Bumblebees & Geometric Shapes.
Making the Bumblebee.
This is the first project in Abby’s book, ‘Stuffed Animals, from Conception to Construction’, that starts to teach you about using 3 dimensional shapes, starting with geometric shapes, the first being spheres. The bumblebee is made up of 2 different size sphere’s which are made by using 5 pointed oval shapes.
The long sweeping curve of this shape is nice and easy to sew together, but putting 5 of them together for the first time wasn’t quite so easy … as you can see in this photo. :(
While I was experimenting with the different 3D geometric shapes, I worked out where I had gone wrong. In picture 1 you can see how the pieces should sit, in picture 2 you can see how the first 2 sections need to be positioned before sewing on the 3 section.
While the green layer can lay flat, the brown layer needs to neatly fold back on itself before stitching the yellow 3rd layer to the brown section on the other side. Stopping my stitching at the seam allowances at the ends also helped to create a neater end.
Sewing with felt.
This project also introduced me to the idea of making soft toys from felt, something I had not been particularly interested in before. Apart from using felt for things such as eyes and other appliquéd features, I was a bit of a felt snob, but this project called for felt so I decided to broaden my horizons and give it a go.
The first thing I learnt was that not all felt is created equal. Acrylic felt is quite nasty, filled with all sorts of toxic chemicals. So off to the virtual shopping mall I went to find some wool blend and 100% wool felt. I wanted to get some of each to see what the difference was … apart from price.
It’s a little difficult to see in this photo, but each type of felt is a different thickness with the wool blend being the thinnest and the 100% wool the thickest. The bumblebee is made from a wool blend felt, I was a little concerned about making it from the wool blend felt; would it be sturdy enough to stand up to being turned out and stuffed; but much to my surprise it was a lot more durable than I thought. I’m still not sure I would like to use it to make a soft toy intended for very young children and babies. They can be a little rough on toys and of course everything goes in their mouths; I would be concerned with the fibres of the wool blend felt being pulled apart giving the children access to the filling. But for something intended for older children or an art/display piece it would be great.
So … what to do with all that nasty acrylic felt in my stash?
Why … experiment of course! Lots and lots of experimenting went on in this project. Once I got started I just kept going as I thought of more and more geometric shapes to try.
There were more spheres – ball shapes, long carrot shapes, fat ones, skinny ones … all made with the same oval shape as the bumblebee. Then there were triangles, squares and cylinders of all all shapes and sizes. In lesson four – ‘Sewing a Sphere’, Abby also provides two other patterns for making a sphere or ball shape. One of these is the pattern uses to make tennis balls; a rounded dog-bone shape with quite shape round convect shapes at either end and long sweeping concave shapes running down each side ; you need two of these, lay them at 90* to each other with the middle of one convex end on top at the midpoint of one of the concave sides of the second piece. I really really don’t like sewing concave shapes to convex shapes, you can’t pin them and one side always seems to be longer than the other. I left this pattern until last, but much to my surprise this one not only stitch together quite easily, but was the nicest ball shape of all.
Ball Shapes ~ The tennis ball pattern is the blue and yellow one in the bottom right picture; as you can see it turned out the nicest ‘ball shape’. The pink and blue one next to the ‘tennis’ ball was made using the other pattern – the Pentagon pattern. I found it much more difficult to get a really nice round shape with this one, unlike the perfect little ball Abby has pictured in her book, obviously I need much more practice with this shape. The two shapes at the back of the picture were some experiments I did with the pentagon, I was quires as to what shape I would end up with if I stitched the two halves together in different ways. The one on the right reminds me of a strawberry; it was a good lesson on how very simple shapes can used to create a toy.
Other Great Lessons.
There are lots of other great lessons and helpful tips in this chapter; such as how to work out the length for the long side of the rectangle used when making a cylinder shape … not being very good with anything maths related, this one tip saved me a lot of time searching for the answer.
Another topic Abby talks about is needle felting, again something I’ve never tried before (and still haven’t really). In the picture above I have used needle felting to add a nose to the bumblebee as well as a little tuft of hair on his head. For the nose I used a piece of black wool blend felt which went fairly quickly and looked good. For the little tuft of hair on top of his head I used some mohair that I bought with the felting needles. Felting the mohair onto the wool blend felt was more difficult and time consuming. Maybe it was the mohair that made it more difficult or maybe it’s just a matter of practice, either way it was a fun experiment and something I might look at more another day.
New Pattern Sneak Peak … ;)
The whole point of this of course is to design my own patterns to sell. So, before I start of the next project in ‘Stuffed Animals …’ I will spend some time developing my first pattern for sale. :D
Can you guess what it will be?
Like the first project I had to do a bit of experimenting and although I ended up sticking with the same design ‘idea’ he did go through a bit of a evaluation. The original concept was to us a cylinder shape, but after several prototypes, I ended up redesigning the whole idea using a ball shape, but I’ll share more about this when my little friend is ready to great the world. :)
In the next chapter of Abby’s book I will be making an Elephant and learning how to create under-body gussets and leg darts. I’ve been looking forward to this chapter, adding gussets to a design helps to make it really come alive. And as always, there will be plenty of helpful tips and secrets to learn along the way.
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