You’ve probably noticed that I like quirky fabrics, and what could be more quirky than a glow in the dark Halloween fabric?
In daylight the stingray is just plain old black and white cotton, with a plush fleece underside. Because the cotton doesn’t stretch, I did find it challenging to sew the top seam neatly after stuffing the stingray, as I’m used to using stretchy fabrics for toys.
I didn’t want the eyes to stand out and detract from the glowing fabric, so I used some plain black eyes which I think look a little more natural than the coloured ones.
But I know you’re waiting to see what this little stingray looks like in the dark, and I will admit I actually failed at getting a photo in focus with the stingray glowing!
But fear not, this stingray was actually a present for a friend, and she had much better luck with taking a photo:
I’m amazed with how well the fabric actually glows, as some of my glow-in-the-dark fabrics have felt a little underwhelming in the dark. I might have to see if I can get some more of this fabric, and make a few more stingrays!
Since Lockdown 1.0, I haven’t done much sewing – the majority of things I made were face masks for friends and family. I wanted to sew something as a Christmas present for K, but what do you make a young boy who loves dragons? A dragon backpack of course!
I’ve made plush toys before, but this would be the first backpack I’ve ever attempted…. I like to make things challenging!
My original plan was to use some glow in the dark fabric paint on the eyes to add an extra fun little detail. However, the glow paint I’d purchased online was a ‘lucky dip’ when it came to colour, and I ended up with pink – perfectly fine, but I didn’t really want this dragon to have pink glowing eyes! So I stuck with the pattern’s recommendation and appliqued the felt eye pieces onto the face.
This fleece fabric is surprisingly slippy – it behaves almost like a fake fur rather than fleece when you’re sewing. As a result, the zip on the main pocket isn’t the neatest of stitching.
I had a Union Jack patterned fat quarter lying around, which worked perfectly for the pocket lining. I didn’t want anything too dark, as it would make it quite challenging to find something in the bag otherwise.
After a while of fighting the fabric, I tried an alternative technique – placing a layer of calico fabric against the feed dogs when sewing. That worked like a dream, allowing the fabric to feed through evenly, and no more squished stitches!
Because the dragon needed to be stuffed and the fabric had a slight stretch, I wanted to make sure the seams would allow some stretching, so I trimmed down the calico to as small a piece as possible. Ideally I would’ve used a tear-off fabric stabiliser or even tracing paper, as both of those could be fully removed after sewing. But as usual, I didn’t have either to hand, and I really needed to get this dragon finished!
As an optional extra in the pattern, there’s a hidden pocket in the dragon’s tail. I thought this would be a neat addition (which I didn’t point out when I gave K his present – I wanted him to discover it for himself), so not only is this my first backpack make, it’s also my first attempt at sewing in an invisible zip (albeit without an invisible zipper foot)!
My only other slight mishap was when I stitched the strap to the wrong side of the dragon’s paw (oops!) and had some well-nigh impossible unpicking to do to resolve it. But thankfully you couldn’t see the mistake once I’d finished.
And I can safely say that K loves his new backpack – after he’d opened it, he put the bag on his back and ran round the room shouting “I’ve got wings”!
If you’re reading this today (Saturday 13th March 2021) then Minerva are holding one of their special discount days for Craft Club members today! Craft Club membership is £20 for the year, and gives you 10% off all purchases year round, plus a couple of these special 20% off days in the year.
Offer valid Saturday 13th March 2021
But “what can I make from Minerva fabric?” I hear you ask – here’s a selection of my makes but I’m sure you would be even more creative.
This cotton linen blend was crying out to be a skirt & jacket combination and the contrast facing & cuffs really help to lift it from being just plain purple.
My first time sewing with Scuba fabric, resulted in this top & trouser combination. I could’ve made the top a little larger to compensate for the fabric being more structured, but the trousers worked particularly well.
And speaking of trousers, these jeans were made from a super stretchy fabric which removed most of the jeans-fitting problems I’d had previously. I do need to add some elastic to the waistband though, as I made it a little too generous on the sizing!
Onto a more summery make, with this nautical polycotton. I made this dress and a pair of shorts from this fabric, which definitely helps liven up a dull rainy British summer’s day. I did line the shorts with some plain white polycotton just in case this was a little see-through, and they’ve held up to multiple wears on long walks so far.
Typical British Summer’s weather means I really needed a decent waterproof coat to wear. I really never thought I’d ever sew myself one, but this memory raincoat fabric (lined with a spotty polycotton) was perfect! I used the Tilly and the Buttons Eden jacket pattern for this, with no alterations.
Another pair of jeans, this time in an embroidered cord fabric. These are made from the Megan Nielsen Dawn jeans patterns, with a few alterations (I think I still need to tweak the pattern to get the best fit for me). It was an experience sewing with embroidered cord, but once I had a new denim needle in my machine, it was pretty easy to sew.
