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Old 10-04-2002, 05:04 PM
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Leaflin Leaflin is offline
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Amy.....
I'm with you!
This is a fantastic thread and you are doing an excellent job at explaining.
I really appreciate all the time you are putting into this.
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Old 10-04-2002, 06:54 PM
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DraigAthar DraigAthar is offline
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Thanks everyone.

Continuing with sewing up the dragon ...

Next you sew the head gusset to the two sides of the head. This is more fiddly work. It's best to hand-baste the gusset to the head before machine sewing it. You have to put so many pins in to line up the pieces that it's a nightmare to sew it right on machine. So I work from mark to mark - here I've matched up the pieces between the mark at the back of the head and the mark on the brow.



And here I've hand-basted that section together.



Here's the gusset completely basted to one side of the head.



Then you go over this basting with the machine, taking care not to catch any folds of fabric in the seam. It helps to go very slowly and constantly check to make sure you're only sewing what you WANT to sew.

Here's the head after the gusset has been machine sewn to both sides of the head.

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Old 10-04-2002, 07:04 PM
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DraigAthar DraigAthar is offline
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To finish off sewing up the dragon, pin and sew the two sides of the body together from the point on the neck where the head gusset ends to the point on the chest where the body gusset begins:



And from the back of the head, all the way around the end of the tail, to the underside of the tail where the body gusset ends:



Then sew the two sides of the body gusset together along the belly line. Open the legs out and match the body gusset sides together, leaving the space between the marks open for turning:



That's it! You're done with the sewing machine (for now ...) and next you need to clip all the seams. You cut little snips into the seam allowance all the way around every seam. This is so that fabric doesn't bunch or wrinkle (especially around tight curves) when you turn it right side out and stuff it. Take care not to cut through the seam itself! If you do that it's pretty hard to fix it, so sit yourself down in a comfy chair and take your time with this, because it takes a while.

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Old 10-04-2002, 07:18 PM
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DraigAthar DraigAthar is offline
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So now you've clipped all the seams, you need to turn the dragon right side out. If you've ever tried to turn a pattern like this with very narrow parts, you know it can be agonizing because the fabric all gets bunched up in the narrow part and you want to tear your hair out trying to get it turned. Well, there's a nifty little turning tool you can buy that's essentially just a hard plastic tube and a long rod that fits inside of it. Me, I just use an old hard plastic drinking straw (Jack Skellington, no less!) and a bamboo kebab skewer (blunted at the tip):



This is how it works. You stick the tube through the turning hole into the part of the dragon you want to turn, in this case the tail. Push it all the way to the end, bunching up the fabric near the turning hole if necessary.



Stick the rod (skewer) into the end of the tube, sort of pinning the fabric at the end of the tail in the end of the tube. Don't press too hard, though, or you'll rip a hole in the end of the tail.



Now, holding the rod in place in the endof the tube, start shoving the fabric of the tail up the rod and off the tube, thereby turning the whole thing inside out.



Here it is turned. Painless!



Do this with the legs and head and then use the skewer to push out all the seams so the dragon is fully turned.



Ta da!!! Ready for stuffing!!!

Amy
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I must create a system, or be enslav'd by another man's;
I will not reason and compare; my business is to create.
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Old 10-04-2002, 07:42 PM
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Fidget Fidget is offline
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I like that straw and skewer trick.

Very Clever!!
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Old 10-04-2002, 08:03 PM
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Amy this is great....I too learned to sew on a treadle my mum had and made a lot of my own and then my daughter's clothes (when they were little, way to cool to wear homemades now... ) I have never seen the tube and skewer trick...wonderful...

Colleen
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Old 10-04-2002, 10:47 PM
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DraigAthar DraigAthar is offline
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Time to start stuffing the dragon.

First you have to make the armature. For a fabric sculpture like this, you need some sort of interior support to keep the sculpture from falling out of shape under its own weight, and to help keep it permanently posed. And also just to help it stand up without outside support.

