Fabric Collections in Early Childhood Settings:

This article is all about the fabric collections we put together for the children in an early childhood centre.

Fabric has so many great uses – for children as well as adults. It can take on different shapes, it moves in the breeze, it comes in different colours, patterns, textures, shapes, sizes, it’s readily available, and very often it is either free, or else very reasonably priced. Sadly, it is also one of the major contributors to waste and land fill around the world. There are tonnes and tonnes of dumped fabric, so much of which could have been put to good use.

In group settings for children’s play, pieces of fabric (including dolls clothes) often end up in a pile somewhere – useful to a point, but difficult to manage and to keep tidy. It can be very difficult to find something specific that you are looking for.

We ended up sorting our fabric into seperate collections (in an area for children aged up to around two). Most of the collections were stored in fabric bags, but there are so many great storage options – pinterest is full of awesome ideas.

These are the collections we put together –

1. Small Dolls Sheets and Blankets:

Storage Bags for small sheets + blankets

We had rectangular canvas storage bags for a lot of our resource collections, including all our small dolls sheets and blankets. The children remembered which cubby hole the dolls sheet bag was kept in (despite all the matching bags!) If they needed extra sheets, they would ask for, or point to the bag so that we could get it down for them.

Usually we would keep a pile of sheets and blankets on one of the shelves. These were often used in combination with our small dolls and dolls beds. Sometimes the children would layer all the sheets they could find, one of top of the other. They would also practise folding the sheets in half, arranging them on the floor, collecting them into bags etc. etc.

Small dolls sheets and blankets are a great use for fabric and wool scraps.

2. Larger Pieces of Fabric:

We kept a wide range of textured pieces of fabric in a large round floor storage bag – these were all sorts of different shapes, sizes, textures and colours – velvet, chiffon, lace, silk ……… I hemmed most of them to stop the fabric unravelling. Quite a few were scarves that we found in opportunity shops, these were great as they didn’t need hemming.

The children used this collection for so many different things – layering fabric on the floor, on each other, on top of dolls and resources, on top of boxes etc. They would sometimes sit on top of the round canvas bag full of fabric, like it was a big cushion, or tip out all the fabric and sit in the bag. They would pull the bag full of fabric around the room, or lift it up and carry it. Sometimes they would lie on it, or jump into it. They would pile the fabric on their heads, cover their faces and laugh at each other, get us to tie the fabric around them like dress up clothes, drape it around their shoulders, wrap things up, lie it over the decking boards and watch the wind blow it across the deck ……. so many different things.

The older children also spent time with us now and then – they had a favourite piece of flowing green floral fabric that they used as an Elsa costume, and an orange piece that was often used for Anna (when the movie ‘Frozen’ was at the height of it’s popularity!) They used the fabric to build huts, for camping, for decoration, for pretending to sleep under, for hiding underneath, for wrapping up presents ……. endless ideas, that were always so fascinating to observe.  =)

3. Fabric for Huts:

We had a collection of large pieces of fabric that were often used for huts. Beautiful saris, large pieces of velvet, see through lace curtains, sheets, blankets etc. etc. Every piece was used regularly. We kept these rolled up in a square shaped box made of fabric.

The older children loved having pegs to use in combination with the fabric. Often they would add numerous pegs down the sides of the fabric pieces! Sometimes they would also peg the small sheets onto the walls of the huts (there are two hanging on the fabric wall in the LH photo below).

Fabric Huts

4. Larger Dolls Sheets and Blankets:

In the older children’s area, there was a collection of larger dolls sheets and blankets. Similar to our collection of the small dolls sheets – although this was a more eclectic mix. For covering dolls, there is just so much scope. Fabric is everywhere, and hemmed pieces make fantastic sheets and blankets. There are also a lot of pre made items that are around the right size for dolls linen – place mats, dressing table mats, lace doilies ….. Once in a while fantastic knitted or crocheted dolls blankets turn up in opportunity shops and at fairs etc.

