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1  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Cuttlefish / cuddlefish softie -- image HEAVY, including semi-tutorial on: January 10, 2009 02:24:07 AM
I live in Egypt.  This is relevant in two ways:

1) My parents came to visit me over the summer, and we went diving in the Red Sea and saw a cuttlefish.  We were all fascinated, but my dad seriously fell in love.  When he got back home, he saw a TV documentary about cuttlefish and how amazing they are, and fell even more in love.  It became a major obsession.  He was even using cuttlefish examples in presentations for work.

2) I can't really sew here since I have no machine or access to fabric.  Actually, I can't really sew anyway, but I like to play around with it as if I knew what I were doing.  My aunt has an amazing fabric store in her town and my parents have none, so I emailed her before heading home for Christmas, with the question: "don't judge me for this... but does your fabric store have the zebra print minky in neon colors?"  She tattled to my mother, who asked me what on earth I wanted neon zebra print minky for, then became even more confused when i replied "oh, it's just for dad's christmas present."

My aunt's fabric store didn't have the minky, so I ordered it online, which worked out for the better anyway because the pass was snowed over and I couldn't get to her town.  Anyway, I spent the better part of the first week of my visit making my dad's present while he was at work:

I modeled it after these anatomic diagrams and this picture:
You'd be amazed at how many squid stuffies and toys are labeled as cuttlefish. You'd also be amazed at how many recipes and how few stuffies turn up when you google "stuffed cuttlefish".

I don't have the sketches that I made of how I planned to make it, but here are the "pattern" pieces I cut out of newspaper.  I made two each of the body and tentacles, one in minky for the top and the other in white cotton for the underside.  The eye pieces and top of head are in minky only, and the one off to the right (the underside of the tentacle attached to the eye) is in white cotton.  You need two, one for each side.  Remember to make them mirror images of each other!

I don't have any pictures of the making of the ruffle, but it's basically a really long rectangle, one in each fabric, and sewed right sides together along one long edge.  Then I turned it right side out, and since you can't really iron minky, put it under a towel and blasted it with steam from the iron so that the seam would lie flat.  This picture is after it was turned, so the seam is along the right, this is the right side of the cotton, and the right side of the minky is face down on the floor.  You can see here about how long it is, as i'm pinning it to one body piece and making the ruffles.  The non-sewn side goes along the outside of the body, and the minky side goes against the right side of the minky body.

I then sewed the ruffle like that to the minky, and pinned the cotton body piece right side together with the minky and sewed it all together (ie the ruffle is inside the body in this picture since it's wrong side out).  This is a lot of layers of fabric!  My mother's sewing machine is older than I am and is a serious workhorse.  I love it.  If you don't have access to a 30 year old sewing machine for this step, you may want to cross your fingers first.  There's no way my machine would be able to sew through that much fabric.

(The handbound "happy anniversary" book in the background was my present to my parents for their 30th.)

That's the body.  For the face, I hand-sewed felt eyes, then sewed them onto the eye pieces. 

Minky is a serious mess to work with.  I've never made such a fuzzy hurricane in my life.  Between most stages, I threw what I had in the drier on air fluff (NO HEAT) to knock the fuzz off the seams. 

Assembly order for the face was sewing the minky to the cotton for all 3 pieces, turning the tentacles, then sewing the pieces together.  The top of the head was sewn on after this picture was taken, but it should be pretty obvious where it goes.  I stuffed the tentacles at this stage, figuring it would be much easier than trying to do it later.

Here's the whole, unstuffed cuttlefish.  I left a space for turning and stuffing on the underside of where the head joins the body.

And an action shot.  The cuttlefish was definitely the hit of Christmas, and my brother tried to steal it several times.  I'll refrain from posting the (many) shots where he was wearing the cuttlefish on his head, just in case he decides to run for public office one day.
2  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / first attempt at emboridery - day of the dead. suggestions please! on: November 02, 2007 04:37:34 AM
I knit and crochet, but have never tried my hand at embroidery, until yesterday when I woke up with an urge to make an embroidered day of the dead sugar skull...  I'd seen people talking about a sublime stitching pattern, and since I had gotten the book with the idea that I would eventually learn, I got it out and searched through it, only to discover that the pattern has to be bought separately.  So I sketched out a skull on paper and set about trying to copy it.

Here's what I've learnt so far about embroidery:
1) a scrap of an old, very thin t-shirt is probably not the best thing to embroider on, especially not for a first attempt.  but ironing a bit of interfacing on the back helps.
2) having a pattern to work with and actually ironing it on to the fabric would probably also make things much much easier.

