I actually was able to finish this up the other day and give it to Nancy when the office reopened after Christmas.
I am SO HAPPY with how it turned out, but I’m going to make you wait a few minutes while I drop some in-progress pictures. Sorry!
First, I was able to get all the fabric colors I needed (and didn’t already have on-hand from years of collecting scraps) at Jo-Ann, AND I happened to get them at a great sale price — 2 for $3 versus $2.50 each. Score!!
I backed each piece with Heat’n Bond adhesive, just like I did with the felt. First I removed the paper backing from one side of the adhesive and ironed it to the fabric scraps. After it cooled, I removed the paper backing and applied it to my Curio cutting mat — the plastic-to-plastic helped keep the fabric from slipping while cutting. I cut with my Fabric Blade and these settings:
- Depth: 4
- Platform: 6
- Speed: 4
- Thickness: 25
Here is the pre-assemblage assemblage. I just lined up the cut pieces to get an idea of how boss this project would look, and…
Then it was time to iron the layers together. I went in this general order:
- Rust eye color under the black face
- Dark grey nose area over the black face
- Black pupils over the rust eyes
- Light grey highlights over the black pupils
- Pink inner ears over black outer ears
- Ears onto brown head
- Black face onto brown head
- White stripe on last, since it goes a little over the edge of the black face onto the brown head
PRO TIP: Keep your scrap backing paper from your adhesive. You MUST iron your pieces on it, with the shiny side of the backing paper facing up*. Otherwise, your adhesive will stick to whatever surface you’re ironing it on, and that will ruin your day. It may seem like your adhesive will stick to the backing paper, and it will while it’s still warm. After it’s cooled, though, it will peel off normally.
* Yes, I accidentally ironed one set of cutouts with the dull side of the backing paper facing up. As you’d expect, I had a bad time.
Most of my time up to this point had been spent figuring out the right combination of materials and cut settings. I had hoped to get this made and give it to Nancy before Christmas, but I hadn’t factored in to just how much time the next stage would take: Blanket stitches!
Even though the pieces were adhered to each other, I wanted to add some dimension with blanket stitching around the edges of the shapes. You can see that I don’t hand-sew much, so my stitches are meh, but as you’ll see, I got to fix them later on. It felt a lot like sewing leather, between the layers of cotton fabric and the adhesive.
I can’t count the number of stabbed cuticles I endured. I somehow managed to seriously skewer my thumb near the end, too. I literally put my blood, sweat, and tears into this thing.
Here you can see the stitching nearly finished. I just had the eyes left to do, then to try to give my stitches a more uniform look. I could tug them into place with my fingernail, but I was able to secure them into place with a quick press from my new Clover mini-iron, using the adhesive that’s already there to help hold the stitches on the back of the fabric. SUPER handy.
Here are some of the stitches pressed into place:
PRO TIP: Don’t set your iron’s heat too high. The adhesive can bleed through the fabric. Oops. Hey, it’s handmade! It’s a feature, not a defect!
So I stitched my fingers off, then came time to stitch the front and back pieces together, give it a little fiberfill stuffing, add some ribbon and a jingle bell, and…
It’s not perfect, and that shot isn’t the best angle, but Nancy loved it and has had it hanging on her desk ever since…and that’s all that matters!
I made two more sets of cutouts. One is definitely for us, and I was thinking of giving the other to my parents, along with an ornament of their dog Babe.
The hand-stitching was enough of a pain in the ass for me to consider breaking out my sewing machine to see if it has a blanket stitch setting. But then I’m worried that it won’t be “handmade enough,” since I used my Curio to cut the fabric so precisely.
For now, my fingers are recovering while I contemplate more loom knitting projects…