Creativity 101: Have a go – Felt Craft

If you’re still not sure what to make, but you really want to sew, try using felt.

Why felt?

  1. It’s easy to use
  2. If you’re not confident with stitching, you can just use glue
  3. You can make almost anything with it
  4. It’s relatively stiff, and doesn’t fray
    • It easy to cut, align and stitch
    • You can use very small pieces to add embelishments
  5. You can draw straight onto it
  6. There are a huge number of free felty patterns online

Where can you get felt?

You can find felt at most craft stores, including some $2 stores.  Generally I go to Spotlight, or online places like Craft Co., and Trendy Trims. Some Etsy stores have an amazing range of colours and thicknesses.

Embellishments are also easily found at $2 shops and craft stores – embroidery floss, buttons and braid all work well.

What can I make with felt?

Anything you like!

No really! You’re only limited by your imagination and the amount of felt you own.

Here’s a quick project that might be a fun place to start.

Crafting a Felty Friend

You will need:

  • Enough felt to cut out the template twice
  • A small piece of white & a small piece of black felt (OR two small buttons)
  • Embroidery floss of any colour (the same colour as your felt, a contrasting or complementary colour).
  • Sharp scissors
  • A marker (something that will show up on your felt)
  • Fabric glue
  • A small amount of wadding/stuffing
  • A couple of pins
  • A needle
Felty friend

Felty Friend template

What to do:

  1. Download and print the Felty Friend Template (or draw your own design! Post a picture of your finished product)
  2. Cut out the main shape and position it on your felt so you have room to cut out two copies.
  3. Draw around the template once, turn the it over, find an empty space and draw around it again.
  4. Cut the shapes out.
  5. Turn one piece over so that the side that you have drawn on is facing down.
  6. Cut out two small circles of white felt, and two tiny circles of black OR choose two buttons to sew on for eyes.
  7. Use fabric glue to stick the eyes on OR sew the buttons on.20170617_024816
  8. Below the eyes, a few small stitches create a nose, and use backstitch to create a mouth or any other embellishments (eyelashes, scars…)
  9. Pin the two shapes together (drawn sides facing)
  10. Sew the pieces together using blanket stitch. If you don’t want to sew, just glue them together to make a flat friend.
  11. Leave a small gap between A & B to push the stuffing through (don’t tie off your thread yet!)
  12. Push stuffing into your shape until it is evenly filled (as full as you like).  A skewer can help push the stuffing right into the points.
  13. Backstitch across the gap & tie off your thread.
  14. Well done! You’ve made your first Felty – now try creating your own design!

Creativity 101: Crafty ideas

People sometimes ask where I get ideas of things to make.

dhmis get creatice title card

Screenshot from Whatsoever Critic‘s review of DHMIS

Generating crafty ideas

The unhelpful answer to this question, is that, for me, crafting ideas just come. Usually when I’m thinking about or doing something that I enjoy, and it reminds me of someone that I care about.

Linda Naiman, founder of Creativity at Work is more helpful.  She suggests that having new ideas is just a matter of:

  1. Connecting ideas, questions or problems – Noticing that  Totoro is beanbag shaped.
  2. Asking questions – Wondering whether beanbags can have limbs?
  3. Watching other people – Seeing my sister trying to convince my nephew that he can’t wear his tiger onesie all the time.
  4. Spending time with people who think differently – Checking out Minecraft because a friend loved it so much.
  5. Trying out something just to see what happens – putting lollies into holes in gingerbread, then baking it.

Implementing your idea

Once you have a crafting idea, the best thing you can do is just have a go and see what happens.

I think a lot of people are scared of crafting because they think that they can’t do it. They see the stuff that ‘experts’ make, and feel like they’re going to be judged if they don’t immediately produce something amazing.

Basically, it’s like Julie Burnstein suggests – do a bit of background research, and then wing it. After all:

  • Other people don’t know what you were intending to create.
  • Sometimes mistakes produce something better than your original idea.
  • Most crafting materials are pretty forgiving – and I usually get more than I think I’ll need, just in case.
  • You can always hide the evidence… nobody will ever know unless you tell them – and if you don’t mind laughing at yourself, it can make a great story.

Just remember – if your first idea doesn’t work, don’t give up.  Just try it again using a different strategy.

 

Revenge of the Periwinkle*

*Euphemism provided by Feministing.

