I had a request from Lauren to bring a couple of my older patterns up to date a little more quickly. I prefer to do this with new instructional pictures, but since I don’t have time for that right now, I’m just going to revive the old blog post for this one.
I’m not even sure what’s going on with the pattern pictures here: some of the pieces are clearly ones I’d printed from an Inkscape file, but I published a photo of the printed-and-cut pattern pieces instead? What were you doing, Past Karen?
I had visions of making heads and tails for different breeds, but the only one I made is a bichon frise; as I recall I made it for my mother or mother-in-law to give to a friend who had (or perhaps had just lost) a bichon. And now, let’s go back to 2002:
Just because sometimes I struggle with my attention issues doesn’t mean I can’t have a sense of humor about it. I used to have this on a T-shirt (bought at a quilting show – the rare hobby I somehow have not gotten into… yet) and was reminded of it recently. And another impulse project was born.
As you may have guessed from my all-over-the-map projects, I have a little trouble staying on task. This is fine for hobbies (if I don’t mind having at least three storage tubs full of UFOs) but I need to be a little more efficient if I’m going to do this as a business. So I spent today moving a little more slowly, and practicing good habits.
First, I started logging my work day. (Work hours, really; there aren’t always too many of them.) I had decided yesterday that today would be a day to sew five owlbear dice bags for the shop, mostly to see how long they take. I’m reasonably sure I can’t sew them in any amount of time that makes it worth my time but again, practicing good habits.
For those of you who don’t have embroidery machines, or just don’t want to hunt down things like glass eyes and disc joints, I’m putting together some Flower Bear kits for the shop.
I’ve got three of the different greens out of my upholstery velvet stash, plus the chocolate brown that’s always been perfect for a sunflower center. I’m going to need some daylight or a better lighting setup to take the listing pictures, though – that middle color is a grayish green, not just gray, and the one on the left is the same one that shows up much brighter in the finished bear. I’m also going to need to find the tiny washers that go with those cotter pins — I scavenged enough loose ones to make the giveaway bear but I think I might need to order more.
I’ve organized a lot of sewing/art/craft supplies since moving and yes, I really do have a shoebox labeled “Joints.”
Having given the dragon dice bag by Vanessa to the kid, I guess I had dice bags on the brain and well, I went off on another rabbit trail. What would happen, I wondered, if the top of the owl[bear]‘s head was a drawstring?
The result is not quite as round a critter as the stuffed version (one of which is in the shop right now) even with a handful of polyhedrals, but overall it came out okay.
Most of it happens in the hoop, but this time I sewed the bottom dart on the conventional machine, and of course the paws and tail are hand-sewn on.
It’s a pretty conventional lined drawstring bag on the inside. I think I’d make it a little shorter if I did it again, so the top draws closed a little close to the face. Not sure I will do it again; I really need to get my “real” stuff in the shop. The silver dragon is very sad that I haven’t been paying it enough attention:
As much fun as I’ve had doing (relatively) conventional things on the embroidery machine, my real intention has been to use it as a sort of CNC machine. One of the first tests I did of this capability was with a single-color version of the venerable Flower Bear pattern.
A large part of teddy bear/jointed plush sewing is simply putting two flat pieces together and sewing around them. That makes it ideally suited to in-the-hoop work. Of course, the rest of the sewing means matching some very different pieces together — foot pads, head gusset. This can be challenging on a sewing machine, virtually impossible on an embroidery machine (I’m still trying!), but pretty easy when hand-sewing. In the small scale of Flower Bear, it’s not too onerous.
Hoop up a piece of stabilizer, then put down two pieces of fabric right-sides-together on top. Although it’s hard to see here, I’m using an upholstery velvet — what you’re seeing is the coarse white woven backing.
A smarter person would have gotten a picture of the stitchout without all the clutter, but not me. Clockwise from the upper left is the body (with a turning opening), the ears, the arms, and the legs. In the middle there’s a little S-squiggle that is the chin seam. That’s the only part of the head that is sewn flat. You’ll need the pattern from the link above, because you’ll have to transfer some markings to the fabric. The arm and leg joint centers are pretty easy, but the head is a little more challenging.
There are two ways to transfer the head markings. Either way, you’ll want to match up the pattern to the chin seam, so I cut the seam allowance on the pattern away. If you want to transfer the cutting line, perhaps because you have a light-colored fabric, trace that like this.
