Friday, April 11, 2014

Silly Duck Tutorial - Part 2

This is the second technique which may be helpful in finishing the feet of your Silly Duck (here's Part 1).

Part 2: Sewing the Foot Together

Step 1: Sew together the cast-on edge, then part-way up the back seam. 

Step 2: Add a small amount of stuffing to the leg. There should be no stuffing in the foot. Finish sewing the back seam, and weave in this yarn end.

Step 3: Flatten the foot, so the leg is towards the back, and the foot is symmetrical. Use a safety pin to hold the two layers of the foot together.

Step 4: Cut a 25 cm (10") length of yarn the same colour as the foot and thread it onto your needle (I'm using a contrasting colour so you can see my stitches). Insert the needle at the center-bottom of the foot, and exit to one side of the center-top of the foot. Leave about 7 cm (3") of yarn where you started.

Step 5: Using a running-stitch, make 2 short stitches towards the edge of the foot, following a column of stitches to keep your line straight. End on the underside of the foot.

Step 6: Make a stitch around the edge of the foot, then work back towards the center of the foot, making a stitch between your first 2 stitches. Exit on the other side of the center-top.

Step 7: Stitch a line on the other side of the foot, just like the first. 

Step 8: Thread your yarn to where you began, and knot your yarn ends together. Weave the ends through the foot 2-3 times, pulling on the knot so it slips inside the foot. Your yarn ends should now be secure.

Here is the finished foot, with the stitching done in the correct colour. You can see that it's nearly invisible, and the foot now has the right shape. Maybe they're a bit rounder than real duck feet, but perfectly cute for a silly toy duck!

Silly Duck Tutorial - Part 1

While my Silly Duck pattern (Ravelry, Etsy) is not a difficult pattern, there are a couple key places where your finishing skills make all the difference in the success of your efforts. I've put together two photo tutorials to show you how I attach the duck's beak, and how I finish the feet.

Part 1 - Attaching the Beak

Step 1: The head has been stuffed (the arrow shows the seam). The beak has been seamed, and stuffed. There is very little stuffing in the beak - just enough to hold it's shape. Note that there are 2 yarn ends attached to the beak - one from the cast-on, and one from sewing the seam. These will be used to attach the beak.

Step 2: Line up the beak to where you will sew it to the head. The dots show where to match up the center and sides of the beak. The sides match up with the decreases you made on Row 20.

Step 3: Use safety pins to pin in the beak in place.

Step 4: On the underside of the head, the beak seam will match up with the head seam. The underside of the beak will be a straight line between the sides (don't pull it down so it's curved). A shoulder / invisible seam stitch works best to attach the beak. 

Step 5: Start at the center seam with one yarn end, and work towards one side of the beak. Start at the center seam with the second yarn end, and work towards the other side of the beak.

Step 6: Turn the head over, and use the same method to sew the upper-side of the beak to the head. You may find it easier to make a couple stitches at a time on each side, to get a more symmetrical placement.

Step 7: The beak is now attached to the head. Thread both yarn ends to the same location, and knot them together. Weave the ends through the head 2-3 times, pulling on the knot so it slips inside the head. Your yarn ends should now be secure.

Finished head from the front. I've done some soft-sculpture, like I show in this post.

Finished head from the side. With only a small amount of stuffing in the beak, it has a more realistic shape.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

April Featured Pattern - Silly Duck

For the month of April I'm featuring my Silly Duck pattern. As with previous featured patterns, it's 50% off in both my Etsy and Ravelry shops (on Ravelry you get the discount when you check-out). Read below to find out a little more about the pattern. Later in the month, I plan to make a photo tutorial with more details on how to make the bill and feet of the duck.

I made my first Silly Duck in April of 2007, just a few months after I started Fuzzy Mitten. I was still learning how to design toys, and my first attempt didn't really look much like a duck, which is why the pattern got named "Silly Duck"! I was really happy with the wings (and they've never changed), but I couldn't figure out how to make duck feet, and the bill was made from felt. This toy is still hanging around somewhere, after all these years!

Abby the Goose was my second attempt, in white yarn, with a more realistic bill shape. I still hadn't fixed the feet, though.

This fluffy duck I designed for a little booklet of Easter patterns. I'm sure you've seen this yarn in craft stores - it's so soft and fluffy to touch, but it's made of nylon, and it was so hard on my hands when I was knitting! I made him a knitted bill, but it's not really the right shape.

Finally, when I was updating my Fuzzy Knits collection of patterns a few years ago, I decided to fix all the things I didn't like about my Silly Duck pattern. The body was reshaped to be a little more duck-like (it's got a much bigger bottom than my other toys). I designed a knitted bill with a more realistic shape. You do have to sew it on, but that also gives you more control over the final shape. And, at last, my Silly Duck got big, flat feet! In the end, it was just a matter of expanding and squashing the shape I was already using.

The right yarn makes a big difference too. The final toy was knit with a cotton/bamboo blend yarn, and the shiny bamboo fibers look just right for duck feathers. However, I've also seen some very sweet Silly Ducks made with fluffy yarn, if that's what you prefer.

It may only be a couple weeks until Easter, but this pattern is relatively easy (advanced-beginner level), and can be made over a few evenings or a weekend. I think it makes a lovely change from the usual Easter Bunnies that children tend to get!

(P.S. These photos are also a good example of how my photography has improved over 7 years! But I still have a lot to learn...)