Make you own Sock Monkey. {Review}

Sock Monkey Kit BoxI wasn’t given this kit, my sister was. She is big fan of Monkey, the cuddly, knitted, tea drinking kind, but not such a big fan of sewing. So, excited by the prospect of owning a Sock Monkey but with no intention of actually making one, she handed the box over to me (cue me trying to look pained and despairing but not convincing anyone).

A tried and tested design, straight forward to make but with enough different tasks to keep you interested and with plenty of opportunity to customize your finished monkey and give it your own spin, what’s not to like? It is also one of those brilliant ideas where once you have learnt how make one monkey the possibilities for making a whole sock based society are only limited by your imagination and the contents of your sock drawer.

This kit proudly proclaims that is contains absolutely everything you need and indeed it does. (Well, everything except a pair of scissors, but it’s close enough right?!) Obviously there is a pair of socks in the box, there is nothing on, or in, the box to say what the socks are made from, but they have a soft cotton-like feel. Along with the pair of socks there is:

  • an instruction booklet
  • a bag of polyester filling
  • a needle
  • 2 buttons
  • red and white embroidery floss
  • a piece of red ribbon

( I’m sorry that I don’t have more pictures to show you for this one but I selfishly started this project without a second thought for you guys, I just had to start cutting and sewing immediately)

The instruction booklet has 16 pictures explaining each step but there are no written instructions. The steps are easy enough to follow but there are no tips on what stitches to use, or how best to attach the limbs or other extremities to your toy.  I have started a pinterest board with a few toy making tips since making Miss. Monkey. You don’t need any special expertise but knowing how to do some blind hemming is a handy skill to have up your sleeve.

Sock Monkey yellow skater skirtOnce the body was made it was time to pick her accessories. Rather than use the blue buttons in the kit my sister choose different buttons for eyes and decided that she would like a girl chimp with a bow in her hair rather than a boy monkey with a bow tie. She also wanted her monkey to have one ear up and one ear down. I chose to hand stitch this little lady, all in all I guess she took about about 3 hours to make, but you could sew the body, arms, tail, and ears on a sewing machine and then attach them by hand to save time.

As a final flourish I stitched the bow onto a tiny safety pin so that she can move the bow to suit her mood and made a very quick, no sew golden tutu and this summery yellow skirt from some scraps I had. (Somehow managed to miss that her skirt was lifting up in this one, maybe she is an aspiring Miss Munroe?)

It just so happens that it was my birthday while I was making this monkey and my son bought me this book of sock monkeys as a gift*. The perfect source of inspiration! There are some fantastic photos and some clearly well loved friends in Sock Monkeys  and what I didn’t know was that they a history all of their own. The Etsy blog has a good brief history, click here to find out more.

Make Your Own Sock Monkey, imported by Funtime Gifts Ltd, is available from various online retailers.

Overall score: 4 / 5. One mark lost for lack of sewing tips.

Difficulty: Easy. The box says 5+, I think this would be good first make for a child learninglearning how to sew. I’d say personal taste and not age would be the deciding factor on this one.

Trickiest part: Sewing the mouth on. This is where blind hemming would come in useful!

* Sock Monkeys (200 out of 1,863) by Arne Svenson and Ron Warren is published by Ideal World Books. ISBN 0-9722111-2-8.

Advertisements

{How To} Turn an old shirt into a cushion cover.

{How to} Upcycle a shirt into a cushion cover 2

This simple twist on the classic envelope cover is a great way to give new life to an old shirt; 4 straight lines of sewing and someone has already done all the fastenings for you. Here’s how you do it…

You will need:

{How to} turn a shirt into a cushion cover, sewing, handmade

 

  • 1 shirt
  • 1 cushion inner – I bought mine but you could make your own.
  • measuring tape/ ruler
  • chalk/ pen/ pencil to mark out your pattern
  • pins (in the altoids tin!)
  • scissors
  • thread

 

 

I made my cover on a sewing machine but you could easily make this by hand.

