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Hug Me Monsters, sock monsters

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, red, orange pink striped, by Elizabeth RuffingHi there. I’m catching up with my toys and catching up with my life too, I guess. I have to break down my post into three parts, to catch up with the toys I have over in my toy shop.

Hug Me Monsters, sock doll art toys by Elizabeth RuffingI finally have Hug Me Monsters! These are chenille, soft and fuzzy, sock dolls, and I have had them in progress, in my workroom, since January! It feels good to be pushing through to the other side, finishing toys and showing them to you.

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, pink, by Elizabeth RuffingThis pink one with turquoise horns was my mom’s favorite. This Hug Me Monster got adopted by the time I woke up the next morning, after putting her in my shop.

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, pink and tan striped made and held by Elizabeth RuffingMy mom was so kind and patient to photograph me with a monster, so I could show their size in relation to a person. We have been having such awful heat, as I am sure most of you have, and it wasn’t too much fun being outside, melting while trying to look pleasant. It was so humid, my hair began to frizz and stick up in the air. Photoshop Elements is handy for neatening one’s self up after the fact!

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, royal blue and turquoise by Elizabeth RuffingThis royal blue and turquoise Hug Me Monster also found a home already, but as of today’s post, the others below are still available.

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, teal by Elizabeth RuffingThese have the first incarnation of my custom-printed fleece eyes, which I designed and then had printed by Fabric on Demand. I sealed all the colored parts with non-toxic Liquitex fabric medium to make sure the color was secure. Then I hand embroidered around each color of the eyes with floss, using a blanket stitch. The monsters are almost entirely stitched by hand, with a needle and thread or floss. There is only one machine-sewn seam in each horn, which I attach by hand after I stuff them. The monsters took me a while, hours each, as do all my toys.

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, hang tag by Elizabeth RuffingMy Hug Me Monsters come with hang tags, that can be personalized. I can print a name or “For + a name” on the front of the tag, and I can print a message on the back of the tag. I then insert the tag into a clear vinyl sleeve, run a satin ribbon through it, and tie it to the monster.

Hug Me Monsters, sock doll art toys, pink and tan striped, by Elizabeth RuffingMy dad especially liked the pink-and-tan striped monster with the gold horns. When my mom and I were taking photos, he started laughing. I didn’t understand why. Then I realized he was laughing at the monster. He got a big kick out of it, which made me feel good. If they make someone laugh or smile, then I am doing my job right.

Hug Me Monsters, sock doll art toys, by Elizabeth RuffingI really like these cuddly chenille socks I used for the monsters. I have a couple pair I put on my own feet in the winter, socks not monsters. I reserved most of the chenille socks I collected for Hug Me Monsters.

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, green and blue-purple polka dotted, by Elizabeth RuffingTheir horns, along with their eyes and hearts, are made from fleece. I used pearl cotton floss to chain stitch a smile on each one.

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, pink and tan striped made and held by Elizabeth RuffingI have been feeling better, still tired a lot of the time, but better. I’ve been having my blood retested every six weeks at the hematologist’s, and although my white blood cell count is still high, it is going down. It remains a mystery. I was a bit alarmed when I realized I had been referred to a cancer center, and they sent a sample to the Mayo Clinic for testing, but they don’t seem to think it is anything like that, since normally it would go up in that case. I feel sad and a little scared when I go there, because I know the other people there are sick and trying to make the best of it. I was drawn to all the pillows in the lobby that people make and donate. I instinctively grab one while I wait and it is comforting. That is a kind use of a craft. One had kitties on it, and you know I love kitties. I took the measurements down from the pillows, about 9 x 18 inches of fabric, a convenient size to cut from a yard or fat quarter of cotton, two pieces, sewn together with about 1/4 inch seams. They are a good size for hugging.

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, lavender by Elizabeth RuffingMy next blog installment will be…Hug Me Kittens. I have more of those finally too. I had hoped to be well stocked by now, as I wanted to make the August submission deadline for the Brown Alumni Magazine holiday gift guide, but I don’t want to apply and then run out of toys by the holidays. I have a feeling I cannot sew that many in time. I’m trying to focus on the fact that I am getting things done, and trying not to dwell on how much time it takes me.

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, royal blue and turquoise striped by Elizabeth Ruffing

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Wonder Bunnies and Super Slugs

Wonder Bunny, Hug Me Bunny plush stuffed animal art toy by Elizabeth Ruffing

Wonder Bunnies and Super Slugs!