I make wire armatures. 16 or 17 gauge electrical wire is great for works in this size. It's strong, easy enough to bend, and economical. You can buy it at garden and farm supply stores for pennies a foot, usually. It comes in smaller bundles than this, but because I use enough of it I just bought a 1/4 mile spool of it:



You'll also need a good pair of pliers. Tapered ones work best:



Get your pattern back out, and use it as a guide to form the armature. For this piece, I'll use three separate wires in the body. First, the main body support. Measure the rough length from the base of the head down the neck and down the length of the body and tail, and cut off a little more than double that length in wire. Bend the wire in half and use the pliers to pinch it together tightly at one end. This will be the head end. Using the pattern as a guide, bend the doubled wire in the general shape of the neck, body, and tail. You can use electrical tape to secure the doubled wires to each other at a few points, to keep them from sproinging apart in odd ways as you work. Don't twist the wires together. This actually weakens the overall strength of the armature. Instead you want the wires to be pretty much parallel. Cut one wire off a short way down the tail from the back legs, as you really only need a single wire to support the tail. Cut the other wire off about halfway down the tail - you don't want it to go all the way to the end. Wrap some tape around the cut ends to keep the sharp edges from tearing the cloth.



Now go back to those scraps of silk we saved from earlier, and tear them into long strips. Use these strips to wrap the doubled wire (mummy-style!) from one end to the other. Wrap it tightly and secure the ends of the fabric somehow (tucking it under, tying it to itself, even taping it down). Wire wrapped in this fashion becomes surprisingly strong, and it also serves to help keep the armature from slipping around inside the sculpture, because the stuffing will stick to the cloth wrapped wire much better than to bare wire alone.



Before you insert the wire, stuff the head of the dragon firmly with polyester stuffing (plain old white stuffing you get in big bags at craft stores). Don't stuff it with big chunks, though. Tear it into small pieces, like this.



Use a dowel (or the skewer from the turning tool!) to push it into the parts of the head, to fill it out well. Don't worry if the head looks really silly at this point. Needle sculpting will come later to give it a better shape.



Insert the wire into the body, tail first. You'll have to shove the wire all the way down to the end of the tail to be able to get the neck end up into the stuffing hole. You may have to bend it a bit to get it into place, but you can always bend it back to the proper shape again.

Stuff the tail from the tip up to where the hind legs start (the dragon's butt, essentially). Stuffing the very tip of the tail is tricky, you have to use very tiny bits of stuffing to keep it from bunching up and looking lumpy. Keep adding little bits at a time, and use the skewer to shift it around inside the tail as you need it. Stuff it very firmly, and do your best to keep the wire in the center of the stuffing, not rubbing against the inside of the fabric anywhere. It takes a little work - just go slow and only add little bits of stuffing at a time. Here's the dragon with the head and tail stuffed, ready for the leg armatures.



Is anyone trying this at home? LOL!

Amy
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I will not reason and compare; my business is to create.
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Last edited by DraigAthar : 10-04-2002 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 10-05-2002, 01:13 AM
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DraigAthar DraigAthar is offline
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On to the legs ...

Make a single piece of wire into an armature for the hind legs using the same method for the main body armature. Use the pattern as a guide to bend the leg wires into the right shape. You'll probably have to adjust these once they're in the dragon, but if you use the pattern you get close, to start with.



Wrap these with fabric strips as before.



To insert the wire into the dragon, insert one leg wire into the wrong leg, up and over the main body wire inside the dragon, and then down through the proper leg. You'll have to bunch the fabric up and around and sort of push and pull to achieve this. Stuff the hind legs around the wires up to the opening in the belly. Again, do your best to keep the wires in the center of the legs and not rubbing against the fabric.



Make an armature for the front legs now. By this time, you're getting pretty good at working with that wire.



Stuff the neck of the dragon firmly and then insert the wire for the front legs and stuff those. I find it helps to pin the bottoms of the legs once they're done being stuffed. This way bits don't start falling back out when you go to stuff the belly.

Stuff the torso and belly of the dragon and shift the stuffing around until there aren't any lumps in the surface of the body. Small lumps can be smoothed out later, just get the body filled evenly.



Then using a hidden running stitch, hand sew the belly closed. It'll gap open at first because you need to stuff the body fairly firmly.



So make sure to pull the stitched up tight. I use doubled thread and go over this twice to make sure the belly seam doesn't pop open again. Here it is all stitched up, just like you did surgery on the little guy.



And see, he even stands up by himself, now!



Again, don't worry that this looks a bit odd still. The head is a great big lump, and the body seems a bit undefined, but the needle sculpting will fix all that (hopefully!).

All done stuffing!!

And WHEW, I'm going to bed now.

