My latest project is a mascot plush for Barnardo's. Barnardo's is a leading children's charity, initially set up as a school by Dr. Thomas Barnardo back in 1867 to equip poor children with basic education and skills in trade. He went on to run homes for destitute children, with the philosophy "No Destitute Child Ever Refused Admission". While Barnardo's no longer run homes for orphans, they continue to help children and young people, including those who have been abused or have disabilities. Barnardo's offer counselling, fostering and adoption services, vocational training, among many other vital services. In addition to providing direct services to children and families, they also do original research based on their work and lobby the government in areas of advocacy, child poverty, fostering and adoption, etc. all to improve outcomes.
Another mascot plush! I made this mascot plush for Follow Your Dreams. They work to provide opportunities for young people with learning disabilities to encourage them to follow their dreams. They do this by providing workshops and supporting meet ups for these young people and their families.
I first heard about Theodora Children's Charity on BBC Radio 4. Their professional performers visit hospitals, hospices, and specialist care centres throughout England to provide opportunities for play and laughter. The charity was founded in 1994 in memory of Theodora Poulie, and today have 25 performers that visit over 30 000 children per year.
I made a hand puppet for them based on one of their colourful characters, Dr. Yo-Ho.
WellChild is a national charity that provides support to seriously ill children and their families, as well as funding scientific research. I was delighted to contribute by providing the prize for the winner of the 2017 Calendar Art Competition held for children and young people supported by WellChild.
The winning design was done by Thomas, who made a wonderful Play-Doh scene of a forest full of magical creatures and fallen leaves. It reminded me of Where the Wild Things Are. I was expecting a drawing or a painting so I was pleasantly surprised when I received his winning entry to work on for my next project. After considering the nature of his artwork, I decided against making a plush and made a lit shadow box for Thomas. But first, here is Thomas!
This is his bio:
Hi my name is Thomas and I'm 4 years old. I love Play Doh so made my picture of autumn using Play Doh and Lego. I made the snake on the log all by myself with no help. :) Mummy helped me with the other forest animals but I twisted the trees and made the leaves. I couldn't post my entry so mummy took a picture on her phone. My mum is a member of the WellChild Family Tree and we are new to the charity so look forward to the future events.
I've wanted to make this for awhile now, so I was happy to get started when I got a chance between projects. The concept was a Biology lab bench made out of felt, along with some laboratory equipment, and a female scientist. I'm interested in making Science accessible to girls so that's how the idea came about.
Everything is made out of 100% wool felt. The drawers and cupboards all open and the fridge has a little drawer inside! I think it could do with a microscope and a centrifuge.
Remember Henry the Hound? Henry was a mascot plush I made for Haven House Children's Hospice. In addition to the mascot plush, I had agreed to make a plush for the winner of their Summer art contest, which was held in July. Children paid 50p to participate (which was to raise money for art supplies for art therapy services provided by the hospice) and the winner was chosen by the hospice. The winning drawing was Buttons.
The ladybug was a lot of fun to make. I wanted to share with you some "making of" pictures so you get a better idea of how it was constructed. Maybe it will help you with a future project.
Here are the main pieces that make up the ladybug. When I say "head right", right means right side of the fabric (nap side, the side you want to be on the outside of the plush).
Crafting for charity is a rewarding and worthwhile activity. Perhaps you are going through something in your life and want to focus on doing something kind for someone else. Maybe you are a hobby sewist and are interested in finding a way to use up those scraps, or maybe you want to do make something for someone other than your family and friends. Sewing for charity is the answer! Good for the soul and good for your fabric stash.
I found it difficult to find a comprehensive list of UK based charities looking for craft donations, so I put one together for you (in no particular order).
Sewing (some of these charities are also looking for knitted/crocheted items)
Days for Girls
Make washable hygiene kits for girls and women.
Battersea Dogs and Cats
Make items for dogs and cats, including toys, bedding, coats, etc..
Newlife Foundation for disabled children
Make and donate handmade crafts.
Wrap Pyjama Fairies
Make pyjamas and gowns for sick children.
Make items to include in your post for seriously ill children and their siblings in the UK.
Project Linus UK
Make quilts or knitted/crocheted blankets to help children in need.
Have you heard of sensory books? I don't think it's well known in the wider community, perhaps more familiar to families with children who are keen to aid sensory development. I first heard about sensory books when I came across Bag Books. Sensory books involve using sensory stimuli in conjunction with storytelling by including props that accompany the book which can be touched, smelled, heard, etc, so that it becomes a multi-sensory experience rather than simply a narrative. It's more engaging for the audience and appears to be particularly beneficial for people with sensory processing difficulties, profound disabilities, or dementia.
This is my first sensory plush. Ta-da! I designed and handmade it for Joanna Grace of The Sensory Project. It's a ladybug, with details to stimulate the senses. I stuck with red, white and black. The wings have black circle patches, all out of different types of fabric, including boiled wool, cotton velvet, linen cotton mix, etc. The wings are held down with a bit of velcro and when opened up, reveal layers of various netting materials and maribou feather. I stitched on circles of different fabric on some layers of the netting with glow in the dark or fluorescent thread. Under that is the body made out of dimpled plush fabric.
The bottom is made out of fleece, with pockets for the legs. I embroidered the golden ratio motif on the pockets for the front legs and added tiny patches of PVC with beads underneath to the pockets for the back legs. Pompom trim and ribbon tabs surround the leg pockets.
The front legs have crinkle material inside, the middle legs have hard granules that feel pebbly, and the back legs have soft granules that feel a bit fatty. The antenna are 100% wool balls sewn onto fleece tubes.
To add weight, the body has several sewn fleece pouches of pellet filling along with polyester toy filling. For sound, the head has a squeaker inside and the body has a tweet column. You can experience some of the visual and auditory aspects of the ladybug in the video below.
I entered a picture of my elephant plush into the Rare Artist contest. If you would be so kind to vote for it, you can click HERE. Thank you for your support!