One of the side effects of having a Mirena placed is that your uterus then goes on an approximately three month long passive aggressive low-level revenge bleed.  Although this is not particularly messy (for the most part, it’s much lighter than a normal period), it does require substantially more liners than one would usually utilise in a normal period.

I’ve been using cloth pads for several years now, as they are more environmentally friendly and they also tend to be less irritating than the store bought contraptions (they’re less crackly too – I hate having plastic in my pants!).  However, my collection has been optimised to my standard period and did not include nearly enough liners to cope with this onslaught.  I hunted out the online stores that I bought my original collection from, and discovered that a number of them had closed, which was disappointing.  However, the construction seemed pretty straightforward and I have a sewing machine, and a stash which includes leftover flannelette – so I figured, what could possibly go wrong?

And for once, very little, was the answer!

I used one of my existing pads for a template, which was essentially a rectangle with curved corners that is approximately 15omm x 200mm, and did my best to cut pieces of the correct shape out of the flannelette that I had left over from the Jedi Pants. Unfortunately, most of the scraps that I had weren’t quite the right width, but I was able to cut out some half pieces and sew them together to make up the full shape for each pad.20161210_225441

Each pad required two pieces cut using the template, and a third rectangle, about 70mm in width, that runs the full length down the centre of the pad (if this was for a full pad, I would use additional layers including a layer of toweling as the triple flannelette layer is really just absorbent enough for spotting).

After that, it’s all pretty easy – just placing all three layers in the correct spot, pinning them in place and stitching around the edges, and then down either side of the insert. I then tidied the edges using the overlocker – all of the stitching is on the outside, there are no hidden seams.

The final step was to add the snaps.  I originally bought plastic snaps, as these are more likely to cope with the abuse resulting from soaking and cleaning the pads.  However, apparently these require a special punch that doesn’t come with the snaps!  And this lovely punch costs about $30.  So I ended up going with the standard metal snaps that I already had in my stash, as they come with a punch in the kit!

The main thing that you need to consider is making sure that the snaps are in the right orientation – you want them to snap together around the crotch of your undies!

The Little Mermaid’s Tail

So – this is a bit late: I completed this project almost a month ago now – but life has been deeply hectic.

My niece is a little princess, who loves fairies and mermaids and my little pony.  I was racking my brains over what to make her for her birthday this year, when I came across the crochet mermaid blanket thing.  I’m not brilliant at crochet – only managing half of a coral crochet project a few months back, but sewing I could manage, so a mermaid tail sleeping bag plan began to form.

The basic plan involved a triangular tail, with flukes.  The width at the top of the tail was ??? cm tapering to ???cm at the feet.  With each fluke ?? cm from the midline of the tail to the tip of the fluke. (Image & details to come – I left my notebook at TeddyBear’s house).  I’ve also misplaced some of the photographs from the planning and cutting phase due to changing phones in the middle of the project.

I had bought the fabric several weeks before I began the project, as I had been procrastinating due to uncertainty as to how I wanted to do it – so as I began cutting out the pieces, I realised that I was seriously short of fabric, and had to do an emergency trip to Spotlight to get more fabric and wadding.

Lesson #1: design your pattern BEFORE buying fabric!

As I wanted the sleeping bag to be warm and comfy, I constructed an outer shell which was quilted and attached to the flukes. I then created a lining layer that wasn’t quilted from a soft blanket from the warehouse.

The outer shell involved two sides of tail-plus-fluke, each made up of three layers: an outer layer of satin, a middle layer of dacron and an inner layer of cotton (mostly cut from an old sheet – they’re great for toiles and lining!  Thanks TeddyBear for that tip!).

20161113_001402

This is a single side in its final form – there were two of these created, this one (the back) and a front, which was basically identical (except without the seam down the midline of the flukes).

This was surprisingly difficult to sew together as the different textures of the three fabrics moved through the machine very differently.  I found that sewing with the satin on the top worked the best – maybe the cotton caught on the feeder better or something.  But I also had to pin the three layers together very thoroughly before I started.  I also found that the edges ended up very scrappy, so I decided to neaten them all by overlocking before any further steps were taken.

Lesson #2:Using sewing machine needles specifically for satin really makes a difference to how easy things are to sew!

Because of the fabric error, I ended up having to make the flukes separately to the tail, and the flukes of the back in two parts, which left ugly seams across the joints. I would have preferred to have avoided this, but the cost of the fabric required was prohibitive, given that I had already cut out and started constructing the tail when I worked out my mistake!

