Plushies. Stuffies. Monsters. Whatever you want to call them, they are all the rage: hand-crafted fabric creatures for kids and adults alike. Last fall I got a copy of Diane Shoenbrun‘s book, Beasties: How to Make 22 Mischievous Monsters That Go Bump In the Night (and one to give away, but more on that later.) While it’s taken me a while, I finally carved out some sewing time and made a few creatures from the book!
First, let’s just do a little overview. It’s a cute little book and the Beasties are actually mystical creatures that fall into the Cryptozoological category- things that biologists say don’t exist, but some plainfolk do. This book has patterns to make Fairies, Yetis, Werewolves,Â and “Nessie”, a version of the Lock Ness Monster!
I also like that the Beasties come with a bio- for example, there’s an elephant-like creature from Japan that I had no knoweldge of:
Welcome this friendly Japanese monster called Baku, who devours nightmares so you don’t remember them. His powerful trunk sucks up the gobbledygook that makes bad dreams and leaves you in peaceful slumber.
As a mother of a kidlet that still has bad dreams, this creature is on my short-list to make as a good-dream talisman. The power of a stuffed animal to comfort isÂ magical, and being handmade by Mommy makes it only more so.
Intrigued, I dug in to a simple pattern, the fairy. Each pattern is awarded a “skill level” of one to three beasties, and the fairy is a one. I got my supplies, sat down, and….stopped. None of the patterns in the book are full-size. So this is something you need to know: if you buy the book, you’ll need to have access to a scanner/printer to enlarge them or be prepared to make a trip to the copy shop. I have to admit, this dampened my enthusiasm a little and slowed me down. But after making a few Beasties and seeing my kiddo’s reaction to them, I can say it’s worth the effort.
I used what I had on hand to make the Fairy, which after reading a bit about the author I know is what she does, too. And as I was choosing fabrics, I thought again of how magical it would be to make a fairy out of your little girl’s favorite-but-outgrown dress. Heck, I’d like a fairy made out of some of my girl’s baby clothes…just to remember those sweet years. But again, I digress!
The pattern was easy to follow, and I made my first one following the steps/fabric suggestions exactly. Frankly, it was a little fussy trying to cut certain pattern pieces- for example, the nose was a small teardrop the size of my pinky nail, and trying to cut a piece of felt using a paper pattern was tricky. But for folks who are not “eyeballers” like I am will appreciate the template, I’m sure.
Here’s a few photos of my first fairy:
Upon seeing her, my 6 year old daughter immediately adopted her and named her the “Feelings Fairy”- the fairy that will help her say what she feels instead of stamping her feet and getting angry. I’m not even kidding, that’s what my kid came up with. SEE??? Magical!!
Next, I decided to take a bit of a liberty and use the same pattern for my next fairy, but instead let my storytelling inform my fabric/embellishment choices. I wanted to make an “Art Fairy”- one to keep me company in the studio- so I used some stenciled fabric I made with The Crafter’s Workshop templates for the body. My fairy needed arms to hold supplies and wings made from Angelina Fibers that shimmer and shine. My art fairy also has no ears because she does NOT listen to me at all! She looks like this:
The reason I made a second fairy is to illustrate to you that you can really take the idea and pattern and make it your own.Â Confession: I was not in love with some of the fabric/color choices in the book- but don’t let those little details put you off. Tell your own story!
Now to try a 3-beast project- the Dragon! Since I’m making this one for a much-younger child, I decided to go with all felt.
I did have a few problems with this pattern- the bulkiness of the felt made it VERY difficult to turn and stuff. If I was going to do it again, I’d enlarge the pattern even a little more. Also, it is certainly more challenging. Setting the mouth portion into the dragon’s head involves some tricky seaming- especially if you are working on the machine. I’d suggest doing it by hand, to be truthful.
Also, I think I’ll make and attach the legs differently next time. Diane suggests a “ladder stitch,” but that didn’t seem super-secure. Instead of turning the legs and the whip-stitching the opening closed- which is really visible- I think I’ll stitch the leg all the way around, leaving no opening. Then you can make a 1 1/2 inch slit in the side that will be on the inside, next to the body, and turn it right-side-out. After stuffing, you can whipstitch it closed and attach it to the body at the same time.
Again, one of the cool things about this book is that you can tweak the patterns a bit, choose special fabrics, and totally customize the Beastie to suit you and/or your little one. I’m already planning my next dragon. THIS one will have glow-in-the-dark thread on it!
So by now I hope I’ve convinced you that if you are a sew-er and/or have kidlets in your world, and/or are a GIANT kidlet at heart that you kinda need to have this book now. AND YOU CAN. (More or less.) I’ve got a copy to give away!
You have THREE chances to win- because three is a magic number. First, leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite mythical creature is and you’ll be entered to win. Leave a separate comment telling me that you have/are a “liker” of my Facebook Fan Page for a second chance to win. And for a THIRD chance to win, go leave a comment on the “Beasties” Facebook Fan Page telling Diane that you read my review and then come back HERE and leave me a separate comment telling me you did so.(I’m making you work for that last one! ; )
A winner has been chosen! Congrats to #3, jengd! Congrats!
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