Amy
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I must create a system, or be enslav'd by another man's;
I will not reason and compare; my business is to create.
~ W. Blake
Thirdroar - My Portfolio.
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Old 10-05-2002, 01:26 AM
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inkskin inkskin is offline
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HOLY MO! Look at you go! You are really doing a great job explaining how and showing how you do this.

Really, thanks for all the work.

Heather
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Old 10-05-2002, 12:56 PM
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marilyn h marilyn h is offline
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I know you think this is silly. But I have tears in my eyes knowing that someone has been so sharing and informative on how to actually make this critter. Your instructions have been superb. This afternoon, I am going to pull out something to try and start on one of these. Thank you!
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Old 10-05-2002, 07:43 PM
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DraigAthar DraigAthar is offline
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Hey Marilyn, I'm VERY glad you like it! I'd love to see what you decide to try - maybe you can post your own WIP! And let me know if you get stuck anywhere, I've been making these critters for a while so I'd be happy to offer assistance if you ever need it.

Amy
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I will not reason and compare; my business is to create.
~ W. Blake
Thirdroar - My Portfolio.
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Old 10-05-2002, 10:32 PM
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maldrin maldrin is offline
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kudos

kudos for an excellent craft
and an excellent WIP

i am very impressed by both...and between you and inkskin,
i'm getting a hankering for going 3d and getting my artwork
off the page for a change.
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Old 10-05-2002, 11:26 PM
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DraigAthar DraigAthar is offline
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Now for the needle sculpting on the head, to make it look less like a big lump and more like a dragon.

Needle sculpting is where it starts to get a little more artistic. It's all about shaping the fabric with lumps, folds, wrinkles, etc. So it's really up to you how to finish off a fabric sculpture with needle sculpting, but I'll go through and show you the details of what I decided to do with this dragon, so you can get an idea of how it works.

Use a sculpting needle, they're thick and sturdy and usually about 4" long or longer. I'm clumsy so I always end up poking myself several times in the process of needle sculpting, but such are the risks involved, lol.

I started by marking the head up with lines to guide my needle sculpting. I do this by thinking about where I'm going to want creases and folds and shapes in the head. I wanted nose ridges, brow ridges, eyes, a mouth line, a jaw, etc. So I marked all of these on the head like this:



Then I started out on the nose ridges. Using the needle, sew back and forth from the side of the nose to the top of the nose.



Catch stuffing up inside the nose area with the needle, so the ridge has some shape to it. Pull the stitches tight as you go back and forth, to pinch the fabric together so it ends up looking like this. Do this on both sides of the nose.



Then I worked on the mouth. Starting at the nose end of the mouth, sew back and forth from one side of the head to the other.



Don't pull these stitches quite as tight - you just want a suggestion of a mouth, really. Sew back and forth until you get down to the part where the jaw widens. Then change to sewing back and forth between the side of the jaw and the bottom of the jaw:



Do that on both sides of the jaw, and the dragon ends up looking like he has some jowls.



Then I did the back of the jaw, just sewing back and forth from one side of the head to the other along the drawn jaw line.



Then to give the 'lips' area a little more shape, sew from the very front of the mouth back and forth to the corners of the jaw, to pull the lips in a bit.



Also, to give the dragon a bit of a chin, I sewed from the top of the nose back and forth to the bottom of the chin, to pull it up and round out that little bottom part of the chin.



Then sew the eye ridges back and forth from the side of the head to the top of the head in a fashion similar to the nose ridges and the jowls.



I also sewed a small bit at the front of the brow from surface to surface (catching just a small bit of fabric and stuffing) to make a small ridge right across the brow, connecting to the eye ridges.



Then I sewed the eye lines. I used a smaller needle for this because it's fine work. It's just a surface to surface ridge of fabric to outline the eye.



And here's the head, needle sculpting completed!



Amy
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I must create a system, or be enslav'd by another man's;
I will not reason and compare; my business is to create.
~ W. Blake
Thirdroar - My Portfolio.
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Old 10-05-2002, 11:56 PM
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Fidget Fidget is offline
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OOo Amy,
This is my favourite part.

Your dragon is now coming to life.

Beautiful stitch work.

Melody
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Old 10-06-2002, 12:19 AM
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kitaye kitaye is offline
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questions! What kind of thread are you using...or did I miss that somewhere? What kind of stitch are you using? Are they like this------- or like this - - - - - or this - - - -? How wide are your stitches?

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