Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Introducing Honey Badger

Last week I spent all my free time pattern drafting, cutting, revising and sewing. When I get inspired by a project I often feel like I'm riding a wave of creativity and, knowing that it will eventually ebb, I tend to put all my thoughts into the one thing. I'm very happy with the final product, which is a stuffed animal called Honey Badger.

The idea to make honey badger came from a Facebook group I'm in for softie designers - with a challenge to create a stuffed animal from a bandana. I had two bandanas sitting in a back drawer. I've often looked at them when I sort through my clothes and have thought - I don't ever wear these, should I get rid of them? But both of them were gifts from special people, one from my mother and one from my grandma, so I didn't want to throw them out. This challenge seemed like the perfect opportunity to make them into something I would actually use.

I started the design process by sketching badgers, thinking about what elements of a badger I wanted to use and trying to find an overall cohesive look for the stuffed animal, with preliminary thoughts about clothes, facial expression etc. Because I already knew what fabric I would be using, I also thought about what parts of the fabric I would use where, to create the light and dark markings of a badger. The basic shape of the animal was based on an earlier stuffed animal I created, the fox.

First I sewed a prototype. In order to get my head around sewing a 3D shape, I needed to actually try it out. Although the body is based on my fox, I made changes to the shape of the head, neck and stomach area, which meant more pattern pieces and experimenting with how changing the shape of a pattern piece would affect the shape of the badger. 
I'm glad I made a prototype. It helped me figure out the optimal spot for the ear placement (I changed and lengthened a seam so that the ear could be placed along a seam), and it helped me visualise how a different shaped head gusset would change the shape of the face. The prototype's face was too flat, so I adjusted the pattern pieces accordingly.

This is the fabric I used for the honey badger. The bandana on the left is from The Netherlands, I got it from my mother years ago. The bandana on the right is from Canada, my grandma gave it to me about 15 years ago. Here I laid out all the pattern pieces on the fabric to check how much fabric I would need. I ended up making the final honey badger twice as big as a the prototype.

Here the honey badger is starting to come together. I got a bit carried away in the meantime, knitting a little scarf for the prototype badger, and then a sweater. (I adapted the sweater pattern and made another little cardigan, but that is material for a different post!)

After the badger was all sewn up and stuffed, I sewed on the facial features, embroidering eyes, a nose and mouth and adding some whiskers. Next I needed some clothes. There was still quite a bit of fabric left from my two bandanas, so I planned a little trench coat and a dress. The pattern of the dress started out as a sketch but evolved as I went along and figured out what worked well and what was too hard at this tiny scale.

And finally, here is the finished badger with her coat and dress!

This is where I ran out of steam, but I still have dreams and plans for the badger. I took detailed photos of the process and documented all the sewing steps. I also kept and adapted the patterns for the clothes and started designing more. My plan is to adapt this into a cut and sew pattern to sell in my spoonflower shop, and create a detailed photo tutorial to go with the fabric (You can see the cut and sew fox I have for sale here). I thoroughly enjoyed the process, and once again realised how much you learn through actually doing something. 

ps. here's a final photo of the honey badger with it's prototype. My daughter has adopted both, calling them mama and baby honey badger. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

sew a doll's dress from an old t-shirt

 doll dress sewing tutorial
We recently had a doll visiting for a few days, and as a thank you to the owner, a four-year-old girl who loves blue at the moment, I decided to sew a quick dress for the doll.

I've created slopers for making doll's clothes before, and its a simple way to create a pattern and ensure a good fit. With a sloper made for the body and the sleeve, I created a pattern from some scrap paper. To make the pattern, just add a bit of ease along the side, and add a bit of flare to the skirt pattern. Since I'm using jersey for the dress, there's a lot of give and forgiveness in the fabric.

I had a pile of old clothes ready to go to the charity shop and used this t-shirt to make the dress. A t-shirt is perfect for this pattern, since you can use the existing neckline and hem, and it was the right size for this doll.

