tenth doctor poppet (doctor who)

tenth doctor poppet (doctor who): completed, uploaded by fingerpistol, borrowed from irishdaydreamer.

so this was my very first poppet ever. and, oh man, was it ever an experience.

i joined a “doctor who” swap on craftster and was assigned a most excellent swap partner, irishdaydreamer. the one thing that she wanted, more than anything else, was a poppet of the tenth doctor. now, having never made a poppet, or even so much as used a pattern before, there was some trepidation involved. however, i refused to send her a package that did not include the ONE THING she had requested. so i had to man up and learn to make a poppet.

the first thing i did, obviously, was contact the poppet-mistress herself, ghilie, to get the pattern and instructions. i printed them out, and then went about altering the appropriate pieces. the original poppet pattern creates a mildly animalistic doll with paws, cat ears, and a tail, and i needed something more humanized. so i traced an image of my brother’s ears to make a basic ear pattern. then i resized a picture of one of his hands until the wrist was approximately the same size of the original pattern’s wrist, so that i could trace his hand at a proportional size. i also made an alternate toes pattern for five toes, rather than three (which made his feet HUGE, but oh well).

then i traced all of the pattern pieces onto freezer paper, cut them out, and ironed them to the appropriate pieces of fabric. i was actually kind of a dumbass the first time around and didn’t pay any attention to the grain, so i had to recut some of the fabric pieces so they didn’t stretch weird when i stuffed them.

sewing the pieces was the easy part, surprisingly. i actually put off the sewing for a few days because i was totally paranoid that i was going to screw it up and waste all of the fabric i’d bought special for the project. i used my machine, which is just a kenmore mini ultra (nothing fancy at all). i tell you what, i have no idea how anybody has the patience to sew these things by hand. i used a 1/4-inch seam allowance, but i think if i ever make another poppet, i will increase the pattern size and the seam allowance, because some of the seams started to stretch and fray after i started stuffing the pieces.

the first set of arms i sewed actually came out great. until i needed to turn them. in reading up on poppets, i had learned that it was possible to produce a poppet with bendable fingers (using pipe cleaners in addition to the stuffing). however, everybody who had done so warned that the fingers were unnaturally difficult to turn. stupid me, i thought they meant it was literally difficult to turn, as in turning the fabric during the sewing process. i figured it had something to do with the close seams. NOPE. “turning” refers to the process of turning your sewn piece inside out to stuff it. THAT was hard.

i did manage to get it turned (after a ridiculously difficult time), only to discover that the fingers were waaay too thin to stuff with much of anything, more less with pipe cleaners. i ended up going through about half a dozen different variations of the arms, because i REALLY wanted the hands to have bendable fingers. i had my heart set on his being able to hold his own sonic screwdriver. but alas, it was not to be.  :o\

i spent probably about a week on the arms and hands alone, eventually giving up on the bendable fingers and just giving him generic hands with needle-sculpted fingers (similar to the original pattern, but with five fingers instead of just three). i considered using magnets or velcro to make his sonic screwdriver attach to his hand, but i was so frustrated with the non-bendy fingers that i just didn’t want to make it any more complicated than absolutely necessary.

his legs came out alright, with hardly a hitch (though they looked freaking retarded until i stuffed them, LOL). admittedly, his feet are HUGE in proportion to the rest of him, but i wasn’t about to start over on his legs after the disastrous experience i’d had with his arms.  besides, i think his ginormous feet are kind of cute.  :o)

the body was next. like the legs, it was surprisingly easy to put together. when i started stuffing it, i did have a bit of difficulty getting the neck stump properly stuffed. every tutorial i read recommended that the neck be super stuffed to support the head correctly, but as i stuffed it tighter and tighter, the seams started to buckle a bit. so i had to let up and leave it. most of the seams started to pull and fray in an alarming manner at some point, but it stayed together, so thank goodness for that.

on to the jointing! the jointing bit was actually kind of fun, and relatively simple. it was a bit difficult getting the long-ass needle through his body with all the thick strands of floss through the eye, but twisting the needle as i pushed/pulled it through helped. the floss left waxy gunk through the eye of the needle, which made it increasingly difficult to thread, but whatever. the first time i jointed the legs, i didn’t pull it as tight as i could have (because i was afraid of putting unnecessary tension on the fabric). but when i jointed the arms, i pulled them super tight with no problem, and the joints were way better than those on the legs. so i removed the legs and rejointed them back on again a little tighter.

