avocado dyed necklace. (a tutorial)

img_0771img_0780img_0702img_0697

This is the story of both how I made a really sweet necklace and of a pretty phenomenal donut that I ate while doing it. The necklace was a last minute Christmas present that I made for my 18 month old daughter Faye and the donut was a pistachio and meyer lemon delight from Chicago’s own donut kings, Do-Rite Donuts, that I happened to grab the morning that I shot this tutorial. It is a love story on both accounts.

For complete instructions on making your own necklace scroll down past the photos! Dyeing instructions come first, then more photos, then necklace making instructions, and then still more photos. Sorry, no instructions could be given for finding, making or enjoying your own donut. This was a gift from the universe and I trust that the universe will bring you your own tasty treat to enjoy it as your heart dictates. 


Gathering your supplies…

For materials, you will need…

  • 5 yards of plain, undyed cotton yarn or twine (preferably unbleached although the one I used was just a cone of cheap, cotton all-purpose twine that was definitely bleached and the color from the avocado still came through nicely)
  • the skins and pits from two avocados, cleaned.
  • a ph neutral dish detergent (I use Ecover)
  • all-purpose sewing thread in a color that matches your dyed yarn
  • 6-8 little bells or small wood beads
  • Optional: this recipe for wood polish that I love from Crunchybetty.com

For tools…

  • a small pot (should be one you don’t plan to use for cooking, I picked mine up at a thrift shop for a few dollars)
  • a thermometer
  • a spoon or tongs (also should not be something you plan to cook with again)
  • a cup measure
  • a medium sized bowl (ideally also not one used for food)
  • rubber gloves (You will notice that I neglected to wear mine for these photos. Hard to work a camera in wet rubber gloves. But you should wear yours!)
  •  a crochet hook (mine was a size L but use whatever size gives you a nice looking chain stitch with your yarn)
  • a sewing needle

You will also need…

  • a good, hot mug of coffee/tea or a glass of wine
  • a tasty snack
  • a few hours of time all to yourself to do your dyeing and an hour or so to make up the necklace

Let’s get started…

img_4231img_4233img_4234img_4237img_4240img_4242img_4249img_4257img_4259img_4261img_4271img_4272img_4277img_4281img_4284

Dyeing the yarn…

Start by washing your yarn: Pop your yarn into a bowl of warm water with a drop of mild laundry detergent or ph neutral dish soap. Swish it around and let it soak a bit before rinsing it thoroughly. This helps remove any residue left over from the manufacturing process.

Next, prep your dye bath: Make sure your avocado pits and skins are nice and clean then put them into your pot along with 4 cups of water. Bring the water temperature up to 180 degrees and hold it there, using your thermometer to monitor the pot every few minutes, for one hour. After which you can remove and discard your avocado parts.

Once your bath is ready: (rubber gloves on for this part!) Run some hot water from the sink into your bowl and submerge your yarn for a few minutes, stirring it around to get it completely saturated. After 2-3 minutes, move your yarn from the water to the dye pot. Discard the water.

Submerge the yarn in the dye bath keeping the temperature in the pot steady at 180 degrees. Stir the yarn gently every few minutes until it reaches the color depth that you want, keeping in mind that the shade you see on the wet fiber will appear much lighter once it dries. When the color is right, carefully transfer your yarn back to the empty bowl and rinse it under warm water in the sink. (Alternately, you can turn off the heat under the dye pot and let the bath cool before removing the yarn. This will deepen and help lock in your color.) Let the bowl fill up and add a drop of your ph neutral dish washing liquid, agitating your fiber under the water to release any extra dye. Rinse the yarn until the soap is gone and the water runs clear. Hang the yarn to dry or lay it out on an old towel. Yay! You’re done with this part! Now try to resist the urge to start dyeing everything lovely shades of pink.

