When Gina DeMillo Wagner’s 6-year-old son began asking for an American Boy doll last year, she went to great lengths – at a low cost (less than $50!) – to give her boy the doll of his dreams. Currently, the company that makes the American Girl dolls does not make a boy version of the toy. The doll she started with is actually a Madame Alexander brand doll.
And it wasn’t just any doll he was after – Miles wanted one that looked just like him since his older sister had an American Girl doll that looked just like her.
As for whether her crafty endeavor has inspired her to take on more DIY toy projects in the future, Wagner says, “I don’t have any specific plans right now, but I did download some sewing patterns for 18-inch dolls, so if we want to make Fred some new T-shirts, we might do that!”
A Monster to Love is this great online shop where, for every cute little monster doll you buy, Sam, Ben, and their dad Ray, donate a monster doll to a kid in need. They partner up with children’s hospitals and even the World Relief Refugee program out of Atlanta.
I ran across their awesome work about a year ago on Craftsy, including a pattern to make your own monsters to donate to local kids in need, or send off to Ray and his boys in Colorado so they can donate the cuddly little monsters to kids in need.
I try to organize a Monster Making Party at least once or twice a year–they’re fun, and pretty easy to do. Here’s how:
1. I buy a couple yards of fun colored fleece fabric when it’s on sale (usually in the summer). You can get quite a lot of monsters out of a yard of fleece, or even half a yard. Just be sure to shop when it’s on sale! Along with fabric, I’ll pick up a box of stuffing when it’s on sale too (or with a coupon). One box can last a long while and stuff a lot of monsters (probably around 30). I’ll also purchase Safety Eyes for the dolls, which can be attached before sewing, and don’t require any sewing knowledge to install. I purchased my Safety Eyes here, but there are tons of vendors and craft stores out there that sell them. The 18mm sized ones are what I used, and I liked to mix and match colors too. 15 pairs of eyes cost about $15. You can also use buttons for the eyes, but make sure they are SEWN on really well. If the eyes are not sewn on securely, Ray and his boys can’t use them. Do not glue on eyes. Ray and his boys can’t use the monster dolls if the eyes have only been glued on (hello choking hazards!).
All in all, I spent about $40 on supplies for making the monsters, but I did it over the course of a couple of months.
2. I set up a FB event and ask folks to bring their own sewing machines if they’ve got them, but I also tell folks that there’s plenty of other ways to help too: attaching eyes, stuffing, cuddle testing, and hand stitching are great ways to get even the most novice of crafters involved in a Monster Making Party. Along with the fabric, stuffing, and safety eyes, I also bring along thread, scissors, and hand sewing needles for people to use. If you’re worried about materials cost, you can always ask people to pitch in a couple bucks to help out.
3. I cut out at least some monsters before the party so there are dolls ready to be sewn. I also set up stations for people to work at installing eyes, stuffing the monsters, and hand sewing the monsters closed after stuffing, and even cutting out more monsters if necessary.
4. We have music playing, and I ask folks to help out with some food (like chips and dip, cupcakes, and frosty beverages). And I invite folks to come when they can and stay as long as they’d like to. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon or evening.
5. I’ve found three hours to be a great length of time for a Monster Making Party. You can get a lot done, have time to chat, and still steal a cupcake too. Once the party’s over, you’ll want to box up your magnificent creations and mail them off to A Monster to Love! Their address is on the last page of the PDF.
If you have your own Monster Making Party, be sure to take pictures and share!!!
More Links of Interest
A Monster to Love: check out this great online shop and see where they’ll be selling their cute little monster dolls next!
Check out the story about A Monster to Love on Craftsy
This week on Spoonflower, the contest involves original designs for mythical creature plushies, and when I saw Gila’s UniPug design I knew I had to share it on Geek Crafts. You can purchase your own DIY UniPug Plushy Pattern on a variety of fabrics (I recommend Spoonflower’s new Minky fabric for this one because it’s super soft and cuddly, like the ever elusive UniPug himself) in Cross The Lime’s Spoonflower shop. The design fits on a fat quarter and costs about $17 with shipping.
If you’re more of a cat person, you might enjoy making your very own Grumpy Cat with this Instructable by username elewis03, complete with step-by-step instructions and pictures, as well as a rudimentary pattern you can download for free. This little guy would make an excellent cubicle pal at the office, don’t you think?
Of course, you can’t talk Thor and not talk Mjolnir, his big . . . hammer. :) Here’s a great Instructable on building your own hammer.
If you’re looking for something a little less “cosplay” and a little more “toy“, try this tutorial from Doodlecraft . It’s a bit more kid friendly, and you might even have the materials needed already, since it uses things like a hot glue and an old pillowcase.
Thor Costume Fun
The folks at Cutesy Crafts have this delightful tutorial on making your own superhero masks, including the mighty god of thunder. Supposedly these awesome masks are meant just for kids, but really? I think these would make fabulous accessories for everyday wear.
This tutorial from Life Sprinkled with Glitter has to be my favorite. It’s a baby Thor costume DIY, and Colleen Wickersheim has got step-by-step instructions, with pictures, on creating the costume, helmet, and hammer. I’m thinking this would be perfect for my nephew’s first Halloween next year.
Need a Thor of your very own?
Over at Photobucket you can find this free printable to make your very own 3-D paper Thor created by Jim Bowen (username trogdoriangrey).
Isn’t he just lovely? You can thank Fiona Goble for designing this handsome fellow, and Craft Foxes for posting the pattern (with permission of course). He’s actually just one of the zombies you can knit because there’s a whole book of them! Fancy having a Zombie Cop? Perhaps a movie classic like Frankenstein’s Monster or The Mummy? Pick up a copy of Knit Your Own Zombie by Fiona Goble and you can make them all!
My favourite part? The fact that the intestines “tuck neatly into their own specially made pouch.” Awesome.
It’s no surprise that I am a fan of the poppets that SpeakGeekandEnter makes. This is now the third (or maybe fourth, I’ve lost track) poppet of her’s that I’ve posted here.
“The amazing Poppet-making Goddess Lanikins graciously agreed to do a swap with lil ol’ me, and this was what I came up with for her. We gave each other a list of characters we love and would like to see plushified/poppetfied and on her list two things caught my eye; Michonne (from The Walking Dead) and ZOMBIES. A perfect combination,” SGAE wrote about this set of poppets.
“Her hair is yarn and took foreverrrr to arrive, but it was worth the wait, I think. Each strand has been individually sewn into her head, and I kind of cheated and her bandana is sewn into her head, too.”
“His face. O__O I had no idea on how I was going to pull off the “no lower jaw” look. I did some test with trying to make a plush with half a face, which all turned out as truly spectacular fails, haha. I ended up painting it to (hopefully) give some kind of illusion of him missing his jaw.”
SGAE does have an Etsy shop, in case you’re interested in having a poppet of your very own.