Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Fourth Doctor Embroidery

Just a quick post to share my fourth embroidered block from the Doctor Who Stitch Along at Fandom in Stitches. It's my favourite so far, as I feel it really captures the Tom Baker look.

The design is based on the Stitch Along pattern, but with a few modifications to flesh it out a bit more. I also added a button down vest to complete the look.

I've been skipping ahead a bit and started working on the eight Doctor while I try to figure out what I'm going to do for number five, but I plan to have them all marked up in time to take on a trip to Winnipeg next week, so there should be a lot of progress to see very soon.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Ups and Downs of Paper Piecing a TARDIS

I've been wanting to talk about the ups and downs of my very first attempt at foundation piecing a quilt block. The pattern I chose to start with was the TARDIS pattern from Trillium Designs.

This seemed like a good pattern to start with, because even though it was far beyond my skill level, it was something I really wanted to make, therefore I was very motivated to get it right. Starting with projects that are beyond my skill level usually leads to learning a new technique faster than starting small and working my way up. It also opens up a lot of opportunities for personalizing the design through chance and well intentioned incompetence.

Certainly both of those played a role in my TARDIS coming together. Before I get into the process, check out how good the final product looks! (90% sewn by hand while on a trip, with the final components assembled by machine after I got back.)

My biggest gripe with the whole process was the lack of useful information I found online about how to do this. Paper piecing tutorials come in two varieties:

The first are the beginner tutorials which assume you know nothing and explain the process using a pattern so simple that none of the issues that you'll encounter with a complex design ever come up. These focus on a test block that is all one piece, which means they don't address the fact that more advanced designs actually involve piecing together multiple components separately. The TARDIS block is made up of over 80 pieces, split into 19 separate, individually assembled, units.

The second variety are the tutorials for people who have already done quite a bit of paper piecing and are looking to move on to complex designs. These tutorials assume you already know the basics, like at which point you are supposed to rip off the paper so that it doesn't get sewn in at the next step and become stuck inside your block forever. I wasn't aware that some of the seam allowance paper had to be removed before certain key steps, so I left it all attached until the block was done. Some of the paper is now enclosed inside the seams and will be part of the quilt forever.

Most sources also tell you to press the sections/block while the paper is still attached. Nowhere did I see a mention that the heat from pressing will cause the printer ink on the paper to melt and bond to other things! I ended up with black ink fused onto my ironing board cover, the face of my iron, and the fabric of the block. Aaack! It was a mess. Luckily the background is grey so you can't see it unless you look closely.

Aside from the enclosed paper issue and the ink spreading crisis, I did not know which way to press the seams, so that the block doesn't lay flat now that it's finished. I'm pretty confident that will work itself out during the quilting process, though I'm a bit anxious about my machine's ability to quilt through the spots where there are eight layers of fabric and a layer of paper all jumbled together.

If you're in this same boat, I'd like to point you in the direction of the foundation piecing tutorial by Alyssa Lychner from Pile O'Fabric. It's a 40 minute long video that actually does a good job addressing the issues I encountered.

After all of that, you might think I hate paper piecing. But no! There were a lot of positives to this project, and I'm definitely interested in trying again with a slightly simpler design.

One of the things I did appreciate about paper piecing was how intuitive the method was for me. Building and shaping a design outwards from one key piece makes good sense. Having never done this before, I decided to slightly modify the pattern so that the windows would line up better, and it actually worked out perfectly.

This TARDIS block will be featured in my Doctor Who 50th anniversary quilt. Other blocks available so far as part of the Doctor Who quilt along : the Time Lord, the ever lovable K-9, the SS Madame de Pompadour, some cool Bad Wolf graffiti, and the werewolf. I'm not planning to tackle these at the moment, but there are several more block designs to come (all free) and if a slightly simpler one comes along I'll be all over it. In the meantime, I'm catching up on my embroidered Doctors, courtesy of the Fandom in Stitches Doctor Who Stitch Along. Stay tuned for my take on the fourth Doctor!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Felt Giraffe Pattern

Summer is a busy time, and though I've been doing a lot of sewing and crafting, there hasn't been as much time as I'd like for sharing. So this week I'm going back to basics with this cute minimalist pattern for a giraffe.

Fun fact about giraffes that might help in the planning of your craft: their spots darken as they age. Babies have lighter beige or orangey-brown spots, while adults' spots tend to be darker brown (like this). By that criteria, the one I've made would be a baby. The pattern contains templates for making two different sizes of giraffe.

Click HERE to download the free pattern.

This is an image file that you can resize as required. If you prefer a PDF file, it is available through Craftsy HERE. I added a string to my giraffe to hang it up as an ornament.

Here are some more free giraffe themed projects for inspiration:

If you're looking to add a giraffe (or several) to your home decor, this large stand-up giraffe from Stitchy Mama's could be just the thing. For something a bit simpler, you may want to make this basic stuffed toy giraffe from Woman's Day. There is also a stuffed giraffe felt sewing pattern available from AllCrafts, which looks like a very basic and easy to customize pattern, but it doesn't come with a picture so I can't tell how cute the result might be.

There are lots of stuffed giraffe ideas out there for littl'uns. My favourites were Gilbert the Giraffe, a crocheted stuffie designed by A Little Pomegranate (so huggable!), as well as the tactile taggy giraffe stuffie from My Life in Namibia.

For even more inspiration, check out this printable giraffe cupcake topper that would be adorable converted into a brooch or embroidery project, and this personalized giraffe hoop art by A Morning Cup of Jo.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Felt Penguin Pattern

In continuing with the Doctor Who theme from my last post, I present to you the eleventh Doctor as a penguin, complete with adorable tasseled fez. You can find out more about how this transformation might have happened in this post. The pattern includes the fez and bowtie, but can be used to make a regular penguin too.

Click HERE to download the free pattern.

This link will take you to an image of the pattern that can be resized to make anything from a tiny penguin ornament to a large penguin pillow. A PDF of the pattern is also available on Craftsy HERE (PDFs can't be resized though).

I discovered something really interesting when I googled "Doctor Who penguin". There are actually a ton of penguin Doctors out there! Here is a selection from Kicking Cones on Tumblr! (Also, check out her Geordi Laforge penguin, and many more!)

Given the number of penguin Doctor representations, I got curious and tried looking up Doctor Who duck (yes), Doctor Who bunny (yes), Doctor Who pony (big yes!), and Doctor Who badger (to a lesser extent, yes). So then the challenge became to find an animal that has NOT been mashed up with Doctor Who. The rule I set here is that a character from the show has to actually be represented as this animal. The two appearing together in an image (for example: Matt Smith riding a shark) would be too easy and doesn't count.

I tried giraffe (yes), elephant (yes), and pig (yes), then camel (yes), turtle (yes), and shark (it's a really bad job but it does exist - also found a shark wearing a fez). And finally, the winner was the humble anteater! There is no image of the Doctor as an anteater that I could find. I should point out, however, this Doctor Who related giveaway on the Sexy Anteaters tumblr, which almost counted. I consider this a challenge. Perhaps there is an anteater mashup in my future?

- Update: I got carried away googling animal mashups and forgot to tell you about these awesome free projects -
Fill your tree with penguin ornaments using this tutorial from Do Small Things with Love, complete with accessory ideas for personalizing each penguin.
You could also make a family of customizeable penguin softies thanks to these patterns from LucyKate Crafts, including Mom penguin, Dad penguin, and matching Baby penguin.
For the Doctor Who enthusiasts, Tally's Treasury has posted a tutorial for making your own fez out of felt! Also included are some Doctor Who party decorations and drink recipes. Awesome!