his head was fun, but troublesome. i used fun fur for the hair (because i wanted it to be all floofy like the tenth doctor’s), which was a minor pain in my ass, LOL. the stuff got EVERYWHERE, and i had to attach it in pieces to make sure that the hair sat correctly. the sideburns were totally worth it, though.  :o)  his face was embroidered by hand. i found an outline image of the tenth doctor’s face on deviantart and traced the eyes and mouth onto pieces of freezer paper. i did the baked-clay-in-the-nose thing (i swear, i was so worried i was gonna burn his head) before i attached the hair, and was surprised at how well it came out. then i stuffed his head and ironed the freezer paper face on. i would have done it unstuffed, but i couldn’t get the placement right.  :o\

so i embroidered the outline of his face on right over the freezer paper, then simply pulled the pieces of freezer paper off with tweezers and filled in the outlines with more stitching. i kind of wish i’d embroidered some accenting lines around his nose to give his face a more finished look, but i was afraid it would look weird, and i didn’t want to ruin it and have to start all over. once i’d finished the head, i stuck it on the neck stump (ugh, that sounds so gross, hahaha) and attached it by hand. all of the hand-sewing i did (to close the holes where i stuffed the individual pieces) was terrible, by the way.

finally, i had a finished poppet body. all i had left were his clothes! unfortunately, i don’t know how to sew clothes (haaa),  so i had to ask my mama to come over and help me out.  :o)  mama made up the pattern pieces for his clothes and i sewed them up. after i had most of the seams done, i went over his little pants and suit jacket to give his brown suit the little blue pinstripes. (irishdaydreamer preferred the pinstriped suit over his blue suit. oddly, there is no such thing as brown felt with blue pinstripes. wtf?! hahahahahaha. just kidding.)

i happened to have some aqua thread left over from my betty rubble costume last year, so that’s what i used. it turned out surprisingly well! i ran out after i finished his last stripe.  :o)  excellent timing.

his little shirt has no sleeves because the friction of felt on felt prevented a felt coat from going on over a felt shirt. i would have used regular fabric, but i knew i wouldn’t be able to make the clothes look as good. so a sleeveless “greaser” version of the doctor is now a possible variation, LOL. the buttons on his shirt and suit actually work, which i’m still kinda proud of. stupid, but it makes me happy that something actually worked out the way i wanted it to. his little tie is made out of a fancy patterned red felt that i found, and it has a little snappy button closure around the back so the tie can easily be removed.

i wanted to use real converse shoes (because they make a bunch of different versions for infants, from socks to booties to the real thing), but i couldn’t get hold of any in time, and none of my local establishments had any in white. (he wore the white converse  with the brown pinstriped suit and the red converse with the blue suit. accuracy is paramount, people! hahaha.) so i bought a plain pair of white infant sneakers instead and just used markers to add the little “converse” touches. (i only had washable crayola markers on hand, though, so i doubt the markings lasted very long.)

i used a couple different kinds of polymer clay (which is not my friend) to make his sonic screwdriver and two TARDIS keys. the sonic screwdriver has a blue button for the “light” on the end of it. i poked holes in it before i baked it so that i could thread elastic through afterward and attach it to his little (unbendable) hand. the two keys were both made based off of images of the prop keys they actually used on-set. the tiny one is for the poppet doctor, while the larger one was a “matching” version for my swap partner. (she actually had a real key cut to match the doctor’s as part of the package she sent me, which is far cooler.)

so that’s it! or at least it’s what i can remember, since i finished the project about a month ago and only *just now* got around to posting about it. (ahh, procrastination, we meet again.) honestly, i ran into so many stupid little problems, i just wanted to post about my experience so that others can see it’s possible to make a poppet without having ANY IDEA WHAT YOU’RE DOING. hahahaha.

there are a few more pictures in my flickr set, if you’re curious.

seriously, though, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. i’m (obviously) no expert, but i’m always happy to help.  :o)


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strapped: “mario through the ages”

mario through the ages – guitar strap, originally uploaded by fingerpistol.

this guitar strap is awesome. it was also a freaking BEAST to make.