This is my first Wonder Bunny plush rabbit, the superhero version of my Hug Me Bunnies. He (or she) has my pretty new custom-printed eyeballs and a “B” for bunny emblem.

Wonder Bunny, Hug Me Bunny plush stuffed animal art toy by Elizabeth RuffingHe also has a fancy cape, yellow with polka dots on one side, and red with planets on the other. I found some nice planet and star fabrics for capes for my Wonder Bunnies and Super Slugs.

Wonder Bunny, Hug Me Bunny plush stuffed animal art toy by Elizabeth RuffingI made a couple of versions of this cape before I decided I liked this size the best on him.

Wonder Bunny, Hug Me Bunny plush stuffed animal art toy by Elizabeth RuffingI made a special hang tag for my Wonder Bunnies.

Wonder Bunny, Hug Me Bunny hang tag by Elizabeth RuffingNow he’s ready to fly. I need to make some Wonder Bunnies in different colors. I will post them in our Ruffing’s shop.

Super Slugs, Hug Me Slugs plush stuffed animal art toys by Elizabeth RuffingI made these twin Super Slugs as a custom order. This was one version of the cape I tried. It was round on the sides and fuller.

Wonder Bunny, Hug Me Bunny plush stuffed animal art toy by Elizabeth RuffingMid-Wonder-Bunny, I ran into an issue which made me panic. My new emblems and eyeballs were shedding at their edges when I cut them out. Luckily, my mom suggested I coat them with Liquitex Fabric Medium, to seal the surface. It worked very well, thank goodness. The fabric medium is nontoxic and keeps everything in place. I didn’t encounter this with my monster eyeballs, because they had white around the colors. Any edge shedding wasn’t noticeable. Now I just need to paint my eight gazillion eyeballs and emblems with fabric medium. No problem. Ha.

Spoonflower fleece sample, eyeballs and emblems by Elizabeth RuffingI ordered all my fleece eyeballs, and emblems for my Wonder Bunnies and Super Slugs, from Fabric on Demand. They did a great job. Since then, Spoonflower came out with fleece as well. I had a problem with their black not being black enough on their faux suede fabric. I ordered a sample of their fleece (shown above), and was happy to find the black did print as black this time. The colors aren’t exactly the same from both companies, and so I would still recommend printing a color map if you need to match color.

Rainbow fleece, Elizabeth RuffingI was inspired to go out and get some rainbow fleece yesterday after seeing a rainbow display online at Target. Walmart (above left) and Jo-Ann’s (above right) both had some. I thought I might need some equality slugs or bunnies or kitties, or some of each, because the news and comments here in NC, and now across the country, are driving me right up the wall.

Pile of cotton print fabrics, Elizabeth RuffingI’ve collected some cotton prints from both stores too. Walmart now has Waverly prints, and they have a lot of pretty ones. I’m sure I have too many. I’ve been saying I’ll have to give up toy making because I can’t fit myself into the workroom.

Gumdrop Baby art toy by Elizabeth RuffingI’ve been redrafting all my templates for my toy characters. I experimented with my Gumdrop Baby, but I have a feeling I will end up going back to the original pattern. I can’t decide on a face, and whether I should go with a cartoonish more modern face, like the prototype above, or a more detailed antique dolly face. The original Gumdrop Babies are here on my blog. An example of a more detailed antique dolly face is here on Leah.

Oliver Bunny, and kitties Bertie and Jojo, hanging out, relaxing, by Elizabeth RuffingMost of the crew here outside my workroom door doesn’t seem to have an opinion. They like anything they can play with, cuddle with, or in Oliver Bunny’s case, lick.

Trouble black and white kitty cat sneaking up on Santana while he is sleeping, by Elizabeth RuffingThe crew outside doesn’t seem to have an interest either, unless a toy is filled with catnip. Trouble thinks Santana makes a good toy, and likes to sneak up on him while he is sleeping. Santana has no sense of humor about this. This photo was taking shortly before the yowling began. It was short lived. Trouble likes me to escort him home, where he falls over for pets.

Pets are important. Trouble comes looking for me if I don’t make an early appearance outside. Recently, he went all the way to my bedroom window, looking for me.

Trouble black and white kitty cat coming to see me, by Elizabeth RuffingTrouble comes running when he sees me come out in the morning.

Santana orange kitty cat, on the lookout, by Elizabeth RuffingSantana wants the porch and the deck to himself, and takes his guard duty seriously. They really both want me to pay attention to them and they don’t want to share. Eventually, they should get used to the idea. I hope.