I then progressed onto sewing the front and back flukes together ready for adding the rays. The lines of the rays were basically drafted onto a piece of newspaper, then pinned onto the flukes. The seams for each ray were stitched ~half a foot width either side of the row of pins. These created guides that I could use to bone the rays using large cable ties.  I used two thicknesses of cable ties per guide, as I found that a single thickness was ok, but not particularly strong.

Lesson #3: laying the cable ties out along the guides (on the outer surface), and cutting them to the correct length BEFORE pushing them into the guides would mean that you only had to do the job once!

Once the cable ties had been cut to size and threaded into the guides, I did a single row of stitching around the proximal ends of the guides, to keep the boning in place.  This also served to create a defined foot pocket for the niece to put her feet in, so that she could flop the tail around more effectively.

I then began the quilting of the tail. I used a paper template to ensure that each scallop that I created was approximately the same.  I made this from a long strip of paper, folded into 8 equal parts, with a single scale drawn on the front part and cut out through the whole thickness (paper doll style).  The strip was then unfolded to give a template that could be used to sew across the whole width of the tail. Initially I tried chalking or marking the scallops from the template onto the fabric and sewing along the drawn line, but the chalk didn’t stay on the fabric well, the chalk powder wheel pulled and damaged the satin and the disappearing ink disappeared.  So I went with pinning the template across the tail and stitching around it.

Lesson #4: quilting works best when you have a flat, easily manipulated surface to work with – trying to do shaped quilting around a stiffened set of flukes is complicated at best!  Next time, I would do the quilting BEFORE I did the fluke boning.

The rows of scales were placed approximately 20cm apart on both the front and back sets, although when I came to stitch up the side seams, I discovered that the ‘more or less’ approach has resulted in rows of quilting that didn’t quite match up between front and back.  This was frustrating, but I was running out of time, and couldn’t bring myself to go back and unpick the offending rows of quilting.  In addition, there was the problem with the outer fabric being satin, which doesn’t respond at all well to repeated sewing.  So, I matched them up as best I could and sewed up the sides to make a full bag. There were some tricky bits as a result of having sewed the flukes before I sewed up the sides; I think that next time, I’d sew the front and back of the whole bag including flukes at the same time, then do the boning.  It’d be more annoying in terms of burrowing to find the spaces for the boning to go in, but would make for a neater outcome in the end I think.

The final part of the bag was the lining.  I considered making this removable, but decided that in the end it would be pretty easy to wash the whole thing, and would be less complicated for my sister to deal with if it was all one unit. Sewing this up was pretty easy – it was the same shape as the tail sans flukes, and with a small foot pocket that fit into the pocket at the base of the flukes so that the niece’s feet would fit into the ends and allow her to flop the tail around.

The first step was to put the outer part of the tail inside the lining (right sides facing), so that I could sew the first seam attaching the lining to the outer.

Lesson 5: When sewing lining to the outer, you need to leave a gap so that you can turn it all in the right way.

As the lining was longer than the outer, I could fold it out over the top opening to create a space for a cord to run through so that she could pull the top tight if she wanted to.  This involved extensive pinning and two rows of stitching, one a foot’s-width from the top edge and one a foot’s-width from the edge of the fold.  I then used the loose ends from the quilting to tack the lining into the outer part of the sleeping bag, so that it didn’t get loose and tangled around her legs as she slept.  I was lucky to find a beautiful sparkly piece of cord at Spotlight with the same colours as in the tail, plus a toggle.

Apparently it was a successful process, as the Niece spent my entire visit in the sleeping bag: I wish I could show you her face (she was pretty happy), but you know – privacy and protection of kids etc.

20161203_151242-joined

So there’s the Little Mermaid – with a happier ending than the original story.

A Large Ungrowly Tiger

So, the last quarter of the year is quite busy in terms of birthdays, with Mom, the nephew and my niece all having birthdays about a month apart.  Intensive creating is required.

The nephew has a thing for tigers (or cats in general, I am beginning to believe), except when he has a thing for dinosaurs… he also loves to sit on the niece’s beanbag and read, which the niece is unimpressed about. so something had to be done…

I had been thinking about the design of this beanbag for a while, and putting off building it for nearly as long, as I really didn’t know how to start – I had images of Hobbes in my head, but not much of an idea of how to start building it.