On to phase two…

img_4311img_4316img_4321img_4322img_4325img_4328img_4355img_4360img_4362img_4374img_4363img_4366img_4368img_4371

Making your necklace…

  1. Make a slip knot around your crochet hook and work in chain stitch until your necklace measures 36″ or however long you want it to be. Tie the ends together. Here is an awesomely clear tutorial on this simple process from Anniescatalog.com.
  2. If you are using unfinished wood beads and want to spruce them up a bit rub each bead with a tiny bit of natural wood polish. Like this one from Crunchybetty.com. I scent mine with vanilla and cedarwood essential oils. It smells so good I just want to polish everything!
  3. Using a needle and thread sew your bells or beads onto the chain in whatever arrangement pleases you.
  4. There is no step four. You’re done already. Enjoy!

(I originally made Faye one with bells and myself one with beads but she prefers the bead version now that the holidays are over and not everything has a jingle bell on it. She also likes wearing the version that I accidentally made too short. One can never have enough accessories, or so she tells me.)

img_0705img_0715img_0720img_0731img_0743

xo, e.

 

(a cup of tea) ~ being quiet

img_3875img_3878img_4086img_4110img_4090img_3936img_4152img_4156img_4162img_4217img_4176img_4210img_4172img_4200img_4206img_4262img_4339img_4292img_4220img_4344img_4345img_4349

When I was a teenager I came up with a way of dealing with my cacophonous mind that I called “the quiet game.” And it was exactly what it sounds like. No sound. I would do my best to live without making any noise for as long as possible. I quieted the squeak of my sneakers in the school hallways. I breathed in and out so slowly and deliberately as to make the process entirely silent inside my body. My heart was the thing that could not quiet itself and I endured its persistent thudding, like a drum, resonating in the calm.

**

Nick was out of town all of last week. Usually when he goes away I use the time to work on a huge, messy project. And I revel in the fact that it doesn’t need to be tidied up until the day he returns. Not this time. Between the state of my house, the state of my existing projects and the state of the country all I found myself able to do was be very, very quiet.

I made extra cups of coffee, wrote for hours in my journal, read during Faye’s naps, and tentatively stitched away at a few orders and projects. I called my congress persons and signed petitions, I watched my news feed and tried to quiet the thundering of my heart and the whispers of my guilty conscience for not being among the protesters in the streets or at the airports on account of the tiny, sleeping person in the next room.  I laid awake at night and finally dragged my laptop into bed with a mountain of pillows and watched movies alone in the dark.

(sewing pattern review) baby & toddler harem pants from WIKSTEN

img_3918img_3926img_3929img_3754img_4105img_3619img_3567img_3594img_3617
img_3655img_3629img_3645img_3631img_4055img_4059img_3895img_3914img_3890img_4011wiksten-harem-pants-pattern-by-lakeside-needleworks

There is a simplicity in the patterns of designer, Jenny Gordy of WIKSTEN that I always respond to. In both her sewing and knitting patterns, Jenny has a knack for getting the details just right without over-complicating a design and these harem pants are no exception. As simple as can be to make and very well explained in the beautiful instruction book that accompanies the pattern, these pants would be a great project for sewers at any skill level. I really appreciated the thoughtful details like durable french seams and extra long hems that can be rolled up in the beginning and let down as your child grows. They are roomy enough in the crotch to accommodate crawling and climbing and very bloated diapers, yet they are close fitting in the legs so as not to be tripped over. Faye is just starting to walk and tripping over her hems is a common cause of stumbles and tumbles. As an added bonus, the fact that these pants are the same from the back or the front makes getting them on her flailing legs before I’ve had my coffee a simpler matter. There’s no wrong way!

I made mine in a mad dash to give her something special to wear for Thanksgiving. I was still putting in the elastic 10 minutes before we left to go to dinner so I was definitely not in my most concentrated sewing mode. And they still turned out great! And after more than a few trips through the washer and dryer they look even better. I made them in a novelty print of grey and white gourds which I thought would be a funny conversation piece and I had intended to make another, more practical pair for wearing after the holiday…