With a large collection, you can have some of the range stored, and the rest available for the children (matching the quantity and the pieces that they are interested in at the time). There are lots of lovely ways to store and display linen – vintage suitcases, cane baskets, shelving …..

It is also great to have small bags, baskets, suitcases etc. that children can use to transport the linen around the place. A beautifully eclectic range of bed linen is such a pleasure to make use of.

5. Vintage Lace and Linen:

Cloth dolls with sheets and vintage linen

Vintage lace and linen found it’s way into lots of our collections, and we also kept a separate storage bag for it. Opportunity shops, fairs and markets can be such a treasure trove for linen. Some has tiny holes or marks and can cost just a few cents. The range is endless, you never know what you are going to find.  =)

We stored our linen in an envelope shaped fabric bag on one of our shelves. The children found so many ways to incorporate the different pieces into their play. Vintage linen is beautiful to make use of.

6. Fabric Scraps:

One of the later additions to our fabric collections, was a drawstring bag full of fabric scraps. A remnant of un hemmed blue silk fabric turned up in our floor storage bag, and the children were interested in the threads around the edges, the uneven shapes, the fluffiness ….. We then put together a small drawstring bag full of fabric remnants for them to investigate.

The older children often made use of the fabric scraps too – sometimes to make up decorative beds for the cloth dolls.

This is a very easy and inexpensive way to add new variations of colour, shape and texture for children to experiment with.

Dolls beds made up from an eclectic mix of linen, including a scrap of blue silk.

In the older children’s area, there were larger collections of fabric scraps, usually stored in cane baskets. Often one for bigger fabric remnants, and one for tiny bits and pieces.

From left to right – the beginnings of a fabric house/construction (draped over wooden branch tripods), the completed project – hundreds of pieces of fabric, all added individually), draping larger pieces of fabric over a tower of tree stump blocks.

7. Dress up clothes:

For the younger children, we mainly had dress up skirts. We kept these in a small canvas floor storage bag. We always knew where to return them to, and the children knew just where to find them. Like the larger bag for fabric pieces, this one was very portable, and could also be used as a cushion or a seat!

8. Dolls clothes:

We didn’t really have dolls clothes for the younger children, but these are a resource which definitely deserve a beautiful storage container. I have seen so many fabulous dolls clothes in early childhood settings.

As with the dolls blankets, it is great to have a main storage container (vintage suitcase, cane basket, floor storage bag …..) and also some smaller bags or baskets nearby, which are available for children to transport a few clothes around in. It is so much easier for children to plan holidays, picnics, trips etc. if they have good transportation options ready to make use of.

 

One of the most important things I learnt from our fabric collections, is that if things are stored carefully (and beautifully) they become valued and precious. Children remember where their favourite things are, and can find them easily. They remember who loves which pieces of fabric best, and what they like to use them for.

Having each collection of fabric stored separately, also makes it so much easier and so much more satisfying to keep everything looking inviting and beautiful. Putting fabric pieces, dolls sheets etc. back into their seperate storage containers becomes quick and easy – just as it is when any other resources are arranged in their seperate containers. I loved having a special place for everything – with each collection looking beautiful and waiting to be put to use again – a fabric lovers dream! =)

I now work full time on plainlycanvas – it is over a year since I finished working in an early childhood centre, but I can remember the children’s use of fabric so clearly. It always makes me smile when I think of the brilliant uses they found for our eclectic, quirky and very loved collections of fabric pieces.  =)

Please let me know if you would like more information about anything, or if you have stories to share about children’s use of fabric, I would love to hear from you.

With thanks,

Ali.

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14 Inspiring Gifts Ideas for Children – for very little cost ….

I have been wanting to write a list of gift ideas for children, that cost very little to put together (both financially and environmentally), and that can create huge opportunities for exploration and play.

All the suggestions are just the starting point of ideas. Children may like to use the components for all sorts of wide and varied projects and play, according to their own personalities and interests.

Sometimes you just know a child is going to love making use of a particular thing – other times, one idea leads on to the next. The most important thing is to let children lead the way ……… it makes the journey so much more interesting, if the destination is constantly evolving!