Oh, I almost forgot…I keep going to doctors, and getting blood tests and biopsies. My circular rash turned out to be granuloma annulare, which is harmless, with no sure cause. My white blood cell count is consistently high, four times in a row now. We don’t know why. I don’t know if it is linked to the fatigue I have had. I have more appointments and tests, but we may only find out that I am weird. Or my blood is weird? I don’t know. It could be anything or nothing at all. I try not to think about it. I did pretty well, since I forgot to mention it through this whole blog post.

Got to go do stuff. Take care, all.

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Custom fabric, with a special side order of Amoxicillin

Custom fabric printed eyeballs and emblems
I got some more custom fabric printed with my eyeballs and emblems.

Custom fabric printed on fleece eyeballs and superhero emblems by Elizabeth RuffingSince I last wrote about getting eyeballs for my toys printed on custom fabric from Fabric on Demand, which came out great, I went a bit berserko and decided I needed about eight billion varieties.

Oliver Bunny white rabbit sitting on Poly-Fil stuffing by Elizabeth RuffingI contacted Oliver Bunny’s veterinarian and asked what shaped pupils he thought various animals would have, round or oval, and if the oval pupils would be vertical or horizontal. I am lucky he and his colleagues enjoy questions.

Custom fabric printed eyeballs and emblems by Elizabeth RuffingThen I went about designing an exhausting array of colored eyeballs, most of which don’t exist in nature, with both round and oval pupils, along with emblems for my superhero stuffed animals, my Super Slugs and Wonder Bunnies.

Custom fabric printed eyeballs on fleece from Fabric on Demand by Elizabeth RuffingIt took a while to get my custom fabric back from the printer, but my eyeballs and emblems look pretty awesome.

Custom fabric printed eyeballs on fleece from Fabric on Demand by Elizabeth RuffingThey came out of the washer and dryer a little softer looking, which is no surprise with fleece, since it has a fuzzy texture. I am trying to decide if I want to pre-wash my fleece custom fabric. If I do, I will do it by hand, by gently dunking it in the sink, and hang it to dry next time, to preserve the sharpness. The blacks came out nice and black too.

Update: I decided not to pre-wash the eyes and emblems, because I needed to coat them with some Liquitex fabric medium, to make sure the edges didn’t fray when I cut them out, which sealed the surface and made pre-washing unnecessary.

Custom fabric color map printed on fleece from Fabric on Demand by Elizabeth RuffingI downloaded a color map with the hex code numbers for a rainbow of colors, from the popular custom fabric printing business, Spoonflower. I moved the row of blacks and grays to the bottom so I could make the color map a little wider, since fleece fabric is wider than cotton. It still fit on a yard, and I printed that as well.

If you would like to use this wider color map file for custom fabric, I saved it here. It is 42 inches wide and 36 inches long. So, it will fit on one yard of fabric. It was printed at 150dpi, which is what Fabric on Demand recommended. It is good to have, so you can see what the colors you are picking in Photoshop will look like when printed on fabric.

Super Slug stuffed animal superhero in progress by Elizabeth Ruffing and cape fabricsI am working on revising my Super Slug stuffed animal superhero pattern. I ordered some special cape fabrics. I’m going to make a Wonder Bunny plush rabbit superhero cohort for him.

Custom fabric printed superhero emblems, eyeballs, and animal faces on fleece by Elizabeth RuffingI’m also going to make some Hug Me Lambs stuffed animals, and I think, some lop-earred bunnies similar to the lambs, with fleece faces and ears, and either cotton print or fleece bodies.

Cotton planet and stars quilting fabrics from Brooklyn Fabric CompanyI just received a group of really pretty planet and star fabrics, to use for capes for my superhero plush toys, from Brooklyn Fabric Company in Iowa. They have a sale until tomorrow, and they shipped them very quickly.

Granuloma annulare rash on my arm, Elizabeth RuffingIn other news…I’ve been feeling so tired! I know it seems like I’ve been doing a lot, but I have had so much fatigue.

The other night, I was saying to my mom that I thought something had to be wrong with me. At first, I thought it was sleep deprivation, and it may be, but I have also had this strange circular rash under my arm for at least a couple of months, maybe even four months, after my lymph nodes under my arm were swollen, assuming I would have seen it then.

I was concerned it was Lyme disease. My mom was sure that kind of rash always had a red center. I got worried and looked online. Looking online is a good way to get more worried! I found that, with a Lyme disease rash, sometimes the red center disappears, because your immune system attacks the bite area first.

