22 January 2007

tableware you know you want to use

The title, you'll soon understand, is sarcastic.

I was browsing Aranzi.net, a Japanese store featuring products with different animal characters (and some that aren't animals at all), and found these in the Tableware category:

"Poisoned drink" and "poisoned food" (respectively). It's like Hello Kitty from Hell. Awesome.

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This past weekend I rewarded the leaps and bounds I had made in organizing my desk by finally pulling out my sewing machine and using it (after a hibernation period of how long?), temporarily relocating the laptop to my bed. I also cleared out a nook for the sewing machine on one of the lower shelves of the desk for when I'm not using it; having it there will make it easier to take out whenever I want.

Friday afternoon, I had found a fairly simple pattern for a stuffed cat on Craftster, and on Saturday morning I decided to give it a try. My first attempts were, I now see, doomed. The pattern was too small for the fabric I had chosen (remember the black faux fur-like remnant from The Children's Museum? no, I hadn't either--until I found it lumped in with my other sewing odds and ends); it was shedding and thick and pretty impossible stuff to work with, and not at all a good idea for a "first stab" at a stuffed animal.

So I took a break for lunch, popped a couple ibuprofen, and began to watch the third season of Arrested Development, which had just arrived in the mail. And at some point during the show, I started sorting through the other kinds of fabric--they were still spread out on my bed since I'd not put them away. I decided to make life simpler, enlarged the pattern, chose two kinds of cotton (from the various fat quarters I've collected over the years), and started afresh.

It should be noted that this particular pattern is in Japanese. I don't know Japanese (well, not entirely true--I know very little, and cannot read kanji), so I basically followed my intuition with the process. Most of it worked out well; some of it could've gone better. Like the arms. I stuffed the arms before machine-sewing them into the seam of the torso. And if I ever do that again, I'll probably sew them with their seams perpendicular, rather than parallel. Because they're kind of floppy, in a way that would be arm-breaking on a real creature.

I think I had just finished the machine-sewing part when the first disc of Arrested Development ended. I plugged the iPod into the television to watched The Illusionist (which is kind of weird to watch after Gob's magic nonsense on AD), and stuffed the separate body parts (head, body, and tail) with destroyed pieces of the black fur material (because what else am I going to do with that stuff?).

Some of the way through the stuffing process, I realized that I had no hand-sewing needles. I rummaged through my disorganized bags of sewing stuff, and no. Nothing with which to sew the pieces together.

So, Saturday night concluded with my project looking like this:

Sunday I took the trip from South Station out to Framingham. I had about half an hour to wait for my train, so I stopped at one of the food stalls in the station for a sandwich. There's a new one called Cosi, and I recommend it to anyone who happens to wind up in South Station. Their melts are awesome.

My purpose of the day was to visit The Fabric Place and get whatever I needed to finish my project--and browse too, since it is, according to their advertisements, the biggest Fabric Place in New England. I bought more than I needed to: a 50-pack of hand-sewing needles, more fat quarters from the quilting department, felt squares, poly-fill (no more lumpy stuffed creatures), and poly pellets (no more top-heavy stuffed creatures either).

I arrived home around twilight, and finished sewing the cat's pieces together before dinner arrived while watching the second (and last) disc of Arrested Development, season three. He still needs a face (as I'm using pins to mark where I'm thinking it should go), but this is what he looks like now:

Somewhere between Framingham and South Station, on the trip home from The Fabric Place, I decided that his name is Farsil Redleaf. The "Redleaf" part is fairly understandable (the maple pattern fabric that makes up his front, tail, and inner-ears); but don't ask me about "Farsil," because I don't know or remember why I arrived at that. I was always bad at naming pets. I'm equally bad at naming stuffed animals.

Other changes I would consider making to the process:

1. Perhaps determine a more stable way of attaching the head to the body (or, indeed, a way of attaching all pieces to the body before stuffing). I just feel like the hand-sewing bits were the least uniform, and maybe the whole design could be machine sewn if slightly altered. Maybe the tail, like the arms, could be pre-stuffed and sewn into the seam.

* In lieu of that, do some trial-stitching on spare fabric and try to recall that old secret of "the hidden stitch."

2. Stitch the face (with whatever) before sewing the head together, because I can already tell that any attempt at satin-stitching the face is going to be rather difficult.

3. Make use of the poly-pellets in the bottom (and maybe the feet too) so that it's not so top-heavy. Otherwise, it really can't sit up by itself.

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