The following 14 suggestions are either things that I loved as a child (and an adult!) or things which were loved by the children in the ECE centre where I worked.

(Safety considerations are the same as for any other toys, and will depend on the individual child/children.)

1. A Mud Kitchen.

The children where I worked absolutely loved their mud kitchen! We put it together incredibly economically – mainly we just used what we had around the place.

A rustic, and vey well loved Mud Kitchen.

A very well loved, rustic Mud Kitchen.

We chose a shady area which wasn’t being used very much, and set up a few shelves with concrete blocks and wooden planks. We also added tree stumps, driftwood etc. Together with an array of pots, pans, plates, bowls, utensils ….. from opportunity shops and recycling centres – plus some water containers with taps, it became a fabulous area of unlimited play for the children.

If you wanted to give a mud kitchen as a present (with some great shaped parcels!), here are a few ideas –

  • Find the components – maybe a few bricks and some pieces of wood to make shelving – or some tree stumps – or an old crate. Set them up somewhere outside (preferably somewhere shady), and then take a photo (or draw a picture).
  • Incorporate the photo or picture with the items when you wrap them up. It will mean that children get a fascinating looking package, and they will have an idea of how the things can be used (sort of like when you buy a Kit Set item!)
  • Some of the things could be left in the garden if size is a problem. You could draw a  map to show where they can be found.
Mud Kitchen Ideas

Mud Kitchen Ideas

Mud Kitchen Components

Mud Kitchen Components

Opportunity shops and recycling centres are the perfect places to look for pots, pans, bowls, plates, utensils etc. etc. I have had so much fun over the years, searching for all sorts of things that would go well in the children’s mud kitchen. There is so much to be found, for very little cost.

Another great asset in a mud kitchen is a source of water. A container with a hole in it’s lid, is a great way to make a small amount of water last a long time. You can make a hole in a plastic lid by heating the end of a nail or a skewer, and pushing it into the lid. Be careful with nails, as the whole thing can heat up really quickly! Water containers with taps are also fantastic.

There is a fabulous link to a very characterful, and beautifully simple mud kitchen here. It turns a small collection of items into a magical setting for play.

You may also like to start growing plant cuttings so that children can have some greenery in their mud kitchen. Herbs are fabulous for this, as are Busy Lizzie plants and pansies. (Nov. 2018 – I’m just adding an extra note, as I see there have been problems with Busy Lizzie’s / Impatiens getting downy mildew – if you search on the internet, there is quite a lot of information available about this).

NB: it is possible that the “Mud Kitchen” may morph into something else (eg. a Car Garage) before it is even put together! If this happens, that’s great – what you are really gifting a child, is just the ‘Start of an Idea’ – where the parcel takes them once it’s opened, is up to their imaginations!

For hundreds of beautiful play ideas (including mud kitchens), and a lot of great information on children’s play – take a moment to visit ‘The HeART of Play’, a Pinterest page put together by Kimberley Crisp. For more information on Kimberley, just look on the internet! She does so much to promote the most fabulous free play ideas and experiences for children.

2. A Roading Project.

This is one from when I was a child! We had a big vege garden, and turned part of it into a ‘Village’. We had roads (compressed ground) going everywhere, houses (usually holes dug down into the ground with drives leading into them), car washes (tins with holes drilled into the bottom of them, and a piece of string attached to holes near the top, so that they could be hung up). Plus lots of bridges (pieces of wood), lakes (water in some sort of containers) …….. and so on!

To put this sort of idea together into a present, you could decide on an available piece of land. Make a sign attached to a stick that you could push into the ground, labelling the ground as belonging to the child/children. You could then set up a few bits and pieces – maybe some cars, a few bridges over some holes, something to dig with etc. Then take a photo, or draw a picture, and wrap up the bits + pieces, together with the photo. Include a map as well, so that they can find their piece of land!

The idea is for children to picture how the contents of their present could start coming together to make something exciting.

3. A Fabric Tent.

This is a total classic that is always popular.

Fabric Tent

A Fabric Tent – next to a small Mud Kitchen!

