Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Caterpillars! or, Donut Holes Part 1

To begin, let me say that this picture is seriously freaking me out:

There is so much wrong with this project
that I don't know where to start.

First, caterpillars make me feel very ill.
Like Fear Factor ill.

Next, I made this caterpillar because I was feeling sentimental.
When I was about 8 or 9, Grandma made lots of crafty stuff
to sell at fund-raiser church bazaars/ fairs. I like to think I
helped. This caterpillar was one of the things Grandma
made. Then, I thought they were cute (ugh) and made quite
a few myself. I recently unearthed one of these caterpillars
in an old tub of childhood paraphernalia and was tickled
at the color scheme I'd picked - not the sort one might
normally find in nature (scroll down to last photo to see).
Possessed by some evil force (nostalgia, I think it is called
in some cultures), I thought I'd replicate this for the sake
of amusing readers of this blog. Grandma has since passed
on, but I think if she were able to see this, she might be
pleased, so I'm doing this for her.

Third, I remembered the circles I'd cut out from the
middles of the donuts from Christmas lying in a small
box somewhere and thought they would be perfect for
this. Caterpillars from donut holes is so vile, but I also
like using every last fabric scrap for something if I can.

Fourth, - and this is the weirdest - I thought that
using donut-colored felt would make a non-realistic-
looking caterpillar. But by the time I was almost done, 
it was giving me the creeps. Had to keep telling myself, 
"it is FELT. It is FELT. You made it yourself
for crying out loud."

Fifth, it feels even worse than it looks. If you hold this 
thing in your hands it wriggles in a double-jointed 
non-solid way that I imagine real caterpillars might feel, 
not that I have ever had nor ever want, the experience 
myself. I think, though, that children, bless their 
non-species-ist hearts, would think it was cool.

It also helped that this is a big caterpillar - the circles are
about 1 1/4" across. If you are making it, you could trace
around a US dollar coin, or a quarter if you want it a little
smaller. If I had used a dime, it would have been even
more realistic and I'd have died before I finished it.

Well, for those of you who are saying, "but it's cute!"
like 9-year-old me, and who want to make this, 
here's what you need:
  • Some felt circles - I used about 34 but the number is unimportant.
  • Small beads of any shape, although squat is better than long - mine were 1/8" in diameter.
  • Other larger miscellaneous beads for the tail and head.
  • Scrap felt for the eyes - I used black.
  • Thread and a needle.
  • Some craft glue.

Step 1
  • Double a length of thread through the needle and knot the end. I made a humungous and untidy knot for visibility's sake, but you should make a small, neat one.
  • Thread one bead and pass the needle between the two strands, and between the bead and the knot as shown above.
  • Pull to tighten - you now have a securely-threaded first bead.

Step 2
  • String on a couple of bigger beads, like these pony beads, to make a short tail.

Step 3
  • Begin making the body - poke the needle through the center of one felt circle, followed by a small bead.
  • Continue alternating felt circles and beads until you have used up all the felt circles.

Step 4
  • To make the had, thread the needle through the hole of the large bead. I cut a tiny felt circle and stuck it over one of the holes of the bead because the hole was a bit large for the smaller beads that were going on next. This acted as a stopper of sorts.

Step 5
  • String on as many smaller beads as you want to complete the head. I used a small pony bead and one of the little gold beads.
  • Pass the needle back through the rest of the beads as shown
  • and through a few of the felt circles.
  • Pull to tighten. Knot the thread here and cut off the excess.

Step 6
  • Cut eyes from felt and glue on.

Here's the caterpillar I made as a child. As I said,
rather unrealistic colors, and thus safe.

If you make these yourself, please don't send me links or
photos or anything, or invite me to your caterpillar
Flickr group. I fear I will have to politely decline.


  1. love the post!! so funny and enjoyable! Thanks! Love the pinkish tones caterpillar! Only children can make a caterpillar of those colors!

  2. thanks! I think my kids will enjoy this.

  3. Oh that IS creepy! My grandfather used to pull those huge hot dog-size ones off his tomato plants and chase us around with them. Traumatizing. I love the project though! I'll be linking.

  4. Supremely creative AND suprememly funny. L, you are a rare find!!!

  5. What a great idea.....I know what you mean by a little creepy but so very fun and cute. Great way to use up felt scraps! I'll make one for my kids!

  6. they ARE cute! one of my favorites of the things you've made . . . well, ok, I have a lot of favorites...

  7. so i did this with preschoolers this past week.. amazing!! love love loved the time i got to spend just talking and sewing with them. thanks for your GREAT post and i linked ya! happyday!!

  8. I love your blog sooo sooo much. Thanks for the ideas. I'll be making this with my kindergarten class next week as we wait for our caterpillar to emerge from his cocoon and turn into the much anticipated monarch butterfly. Can you believe that something so creepy turns into something sooooo beautiful?

  9. I just found this and it was exactly what I needed to finish my craft project. Thank you. I'll add you to my blog roll and be popping back regularly.

  10. Great tutorial. my kids will have it. thanks...


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