Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Making Snowmen - the construction part

Just to recap quickly how the snowfolk came to be….

Last Fall when I was at Shelburne, I saw some cute snowmen in Jule Marie Smith’s booth. Shortly thereafter I noticed that she was selling a pattern to make them. I bought a starter kit and was hooking on my first snowman within 48 hours. A few weeks later I was posting my first completed snowmen here on the blog, and the questions started coming….everyone wanted to know how they were made and where they might be able to get the pattern.

So I contacted Jule Marie Smith…and since she no longer had the pattern available, she gave me permission to share it with you. The following instructions are a combination of Julie’s basic instructions and my own (I’ve looked high and low for my original instructions…to no avail). I’ve made quite a few changes from the original directions, based on my own preferences and ideas….and I encourage you to modify them however you see fit and make your own original snow folks. Of course, it goes without saying that I am providing these instructions for your personal use only.

For Part One – Hooking the Snowmen, click here.

Once you’ve hooked the snowmen fronts, press them using your regular method. (I use a warm, wet tea towel and a hot Elna press or iron). Let dry. Then it’s time to begin with the construction…

1. Zig-zag around each snow body. Sew as close as you can to your outer row of hooked loops. I recommend using the stretch zig-zag stitch (marked by a dotted line)…since it’s made up of more stitches, it will better hold your backing together when the excess is cut off.

2. Trim away excess backing

3. Fold back remaining backing and baste into place. You will need to cut the backing at each of the indents – but wait and cut each only as you come up to it when sewing (otherwise your backing can start to unravel).

4. Needle-felt carrots for the noses. Take a 4’ square of wool roving and start rolling in at one corner, needle felting it together with every turn. Once the pointy sausage is completely felted (it may need some extra poking), cut it in half to make two noses. [Optional: if you’re unfamiliar with needle felting or do not have the tools, you could probably sew little noses out of scraps of wool fabric.]

5. Make the face. Attach the nose, just below the middle of the face, using needle felting. Sew on beads or buttons for the mouth, taking care to not sew it too low on the face (or it will be covered up by the scarf) – I try to leave 2 rows of loops below the mouth. Sew beads or buttons for the eyes. If you’re using round beads, you might want to consider cutting the corner(s) off of the adjoining loop(s), so that they nestle into place. You need not worry too much about perfect spacing and keeping everything even – this will give more personality to your snowman.

6. Cut out the back, using felted wool in a coordinating natural colour. If wool has a “right side”, place it face down. Then lay hooked piece on top, face up. Cut around shapes – even with the folded edge of the linen. To help cut you way out of the indents, gently fold back the previously cut section.

Tip: If you top and tail your pieces (i.e. alternate between heads up and heads down), you will greatly reduce fabric waste.

7. Attach the back. Pin pieces together. Using thread doubled, sew sides together using blanket stitch. **DO NOT SEW THE BOTTOM SHUT** To help keep stitches even, sew in between each loop, and pull tightly after each stitch.

Tip: I always find that this type of sewing takes its toll on my hands. One thing that helps a lot is wearing a band-aid on the middle section of my ring finger….since this is where the thread pulls tightly (and eventually feels like it’s cutting me – if I’m not wearing a band-aid).

8. Stuff with filling. You might need to use a piece of dowel or thin ruler to help push the filling through the neck, into the head.

9. Prepare the base. Cut an oval out of thin cardboard, and trim until it fits into the opening at the base of the snowman. Cut a larger oval (1/4 to 1/2" on all sides) out of felted wool. Set aside cardboard.

10. Sew the base. Begin by attaching the wool to the front half (hooked portion) of the snowman, using double thread and sewing with blanket stitch. When you are half-way around, place a weight on top of the filling (I used 20 pennies in each of my folk, to help keep them upright) and then insert the piece of cardboard. Double-check to make sure that the wool oval is the right size. Trim away any excess wool, so that it fits. Sew the two pieces of wool together, using blanket stitch and aligning the cut edges (you might need to push down the cardboard a little to make it easier).

Tip: After all of this handling, you should check that the carrot nose is still secure. Needle felt as necessary, to reattach it.

11. Attach arms. Poke holes in the sides of the hooking, using a proddy tool or hook with a wide shank. Insert twig arms into holes. [I do not secure these arms in any way – they stay in place, with the help of the stuffing and the backing…yet they are easily removed for storage and/ or easily replaced when they dry out and break.]

12. Play dress-up! Add scarves, hats, shawls, purses, brooms, flowers, baskets….and play around until you’re happy with the result.

13. Take lots of photos and admire you handwork…but whatever you do, don’t show them to very many people – unless you want to be making a lot more! ;-)