Saturday, January 20, 2018

Niffler: revisited

You probably remember our Niffler from a couple Christmases ago, but the photos in that post were grainy and dark and horrible. So while I had the camera out to photodocument the new Menagerie critters, I grabbed this guy out of Emily's room where he lives, and took some new photos.

To be honest, this Niffler was a fiddly sew, mainly because I was trying to get it to look as much like the thing in the movie as possible while working with whatever fabric I could find in local stores. The body, for instance, is supposed to be black but this dark brown was what was available. I used the base Menagerie template as is - for even the head, which looks very round but only because of the superthick fur (not fun to work with, but absolutely gorgeous to the touch and therefore worth every skipped stitch and almost-swear-word). 

I added padded feet to the ends of the legs and flat hands to the ends of the arms.

The muzzle - I honestly can't remember how I made this, except that I fiddled with the seam forever just to get it to curve upward like a smile. The Niffler in the movies was very cute and smiley, and if I'd sewn a straight seam, the thing would've looked deadpan. I also think there might've been some Stiffy used to shape the top of the muzzle along with the seaming,

so that it curved upward.

Here's the crazy pouch on its belly that holds jewelry. It's the same as the Kangaroo's pouch except that because the entire body is that glossy thick brown fur, you couldn't really see the opening unless you knew to look for it.

If you held him by his tail and shook him, all that glittery loot would fall out, like in the movies.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Polar Bear

I could've sworn I'd posted about this polar bear earlier, but I couldn't find any sign of it in my archives so I must not have. 

This polar bear was for Jenna's best friend at school. 

He's just the simplest possible variation on the base Menagerie pattern: two bear ears, a tiny tail and made entirely in white fur. 

I used a plastic safety nose, but it could easily have been made with a felt nose.

I love how he turned out - slightly Yeti-esque - although I think his silhouette is even more polarbearish in bald fleece. 
Mini Menagerie polar bear from this post

And in different colors and furs, this variation could easily make grizzlies, sun bears, black bears and other ursine creatures.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


Dogs today.

The dog was one of the original animals Kate sketched when we first conceptualized Menagerie

At the time, I couldn't pin down a generic dog form because unlike, say, cats or horses, dog breeds are so varied that no single set of dog features could ever truly characterize Dogdom. Apart from the noses and panting tongues, I mean. Dogs come in such a wide range of sizes, for one. For another, some dogs have pointy-cat ears and some have floppy Snoopy ears and some are lean and equine-esque while others are furry and lupine or shaggy and stocky like rams and yet others are elongated, short-legged, whip-tailed teenies. So many varieties and cross-varieties and so many vastly diverse shapes and colors.

So I put this off in favor of other animals which were more easily stereotyped, and thus more straightforward to translate in fabric. But in the lull after finishing the first season of Menagerie and launching the sewing pattern, I returned to the dog idea.

And narrowed down the breeds to this beagle. Not anatomically precise, and dog lovers will possibly cry foul, but it's interpretive rather than representative.

I first made a mini dog, whose colors I thought were more accurate,

before drafting the regular size version, for which I'd run out of the caramel fabric for the lighter coloration and had to make do with this curry alternative.

Something about the ears bugged me, though.

Months later, Emily needed a birthday gift for another friend. Without realizing it, by this time I'd made a custom Menagerie animal for each of her favorite schoolmates except one. And this one loved dogs, had just gotten a new puppy and had specifically hoped for a Menagerie dog that looked exactly like that puppy.

So: smaller ears, a stubbier tail and white with light brown spots.

I think someday I will make a dog in fur, just to give the finished animal a more realistic texture. But this one, Emily says, still comes pretty close to little Charlie, her friend's puppy.

I'm also thinking I like the ears lying forward.

It's a simple adaptation of the base pattern: a thick pointed tail, a protruding tongue and doggy ears,

and infinite variations on markings and colorations.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Happy new year, friends!

Once again, an entire year has passed, at the end of which I had the vague sense of having made some stuff, the actual names and details of which sadly escape me. Does that happen to you, too? The Blogger part of me feels obliged to participate in the year-end-round-up trend - you know, the Look What I Made (but have no recollection of) In Only Twelve Months! posts. The Real Person part of me, however, just wants to move on, especially since it's already halfway through January and I'm embarrassed about having slacked off and the honest truth is I just want buy some fabric and sew shorts so I can channel summer. 

But I do so enjoy looking back at old projects. And - believe it or not - I did take photos in 2017, even if most of them sat in my camera forever and then languished in my photoediting program without ever seeing the light of day. 

Until now!

So in lieu of a comprehensive 2017 ikatbag roundup, I thought I'd do a series of little Menagerie posts, after which we'll talk about some other eclectic projects I'm planning to share in the coming weeks. 

