Tag Archives: gifts

Minion Madness

Happy New Year!

It was a bit of a different Christmas holiday around here, with so many people out of power, but we still enjoyed many beautiful moments with family and friends.

And, of course, there was time taken to make a few handmade gifts.  Although I did not take photos of everything I made, there were a few that had their moment with the paparazzi.

And how could you resist when the subject is this cute?

Minion Stuffed Toy

This is Phil.  And although we are still waiting for him to put on his maid’s outfit and clean our house,  it’s been fun having him around.  (Although all of our bananas seem to have gone missing….)  I used the fantastic free pattern and tutorial on We Lived Happily Ever After.

And because we are such big Minion fans here at the moment, I also crocheted this minion hat:

Crocheted Minion Hat

This was another free pattern and comes in all sizes from newborn to adult!  (Oh how thankful I am for all of those generous crafters out there!)  I also really liked this pattern I found on Pinterest, but didn’t think Hubby would like the braided tails!

Then, when our Christmas Eve plans were cancelled due to the crazy weather and power outages, I spent the day on the couch next to my beloved and whipped up one of these for my friend’s little one:

Crochet Puppy Dog Hat

It was fun to get the crochet hooks out again and to make something so little and cute!  This was another great free pattern from Repeat Crafter Me.

What about you?  Was there holiday crafting at your house this year?


Pajama Monster Pillow Tutorial

Pajama Eating Monster Pillow Tutorial

This tutorial has been a long time coming – but finally, here it is!  These cute and cuddly monster pillows have big mouths just ready to eat your pajamas and keep them safe until night time.  They’re also really fun sleepover companions.  If you’d like to have one of these monsters for your very own (or for someone you love) I make them in custom colours in my shop.  Or, you could make your own!  Here’s how:


  • 3/4 yard (70 cm) of fleece for the pillow
  • piece of fleece in appropriate colours for horns, teeth, eyes and eyeballs
  • piece of coordinating cotton for mouth lining
  • stuffing

Materials for Pajama Monster Pillow

Step 1:  Cut the fabric

Out of the pillow fleece, cut 2 16″ (40 cm) squares  (I made myself a cardboard template for this, but you could use a cutting grid or even just measure with a ruler!) and one 16 x 9″ (40 x 23cm) rectangle for the mouth

From the lining fabric cut a 16 x 9″ (40 x 23cm) rectangle

From white fleece, cut a 16 x 2.5″ (40 x 6 .5 cm) strip for the teeth and notch to look like teeth

Teeth for Pajama Monster Pillow

Also from white cut two ovals for eyes.  Mine are about 3 x 4.5″ (7.5 x 12.5 cm)

Cut eyeballs from black fleece.

Draw a horn shape about 5″ (12.5 cm)  tall and use it as a template to cut out four horn shapes from fleece.

Horns for Pajama Monster Pillow

Step 2:  Sew the Mouth

Place the fleece mouth right-side up on a table.

Place the teeth right-side down on top, lining up the bottom of the teeth with the top of the mouth.

Mouth for Pajama Monster Pillow

Place the lining piece right-side down on top and pin across the top.

Mouth Construction

Sew across the top only.

Fold the lining behind the fleece mouth and press.

Mouth Finished

Place the mouth piece on top of one of the pillow pieces, lining up the bottom and sides, and baste.  (Leave the top, teeth part open.)

Step 3: Sew the Eyes

Sew the eyeballs onto the eye pieces.


Sew the eyes to the front pillow piece as desired.

Step 4: Sew and Stuff the Horns

With right-sides together, sew the horn pieces together.  Trim the seams at the points.

Turn right-side out and stuff.  Only lightly stuff the bottoms so they can be sewn into the pillow.

Stuffed Horns

Position the horns where you would like them on the finished pillow, and baste them to the top of the pillow, lining up the bottom of the horns with the top of the pillow.

**I seem to have misplaced the photos I took of the last several steps.  Hopefully it’s clear enough without the photo help. Sorry!     

Step 5: Sew the Pillow  

Place the front pillow piece (the one with the eyes and mouth) right-side up on a table.