I was lurking in the toy pile trying to find some inspiration, when I spotted the hippo that I’d bought as a present for TeddyBear a few weeks ago.  I experimented with sitting on it and realised that its body shape was going to be pretty close to what I needed for the body.  I just had to make a pattern from it.

This was trickier than expected, and involved laying paper over the hippo, identifying key locations using pins, taking the paper off and trying to draw the shape, followed by pinning it back onto the hippo and changing the bits that were wrong.  I finally got a structure for the body (which turned out to be a bit less like Hobbes than I was hoping, but was still acceptable.

I used the pattern that I had created, sans legs to create a bag for the beans – my niece and nephew are extremely energetic and very curious beasties, and a beanless bean bag, while probably creating a better shape, is a recipe for disaster.  (For some reason, I don’t have a photograph of the completed bag, but it was relatively baglike in structure, albeit somewhat longer and thinner than a regular beanbag).  I followed the instructions on the bag of beans this time, snipping off a bottom corner of the bag, rather than opening the top, and found the filling process considerably easier than last time.  I still managed to fill it too much, but fingers crossed, the beans will compress relatively quickly and it will be a little less solid!

Once the bag was built and filled, it became slightly easier to visualise the construction of the outside.

I started by cutting out the back pattern with orange fur (I ended up having to use orange camouflage polarfleece, because I couldn’t find any orange or tiger striped fur).  I wanted to cut the back piece on the fold, but it was too big for the fabric, so required two pieces with a seam down the back.  The legs were also orange, and the stomach and paw pads were cut from a wooly knit fabric, which incidentally, was the same fabric as my very first onesie, so that was kind of nostalgic.

I sewed the inner leg pieces onto the belly piece and then sewed the sides of the belly piece onto the back. I then made the tail.  This basically constituted a metre long, 15cm wide, strip of orange, and a 15x15cm strip of white, sewed together, then sewed into a long tube with a curved end in the white section.  This was turned right-side out, and lightly stuffed with Spotlight toy stuffing (I used over 1kg of this altogether for the whole beanbag and now owe TeddyBear a bagful), before being attached to the bottom of the back piece at the centre back seam.  I sewed each seam twice for strength, as I do not have double needle capability on my wee Elna.

I then attached a zip that ran most of the width of the bottom seam.  This was to create a means for removing the bag if it needed filling or the body needed washing (although given the complexity and bulk of the rest of the tiger, spot cleaning will probably end up being the preferred option!).  I couldn’t find a bulky enough zip with closed ends, so used a jacket zip and just tacked the ends together and made sure that the top-stitching also brought the edges of the seam across the end of the zip to discourage any tugging that might make the zip parts separate.  I actually found that I quite liked working with an open ended zip, as it gave me a little more room to manoeuvre, despite the final bits of messing around that were needed to neaten the ends.

I then sewed the foot pad onto the body and stuffed the legs.  I decided to sew the legs closed once stuffed, to prevent the stuffing migrating back out into the body during play.  In hindsight, I wish that I had actually sewn the detail of the toes before closing the legs off, as some of the legs could have done with a little more stuffing to shape the feet.

I then put the bag of beans into the body case and experimented with closures.  I eventually decided to gather the neck, using a double thickness of nylon wool.  This created a tight bundle that could be put inside the head.

The head was a different story though… a story of frustration and outsourcing.  I tried a couple of ideas based on the standard teddy bear head pattern that I have used many times over the course of my creative endeavours, but couldn’t quite work out how to create the shapes and textures that I wanted.  So I called my friend Doctor Google, and found this perfect pattern… unfortunately, it was entirely in Russian, with no instructions for how the pieces were meant to fit together.  I hunted around online to try and find the original pattern creator and found another website which indicated that the Pretty Toys patterns may well be pirated (the prettytoys.ru website doesn’t work), so I cannot be sure that I am crediting this pattern appropriately – however, if anyone does know who to credit it to, I am happy to pay for the pattern and credit the original designer.