i used a generic black guitar strap made of a relatively loose webbing material (many of the webbing guitar straps i found were woven too tight to stitch through). since the weave isn’t exactly uniform (every row is offset by the last, so that every other row lines up), i had to sort of devise my own method of keeping the stitches even (not that anyone can tell).

i used the ever-popular “mario through the ages” pattern. i just edited out the background bits to keep the individual incarnations of mario.

the strap was originally meant to be a christmas gift, but it took sooooooooo long (nearly four months, off an on) that it eventually turned into a birthday gift instead. (ha.)

the number one reason it took so long? stitching black floss onto black webbing = SATAN. ohmygosh, it was so difficult to do. the marios with solid black bits (as opposed to black outlines) took literally twice as long as the rest. and they generally took about seven or eight hours a-piece, so… yeah, super suckypants.

thankfully, i was smart enough to go out and buy myself one of those fancypants “daylight” lightbulbs. those things are freaking AWESOME. five bucks well spent, i tell you what. i just plugged it into my normal everyday lamp and BAM, suddenly i could see things!  :o)

admittedly, a couple of the floss colors are a little off. this was the first project that i ever actually used a pattern for, so i didn’t think to check the floss i was grabbing. i assumed (silly me) that if i needed floss 1234, all i had to do was reach into the bin marked “1234” and grab one and i was good to go. not so.

turns out, there are a lot of people out there who don’t know how to put things away correctly, so i should have checked the floss as i grabbed it.  :o\  not a crazy disaster, but incredibly annoying to someone such as myself (who sorts her skittles by color before eating them…yeah, i’m *that* girl). you may notice that hammer mario is a little off.  :o\  yeah. not really sure what happened there. luckily, frog mario was next, so i just shoved him off to the other side to even them out. (and it just looks like he’s jumping! wooooo!)

another issue i ran across was that some of the marios were originally outlined in black on the pattern (because the background was intended to be white). unfortunately, it meant that a lot of bits just faded into the strap. so i ended up outlining those marios a second time with a coordinating thread color, so they still pop out.

there are individual shots of each mario, as well as shots of the back, in my flickr set.

as i stitched the strap, a lot of puckering occurred. it was weird. it was either from the way i was holding the strap (i gripped the hell out of it, i tell you what), or just from the strap trying to escape. or, i suppose it could have had something to do with the stitching itself. i don’t know. i tried to iron the strap after it was finished, per my mom’s suggestion. of course, neither of us realized that was a terrible idea (seeing as how the strap is made of NYLON). haaa. a tiny little edge melted, but i noticed real damn fast and stopped. luckily, the backing fixed most of the puckering problems.

i used a regular old embroidery needle and normal DMC thread, nothing fancy. after i finished it, i took some pictures of the back, then covered that shit up with some fleece. that way, it’s a little softer on the shoulders, and (hopefully) the thread will be protected a little better. i just used spray adhesive to stick the fleece to the back of the strap, then sewed up the sides to keep it down. it was kind enough to lay flat in gratitude.

the strap is still fully adjustable, only now it’s fully BADASS too.  :o)  yeah, i’m a nerd.

i have two other straps i’m supposed to make (one more x-stitched strap featuring images from the legend of zelda, and an embroidered one with a caricature image of frank zappa), but i’m pretty sure i’m gonna procrastinate like it’s my job.

first major crafty project: SUCCESS.


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“you’ve got zen on you”

You’ve got zen on you, originally uploaded by Riann’s Pictures.

i recently participated in my first Phat Quarterwap. the theme was “zen”, which i’m not really into, but i was lucky enough to get a swap partner who had done a few zombie stitches before. so, naturally, i tried to find an image that incorporated zen and zombies.

lucky me again! i found a book called (believe it or not) “the zen of zombies”. yeah. and this image was on the cover.

sadly, once finished, i had to send the damned thing without taking a picture because my new battery charger (for my camera’s battery) didn’t arrive until the day *after* we were supposed to send. (lame.)

but my swap partner excellently photographed on my behalf. :o)

(more later.)

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my funky feathered friend

funky little bird embroidery, originally uploaded by fingerpistol.

