Deciding it was about time I learned how to use a sewing machine, my Janome 3300 emerged from the box only eight months after receiving it, and finally saw the light of day. What a beauty – with the little red flowers promising all manner of fabulous creations – if only you could harness the power, or indeed thread the needle.
At the start of the school holidays, during idealistic fantasies of how my summer with the boys might be, I borrowed a couple of craft books from the library – Make a Monster by Fiona Goble was one of them, detailing 15 easy-to-make fleecie toys. Fiona also wrote the hugely popular Knit Your Own Royal Wedding, amongst many others, and has her own knitting blog if you fancy a read.
Choosing the fleece to buy was fun, with the boys deciding what colours they’d like for their chosen monster. I bought from myfabrics.co.uk as they had a good selection and offer £5 discount when you sign up to their newsletter. Buying mostly remnant pieces was a cheaper way to get a few colours at once and delivery was quick. Although my husband did ask if I was making life-sized monsters, when the gargantuan parcel arrived. Two words – craft stash.
First I couldn’t find the instructions for the sewing machine, having removed them from the box for bedtime reading many months earlier. Just studying the machine for a prolonged period didn’t seem to help either. So I referred to my able assistant – You Tube. Wading through the plethora of sewing tutorials, and combining information from several videos, I was able to figure out how to wind a bobbin, thread the needle, load the bobbin and pull up the bobbin thread. If you are looking for the same information, I suggest you start your search with the model number of your sewing machine, followed by the brand, and last resort just cross your fingers when you press enter. Once all the cotton was in place, I knew I could give trial and error a go, and see what disasters- sorry, monsters I could make.
Fiona’s book is great for guiding you step by step through the process, with pattern templates, what stitches to use and how to do them, and great photos of each project. I started with ‘Rufus’ as my practice monster, or rather, his cousin twice removed – Ralph. I wanted to try die cutting the fleece and so chose ovals for his head and eye and went with a rainbow fleece, with a chain stitched mouth.
I made his body bigger than the template, and did a lovely wonky dart at the top to draw in his neck. I realised too late for my monster’s head and body, but in time for his horns, that I should only have been cutting one of each piece and then stitching that to a larger piece of fleece, cutting it out after the stitching. This then gives you something to hold and manoeuvre whilst doing the machine stitching, and is infinitely easier than trying to stitch right at the edge of your fabric. Trial and error #1.
Stitching right at the edge whilst trying not to sew the horns to the face…
Final stages: stuffing then closing the gaps and attaching the head to the body with a bit of hand sewing, utilising my midwifery suturing skills, – aha! so the degree in midwifery and eight years experience can still come in handy after all.
A few hours after starting – the end result:
Okay so not as perfect as Fiona’s with my wonky sewing, eccentric dart, funny-looking creature, forgotton teeth, but hey Ralph, we love ya! The boys were well impressed, can you start mine now Mummy?
Although Zoltan has been discarded to the land-of-soft-toys-pile in ds2’s bedroom, Dotty appears to be a firm favourite and has been adopted into the can’t-go-to-sleep-without-it collection for ds1. Success!
Things I’ve learned:
- Sewing machines are amazingly clever
- Fleecie monsters are fun and no-one would ever know if you’ve made a mistake
- By the time I’ve paid the library book fines I could have bought the book
- This task helped to pass 3 days of the school holidays
- Crafts-to-do list just got longer – make something else out of fleece before husband goes bonkers at craft stash
Thank you for reading, hope you are inspired to make your own!