Place the back pillow piece right-side down on top and pin.

Sew around all the sides, leaving an opening for turning.

Step 6: Stuff and Finish

Turn the pillow right side out and stuff.

Sew the opening closed.

Pajama Eating Monster Pillow

Ta da!  Your pillow monster is finished and ready to start devouring some PJs!

If you make a pillow using this tutorial, please share your pictures, I’d love to see them!  Also, I would really appreciate it if you only used this tutorial for your own pillows or for gifts.  Those wishing to purchase a pillow can find them in my shop!  Thanks!  Happy sewing!


It’s a Squirrel!

Although I mostly bring children’s drawings to life, every once in a while I am asked to make something a little more complicated.  I do love these extra challenges, and although there is always those stressful moments (Will it balance?  Will it stand?) I am actually beginning to love working in 3 dimensions.

How can you not smile when the drawing comes to life and the creature is standing there grinning at you?

I love this squirrel!  Just don’t ask him for his acorn…..he’s a little touchy about that subject…..  :)

This is one of my last creature projects before Christmas, so it will be “back to our regular programming” around here for a bit!

What Christmas surprises are you working on right now?



iPod cozies

Cute Animal iPod Cozy Tutorial

I have been having so much fun making iPod cozies this past week.  It all started when I saw a photo of a monster iPod cozy as I was researching ideas for my children’s sewing classes (I already have 17 students signed up for the first class- eek!)  A few hours later I was down in the sewing studio surrounded by felted sweater scraps and sketching up some new critter ideas when the two ideas collided and animal iPod cozies were born!

They are such a fun project, and so perfect for holiday gift giving, that I thought I would share a tutorial so you can make some too!  (or, if you’d rather just adopt one, there is a growing zoo of iPod animals available in my shop!)

Animal iPod Cozy Tutorial


You will need a felted sweater (or larger sized scraps), wool felt (I use an acrylic/wool blend felt from this shop), and embroidery floss

Step 1: Cut the basic cozy pieces

From the felted sweater you will need one 4 x 5.5 inch piece for the back, one 4 x 4 inch piece for the front, and one 4 x 2.5 inch piece for the head

Step 2: Cut ears, eyes, noses and tails

From the felt, cut the necessary facial features for whatever animal you would like to make.  For this elephant I cut two eyes, a trunk, two ears, and a tail.  You could draw these on paper first, or do what I do and eyeball it.  If you are using a really thick felted sweater you could also use the sweater felt for tails or ears.  Because I wanted to use the sweater felt but didn’t feel it was sturdy enough, I also cut a second set of ears from the wool felt which I sewed together in the next step.

Step 3: Sew on your facial features and tails

Use embroidery floss to anchor the eyes and create eyeballs.  Attach your other facial features to the head, and your tail to the back.  I prefer to attach all of my facial features by hand-sewing, as I think the stitches are less noticeable, but you could also use the machine if you prefer. I used the machine to stitch together the two ear layers and to attach the tail.

Step 4: Pin it together

Place the back of the cozy right side up.

If you have ears, place them also right side up, lining up the bottoms with the edges of the cozy.  In this case I also put them about 1/4 inch down from the top so they wouldn’t get caught in the stitching!

Place the head piece right side down on top.

Place the top piece right side down, overlapping the head piece.

Pin well.

Step 4: Sew and clip corners.

Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, sew all the way around the cozy.  Clip off the corners close to the stitching.

Step 5: Turn right-side out and do a happy dance – you’re done!


Enjoy!  If you make your own cozy I’d love to see it!  Please feel free to share links to your pictures in the comments.

Sweet Little Fairy

Another little miss had her birthday last week.  This young lady loves fairies, so when I saw a tutorial for fairy bendy dolls, I knew what to do!

Isn’t she cute?

The birthday girl aslo enjoys making things, so I also included all the materials so that she can make a family of fairies on her own, and a few things to create a fairy house, too.

I might just have to make a few more of these…. :)

A Handmade Holiday

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  I have enjoyed a wonderful (snowy!) holiday with family and friends (and our celebrating isn’t done yet!)  One of my favourite things about Christmas is making handmade gifts.  And although I didn’t make quite as many gifts as I usually do, a few handmade things made their way under the tree.