Enter my new self-imposed guidelines of Making with Intention, a key component of which is not making what I do not need. So the gourd print pants became the “practical pair.” And they are surprisingly practical! Even though the print is seasonal, I picked a color palate that works with a lot of things she already owns and the fabric was a good quality quilting cotton which washed up nice and soft. I am resisting the urge to make her another pair until springtime. This is a challenging transition for me; the eschewing of unnecessary projects. There’s an energy in making things that is hard for me to overrule in favor of the deeper, less exciting work of change. And this change is work! Pulling oneself out of a long-standing behavioral rut is no simple matter. New neural pathways need to be allowed to form and in order for that to be possible old habits must first be broken. Sometimes I feel like I’ll go totally nuts if I have to stay on track with organizing my rambling collection of patterns rather than busting one open just to satisfy the itch! But I’m hanging in there. One day, one project at a time. And I’m finding that there is a lot to be said for letting enough be enough. One new pair of pants rather than two or three. One new pair gets worn every other day, washed frequently and loved a lot. Three new pairs leaves at least two sitting in a drawer or the dirty clothes hamper at any given time. And all three are sure to be outgrown long before they’ve been useful enough to compensate for the time I spent making them. The older I get the more I see the value of my time and how I choose to spend it. No matter how hard I wish for them, there will never be more hours in a day and the less time I spend turning every cute cotton print in my stash into a pair of baby pants is time that gets to be spent enjoying the company of my family, making meals, baking treats, taking photographs, writing, reading, or enjoying the highest luxury – doing nothing at all (without feeling guilty about it). All that said, I am really looking forward to sewing those new pants for Faye when Spring finally arrives!

This is a lovely pattern. It is well designed, simple to make and extremely practical. Head over to www.shopwiksten.com where you can pick up a copy of the Baby & Toddler Harem Pants as well as tons of other knitting and sewing patterns created by Jenny. You can also follow her work on Instagram: @shopwiksten. She has a beautiful feed but the best reason to follow along is her refreshingly honest perspective motherhood and making. Enjoy!

xo, e.

 

 

 

 

 

(a cup of tea) . the easier burden

img_2959img_3811img_3016img_2873img_2821img_2817img_3873img_3881img_2830img_3046img_2809img_3557img_3044img_2834img_2920

I’ve decided to name these rambling collections of pictures and paragraphs “(a cup of tea) posts,” simply because that has been my mindset when sitting down to write them. I settle in at my laptop with a cup of something hot and catch up with myself and all of you. These posts tend to be a tad long and meandering, which is how my stories often go over tea with a friend, so I strongly suggest putting on the kettle and getting cozy.

If you’ve read my last two posts you know that I seem to have found myself at a crossroads in my making life. In my mind it has felt like a crisis of epic proportions. And until recently I felt somewhat paralyzed as to what my next step should be. I haven’t felt sure of what to say here or how to change what I was doing to make things feel right.

I started making dolls 6 years ago when I made one for a friend’s daughter. I didn’t have any kids of my own at that point so I had no idea about the stifling avalanche of toys that tend to enter a person’s life with the birth of a child. I imagined I was making one special thing to be treasured always… But now I am a mom. I’m a mom who sees the change in my daughter’s moods when there is simply too much going on; too much input from too many blocks, puzzles, games, objects on wheels to be pulled around the living room, dolls, doll clothes, musical instruments, books that sing by themselves!… And I’m a mom who picks up each and every one of these ever multiplying items off the floor, or out of the bathtub, or out from under the couch at the end of every day. Whether handmade or not, too much is too much and it feels out of step for me to contribute to this multiplicity in people’s lives with my work. And handmade dolls seem to create a slippery slope for a lot of people! They are all so special and unique! With so many talented makers out there, I’m the first to say that collecting them can quickly become a bit addictive. In many aspects of my life I am devoted to the practice of living with less, not just to minimize my impact on the resources of our precious planet, but to maximize my sanity as a person living with bi-polar mania, and to get the most enjoyment out of the things I do choose to own. This is a HUGE part of my everyday life. The idea of living lightly shapes so many of our decisions as a family and yet I’ve been investing countless hours into something that was directly at odds with this concept, which is the making of more Stuff and collecting and storing more stuff to make the Stuff! Because to Make for a living requires a ton of stuff! Packing supplies, materials (so many materials!!!!), and tools have taken over every closet of our house. They are also under the bed, in the basement storage unit, even on top of the kitchen cabinets! This is not minimal impact, this is borderline hoarding. And it feels bad. It doesn’t fit.