In any case, can people who know what they're doing please have a look at what I've managed so far and let me know if they have any suggestions or criticisms to make it better?  I haven't done much decoration yet, just the main features.  Here's what I've done so far, with the paper that has some of my vague ideas so that you can see that it actually will eventually be a skull:

And here's a close-up of the stitching:

3  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Discussion and Questions / screw eyes on: June 21, 2007 02:24:31 AM
does anyone know where to get the tiny screw eyes that people use for domino pendants?  what size do you use and where do you get them?  thanks!
4  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / sewing novice -- attempt at a travelcard holder on: June 19, 2007 03:13:47 AM
the inspiration for this card holder came from a combination of how flimsy the plastic oystercard holders that tfl gives out with the cards are and the fact that as a postgraduate student, i have no fewer than three library cards for different libraries that i'm constantly needing to scan to get in and out.  i was getting sick of having to dig through stacks of cards, and figured i could make something sturdier and nicer than my shredded plastic oystercard holder that would allow me to flip through my cards.  here is what i came up with:

here it is closed:

and open:

and with two other cards flipped out on the back, along with a tube map sewn in:

this is the back of the whole thing open:

i think it's a bit sloppy, but a decent start!  and i'm completely in love with the fabric...

if the bottom of the stitches is a bit loopy and has extra thread getting tangled in things, that means that my tension is off, right?
5  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / earring and necklace holders on: June 14, 2007 02:59:20 PM
since i've seen so many neat earring holders on here, i figured i'd share my solution.  as an aid worker i change country fairly frequently, which makes portability high on my list of desirable characteristics for just about anything:

the earring collection is correspondingly international, with earrings from bolivia, greece, tanzania, guatemala, turkey, saudi arabia, el salvador, chile, croatia and argentina, in addition to those from my two "home bases" of the uk and us.

it's a backgammon board, just a really simple plain wooden one that i got in a toy shop in a pedestrian subway in istanbul.  if someone wanted to make a more elaborate version, there are all sorts of beautiful shell and mother of pearl backgammon boards out there.  here is the board closed:

and here is my necklace storage solution -- teacup hooks in the side of the hutch that sits on my desk.  it's not really portable, but i like it anyway:

you can probably tell i've been experimenting with soldered pendants!  hehe
6  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Discussion and Questions / tarnished solder??? on: June 06, 2007 06:47:45 AM
Hi everyone, sorry if this has been asked before -- I did several searches and couldn't find anything.

I've been experimenting with microscope slide pendants, and have been pretty happy with my results, but recently noticed that the back (the side against my skin) starts to tarnish and even come off a bit in places after a few weeks of wear. 

here is the front (still the same as it always was):

but here is the back when i finished the pendant:

and here is the back now:

you can see that the solder is all tarnished, whereas in the first pic it was nice and shiny.  this also happens to my soldered jump rings.  has anyone else had this happen?

this is the solder i'm using:  http://www.cobar.com/flux_products.asp?group=17&id=80.

7  KNITTING / Knitting: Discussion and Questions / short row help on: May 28, 2007 02:07:37 AM
i'm working on my first top of my own design, and i'd like to use short rows for bust shaping, but i've only ever used them on symmetrical pieces, and i'm not sure if they would work on something like what i'm trying to do:

i've knit the bottom part separately, and i want to do the top part as a top-down raglan in one piece, then fold the two front pieces over when i sew it to the bottom.  is it possible to do short rows where i have the pink?  or do they have to be done on a symmetrical piece where the whole piece is taken up by the short row section?

thanks Smiley  and sorry for the terrible paint drawing!
8  CROCHET / Amigurumi: Completed Projects / amigurumi cuteness! on: May 18, 2007 10:22:32 AM
my two latest creations:

this is sebastian, he was inspired by the "cute penguin" tutorial on here, and i gave him to a friend the morning of one of our exams:

and here is my aerial pig:

i'm working on a jellyfish that's going to be the first amigurumi of my own design... coming along well so far! Smiley
9  CROCHET / Amigurumi: Completed Projects / clandestine monkey on: May 02, 2007 03:30:04 PM
i made an amigurumi monkey for my boyfriend, it even has its ear pierced to match his:

the monkey promptly hid in his shoe, waiting to be found:

but he was completely oblivious to the monkey in the shoe:

and then i decided i didn't like the legs and feet, so i took the monkey back from the shoe when he wasn't looking and made new ones, then hid the monkey by his computer, which proved to be nowhere near as sneaky of a hiding spot:

hope you guys like it Smiley  the pattern was from roxycraft, but i sortof butchered parts of it, so she can't be blamed for anything you don't like...
10  CROCHET / Amigurumi: Completed Projects / my first amigurumi on: April 24, 2007 04:28:55 PM
i have an 80% done monkey somewhere, but i decided to throw this together the other day for a friend who wasn't feeling well... i'm not super happy with how it came out, but she appreciated it.  in any case, this is the get-well-soon-turtle:

if i make another one, i will:
  • use yarn that is in more visibly contrasting colours for the stripes on the shell
  • not sacrifice the idea that all the yarn should be more or less the same size to the idea that i wanted to make something out of whatever supplies i had on me at the moment
  • pay more attention to the pattern when it comes to turtlefeet
  • make a cuter face, again, using proper materials instead of just what was in my bag at the time
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