Blog makeover

Over the next few days the Craft Schmaft blog will be moving and getting a whole new look. Woot! After nearly 7 years of blogging I think it’s about time we take it to the next level. So please excuse the appearance while we move this week, better things are coming your way.

Owl Mobile softie

In the meantime, while looking through the archives I stumbled across pics of project and patterns gone by. Here’s a pic of one of my early designs, the owl mobile. I still adore these colours, the sage green, hints of olive, aqua blue. So perfect for a neutral nursery, I may just have to revisit that for a new hot air balloon colourway. Stay tuned!

The lowdown on Toy Stuffing

One of the first questions I’m asked at craft fairs, classes and right here is “what do you use for toy stuffing?” So I thought I’d do a round up here. There are three types of stuffing I’ll cover;

  • The hard stuff
  • The natural soft stuff
  • The synthetic soft stuff

Toy Stuffing: Wool, poly, Corn fibre

The hard stuff
Pellets in various materials like plastic, rubber and steel are sometimes used for stuffing but they’re a choking hazard for babes and small children so I wouldn’t recommend them for toys, softies or plushies. They also tend to make sock toys look like they have serious cellulite issues so I’m not going to go into detail on the hard stuffing!


The soft natural stuff

Corn Fibre Fill
I’ve used this extensively and I love corn fibre fill. The texture is a lot like a polyfibre, it’s soft and beautiful to work with while holding it’s shape really well. It also has a very low flammability rating – very important for toys for little ones. It’s washable, hypoallergenic and good news all round.

You can get corn fibre fill from Inner Green (AUS) and Fairfield along with Mountain Mist in the USA have it listed too (although I haven’t tired theirs)
Corn Fibre Stuffing Balloon

Wool
Wool has been used for toy stuffing for an eternity. It’s lovely to work with, holds shape really well, low flammability. Wool has a weight to it that corn fibre and poly stuffings don’t have, you can achieve a real firmness with wool stuffing. It’s also available as an organic fill, perfect for toys for newborns. The only downsides are that you can’t machine wash it which is a tricky for anything kids drool on and it is expensive compared to other stuffing products on the market.

Winterwood (AUS), Ecofill (AUS), CozyPure (USA)

Cotton Fabric Scraps
Fabric scraps are another traditional toy filling and I love the idea of recycling fabric. Unfortunately it does tend to clump up and leave bumps in your softies – it’s unsuitable for sock softies but you can use it for fabric softies – just make sure you stuff firmly and evenly to achieve a smooth surface on your toys.

Cotton
Cotton fibre is a another great natural product, especially the organic option.  It’s lovely to work with although it does tend to compact and doesn’t spring back quite like a PolyFill or Corn Fibre which for me brings down the cuddle factor. If you’re after dense, firm stuffing for your softies made from cotton fabric then this is a great option, not so great for sock softies as you’ll get lumps and bumps.

Mohair Bear Making Supplies (UK), Organic Cotton at EcoFill (AUS), Honeybegood (USA), CozyPure (USA)

Bamboo
This is one that I haven’t tried personally as yet, but I’m a big fan of all things bamboo. It’s reported to be soft and silky, not quite as bouncy as polyfibre and needs careful hand washing as it has a tendency to clump.

Available from Bamboo Fabric Store (USA), Fairfield (USA)

Kapok
Kapok was once the stuffing of choice for teddy bears and cushions but fell out of favour in the 50s when synthetic stuffing became available. A natural fibre from the Kapok tree in Thailand and Indonesia, this stuffing is silky and soft. It can be a little messy to use with the fibres flying around and will mildew if it isn’t kept clean however it does wash very well.

Available from Kapok.com.au, Amazon (UK) and White Lotus Home (USA) for bulk Kapok orders.

Eucalyptus
A brand new option that I’ve noticed, it’s expensive but I imagine oh so good for toys for little ones as it’s naturally hypo-allergenic and anti bacterial sourced from sustainable plantations. It’s reported to be lovely to work with (head over to SweaterDoll Blog for her review)

Available from EcoFill(AUS)

Wool Stuffing Toys


The synthetic stuff

Poly FibreFill
Poly fibre fill is great – it’s washable, holds it’s shape. easy to work with and hypo-allergenic. This is the stuff your cushions are filled with. It’s also very cheap and available in almost every craft store on the planet. A reliable option for toy stuffing and one I first used when making toys.

Recycled PET FibreFill
This is a poly fibrefill made from recycled PET bottles so every softie you fill is saving plastic bottles from becoming landfill. While it’s not as soft to work with as some of the other fills, this stuff really holds it’s shape – even better that the regular polyfibre fill.  It is washable, hypo-allergenic and a great eco-friendly option.

Innergreen have a recycle PET fibrefill that I use, I’d love to hear on where to buy from readers in the USA and UK.

Stuffing Plushie Softie Toy(Pssst… grab the free tutorial for this Mr Ted softie over here)

So what should you use? Personally I’d recommend the Corn Fibre Fill or the Recycled PET Fibrefill, they are bouncy, cuddly, washable and kind to the planet.

Do you have a favourite stuffing? Recommendations for other Schmafters? Tales of stuffing disaster?

Love to hear about your experiences and sources for this post so please don’t be shy about commenting.