Back to the problem of the Russian pattern – it’s written in Cyrillic, and the pattern was an image, not a PDF or word doc, so the names of the pieces couldn’t be cut or pasted.  Luckily, I remembered that one of my work colleagues was Russian, and asked her if she could translate the words.  This, she very graciously did, which helped immensely – I now knew which pieces to cut out, in which colour, even if I didn’t know how they were meant to go together.  I then had to scale them all up by a factor of 4.4 (the difference between the curve of the back of the head piece, and the back of the head of the hippo). This may not have been quite correct, given that I thought that the most curved part of the back of the head was the centre back seam… but it is what it is…

I also discovered that I did not have fabric for creating the eyes, nose or mouth.  The mouth was relatively easily solved, once I found the tail of a unicorn onesie that I have – I don’t like the tail, so it had been relinquishing in my stash while I thought about creating an alternative tail made out of rainbow ribbons (which I still haven’t done).  I also found a scrap of black sweat-shirting leftover from the nephew’s last birthday present, which was ideal for the nose.  I found the perfect fabric for the eyes in the scrap bin at Teddybear’s house, I’m not sure where the black came from, but the white was a slightly shiny lining fabric leftover from his overalls.  Then it came time to cut it all out. Interesting puzzling ensued.

After rearranging pieces repeatedly, and generally feeling confused, I decided to bite the bullet and just sew.  The ears were relatively simple – functioning much as ears do in any plushie – orange side sewn to white side.  The nose, nose bridge and forehead were also relatively easy to work out, with the black piece sewn to the broader end of the nose bridge and the orange forehead sewn to the narrower part.  In hindsight, I would not have sewn the indicated darts in the forehead piece, as it created an odd shape and my lack of skill meant that it wasn’t as smooth as it could have been.  I thought that the back of the head was straightforward – and sewed the most curved sides together – this produced a very odd shape, which I considered altering with a second seam, before wondering whether sewing the less curved pieces together would produce the shape I was after… this was indeed the case!

The face pieces were more of a puzzle, which I solved through sewing darts, referring to the picture in the upper left hand side of the pattern, and translating and rotating pieces until they seemed to fit.  Overall, I was pretty happy with the outcome.

The eyes were created using the old favourite Ez-Steam II, first used here. They were cut out and pressed by hand (rather than ironed) onto the side face pieces.  The first layer was the white piece, pressed on, then satin stitched around the edge.  This was followed by the black piece, which was pressed on and also satin stitched around the edge.  The side face pieces were then sewn to the muzzle before the pieces of white fur were attached to the sides, creating a sort of mane between the front of the face and the back.

The head was then stuffed and the septum of the nose created.  For this, I used a quadruple thickness of some waxed cotton that I bought years ago for a bag project, and it worked well enough, but I am always surprised by how easily this breaks.  I’m not sure that I quite got the face shape right – I think I needed to add some extra structure, but I couldn’t quite work out how to do it.

Because the waxed thread kept breaking, I decided to try using nylon wool for the gathering around the neck and the remaining structuring of the feet and I think that this did work better.  I gathered the neck using a double thickness of wool to make the neck hole as small as possible, then played around with location.  I think that I probably made the front of the body too long, as the head sits a bit funny when the tiger is upright, but I found the best position that I could, and stitched the head to the body as firmly as I could, with two rows of stitching with a double thickness of wool.

To make the toes, I used a double thickness of black nylon wool, and sewed each pinch twice.  The basic process goes (pulling the wool fairly tight at each step as you are trying to create a strong pinching effect):

  1. In at about 1/2 the way down the foot pad, about 1/3 of the way in from the side.  Leave a loop of wool hanging out of the foot pad.
  2. Out at the ankle, slightly medial to the centre seam
  3. Back in at the point of first insertion, looping through the wool loop
  4. Out at the other side of the foot pad (about 1/3 of the way in from the OTHER side).
  5. Back in just next to this out point
  6. Out at the ankle, lateral to the centre seam
  7. In at point 5, out at point 6
  8. In at point 5, out at point 1
  9. In just next to point 1, out at point 2
  10. Loop under the wool and tie off firmly
  11. Push the needle into the foot at point 9 and pull it out anywhere really.  Cut close to the exit point and then let the fabric spring back, pulling the thread into the stuffing, leaving no loose ends.

You will need to rearrange the stuffing in the toes to make sure that they are well filled and look like toes, rather than weird mutant appendages – this is why it would have been a good idea to create the toes before sewing the legs closed – but by the time I realised this, it was much too late and I wouldn’t have been able to manipulate the tiger around my machine at all (too much stuffed bits and general bulk).

I was somewhat unhappy with the overall shape around the shoulders, but honestly, I don’t think the nephew noticed, once he was jumping on the tiger and cuddling it.

I guess I can consider it a success!

