Saturday, 28 November 2009
Snow angel tutorial
Ah, sorry to have teased you. This is what I've been working on - think of her as an early Christmas present from me to you and a thank you for reading. She's inspired by a little angel I saw on a Christmas tree in a local shop, and I couldn't resist her. Obviously, she's not a toy - if you make one please don't let tiny people get hold of her as she won't stand up to extended tugging.
If you do make one please post a picture and let me know so I can come to have a peep at your handiwork. I don't mind what you do with her: keep her for yourself, give her as a gift, make her to sell, but PLEASE don't pinch my pictures or instructions and use them as your own - that would not be in the Christmas spirit and would make me very sad.
OK, here we go - warning, there are lots of photos:
You will need:
* a piece of felt about 3" x 6" - I've used white but she'd be equally lovely in red or blue with white embellishment; or glitter felt, oooh!
* two pieces of stretchy plain fabric, each about 3" square- I used jersey but old T-shirt, or even tights would work too
* scraps of felt
* wool to match felt
* embroidery thread in eye, mouth and hair colours
* a small ball of stuffing, or bits of old tights
* a length of narrow ribbon for hanging, about 8" long
* needle and thread
* knitting needles - whatever you have will do, as you'll see
First, make a template from paper:
Fold your felt in half, short ends together to make a 3" square. Pin and cut out the template - note where the template lines up with the fold! You'll end up with a piece like this:
Now cut out two little mitteny hands, which you will fold to make them double thickness - I don't use a template but fold the mitten felt in half and cut an appropriately sized paw, and then another:
Fold the hands in half as in the left hand example, and sew them around the edges with a tiny running stitch, as shown in the picture below.
Now is the time to embellish your angel's dress. You could applique a felt heart, as in the top photo, or embroider a snowflake, a heart, a mitten - whatever you like. Beads might be a pretty touch too:
Time to make the head. Stitch a circle around 2" in diameter in one of your pieces of stretchy fabric - I've used red here to show what I mean, but in reality I use thread to match the fabric.
Put the ball of stuffing in the middle and draw up the threads. Secure with extra stitches. If you can, gather most of the fabric to the back of the neck,
and leave the front as smooth as possible - this improves the end appearance. At this stage you could stitch a tiny gathered circle in the face to make a nose, but I generally don't.
Lay the second square of head fabric over, secure with a couple of stitches through the neck:
and then wrap the edges in and stitch them down, again trying to keep the front smooth and wrinkle free (if only skin care were really that easy). Wrap the thread a couple of times round the neck to tighten it all up:
The bulky straggly edges will help to give shape to the body, so leave them alone.
You now need to cut a neck hole. This needs to be only just large enough to insert the 'body' through, so go cautiously or you'll be darning up the neck hole afterwards. The easiest way is to fold the body in half at the shoulder seam, and then in half again, and then trim the tiniest sliver off at the corner you form:
You should end up with something like this:
Carefully feed the neck layers through, one at a time if necessary. Secure the head to the body by over stitching the edge of the dress to the base of the head - this isn't a toy so you don't need to go overboard.
Stitch the edges of the skirt together with a tiny running stitch.
Now, starting at the underarm seam, start to stitch round the arms, inserting the mittens as you get about halfway up the cuffs and letting your running stitches go through all 4 layers of felt. I actually then stitch back down over the mittens to secure them:
Hair next. Cut 6 strands of hair coloured embroidery floss, each about 8" long. Stitch them one by one to the head, starting at one ear, then over the top of the head, and finally out at the other ear. There's no need to tie them, but do pull all the strands so they're level and even on both sides of the head.
Now you need to plait them. This is the fiddliest part of the whole operation but I think it's my favourite feature in the finished angel. So take a deep breath and perhaps anchor her to your jeans with a pin before you start plaiting. Tie the ends of her plaits with thread, then trim them neatly. If you can tie a bow here I'll be green with envy. Take some time to make sure they more or less match up!
Embroider a face - or you could use fabric pens if you find that easier. You could use tiny French knots for the eyes as I've done here, or single stitches as in the heart-tummied angel at the top of the post. For the mouth you could do a single knot, or perhaps an "o" shape, or a single plain stitch, or catch the centre with a tiny stitch to make a little rosebud mouth. Attach your narrow ribbon, folded in half to make a hanging loop, to the top of her head.
The hat is made from a small piece of knitting. If you hate knitting you could also crochet, or even make it from felt, but I think the knitting looks good and it is about as simple as it gets.
You need to make a stocking stitched piece that's about 3" long by about 1.75" wide. I used bulky wool and 4mm needles, and that was 14 stitches by about 10 rows for me. You'll need to cast on what looks like a good number (stretch them out a bit and measure) then knit and purl a row or two and re-measure - you'll only be dealing with a few stitches so if your first attempt is the wrong size it won't take long to try again. Knit/purl in alternate rows to the desired length, then cast off and leave a long end for gathering. You'll note my piece is curly - and that's exactly how I want it:
Stitch the short edges together then fit the tube to her head, pushing the ribbon loop up through the middle and having the hat seam at the back. Secure to her head with little stitches and let the curly bottom edge curl up to be a sort of cuff. Use the remaining long end to gather the top edge with a running stitch, pull tight and secure the end.
And you're done! Phew! Well done if you got all the way to the end, and have fun. These take about an hour the first time but they get faster after that.