Tuesday, December 8, 2015

For Swaps: Patches and a doll

Got two swaps out to the post office this morning.

First up is an art doll swap.  The theme was fall/winter/christmas.

I just could NOT figure out what I wanted to do for this. Correction.  I thought I wanted to do one thing (a mushroom person thing) but it just didn't do it for me.  I was bored with the idea from the start.  Then all the sudden I wanted to make Krampus.  But that didn't seem like something my recipient would be into (even though it's not a profile specific swap).

My partner liked bright fun colors and "whimsy".  So I went out on a limb and decided to try out a new Dolls and Daydreams pattern I grabbed up during the last sale.  It's the 7 dwarfs/elf pattern that has a TON of options for customization.

I dug up some of my brightest/most fun christmas/winter prints so it would be lively and bright (my partner's profile specifically noted they don't like drab fabrics).

But it still felt less art doll-ish than I normally make.  For me, "art dolls" need to be less kid safe then a regular stuffed toy which means I need to put a bit more work into adding extras to them (or they need to just straight up NOT be a toy, like the painted doll I did for halloween. . .that's so not a toy for kids to maul).

So I had some fun with his hat.

Elroy Elf is headed off to his company party and hopes to win the Ugly Hat contest.  (what?  ugly sweaters are SO over, like five years ago!).  He even has his white elephant gift which he hopes goes over well (jokes on everyone, it's just a piece of styrofoam wrapped in fancy paper!)

That hat is tacky on BOTH sides.

Good luck, Elroy!

I hope this is well received since it's not as hard core "only adults may touch this because it's just so NOT for kids" art doll but it's still very "artsy".  It's well made and meets the size requirements so there's really no way I won't get a full rating but I just don't want to disappoint my swap partner (though if someone made this for me I'd be thrilled, it's cute as shit as far as I'm concerned).

Next up are the latest set of patches for the Disney alphabet swap.

M, N, and O

Closeup time!

M is for Mickey Mouse.  I knew I wouldn't get through this swap without making the classic Disney mouse ears design (and I welcomed it since it would be an easy yet good looking patch).  I stuck with Mickey's color scheme, too.  Red, yellow, and white.  (no back shot for this since it's just solid yellow).  This was a super easy patch but it still looks good (simple doesn't have to mean you're cheating your swap partner, sometimes simple works).

N is for Nightmare Before Christmas.

Holy crap, looking at this pic this patch turned out really great (that's not to say it's hideous in person, just that it's photogenic considering it wasn't that hard to make).  I went with a simplified version of the graveyard scene (which I think is also the cover art for the movie, except it has Jack on the little curly thing).

Detail shot!

Oh, yes I did.  I cut that little curly cue right out of felt and it wasn't that hard at all.  The curly and the moon are felt glued to cotton fabric.  The grave stones are felt, glued and stitched down (the one against the purple is just glued, the other one needed a few stitches since the glue didn't really stick to the felted sweater used for the foreground).

I got super lucky when I was going through my felt scraps to find bits for the tombstones I found some bits from a felted wool sweater.  It was a striped sweater and the one color was perfect for a dark earth look BUT it also had just a tiny bit of the yellow from the stripe next to it so it looks like moonlight shining on the ground.  I love when happy accidents happen like that.

Then I added my last jack-o-lantern button (I want to get another card of those, they're cute but not too cute).  The true art is more detailed with a bunch of stones and a pathway and all kinds of pumpkins.  I simplified it a lot.

I have to pause to mention how great that purple background fabric is.  I was going for either a dark blue or purple and when I spied that purple it beat out the few blues I had pulled as contenders.

That's the background.  Crazy dancing skeletons.  I was tempted to use the same purple fabric for the backing/frame and I was tempted to use solid black but once I saw this fabric I had to use it.  Its' a nod to Jack.

(I also sent along a package of these super cool Nightmare Before Christmas buttons.  They have full figures of Jack and Sally, two Jack faces, AND a full figure button of ZERO!  I have a pack for myself but I was feeling greedy and didn't want to use any of mine so my swap partner got her own pack. . .she's a great swapper so she deserves a great bonus).

O is for Oogie Boogie, looking all sinister.

I hadn't planned to do two Nightmare Before Christmas patches in this set but it just worked out that way.

Oogie is made from a thicker type cotton (it's kind of like a khaki pant thickness) fused to a regular quilting cotton background fabric (it's a bright green, the pic washes it out a ton).  His face is heat set fabric marker (I made a stencil from the image I had and it worked like a charm).

This was a simple patch, too, but looks really cool.  It's a bit big but I think it needs to be big to really get a good look at Oogie's face.

The backing.  Yes, I fussy cut a bit to make sure the "something wicked" fully showed on the back (wasn't a big deal since it was at the edge).

Once again, my fabric stash comes through for me.  I thought I might have to get a piece of burlap-esque fabric for Oogie Boogie but that heavier weight cotton has just enough texture to it to pull off the look.

Next up are patches for P, Q, R, and S.  I have a few ideas already but I haven't given it a good think yet, so nothing is set in stone.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

TUTORIAL: Bacon Plushie

Ok, here it finally is.  You're going to totally eyeroll when you see how stupid simple this "pattern" really is.

First, a recap of the supplies can be found HERE.


Start by making a pattern/template.  I didn't provide one in the tutorial because it's really simple to just do yourself.  Then you can make the bacon whatever size you want.