Cut out the front and back of the dress, using the existing neckline of the t-shirt.

Use the hem of the t-shirt sleeve as the hem of the dress sleeve. As you can see on the left, the pattern for the arm is longer than the sleeve. If you use a long-sleeved t-shirt you could make a long-sleeved dress.

Sewing steps (not all pictured here):

1. Sew the shoulder seams. Check that the doll's head fits through the neck hole.
2. Sew the pockets onto the front of the dress. I first attached the pockets by hand before sewing them on with the machine, with stretchy jersey this means a lot less puckers!
3. Sew the sleeves onto the body.
4. Sew the side and under-arm seams in one go.
5. Sew the hem. I did a blind hem, but you can do any kind of hem.

Put the dress on the doll, and enjoy! You can add anything to this basic pattern, I added pockets, you could do contrasting pockets, add a gathered waist, use the pattern to make a t-shirt... 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

tea towel calendars and a 2 for 1 sale

Every year spoonflower holds a tea towel calendar contest at the end of November. These calendars are designed to fit on a fat quarter of linen-cotton canvas. This year my design features sweet peas. I worked on the winding trellises of sweet pea flowers during a holiday in Germany a few months ago and enjoyed creating a seamless repeat. I love working with a scanner and a printer which I don't have at home, it means I can work on multiple versions of the design by hand, rather than doing most of the touch-up and fine-tuning on the computer.
I shared a photo of the process on instagram a while back:

While I'm still tweaking the repeating pattern, I decided to use this for a calendar, since the trellis shape was perfect to hold twelve months.
Here's the final design, which is for sale now in my shop:

A close-up photo of the colours printed on fabric:

I also finally updated my 2015 blackberry calendar for 2016. This calendar is available here.

Finally, spoonflower is having a 2 for 1 sale on all fat quarters, so you can either get both calendars for the price of one or choose any other fabric or type of fabric in my shop!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

fabric blocks tutorial

A few months ago on instagram I posted a picture of some fabric covered blocks I made for my daughter. Here is a picture tutorial of how I made the blocks. I used an old greengate placemat that I had kept, hoping I could make something with the beautiful matching fabric. And the blocks I've actually had since I was 13, dragging them across various continents in the hope that some day I would get around to covering them! I made ten blocks.

  • Prepare the fabric
  • Measure your foam blocks and make a template - I made mine 1/4 inch wider than the blocks on all sides
  • cut out squares of fabric

  • Sew six squares together in a cross shape, starting and ending the seams 1/4 inch in from the edge of the fabric
  • Sew Y-seams so that you have a little cube, leaving one edge open for turning

  • Trim the corners of the fabric, turn the cube and poke out the corners
  • Stuff with the cube and close the last seam by hand

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

custom shower curtain

My sister asked me to design a shower curtain for her, she chose a design I already had (these purple hydrangeas) and said she'd like them in red. I sell shower curtains in my society6 shop, so I changed the colours, ran them by her, changed them some more, created a humongous file (the shower curtain measures 71x74 inches, so the file is pretty big!) and just uploaded it to my shop.

This week (until October 11th) I'm offering free worldwide shipping on all my products in my society6 shop, just follow this link! 
I can't wait to see how the shower curtain looks in her bathroom, she's moving into a new apartment next month.

Monday, 21 September 2015

frogging round two

Remember this sweater I decided to frog more than a year ago? Well I did, a bit, but then it sat and sat and sat and I tried many times to finish it, but just wasn't happy with the mistakes further down I had thought I could live with. So today I took it out of hibernation and did this:

A bit more drastic. And now I'm not really sure what to do. Take it all apart? (Remember, the back is done already). Do something else on the front? Try to redo the windmill. I don't think so, I don't really like the windmill. It looks nice, but the counting drove me mad, and it is supposed to be embroidered on but I was doing intarsia instead. 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

woodworking tools bag

My mother sent me this lovely photo of a bag she sewed using my woodworking tools fabric