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-   -   Dragon Fabric Sculpture Demo (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=62763)

DraigAthar 09-27-2002 08:42 PM

Dragon Fabric Sculpture Demo
Okay, I'm going to start a new thread for this, and actually start explaining this whole process. I've got the pattern mostly worked up now, so let me post some photos of it and tell you what I've done. I'm going to do my best to explain this, but I'm sure I'll take too many things for granted and confuse some of you, so PLEASE ask questions and MAKE me explain myself properly. LOL!

So you remember my initial sketch:

Well I started out by making a good solid ink outline of it on another sheet of paper. We'll just start with the body. The wings will be constructed as separate pieces and attached to the body later, as will the ears. So I'll worry about those later and just focus on the body for now. I needed to enlarge the diagram to the size I want the actual fabric sculpture to be. I decided I'd like this guy to stand about a foot tall, which ends up making him fairly long, so this will be on the large side, for a fabric sculpture. In general, working between 10" and about 18" in height seems best for me. Anything smaller and I go insane trying to sew it. Any larger, and constructing a sturdy interior support becomes a challenge.

I just use the grid method to enlarge my inked diagram. The drawing turned out to be about 12cm tall, to it was easy to grid it from cm straight to in and end up with a 12in tall pattern. Here's the inked version, with the grid drawn in:

I know that looks a little strange with legs drawn in on both sides of the body - the lines all start to overlap - but I need to be able to see both sides of the body in the same diagram. To give the fabric sculpture a little more realistic pose, you don't want the legs to be perfectly symmetrical.

Here's the enlarged version, on newsprint:

The tail was too long to fit on a single page so I just added it farther up in the grid, as you'll see there.

Now we have to turn the diagram into a pattern to be traced on the the fabric and sewn/cut out. This is the hard part, because you need to be somewhat familiar with how fabric patterns work. You have to imagine how your 2D diagram will translate into a 3D sculpture. For this guy, I didn't need to make TOO many alterations to the original diagram, I don't think.

Let me just post a picture of the pattern, and then come back and try and explain what I did in a separate post, because this one is getting a bit long. :)

Here's the pattern:

That is now the pattern for one side of the body. I usually just turn the sheet of paper over and draw the other side of the body (with the differently posed legs) in on that side (I tape the sheet up to the window and just trace it). That saves me from having to draw a whole new copy of it on a separate sheet of paper. So even though I'll focus on this one side of the body, remember that there are two separate patterns for the different sides of the body. They are MOSTLY the same, it's just the legs are different.

More to come shortly ...


DraigAthar 09-27-2002 09:19 PM

Okay, let me try and go through the pattern and explain some of the things I've done.

First, the feet:

Sewing feet out of fabric either results in really dopey looking feet, or else it's a TON of work to make decent looking feet. So for this project I will hard sculpt the feet on later. This means I just need to end the legs at the ankles, leaving the bottoms open for inserting wire.

You'll also notice in the above picture that the leg has been widened somewhat from the original diagram. Some extra space is needed to compensate for the way the fabric will pull up when it becomes a cylinder. Looking at my original drawing, I gave the dragon pretty beefy legs, so I didn't add too much extra space in this case.

Next, the leg darts:

These darts will be sewn in the body gusset. If you didn't sew these darts in the gusset, the legs would end up sticking straight out from the body sideways. :)

Then there's the body gusset:

The body gusset becomes the belly of the dragon, and the insides of the legs. It's just a mirror image of the legs up to the line on the body marked A to B. That line will be the center of the belly. The points between the two O's will be left open, for stuffing.

Then there's the most complicated part, the head:

I decided to shorten the snout a little. I was afraid in the final sculpture the snout would look way too long. All the marks you see on the head are lineup points for the head gusset.

Here's the head gusset:

Making the head gusset is often a lot of guesswork. You have to imagine the top view of the head, and where it gets wider or narrower. That defines the shape of the head gusset. I wanted the jaw and head to be wide, and the nose a little wider, so you'll see how I've added bumps in the gusset to accomodate this. The lines across the gusset match up with the marks on the head pattern. You have to try and measure the length of the curves of the head so that you make the gusset a proper length that will match up evenly with the head pattern.

