Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Meets Christmas...

Did anyone else notice that there were Christmas decorations for sale in the stores before we'd even had Halloween??

This ridiculousness inspired the following series of creepy Christmas characters. Enjoy...

Santa wants to know if you've been naughty...

Rudolph would really like to know if you've left milk and cookies...

And the Alien Gingerbread Cookie Squad is coming to town...

Hope you all have fun tonight!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hand-Stitched Ornaments

Here's a fun way to make hand-crafted fabric ornaments.  It is very similar to the way I make hand-quilted eyes for my stuffed animals (you may want to review that post first).  They can be made from leftover scraps, and they make another nice portable project.

First, decide on a base layer of your ornament. I like to use felt as my sturdy back layer.

Then cut out layers of colored fleece, cotton, or felt to stack into an eye design, from largest to smallest or vice versa.  Fleece and cotton fabric will probably fray more, but may give you more color options. The larger/background colors are sewn first, with each smaller layer stacked on top and sewn individually.  

I like to use a matching thread to sew each color into place.  You can still see that each layer is hand-sewn, but the stitches don't disrupt your design too much.  But any complimentary color will work.  Knot each thread on the back of your panel so that the ends won't show through when the two panels are finally sandwiched together.

Lastly, add quilted felt eyes, or beads, or embroidery thread, for extra flair.  Remember to leave a felt edge surrounding eyes, to make stitching the eye into place easier (using a dark felt base for the eyes also creates a nice bold outline that helps your eye design to pop).

Once all of your embellishments are in place, stitch a ribbon loop into the top edge of one of your panels, about a quarter of an inch in.  Be careful to keep these stitches from piercing through the outermost layers of fabric, so that you do not disrupt your design, but use several stitches to securely attach the ribbon.

You now have two finished panels, like so:

You can then stitch the two panels back to back, along their felt borders.  I like to use thick black embroidery thread.

You can pull your thread ends through a bead and knot them with ribbon as an ornamental accent, or hide your thread ends in your stitching.

Keep the back panel plain, or create a double-sided piece:

As you can see, these techniques can be easily adapted to make decorative Christmas tree or door handle ornaments for any season.  Felt quilting can also be easily adapted for craft projects with children--all you would need would be colored felt, embroidery thread, and those blunt plastic embroidery needles, materials that can be found at most craft stores.

Have fun experimenting!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Plushie Construction: Hand-Quilted Eyes

In looking back over my previous construction tutorials, it appears that I have never completely addressed how I make the quilted eyes that I use for my stuffed animals.  I shall remedy that here!


As I have stated in previous posts, many people get confused about what quilting is.  They picture beautiful patchwork blankets (which are of course called "quilts"), and think that patchwork is quilting.  In fact, quilting is the sewing of multiple layers of sandwiched fabric together.  The traditional quilts that you may think of are usually one layer of patchwork, a layer of flat, insulating batting (stuffing), and then a "backing layer" (the underside of your quilt).  Some quilts have all three of these layers, while others are only made with a top and bottom layer.  In the amazing quilting technique of "Trapunto," the stuffing is bunched and molded into pockets that help the sewer create sculptural effect, an entire fabric bas-relief.


I like to make my eyes out of felt.  Felt is a sturdy fabric that does not tend to fray when you use scraps in detail work, and it comes in a wide variety of colors.

The layers of different colors of felt create a slightly rounded dome--a cross between a two-dimensional and three-dimensional eye.  I use black felt as my base layer, white as the "white of the eye" (surprise), and then I get more creative with the iris and pupil.

I recommend cutting out all of your layers before stitching, so that you can see the overall size and effect while you can still tweak everything.  Make sure to leave a border of your base layer around your eye design, so that you can easily stitch your completed eyes to your plushie.  This border will also create a nice, bold eye border on your finished plushie face.

Try to use a matching thread color for each layer.  The eyes are still clearly hand-stitched, but the stitches won't distract from the overall eye design.

And voila, you have a quilted eye:

When attaching your eyes to your plushie, try to stitch at a bit of a diagonal, stitching from the outside of the eye and sliding the needle between the layers of fabric a bit, to tack a wider section of the felt eye to the plushie head.  These plushies may see some wear and tear, after all, and you don't want to worry about the eyes tearing off.

The larger the eye, the more detail and layers you can include.  But this eye technique looks great either way, and can give your plushie a nice bit of flair.  This is also a nice, compact bit of crafting that you can carry around with you from place to place, and it can turn your scraps into something functional.

Have fun crafting!