My Little Birdy Neighbours

It was recently my Mom’s birthday – our family isn’t big on presents, going for something either extremely useful, or handmade, it was a bit of a mission trying to think of something that might fit either or both categories.  However, she does enjoy the garden (when it doesn’t involve too much work – as she has a bad back), and also looks after the niece and nephew at times – both of whom are quite fond of animals.  So, when I was wandering around the internet in search of inspiration, and saw an ad for home-made bird-feeders on trade-me, it seemed like a great idea!

I don’t have a full set of woodworking tools, by any stretch of the imagination – but a saw, hammer and a piece of sandpaper would surely be adequate I thought.  They were – but it’s amazing how unstraight one can cut things despite ruled lines and careful measurements!

Anyway – I forged ahead – collecting some precut pinetrim boards from the local Bunnings.  one 60 x 10 x 900 mm and one 135 x 10 x 900mm and a piece of 12mm dowel for good measure.  I also got a can of oil based spray varnish, for finishing it – and making sure that the paint didn’t wash off in the rain.

The roof and end walls I cut out of the wider board – the roof was intended to be about 25cm long and the end walls 20cm.  I then cut the narrower board to make a trough for the seed.  I figured that a ‘v’ shaped trough would be the best option, as it would allow any water to drain out, preventing the seed getting gross and mouldy (although I didn’t count on my general cutting and nailing inaccuracies), so I cut just two pieces also 25cm in length.  I later realised that this was NOT what I should have done, and needed to cut about 5cm off each of these pieces so that the end walls fitted under the roof and there was a short overhang on the roof.  I also cut the dowel to the wrong length (I should have cut all three pieces to be 20cm in length.

20161015_160454

I glued the pieces of the roof together with wood glue and left them overnight to dry. I don’t have any workshop equipment, so had to create structures to support the glued elements using books, gladwrap and wood offcuts that we use for the fire to prevent the pieces being kicked or just randomly falling over.

Next, I painted the images on the end walls – little Totoro (my niece, who visits my Mom every Friday, loves Totoro) and one of the Moomin trolls on the other end (she would love the Moomins too – and the picture might spark her interest).  Turned out, I thought I had acrylic paint, but only had watercolours – I went ahead and used them anyway – hoping that the varnish would protect them from the elements.  I’m not super confident with drawing directly onto wood, so I drew the pictures onto paper first – thanks Google for pictures to copy!  I then shaded the back of the picture with a soft pencil (to create a kind of carbon paper) and drew over the outlines again pressing into the wood.  It was also soft enough to get a small dent where the pencil pressed.

I used two layers of white for the base, then black paint for the outlines and a tiny bit of ochre with water for the paper.

I then realised that I needed to cut the corners off the tops of the end pieces, so that the roof could be firmly attached – this was also when I realised that I had cut the trough pieces too long – so back to the steps and the old rusty saw I went.

Trying to glue the trough pieces to the end walls was tricky – I needed to make sure that the nails were going to go into the ends of the trough pieces, so I put the pieces where I thought they should go, then drew a line along the bottom edge and nailed the two nails for each piece through from the wrong side, just far enough to make a hole on the other side of the wood.  I then pulled the nails back out, and nailed them through from the right side, just far enough to poke out into the trough boards which I glued to the end board.  I then propped it up rather precariously to dry (this wasn’t the best idea – as you can see in the picture – the glue did not dry with the piece of wood flush against the end piece, so the connection isn’t as tight or strong as I would like.

20161016_105022

For the second piece, I didn’t put the nails through from the right side before gluing, which worked rather better in terms of tightness, but not in terms of placement of the trough pieces, so the trough ended up with a bit of a gap between the pieces.  Given that the seeds are pretty tiny, this is not ideal, as the seeds all pretty much just fell through – so I glued a piece of dowel along the gap (not shown in photographs as this little brain waggle happened just before I delivered it to Mom) – this worked surprisingly well, filling the gap almost perfectly.  The other piece of dowel went on the side (see the X in the image above) so that the birds had something extra to stand on.

I used the same approach to get the roof on, drawing the line, nailing from the wrong side and pulling the nails out and then nailing from the right side, this worked fairly well, and I was pretty happy with the outcome for this – other than the discovery that most of my cuts had been wonky and so the whole thing is slightly skewed (hopefully it won’t affect the birds).

Once it was finished, I used two coats of spray varnish – and voila! Pretty little bird feeder.  It is suspended via a loop of twine, and two cup hooks.  I hung it up at Mom’s today while she was out (unintentionally managed to miss seeing her to give it to her personally) I wonder when she will notice it..

