Making Monday: Elephants on parade!

Thanks for your thoughts on my timing experiment at the end of last week. I lost track a little yesterday, since I ended up having several large blocks of time to stitch in and took full advantage of them. You’ll have to wait until later in the week to see how I got on. Ravelry is definitely the tracking method of choice, and I’m determined to get better at logging my projects, as well as to reduce my WIP pile. Maybe if they didn’t sit around for so long, I’d have a better idea of the time they took!

I allowed myself a small break from my stitch-fest to make my mum some Mother’s Day presents. I don’t actually think I’ve posted it here, but I made her a quilt for Christmas, and as she’s had some redecorating done, I thought it would be nice to give her something that matched it.

If you don’t already follow Sarah at Fairy Face Designs, get yourselves over there now! Not only is she an inspiring quilter, she’s currently hosting a great ‘learn to sew’ series. A happy coincidence of the cushion tutorial she recently posted and Chrissie at Stitched Together’s lovely quilt gave me the inspiration I needed.

Aren’t they cute? And yes, I did mean for them to face each other!

I’m afraid I don’t have time to put a full tutorial together at the moment, but thought you might like a rough breakdown of how I made them – there are lots of fab tutorials out there on appliqué and embroidery if you want to make your own.

I started, logically, with a picture of an elephant. Okay, I’ll be honest. I used Google Image Search, and when I found a copyright free image that was suitable, I held a piece of paper up to the screen and traced the outline with a sharpie.

Then I put a piece of bondaweb over the top, traced the outline again and cut out the shape. Using a pressing cloth and a dry iron, I pressed the non-paper side of my bondaweb shape onto my red spotty fabric, then cut out the shape again. Carefully, I peeled off the paper, put my elephant in the centre of my cushion front, and pressed it again. Finally, I used a narrow zigzag stitch to hold down all the edges of my elephant.

NB: I have a feeling you’re not meant to do it this way, but it worked for me. If you want a proper guide to applique, I suggest Florence’s might be more use to you!

The other elephant took a little longer to work out. The velvet I was using (more on that later) wouldn’t take a pen-mark, so I couldn’t trace it on, and given my embroidery skills, I didn’t want to attempt it from the wrong side.

Instead, I used the same principle as when I made the P wallhanging. I pinned my elephant picture to my velvet, then used green thread to sew the outline. Because I knew the velvet would shift around, I pinned the whole piece of paper down, and sewed through the paper. Ideally, I would have done this on my sewing machine, but I’d just put a new needle in it, and my sewing accuracy isn’t all it should be! So I just got an old needle and went once around the outline – I didn’t worry about getting a solid shape, just the impression of an elephant.

The tricky bit was getting the paper off afterwards, but through a combination of cutting and tearing, I eventually pulled it all out and was left with the thread elephant. All I had to do then was follow the line with my embroidery thread, which was once again my lovely silver silk from The Yarn Yard.

Once I’d finished the fronts, the cushions came together relatively easily. I used more of the red spotty to cover the zip on one.

And more red velvet for the other

HINT: DO NOT USE STRETCH VELVET. Seriously, people, I cannot stress this enough. I couldn’t even get the wretched stuff basted right and had to rip it out twice. I should have remembered from making the quilt back that this stuff shifts around like a melting ice cube, and trying to get the seams to match the cotton proved impossible. I did my best, turned it the right way out and to my utter relief, it had worked. This stuff is not going through my machine again, though – it’s hand-sewing or nothing! At least then I’ll have a grip on it!

All in all, the cushions probably took me 2-3 hours, which I think is pretty good going. In fact, I like them so much that I’m going to make one for my chair at work, which is just starting to give me back ache.

So that’s what I did on my weekend!! Everyone else have a nice time?


3 thoughts on “Making Monday: Elephants on parade!

  1. They look great – what did your Mum think?! And I know what you mean about stretch velvet – nightmare!!

    I spent the weekend with some knitting .. I find that I hate circular needles and I really hate knitting yarn that’s supposed to take 9mm needles on a 5mm circular needles (necessary to create a very dense fabric but bloody hard on your hands) and then there were way too many cables … All in all not a happy experience but I’m nearly done and will reveal all on my blog when it is safely in the hands of its intended recipient.


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