I have a very good friend who has been wanting a Gryffindor scarf for a very long time.  This is only the 3rd thing I have ever knit, and the first time I have ever done the seed stitch, so, although it took a few visits from my mother-in-law for help, I am quite proud of the finished project!  And I now know how to knit! (well, scarves anyway!)  The pattern I used can be found here.

Then came this angry little fellow.

If you love Angry Birds, tutorials for the whole collection can be found here.  I have never played the game and am still tempted to make them all, just because they are so much fun!   

My sister-in-law asked for a quilted case for her hair dryer.  This is what I cae up with:



The button almost didn’t make it on, because my sewing machine was convinced that there was no such thing as a button bigger than an inch!  But I persevered and am glad that I did, a smaller button just wouldn’t have had the same impact.

Before Christmas my sister-in-law and I visited a craft show together.  We spent a long time looking at some fabulous mittens made out of old sweaters.  After she decided not to buy herself some, I knew what I had to make her for Christmas!  I found this excellent pattern on Etsy, and made two pairs, one for her and one for my mother-in-law.



This was my first experience at felting sweaters, and I must admit that I think I am hooked!  The mittens are lined with polar fleece, so they are extra warm!  And I couldn’t resist these little gingham buttons:


For my mother-in-law, I used a Cashmere sweater for both the outside and the lining. 




A fancy button finishes them off nicely.

The last gift was a scarf made out of a very soft and lacy sweater, based on s0mething I found in this book.  I really love the way it ruffles along the yarn – and it looks much better on a person than it does on my deck post!



I didn’t quite get to everything on my “to make for Christmas list.”  Next year I definitely need to start in September!  And I still have a few things to whip up before the last family gathering on Jan. 1.  (I always make Pjs for my nephews and I have another little something I want to try out – I’ll post pictures if it works!) 

I also received some really wonderful handmade gifts.  My husband surprised me with a Kayak he restored and a paddle he made himself!  This was completely unexpected (I never would have dreamed of getting a kayak for Christmas!)  My mother-in-law also made me a beautiful quilted and embroidered wall-hanging for my sewing room.  And beyond the gifts I feel blessed to have been able to spend time with family and friends over the holidays – it’s been a wonderful Christmas!

Did you give or receive any handmade gifts this year?

Christmas is for Giving: Spreading the Joy with Extended Family

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  The candle has been lit, the streets are white with snow, and the sound of Joy to the World still echoes in my ears from this morning’s church service. 

The Christmas season has begun.

Hubby and I have been busy making Christmas lists, planning celebrations, and I have at least ten homemade projects already on the go.  (Tutorials for evergreen Christmas wreaths and homemade envelopes will be up on Artisan in the Woods soon!)

But as much as I love the bows and ribbons, papers and cards, decorations and gifts, I know Christmas means so much more.

And as family begins to ask us what we want for Christmas, we are reminded just how very blessed we are in that our lists reflect beautiful things that we want, because we already have everything we really need.

It was out of this feeling and understanding that a new giving tradition has been born in my extended family. 

Many extended families have become creative with gift giving over the years.  Gift swaps, drawing names, gifts for kids only, gifts for the whole family to share, homemade gifts only, and card parties are just a few of the ways that families I know have chosen to celebrate the season of giving with each other, and as a way to lessen the number of gifts each family member needs to buy.

In my extended family, we decided that rather than trying to fill stockings with our wants, we would instead come together to help meet the needs of others.  This endeavour has had us shopping for Christmas dinner for families in need, giving gifts to those who otherwise wouldn’t have any, sharing gifts of love and handmade items to those who struggle through the season, and putting our hands and hearts into serving others.  Even my young nephews are involved in the gift-giving and love-sharing.

And this giving to others is also a gift to each other.  A gift of time spent together doing something worthwhile.  A gift of counting our blessings together and knowing we have more than enough.  The gift of watching the children among us grow in their understanding that Christmas is more than Santa and gifts under the tree.

