2010 guest blogger series: illustrating in fabric

by Admin on 10/10/2010

in Guest Series 2010, Whip Up Tutorials

September/October brings change of season, and fresh starts and frivolity and seriousness too. So for a break from whipup realtime I am introducing a few weeks of guest bloggers to liven up your crafty experience. To bring you something fresh, and hopefully invigorate you to make and do and be and think! Its going to be a fun few weeks so come along for the ride.

Today I want to welcome Tina Givens to Whipup, Tina has a new book of children’s clothing patterns just released titled Sew Tina! 30 Cute Projects & Adorable Décor Items for Kids and later in the month I will be participating in her blog/author tour which should be a blast! Tina is a multi-talented woman – she not only designs patterns to wear and use and make but designs fabric and stationary too.

Character Blankee

I love illustrating for children, and wanted to create something in fabric—using stitches instead of paper, paint, and ink. I sketched out a few little characters and fell in love with free-motion stitching. The instructions below are for a little blanket, but the same method can easily be adapted for wall art, quilt tops, or a cushion front.


Templates for the bunny and piggy can be downloaded here.

  • Scrap fabrics for appliqué, enough for character pieces
  • Fusible interfacing, lightweight (enough to attach the character pieces)
  • Craft felt to fit your finished appliqué, about 16 x 20 inches
  • 2 pieces of fabric for blankee top and backing, 18 x 21 inches
  • Cotton batting, 18 x 21 inches
  • Fabric to make binding, enough for a strip that is 2 x 85 inches
  • Tina’s Tip: When making the binding strip, consider whether you want to miter the corners or not. If mitering, cut the binding on the bias. Otherwise, binding cut along the grainline will work just fine.

  • Tools: Basic Sewing Kit + Free-motion presser foot
  • Seam allowance is 1/2 inch unless otherwise noted
  • Before You Start Here are some material suggestions:

    Scraps—For the characters faces, use something that is a light-colored solid or with a minimal pattern design. Otherwise, the facial features will be lost. Consider mixing up your scraps so different fabrics will be next to each other.

    Background fabric—It’s best to use 100 percent cotton (light to medium weight), and to select this fabric after you have determined your scrap selections. Choose something that will make your appliqué stand out the most. Likewise, the felt border around the character will help create a distinct outline, so choose the color accordingly.

    Thread—Regular all-purpose thread is fine, or you could use a machine embroidery thread. I love using a chocolate brown color, because it makes the stitching look like it was done with an ink pen.

    Cutting and Preparation
    1. Download the templates found in the materials section and enlarge the template of your choice to your desired size.

    2. Fuse interfacing onto the wrong side of your selected scraps prior to cutting out any pattern pieces.

    3. Place the tracing paper on top of the character you wish to appliqué, and trace each individual part that will be cut from a different fabric, separating them out. For the Flying Pig, for instance, trace the beanie hat as a piece, his face as another piece, then the goggles, and so on. (I cut out his nose in the same fabric, for added dimension.)

    4. Cut out the individual pattern pieces, and pin them onto the interfaced scraps. Cut out each shape in fabric.

    5. Place each piece directly onto the felt, following the template. Pin each piece down securely. Don’t worry if you can see the interfacing peeking from under the cut appliqué edges—it will soon be hidden by the stitching.

    Tina’s Tip: When I do sketch (free-motion) stitching, I begin with larger or base pieces, like the pig’s face and head. I then stitch around the goggles, and save smaller details for last.

    Sewing Instructions
    6. Start stitching the pieces in place, one by one. When you are ready for smaller stitched details, like eyes and teeth (for the bunny), use a pencil or disappearing fabric marker to draw them as shown on the pattern, then stitch. Eyes are simple, just make a little circle and fill it in by stitching around and around. When you clip the ends, you can leave a 1/4-inch thread tail, which look like eyelashes. Once you have finished stitching all parts and pieces onto your felt base, press everything flat.

    7. Cut the felt around your character, about 1/4 inch from all stitching and fabric edges. This will create an outline of solid felt, which is a vital component of this busy appliqué. It serves as a separator of color and pattern, and creates a three-dimensional effect for your little character.

    8. Pin the character appliqué, felt side down, front and center on the right side of your blankee top. Again, use sketch stitching around the edges of your character, along the previously sewn lines. For any extra little details, such as the propeller motion lines, stitch directly onto the background fabric.

    9. To assemble the blankee layers: Lay the backing fabric right side down, lay the cotton batting on top, and finish with the appliquéd front, right side up. Pin around all edges and through all layers. Baste close to the raw edge on all sides.

    10. Make your own double-fold bias tape and bind the edges of the blankee.

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    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Johanna October 10, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    So amazing! Like in a storybook!


    2 Lisa October 11, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Wow, I love this. And the felt – brilliant.


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