Thursday, April 30, 2009

I has a craft store. :D

This is just to say
That a new Jo-Ann store
A superstore, mind you,
Will open on Tuesday

May the 5th, Cinco de Mayo,
at the following location:
15355 Manchester Rd
Ballwin, Missouri, 63011.

Please come see.
It will be fantastic;
So big
and so full of stuff.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day, にゃ〜

Happy Earth Day to you and your family. Most of all, happy Earth Day to the Earth. Please don't smite us, Earth. *invoke Barry White* We know we've been bad, we've treated you wrong... but we're sorry. It's gonna be different from now on, baby. Yeah. I promise.

And now, something completely different:

How to Make a Catnip Toy From Any Softie Pattern

...or, an alternative title...

For The Love of God, I Have To Find Something To Do With All This Catnip; Why Did I Ever Grow The Stuff In The First Place, And More Importantly How The Hell Did It Get Outside?

the enemy

This is nepeta cataria, or as it's commonly known, catnip. It's street name is nip, as in: "You got any nip, brother? Yeah, gimme a dime bag. The good stuff, man."

This fact established, my house (and a considerable portion of the back yard) have become to cats and catnip what Colombia is to the cocaine trade. (Sorry, Colombia.)

Nip grows quickly, roots deep, and will, hydra-like, replace any buds you remove with two new shoots. It will also (apparently) root itself from tiny clippings thrown carelessly into the yard and from there launch a blitzkrieg on your hapless lawn. In summary, if you do choose to grow catnip, you are going to need a lot of cats to keep it under control. Or at least one serious stoner cat.

what a stoner cat might look like

I do not have any cats, and this has been my downfall. My first plan to deal with the overgrowth was to visit cats in the local animal shelter with approximately a quarter-pound of catnip concealed in each pocket. This, while entertaining in the course of procedure, ended with the impromptu reupholstering of my coat with cat hairs, and shelter volunteers highly suspicious of the green flecks all over the floor, cages, and euphoric cats therein. I don't think the SPCA is going to let me in again, at least not without checking me for contraband.

Fortunately, I have several friends with cats. And I have their mailing addresses. And some boxes. And the patterns for many stuffed toys. :3

Without further ado, making a catnip toy.

Start by finding a pattern. Any softie pattern, available from this blog or otherwise, will work. In the pictures here, I am using the lovely bird pattern from Spool.

Now make your softie. However it's done, do it, but remember to exclude buttons, beads, or any small features that a cat could easily tear off and swallow. You might want to pick a tough fabric and make the seams extra-strong, too, just for the longevity of the toy... as cat-owners will attest, cats have sharp pointy things in a variety of places on their bodies and are adept at the destruction of toys and nearly everything else.

Go as far as to stuff your softie with polyfil, but don't sew it closed yet.

Okay, now sew a little pouch out of some scraps of fabric. Almost any fabric will work, so long as it's breathable (don't use vinyl or leather or anything like that). Canvas works well. When your pocket is three-sides sewn, fill it up with as much dried catnip as you can cram into it, then sew it shut. If you can squish the pouch and still smell the catnip through the fabric, it's perfect.

You could just pour some catnip into the unfinished soft toy along with all the stuffing, but this tends to result in the eventual escape of catnip flakes from the seams, all over the cat-owner's carpets, furniture, etc. By confining the nip in it's own little pouch, you can usually avoid this.

Last step. Through the opening left for stuffing your softie, put your pouch of catnip inside. It doesn't have to go in the middle of the stuffing - we're not trying to smuggle it across the border. Just poke it in there between the fabric and the stuffing, where it's likely a cat will be able to smell it.

Now just stitch up the stuffing gap, find a cat, and let 'er rip. :3


Friday, April 17, 2009

I be.

That is, I remain extant. :D Yey.

Ku's most recent adventures include:
  1. a foray into the world of stamp collecting (for reasons entirely aesthetic, a little compulsive, and not-at-all monetary)
  2. experiments with paper glaze and similar dries-hard protective coatings
  3. testing the patience of the St. Louis County library
  4. owls
  5. catnip, in that it has escaped the pot on the windowsill and is steadily conquering the backyard.
I have got a plan for that catnip, though... back shortly.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Caterpillar = あおむし, a-o-mu-shi

Back to softie patterns! If there is anything more due for plushification (or softifaction, or stuffitization), it is the caterpillar. Or "callipitter" if you are, like me, prone to talking funny.

I am a caterpillar nut. I love them. Not just the cute kind or the fuzzy kind or the very hungry kind, but ALL of them. They are awesome. I can conceive of no living figure more wiggly, squishy, and just the right kind of amorphous to be cuddled and wuffled in softie format. Ergo:

I wish good luck to anyone who decides to make a caterpillar. This is still an "easy" softie design as soft toys go, but it takes a little forethought and patience to get around the curves.

Better shot from the side. His butt looks exactly like his head, minus feelers and eyes
- patterns on the back are entirely arbitrary.

Two things to watch out for are:

1) The feelers. These are not stuffed, just two layers of felt sewn against eachother for stiffness, then reversed to hide the stitching. Remember to position them with the clubbed ends aiming IN to the right side of the fabric when you have the whole figure wrong-side out for sewing, else they'll be lost when you go to turn the figure.

2) The darting* on the belly piece. This isn't really hard at all. You're just negating that section of fabric from the total surface of the figure by pinching it to the inside and sewing it up.

In this case, the darts make sharper creases under the caterpillar's legs so that they'll aim downward, rather than just stick out to the sides. Darts are most useful in the "armpit" areas of many softie figures, since they can help direct the angle of the limb or take up unwanted fabric that would otherwise just fold into a wrinkle.

As always, remember to leave a space along one seam so you can turn the figure inside out before you stuff it. It's a little harder to decide where to leave your turning space in this caterpillar pattern because so many of the seams are curvy. I suggest placing the gap along the straight seam that runs right down the back of the caterpillar. You can always cover it up with some applique pattern pieces later. :3

And now, here is a little chant about caterpillars:
Caterpillar, caterpillar, fat and funny
Pick it up and rub it's tummy,
Feed it leaves and watch it play,
And put it back at the end of the day.
...and the simplified (for the sake of rhyme and rhythm) Japanese version:

aomushi, aomushi,
nagakute, kawaii,
hirogete, asobete,
kaeshite, gudobai
...the further extranslation of which is:
Caterpillar, caterpillar
Long and cute
Pick it up, play with it,
Put it back, goodbye! -_-;

In any case, please have fun. 楽しみしてね~

*I always thought this was called "tacking", but apparently tacking is something entirely different to people who actually sew for a living, so I'll take their word on it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

エイプリルフール :D

I've noticed the vast majority of visitors to this site are coming from IPs in Japan. I'm pretty sure 99.9% of my audience is Japanese, so I'm thinking I'll write all my posts and patterns from now on in straight Japanese. That is, no furigana, no English, just standard hyoujungo with all the customary kanji.

I imagine you one or two readers who speak English won't mind this at all. You can probably just figure everything out from the pictures. For example, here's a new pattern for a softie owl: the measurements are metric, and the instructions are in Japanese.

click to download pattern

If there are any complaints or questions, please let me know in the comments section. Thanks again, and ハッピーエイプリルフール!