BADASS BACKSTORY: so in december, my mama hosted herself a fabulous little ornament swap party. at this swap party, there was a cupcake ornament. i NEEDED to have this cupcake ornament, and so i schemed and pilfered and finally got it. i made it aaaaalmost to the end of the party with it still in my possession…then lost it to another chickadee who thought it was adorable. (i couldn’t blame her. it was super-freaking-cute.)

now, fast-forward a week or so, and i get a call from my mom saying that one of her friends from the party, a lovely lady named anne, had gone out and gotten another cupcake ornament JUST FOR ME! little old me, whom she had never met before the party, and who had done nothing to earn it. HOW COOL IS THAT?!

so, obviously, i wanted to do something nice for anne to say thank you…but the only thing i know about anne is that she likes birds. (she kept going for the bird ornaments at the party, so…) i had originally intended to attempt a little bird clutch for her, but as i am not the most adept at complicated sewing, i was a bit nervous. then i come home one night, determined to start on it, and my roommate hands me a small stack of drawings. (he does that sometimes.) and what did i find amongst them? a rad-looking little bird!

perfect! so i asked him if i could embroider it as a gift. to which he replied, “don’t you think it’s a little too creepy?”

his drawing was a little pen-on-paper thing, and it was admittedly a little morbid-looking, but i assured him that NOTHING looks creepy in bright, pretty colors. (it’s true, too.) i chose the pink to match the hoop (because i had nothing else to frame it in), and then chose a nice bright blue and green to make it pop. the fabric was just some random polka-dotty stuff i had lying around.

when i first started embroidering it, i was going to do it mostly in split-stitch with some satin to fill in, but as it turns out, my stupid red transfer pencil needs to be sharpened. the lines it left on my fabric were SO THICK that i had no choice but to stain-stitch over them. GAH! (okay, i could have just gotten a pencil sharpener, sharpened, and re-transfered on a different piece of cloth, but i am just sooooo lazy.) so, yeah, it’s almost entirely freaking satin stitch. holy crap, but it took so much longer than i’d anticipated. HA! i like the way it looks, though. the satin stitch gives it kind of a feathery texture, which works for me (since it’s a bird and all).

matter of fact, when i finished it, i realized that the transfer pencil had left some stray marks on the fabric, but i desperately did NOT want to start over, so i’ve decided that the stray marks just GIVE IT CHARACTER. and if anybody asks, that’s my story (and i’m sticking to it). so meh.

i used french knots for it’s funny little head-feathers, but other than that, it’s all satin stitch. i think it’s about three or four inches across (the hoop’s five inches, i think?). i just stitched the back closed over the frame. i didn’t cover it or anything because, thanks to the satin stitching, the back actually looks pretty neat (as in tidy, not cool-looking).

now to finish working on at least ONE of my stupid cross-stitch guitar straps (which are taking aaaaaaaaaages and aaaaaaaaaages)…

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actual size

this wall is actual size, originally uploaded by fingerpistol.

this is just a quick little cross-stitch i whipped up for my new boss. just before everybody headed home for the holidays on wednesday, we were sitting around in my office talking about nothing. i have no idea how it came up, but my boss said something about how she has an empty wall in her office, and she was thinking about just putting up a little sign that said, “this wall is actual size”. well, i thought that was hilarious, and promised that i would make her the smallest sign i could.

so i did!  i used a little bit of graph paper to figure out how to make the letters tiny but readable, then used the smallest hoop i had (about two inches across, round) to stitch it up in. all i had were the little brown rubbery woodgrain hoops, and i couldn’t find any plain-colored aida cloth (like white, cream, or black), so i used brown floss on light blue fabric to try and keep it matchy.

it only took me twenty minutes or so to stitch, and she thought it was funny, so i’m pleased with it. (terrible picture is my fault. i suck.)

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“love you forever”

“love you forever” embroidered letter, originally uploaded by fingerpistol.

if you haven’t read love you forever, you need to. it’s the sweetest little children’s book ever. i thought it was one of my mom’s favorite children’s books, but i guess i made that up.  :o)  i’ve been dying for an excuse to embroider paper, and this was just the opportunity i was looking for.

i used press’n seal as a makeshift transfer medium and stabilizer, after having read (on craftster) about another woman using it for embroidery. i stuck a piece of press’n seal to a sheet of ruled paper and traced all of the lines (even the three holes). then i peeled the ruled paper away and stuck the press’n seal to the piece of white cotton i wanted to embroider. then i wrote the quote i wanted to use onto the press’n seal, shoved it all into an embroidery hoop, and started embroidering. i did the text first, then i just did whatever lines were in the hoop. when i finished everything in the hoop, i moved it over and did another section.