It’s not just clothing – I made a family of three bears from some Christmas cotton fabric! I would normally pick stretchy fabric for bear-making, but this cotton worked really well. The advantage of this fabric is that the pattern is non-directional, so it didn’t matter which way up I had the pieces.
My most recent Minerva make is this Halifax Hoodie from a textured knit fabric. I’d never sewn with textured knit before, so I was wondering how well it would work. I’m pretty pleased with the end result!
And finally, this is a bag which will (eventually) be a tutorial here. It’s made from ripstop fabric which is showerproof and also can be wiped clean. The bag can also be folded up to fit in a trouser pocket, so it’s a great reusable alternative to plastic carrier bags.
I hope that’s given you some inspiration for what you could make – why not check out what Minerva have available (even if you miss the 30% off day, it’s worth just browsing their fabric and sewing supplies)?
Offer valid Saturday 13th March 2021
* aff – The banner link at the top & bottom of this post are affiliate links. This means I get a small amount of commission if you click through my link then go on to purchase anything from the Minerva website. It does not cost you anything extra to use these links, but does help fund my next fabric purchase!
I am a Minerva Ambassador, which means that I have the opportunity to get a piece of fabric for free, in exchange for photos and text to feature on their website. Some of the makes in this post were done as part of that role, and others are made from fabric I purchased myself.
Sympathy bears weren’t something I had originally set out to make. But after I made Caramel, I heard that a friend’s cat had died. That’s the kind of time when you would give that friend a sympathetic hug. However, said friend lives in a different country, which made it impossible to give a hug in person!
What better way could there be of sending a hug, than posting Caramel as a hug through the post?
You can probably tell that Caramel was the first bear I made from this pattern, as he’s not entirely accurate compared to my later makes. But despite his lack of visible nose (I didn’t have any suitable black fabric to hand when I made him), he gives a lovely hug, and that’s what matters.
I’d purchased the fabric online which doesn’t always make for a success with faux fur. But I was pleasantly surprised how tactile this fake fur is! There’s the usual shedding when you’re cutting and sewing, but once the bear is made there doesn’t seem to be any further shedding of fur.
I made Rusty from the same pattern, but using a tie-dye effect Cuddle Plush fabric (also known as Minky), which has a much shorter pile. So although both bears are made from the same pattern, Caramel’s facial features aren’t as defined – even with his body-coloured nose!
Fast forward to 2020 and even for friends living closer to home, it’s obviously not suitable to give them a hug when they need one. So when a local friend’s dog passed away, I knew just the thing to make.
Meet Duster, who was made from a long pile rainbow fake fur. This had a much thinner backing fabric and wouldn’t be something I was happy using for a child’s toy, but for a sympathy bear it worked really well.
My friend’s dog was long-haired, so I thought the long pile of this fake fur would work well to run her hands through in the absence of her faithful companion.
It’s the kind of project where you strongly hope you’ll have no need to make any more soon, but if you do then they aren’t too challenging to make!
The pattern is from Simply Sewing issue 24, but unfortunately it’s not available as a back issue. You can, however, download the pattern templates from their website – gathered.how. One important thing to note, is that templates downloaded from a magazine’s website do not include instructions, so if you don’t have issue 24 then you would need to have some toy making knowledge to know how everything should fit together!
I’ve also made some larger versions of these bears, but for sympathy bears I think this is the perfect size.
Pattern: Simply Sewing issue 24 Fabric: Premier Plush from FabricLand Rainbow Faux Fur from MIBS Tie-dye Cuddle Plush from Plush Addict
When you think of polar bears, you probably think of snow, ice, and generally cold weather. But this particular polar bear wanted to enjoy a hot summer – or at least as hot as the weather gets here in England! So here is Martin the Polar Bear, who has taken a liking to watching cookery shows on tv.
Usually when sewing with faux fur, it’s recommended to trim the fur in the seam allowance. This makes the seams easier to sew as the fur isn’t sliding about all over the place, but also it means it’s easier to stop the fur getting caught in the seams.
I didn’t bother with trimming the fur, as I didn’t feel the pile on this faux fur was long enough to need that. I got on fine, apart from one point on Martin’s neck where I’d not actually caught the backing fabric in the seam. If I make another polar bear from this fabric, I think I would just trim down the fur in the seam allowance on both sides of the neck seam, and leave the other seams untrimmed.
As you can tell, Martin made himself at home quite quickly – I hadn’t realised he could reach the computer keyboard from the chair… think he was trying to find some recipes he could cook.
I will admit I started making the Polar Bear last year, with the aim of him featuring on my blog before Christmas. Unfortunately ‘real life’ got in the way, as it has a tendency to do, and although I finished the bear, I never got as far as the blog post! So here we have the not-quite-so-seasonal Polar Bear UFO.