Here are some new Menagerie animals that I made in 2017 and 2016. Most of these were requests from my kids for friends' birthday gifts. This one, for instance, was for a good friend of Emily's who loves elephants.

Of the base templates, I adjusted the head pieces to include the trunk. 

I drafted new ears and tusks,

and added soles and applique toenails to the legs,

but otherwise it's the same old Menagerie base pattern with a lion's/cow's tail.

I'm always glad when the kids make requests; often, I might not have thought to make a particular animal if not for their suggestions, and would've missed a new opportunity to behold how adaptable Menagerie really is. This elephant was a lot of fun to make, and it's become one of our favorites!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Shop Update

Hi friends!

I didn't take the time earlier to explain what's currently in my Etsy store so let me do that now. All the coats have been sold, and two of the Bunny-&-Carrot sets. There is still one Bunny set left, 

and a couple of Bunny mini bags,

and Bunny kits (fabric and notions for making Bunnies) for just $20!

Also in the store is a family of Cat & Kittens. The kittens store in the belly of the mother cat, inside a zippered compartment.

Emily is making new wizarding wands for the store (or maybe getting a head start for the summer kids'c craft fair). When they're ready, I'll let you know so you can browse and buy!

Alpha pattern respondees: get your Bunny & Carrot pattern at 50% off before the end of the year - the code expires on Dec 31st. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Coat for a Bunny Part Two

Welcome back for the second part of the Bunny Coat tutorial! In Part One, we learned to sew two versions of the hood - the simpler version without ear openings and the more twisty-turny version with.  In this second part, we're putting the rest of the coat together. It's a fully-lined coat without any exposed seam allowances, and in order to achieve that, we'll be constructing this coat using a completely different sequence than you might be used to when putting a typical sleeved garment together. There'll be some inside-out twisty-turny stuff happening, so it'll be a fun ride!

Please be reminded that this tutorial is meant for non-commercial use only.

Let's recap: this is our cutting plan, which I lifted from Part One:

  1. Hood Side (cut one pair)
  2. Hood Top (cut one)
  3. Coat Sleeve (lay out on the fold of the fabric and cut two)
  4. Coat Front (cut one pair)
  5. Coat Back (cut one pair)
  6. Hook-and-loop tape (4.5" x 1/2" or 3/8")
  7. Button Strip (1.5" x 1/2" rectangle; round off the short ends)

This is the identical layout/cutting plan for the lining pieces (key below photo), with the exception of the hook-and-loop tape and back button strip
  1. Hood Side (cut one pair)
  2. Hood Top (cut one)
  3. Coat Sleeve (lay out on the fold of the fabric and cut two)
  4. Coat Front (cut one pair)
  5. Coat Back (cut one pair)

Here are those outer and lining pieces superimposed over each other so you can see the corresponding matches. Make sure that you have all the pieces cut out (with relevant SA!) before you begin sewing.

Step 1: Prepare the sleeves
We want a rolled cuff effect for the sleeves so that the lining doesn't peek out. 

To achieve this, we're simply going to make the sleeve lining shorter than the outer sleeve. Principle: when sewn together, the outer sleeve's extra fabric will fold over the sleeve lining's hem. Easy. 

Cut off 1/2" of the straight edge of the sleeve LINING. Leave the outer sleeve as is - the extra length needed to roll over the lining layer into a cuff has already been added into the template.

Do this for both sleeve lining pieces. You'll now have two pairs of outer-lining sleeves, in which the lining pieces are 1/2" shorter than the outer pieces.

Step 2: Assemble the outer body
Lay out the six outer body pieces (including the sleeves) RS up on your work surface, as shown:

We're going to join the sleeves to the front and back pieces along their raglan lines DE. Note that the sleeve is symmetrical, without distinct front or back halves so both raglan lines are labeled the same: DE. Similarly, the raglan lines on the coat front and coat back are also both labeled DE, so that you can join either of the sleeve's raglan lines to the coat front or coat back. You must NOT join the coat front to the coat back directly along the line DE. 

So, with RS together, sew one sleeve to the coat front along DE. Then sew the other line DE of the same sleeve to the coat back. Repeat (in mirror image) with the second sleeve, sewing it to the second coat front and coat back pieces. Finally, with RS together, sew the long straight sides HJ of the coat back pieces together to form the center back seam. When finished, your outer coat body should look like the photo below. At this point, you can also sew on the back Button Strip. I simply edge-stitched it on across the center back seam. Set this aside until Step 4.

Step 3: Assemble the coat body lining
Repeat Step 2 with the six body lining pieces, but do NOT join the back pieces along their center back seam. See the gap between the back pieces? The two halves of the coat body lining need to remain separate. Set aside until Step 5.

Step 4: Attach the hood to the outer coat body.
In Part One of this coat tutorial, we'd made a hood either 

without ear openings                       or with.