After a lot of rigamarole sorting out my insurance in regard to where I was allowed to go, I ended up at an Urgent Care. Since the tests they have for Lyme are unreliable, and they don’t do them at Urgent Care anyway, if you present for Lyme, they usually go ahead and treat you for it. The doctor didn’t think it was Lyme, but we treated me for it just in case. I picked up my giant horse pills, three weeks of Amoxicillin, three times a day. Whoopee. I started taking them last night. My mom cheerfully said, “Only 59 to go!” Ick.

Update: After testing and biopsies, we found out my circular rash was granuloma annulare, which is harmless, with no clear cause. My white blood cell count however keeps coming back high. We’re still trying to figure that out along with the cause of my fatigue.

Oliver Bunny, white rabbit chewing on a cardboard box by Elizabeth RuffingI have bushes and trees to plant and a certain little furry man to take for his checkup. I’ll see how I do. I’ve been warned to expect some side effects from the Amoxicillin.

Psychologically, I felt better last night, since I was blaming myself for feeling so tired. I’ve had a couple of inquiries about custom toys, and one night this past week, I felt so overwhelmed, I thought I would have to say I couldn’t do them. I felt like I couldn’t make any toys at all. I’ve had trouble even thinking straight lately, although I am feeling better and more rested now. I felt like I needed to go to the rest home and take a long, long nap.

I have been feeling guilty too, that I haven’t gotten my toys done. I’ve had the same nine monsters in progress since the beginning of January. I am hoping the antibiotic and some sleep will turn me around.

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Projects between interruptions

Oliver Bunny investigating my workroom by Elizabeth RuffingIn between the interruptions from our household repairs, I’ve been working at getting my eyeball project resolved. I went down the rabbit hole on this one, and I finally sent my files off to the printer last night, after weeks of fussing and agonizing. Erin, who works at Fabric on Demand kindly answered my questions yesterday, until late last night.

I was watching a rerun of “The Big Bang Theory” recently, where Sheldon has a meltdown while trying to decide between Playstation 4 and Xbox One. I have no interest in gaming systems, but his behavior is so like mine, I keep laughing over it. In spite of collecting every available piece of information to help make a decision, he still fell apart at the store. This is me, trying to buy something that is important to me. I had a dream once that Sheldon was my brother for a reason.

Hug Me Monsters stuffed toy plush by Elizabeth Ruffing, in progressThese are the first eyeball samples I got from Fabric on Demand, and they came out really nice. I, however, made the pupils a bit large, which was causing some of the black to get caught by my needle, while adding my embroidery stitching.

Hug Me Monster and Hug Me Slug stuffed toys in progress by Elizabeth RuffingI then made a gazillion versions on the computer, which I printed on paper, measured, cut out, and pinned onto toys. I made round pupils, then oval pupils, pupils off to the right, centered pupils, vertical pupils, horizontal pupils, small highlights, bigger highlights, highlights to the right, highlights to the left, solid-colored irises, and graded-colored iris.

I had debates over whether slugs would have oval or round pupils, since the “eyes” of real slugs are very hard to see. I looked up gastropods, and I still couldn’t tell for sure, oval or round. I looked up their mollusk relatives, cuttlefish and octopuses, and found they had oddly-shaped horizontal pupils. But what about bunnies? I found bunnies with horizontal oval and vertical oval and round pupils. I went on like this for weeks.

Hug Me Monster and Hug Me Slug stuffed toys in progress by Elizabeth RuffingAbove are the styles I chose. I hope they will be awesome. I have no doubt I will continue to think up changes.

I also sent samples for my lamb face, and emblems for my Super Slug a companion/co-hort Wonder Bunny. I got bogged down again over whether Wonder Bunny should have a “W” or a “B” for bunny on her chest. I asked friends on Facebook to help me solve this dilemma, and “B” won. I think that is best, since tags get separated from toys, and kids will probably make the association between “B” and bunny more easily.

Blog screenshot with Hug Me Bunny, Toad, Monster, Slug, Kitten by Elizabeth RuffingJust before I redesigned my eyes, I redesigned our blog headers, my Facebook page header, and my Etsy toy shop header. I guess if my eyeballs work out, I will have to update those later, along with my business cards.

Ruffing's Blog screenshot with Pixie Kitten fairy cat art dolls by Max Bailey and Elizabeth RuffingThis one is the Ruffing’s blog header, where we have our art dolls and prints.

Orange Fleece Hug Me Kitten stuffed toy by Elizabeth RuffingI also made one of my older-style fleece kittens who was needed as a baby gift. I have a few of these left. I wonder if they should get the new eyes or the old ones! 🙂