I’ve always defended my craft hoard as above the process of culling we apply to almost everything else we own. Because I needed it all! Right? Crafting has been my outlet, my excuse for holding onto things I wasn’t ready to let go of. If I couldn’t use something or wear it anymore, perhaps I could make something out of it! That mindset, combined with the amount of cast-off material I receive regularly from people who know about my passion for finding uses for old things has meant that my collection of fabrics, glues, sequins, old blue jeans, wooden spools, yarn, buttons, leather scraps, shoulder pads, quilt squares, embroidered hankies, beads, you-name-it-I’ve-got-it, has grown and grown and grown in recent years. It has far outgrown my ability to make excuses for hanging onto it all.

Perhaps it’s the fact that so much of the rest of my life is in alignment right now that I’m finally able to look this big, fat exception right in the face or maybe breaking points just come when they need to regardless of one’s readiness to deal with them. However it happened, here I am. I don’t have a plan for the path of this transition but I have a voice inside me shouting, “GO THIS WAY!” So I’m going.

I love making things. I love appreciating things that other people have made. I have no intentions of stopping either of these practices but to help me bring my big, fat crafting exception into line with the rest of my life, I’ve set up some guidelines for my making from this point forward:

Simplicity: The things I choose to make will have simplicity at the heart of their design. No efforts wasted on passing trends, no energy spent on that which is not enduring and useful long after its creation.

Thoughtfulness: Each project should be thoughtful and carefully considered in its design, in its purpose, in its function and in whether or not it needs to be made at all. Which brings me to my most important point…

Making with Intention: No more making for making’s sake, for the task of busying idol hands. Every project should serve a function or fill a need and do that in the most beautiful and pleasing way. There are better ways to fill an unfilled hour that nourish the soul and spirit more fully than bringing yet another knitted hat, woven blouse, or unnecessary plush toy into the world. If I don’t need it. I won’t make it.

This might sound like a death sentence for my business, I am painfully aware. I’m comforting myself with this: that when what you share comes directly from your gut and the deepest, most holy place inside yourself the feeling of living your truth is its own reward. I’ve found this out many times in different aspects of my life and every time the lesson has been similarly painful. Doing or saying what you perceive others want from you is easier, so much easier, in the short run! Living with an untruth involves no immediate conflict and minimizes your risk of experiencing what may feel like utter, complete humiliation and terrible failure. Sadly though, it almost guarantees a feeling of failure in the long run, most often accompanied by deeper regrets. Truth carries with it the burden of consequences, but untruth is the burden of poison. Consequences can fortify our resolves and teach us about ourselves and the things we truly value. Poison simply erodes and disorients us. In my life thus far, truth has been the easier burden to shoulder regardless of whether it brought me success or failure.

So let’s get truthy. Working within my new guidelines, here is what I have planned for the future of LSNW: I’m working on some patterns intended for home sewing and even some knitting. There may still be dolls for sale but not as many as I’ve had in the past. I’ve got lots of ideas for sharing here on the blog and elsewhere on social media. I’m hoping to track down some of my favorite makers to get their take on simplicity and craft and I may even get around to sharing some history on the relationship between necessity and making (pretty much my favorite subject! Think Shaker furniture, Irish fisherman sweaters, or a pair of thick and cozy Scandinavian slippers). I’m getting carried away! Anyway, I’m excited. I’ll leave it there.

If you read this far, thank you.  I’m pretty sure we’re best friends now. All my best to you and be well, good friend.

xo, e.

