An amazing former roommate discovered on Craigslist has sinced moved away, but I have kept in touch. I attended her overseas wedding a few years ago and later celebrated the birth of her baby girl with this quilt and this jacket. This past weekend, I visited her new home in Boston and FINALLY got to meet her baby — just before her first birthday! I wanted to bring a gift and decided a stuffed elephant and a copy of the book The Elephant’s Child would fit the bill.
I used this pattern for the elephant, which had the added bonus of giving me a second chance at sewing circles following last weekend’s chicken, whose round bottom was difficult for me. I saw the elephant’s pattern maker recommended by several stuffed animal enthusiasts. She has lots of other cute stuffed animal patterns, and this project wasn’t too difficult. You might even see the hippo or the lion on my blog someday soon since I got a buy 2, get 1 free deal.
In other news, I called several dozen stores trying to get my hands on a copy of the sold-out (even at the printer!) UK magazine Love Quilting and Patchwork, but to no avail. Fortunately, the featured product that caught my eye also appears in the book Liberty Love by Alexia Marcelle Abegg: the Marcelle Medallion Quilt.I picked up a copy while passing by the Harvard Bookstore and spent the baby’s naptimes pondering fabric selections. I can’t wait to get started!
In other news, I am not doing such a great job with my fabric diet. I bought these fun fat quarters (which I had trouble photographing on the go) from the Cambridge Quilt Shop:
Maybe some of them can be incorporated into the Marcelle Medallion…?
I must say I was impressed that the store’s fat quarter section was so robust! The store had many fun fabrics (especially modern ones), and most were available in fat quarter cuts. I often find the fat quarters pretty picked through when I visit fabric stores. The clerk was also kind to me, whipping out a “T” (bus) schedule from behind the counter and directing me to the best stop.
Since my friend was working Friday and I was taking PTO, I backpacked around Cambridge/Boston until it was time to take the commuter rail to her house. It was quite the adventure! At first, I worried people would kick me out of their stores, mistaking me for a vagrant. But I actually got some fun comments when proprietors saw the embroidery hoop strapped to my pack!
I found an amazing stuffed chicken sewing project on Pinterest but was disappointed when the link stopped working. Other users reported inappropriate content. However, I had no trouble with the link to the blog’s main site (which I typed in manually), and I was able to view older posts until I eventually found the chicken pattern here.
Since the website is in Chinese, I thought it would be helpful to provide the English-version tutorial. I am NOT trying to take credit for creating the pattern, just trying to make it available in the English-speaking market. I could not find the link to Sunny’s Lovely Quilt that is listed (via photos) on the Chinese site and on the chicken pattern itself. If someone finds the link and discovers this tutorial already exists in English, please let me know! We don’t want any copyright violations around here! In this spirit, I also did not include photos in this tutorial of anything that already appeared in the original link.
Download the pattern on the original website, then follow these instructions. (Note: I re-sized the chicken to fit a printout of 11 x 17” because I wanted it bigger.) All seams are ¼ inch unless otherwise specified.
Cotton fabric (different colors for head, wattles/comb, beak, outside of chicken, and lining)
White felt (I used a combo of interfacing or batting instead)
Beads for eyes
Filler of your choice (I used polyester stuffing)
Needle, thread, scissors, etc.
1. Print the pattern four times.
2. Add a seam allowance. I measured ¼” from each line and did a connect-the-dots thing, but I’ve seen you can also tape two pencils together and draw along the lines (the pencil tips will be approximately ¼ inch apart).
Trace the chicken pieces as follows:
On the first printout, draw along the side of the beak, wattles, and comb that connect to the chicken body. Continue by tracing along the rest of the pieces. You can also draw along the entire chicken bottom on this printout.
On the second printout, draw along the side of the chicken head that connects with the body. Continue around the rest of the chicken head.
On the third printout, draw along all edges of the chicken body (excluding the connecting pieces you have already traced). On this page, I also traced around the beak. There was slight overlap, but I traced the small beak onto another piece of paper rather than printing a fifth chicken.
On the final printout, trace along the entire chicken body including the head but excluding all other pieces.
2. Cut out all the pieces. This is your final pattern.
3. Cut the following pieces of fabric:
Head: 4 pieces with two reverse
Body (no head): 2 pieces for outside of chicken with one reverse
Body (with head): 2 pieces of lining with one reverse
Bottom: 2 pieces consisting of one outside piece and one lining piece
Beak, wattles, and comb: 2 pieces each with one reverse each
On the body (lining) pieces, trace the wing outline using the water- or air-soluble ink of your choice. Do the same for the X shape on the bottom lining piece.
4. Cut off the seam allowance for the body (with head) and bottom pattern pieces. Cut one bottom piece plus one normal and one reverse body piece of white felt. These should be a quarter inch smaller than the fabric pieces on all sides. (I used the instructions to cut interfacing and batting instead of felt.)
