Thread Thoughts

The Nut Graf knits, sews and attempts other crafts

Last-Minute Gifts: Stuffed horse December 20, 2007

Filed under: Sewing — chengat @ 7:40 am

Here’s an easy stash-buster project that took me less than a half hour to make:

I made a bunch of these last year and gave them away to the little kids in our family. The above photo is the prototype I made for my son. It was inspired by Poncho, a very gentle Shetland Pony that my son used to ride at REINS, a therapeutic horseback riding program for kids with special needs. (If you click on the horses link at the REINS web site, you can see a photo of Poncho — he’s the horse of choice for the toddler crowd.)

Materials: I used fabric remnants found in the clearance bin of my local Joann store and novelty yarn I had in my stash for the mane and tail. You can also cut thin fabric strips instead of yarn.

I drew an outline of a horse on a piece of paper (the simpler the better), cut it out and pinned it to the fabric (folded right sides together). Cut the fabric around the template, making sure to leave about a quarter inch or so for seams. Lay your yarn pieces as pictured in the photo below:

Carefully sew around beginning at the saddle area, leaving open about an inch and a half at the saddle area for stuffing. Make sure you leave some shape definition around the head. I also recommend double stitching over the mane and tail area to secure the yarn. Snip fabric where there are sharp curves, making sure not to clip into the seams. Turn inside out, stuff, whipstitch shut. Use pinking shears to cut a rectangular saddle with contrast fabric. Cover the whipstitched area with the saddle and use a decorative stitch, e.g. running stitch or blanket stitch to attach. Further embellish with sequins, bead, or ribbons if so desired.

This is my final installment of last-minute gift ideas. Merry Christmas!


Last-Minute Gifts: Needle felting December 12, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — chengat @ 2:41 am

Here’s another idea for a last-minute crafting gift – needle felting. I completed these two guys in one evening:
They’re from a Woolpet kit that I bought from The Loopy Ewe.
They come in other animals, like sheep, birds, polar bear and I especially like their hedgehog. These would make good ornaments, or leave them in a kit to give to someone. They come nicely packaged in a clear take-out box container with two felting needles, clear photo instructions and, in the case of my snowmen kit, enough roving make at least another pair. You will need foam or a sponge to cushion your project while jabbing with a felting needle. Laurie from Woolpets also sells felted sculptures and kits from her Etsy store.
Here is another cute kit I bought from
They are called Critter Kits and are made by They come with roving, instructions, bead, thread and a Colonial felting needle. Pictured here next to Mr. Boston Terrier are a felting needle tool and a mat made by Clover. The Clover felting tool is more for applique work than for these small sculptures. You place the wool applique over the base fabric and punch it with the tool to apply the piece. It’s a way to easily decorate sweaters, scarves or bags without sewing.

Lastly, if you like the terrier pictured above, you might want to check out the amazingly life-like kits at or get the Fleece Dog book, which contains lots of photos and is fun just to leaf through. Happy jabbing!


Last-minute gifts: Sewing December 8, 2007

Filed under: Quilting,Reviews — chengat @ 12:44 am

Wow. I hadn’t realized it’s been exactly a month since I’ve updated this blog. I was trying to finish knitting up some hats for my nieces and nephew, went out of town for Thanksgiving and then had to get a new logic board for my iMac (no charge thankfully).

So looking for some last minute gifts? Let’s turn to sewing, which usually takes less time than knitting the same item. Here are two books I bought a month or so ago, one to make gifts and the other could make a gift:
These are Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson and Midwest Modern, a coffee table book by Amy Butler.

Hoverson also wrote Last-Minute Knitted Gifts and owns Purl and Purl Patchwork, in New York City’s Soho district. Like LM Knitted Gifts, the projects are broken down by estimated time to complete: less than 2 hours, 2-4 hours, 4-8 hours, 8-12 hours and more than 12 hours. Projects range from pincushions and pillows, to large-sized quilts. Here are some of my favorites:

Color-wheel quilt, a striking wall hanging

(Sort of) Crazy Quilt, inspired by the quilters of Gee’s Bend and Denyse Schmidt
and Peanut, the wee elephant, designed by Hillary Lang of Wee Wonderfuls fame. This looks like a good way to use up scrap fabric.

The book also includes chapters on color theory and quilting basics, although I wouldn’t use this as a reference on quilting as there are no how-to photos. Last Minute Knitted Gifts is one of my favorite knitting books, and this one will likely become one of my favorite sewing books too, alongside Denyse Schmidt’s Quilts and Amy Butler’s In Stitches. (P.S. I forgot to mention the book comes with full-size pattern templates that you can photocopy or trace) Grade: A

For those of you looking for sewing patterns, Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern may disappoint you. There are only two, for floor cushions and an envelope pillow. Instead, this book is more of a behind-the-scenes peek at Butler’s designs and aesthetics. For example, here’s a photo of her workroom
And here are some of her sketches: ab1.jpg

Many of the photos of Butler’s projects used in the book can be found on her web site, but there are also some shots of her garden and other places where she finds inspiration. The photos, taken by her husband, are beautiful and there are tons of them. This book is eye candy for the hard-core Amy Butler fan. Grade: B+

I’ll end this entry with a quotation from Butler’s book: “I wanted this book to inspire you — not to look at my life and work in awe, but to see how simple and approachable a creative life is. It’s not about adding layers to our life, but about stripping away obstacles. Fear is one of the biggest obstacles any of us can face….Don’t allow your fears and anxieties to overshadow your passions.”