Monday 3 November 2014

Christmas Yeti Gift Pouch Tutorial

   Yetis. They're Christmas monsters. And I love monsters. Well, I don't love real monsters, for the life of me I won't hang my feet over the edge of the bed at night, and if I must leave the room I run like lightning. I'm 24 in January, you know. I prefer the cute and cuddly ones, which you can probably tell from my shop, Grumble Cave Monsters.
   I also love Christmas. Though anyone who knows me knows that. My dad lit a cinnamon candle in October and all hell broke loose. The 'Christmas switch' was officially flipped on, and I started Christmas shopping immediately. By the end of October I'd bought half of the Christmas presents and several new decorations. I'm hopeless when it comes to baubles and tinsel - my three favourite things about Christmas, in fact, are decorations, food and music. Presents don't really occur to me right away, but I genuinely enjoy giving them a little more than receiving them (come on, who doesn't like being given presents?), but it's really more about the decorations, food and songs.

   So. Yes, monsters and Christmas. My nephew will be 5 in February, so I'm sure this would go down a treat with him, so I may just have to make a new one, but for now here is one I made for my best friend.

   As much as I also love wrapping presents - seriously, I love it - not many people seem to appreciate my effort. Actually, there are only 2 people I give gifts to who do, and even then I admit I've been slacking with my wrapping for one of them. Last time she had to make do with store-bought pink polka dot paper. The shame!
   But when I had this idea for a Christmas yeti present pouch, I couldn't resist. And, for once (unlike all my other monster-related craft and sewing patterns), this one's a freebie!

   All you need is fur fabric, patterned cotton, buttons/cabochons/sew-on eyes, toy filling and a needle and thread or a sewing machine. I've also added a small Christmas hat to give it a little more festivity, but this is optional - or you could buy one pre-made. I actually used the Christmas hats made by Yankee Candles for their candle jars.
   The templates I've supplied are designed for books, but in all honesty, the beauty of this Christmas yeti present pouch is that the pattern can easily be adjusted to fit any sized gift, as long as you've got the fur fabric for it!

You will need:
Fur fabric
Patterned cotton fabric
Small Christmas hat (optional)
2 or 3 buttons/large black cabochons/sew-on eyes
Toy filling (a very small amount)
Needle & thread/sewing machine.

1. First of all, you need your template. Draw around the gift (if you're wrapping it before it goes in the pouch, wrap it first) onto paper, making sure you cover all side. I'm wrapping a book, so I drew around the front, the spine, and the end. If it's for a cube you will only need to draw one template because all sides are the same; if it's for a book you will need three templates - one for the front/back, one for the spine/other side, and one for the top/bottom.
   Also draw out a template for the yeti's horns similar to those shown below. You can size them however you want.

2. Cut 0.5cm to 1cm out from the lines you've drawn, so your templates are a little bigger than they need to be. This is just so that you can get the gift into the pouch comfortably, and the recipient can get it out without embarrassing themselves and you by struggling. It happens. There's no need to add the extra 0.5-1cm around the edges of the horns.

3. From this point on, we will assume it's for a book. Take your fur fabric and draw around the edge of each paper template twice. There are two ways of doing this.
   A) you could draw around them individually, leaving 1-2cm of excess fabric around the edges of each piece to allow you to sew each piece together without worrying about it falling apart by sewing too close to the edge of the fabric. This is a long job if you're doing it by hand, but it will also give the entire thing a much straighter shape with sharper, more defined edges.
   B) alternatively you could simply draw around the side pieces (not top or bottom) right up against one another as I have and reduce the amount of sewing significantly, but this will give the edges less definition, and it's not a good idea to try to iron faux fur to make the edges crease better. But it will yeild similar results in the end. It depends on the edges you want, but still make sure that there is 1-2cm of excess fabric around the edge of the entire thing to remove the risk of it falling apart from fraying.
   Then take your patterned cotton and draw around the edges of the horn template. Be sure to draw 4 pieces, two pointing one way, two pointing another. Be sure to leave 1cm excess fabric around each horn piece this time, again to prevent fraying and ripping once sewn.