I recommend transferring the stitching line, though, which means cutting on that line on your pattern and tracing around it. I use a Sharpie here which seems counter-intuitive but on this fabric it just rides on top of the backing fibers and doesn’t come through to the pile at all. Test your fabric first, though. Worst case, if you end up with Sharpie on a finished piece, guess what? “Permanent” markers aren’t all that permanent: rubbing alcohol will re-dissolve the ink. If you work quickly, before the alcohol evaporates, you can rinse the color out.
You’ll need to transfer the foot pads and gusset to another piece of fabric.
Now cut around everything. Don’t forget whether you’re cutting on the cutting line, or around the seam line. Starting at the bottom of the chin should help remind you.
Most of the rest of the instructions are in the link above. Exception: you may have noticed that the arms and legs have no turning opening. Cut a slit just big enough to get the joint disc through, then whipstitch the slit closed around the pin.
If you’re making a proper Flower Bear, or if you have a 4×4 machine, you’ll want to shuffle the pattern pieces around. The SVG is in the archive. If you have trouble using Inkstitch, let me know and I’ll generate a version with the changes you need.
Depending on how you group them, my product shots could be read as “I’m selling this can of Aldi-brand seltzer, here are some other household objects for scale.”
The owl and black panther are officially listed on Etsy. The fur remnant awaits its full-size shots – we replaced some little bookcases with bigger bookcases, and I pulled one of the old ones into my workspace so I didn’t have to jumble minky around looking for the right color. It still needs proper folding and organization, but it’s a step in the right direction.
I spent most of today bouncing back and forth between failing to get the Etsy shop up and running and failing to get Mew’s tail turned. (Long skinny tubes of very plush faux fur are no fun.) I needed a quick little success.
I’m not thrilled with the colors, but I picked from what I had already unwrapped, and as you can see my first round was worse. I’d go with a gold clasp, and more bronze/less rust in the darker color, which you can do yourself with the Marvelous Star free embroidery patterns. Tag me if you post a picture of your version.
Back when I made the Black Panther (no, not the Marvel version) someone on Mastodon observed that the embroidered paw pads would make good key fobs. So I stitched up a few: cat, dog, and fox. And then tore off a fingernail unsnapping one. It’s been a Monday, you guys!
I’ll add a few more critter paws (ferret, wolf, whatever else strikes my fancy) and soon I’ll put those in the free pattern section too.
Did I work on the hand sewing yesterday? Nope. Did I work on Mew today? Nope.
Instead, I worked on getting some bookshelves cleared off and rearranged. And I thought to myself, “I’m going to take this tall one out of the living room where it doesn’t fit, and use it to store my active fabric stash so I’m not burrowing through tubs of fabric.
“Fabric… stash. STASH PANDA! I MUST MAKE A STASH PANDA!”
(Karen’s brain, ladies and gentlemen.)
The pattern needs a little fine-tuning (gonna make the hind feet more properly trash panda-ish) and then I’ll publish it, but this one will be the guardian of my fabric stash… as soon as I figure out where to put that shelf.
My mother-in-law embroiders on paper to make greeting cards. She often gets asked if it’s done with a machine but no: she punches a needle through a pattern into a card, then hand-sews through it. Most of the patterns are string-art style, some involve beading, things like that.
But she does have an embroidery machine, so of course I had to wonder if the pattern-punching part could be automated. The answer so far is “maybe.”
I hit up Needle N Thread because I knew Mary had a link to some free card embroidery patterns, and from there picked a basic free pattern from Stitching Cards. It came in PDF so I just opened it in Inkscape, put the pattern page on a locked layer, and created a path letting the cursor snap to each dot in the path. Then I taped a random piece of scrapbooking cardstock onto some stabilizer, took the thread out of the machine, and let it run.
It was not perfect: it paused every dozen stitches or so because it noticed the thread was missing (BEEPBEEP) so I had to push OK (BEEP) and then the start button (BEEP). It also leaves a rather tall “wall” around the holes because it punches through so fast, but that also might be my paper choice.
Lastly, even though I told Inkstitch it was a manual path (so each node on the path was a stitch) it still helpfully provided the little anchoring stitches at the start and end of the path, so you can see some extraneous holes at the beginning and end of the top left leaf there. That’s fixable, though – either via a checkbox in Inkstitch I need to find, or a manual edit of the generated stitch pattern.
Many of the patterns she gets are just scans of hand-drawn dots, so not all her patterns would be as easy to convert as this one. It’s also probably not worth the work for patterns she only does once. But let’s face it: 80% of what I do with the machine is just to see if I can.