Monday, August 19, 2013

Make your very own Hobbes! A (kind of) Tutorial

Decisions about nursery decor are easy when your husband has a years-long love of the comic Calvin and Hobbes and you find out that your first born child will be a son. Basically, you will be inspired by all things Calvin and Hobbes. This will be really fun and exciting for you until you decide that you want an actual stuffed Hobbes to watch over your little boy in that nursery and you remember that Bill Watterson (creator of the comic) was- and remains- adamant that his beloved comic would never be commercialized.

Good on him, I say! Except...couldn't he have made an exception to spare me hand sewing my very own Hobbes? No? Okay. I suppose I can handle it. Or can I? I'll let y'all decide how I did, but in the meantime, who wants to make their very own Hobbes? Oh, you do? Heaven bless you, I suppose let's get started:

Step Uno) Gather your supplies. Yes, that is sandpaper included in the supplies and yes I am serious. The tutorial I found required me to gather sandpaper for a sewing project. More on my outrage about that fact later.

Not pictured: Polyfil stuffing. If you are anything like me, you will have included it in the sewing supplies you told your husband you wouldn’t need any time soon and he could go ahead and store in the attic. Whoops.

2) Print off and cut out the pattern pieces. When the tutorial tells you that you should really use card stock for the pattern pieces, go ahead and tell that tutorial to shove it. That is five sheets of card stock I will never get back. Learn from my naïve trust of all things I read on the internet: regular paper works just fine. And it’s cheaper. Win/win!

Congratulations, you have officially completed the easiest step in this whole process. It's an uphill battle from here.

3) Time to cut out Hobbes pieces! Pull out some fleece and try not to kick yourself too hard when you realize that you bought- no joke!- enough fabric to sew Hobbes four times over. Just think of it as spare Hobbes skin for when you inevitably screw something up.

4) Let’s start to sew! Go ahead and tear yourself away from the TV in your front room and head back to your sewing room. Try not to suffer from Netflix withdrawal too badly during the short walk away from the Netflix-compatible TV to the Netflix-playing laptop set up on your sewing desk. Whew. You made it. At this point you might want to write a note reminding you to check if Netflix addiction is an actual thing and, if so, what to do to cure it.

5) After restarting Netflix, you are going to start sewing Hobbes’ round little body. Sew his tummy onto his…other tummy…part (yeah, that sounds about right) and then sew on the tummy bottom. Which, I suppose is the Hobbes bottom.

5b) Set aside the Hobbes body. Now, clean out and tune up your sewing machine because things are all sorts of wiggety-whack up in there. [This step may not be necessary for those of you out there who remember to clean out their machines every time you do a sewing project with felt. I am not in that group, so this step was more than necessary for me after the 4th of July felt banner project I did a few weeks ago.]

See? Wiggety-whack sttches.

Sixer) Let’s get back to the sewing, shall we? Pick that Hobbes body back up and stuff him! If you are following this tutorial correctly you will recall that you had left the Polyfil stuffing up in the attic when you initially gathered your supplies because it is hot as Hades up in there and you were tired. Well, folks- now it’s time to drag your lazy self up and retrieve that Polyfil. If, like myself, you are lucky enough to find a bag of Polyfil in a random Tupperware bin stored in your attic, then go ahead and stuff up that tiger’s body! Stuff it a little, stuff it a lot- go with whatever level of stuffing tickles your funny bone. Whatever that means.

Step seven) Arms and legs! This is where you have to start worrying about things like matching seams and thread colors. I disregarded both of such things. After a brief internal debate about unpicking and restarting, I simply vowed to do better going forward and moved on with my life. I feel really good about that decision.

Left arm = no matched seams.. Right arm = matched seams. Choose the right, people. Match your seams.

8) Now this next step, the ears, is going to seem deceptively simple, but it's not. There are things to think about like curvature and fluff and balance and symmetry. None of those things are my forte, so were my ears rather imperfect recreations of what I saw on the online tutorial? Yes. Did I actually unpick this one and try again because it was just that bad? Yes. Was the second attempt any better? Marginally. Did I leave it at that? You betcha. Let’s all keep in mind that this project is intended for an infant whose own ears may very well be crooked himself, so who is he to judge??