(A cup of tea) . an influx of objects

2016-09-19-10-45-572016-10-17-16-01-562016-10-17-16-00-212016-09-19-10-38-072016-10-17-16-04-372016-09-19-10-40-05img_29632016-10-17 13.04.05.jpg
img_11812016-09-19-10-54-022016-09-19-10-39-10img_29562016-09-19-10-43-032016-09-27-09-02-21

Once and a while there is a huge influx of objects into my life from the people around me. It seems like everybody I know cleans out their cupboards and closets all at once and everyone seems to find a garbage bag, a box, or even several boxes full of things they think I will appreciate or find some use for. So many things have made their way into my house this last month and because I’m still feeling completely muddled about the aesthetic choices of our little space I try them all out and then see what I think.

Some things I love. The delicate Booths “Peony” dishes that belonged to my stepfather’s mother with their two kinds of saucers and impossibly shallow bowls, clearly not meant for the enormous amounts of breakfast cereal consumed around here. I love drinking my coffee out of the feather-light tea cups each morning. And the saucers have significantly reduced the amount of coffee I spill on the carpet each morning while I try to keep track of my toddler. My beautiful new/old yellow tea kettle, a recent birthday gift from my mom, has also gotten a lot of use. Nick and I have already set the wooden handle on fire at least once.

Some things I don’t know if I love. The lace curtains, in every room. Some days they make me feel like I’m living in a cozy grandmother’s house and some days I feel like I’m living in a grandmother’s house…

Some things, the specifics of which will go unmentioned due to their gifted nature, I hate. But most people seem to get my style almost better than I do and so I find myself with a lot of tough choices about what to hang onto and what to release back into the thrifting pond. Our place is small. About 800 sq. ft. so there’s not a lot of room for extra anything. The amount of materials I have to have on hand to run Lakeside Needleworks is pretty daunting to store in our tiny footprint. It’s definitely one of the reasons I’m drawn to transitioning away from a production-centered business. I am already storing supplies in every room of the house and there’s no budget for a studio space in the foreseeable future.

Maybe every creative person experiences a push and pull with their aesthetic leanings, although you certainly wouldn’t know it from their beautifully curated Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards… I often feel so torn between the part of me that craves total simplicity and the part of me that is compelled to buy every 1950’s floral duvet that I come across. It’s maddening at times when I look at things I loved yesterday and wonder why I own them today. Especially since I do my best to buy very little and use what I own for as long as I can. I’m finally getting around to the task of decorating our place in earnest (like I’m calling the guys who put in counter tops and getting quotes for new floors) and I feel like the two sides of my taste are in a serious battle. I’m hoping to find middle ground somewhere between minimal loft  and Granny’s cottage. Does such a place exist? Should it? Now googling “minimal granny.”

xo. e

(A cup of tea) . everything in alignment…

img_2538img_2540img_2554img_2777img_2806img_27582016-10-17-15-06-49img_2783img_2790

Finally got back to my knitting this week. The cold in Chicago is quickly moving in and Faye’s little red, frozen hands at the park the other day really lit a fire under my butt to finish up the Another Pair of Mittens pattern that I started who know’s how many weeks ago. And in the process I seem to have started a new knitting needle obsession with my daughter. Every day she has to get them out (and give me a ton of anxiety about eyes being poked out and such but its hard to say no to total enjoyment and fascinated interest in your 15 month old). I also pulled out the grey knit bonnet I started last winter which was, thankfully, much too big then and just right now. I had originally intended to write up the pattern but it got so hopelessly complicated that I’m pretty sure that any attempt on my part to make something intelligible out of it would be incredibly frustrating. Maybe a project for the future…provided I experience a spontaneous increase in patience and problem solving skills before then.

*

My panic started with the terrible, nagging feeling that I didn’t have any time, no time to sew for myself, read a book, read the news. I’ve had all the ingredients for trying out a batch of vegan sugar cookies for over a month in my cupboard!  No time to think about the relentlessly persistent question of “what is for dinner?” or where I see my business going. Over this last year I have been making and selling one-of-a-kind rag dolls that are now selling as quickly as I can sew them. Which is GREAT! I’m beyond excited that people care about what I make and want to take some of it into their lives! Over the moon excited! really. But dang am I tired! I do all of the LSNW production myself plus working at my old job part-time and Faye is not in daycare. It’s a lot. And I’m fading hard in the worst possible moment! Now is when I’m supposed to be working all night, like a little elf in the dolly department of Santa’s workshop! But all I can think of is how much I want to sew up a pair of harem pants from my new Wiksten pattern for Faye’s Thanksgiving outfit. Or break into the liberty print and red wool I have waiting to be made into a special Christmas coat.