Having made Frank the Not Quite a Polar Bear, I couldn’t resist making a seasonal looking bear to go with him! I used the same applique idea for the Polar Bear’s paws, but picked out some silvery plush fabric instead of the brown. I also trimmed down the white faux fur underneath the applique sections just to try and get my zigzag stitches to lie a little neater. I could’ve brought the applique in a little more from the edges though, as once I finished sewing the Polar Bear there’s not a particularly noticeable gap between the paw pad and the side seam in places!
Rather than the blue eyes I used for Frank, I thought it was better to stick with a more traditional brown for the Polar Bear. I can’t say the bear looked overly pleased at having to wait for me to take his photo while he was still inside-out though! I get the idea he’d rather I hurried up so he could be stuffed!
And we’re back! That was a longer hiatus than I’d anticipated, so I do have a few blog posts I’d planned for December, which will obviously now be pretty unseasonal… but they’re heading onto the blog over the next few weeks anyway!
So let’s start with the recap of my 2019 Nine to Try
How can it be the end of 2019 already?! The biggest question though, is have I managed to make any of my 2019 Nine to Try, or have I just been making other items instead?
Fashionista Jacket* by WinterWear Designs* I’ve actually made two Fashionista Jackets – one from softshell, and the other from denim…. and I have a linen-like fabric set aside to make a third Fashionista too!
Bryce Cargo Trousers* by Hey June Handmade* I haven’t even got as far as printing off the pattern for these. I do like the idea of them, but the shape looks like it could be quite complicated to get the fit just right.
Brunswick Sweater* by Hey June Handmade* Again, I love the shape of the sweater, but I haven’t got close to getting this one printed off even… maybe 2020 will be the year for that pattern?
Provence Pea Coat* by WinterWear Designs* I did make a faux-wool Provence Pea Coat in 2019, although I think that one hasn’t actually reached the blog yet (I’ll have to get some photos and change that!)
Kelly Anorak by Closet Case Patterns I was all set to make this pattern, when the Eden jacket was released by Tilly & the Buttons. The Eden jacket is less fitted in its shape (there’s no waist drawstring either), so I decided to swap the Kelly over to the Eden instead!
Belladonna Bear by Emma’s Bears I have made several bears this year, but not from this particular pattern! If I can find some cotter-pin teddy bear joints, then I might give this pattern a go in the future though.
Overall, I made a grand total of three of my nine to try (or 4 if you count the Kelly anaorak swapping over to the Eden jacket) *laughs* But really, it doesn’t matter how many I made – it’s fun to pick out some patterns at the beginning of the year, and have a rough idea of “I’d like to make that”, but those ideas are allowed to evolve and change through the year. Nothing is set in stone!
Ok, so I will admit that this pattern was for a Polar Bear…. and wasn’t actually quite so large either – but when has that ever stopped me?? I printed the pattern off at 200%, pieced the pages together and made myself a brown bear who is the perfect size to cuddle while watching tv.
I found the blue eyes at Hobbycraft and couldn’t resist making a blue-eyed bear for a change… hence the name Frank after Frank Sinatra (Ol’ Blue Eyes). This pattern is completely different in its style to the previous bears I’ve sewn, so this was an interesting challenge using quite sleek faux fur on a pattern I’d never tried before!
His nose is made from black plush (minky) fabric which made a nice change from needing to embroider a nose on a bear… although it was quite hard to get the stuffing to stay in his muzzle for some reason.
I deviated from the pattern to add in some paw pads made from some oddments of plush fabric I had lying around. I think this livens up his paws a little, and makes him look even cuter – what do you think?
Frank seems to have made himself at home already, and claimed the tv remote for his own!
Remember Bella Bear from earlier in the year? Well she’s been patiently waiting for me to show her finished look, so here she is!
I stitched her arms and legs into place rather than using toy joints, as I prefer the softer feel. I was aiming for more of a Gund style feel to Bella – understuffed and cuddly. I think I might have gone a little too far in the understuffed line though, as she does feel rather lightweight!
I fussy cut a couple of the purple stars for her paw pads. I was originally going to make them as ‘tickle toes’ hence the trimmed fur at the top, but I didn’t have the confidence in my hand sewing ability to make a decent job of them.
I think maybe I could’ve made her neck a little shorter. That’s one disadvantage of not jointing the head, as it does tend to lead to a very long looking neck. Maybe next time I will add a joint on the head even if I omit them for the limbs.
Ok, I admit it – she’s only 98% finished in this photo. I ran out of black thread for her nose, so she was waiting for me to finish…. then the stitches just started looking worse and worse, so in the end I cut a piece of black acrylic felt and stitched that in place as a nose instead.