Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Spider Softie - A pattern hack and tutorial

We are sorely in need of some Halloween decor around here.  The big kid had a spider that we had bought last year that had bendy legs that he really liked.  He played with it as if it were a toy and it didn't really hold up well to that much use.  It seemed to be made of some kind of cardboard covered in black feathers and after a while we were finding little black puffs everywhere.  So this year I wanted to make him something similar that would stand up to heavy play and not make a mess.

I thought about making my own pattern, imagining a round body with legs and pincers sticking out.  When I was thinking of the body shape, however, I remembered this tutorial and pattern for a stuffed turtle from Make it & Love it.  I have made several of these turtles before - they are great baby gifts!

I realized the body shape of the turtle would work perfectly and I would just have to substitute spider legs and pincers (antenna?) for the turtle legs, head and tail.  I decided to use a black velour I had left over from a vest I made the big kid.  You will need about a quarter-yard for this project.  You will also need a scrap of red felt, a 6-10" length of black yarn or ribbon, and red and black thread (or thread matching whatever colors you decide to make your spider in).

Begin by cutting out the body pieces from the turtle pattern (one bottom piece and four side pieces). Also cut out eight spider legs 2" x 10".   Cut four pincer pieces shaped like this:

Finally cut 2 small round circles (about 1/2" diameter) from the red felt.

Here are all the pieces laid out (sorry for the blurry picture):

Note that the pincer pieces in this picture were not wide enough - I had to make them wider to be able to turn them inside out.  So ignore how they look in this picture and use my pattern piece above instead.  They should be approximately 1 1/2 inches wide at the base and about 2 inches tall.

Note: All seam allowances in this project are 1/4".

First, take two of the side pieces and sew them together along one side, right sides together.  Then take the other pair and sew them together right sides together.  Now you have two top body halves.  Take your length of yarn or ribbon and fold it in half.  Position it at the top of one of the top body halves, in the middle, where the seam is, with the ends sticking out like this:

Lay the other top body half on top, right sides together, lining up the two seams.  Sew along the top seam, backstitching at beginning and end and over the yarn/thread.

Next sew the eyes onto the top body piece.  I positioned the eyes about an inch up from the bottom, with the eyes on either side of one of the seams:

Set the top body piece aside.  Sew the pincers together, right sides together. Clip the curves, then turn and stuff.  Make sure to leave some space at the open end so you will be able to sew them into the body later.

Now get the leg pieces.  Fold the legs in half and sew along one end and the side.  I did this assembly line style: when I finished one I just raised the needle and presser foot and pulled the leg out a few inches and then put the next leg under the presser foot without cutting the thread.  So I ended up with all eight legs linked together like this:

Then I just snipped all the threads at once.  I don't know how much time it actually saved, but it felt more efficient.  

Clip the corners on the sewn end of each leg and turn them right side out.  Take the pipe cleaners and bend one end back on itself, wrapping the end around the stem.  This will prevent the wire from poking through the end of the leg.

Put one pipe cleaner in each leg, with the rounded end of the pipe cleaner going in first.

Now, take the bottom body piece (the big circle) and lay it right side up on your workspace.  Position the pincers and legs on it facing in toward the middle, so that the raw edges are hanging over the edge of the bottom body piece a little. You will need to coil up the legs so that, except for the raw ends, they are contained inside of the bottom body piece, like this:

Next take the top body piece and place it over the bottom body piece, right sides together.  Line up the eyes with the pincers.  You can also use the seams on the top body piece to help you gauge whether your legs are evenly spaced. Keep in mind, you will need to leave an opening for turning, so there should be about a three inch gap at the back between the right-side legs and the left-side legs. Make adjustments as necessary, then sew the top body piece to the bottom body piece, making sure to catch the ends of the legs and antennas as you are sewing and leave an opening in the back for turning.

After sewing the pieces together, coil up the ends of the pipe cleaners so they won't poke through from inside the body, then turn the spider right side out.  Stuff.  Finally sew the opening closed with a ladder stitch, and you're done!  A scary, but cuddly, spider for Halloween!

1 comment:

  1. Great tutorial! I'm pretty sure my son would LOVE having a stuffed spider! He loves finding bugs and saying "hi" to them!


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