Fabric tents made from sheets are very simple, but it can be challenging to keep the sides supported, especially if the wind is blowing. I found the following things helped a lot! –

  • Make sure you have a strong piece of cord or rope to extend between two points, and pull it tight – I used a tree branch and a fence paling to tie the cord to.
  • Use two sheets, one for each side of the tent, to make extra room inside.
  • Peg both sheets securely along the top of the cord – make sure there is a good overlap for each sheet.
  • Tie knots in the lower corners of the sheets, and also in the middle.
  • Wrap twine around the knots, and then wrap it around a brick (or something else that is heavy) several times, and secure the ends. (or use tent pegs etc.)
  • Put cardboard boxes along the inside edges of the tent  – they will help keep the sides from sagging inwards too much. Banana boxes and wine boxes are great for this.
  • To fix up any further sagging in the sides, sit clothes pegs on the outside of the tent fabric, then, from the inside, hold onto the peg, and twist it around. Once the fabric is tightened, wrap twine around the peg, and tie the ends firmly. This makes the tent sides much tighter, and it also makes ‘hooks’ for hanging things on!
Making a Fabric Tent

Making a Fabric Tent

Tent - inside and out

Fabric Tent – inside and out

To package the tent as a present, roll the fabric up and stand it in a basket, box etc. Include clothes pegs as well. Children may love to extend their tents with extra fabric additions (doors, new rooms etc) – younger children may find traditional ‘dolly pegs’ easiest to use for this. Wine boxes and banana boxes are so useful for storing and transporting all the materials.

Tent Materials

Tent Materials

Opportunity shops sometimes have great baskets for reasonable prices. Supermarkets often have lots of cardboard wine boxes near the checkout isles, they come in all sorts of colours and designs, and children can find endless uses for them! Banana boxes are fantastic too, and are often available in supermarkets, you usually have to ask for these.

Once again, it would be good to take a photo or draw a picture of the hut in place in your garden (or house) and include it with the present.

There is an awesome article about tent making here –

http://lusaorganics.typepad.com/clean/2014/05/backyard-forts-or-lets-not-overthink-this.html

There are lots of additions for huts as well –

  • something to make shelving from – cardboard boxes or a length of wood and a couple of bricks …..
  • floor covering – old fabric, old curtains, blankets, towels etc.
  • cushions, pillows etc.
  • extra fabric to use as doors, curtains, decorations …
  • some things to put on the shelves – maybe a few pieces of sturdy china from the op shop (cups, plates, curios etc!)
  • An old book or magazine that looks like it could be the basis for some great imaginative play (maybe with some old maps in it!)

4. Vintage Linen.

Vintage Linen

Vintage Linen from Opportunity Shops and Second Hand Stores.

There are some very beautiful pieces of vintage linen to be found in opportunity shops. Often there may be small holes or marks on them, but they are perfect for children who love linen and beautiful things, and sometimes they can cost 50 cents or less. There are also some great table cloths, for very good prices – including some awesome retro ones! These are perfect for picnics and for play in general.

5. Tea Sets and other curios.

These can be fabulous combined with the vintage linen (and huts, and maybe a Mud Kitchen as well!) Op shops are a treasure trove of old tea cups, plates, tea pots etc. Some may have chips in them, and this makes them even cheaper.

When I was a child, Mum gave me some old china dishes that I could store on the shelves in my tree hut. A few real treasures make all the difference! =)

Tea Set Collage

A simple ‘tea set’ – just a small jug for water, and some tiny cups.

You could package tea cups etc. with a basket, a tea pot, a table cloth ….. Cups and plates in different patterns often look great together, and they are cheaper if they are not in matching pairs.

Cable reels, crates and even strong cardboard boxes make great tables. These may need a photo with them if you are wrapping them up, so that children know what they can be used for. Once they are a part of their play, they will use them for all sorts of different things – depending on their interests and imaginations.