Tale of the missing Sewjo

Sewjo
noun, plural sew·jos, sew·joes.
Motivation, reason or inspiration to Sew or Stitch.


I love this term, I was reminded of it recently by the lovely Cat of Raspberry Rainbow.

Last week I lost my sewjo. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t a pretty week. Normally one to love picking up any kind of craft, not even the prospect of a bit of cross stitch or making a pom pom could draw me out of it. Struggling with the tail end of Hong Kong flu I disappeared into a slump of questioning everything and anything in my life. I didn’t know it at the time but this quiet slip into depression was a side effect of the cough medication I’d been prescribed and it was a scary place to be. I still don’t quite feel like my old self but the very thing that I’d lost the motivation to do was what made all the difference.

My gorgeous, caring husband looked at the state of me and said… today once the kids are at school I want you to do the thing that always makes you happy. Turn on some tunes, really loudly (I’m known for my love of loud music and have blown more than one car speaker… that’s another story)… anyway… turn on some tunes and Sew. Just sew anything. OK?

So I did.leopard_fabricsI cried for most of the time – the kind of tears you shed when you’re pregnant and have no idea why you’re crying, you just are. But by the time I’d done two hours of sewing I felt like a new person. I really did. My sewjo was back. My smile was back. My eyes were ridiculously puffy. But a little ray of sunshine had come out. Perhaps it was the leopard print, and really how can you not smile when working with leopard print??

triangle_fabric_cut

stitchery

balloons_empty_leopard

I have to say that this fascinates me – I’ve always known that for me crafting isn’t about making stuff, it’s making happy but having been lost there for a moment I’m going to explore it some more. I’ve started reading a book called Craft to Heal by Nancy Monson and I really want to learn more about this link between craftiness and wellbeing.

balloons_leopard_in_progress

Have you ever used craft to heal? Does sewing, painting, baking lift your spirits?

Clutching

Oh how relevant this blog title is. Last week I got to sewing up a zipper clutch – it was the last moment of calm before the storm of a very nasty flu knocked myself and the rest of the family out. So while I made a clutch bag I’m also desperately clutching at straws to get myself and the boys settled in Hong Kong. Two steps forwards, one step back and all that. Crazy Times.

clutch_materials

clutch_zip_tassel_finished

Focusing on the positive, this project was so easy and so satisfying. I’ve wanted to use the Tula Pink Octopus forever and I love the neutral hide on the outside and cheeky colour on the inside. The tassel was a cinch too. Would you all like a tutorial for this one?

fabric_octopus

clutch_tassel

clutch_inside

Craft supply adventure in honkers

On Thursday the lovely Cat from Raspberry Rainbow took me out to Sham Shui Po – Hong Kongs heart of textile and haberdashery supplies. This place was nothing short of spectacular! We couldn’t have picked a worse day – cold, grey and rainy but that didn’t dampen our crafty spirits. Shops spruiking beads, ribbon, zippers, fabric, thread and yarn line the streets of the entire suburb and I don’t mean your general notions kind of store. They tend to sell one thing – on one street the shops were filled with wall after wall of ribbon, a store brimming with every zipper you can possibly imagine drew us in and yet another street had several button shops. Little drawers full of ornate buttons and clasps were stacked from floor to ceiling. Oh the joy!

Ribbon Wall Sham Shui Po

It was a sight to behold. Had it not been pouring with rain I would have taken many more photos of the streets (more next time I promise!). In addition to all of these shops there was the fabric market – on the outside it looks like a shanty town. Inside is a treasure trove of fabrics at ridiculously cheap prices. Wool, silk and a healthy amount of polyester but oh my… what heaven to rummage through.

So here’s the damage:suede_leather_fabric
I had no intentions of buying leather, but I fell in love with the print on this hide and it just had to come home with me. I have plans for a little clutch bag, hopefully with a suede tassel to dangle from it. I’ve never sewn with leather before so it’s a complete experiment but these cost me almost nothing so I’m feeling extra brave!

fabric_leopard
Many zippers and embroidery thread were purchased and this leopard print is destined for some very special hot air balloons.

 
silk_fabric
I spotted this pure silk print and it was another – just have to take it home purchase. This one is simply going to be a light scarf for the summer and on my next Sham Shui Po trip (oh yes, there will be many more) I’ll have to find a co-ordinating pom pom trim.

 
sequins_gold
And then there were the gold sequins, these are going to adorn a pillow for our bedroom. While the rest of the apartment is almost finished our poor bedroom is just thrown together. I’m planning on white, navy blues and little sparkles of gold to go on our new bed. Oh so many projects to be done! There were a few more trims purchased but overall I think I was pretty restrained. Can’t vouch for any kind of restraint next time I visit.

The Schmaft loves you!

Love is in the air on valentines day. If you’re anything like me it’s going to stay in the air and is highly unlikely to materialise into red roses, cards or gifts.

Craft Schmaft loves you!

Fear not! The Schmaft loves you and I’m sending a complimentary softie or mobile pattern your way with any purchase in the Craft Schmaft Etsy Shop until midnight tomorrow night. Just leave a note with your order to let me know which pattern you’d like.

P.S. Do you like my new sequin stash? I had a big spree yesterday, full damage….err…. purchase report tomorrow!