Friday, November 13, 2020

Me and my "Girls" -Doll Making for Operation Christmas Child


There is a reason I am known as the #CrazyShoeboxLady. That was proven with my latest project about 8 weeks in the making! It's Shoebox Season for Operation Christmas Child and that means I have been busy packing shoebox gifts. This year I was blessed with doll kits. 24 kits to make 18" "American Girl" style dolls. The kits were relatively simple to put together as they were designed for kids, BUT they needed some love (and some quality control at the factory) in order for them to become a cherished plaything I needed to put some effort into making them special.

As you can see they had a large gap no matter how much "stuffing" they were filled in so they all needed to be hand stitched. This was accomplished over about 6 weeks. In the car on the way to my Nephew's wedding. While watching TV. While catching up with the kids and the hubby at night.  I also needed to check all of their joints (some needed to be sewed and or glued in place as did their neck pieces.)

 As I finished I could then begin to trim  (check out the photo below to see just how "off" it was. ) and style their hair.

When all that finished the real fun began. I got to dress them!  The dolls had a simple outfit but part of the fun of this style of doll is to change their clothing. So I put out a call on Facebook and many friends came to the rescue. I had donations of 18" doll clothes coming to my door for about 2 weeks. One friend donated "themed" outfits, handmade shorts and dresses, and another "everyday clothing" and then I picked up underwear and shoes (Amazon has almost everything.)  

It was fun to see my collection of "girls" grow. I will admit we had a few laughs together watching sitcoms and even a movie or two together. My son came home from college one weekend saying "Ahhh mom....never mind" (he knows me well.) 

All in all it took about 2 months to complete all of the dolls and and it was total labor of love! Each doll is traveling with a tote bag filled with two changes of clothes, and a couple of accessories. Plus I traded one of them to a fellow shoebox friend for 23 doll quilts (she wanted to send one and I couldn't blame her they are adorable. ) So each doll has their own doll quilt. 

And because I had way to much fun with them. I even created a mini shoebox for each doll and mini items to put into the shoeboxes. It started out with a PDF template I created, then the long tedious process of hand cutting out and scoring the boxes (thanks for to my Score-Pal) that wasn't too bad. To fill their shoeboxes, I created mini t-shirt jump ropes, wash cloths (cut from a dollar store towel) , mini soap (created from air dry clay) and even shrunk a printable set of paper dolls and an Operation Christmas Child letter to put in the box as well. I rounded their boxes out with mini cups (communion cup size), mini clothes pins, tiny rubber bouncy balls, "baby" hair clips (dollar store purchase), hair ties with hair ribbon, those mini paper parasols, a little pen, and my favorite item mini teddy bears or rabbits a friend donated from Amazon.

When I was finished I naturally had to have a photo shoot with all of the girls!

This was truly a labor of love, each stitch a prayer for the child it was going to and  I LOVED every minute of it! I pray the children that receive these boxes have as much fun with their doll as I did!   And before I get asked YES they fit into a shoebox

Operation Christmas Child National Collection Week is
November 16-23,2020
There is still time to pack a shoebox!

To learn how to pack a shoebox visit: How to pack a shoebox
To find your nearest drop off location: Operation Christmas Child Drop-Off Location


Sunday, September 6, 2020

Swaddle Babies

Operation Christmas Child National Collection Week is November 15-22 and it's never to early to pack shoebox gifts that will get sent to children in need all over the world. 


Growing up, I loved my baby dolls and being just like my mommy.  Because of this one of my favorite items to pack into shoebox gifts are dolls. I wanted to design a simple, hugable baby doll for our little shoebox recipients (the 2-4 year olds.) that would fit perfectly into a shoebox. 

These swaddle babies fit the bill. Made of soft flannel and stuffed with  Poly-Fill, I hope these adorable dolls snuggle into a 'young mommy's' (or daddy's) heart. 

Supplies Needed: 

2-16" squares of flannel (can be the same or coordinating)
1-7" (approximately) circle of muslin
Fairfield Poly-fil
Thread to match flannel
Embroidery Floss (variety of colors)

Tools: needle, scissors, dressmaker pencil, ruler, straight pins, sewing machine,

Optional Supplies: 2 feet yarn, ribbon, iron

 Step 1- Begin by pinning right sides of fabric together, and using a 1/4" seam allowance sew around 3 sides. On the forth side sew all but 3 inches. Snip corners and turn to the right side. Give it a quick press if needed to flatten fully.

Step 2- Turn in the opening and sew shut, then continue sewing around the entire edge of your flannel with a 1/4" seam allowance. 

Step 3-Fold the flannel square in half diagonally, offsetting about 1/2 inch at the top (see photo). Pin together. Find the center of the piece from the top (offset) point and pin for reference. 

Step 4- Mark the area for the "body". From the folded side you will be drawing 2, 5 inch long lines, 2 inches from either side of the middle pin. (See photo collage above for reference). Sew along these lines going through all layers of fabric. 

Step 5- Stuff the body cavity with Poly-Fil stuffing, take care not to over stuff so you can sew it shut. Stitch across the top of the body cavity again going through all layers of fabric. Set aside.

Step 6- Take your circle of muslin and using your longest (basting) stitch and a 1/4 " seam allowance,  sew along the perimeter of the circle. Do not back stitch! You want to be able to gather the fabric along the thread.

Step 7-Carefully pull on one of the threads to begin gathering the muslin, till it takes the shape of a small pouch. Stuff tightly with Poly-Fil and tie off the thread. This will become the doll head.

Step 8-Attach your doll head, to the body. Hand stitch in place, being sure to only go through only the top layer of the blanket

Step 9 (Optional)- If you want your swaddle baby to have hair. Wrap the length of yarn around your fingers and tie the bunch of loops together at the bottom. Fan out to form the curls. Tuck the tied end under the top of the head of the baby and sew in place.

