr old daughter’s sketch. I scoured the Fashion District in downtown LA for inspiring fabric and notions, choosing a mottled, hot pink, polyester, tassel fabric for the body; blue buttons and white pleather for the eyes; velvet cord and faux fur for the tail; and a polyester glitter spandex fabric for the tongue.

My daughter’s sketch was drawn on a post-it note, so I enlarged it on my copier to be about 12″ in length. This just seemed like the right size to cuddle. Using the sketch as a pattern, I cut out two pieces of fabric for the sides adding a 1/2″ seam allowance, and then cut a long 3″ wide strip that I sewed from mouth to tail to give the creature more girth. I also created a 3″ wide bottom piece with legs to match the two sides. I added the eyes before sewing the sides to the middle strip. I sewed a small piece of 1/2″ batting between the two pieces of the glitter spandex for the tongue and then stitched a strip down the middle to make it more like a tongue. This was a creative interpretation of the line extending down from the head in my daughter’s sketch. I have to admit that my daughter hates that Reesy is always sticking out her tongue, but she loves the furry tail; both are examples of artistic license.

If you are inspired to make a plush creature from your child’s sketch, but are not very skilled with sewing, you can instead create a simple pillow by cutting out two copies of the sketch in your chosen fabric, sewing it around the perimeter (leaving a 2″ hole for stuffing,) stuffing it like a pillow shape, and hand stitching the hole closed. Be sure to add at least 1/2″ for the seam allowance. And the easiest possible option for making a plush from your child’s drawing? Just photocopy the sketch onto inkjet-ready fabric; cut it out using at least a 1/2″ seam allowance; sew it up, leaving a hole for stuffing; fill it with your chosen stuffing (anything from organic cotton, wool, polyester fiber fill, or fabric scraps) and hand stitch to close the hole.

Now you have all the inspiration you need for a perfect gift for a young one (or the young at heart.)