9) Carry all your sewn Hobbes parts back to your front room so you can continue to feed your Netflix addiction in a more comfortable setting. Be warned: you will lose a Hobbes arm or a leg somewhere along the way. Try not to panic. This does not necessarily mean sewing him a whole new arm, but it may require crawling around the floor of every room in your house looking for it. Including rooms that you didn’t even go in because arms and legs are round and they roll.

 10) Now that you have all your Hobbes parts assembled, you are ready for it- the hand stitching part. When you started this project you of course trusted the person who created the tutorial that hand stitching the stripes on will look so much better. This was back before you realized that tutorial dude is much more of a perfectionist than you will ever be and yeah, you probably should have just sewn those puppies on with your sewing machine. Hindsight. Ugh.

10b) This next step is optional, but highly suggested: eat some dinner.

10c) Now that you are nourished and all that, take a deep breath and get ready for a doozy of a next step. Break out the needle and thread and start stitching! That’s right. By hand.

Step the eleventh) Let’s start with the eyes. This is where the sandpaper comes in. At first you are going to diligently follow the instructions in the tutorial you are using. You will purchase round black buttons and then proceed to sand the edges into an oval shape, since Hobbes’ eyes are oval-shaped in the comic. About halfway through sanding the first button you will realize that you are actually sanding a button and begin to rethink your life. No amount of accuracy is worth that jazz.

11.5) Throw away sanded buttons and cut some oval eyes out of scraps of black fleece. Just do it. You will feel so much better about yourself.

Ahhhhh, feels good, doesn't it?

#12) Carry on with slipstitching everything on. Arms, legs, muzzle, stripes…basically any tiger parts that have yet to be stuck on him need to be hand sewn. Pause as needed to work the blood back into your fingers.

You will be tempted to leave Hobbes stripes-less at this point. Resist the urge. He really is so much cuter with stripes.

Step # (unlucky) 13) Continue sewing on stripes.

13.1) Still sewing those stripes? Good.  Because you will be for days. Perhaps if you are the kind of person who does not feel a need to do things like cooking, eating, doing dishes, getting off the couch occasionally, or showering, then you can finish sewing Hobbes before collapsing into bed that first night, but if you find that other pesky life tasks are getting in the way of your sewing of stripes, then brace yourself for the long haul. Good luck with that.

13.2) At some point in the stripe-sewing process you will feel incredibly proud of yourself and be struck with the desire to show them off. You might pick your husband to brag to. If you do, said husband just might comment that he thinks the stripes need to look more “tiger-y.” If this occurs, try and remember that his comment may have seemed insane, but it was actually an sign that he is taking a healthy interest in your child’s well-being (because what child can develop normally while in possession of a tiger with boxy stripes?). Go ahead and adjust the stripes as necessary so that they look more “tiger-y.” Your marriage will thank you, even if your fingers do not.

13.3) Stripes. Keep sewing. NOT EVEN JOKING IT WILL LAST ALL WEEK.

XIV) What?! You’re done sewing on the stripes?? Hallelujah glory be- you are done! You have a bona-fide, self-made, slightly imperfect stuffed Hobbes on your hands. Now go toss that thing into your kid’s crib and take a nap. You deserve it.

The kicker is going to be when our little Bean has absolutely no interest in playing with Hobbes when he gets older...Sigh.

If you got through all of that and STILL somehow want to make a Hobbes of your own, I obviously found this tutorial more than satisfactory, so I am sure you will too! I wish you luck and patience. Lots and lots of patience.


Miri said...

Dear Jill: You are hilarious. Though I can never in a million years imagine myself undertaking such a project, if I ever do, I want you to do my tutorial. (P.S. That Hobbes is so cute!)

Señora H-B said...

He turned out so cute!

I loved your hilarious play-by-play. My sewing projects never go according to tutorial directions and my polyfil or quilt batting is NEVER where I left it.

Meg said...

I just bought a book of doll/stuffed animal tutorials. This is about what I'm anticipating when I work up the courage to start trying them. I love your tutorials, and your Hobbes! His stripes look very tigery indeed.