When we come together as an extended family for Christmas dinner we may not be passing each other shiny-wrapped presents, but we share in the joy of the season and allow time spent together and warm embraces to be our gifts of the day.  It has become one of my favourite parts of celebrating the holidays together.

 It came without ribbons,
It came without tags,
It came without packages, boxes, or bags.
Christmas can’t be bought from a store…
Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.

~ Dr. Seuss 
How do you share Christmas with your extended family?    

How to Host a “New-to-You” Gift Swap

Some of you might be saying, “The holidays?  Already?  Isn’t it too early for that?”   I’ll admit that I don’t like hearing Christmas carols in the grocery store in October or walking past rows of Christmas trees before the leaves have even fallen from the trees outside, but if you are thinking about planning holiday events and parties – now is the time to begin.

 And this is one of my favourites. 

 What is a “New-To-You Gift Swap?”

It is similar to the standard office party/large group gift exchange, where everyone brings a gift to the event, and everyone takes a different gift home.  The big difference is that the gift you bring is something you already own. 

What types of items do people bring to a new-to-you exchange?

It could be that beautiful Christmas ornament that you just never put out, or that scarf you were given that you never wear because it doesn’t match your coat, or that game you thought you’d love but your family never plays.  It’s something that you don’t use anymore, but you think someone else might love.  This leads to a whole lot of variety, and a whole lot of fun.  One year one of the party-goers in my group of friends wrapped up a tacky Christmas sweater as her contribution to the exchange.  What a laugh we had when that gift was opened!  It was quickly followed with a photo shoot of the recipient modeling the “beautiful” sweater.  It was such fun that it has become a tradition and there always seems to be a festive sweater hidden in the pile each year (and with the popularity of “ugly sweater” parties, it has actually become a very useful gift!)  J   Of course, if you only want pretty things or useful things at your party, you can just say so in your invite.   

Why bother?  Why not just buy something new?

In my group of friends, the gift exchange started as a way to share the joy of gift giving with each other, without having to add another item to our long “to buy” lists.  For those of us concerned about the environment, it is a way to reuse and recycle and lesson the “consumer” aspect of the holiday season.  But most of all – it’s fun!  The selection of gifts is always varied and it’s exciting to see what items will appear in the gift exchange each year. 

How do you decide who gets what gift?

This is the fun part!  We play a game commonly called a “Yankee Swap” around here.  (I have no idea how it got that name.)  You can find the rules here.  It’s the swapping and exchanging part of this gift-giving game that makes it so enjoyable – and it’s always interesting to see which gifts are the most popular and most often swapped.  There are other ways you could hand out gifts, of course.  But adding a game aspect adds to the excitement. 

What would I write in an invitation?

On top of the usual “what, where, when” here are some things you might include:

You are invited to a “New-to-You Gift Swap” – a gift exchange party without the stress of buying a gift!

As part of this evening of fun and giving, each person will give a gift, and go home with a different gift.  The only rule is – the gift must be something you already own.  Maybe it’s something you have, but never use.  Or something you love, but don’t need anymore. It doesn’t matter what the item is, as long as it is something that can be used by someone else.  The variety of gifts is half the fun!  Don’t forget to wrap it up!

Take it a step further

Are you loving the swap idea?  Here are a few ideas to take it a notch further:

  • Have a tacky swap party.  If laughs are more important than the gift, have everyone search their houses for the tackiest thing they can find and wrap that up!  This might be a great accompaniment to one of those “ugly sweater” parties!
  • With a really close group of friends you could go in the other direction and have everyone bring something they own that they really love.  This is the true spirit of giving, isn’t it?  Giving things that are important to us to those we love!
  • If you really want to make this an earth-friendly party, you could also encourage reusable wrapping for your exchange gifts.

Time to Party!

Does anyone else host these types of parties or plan to hold one this year?  Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

 I was inspired to write this post after “meeting” Amy from  Joy to the Earth.  Her plan for a more joy-filled, less commercial Christmas really resonated with me.  It reminds me of the story of the Grinch - where Christmas came to Whoville even without the presents, the decorations, the roast beast.  That’s the holiday I am celebrating this year – the one that makes us sing for joy no matter what is lying beneath the tree!  Happy party planning!

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