Monday, October 27, 2014

FO: Luke's 2nd Birthday Present

(Warning - this was a large project which translates to a long blog post with lots of pictures - you've been warned!) :)

Well, it's that time of year again - when I come up with some awesome idea for my nephew's birthday and then give myself barely enough time to accomplish it, lol. In my defense this time I have had this planned since July/August, and I had all the amigurumi completed by a week and a half ago, I just put off the sewing until last night. At least it's an improvement from last year when I made the fishing pole about 30 minutes before the party :) Yay, progress! Anyway ... here's what I made this year:
It all started when I discovered Lucy Ravenscar's patterns - which include all the main characters from the old Star Wars series. My sister and her husband are big Star Wars nerds (I mean, their son's name is Luke, ok? this was no coincidence), so I knew that these would be a big hit. Luke himself may not know who these people are, but he certainly will soon anyway. I figure he may not appreciate this so much quite yet, but he will grow into them. So, let's look a little closer at these guys :)
Originally, my plan was much grander. I wanted to make ALL THE PATTERNS! But when October rolled around and I realized how much time each one of these figures take to make, I shortened my to-do list a bit. I figure I covered the top 5 here (and then I have more characters to make for other occasions - I'm looking at you, Christmas!). I did make one small change to how these are made - I used worsted weight yarn and a size H hook like I always do. This made the figures bigger than the pattern intends, but I think that's a good thing :)
Luke Skywalker came first (of course). I made half of his head and when I went to get eyes for him out of my safety eye stash I discovered a hiccup - the pattern calls for 7.5 mm eyes which are a specialty size (meaning Joann's and Hobby Lobby don't have them, and therefor I don't have them). I had to make a decision - spend $15.00 ordering all the eyes I would need for the whole cast of characters (so I didn't have to order them again in a month or so), or make felt eyes. Since I'm trying to be ultra frugal right now, I opted for felt eyes. Thank heavens for Sizzix Paddle Punches :) Love those things. Anyway, I made all of the figures first and added their eyes later. I majorly raided my stash for all the yarns used in these since you need very little of most colors. Luke is made using Vanna's Choice in Beige (his skin), Chocolate (his belt), and Linen (his boots) as well as Loops & Threads Impeccable in Yellow (his hair) and Premier Everyday Soft Worsted in Cream (his clothes) with some random scraps of black for his mouth.
Han Solo came next since he and Luke are the same, just different color combos :) Han was a bit more complicated due to his colorwork, but still nice and easy :) I love the little stripe of red on the sides of his pants! Such a cool detail. Han is made using Vanna's Choice in Beige (skin), Toffee (hair), Chocolate (belt),and Black (vest and shoes) as well as Premier Everyday Soft Worsted in Cream (shirt) and Really Red (stripe) and Red Heart With Love in Peacock (pants).
Princess Leia followed. I was worried her buns would be hard, but they are just flattened 3-d circles - so simple! Leia is made using Vanna's Choice in Beige (skin), Chocolate (hair), Cranberry (lips) and White (dress) as well as Patons Canadiana (Vintage) in Silver (belt). I decided to get fancy and add eye lashes to her eyes as well.
Yoda was another simple design. The pattern includes two versions (like this or with a removable robe) - I went for the simplest option. His ears are also very cleverly made. Yoda is made using Red Heart With Love in Lettuce (skin), Patons Canadiana in Flax (clothes), and Vanna's Choice in Chocolate (belt) with a scrap of black for his mouth.
Darth Vader was the last figure I tackled for this gift. I'm glad I waited to make him last because he was definitely the most complicated of all. He wasn't too difficult or anything, but much more so than the others. The construction order is pretty neat and I love that the head is all one piece including the helmet (meaning you don't sew the helmet on later). You do sew the nose on, which I just couldn't get quite as triangular as the pattern example photo - sadly mine looks a bit more like a black pig snout, lol. Oh well, you have to look really close to even see it at all since it's all one color. I do really love the embroidered tummy area. It was a pain to do, but totally makes the design. Darth is made using Vanna's Choice in Black with Patons (Vintage) Canadiana in Silver along with scraps of green and red. Darth has felt eyes as well, but I didn't add white French knots since they are just part of his helmet. Darth's cape is a solid piece of felt that I whip stitched to the back of the neck. The pattern includes an actual pattern piece for the cape, but since I used larger yarn I had to scale it up considerably. 

