Book Review: Crafty Critters by Vickie Clontz, Leisure Arts

15 Feb

Crafty Critters Book Cover Crafty Critters
Vickie Clontz
Nonfiction: Craft: Sew
Leisure Arts, Inc.
printed, digital
32

The craft patterns include shoulder bags with fox and raccoon faces, a big-eyed owl case for eyeglasses or cell phones, cute pincushions and storage cases, leaf coasters, wall pockets, and magnets. The instructions are easy to read and decipher, whether you are a beginner or expert crafter.

The completed projects from this book will become treasured gifts, too!

 

crafty criter book

I was ecstatic to receive a review copy of this book from Leisure Arts. Over the years, I’ve learned many skills from the wonderful publications Leisure Arts produces. I wanted to start with an easy project, and one that will definitely be of use to me, and I hope it will inspire you, too! I thought the leaf mug rugs looked adorable, and I couldn’t wait to create them.

 

felt leaf mug rugs

 

The following method that I use differs slightly from the instructions provided in the book. The directions in the book are fine; this is simply the procedure I used to create the end result.

A Note About Materials Used:

The directions use wool felt, but as a vegan, I don’t use wool. I substituted the wool for my favorite Kunin Eco-fi felt. It is made of polyester from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. The felt is made in the US and comes in a number of great colors. I’ve used it for many years and always have a large stash on hand. I am using olive and goldenrod colors. This felt is actually stiffer than a wool felt, so keep that in mind.

Time to craft!

I printed a copy of the leaf I wanted to use and transferred the outline onto the felt. I used a marker, as I knew my lines wouldn’t show once cut.

leaf selection

 

I cut out two leaves from the felt–one for the front and one for the back. The instructions also call for a thin batting to be sandwiched between the layers of felt. I used Insul-Bright, as this is the batting I happen to have on hand, and I know it will help keep my cup warm and toasty.

Insul-bright

 

After all the cutting, you should have the following pieces:

a front and back of the leaf, a liner for the leaf, and a piece of jute

The photo below shows the order the layers should be in. You will be inserting the twine between the leaf layers, sewing around the leaf, and turning the leaf right side out so that the finished product will have the two felt pieces on the outside and the batting on the inside.

cut leaves

 

For the loop:  The instructions call for 10 inches of jute twine, but I used 8 inches of hemp twine.  Sandwich the twine between the leaf layers, placing the hoop on the inside and the loose ends hanging out 1/2″ beyond the raw edges. The key is to place the hemp where the stem of the leaf would be.

 

leaf stem

 

I like to use clips to secure my layers together before heading to the sewing machine. Yes, feel free to use pins, and use as many as you need. There are no judgments here. Also, don’t worry about one heart being a tad larger than the other, and don’t fuss over trying to perfectly align them. As you can see, I have a little wonkiness going on, and that will take care of itself when you sew around the edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance (give or take a little more as needed).

clipped felt leaf

 

With a sewing machine, sew around the perimeter of the leaves, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance and a hole for turning the leaves right side out. You may want to use clips or pins to mark where you want to start and stop for your opening. It is easy to sew past the spot you wanted to leave open for turning.

Tip: Remember when I said this felt was stiffer than wool felt? Well, that becomes important with turning. I needed two inches to turn this fabric right side out.

 

turn and stitch

Once you’ve turned the fabric right side out, you need to use a blunt object, such as a chopstick, blunt crochet hook, or turning tool to round out the leaf and smooth out the curves. Once complete, it is time to sew your leaf closed. Take your time, and you’ll be pleased with your results.

Next, I recommend freehanding the leaf lines with chalk. You don’t need anything fancy. I have a box of sidewalk chalk that works just fine. Again, don’t worry about duplicating the exact lines from the book. It is okay if your lines vary from the project instructions. I used to worry about making everything an exact duplicate of what I saw in a book, and that really took the creativity and fun out of crafting.

leaf marks

Take the leaf to your sewing machine, and stitch along your drawn lines. Before your very eyes, you’ve whipped up a beautiful little mug rug that is sure to make your coffee breaks more enjoyable. These make great gifts, and with four different leaf patterns, you can make an assortment! As you can see, there is plenty of room next to my mug for a cookie or two.

leaf mug rug with coffee

Stay tuned for more crafts created from this adorable book. For more information, or to order the book (as a digital download or print edition), please see the following link:
DIY Crafty Critters

Items I used to create the mug rugs (affiliate links to Amazon products):

Felt:

Kunin Eco-Fi Felt Goldenrod

Kunin Eco-Fi Felt Olive

Hemp
Hemptique Cord Spool 20-Pound Earthy

Liner: Insul-Bright Needlepunched Insulated Lining -45 inches x 1 yard

Clips:
50pcs Sewing Craft Quilt Binding Clips Clamps Clear and Red

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