6. Miniature Bottles.

I have been making a lot of use of these lately. Some of them are very small, and very sturdy – perfect for a few tiny flowers. Daisies and buttercups from the lawn, pansies, lavender – all sorts of flowers (and ‘weeds’) look fantastic displayed in these tiny bottles. Some of them even start to grow roots while they are in the water – lavender is perfect for this.

Miniature Bottles

Miniature Bottles with pansies, daisies, buttercups and lavender.

Opportunity shops, recycling centres and some antique shops can be good places to find miniature bottles.

Including a photo, or a drawing showing the bottles with tiny flowers in them, would be lovely for children to see when then unwrap their present.

 7. Small Plants and Seeds.

These can go really well with Mud Kitchens and Roading Projects! There are lots of plants that grow very easily from cuttings – Busy Lizzie’s being one of the best. They are extremely easy to get started, and they grow very quickly. Lavender is also easy to grow from a cutting – either straight in the ground, or else started off in some water. Pansies grow very readily from seed, as do marigolds.

These plants don’t need potting mix, just ordinary soil is fine. You can usually pick up free pots for growing things in (sometimes garden centres have a crate full of them). Recycling centres and opportunity shops are also good for interesting, eclectic pots. Pinterest is full of ideas for containers that can be used for growing plants.

Seeds can be gathered from anywhere. Pansies and marigolds seed prolifically, and are very easy to grow. You can make your own packing for these, rather than having to buy packets of seeds. Pinterest will have numerous packaging ideas!

8. Containers to hold treasures.

Op shops are perfect for these. Containers of all shapes and sizes, made from all sorts of different materials, are fantastic for holding collections.

Containers for Collections

A few containers to hold small collections – there is endless scope for finding containers in all shapes, sizes, colours and materials!

Natural resources, and whatever other collections children may have, take on a whole new meaning and whole new possibilities once they are put into a great container. The sky is the limit here, you never know what is going to turn up next!

Possible collections are infinite – shells, sea glass, driftwood, buttons, lace, ribbon, seed pods …….

Now and then children may decide to return some of their collections back to where they found them, to make room for new things. It can be really satisfying, and interesting to return something to where you once found it.

9. Miniature World’s.

For children who love to dream about, and to create small settings, the possibilities are infinite. Looking at tiny objects up close, is fascinating.

Miniatures

A piece of tree stump – about 40cm in diameter and 7cm tall – plus daisies, seed pods and stones, driftwood, tiny sticks ……

If you are wanting to package the start of a miniature world as a gift, here are a few ideas –

  • A piece of wood with a few holes in it, is a really good place to start. It means that children are able to stand things up – tree branch cuttings, flowers, seed pods, sticks etc. This gives a whole new dimension to the setting.
  • Any sort of untreated wood is fine  – driftwood, timber off cuts, tree cuttings etc. A nail banged into the timber, and then removed is good for making holes, if you don’t have a drill. Also a skewer is fine on softer wood.
  • Gather together some small containers or drawstring bags, and include the beginnings of some sets of treasures (shells, tiny sticks, stones etc).
  • A cloth bag, a kete, or something else to carry around, would also be lovely to include, so that children can easily collect and transport their own treasures.

10. Dolls sheets and blankets.

For children who love dolls and dolls beds, extra sheets and blankets are a lovely gift idea.

Doll's Sheets and Blankets

Doll’s Sheets and Blankets – stored in boxes with fabric handles.

There are so many beautiful pieces of fabric around the place, and it is great to get them in use. Fabric serviettes, embroidered table mats, doilies etc. can make lovely linen for dolls and dolls beds. Old clothes can also be recycled as dolls sheets.  Family members who love to sew, may be happy to make up some dolls sheets and blankets as presents.

I have noticed there are children who absolutely LOVE to layer fabric. Sometimes 20, 30 or even 60 sheets and blankets at one time – carefully laid one of top of the other! They can be used in so many different ways – inside and outside.

If you are looking for quick and easy storage ideas, wine boxes with one of the sides removed, and fabric handles threaded through holes in the side, may help. They may get squashed fairly quickly, but it is easy to make more! Some wine boxes fit perfectly, one inside the other – this makes them stronger, and also easier to store.

