Soft Toys

Fun with shapes

Making soft toys/shapes is another subject from my book, Sew Magical for Baby. The babies and toddlers loved playing with the big shapes that I made; the boys and girls loved the balls the best! The kids stacked, kicked, rolled, pushed, threw and sat on the shapes; I stacked the cubes and they couldn’t wait to knock them down. My daughters helped me at the photo shoot, they played with the kids while I took photos; we really had fun playing with the kids. These toys are really easy to make, easy to wash and really fun; I would definitly recommend making a variety of soft shapes as toys for a cutie in your life!

LOOK! a ball
Tia hugs a cone

Toys for pretend play

fruits and vegetables sewn from cotton

I like to provide my girls with toys that encourage them to use their imaginations, beautiful and fun toys that will persuade them to play instead of watch t.v. or play on the computer. It’s really not that hard to encourage kids to be creative while playing, I’ve found that if I give them a few basics and a few suggestions, they’re able to invent the rest of the games themselves.

groceries in felt shopping bag

My two youngest girls are 8 and 11; they can play by themselves, for younger children, I’d recommend helping them along with more ideas and participating in their games. My girls have been studying recycling and environmental issues at school, so Elli (11 years old) started separating recyclable items like paper bags, newspapers, empty milk cartons, egg cartons, glass bottles etc. She takes these items to the recycling bin and at the same time, got the idea to use some of the things to set up a grocery store in their play room. Elli and Emili set up sections of empty recyclable items in their “grocery store” including the fabric fruits and vegatables that I made for them. Using their toy cash register, baskets, empty paper bags and many imaginary food stuffs, they play “organic grocery store” for hours! Having their own grocery store gives them a reason to be even more creative, they make coupons for the customers, signs for the produce and sometimes they make commericals to advertise their market. I am sometimes a “guest” customer who buys things from their store, asks many questions and I leave with a smile on my face!

filling the felt grocery bag with fabric fruits and vegatables

My original idea for fabric fruits and vegatables came when I was thinking up toys and games for my first book, Sew Magical for Baby. I thought the soft, colorful fruits and vegatables would provide a baby or toddler with objects to fill the felt bag, dump them out, fill the bag again…..As a learning tool, teach children the names of the fruits and vegatables, teach colors and teach counting shapes, all at the same time.

feeding the monkey a banana

Fabric toys are nice because they can easily be washed and they offer texture to make the toy more interesting. When the girls are tired of playing grocery store, I think I’ll put the fruits and vegatables in a bowl on my kitchen table!

Wool Doll

needle felted wool doll, face detail

This is the first antique style doll that I ever needle felted; this doll reminds me of my daughter Emili. My mother’s bisque dolls that I’ve saved are 70 some years old and they’re very fragile. Some of the antique bisque dolls that I have, have chipped faces and broken legs. This replica of my mother’s antique doll will never break (because she is 100% wool), but I will take special precautions when storing her. 

needle felted from wool, Emili doll

The stinky moth ball (made from Paradichlorobenzene) is now thought to contains cancer causing chemicals, which I definitely don’t want to use to store toys for my children. There are several natural herbs that are thought to repel moths: lavendar, rosemary, mint, thyme, ginseng, cloves and lemon. I’m going to make lavendar sachets and store them with my wool dolls and toys. The best way to protect your woolen sweaters, yarns and toys is to store them in a clean, air-tight plastic container. Today, as most of us are looking for more environmentally friendly ways to do things, wool is a great choice! Wool is a sustainable resource, it supports farmers around the world without hurting the animals!, it has very little environmental impact compared to other types of textiles, dust mites don’t like to live in wool, wool is very strong, wool is flame resistant, wool repels moisture and it has anti-bacterial properties. For more information about wool see:  

seated wool Emili doll

 I believe that in the last few years, because of so many chemical scares pertaining to children’s toys, natural fibers have become more appealing to parents who want to make sure that the toys they give their children are safe. For more information about chemical toy testing please see:  The Waldorf education system has endorsed natural fibers for children’s toys since it’s inception. Natural fibers are believed to stimulate the sences and give a child something safe with which to play.

needle felted Emili has wool hair and a classic style wool dress

needle felted sheep, from raw undyed wool


antique style needle felted doll

I always loved the photographs of little girls with giant bows on their head; I’ve always wondered how this style came to be! Who came up with such a disproportionate hair ornament for a little girl?

Needle felted doll with felt dress and shoes

I have a few antique bisque dolls of my mother’s that inspired me to felt this doll. Needle felted completely from wool, each piece (arms, legs, body and head) was individually needle felted and then sewn together. The head is my favorite part of the doll to make. I take great care to give her a face with an authentic look, I like to style her hair and I think the eyes are the most important part of the face. I found these particular blinking doll eyes in the flea market, I think they’re old because they’re made of metal, not plastic.  

blinking doll eyes

I really don’t like to do the arms and legs, I find it challenging to make both arms and both legs identical (or close to it).

felted doll parts

 The dress for this doll is similar to the original dress of the antique bisque doll, but made from felt. I needle felted a design on the bodice to break up the hot pink color.

needle felted dress detail

I made the socks from some white tricot and old lace that I had, and the little black Mary Janes are also made from felt. 

real life dolly

Childhood Friends

Needle felted teddy bears, 16"
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
Torn and tattered
You were my friend
when it really mattered

These needle felted teddy bears were easy to make. Each bear was made by felting together wool shapes.

  1. The teddy bear head is made from a ball, a cone (snout), a tiny ball (nose) and 2 half circles (ears). Two dolls eyes were inserted and glued above the snout.
  2. The body is a big oval, the arms are  long tubes, the legs are longer tubes, the feet are short tubes that are attached to the ends of the legs.
  3. The head, arms and legs are wrapped with curly, brown mohair yarn (2 skeins), then felted securely into the shapes.
  4. The head, arms and legs are sewn onto the body with a doll needle and embroidery thread. Voila, Best Friend!

    Best Friend