Step 10- Securely tack the top layer of blanket to the bottom layer to hide your stitches.

Step 11- Securely tack the rest of the blanket around the baby.

Step 12-Using embroidery thread, add eyes and mouth details. 

Your Swaddle baby is now ready for a special child you love, or to tuck into a shoebox gift!

Special thanks to Fairfield World for providing the PolyFil used in this project! 

The babies in the "shoebox nursery."
Getting ready to travel with Operation Christmas Child to their new homes.

Operation Christmas Child National Collection Week is November 15-22. To find out how to fill shoebox gifts for children in need all over the world, check out their website.



Friday, September 4, 2020

Meet Dorinda!

Meet Dorinda. I met Dorinda when I became an Area Coordinator for Operation Christmas Child 6 years ago. We hit it off right away! 

Dorinda is on my church and community relations team. In her free time Dorinda sews. She sews bags, and dresses and pillowcases. Dorinda and her mom Vae actually converted Vae's garage into a fabulous "sewing room" because they both love to quilt. There is workspace, and machines, and a long arm quilting machine. 
These wonderful ladies know how much I love packing baby dolls into shoebox gifts so they make it their goal to keep me in doll quilts for my "babies". Check out their amazing work!

Aren't they sweet??? I found a fabulous deal on "baby bottles" (they are actually party favors.)  So I tucked a bottle in with the babies and now bundled up and ready to go on their long journey! 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Shoebox Crafting!

If you have known me for any time at all, you know I LOVE creating for Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts.

When I found the burlap wedding favor bags on clearance, I knew they had to be turned into "tic-tac-toe" games.

The burlap made it super easy to stitch on with cotton crochet thread. I simply back stitched along the lines to form the board.  The pieces store in the bag.  I love the result!

Supplies Used: Burlap Wedding Favor Bags ($6.99 for 12 1/2 off at Hobby Lobby), Crochet Cotton, Needle, Buttons for markers.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Inspire Canvas

A simple flat panel canvas turns into an "inspiring" decoration with Mod Podge and some simple embellishments.

After creating a base layer of Mod Podged scrapbook paper, I layered the cut out shapes and the "inspire" wording. When dry, I added some lace trim and buttons. The finishing touch was the adorable charm I created using a Craft Fantastic Charm Tray. The flower charm was designed to be a necklace but I flipped it upside-down and hung the bird charm off of it. 

I loved the results and this canvas became a wonderful decorative touch to my craft area! 

**Please be advised that Plaid Enterprises, Inc. has compensated the designer by furnishing Plaid product at no charge in connection with this posting. 

Friday, August 28, 2020

Scrubbing Turtles!

When most people see a bath poof they see something to scrub themselves in the tub with, not me...I saw a turtle!

When we had hundreds of bath poofs donated to our shoebox project I knew I didn't want to send them plain. So taking a couple of sheet of sticky back Fun Foam from Darice and putting them together sticky sides in. I then traced a "turtle" onto the foam. Creating a hole in the middle of the foam for the handle to thread through. The "poof" now becomes the shell. How fun is that? Even more fun, the foam acts as a boat and causes the turtle to float on the water.


Monday, August 24, 2020

Art Chair

A friend approached me asking "Would you be interested in decorating a chair?" The town of Morris, IL was trying something new; an "arts festival." The idea was to gather local artist, musicians, actors...really anyone creative and art lovers and celebrate the arts in the first ever "Liberty Days Arts Festival." The cumulating activity would be a auction of decorated chairs with the proceeds going to the charity.

Stores in town were encouraged to sponsor the decorating of a chair which would be displayed at their store during the festival and then auctioned off for the charity of the stores choice. The charity chosen for the chair I was creating was the Christian Youth Center of Morris. I volunteer at the Youth Center couple of days per week and was excited to help them raise money.  I immediately said "yes" but with a bit of "fear and trembling." I had an idea in my head and hoped it turned out as well in real life.

The first step was finding the perfect chair to paint. For this feat, I visited our local Habitat of Humanity ReStore. I love this store. Not only can you find fun furniture pieces and building materials on the cheap. All proceeds go to help Habitat for Humanity build houses for our neighbors in need!

Finding a fun chair with some character at the store, I set out to sand it down, and tighten some joints with wood glue and prime it for painting. I decided that my theme was "It's about time" and wanted the chair to allude to the inner workings of a clock, with gears, cogs, and springs, and numbers.

Priming with black, I planned on having a graphic mosaic design, so I used tape and vinyl number stickers from Elmer's to mask off areas that would then remain black when I removed them after painting. I used Liquitex professional paints, both heavy and soft body, because I didn't want to have to repeatedly add layers to my design. After the  colors dried, I then stenciled gears and cogs onto the yellow paint using stencils from Deco Arts' "Americana-Mixed Media" Collection.

Painting and sealing complete, the only thing left to finish was the decorative touches. I  love the look of the coiled watch springs, so I created some with flat jewelry wire from "On-a-Wire," coiling it around at first a dowel rod, then itself. These springs I glued along the bottom of the back. Drilling a hole in the upper part, I installed a battery operated clock movement on the back of the chair.

Supplies used: Chair-(ReStore), Liquitex paints-professional heavy body and soft body, DecoArt Stencils-Americana Mixed media; gears and cogs, timeless treasure, Minwax- PolyAcrylic, Elmer's -Board Mate Vinyl Letter and Numbers, Art Minds (Michaels)-Clock Movement Kit 5/8", On-A-Wire(Hobby Lobby)-5mm flat aluminum wire, Scotch-3M fine line tape, drill, dowel rod.

I love the way it turned out....(and it brought in $170 at the auction! woo hoo!)