To make the template, I started with a piece of paper and drew the wave side the length I wanted the finished bacon to be.  I cut out the wave and then traced it onto a piece of cardboard, making sure the waves were parallel to one another and were spaced as far apart as the width I wanted for the finished bacon.  Then I made a second template for the fat using the cardboard template (so the fat would match the wave of the bacon).  Use the bacon template to decide how wide to make your fat stripes.  Also, keep in mind the seam allowance (add a 1/4 inch all around the bacon template if you want the finished bacon to be the exact size of the template. . .if you don't add a 1/4 inch on each side, your finished bacon will be smaller than the template.  You do not add a seam allowance to the fat since you will be top stitching it to the bacon pieces before you assemble them)

(I strongly recommend you make the templates on cardboard.  It helps to have a thicker/sturdier template for this project, especially for the fat stripes since the fat is a narrow piece)

Cut out two bacon (mirror images of each other) and 4 fat total (2 a mirror of the others).  Before you sew, double check that you have matching fats for each bacon side.

Tip:  I use a super fine point sharpie when working with darker colored fleece.  I have tried using tailors chalk and wax pencils and it just doesn't give a good enough line for me to see.  The fine tipped sharpie makes a dark line (I will double trace to make sure) but it's also a narrow line, so when you cut on the line it pretty much disappears and won't be able to show through on the finished item.  (use a disappearing pen for the white fleece so no pen marks will show on your finished product)

Pair up a set of fat with each bacon half, making sure the wave of the fat is parallel to the wave of the side of the bacon (that's hard to describe but the picture shows what I'm talking about).

Take one bacon side and fold it in half to get the mid-line.  Center a fat on each half of the bacon side and pin (to the right side of the bacon side).  Pin the fat strips to the right side of the other bacon side, making sure the sides match one another.

My tip for getting a good match on the two sides is to layer them.  Pin the fat onto one front of the bacon and place fat stripe side up on your work surface.  Then lay the loose fat stripes (right side down) onto the pinned fat stripes (making sure the waves match).  Then layer the loose bacon side onto the stack (right side down).  Flip the entire stack and pin the loose fat stripes to the right side of the bacon side.  I know it seems fussy but you'll get the best results if you match the fats as best as possible.

With the fats pinned on each side, TOP STITCH the fat to the right side of each bacon side.  Use the same zig zag stitch you used for the egg (wider is better than narrow).  Be careful to make sure the stitch goes over the edge of the fat and into the bacon.  Top stitch all the long sides of the fat for both bacon sides.

Cut two eyes from black felt.  The size of the eyes will be based on the size of the fat stripes on your bacon.  I like the fat to be a bit wider than the eye.  Position the eye low or high on the toy (I prefer low) and hand sew using three strands of matching embroidery floss.  I position the eyes on the fat to insure they won't get caught in the side seam during assembly.  Using three strands of white floss, add shine to the top of each eye (I do a single stitch on each eye).

With black floss (three strands), hand stitch the mouth between the eyes and between the fat stripes.  Use a back stitch or stem stitch.  I prefer a back stitch (and usually take three to four stitches for each mouth, but it will depend on the size of your bacon).

(really, you could put the eyes horizontal or however you want, this is just how I do it)

Pin the two bacon sides together (ride sides facing) and sew using the same zig zag stitch you used to attach the fat stripes.  Leave an opening at the top of the bacon, between the fat stripes.  Clip the corners and turn the bacon right side out.  Roll the seams to make the wave of the bacon really stand out and then smooth the bacon flat.

Now you will topstitch along the sides of each fat stripe using a straight stitch.  This is why you wanted to line your fat stripes up as best as you could before you attached them to the bacon sides.  If they are lined up nicely, when you do the straight line top stitching the stitches will line up very well on the back of the piece.

When doing the straight line top stitching, stitch with the bacon's face UP.  You want the best stitching on the front side of the item (bobbin stitches aren't as pretty as top stitches).  By topstitching on the front side of the bacon, you also insure you'll get the stitching as close to the fat edge as possible for the best look.  Don't fret if the stitching misses the mark a bit on the back.  It happens even with the best pinning and careful sewing.  That's why I prefer to use nappier fleece for the bacon (and neutral thread).

When top stitching you'll encounter a lot of bulk at the ends of the bacon.  My tip is, when starting the stitching (at the beginning of a fat stripe) start with the bulk behind your presser foot (so start a bit in from the bulk).  Sew all the way down the fat and keep stitching right off the end of the bacon.  I've found my machine is fine with going over the bulk when it's at the end but does not like starting on the bulk.  Then you can go back and stitch the small bit you skipped (turn the project and stitch down/off the edge of the toy) or just skip it entirely.  It depends on your preference.  I've done it both ways and you can't really tell when you skip that inch or so at the edge.  In fact, you could probably stop/start before all the bulky edges.

Tip:  you don't have to back stitch on the top stitching step if you don't want to.  You can pull the top thread to the back of the project and knot it off.  I do machine backstitch but only a tiny bit.  I've found the nap of the fabric hides that tiny bit of extra stitching (neutral thread helps, too).

Ladder stitch the openings shut and enjoy you deliciously cute new friends.

BONUS TIP:  Since you decide what size to make these, you can make them smaller to make tree ornaments or cat toys.  I used the trimmings from the fat stripes on these bacon to make fat for a cat toy sized bacon using the same steps (but I didn't make a face).  Add some cat nip before you do the top stitching (for the bacon) and as you add the yolk (and before you topstitch around the yolk) on the egg.