Let's attach that hood now. Take the outer coat body from Step 2 and lay it RS up on your work surface. Gently (we don't ever stretch a neckline!) spread out the neckline so it is as straight as possible without pulling it taut. Lay the hood on the outer body so that
  • their RS are together
  • the hood is upside down
  • the back edge of the hood CBHBC aligns with the neckline of the coat
  • the back midpoint of the hood H matches up with point H on the neckline
  • the corners C of the hood match up with points C along the neckline (depending on how stretchy your fabric is and how precise you were with the SAs while sewing the hood, these C points may not exactly match up, which is okay. More important is that the hood be centered along the neckline, so make sure that at the very least the H points match up).

Baste the SA of the hood to the SA of the neckline.

This is what the RS of the outer coat should look like now with the hood attached:

Step 5: Sew the sleeve layers together
Lay the two halves of the body lining on either side of the outer body with the corresponding matching pieces (outer coat front-to-coat front lining, outer coat back-to-coat back lining, etc.) next to each other (the next photo shows this pairing more clearly). We'll be sewing the straight edges FF of the sleeves together as shown:

Flip and lay the lining pieces on the outer coat so that their RS together and all the corresponding parts in each layer match up (coat front-to-coat front, coat back-to-coat back, sleeve-to-sleeve). Sew along the straight edge of both sleeves as shown.

This crazy looking thing is what you'll have now. 

Step 6: Complete one sleeve and side seam
With RS together, now fold the sleeves along their midline. In the process, bring together the outer coat front and back pieces, and (separately) the coat front and back lining pieces. We're going to sew the side seam of the outer coat and coat lining, and the sleeve seam. With RS together, sew from point G of the outer coat to the armpit E, then along the sleeve through their connection point F, to the armpit E of the lining and down to G of the lining. 

Step 7: Complete the other sleeve and side seam
Repeat Step 6 with the other sleeve to get this. Now the side seams of both outer and lining layers are sewn, the sleeve layers are connected at the cuff, and the sleeves themselves are completed. 

Step 8: Sew the lining CB seam
Separate the lining coat body layers to expose the RS of the back pieces. Bring the back lining pieces together so their RS are touching and their long straight edges HJ align. 

Sew along HJ to make the lining center back seam. 

From the top view, you can see that the entire garment is a sort of loop. 

Step 9: Sew the neckline
This part takes some maneuvering, so don't rush through the instructions. 
First, lay the outer coat RS up on your work surface and flatten is as best you can. Push the coat lining out of the way.
Next, flip the hood upside down again to expose the neck seam you sewed in Step 4.

Then lay the lining on the outer coat so their RS are together. Align their necklines, matching up the midpoints H and the corner points K.

The hood will be sandwiched between the two layers.

This is how it will look when you've matched up the points and aligned the neckline. Sew along the neckline KHK through all layers, securing the hood between them in the process. 

This is the view from the outer coat side. Now we're going to sew the remaining seams, but the sleeves are in the way, so pull them up over the shoulders. 

Step 10: Sew the layers together
Now that the sleeves are over the shoulders, the front seams and bottom hem of the coat are unobstructed. Match up the sides of the outer coat and coat lining and sew from K to L, then from L along the bottom hem to the other corner L, and back up again to the other upper corner K. Leave a gap anywhere along this seam (I like leaving mine in the bottom hem) to turn everything RS out. Clip any corner SA where the fabric might be bulky. If you are using a woven fabric, snip the SA along the neckline so it will lay flat when turned RS out.

Step 11: Turn Everything RS Out a.k.a. Abracadabra
Go ahead. You know you can't wait to see if it worked. 

Yes, it did - rolled cuffs and all!

Lining side: no exposed SA. Huzzah!

Step 11: Final details
First, hand-stitch that opening shut. Alternatively, you could edge-stitch around the coat and close the opening in the process. 

Next, attach your choice of fastening. I used hook-and-loop tape, but you could use snaps (press-studs) or buttons with actual button holes, or hooks-and-eyes. The position of the fastening depends on whether your Bunny is going to wear this coat ears-in or ears-out (which is why I did not include any position markers on the templates). Put the coat on your Bunny to try the fit, and then mark your own positions.

Add embellishments! I used buttons 

and hand-sewn saddle-stitching (I used pearl cotton or 4 strands of embroidery floss),

but you can add faux welt pockets and belt loops and whatever floats your boat. For added inspiration here are photos of another coat I made for Jenna's bear Bearaby, which has faux welt pockets (a rectangle of stitching)

and a back kick pleat (you'll have to design this into your template from the start, though).

Here is the completed coat!

Don't forget the saddle bag

filled with carrots.

Happy sewing, friends!

And Merry Christmas!