it’s hard to tell, but if you look in the bottom right-hand corner of the “page”, i used cursive lettering to alter two of the ruled lines so that they read “christmas 2009”.

it took a long time to do, but it was incredibly easy to stitch. the hardest part was removing the press’n seal after i was done. while it was amazing for transferring and as a stabilizer, it wasn’t very easy to remove. i had assumed that all of the stitches would act as a sort of perforation, making it easier to remove the press’n seal. NOT SO. in fact, i had to pick it off with a needle and small pair of scissors because my stitching was so close together. peeling it away also loosened a lot of the stitching along the edge, but it wasn’t too bad.

once i finished removing the press’n seal, i cut the fabric down to size and put it in a floating frame. i taped the book to the front of the frame before i wrapped it, so that my mama would see the book first, then the embroidery. good thing i did, because i found out that she’d never read the book!

she liked it, though. there were many tears. (good tears!)

this is what it looks like in the frame:

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fluffy platinum record

fleece platinum record (framed), originally uploaded by fingerpistol.

i woke up at 9:30am on christmas eve and didn’t go to sleep until about 9:30pm on christmas day. why, you ask? because i am retarded and have no concept of time, distance, or any other form of measurement. (you think i exaggerate? no. i wish.)

i started my brother’s christmas present the weekend before christmas (immediately after finishing my mama’s christmas present), but just didn’t have enough time to work on it because of work. thankfully, we got christmas eve AND christmas day off. less thankfully, that wasn’t quite enough time.

i worked on this thing all damn day, then all evening, and then all night and into the morning. i was supposed to be at my mom’s at 9:00am for christmas presents on christmas day, but i had to call her at 8:30am to let them know i was going to be about an hour late.

aaaaanyways, this was my little brother’s christmas present. my little brother is easily one of the single most talented people i have ever met in my life. he can draw, sing, play piano, write music, cook, and about a million other things. on top of this, he is ridiculously charming and good-looking (i have this on good authority, as strange girls use to come up to me in high school and tell me my brother was hot…no joke).

well, my ridiculously talented baby bro went and got himself a job as a badass songwriter. he is also finishing up his first record, too. (see? wildly successful.) so i decided to give him his “first” platinum record…made of fluffy fleece!

the “record” is a gunmetal grey fleece (i had originally planned to use felt, which seems to be the sort of standard material for making plushie versions of real items, but couldn’t find any in a suitable platinum-like color), and the backing is black fleece. i used light silver metallic embroidery thread and antique metallic embroidery floss. it was slow going using the metallic thread and floss, but it wasn’t as difficult as i’d anticipated (after having read so many horror stories of how difficult it’s supposed to be to work with). i honestly believe that i just built it up to be so horrible and difficult in my mind that when i actually started working with it, it was sort of a relief.

i used different combinations of the thread and floss (e.g. two threads of each, or one light silver thread and two antique threads, etc.) for the different concentric rings on the record to give the “grooves” variation. i also used the metallic floss to create the “plaque” at the bottom. and while you can’t really tell in the picture, the metallic thread and floss really gives the matte gunmetal grey fleece a good shiny effect. ( i had considered using a “shiny” metallic fabric instead of fleece with metallic thread, but i’m glad i didn’t.)

it was originally intended to read: “presented to bryan ellis to commemorate how awesome he is”…but i had a very difficult time trying to embroider text on the black fleece because i couldn’t find a good way to transfer or stabilize the text. so it’s all freehand work, and it’s all kinda wonky. (the record “grooves” are all kinda wonky for the same reason. no ruler in my house means i have to freehand all the measurements. yikes.)

the whole thing is just hot-glued into the frame. it wasn’t supposed to be, but i’m dumb and forgot that all of the embroidery would sort of shrink the fabric i was working with. so while it was originally cut to the same measurements as the frame, it shrunk down a good inch or so on each side, and had to be stretched and glued down to look right.

it didn’t quite come out the way that i’d wanted, but my brother recognized what it was as soon as he opened it, so i’m not going to complain.

this is what it looked like before i framed it:

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