Sometimes I will sew up just the head of a pattern like this, to make sure it comes out looking the way I intend before spending time on the entire sculpture. It's much easier to make alterations to a pattern than to the sculpture. :)

I think that mostly describes the pattern. Some of this will make MUCH more sense when I actually go to sew it and can show you what I'm talking about when I get into the fabric.

All of the lines on the pattern that extend inwards past the outline will end up being needle sculpted after stuffing, to give the dragon shape. You'll see that later on, too.

So ... does any of this make sense to you? Let me know if I can explain any of it better.



Elankat 09-27-2002 09:34 PM

Strangely enough, I was able to follow it. I had to look at the head gusset a second time, but I'm pretty certain that I had the right "Ah HAH!" moment and understand. :D

But, I've drawn my own patterns before and done a good amount of sewing. I'm interested to see if others understand the process though. I think that as the pieces get sewn, the tutorial will become easier to follow too.

This is so interesting! :D

TeAnne 09-28-2002 08:22 AM

Cool and interesting. I'll be watching this. I hope you make an Article about it when it's all completed. Who's a clever girl then? WOW

jsr88 09-28-2002 09:12 AM

Amy...you are doing an excellant job here. The instructions are quite clear to me. (but then I've been working with gussets and darts for ages! :D )

:clap: ~ LOOKING GOOD!!! ~ :clap:

Axl 09-28-2002 04:07 PM

I know absolutely nothing about sewing and patterns but this still makes sense to me!! Good show :D keep 'er coming ;)

inkskin 09-29-2002 12:37 PM

Makes sense to me:D Did you take a sewing class or did you work all of this out for yourself?There is so much work that goes into this little guy already!


DraigAthar 09-29-2002 08:05 PM

Heather - never had a sewing class in my life. My mom had an antique treadle sewing machine when I was a kid (well, she probably STILL has it) that I one day (when I was 12 or 13? I don't remember) decided to learn to use, because I wanted to make my own stuffed animals. She gave me tips and the rest I just picked up by practicing. I used to sew just from patterns but I guess somewhere along the way I picked up enough to figure out how to start making my own patterns. :)


David Dowbyhuz 09-30-2002 12:27 PM

What a wonderfully intricate and complete tutorial, Amy. (Although you lost me at the "darts". :) ) Melody, the textile artist of the family, will know just what you mean.

It'll be a lot fun to watch a process that's so far beyond me!


DraigAthar 09-30-2002 03:37 PM


Originally posted by Iconoclast
What a wonderfully intricate and complete tutorial, Amy. (Although you lost me at the "darts". :) )

Heh, darts are just folds sewn into fabric to give a garment (or fabric sculpture!) shape. Most articles of clothing have darts in them to make them fit the body better. Check the back waistband of your trousers, they prolly have darts in them. ;)


Leaflin 09-30-2002 04:45 PM

I think you did a great job on your demo!
It helps one appreciate how much work goes into a fabric sculpture.
Look forward to seeing the finished piece

kitaye 09-30-2002 06:32 PM

So far so good. I've done alot of sewing using commercial patterns so the ideas are there for me but, I think you may want to extend the blurb on the leg darts. I think a large part of the darts will become clearer when you start showing the actual sewing part but the pattern part of the darts is a little confusing. BTW I also hope you make this into a full blown tutorial it'll be awsome when you're done.

DraigAthar 09-30-2002 06:35 PM

Thanks kitaye. I'll do my best to explain the darts better when I actually sew up the dragon - I think it may be much clearer when I can take pictures to show people what I'm talking about.

As for a tutorial, well I've never made one! I guess I did as a demo so I could get feedback about what's clear or unclear. But I could always look into turning it into a tutorial after it's all done, like you suggest!


Axl 09-30-2002 06:45 PM

Yes! Tutorial!!!! Junior says we need some lol

Fidget 09-30-2002 07:29 PM

You are doing a wonderful job. Everything is very clearly explained.

I wouldn't of thought of the dart is the legs myself. So much easier to sew and adjust as you go.

But, I don't think Dave still understands.
I once tried to show him why I had to adjust the darts on a dress but he just stood there blinking.
Like he needed to be rebooted.

You are so nice to share this with us.


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