Wednesday, 20 February 2013

For The Birds.....

Here's a fiddly job - designing a moorhen pattern from scratch and putting together the prototype.  This is a commission and the brief is to make a lifesize, realistic plush moorhen - well, two of them actually.  One is to be all soft, like a toy, while the other is to have wire legs and be freestanding.  The worst part was coming up with the pattern for the main body - I sketched the moorhen from the side and cut out a couple of side panels which was easy enough.  Then came the difficult job of working out where gussets should go, plus what shape and size they should be.  I drew them on paper - guessing most of the time - then cut out the pattern pieces from a piece of old sheet and tacked it together.  I then saw that the stomach gusset was far too wide, so had to re-think.

After a bit more adjustment, I cut out the actual fabric pieces using freezer paper for my pattern - wow, I wish I had discovered that stuff sooner!  It irons onto the fabric and stays there nicely until you want to remove it, whereupon it peels off easily and cleanly and can be used again.

After sewing the main body together (putting safety eyes in place) it was time to stuff it.  I then discovered that the tummy gusset was still too wide, but this could be remedied when I sewed the centre seam after stuffing - excess fabric could be caught up and hidden neatly.  This has all been a huge learning curve for me - when it comes to stuffed toys, I usually use ready patterns as I have no experience of making my own.

At the moment I am sewing feathers to the wings.  The wings are made from two pieces of brown fabric with felt inbetween for added thickness.  I have used various scraps of brown fabric for the feathers, making sure to cut out exact duplicates for each wing and pinned them in place at the same time.  I am roughly sewing them in using backstitch in a contrasting thread down the centre of each feather.  The fabric has not been seamed and I am gently fraying the sides of each feather in order to give the effect of the soft edges of actual feathers.  This was something I discovered yesterday while tidying up loose threads - a very happy accident!

Next I have to work out how to make the beak - moorhens beaks are quite complicated when you look at them closely - wish me luck!
This is a bird that isn't going so well.  I had a spare half hour and wanted to have another go at needlefelting using some wool I had lying around from a long-ago foray into felted jewellery.  After stabbing myself several times, breaking one of  my two felting needles, and then realising I should have made the head out of white wool to start with instead of trying to add white patches over yellow...well, it got put to one side for another day.  I don't think needlefelting is going to be one of my better skills!
This, however, turned out brilliantly first time.  Now all he needs is for all those ends to be woven in.  Then I have to knit another one.....thank goodness it is half term and I have a week away from the day job. 

Also on the needles, a very small birthday cake.

By the way, Shana please get in touch - you won the giveaway and I would like to get those pencils in the post to you!


Sue Doran said...

Thanks for the insight into how you're going about the moorhen - it's looking really good and when it's finished it's going to be a.m.a.z.i.n.g! Good luck with the beak. Even though you're not convinced over needle felting (I've never even tried), I can still clearly see that the little bird is going to be a lovely little blue tit :-)

Magpie Magic said...

The moorhen looks great and I am sure you'll work out the other details. It's the fun bit, isn't it? Well it would be for me. I hate sewing. LOL The ram looks great too. Shame about the needle felting. :-( the bird looks not bad, but needs some more TLC. You can get more needle felting needles on eBay, they're not too expensive and you can get sets with different sizes which make it much easier. xoxo