Ok, I'm not even going to try and hide it. I'm so effing proud of this I have to show it off and ramble about it in its own little post.
Backstory: I made this for a swap. The requirements were that it be handmade, no bigger than 4 inches, and be based on one of your partner's favorite cartoons.
I freely admit I was disappointed when my partner listed The Giving Tree as one of her favorites. BOR-ING!
But there-in lay the challenge. I'm no fan of the glurgy, kind of preachy feel of The Giving Tree but that doesn't mean I can't make a kick ass item for it.
Yeah, I totally chose the stump on purpose. Kind of like a protest. But a super fabulous cute as a freaking bug's ear protest (if I do say so myself).
The stump is two layers of corduroy (sew inside out, then turn) attached to a piece of cardstock/thin cardboard paper covered with muslin (embroidered onto low loft cotton quilt batting). I attached the muslin circle to the cardboard circle doing the running stitch to gather the edges around the cardboard (then tie it off).
Attach the muslin/batting/cardboard disc to the corduroy bark just above the top seam (helps keep it even) and only stitching through one layer of the bark and just along the edge (and slightly under) the muslin disc (so you can't see the stitches when you're done).
Then cut a piece of cardboard tube (paper towel tube in this case) and cover with a layer of batting (I just tucked it in, no sewing or gluing necessary). Insert the padded tube into the corduroy bark. Make sure the roots are fully stuffed (polyfil) and lightly stuff the bark where it looks necessary. THEN seam up the bark over the tube. I did it in layers. The part of the bark that touched the tube I tacked down first (but didn't close up the opening--only tack down one layer). Then I tucked the free end into the tacked end and finished closing up the seam being careful to make small stitches and get as clean a closure as possible.
Then I needed to tie down the muslin a bit. It was poking up and not laying smooth, so I ran one anchoring stitch over the french knot in the center (up from underneath and back down) and then all the way through the tube and tied off on the bottom of the piece.
But first I needed to make the heart (it was just a bit of batting with embroidery, then stitched on with minimal stitches) and add the grass. The grass is just ric rac attached with clear thread. Clear thread is a bitch to work with but SO worth it. You can't see the stitches at all (the whole point!) and it really made the grass pop (so did twisting the ric rac a bit to give it more dimension).
Free hand embroidery for the rings. No need to make it perfect since trees don't have perfect rings. I did back stitch for this but stem would look really pretty. It's single strand (except for the french knot, I think that was double strand).
With the whole stump done, I added a bit of polyfil into the tube (minding the thread hanging out--the thread that will anchor to the base) and got ready to make the base.
The base is just a basic square with batting in it and straight quilting. It could have been fancier but my free motion skills are non-existent so I decided to play it safe. My walking foot got a good work out. I love it so much I haven't taken it off the machine yet!
Then attach the base to the stump. First do the anchor stitch, which is the only one that will show on the bottom. It really can't be avoided.
Then, cinch up the roots. Hold the stump down onto the base (on a flat surface) to see where the roots naturally gather and fold onto themselves and then tack them down. Keep the stitches small and deep in the crease so you can't see them. THEN, sew the whole stump to the base, making sure to hide the stitches and NOT go through all the layers of the base. You want the bottom of the base as neat as possible (except for that anchor stitch, which is an ugly necessity).
I was so happy that I got such a great finished item ON THE FIRST GO. I only re-made one part of the whole thing. I made the first embroidered disc on brown felt but it looked bad next to the corduroy. Then I remember I had the natural color muslin and it was PERFECT. I also had to edit my bark pattern a bit after the fact. I had to lop a bit of the sewn bark off because it was just too long and made for too bulky of a seam. But that turned out to be a good thing because it left me with two open ends (instead of one) which made attaching to the tube (and then seaming) much tidier.
I can't wait for my partner to get this.