I was really happy with all of these patterns. Everything is explained really well and each figure took 2 to 3 hours to make, so really not bad at all. Interestingly enough you can no longer buy these individual patterns, but it's because Lucy Ravenscar got a book deal! How exciting :) Star Wars Crochet will be available to buy in spring of 2015. You can see all her particulars here.

Now for the bag ...

I hadn't really thought much about making a bag until I came across this adorable fabric on Spoonflower (I would post a link but it seems to not be available anymore). I ordered an 8x8" swatch of Eco Canvas knowing I would incorporate it somehow - I just didn't know how until Friday night, lol.
The black is actually some kind of old polyester table cloth that felt canvas-like. I got it at a thrift store in their fabric section a while ago for something like $0.50. The previous owner had already cut a big section off, so it was perfect for my purpose. Even my zipper was one of the crazy bag full that were $0.10 each. Hooray stash busting!
So since I only had a few hours, I buckled down and decided on a bag design. I chose to make a box bag with handles and I wanted to make it big enough to accommodate the whole collection of figures when I get them done. Look at my "oh so official" pattern, lol. I decided to make it 12" tall x 11" wide and 3.5" deep - I just added 1/2 seam allowance to all sides and and cut them out with a rotary cutter.
I put in the zipper first - the one I had in my stash was 9" long so I had to get creative with extra fabric to cover the space it left since I wanted the zipper exposed from the top for a nice pop of color. I used Wonder Tape to set the zip in place before sewing it in - man how did I even insert a zipper before I knew about this stuff?! I'm not sure if I did the rest of construction in the "correct" order, but I sewed the narrow strips together for the sides first. Next I turned the edge under on the pocket twice and sewed it on as a patch pocket - I did it this way so I could use as much of the swatch fabric as possible. Once the pocket was on, I sewed the front and back pieces to the edges. I added the strap after the rest was completely constructed - they are just two lengths of polyester grosgrain ribbon from my stash. I made sure to really go over where the straps connect to the bag several times to make sure they are very secure. Once that was done, I finished all the inside seams with pinking shears and then pressed the daylights out of everything to make it look more professional - it's amazing the difference that makes, really.
And here is the finished product :) I figure the bag can be used for lots of other purposes as well. It doesn't stand up on its own, so I stuffed it with netting for these pictures, lol.
All the nice finished details :) Look at the insides of that pocket! Mmm... love it. I burned the heck out of my fingers while pressing under those tiny edges, so I am particularly proud of the insides. I wanted to make sure the canvas wouldn't fray with use though, so it was worth it for the bag to have more durability. The top stitching isn't perfect since I used a weird foot (I just grabbed one with a guide I could follow and it didn't have quite as much tension as usual. It's close enough though and like a kid is really going to notice anyway :) I'm also quite proud of how nice the zipper looks. All in all my bag came out very boxy just like I wanted :) And as you can see all the figures fit in it quite nicely.
I love the results :) It's funny - this year's gift was so much more work, but definitely not as well loved by the kiddos. I know Luke will grow into them though.
Poor guy - he was much happier than he looks in the photo. He hadn't napped all day and it was about 6:30 pm when we did presents at his party. It was a Halloween themed party and he was Russell from UP! My sister was Kevin (the bird) and her husband was Carl. They looked really cute :) Luke was a little preoccupied by his other noise making presents, but Kelly and Nick were very excited so it's all good. I think these will end up as room decor until Luke is old enough to know what they are, lol.

Anyway, the secret is finally out! Yay! lol I hate keeping big projects like this a secret, but I do love the reactions to the reveal. The cat is now out of the bag for subsequent gifts since I plan on increasing the set, but I know they will be well loved. 

Happy Birthday, Luke!


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