4. Next, decide where you want the opening flap to be. I decided to make my pouch bag-like and had it open at the top of the book. In this case, I had to add on an extra extension to one of the smallest pieces of the pouch, as shown, to make the flap. I also wanted it to close at the back of the present rather than the front so the yeti's face wouldn't be interfered with, but it's whatever you prefer. You could go the extra mile still and make a mouth out of white and red felt beneath the flap and sew fangs along the bottom of the flap.

5. Once you've added your flap onto your chosen panel, cut the panels and the horns out. Don't cut along the lines, but rather 1-2cm out from the lines on every piece, including the horns, as mentioned in step 3. 

6. Having decided where you want your opening flap to be, hem along the top edges of the bag - the top of three panels, and around the flap. To hem it, take thread the same colour as the fur, fold those top edges down along the line you drew from your paper template and sew them in place. If the thread is the same colour as the fur, the thread won't be noticable so it won't need to be perfectly neat or straight. You can use the needle when you're done to tease the fur that got sewn down beneath it free from the stitches to hide the stitching.

7. Pair up the horns so that each pair have pieces pointing in opposite directions. Put them together so that the back of the fabric is facing outwards and sew along the two longest lengths so that the horns are inside out. Leave the end open, turn them the right way out and fill them with toy stuffing. Once you've done that, sew the ends up. This will have to be done from the correct way out, rather than inside out, but the ends will be hidden within the pouch itself, so they'll look tidy from the outside. Fill them as soft or rigid as you'd like. I usually fill them right up.

8. Where will the face of the yeti be? Decide which panel the face will be on, take that panel and sew the horns to it at the height you'd like them. The face of mine is on the flap itself, but you might decide to make the face on the other side so that it opens on the back instead. In this case you'll need to either cut slits into the fabric where the horns will be inserted if you've made the pouch of out one piece rather than cutting each panel individually. If you've done that then you simply need to sew the horns onto the back of the panel the face is on.

9. Now comes the long job: sewing the panels together. Turning the fabric so that the back of the fabric is facing you, sew together all of the pieces along the lines you've drawn on the fabric - except the opening panel - to create an inside-out box. The horns will be on the inside of the bag for now. Sewing inside out gives straighter lines, allows you to use the drawn lines as guides, and keeps it neat and tidy. This can be done by hand or by machine. If you've made the pouch out of one piece this will take far less time, and you only have to sew the two ends together and then sew up the bottom.

10. Once you've done this, turn the bag the right way out. Now we move onto the remaining yeti aspects: the eyes and teeth.
   There are a range of things you can use for the eyes. You could choose sew-on eyes (not safety eyes, as these go right through the fabric and may damage the contents) and sew them where you want them, or, if you were unable to find any or you don't like how they hang from the fabric, you could use large buttons and sew them down instead. Alternatively, you can do what I did: use smaller buttons, sew them in place, then use hot glue or some other kind of strong, reliable glue, and fix a large 2.5cm black round cabochon to the button. This is much flatter than a sew-on eye, and more solid and eye-like than a button alone.

11. To make the yeti fangs, teeth or tusks, take your white felt and cut triangles for fangs or tusks, or rectangles for buck teeth. If you find the felt is too flimsy for the size of your pouch, you can cut double the number and glue them together to thicken it up. Once you've done that, and they've dried if they need to, you can either glue or sew them to the back of the panel as I have, or you can cut two slits into the panel and insert them there, sewing them down on the inside.

12. Sew the hat to the top of the yeti. You can either make your own Christmas hat with red felt and white fur scraps/white feather or fur trim, or you can buy a little one from hobby shops or Yankee Candles, which is what I did. The Yankee Candle had was made to go on their jar candles apparently but I've found better uses for them with plushies. It'll depend on what sort of size your yeti is, however, or how big you want the hat. Once you've made or bought your little hat, stitch it down with a ladder stitch to keep it tidy.

   There are many variations you can do, so if you had the time on your hands, you could make an army of these under the tree!
  • More or less eyes
  • Use glass cabochons and glue them over printed or painted eyes for more personality
  • Different coloured/lengthed fur
  • Different expressions
  • Fangs or Tusks
   You could use the patterned cotton to line the pouch as well (repeat step 3 and 5, minus the horns, and once the pieces are cutout, pair them up and keep them together, and remember that even when the fur is turned inside out, the lining fabric will be the right way up. When it comes to hemming and sewing the pieces, consider the cotton and the fur fabric as just one piece, not two).

NaBloPoMo November 2014


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