Saturday, January 19, 2008

...making The Bunny

I've noticed that some of the pictures on the other pages weren't showing up right. I don't know if my iPhoto issues have anything to do with it, so I just re-uploaded some of them. I still haven't re-installed iPhoto because I'm a little scared, but I do have a backup now, so the plan is to do that tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.

In the meantime, here are some pictures and a bit of my process in making The Bunny.

First, the basic background: it all started with the grand idea - making a stuffed animal for my new niece out of my mom and dad's old clothes. I sorted through the clothes and put them together in different color combos, and then did some testing of my sewing skills on some scrap fabrics just to get the hang of things. This was going pretty well, and I wasn't too worried, so the project got put aside for other things such as, the sewing machine breaking, family visits, work on the giraffe, and of course moving. But I figured I still had plenty of time. That was in September.

Fast forward to two weeks before Christmas. I had finally decided on the pink fabrics, and that I wanted to make a bunny instead of a bear. I had practiced using the bear pattern, and although I had already cut out all of the template for it, I had found a really cute bunny pattern and figured it wouldn't be much different. So I cut out all the bunny templates too. Now I've done all the prep, all I have to do is put it together right? That's when I began to figure out that I needed to prioritize.

The machine was working, but things were taking longer than I thought. I was struggling with simple things like not having a very large cutting mat, or thread tension (maybe it wasn't completely fixed) and making sure the ends weren't going to unravel - which meant turning every square around to double back on what I had just sewn. Working on the floor wasn't helping - but I did manage to be innovative and turn the weight bench into a ironing board! I actually liked that it was closer to the floor, that way I didn't have to stand up every time I needed to press a seam open - which when working with 2.5" x 2.5" squares can be quite a bit.

My first plans were to make one large piece of patchwork fabric out of squares and then cut all the bunny template pieces out of that. Heres a picture of the largest piece of fabric I finished that took me at least 3 or 4 days before I got a little smarter:
For all you non-quilters out there - that's about a 12" by 12" piece of fabric. Yup. That's right. One foot of fabric for 3-4 days of work. Hrmmm. Maybe I needed to re think this.

I realized that I didn't need to keep making one big piece of fabric, but I could just sew enough squares and strips together to be big enough for each pattern piece! So a 2X5 strip for each arm, a couple of 4X7 strips for the body...and so on. I was super excited, and started piecing them all together.

I'm not sure what really takes longer, piecing together a lot of small squares, one and two at a time, or trying to create one big piece of fabric by making a long strip and then another, and then placing them around the square you already have. Like I've mentioned before - not a quilter. so I'm not really sure - to this day - what the most economical practices are.

But I decided on the strips and went from there. At this point, I don't have a lot of time to try new things. We was leaving on the 16th to drive to KY to see Mike's parents. Then we were flying out on the 18th to San Francisco to see all my brothers. I knew I had to get as much done as I could before I left. Here's where things started to fall apart a bit. This is a post I wrote the night before we left SC that I didn't have time to post. I was spending every minute I could on the machine.

Dec. 15th

I think I may have to admit defeat on the patchwork bunny. I really thought I was going along pretty well. Then I sat back and evaluated. Not anywhere near where I thought I was. Part of it was I just didn’t start in time, which was in part due to my indecision on how to go about doing it. I was so worried about messing up and using up all the fabric that I didn’t want to start, in case I figured out a better way to do things. Then there was finding the right bunny pattern. It turns out that the bunny pattern is much much bigger than the bear pattern - which means I need more fabric.. Now I think I’ve just plain run out of time. This took much longer than I expected. I’m going to pack it all up and take it to my MIL’s and see if she can help me. Hopefully she can, or can at least tell me if it’s a lost cause.

I think I have 2 options at this point.

Option 1 is just to take the quilted material I have now, back it and bind it and just give her a quilt. It’s not a bad option, and actually what I had originally planned. And then I could always finish the bunny later (if I had the energy).

Option 2 is to make this an ‘Easter Bunny’ rather than a ‘Christmas Bunny’. But part of this gift was I really wanted all my brothers to see the finished object, and we won’t all be getting together for another 2 years as far as I know, and my other brother may have a child by that point!

I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided a stuffed animal would be easier than a quilt. Um.. You have to pretty much make a quilt first to have the fabric to make the animal... shows how little I knew when I started the project. Live and learn I guess. And I do have 4 more batches of clothing to do better the next time. Ha. Next time. Right Alex, Stefan, if you have kids -they just might not get one at this point.

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I Probably should also mention that I've been working on knitting a pair of fetchings for my SIL and wanted to make a pair of dashings for my brother in my "down time". Down time being when it got too dark or my eyes/hands/back hurt too much from working on the sewing machine. but, it seems I was having some problems with these too...

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As far as the fetchings go... I started with the teal Lambs Pride – fine. Nice detail, I love how soft and smooshy they are. The color is beautiful and I think Amy will really like them.

Nope.Ran out of yarn just as I finished the first one!

Ok. Not a problem, I’ll trim this one and do the second one in this lime green, which I'm pretty sure is Lambs Pride.

Working on this a day later, using the same needles and ...yup... realize I've run out of yarn again.

I only have enough for one - which wouldn't be a problem except for the
other slight problem – waaay different gauge! yet same yarn? How does that happen?

So scrapped that idea.

OK. Go buy the right amount of yarn.

Start with two balls of this yarn in a dark blue – love this stuff. I've worked with it before and with two balls I know I have enough.

Work with it for cable or two and decide it’s too dark - you won’t be able to see the cables and I scrap again.

Okay. Something doesn’t want me working on this right now so... refocus on making a pair of dashings for Alex instead. I have some nice yarn in a dark gray. Thinking - let’s be smart and swatch first! Swatched 3-4 different times, including trying with the yarn doubled, because I wasn’t liking how thin they were. Not sure I liked the thickness if I doubled them. *sigh* forget it. Too much trouble, and I just didn't have the time.

Finally, I decided to suck it up and buy the actual yarn designated for the project and see where it lead me. I bought a beautiful ball in an olive green, and I’m really going to try to get it right this time. Or maybe I just need to make a hat. Yeah, a hat sounds good.

Off to bed to rest my weary legs and back from crouching at the sewing machine for so long. This is a labor of love Christmas for sure.

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The next morning, I packed everything up and drove to KY, and I did manage to finish one of the fetchings on the drive there. At least one project was going well.

The rest of the tale will have to wait. I've had enough of looking at a computer today. Tomorrow - 'sewing in Kentucky' and other adventures of The Bunny!

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