Sunday, August 10, 2014

Shark Week: The Totally Awesome Shark

My original plan was to just raw edge applique a regular shark or two onto the quilt-top, possibly inserting a fin between one of the seams, but then I remembered Bob Shea's book 'I'm A Shark!'. So I set out to make the Totally Awesome Shark. And then I started thinking that if my son had this little guy on a quilt, he might think it would be really fun to be able to take him off the quilt and play with him, and I imagine the little boy I'm making it for would think similarly. I just had to figure out how I was going to do that!

To make the Shark I traced one of the illustrations from the book onto freezer paper, labelling each piece and making marks where they intersected. I pressed the freezer paper onto some scrap fabrics and then cut them out with a rough 1/4" seam allowance. In hindsight, I probably should have made a larger seam allowance, but that's what doing things for the first time is for, learning from your experience.

After making sure I'd drawn a line around my templates to show me where to sew, I removed the freezer paper and began to sew all my pieces together.
Unlike with the curved piecing, this was definitely a case of pinning the heck out of it being a good idea. I made sure I poked the pins through the lines of both pieces of fabric and then secured them so that both sewing lines were all matched up. I sewed along the line, and yes I sewed over the pins. I slow down when I come to them, but I find sewing over the pins helps keep things aligned better.

After sewing his body all back together, it was time to work on his fins and tail. I was lucky enough to have some pale blue felt leftover from a previous project, and it worked rather nicely.

I attached the felt at the seamline to make it easier when I sewed the backing fabric on.

I cut the eyes out of some knit fabric so I didn't have to worry about fraying, and used double-sided fusible interfacing to make them stay put. 

For the centre of the eyes I decided a satin stitch would work best but I couldn't find my embroidery threads at the time so I just used a doubled over strand of black Aurifil 40 weight.

At first for the outline of the eye I tried a kind of parallel whip stitch which I was planning to go over a few times to fill in the gaps but it really was a lot of work for not the greatest effect so I had another crazy late-night idea. Couching. Which of course I'd never done before. And of course, I didn't want to lose momentum by going and checking up how to do it properly. :P
But at least I finally found my black embroidery thread!

I pinned a double-over length of the thick embroidery thread in place, and used  the Aurifil to sew it on.

I continued couching to make the teeth, and by this time I was getting the hang of it. And I think I must have been on a roll because I didn't stop to take photos, I just kept going and sewed the front of the shark to the back, making sure to keep the felt fins and tail pointing inwards so they would be caught on the outside of the seam when I turned it right side out.

But oops, I'd forgotten to attach the press stud to the back before sewing it together so I had an awkward time having to use the small hole I'd left for turning and stuffing to get access to the back while sewing it on. I managed in the end, though!

At this point I stuffed him full of stuffing and hand-stitched him closed. But I didn't like how puffy he was. He didn't seem to match the quilt he belonged to. So I unstuffed him. It felt weird, pulling his innards out like that!
I replaced his original innards with two layers of batting, hand-stitched him closed again, and secured all the layers with some hand quilting in the ditch.

After I'd finished the Totally Awesome Shark I realised I couldn't leave him to be lonely so I created his nemesis: the Creepy Spider. :D

Seriously, this book is awesome. Go buy it, even if you don't have kids! 

I remembered to sew the press stud on first, this time. :D

That's it for Shark Week. Haven't quilted the main quilt yet, so I can't finish the week off with showing you that, but I think the Shark himself is a good way to leave it.


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