5. Sew along the sides of the beak, wattles, and comb that do NOT connect with the body with right sides together. Turn the pieces right-side-out and stuff. Baste along the sides that will connect to the body to keep stuffing in. (This is pictured on the original site.)
6. Sew one head piece to the corresponding body piece (outside piece). Repeat for opposite side of chicken.
7. Layer one body piece with head added (outside) and corresponding lining piece right sides together. Sew along the edges, leaving about 2” along the bottom unsewn so you can flip the chicken right-side-out. After flipping, insert the felt lining and sew the 2” hole closed. Repeat for opposite side of chicken.
8. Sew along the wing outline and remove the line. (You are basically quilting the wing. I added feathers to my wing shape.)
9. Repeat steps 7-8 for the bottom piece, layering the outside and lining pieces, sewing all but 2 “, flipping right-side-out, inserting felt, closing the hole, and quilting the X.
10. With the two remaining head pieces, sew along outside (leaving a hole), stuff, and close hole. This will be called the “head stuffer” in step 13.
11. Pin comb, beak, and wattle to the lining side of one quilted body piece. Sew using slightly less than a ¼” seam (so the stitching won’t show when you sew the two body pieces together). This is pictured on the original site.
12. Place outside sides of body together. Sew from the tip of the tail to the bottom of the chicken, but not along bottom. Sew from the back of the head, over the top of the head, to the bottom of the chicken. Do not sew the back or bottom of the chicken! All seams in this step should be as close to the edge as possible.
13. Put the “head stuffer” into the chicken head and place one eye on either side of the chicken. Using a tapestry or other long needle, connect the eyes through the head stuffer to keep it in place.
14. Pin the bottom piece to the chicken and sew around it. Because I am still pretty new to curved lines, mine didn’t turn out perfectly, and I can’t tell whether it’s a pattern issue or a sewing issue. (My oval for the bottom was too big.) I suggest checking the size of your oval before sewing to the chicken. Still, it’s pretty cute – and it’s lined with leftover bird fabric from a baby quilt I made.
The chicken was originally intended to hold eggs, according to the earliest pinner on Pinterest, but I will use it to hold chicken bean bags from this tutorial. The goal is to play this game or this game at the park with my cousin and her kids when they visit later this spring.
If you have questions, please leave a comment. Thanks for stopping by!
In a recent post, I mentioned I was working on a project with a palette too specific to share without giving away the intended recipient. Today is the big reveal!
A dear friend of mine moved to Illinois from New Orleans several years ago to be nearer her husband’s family. She enjoys visiting her hometown several times per year but sometimes receives negative comments related to Mardi Gras. I’m not sure Midwesterners (which I am) tend to understand that Mardi Gras can be so much more than just the Girls Gone Wild fodder of Bourbon Street. The last two years, she has posted this article about the fun things she’ll be doing with family. I wanted to help her celebrate her hometown and teach others about the nicer traditions by making her kids a Quiet Book with a Mardi Gras theme.
This is my “design wall” to show how the fabrics coordinate (definitely a cohesive palette!). My design wall was created by sticking fabric to the wall with washi tape–hardly high-tech.
Below are photos/descriptions of my quiet book pages.
I wanted to start the book with the history of Mardi Gras. Even though my friend’s not Catholic, religious influences played a big part in forming the holiday.
The objective of this page is to have the boy hold his mother’s hand and move to the sidewalk.
This page represents the musical influence of New Orleans. It was intended to look like one of New Orleans’ distinctive buildings with large, shuttered windows, plantation-style white doors, and European details. I decided to skip the shutters and doors at the last minute because they would have hidden the band members. I decided I liked the balcony appearance without them.
The band members are also finger puppets!
The pages above relate to baking a king cake. The spoon and whisk pull out of an elastic holder and are connected with a strand of embroidery floss. The refrigerator doors and cupboards on the opposite page open to reveal the ingredients for king cake. The refrigerator has detachable magnets with photos of the kids and their parents(redacted to protect their identity).
I wasn’t sure whether I could make the magnets stick to fabric or felt, so I had to find a way to sew them on. I repurposed a piece of plastic packaging to achieve this. I heated a pin until it was red-hot and pushed it through the squares of plastic I had cut and marked. I melted a set of holes in each corner. Then I attached once piece of plastic to each magnet, two per photo (one for the fridge, one for the photo itself), by sewing it to the fabric/felt. It worked pretty well!
Once the king cake is mixed on the previous pages, it’s time to bake and serve the cake. The oven comes with an oven mitt. (See the discussion about my Pinterest board below for sources.) The finished cake is a puzzle, and there is a detachable knife and felt numbers to count the pieces.
On this page, the kids can select a mask for the little girl.
Some suburbs celebrate “Fright Night,” which is very similar to Halloween in that kids dress up in costumes. For this set of pages, there are several costume options for the boy and girl.