 11. Fabric Squares (small square sheets).

Very much the same idea as with the blankets, but a set of hemmed fabric squares all the same size, can be really popular with some children.

small square sheets and blankets

Small square sheets and blankets – finished size approx. 18cm square.

Often children like to layer them, to arrange them on the floor or the ground,  to display things on top of them …… They can also be a lovely addition to huts and to boxes of treasures.

12. Drawstring Bags.

These are another classic! We had them for our marble collections when I was a child, they were fantastic!

Drawstring Bags

A ‘shirt sleeve’ bag, and a selection of drawstring bags.

I have a sewing pattern for drawstring bags, and also for ‘shirt sleeve’ bags, which are very easy to make. Please let me know if you would like me to email the patterns.

Drawstring bags full of treasures (once again natural resources, lace, ribbon etc) or else just a pile of empty bags for children to fill with their own things, can make a great present.

13. Fabric Collections.

Old suitcases are wonderful for all sorts of collections, especially fabric, and they can add some magic to children’s play …

suitcase + scarves

An old suitcase and a scarf collection

Scarves can often be found for very reasonable prices at opportunity shops, fairs, garage sales etc.

We had a really big fabric collection at the ECE centre where I used to work. The children loved to use the pieces of fabric and the scarves for so many different things – dressing up, layering fabric pieces one on top of the other – on boxes, on the floor, on each other, making huts etc. etc.

Fabric Collections (and part of a cushion collection as well!)

Fabric Collections (and part of a cushion collection as well!)

We also had a collection of very small cushions – all sort of different shapes, sizes, colours and patterns – you can see a few of them in one of the photos above. The long, narrow ones were always really popular!

14. Second Hand Treasures!

I spent a day visiting fairs, garage sales, opportunity shops and antique shops around the Hauraki Plains a few years ago, and this is what I found! ……….

Treasures from a day searching Op shops, garage sales and fairs

Treasures from a day searching op shops, garage Sales and fairs.

I was looking for things for the children at work to make use of, but I also ended up with some great muffin tins for myself!

There honestly is no end to the awesome things that turn up around the place – it is so worth taking the time to search for interesting things that children will love to make use of!

Present Wrapping!

The first time I ever looked up ‘presents wrapped in newspaper’ and ‘presents wrapped in brown paper’ on pinterest, I was amazed. There are incredible ideas there, it is definitely worth having a look! =)

Large presents could also be wrapped in fabric, to save on paper and to make things a bit easier.

 

……. I hope you have found a few helpful ideas. Odds and ends, from all around the place, can make the best presents =)

Please let me know if you would like any more information,

Best wishes,

Ali.

 

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Cloth Dolls and Beds

I started making cloth dolls around 2013. The children at the Early Childhood Centre where I was working, have been making use of them ever since! I wanted to share some of their ideas, and their favourite ways for making use of the dolls and their beds.

Plainlycanvas cloth dolls. The four lighter coloured ones are made from organic bamboo/cotton fabric. The darker fabric is polar fleece.

Plainlycanvas cloth dolls. The four lighter coloured ones are made from organic bamboo/cotton fabric. The darker fabric is polar fleece.

All the dolls are available with a range of skin colours. The organic bamboo/cotton dolls can be filled with wool or polyester. The polar fleece ones are normally filled with polyester.

The 6 different cloth dolls with a range of vintage sheets

The 6 different cloth dolls and beds, with a range of sheets made from vintage linen.

 

By far the most popular use of the dolls and beds by the children where I worked, was layering the sheets and blankets on top of each other ……….

The whole collection of sheets and blankets, carefully layered one on top of the other!

Our collection of sheets and blankets, carefully layered one by one!

Cloth dolls with sheets + vintage linen

Cloth dolls arranged with sheets + vintage linen.

Careful layering of sheets and blankets on one of the dolls

Careful layering of sheets and blankets on one of the dolls.

making use of a rag to cover one of the dolls so delicately

Delicately making use of a towelling rag.

Very carefully covering a doll with rags and blankets

Such beautiful fine motor skills.

