Saturday, January 17, 2009

Argyle Monkey

This monkey was made for my friend's niece. Her mom said she liked pink, so I wanted to find a fun pattern. I think the argyle is a little unexpected fun.

I used a light pink embroidery floss for her trimmings, which match the light pink diamonds in the argyle. You can see the blanket stitch around the felt better in person. I like her little crooked smile.

For some reason, the felt on her face reads shiny on camera, but it isn't in person. It looks closer in color to somewhere in between the dark and light pinks.

I always put my initials on the monkey's butt. They're easy enough to remove with a seam ripper if someone didn't like them. Someday, I would like to get little tags that I could sew into the tail seam or something, but I haven't found anything small enough that I could personalize.

The only pitfall with this monkey is that the socks were super stretchy. The elastic in them shines in the flash of the camera, so it is a little exaggerated, but the white areas in the belly are where the sock has stretched so you can sort of see the filling. It doesn't affect the monkey's durability, it just bothers me. I'm on the hunt for the perfect sock.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Canine Coat: Hank is a Frat Boy

I have always wanted to know how to sew. My mom used to make her own clothes in high school, and I always thought that was such a cool idea. She tried to teach me once, and I made a truly horrific red t-shirt. It didn't fit well, it was a woven fabric, not a knit, and it was hard. So, it wasn't until I inherited my aunt's sewing machine that I decided to try and teach myself. Of course, the sewing machine I inherited had not been touched in over 20 years, and the repair shop said it was hopeless. They let me trade it in for some money off another machine, and I got a refurbished Pfaff. It isn't as high-end as the Pfaff I gave them, but it worked, which was a big plus.

I had a book on how to make curtains and I made these little cafe curtains for the kitchen. Then I went out and bought a bolt of fabric to make drapes for the dining room (which is really not a separate room, but it is where the table is). I still have not made those drapes. I have a table now, which will make it easier, but the table isn't as long as the drapes will be, and I'm more than a little worried that it's just too much fabric.

Thinking I needed to know more basics I bought a book: S.E.W: Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp. It's a pretty good basics guide and has a couple of quick projects to get you started. For Christmas this year, I got Sew U: Home Stretch by Wendy Mullin which is about sewing with knits. It is interesting, but not nearly as good. For one thing, she constantly refers to her first book. Instead of explaining something she'll say "for more on X, check out my first book." It's a little annoying.

But! This weekend, I took a project from SEW - a doggie coat - and used some of the advice in the Home Stretch to make a coat for Hank out of one of my husband's old sweatshirts. He was going to throw it away anyway, and I worry about Hank getting too cold on our walks. Generally, I think dogs do not need clothing, especially dogs the size of Hank. However, the high this coming Wednesday is supposed to be around 9, and that is cold.

So, here's the coat.
The coat goes over his shoulders and attaches under his collar with a snap. I added a fake button to the front there, because the back of the snap is kind of ugly. There's another strap that goes under his belly and snaps on the other side. For that, I took a portion of the sleeve. So, for the snap I just sliced open the cuff and attached it so you can't see it on the outside. The sleeve is a little floppy, but the fit seems to be ok.

The pattern in the book actually tells you to make your own pattern. Rupp has a little dog, so she lists what measurements to take and how to make a pattern. I don't have pattern paper, but I did have a big roll of paper from when we were painting the house, and that worked pretty well. I just gave Hank a little piece of cheese whenever I needed a measurement, and he was happy to help. Here he is, modeling:

Hank is not used to flash photography. He blinked. You can see that I over compensated for him moving a little during measurements. The front overlaps a little too much and hangs down a touch. On the sleeve/strap, I left a little too much room and it flops away from his body. Hank doesn't seem to mind. Possibly because he has never worn clothes before.

He did a good job on the next pose.

So sassy. You can't see really well in this picture, but I took the collar off the sweatshirt and reattached it after I cut out the coat shape. That was a little annoying, but it lent a more finished look, I think.

Again, I wanted positive associations with this coat, so as I measured where the strap would be and tested the pattern on him (I made a mock coat out of an old sheet first), I kept giving him little pieces of cheese. I did that as he tried it on for the first time and then let him outside. He loves the backyard.
He does not, however love the snow, which is currently about chest-deep on him. He didn't go far or stay out long, but I think he likes his new coat.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Carl, for my nephew

I made this monkey for my nephew and named him Carl. He just seemed like a Carl to me. The socks are by Little Mismatched, which I thought would be cool, but I'm not 100% sure that I like. I like the idea of the crazy colors and combos, but I'm not sure if I like the end product as much as more traditional socks. Good colors are important, but I think this many colors and patterns might detract from the monkey itself.

My nephew is about 2 1/2, and kind of a bruiser (I'm sure he'll follow in his dad's athletic footsteps), so Carl was double-reinforced everywhere. I found out later that two of the monkeys I made for a co-worker split at seams (though, apparently not too terribly, her daughter has a Dora band-aid on the monkey's tail and kind of likes it that way. Once the band-aid falls off, she'll bring it in to be fixed). So, since then I've been double-stitching all the seams AND all the attachment points. I mean, they're handmade, so if you beat them to hell, they will fall apart, but I try to make them strong enough to hold up to the everyday abuse that a kid would put them through.

I hear my nephew likes his monkey, which reminds him of his Aunt. The last time I saw him, my sister was telling me how he talks about his Aunt Cassie, who lives in Chicago. I love that, because I don't get to see him as often as I like.

You can also see in that picture the little Monkey Sleeping Bag that I made and embroidered. It looks terrible, but I've never embroidered words before, so I thinks it's ok. My nephew can't read yet, anyway. I also sent him "monkey care" instructions, which I'll post here, soon. Just the basics on how to care for the monkeys.

A little close-up of Carl with my elephant tea pot. You can see his smile is a little crooked, but I think that adds to his charm.

A better close-up shot. Carl is the first monkey that I did eyebrows on the felt - Gene has eyebrows, but not the felt half-moon. Carl's half-moon is kind of tiny, but I like it.

I always embroider my initials on my monkey's butts. For my nephew, I put them on a felt heart.

Interestingly, I have recently been putting my initials to the right of the tail, but for the first several that I made, I put them on the left. I think those on the left were turning out better than the ones I'm doing now. Maybe I will switch back.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


I started making sock monkeys on accident. I had some extra fabric which I thought would make a good teddy bear for a friend's baby shower. As it turns out, teddy bears are kind of tough to make. I stumbled upon instructions for making sock monkeys and decided to give it a try. The first monkey was a little ugly, but I love him nonetheless. The second one was excellent, and still one of the best I've made.

That second monkey was the start of a trend. Someone at the baby shower wanted one for her kid. I made two more monkeys for a friend at work having twins, and then people at work started asking for them. I like making them and people seem to want them, so I set up an etsy store.

I am getting close to putting some monkeys up for sale on etsy. So far, every monkey I've made has been claimed long before I have a chance to add it to my etsy store. I am close to finishing another monkey, which may or may not be claimed, but I have pre-made a bunch of monkey bodies, so I'm hoping my morning commute becomes a little more productive, and I can get more monkeys made before people request them.

Since etsy only lets me post pictures of things for sale, I created this blog so people can see some of the things I've done in the past. Pictures coming soon.