Last month I headed to Austin, Texas, to attend QuiltCon presented by The Modern Quilt Guild. I had no idea that when I entered the Austin Convention Center that I would find a wonderful sewing project with kids in mind that I couldn’t wait to share. Dear Stella is known for its charming, whimsical fabric designs, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see the adorable Dress Me Playground from designer Wee Gallery.
The line’s signature piece is a design that features black-and-white illustrations of animals playing on the playground. But there’s a catch – their bodies are missing!
That’s because these animals act as fabric paper dolls thanks to a coordinating design packed with adorable mini tops, bottoms, dresses and accessories.
At QuiltCon, the Dear Stella team was asking attendees to spend some time dressing the fun animals so that the finished pieces could be turned into blocks for a children’s charity quilt. I sat down and happily decorated one of the animals. Sewing enthusiasts both young and old helped. As I worked, a mom sat next to me teaching her daughter simple sewing so that they could donate a block to the cause.
I love this fabric collection for a variety of reasons, but the biggest has to be is that it’s a great gateway to simple sewing for young crafters. Nicole, from Modern Handcraft, contributed a wonderful project idea to the Dear Stella blog. She created a quilt that acts as a warm blanket for babies but transforms into a play mat as your child grows with the addition of fabric doll clothes pieces. With that idea in mind, I came home from QuiltCon and came up with a few ideas of my own to share with your family. Once your child has added clothes to the animals of their choice you can create three fun crafts for kids to do at home that embody the spirit of this playful line.
- Dear Stella’s Dress Me Playground fabric in Black, Multi and Bunnies in Mint
- Embroidery hoop
- Embroidery thread and sewing needle
- Wool felt
- Poly-Fil batting
- Sewline Glue Stick Pen
- Sewing machine (optional)
Start out by cutting out several of the individual pieces of clothing from “Multi” fabric and set aside.
Instead of using pins to hold the clothing in place as your child sews, use a fabric glue pen. I love the Sewline Glue Pen because it doesn’t take a lot to create a tight bond between the two pieces of fabric. Apply the glue to the back of the clothing and place onto the animal your child is going to dress.
Place the black fabric into an embroidery hoop, centering on the animal your child wants to dress. Using a simple straight stitch, add the clothes to your animal. When the stitching is done, remove the fabric from the hoop and cut out the animal. Give yourself a 1/4-inch border around the animal’s shape.
With a few animals dressed, you can make any of the following projects. You can hand sew any of these pieces or use your machine – it’s up to you and your crafter.
Small Stuffed Pal
Take your cutout animal and a piece of Bunnies in Mint and place the right sides together; trim the mint fabric to the shape of your animal. Place a pin through the center of the pieces to hold together for sewing. Sew the two pieces together with a 1/4-inch seam, leaving a 2-inch opening at the bottom of the animal for stuffing. Clip any curves and then turn the pal inside out. Add stuffing into the opening you created until you achieve the firmness that you like. Hand stitch the opening closed and your pal is ready for the playground.
Fabric Pal Bookmark
Apply a thin layer of glue pen to the back of your cutout animal and place onto a piece of wool felt. Before pressing the top of the animal’s body to the felt, insert a length of ribbon in between the fabric and the felt. Sew around the outside of the animal shape. When the sewing is complete, trim the excess felt away from the sewn piece, leaving about a 1/4-inch border of visible felt.
Fabric Pal Finger Puppet
As you did with making the Fabric Pal Bookmark, sew your animal onto a piece of felt, trimming the excess felt away to give yourself a 1/4-inch border. Place the piece on top of another piece of felt and pin together. Cut around your sewn shape to give you an identical-shaped second piece of felt. Sew the pieces together around the 1/4-inch felt border, leaving a 1.5- to 2-inch opening at the bottom. When complete, the bottom opening is the perfect size for a few fingers.