 

……. we built up a large collection of sheets and blankets over the years, and it has been a fabulous addition to the children’s play. Children who love fabric, love making  use of the small dolls sheets and blankets.

There are sewing patterns for these, and for the cloth dolls, pillows, mattresses on my website.

http://plainlycanvas.co.nz/sewing-patterns

green bed linen set

A bed linen set.

The sheets are very easy to make. A big set of sheets to go with a cloth doll and bed, would make a beautiful present for a fabric loving child.

Knitted blankets are also fabulous for the dolls beds. For 8 ply wool and size 4 needles, cast on 40 stitches and knit until the blanket measures around 18cm. There are great utube videos which teach you how to knit (and crochet!), and these blankets are perfect first projects!

Some of our doll + dolls linen collection from work.

Some of our doll + dolls linen collection from work.

A collection of sheets and blankets in a huge range of colours, textures and patterns for children to experiment with. A fabric lovers dream come true! =)

A collection of sheets and blankets in a huge range of colours, textures and patterns for children to experiment with. A fabric lovers dream come true! =)

Dolls sheets and blankets - a great way to use up fabric scraps.

More dolls sheets and blankets.

Storage options for dolls linen

A few storage options for dolls linen – floor storage bags, a rectangular shelf storage bag and a large carry bag. (see ‘children’s bags’ on my website for the large carry bag, and ‘storage options’ for the other bags. Scroll down the pages a little)        http://plainlycanvas.co.nz/childrens-bags   http://plainlycanvas.co.nz/storage-options

Storing the sheets and blankets as a collection, makes them so much easier to keep track of, and to look after. I will add lots more ideas for storage containers in another article. Op shops often have great options for interesting and eclectic storage, and pinterest is full of awesome ideas.

Op shops may also have beautiful embroidered table mats. We had a collection of these as well. The children sometimes liked to combine the vintage linen table mats with their dolls sheets and blankets.

The website links to the dolls and beds are below – you will need to scroll down the pages a little ……..

http://plainlycanvas.co.nz/cloth-dolls

http://plainlycanvas.co.nz/dolls-beds-and-linen

http://plainlycanvas.co.nz/doll-and-bed-sets

If you are thinking of buying a cloth doll and bed, there is a wide range of colour options available for the sheets. I am happy to make up orders to suit.

green cloth doll set

green cloth doll set

Please feel free to contact me with any questions and thoughts,

Kind regards,

Ali.

 

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Tiny Dolls

Tiny Dolls on Tree Stump

A selection of plainlycanvas tiny dolls.

The plainlycanvas tiny dolls are made entirely from fabric, wool and thread. They are an intricate, time-consuming job to make – but I love seeing them completed! They are sewn together extremely securely, and made to last a very long time. They are robust enough to stand up to all sorts of adventures, and can easily be washed and dried (hand washing and line drying). They dolls don’t have faces sewn on, so children are able to imagine their look and their expressions. After looking at them so closely when I make them up, I forget that they don’t have visible faces =)  The dolls stand approx. 9.5cm tall. They are available just as they are, or with a removable fleece or lined cape – there is one of each of these in the photo above!

Tiny Dolls on Grass

Tiny dolls made from vintage fabric.

Tiny Dolls - bases

Each doll has a depression in the base so that it stand’s up more easily.

The dolls are designed for children who love collecting all sorts of bits and pieces from nature ……. and anywhere else …….. and then making use of everything to create miniature worlds ……..

A miniature scene

A miniature scene

There are so many natural resources to be found around the place, and so many possibilities as to what to do with them. Looking at items closely, with make believe settings in mind – every little thing can take on special significance ……

Tiny Sticks

Tiny sticks

Daisy's

Daisy’s

Small Seed Pods

Small seed pods

Sea Glass

Sea glass

Everyday items like buttons, beads, lace, fabric, string etc are also great to make use of.

Opportunity shops provide all sorts of curios that are fabulous to play with. They are a great place to look for storage containers for all sorts of precious collections – tins, baskets, bowls, boxes ….