This week I had the rare treat of a few hours of childcare to go over to my sister’s nearby studio for some creative time all to myself. I sat silently for a while trying to figure out which of what fells like a million projects should take priority. But instead of finishing a shop update of doll clothes or embroidering a new face I started an entirely new pattern, one that has been on my mind for a while now. And I will say that Lakeside Needleworks may be shifting gears in the near future. I love making dolls and I have no intentions of stopping any time soon but meeting the ever-present deadlines when you are making only one of each thing and trying to keep up with demand and interest is unsustainable for me at this point in our family’s life. Because I don’t just want to think about Christmas coats and cookie baking or all the things I would make if only I “could find the time.” I don’t want to resent doll making as a thing that takes me away from time or emotional presence with my daughter and my husband. And so something needs to shift, however slowly. I’m calling it Evolution of my work. I’m choosing to look at it as bringing things into Alignment with who I am and what I value.

I can’t wait to share more of what I’ve got coming down the pipeline here and across the other LSNW social media platforms. All of which I am currently working to get up to speed! It’s been nice to have some production-free hours to actually think about what kind of impact I want to have as a maker. And more and more I am craving opportunities to share this process of sewing and toy making that I love so much! I hope you’ll be as excited as I am about the changes ahead. Always feel free to send me a message or leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts as I work toward this deeper sharing.

xo. e

patchwork turtle pillow . a tutorial (sort of)

quilt-top-turtle-heirloom-toy-lakeside-needleworks

As an avid thrifter and toy maker I have no small obsession with finding new ways to use cast-off textiles. I am particularly partial to any piece of fabric that has the touch of heirloom craft; embroidered hankies, table runners, hand-knit sweaters… One of my favorites is antique quilt tops. A quilt top is simply the top layer of the quilt sandwich before the batting and the backing have been sewn on.
When I was little my mother inherited several quilt tops that had been pieced together by her grandmother. Night after night she patiently quilted them with careful stitches, bound their edges with bright bindings and at last covered our beds with them. I kept mine with me through college and it came along when I moved cross-country to live in the boroughs of New York City in my early 20’s. Nine years later I still had a small, threadbare scrap of quilt that made the move with me back to the Midwest.img_0355A few years ago I spotted this patchwork apron in a thrift shop and although I have never found a use for delicate aprons around my kitchen I bought it on account of the colors and the beautiful fabric. I was sure I could find something to use it for…

One of the patterns that lives in my rambling stash is Simplicity 9740. When I found it I fell in love with the little patchwork turtle depicted on the cover. I discovered upon reading the instructions that it was only a patchwork print on the turtle’s shell !! which was a fairly common fabric motif back when the pattern was published in 1971. I stumbled upon both the apron and the pattern again the other day in a fit of sorting and it finally occurred to me to put the two together into what I am calling the Quilt Top Turtle!

This is not a tutorial in the most complete sense but I will provide you will all the info you need to track down the materials and make your own Quilt Top Turtle.

 

You Will Need
A copy of Simplicity 9740 or Simplicity 7367 ~ There are tons of copies of this pattern available on the internet. A quick google search should give you several to choose from. I used 9740 for my turtle pattern but from what I can tell 7367 is just an earlier printing (1967) with many of the same patterns.
 
5/8 yard of cotton fabric
 
A section of quilt top or patchwork ~ Quilt tops and vintage items made from quilt patches abound on Etsy and Ebay and they are nowhere near the price of an antique quilt. If you have been itching try your hand at quilt piecing you could even make your own quilt top to use or if you’ve ever started a quilt project that is now gathering dust in a closet because you forgot in your zeal to be the next Folk Fibers what a crap ton of work making an actual quilt is this is the perfect opportunity to get some use out of it!
 