You will not necessarily need to make your owl tape measure look like it is flying a kite, but it does help.

1. Find/ steal a shirt from unsuspecting partner/ housemate/ father/ brother. Mens’ shirts are probably best because they are bigger and tend not to be fitted. I got this one fair and square by helpfully offering to put it in the recycling box and secretly snaffling it away into the fabric stash.

appropriated shirt

2. Measure your cushion inner, mine is 45 cm (18 inches) square. To make your cover you need to add on 2 cm (1 inch) to the height and width for seam allowance.

Iron your shirt before marking out your pattern. Yes I know it is a pain but do it anyway, you will thank me when you have a beautiful square cushion cover.

3. Measure and mark out a square on the front and back of the shirt. For my inner this will be a 47 cm sided square.

front and back

This is where you get to choose. If you are lucky this will fit perfectly within the sleeves of your shirt. If not the choice is yours. You can:

a.) Just ignore the sleeve seams and cut right on through ( I think this adds to the upcycled-shirtiness effect)

OR

b.) You can just re-adjust your pattern making it slightly smaller to sit within the seams of the shirt. Cushion inners are squishy and forgiving to this kind of behavior.

4.) Decide that despite having gone out and bought an inner specially that your shirt would look much better as a bolster cushion than square and grab a cushion off the sofa to use instead. (Optional)

5.) Pin the front and back pieces together, right sides facing each other and sew the four sides together. I have allowed for 1 cm (1/2 inch) seams in my pattern, you can leave more if you wish. I used a line of straight stitch and then a line of zigzag stitch running parallel just to keep the edges from fraying too wildly.

pin right sides together

Once you’ve finished sewing you can turn your cushion cover inside out and iron it flat. (Yes, iron it again, it DOES make a difference.)

All that is left to do is unbutton the shirt, slip your inner inside and sit back and relax on your latest sewing triumph. Shirts will never be safe in your house again.

finished productIt doesn’t need to stop at shirts either. I made an old cardigan into a cover to fit the square inner, before finding yet another old shirt and now have more covers than cushions! They are so simple to make that all three of these covers only took me an afternoon.

 

The pockets are a handy extra too. You need never loose the remote control again…

Chandni Chowk shirt

 

 

{How To} Upcycle an old jumper into a bag.

Featured

Every so often a friend of my Mum’s brings me a huge bag of hand-me-downs. It’s such a treat. After her last visit I plunged my hand into a bag, rummaged around and pulled out a huge knitted jumper. It was a chunky, grey wool knitted in loose, wide stitches. The body of the jumper was a T shape, two large squares for the body and four smaller squares for the arms. I loved it, it looked dreadful on me.

Tools of the trade

But did I give up and throw it to one side? Oh no, I wasn’t letting this one go to the charity shop. So here is what I decided to do with my new jumper instead…

1) First I cut both arms off the jumper leaving me with a vaguely square bag shape. When you cut into a knitted fabric you have to stitch along the edges you are about to cut otherwise when you snip through the stitches your jumper will unravel. For smaller knits you can do this on your sewing machine using a zigzag stitch. I used a tapestry needle and a strand of the wool I was using for my edging to catch in the stitches around the arm holes.

Single crochet edge2) Next for a nice chunky edging. Using three strands of double knit yarn together I single crocheted all the way around two sides and the bottom of the bag, closing all the openings as I went.

 

CAT BAG 01

 

Hmmm, not so much plain as blank don’t you agree? I decided to stuff new bag with squashy balls of yarn for some wooly inspiration. Once the bag was full there was really only one way to go…

3) I cut eyes, nose and whiskers out of some pre made felt and I had all the best intentions of stitching them on, but ended up sticking them to the front of the bag with fabric glue. (They will fall off eventually, there wasn’t much surface to stick them to but when they do I will actually take the time to hand stitch them on, promise!).

Yarn Bag

From misfit jumper to the cat’s whiskers of a yarn bag in an hour and a half, and I had everything I needed in the house already. Purrrfect.