Small drawstring bags are also great for holding collections. I have a drawstring bag pattern that I have saved as a PDF file – please let me know if you would like me to email it to you. They look like this …….

Drawstring bags - sewing pattern available

Drawstring bags – sewing pattern available

Tiny dolls and collections

Tiny dolls and a wide range of possible collections!

Tiny Dolls, Drawstring Bags + a Canvas Carry Bag

A canvas carry bag – holding all of the above!

To see if a child might be interested in tiny dolls and miniature worlds, a piece of wood with a few holes in it can help. Any natural (untreated) piece of wood is fine – holes can be made by banging in a nail and then removing it, or pushing a metal skewer into the wood – or a drill makes things easier! Once a few tree branch cuttings are standing up in the holes, a whole new scene starts to take shape. There is a lot of information available on the internet, regarding which plants are safe for children to make use of.

The main requirements for children who are looking to create tiny worlds – are time, and lack of interruptions – so that they can become fully immersed in their imaginations. If you have the opportunity to watch, without disturbing a child’s concentration, you will see the most beautiful and fascinating scenes taking place.

Lizzy - Tiny Dolls Tea Party

Lizzy - Tiny Dolls + Miniature Worlds

Thanks so much to Lizzy and Rebecca for sharing their beautiful photos. The little wooden house, and the tiny tea set, were bought at the Michael Park School Fair (Nov 2017, Auckland, NZ).

Nature provides the most beautiful settings where the little dolls can come to life. Gardens, parks, bush, the coast – even tiny areas can be big enough. Once a tiny person is placed in a setting, it looks like a new landscape has been created.

Tiny yellow dolls, rocks and Buzzy Lizzy plants

Setting with rocks and busy Lizzy plants

As well as letting your imagination roam freely, interacting extensively with natural resources provides a great appreciation of all that nature offers us. Having an awareness of what is freely available in our own local areas, can add huge possibilities to children’s play experiences.

More information on the tiny dolls can be found on my website –

http://plainlycanvas.co.nz/cloth-dolls

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or thoughts,

Best wishes,

Ali.

 

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How Things Started …..

The very first plainlycanvas products were carry bags. I had noticed that the children in the Early Childhood Centre where I was working, loved to transport balls and other small things around the place. They would often make multiple trips to and from various locations with their bits and pieces. I wondered if they would make use of carry bags if they were available, in order to move greater quantities of things at a time ……… which they did!

canvas carry bag and dolls sheets

canvas carry bag and dolls sheets

As there were several identical bags, a number of children would often collect things at the same time. Occasionally I would see one of them pick something up from a shelf, look at it for a moment or two, and then decide whether or not to take it! Once they had their bags full, they would often head off to a chosen location, and set up their scenarios, depending on their interests at the time – sometimes it would be a picnic or a camping trip, especially after the holidays!

My next range of products were designed with collections in mind.

We had some fabulous resources at work, but our storage systems were a challenge. Now and then we would rearrange everything in the hope it would stay looking organised, but it never seemed to last!

Eventually I began to sew storage bags using plain heavyweight, cotton canvas. I made square and rectangular bags to fit in our cubby holes, and tall thin cylinders that would fit inside the larger bags. Gradually our collections became housed in their new containers – I sewed until everything had a home! Canvas labels (written on with a fabric pen) were attached to patches of velcro on the outside of the storage bags and ….. everything stayed organised and easy to find!

This system worked well for us, and the fabric proved robust and washable.

rectangular storage bags + labels

canvas storage bags + labels

canvas labels on rectangular storage bags

removable canvas labels

scoops in cylinder

scoops in one of the cylinders

metal bowls in rectangular storage bag

metal bowls in a rectangular storage bag

And from shelf storage bags, to floor storage bags, dolls, dolls beds and so on ……. and on!

I will gradually add blog posts on the various products, and the ways in which children may like to make use of them. I will also give ideas for all the natural resources and everyday items that add whole new dimensions to the plainlycanvas products.

Thanks for your interest!

Until next time ……

Best wishes,

Ali

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