First up, a link to the free tutorial and pattern used: Ninni monster.
For the swap, we used that tutorial and made whatever type of ninni we wanted (you could even play with the size but the regular size is easy to work with).
I decided to go with the regular size but I hemmed and hawed on the design for a bit. First I was thinking I'd do a hipster ninni, with corduroy pants and big geeky glasses (maybe even a beard) but then I was looking over my swap partner's profile (I really wanted this to be good, since I swap with this partner a lot and she always makes great stuff so I have to bring my A game with her) and BOOM. . .sugar skull design. So timely and a little easier to do than the hipster.
How damn cute is this little monster? I was THRILLED at how well it turned out, too.
I was confident the design would work (it's just simple embroidery).
Felt details for the eyes and nose with embroidery around it. All basic running stitch with some french knots for a little pizzazz. (the felt details are sewn on, too. I was worried glue would make it too crispy)
I was worried the heart wouldn't turn out right since I just did a random free hand design (for both the felt heart and the flames). At first the red looked bad to me, but then I looked at it for a while and low and behold it kind of looks like a wee crown. I totally didn't plan it that way but I'm happy it turned out like that.
I totally cheat when I embroider, too. Especially on felt. I draw the design in ballpoint pen (light) on the back so I have a basic guideline to follow. Sometimes I deviate from it a bit (the mouth in particular didn't follow the pen marks exactly at all) but it keeps me from going too crooked or wonky when I'm stitching.
I kept the design really basic. I didn't want to overwhelm the little monster. If I had been feeling more brave, I would have added some petal type shapes at the hands and feet and maybe a little bit of scrolling down from the arms and along the edge of the body. But I was kind of worried about the seam allowance (it's built into the template you use) and I was sewing felt to cotton so I opted to not embroider right up onto the edges.
This is the back.
How much do I love that fabric? I've been hoarding it for (no joke) YEARS. I got a remnant of it back when I thought I was going to make myself a Mimi Kirchner tattooed man/woman (she gives the pattern for a mini sized one in a book I have) but I never got around to it. I knew I wanted to use skeleton/day of the dead themed fabric on the back and I have a bit to pick from and I had pretty much forgotten about this until I got poking through my DotD/halloween fabrics. That image is the perfect size for the back, too. It was meant to be!
I was worried that the seams would be too bulky when I turned out those little ears and hands, so I used a smallish seam allowance. I don't remember what the allowance was on the original but I'm going to guess mine was about 1/8"? I just set my needle as far to the right as possible and then used the edge of the regular presser foot as a guide. I know at the regular (middle) needle setting, the presser foot edge is a tiny bit more than 1/4" so. . .It was perfect. I didn't have any issues with getting too close to the edge and risking a blow out. I did have to pick the ear seams out a bit with a thick needle when I turned them (just to make sure I really go it fully turned) but that wasn't a big deal. If I was going to make this all in felt (and turn it) then I'd add a bit for a bigger seam allowance. For all cotton, I'd just go with 1/4 inch.
I love the design of this little monster, too. You can do a TON with it. And it has a bit of a cat look to it which made me tempted to make a second one to add to the ofrenda I set up for my cats. But I'm just about done with the special item I made for it this year and I'm thinking I need to make a mat for it, too, so maybe I'll do a ninni sugar cat for next year.
I just mailed this off today so it should arrive by Monday. I can't wait for my partner to get it. I really think she'll like it a lot.