Toys from the page on the left can be detached and put into the bag on the right, which mirrors the catching of “loot” during the many parades of Mardi Gras. I also embroidered a ladder, which is how young children are able to see the parade over the heads of adults. My friend pointed out that if she has trouble keeping track of any of the pieces, she can put them into the bag on this page – it’s huge!
There are numerous “krewes” at Mardi Gras, including the Mardi Gras Indians and Bacchus. On these pages, the kids are asked to look at the characters on the left to determine which of them belongs to the krewe on the right.
On these pages, the kids can select one of the polaroid photos I took of them (and their favorite stuffed animals) this weekend, put them into a buttoned envelope, and mail them home to friends to share the Mardi Gras experience.
I used the thickest Pellon interfacing I could find to stiffen my pages (interior design strength!). I thought it would be easier than quilting each page with batting in the middle and mostly liked the result. Unfortunately, the Pellon was not like the sticky-on-both-sides interfacing I’ve used before, so I wonder if I shouldn’t have sewn pages together in the middle in addition to the sides.
I elected not to use metal clips to hold the book together because I feared it would turn into a Noisy Book! I also opted against sewing the thick pages into a binder-type binding because I was lazy and it sounded hard. In the end, I used a hybrid of the most common forms of quiet book binding to make my binding with eyelets and ribbon.
I pinned lots of inspirational photos/graphics of Mardi Gras and New Orleans to a Pinterest board. It was secret so my friend wouldn’t know about my project, but I have since made it public. You can check it out here.
I made my book 8 1/2 x 11″ so I could use a standard-sized sheet of paper when designing and sizing my images. It also made it easy for me to test out different options in MS Word.
Making a book for kids when you can’t remember the skill levels at each age is kind of difficult, but I had fun using different claps, closures, and notions. I didn’t really think this would become as time-consuming as it did. I somehow thought I could do the whole book in just a few hours after I did the planning. HA! I can only laugh at myself in hindsight. I could probably have made a whole quilt in the time it took me to complete this project. You might be able to tell which pages I worked on at the beginning versus which ones I had to rush to be done before I went to visit my friend this weekend! But I’m not complaining about the time spent; it was mostly relaxing (when I wasn’t sewing pages together backward).
I’m not a stereotypically artsy person. I am not laid-back. I don’t spontaneously have an idea that I have to sketch out without using other art as reference. And I’m not good at laughing at myself. So when my boyfriend started offering unsolicited advice about my most recent project, I was kind of peeved, to say the least. Then EVERY SINGLE ONE of his suggestions improved my project! Now I have to offer an awkward thank you for his help.
My aunt had a baby last week, which means I have a new cousin! I knew I wanted to make her something. The baby blankets/quilts/play mats I’ve been making don’t seem to be terribly useful, so I wanted to try something new. I decided to embroider a onesie after seeing this post by Sew Lovely Embroidery.
Shopping for onesies is hard, by the way. I don’t have kids, so I was really out of my element at Target. The regular clothing racks only had pre-designed onesies. I knew there must be blank ones somewhere, so I kept searching. Eventually, I found some plain onesies between the bibs and the blankets in a regular aisle, not the clothing area. They were mostly white. I know you can dye fabric with Rit, but let’s be honest: I wanted to start right away. (I found a few onesies that I thought were blank and colorful, but they had really hideous bears on the front! Ugh.)
I got the onesies home and realized right away they were too thin for embroidery, that my threads in back would show through. I decided I would just embroider on a separate patch of fabric. Enter boyfriend. “That square looks kind of weird. You’re just going to stick it on there?” Um, yes, that was the plan. “Maybe you can change the shape. You know, make it more organic.” Hmm… He rifled through the contents on my desk (NoNoNo!) for a paper and pen to sketch what he meant. His original sketch looked scary, but when I played around with it, I found a hexagon was actually pretty similar to his suggestion. Definitely better than my plain rectangle, but also not as difficult as a circle.
While the boyfriend read a book, I started stitching. I finished the animal and the baby’s name and got to the hearts in my pattern. “These should be the same color as her name, right?” I asked, turning to him. I thought if I asked a directed question, he would just agree—especially since he was reading and not really paying attention—but noooo. “They should probably be a different color,” he replied. “Red?” I asked suspiciously. “Yeah, red.” He’s going to ruin it, I thought to myself. I continued my project, secretly pleased I could blame him when it didn’t turn out. Only the red was really cute. I decided to do red stitching around the hexagon, too, and voilà:
I bought a few more onesies while I was at it. I think they’ll be good gifts. I mean, even the mom with everything can work a personalized onesie into her baby’s wardrobe. I will also try VERY hard to be more receptive to good advice! For example, I have read on various blogs that some people embroider with 2-3 strands of floss instead of all 6. I might give that a try next time.