Thread
Stuffing 
 Two buttons for eyes (optional)

 First, prepare your fabric with a wash and pressing. When ironing your quilt top pieces spray them lightly with a little fabric starch. I swear by the one made by The Laundress. It gives just the right amount of structure to the fabric without making it at all stiff and it smells amazing! The starching just helps ease out all the bumpiness in the fabric caused by the seams between each patch. Having it really nice and flat will mean that your cutting will be more accurate and your construction process will proceed more smoothly. Once your patchwork is flat as a pancake lay out your pattern so that the patches line up symmetrically across the shape of the turtle in a pattern that pleases you. Don’t worry about the grainline since all of the patches in the quilt top will have the grain going every which way. When it is all cut up give each piece another quick press with the iron.

Once you’ve got the quilt top pieces taken care of, move on to cutting your fabric for the rest of the turtle according to the pattern directions. Essentially you are making two layers for the top of the turtle, the quilt top which will be visible and an underlining of cotton for strength and stability since antique fabric is not to be trusted alone in toy making on account of its fragile nature.

{Why use an old quilt at all then?? you ask. Because quilts are special fabrics. Often they contain scraps of cloth that bring back special memories; a dress your mother wore as a child, a print from a favorite skirt or one of Dad’s work shirts. Even if the patchwork you use doesn’t come from your own family’s fiber history an old quilt’s beauty is hard to match. And even as you mend it and patch it, as you will no doubt have need of doing as this turtle gets put through his paces, the patches will only add to the specialness and unique quality of the toy.} 

 Follow the pattern’s directions for construction. When sewing the pieces together sandwich them as shown below (left) with the underlining against the wrong side of the quilt top and the quilt top and whatever fabric you are using for the bottom of the turtle with right sides facing. (I choose to use the same fabric for both the underlining and the turtle’s underside, mainly so that as the underlining becomes visible in patches over time I wasn’t going to be looking at plain muslin. Now when the little holes appear I can just stitch around them and let the pink peek through. Alternately, I also saved the remnants of my apron to use as future patches since my patchwork apron was pretty threadbare to begin with.) 
Once the pieces are sewn you will grade the seams, trimming down the seam allowance on the underlining to at least 1/4″, 1/8″ if your quilt top is in good condition and the fabric is relatively strong and has a tight weave (grading the underlining – shown left).

If you find yourself, as I did, getting a bit frustrated because all of your pieces don’t match up EXACTLY, blame those pesky grainlines in your quilt top and not yourself. Simply repeat this phase to yourself while sewing the offending pieces, “I am making a pillow that is shaped like a turtle” and take a deep breath and have a good laugh.
Continue following the directions provided as you notch and turn the pattern pieces. The only adjustment I made to the construction process was not to put in the zipper on the underside of the turtle’s body or sew a removable pillow insert. I simply left an opening in the seam on the turtle’s belly, stuffed the body and stitched it up with a simple ladder stitch. The pattern was originally intended to be a bag that holds your little one’s pj’s as well as a pillow. I hate zippers and avoid them whenever possible but if you love the idea of this being a pajama bag as well as a pillow toy, by all means, follow the directions exactly.

Because I was making this turtle for my 5 1/2 month old daughter I omitted the button eyes that the pattern calls for and opted to arrange the pattern of patchwork on the face so that the darker patches gave a similar effect without the little choking hazards. Alternately, you could sew down little circles of felt for the eyes instead of buttons.

Our turtle was a big hit as a belly prop as Faye is taking every opportunity to practice sitting up all on her own!

This turtle is the first project in what I intend to be a monthly series called Lakeside Monthly Make which will run under the #lakesidemonthlymake hashtag on Instagram if you want to follow along. Each month a new project will be profiled here; from vintage patterns like this one to natural dyeing projects you can do at home, tutorials for sewing your own heirloom toys and even some projects for the not so little! I am so excited to be starting this series and I hope you will join in with any or all of the Monthy Makes!

Happy sewing everyone!

xo, e.