A Jacket for Sans

So, DK has been obsessed with Undertale for the last six months.  Although it looks like a brilliant game with some great humour in it, it’s not really my cup of tea – I’m not a fan of bullet hell type games.

So anyway, this obsession has progressed into something of a passion for Sans, one of the NPCs in the game.  He’s a skeleton that wears a hoodie.  In the game, he’s just black and white.  In the fan art, he wears a blue hoodie and blue is apparently his colour.

A hoodie was requested.

I was surprised at how difficult it was to find a pattern that fit the specifications, and even more surprised at how difficult it was to find the right coloured fabric.  Based on the colour of most of the fan art I found on my phone whilst at Spotlight, I bought a lovely royal blue (which I colour checked with her Kittiness by emailing a photograph of before purchasing).  Once I got it home, it was deemed far too dark and we had to go on another mission to try to find the appropriate colour.

This mission was largely unsuccessful, and mostly led to complaints of boredom.  Eventually I found a sky blue, which I thought was completely wrong, but which DK decided was the right colour and pattern cutting began.

Initially, I decided to use NewLook Easy 6142, but the pattern pieces ended up looking more like a dress than a hoodie.  I did have a copy of the KwikSew Sewing for Children book lying around, and had planned on using it to help with the pockets (DK wanted a welt pocket, which the other pattern did not have).  This was actually quite a useful book, as it has several generic pattern pieces that can be essentially mix ‘n’ matched to make whatever you want.  It also fit rather better.

The process was ultimately pretty simple.  It was the first time I had ever done welt pockets, and the first one, I didn’t cut into the corners deeply enough – so they were less beautiful than I had hoped.  The location on the jacket was also odd – but I didn’t really notice this until I had finished – whereby I realised that it would have been better to have chosen the position of the pockets after trying the jacket on, rather than just going with the location given in the pattern.  I think the second pocket worked better than the first.

The other thing that I discovered with welt pockets is that the instructions make it look much harder than it really is.  At least, harder to do in a general sort of way.  They are definitely tricky to do brilliantly!

The hood posed another challenge.  The pattern called for a simple turning hem, with a tie threaded through it.  But DK wanted fur (fair enough – this is a cosplay costume after all).

The fur that we had chosen was extremely long pile, and I don’t usually sew fur with a machine – I much prefer hand sewing, as you don’t end up with fluff clogging the machine, and you can lift the pile out of the seam as you go.  However, for strength and neatness, I decided to go with a machine seam.

The first seam was relatively easy – right sides together stitching the fur to the hood.

The second seam was a little trickier and took some thought.  I finally decided to go with a top-stitching approach, as this would make the fur lie flat against the hood, so that the backing fabric wasn’t poking into her head.  How to keep the fur out of the machinery though?

Given that I was top-stitching, I wanted to have the foot on the outer surface, and the blue part, to keep the seam as even as possible. Also, the fur caught in the foot, which is annoying.  This meant that the fur had the potential to catch rather badly on the feeder teeth and gum up the bobbin mechanism, which was quite undesirable.  I had a bit of leftover pattern paper, so I pinned the hood to this and sewed the seam with the paper attached.  The paper then basically became perforated, and was really easy to rip off!  Go me!  I like when I have brilliant ideas!  I think it would probably have worked better with greaseproof paper than with the newsprint that I had, but it was generally successful.  The bobbin still got full of fluff and had to be cleaned before the tension went back to normal though :-(.

The ends of the fur were a bit tricky to tidy up, as they had to enclose the zipper. I ended up hand stitching these, just to make them as neat as possible, and I really didn’t feel like cleaning out the machine again for such small seams.

Basically, I trimmed the fur to about 2cm longer than the end of the hood and poked the ends, and the end of the zipper up inside the tube created by the fur trim.  I then used ladder stitch to close the pocket up and keep everything neat.  It seems to have worked, and will be simple enough to repair should my stitching be of inadequate quality.

So there you have it.  A hoodie that is apparently worthy of Sans (or if DK’s pose is to be believed, Cthulhu) himself.  As you can see, the pockets are a little high, and possibly a bit too widely set – but this will be easily resolved if I use this pattern again (and given that I have a pile of blue fleece that was bought for the purpose of this jacket, I may well break with tradition and make the same thing twice).

20161023_145749