fabric elephant garland – tutorial?

Go ahead and mock if you will, but I am learning how to sew.
Astounding I know. It does my mother proud. I know because in response to my request for a shotgun for my 13th birthday she contemplated giving me a sewing machine instead. {I had this peculiar desire to hunt at that age.} And no, I didn’t get the shotgun.
So this isn’t exactly a tutorial, but rather a review of how I ended up with a particular product and the changes I would make if ever I attempted making something similar again. Capish?
I had a lot of fun with this one, which is always a promising indicator because if something’s enjoyable it’s probably because it’s turning out somewhat like you had hoped it would. At least for me.
A few things you might need:
scissors, twine, fabric, poly-fill stuffing, a pen, thread, a needle, a template, sewing machine, half marbles, and pipe cleaners {last two items pictured below}.
Step 1: design your image and create a template. I wanted a cutesy elephant with floppy ears.
Step 2: cut ‘er out of your desired fabric, making sure to cut one side of each elephant from the reverse side of the fabric and the other side from the print side of the fabric.
{I cut out the front and back of a simple floppy ear shape as well that included a slight “tag” structure. See below.}
Step 3: sew the ear pieces together inside out, leaving an opening large enough for you to flip the fabric right side out.
Step 4: flip right side out and sew the “tag” structure to the print side of the elephant
{it will look like the above}
Step 5: place the two sides of the elephant together, outer pieces facing in. The ear should be on the inside.
Step 6: sew the two sides of the elephant together, leaving the opening to the tail, trunk, and stomach un-sewn.
Since I’m just now learning how to sew, I found this tip from a friend extremely helpful. You probably already know this, but when rounding corners on your fabric, simply leave the needle inserted, lift the “foot” with your finger, and rotate the fabric whichever way you need. That way you maintain a continuous course with your thread.
Step 7: when finished sewing the two sides together, attach a safety pin to the end of one of the sides of the tail and push the pin inward.
Pull the pin through, and this should help you turn things right side out more easily. Repeat with the trunk. Then use your fingers or a rod of some sort {like the blunt edge of a skewer} and turn the rest of the structure right side out.
The little guy might need a quick ironing after all that tugging. You also want to flip the ear back over its stitching and iron it down.
Step 8: take your safety pin and attach it to the end of some twine and thread it through the tail and out the trunk. Not exactly the natural direction things usually travel, but it works for stuffed animals treaded with twine. 😉
{Make sure your twine is longer than you think you’ll need just to be sure it will stretch across the area you’re designing it for.}
Step 9: I knew I was going to run into this problem from the beginning, but I didn’t discover the solution until the end of the project. At this point the stuffed elephants would flip upside down when the twine was pulled taut and hung. So to keep them from going belly up I stuck 2 of these little marbles in each leg. That did the trick. They’re really inexpensive {like $0.97 at Hobby Lobby if you use a  40% off coupon}.
Step 10: this isn’t entirely necessary, but I liked the way it helped give the elephant’s trunk shape. Since it was a tiny trunk, I had a hard time getting stuffing up in there. So I cut a twisty pipe cleaner into 3 small sections and bent the ends of each section inward to create a soft edge and keep ’em from poking holes in the fabric. Then I inserted one section into each of the elephant’s trunks.
Step 11: Stuff ’em!
Almost done!
Step 12: sew their little bellies, trunks, and tails closed. I used this step to secure their trunks and tails to the twine, keeping them in their place in line.
Repeat with as many elephants as you want. I did 6. Not a fan of even numbers, but that’s as many as I could handle!
Hang and have a party!
And that’s exactly what I did. A good friend from high school is having a baby in August and so I threw her a little baby shower.
She loves elephants and we don’t know the gender of the baby so the theme was a winner.
I decided an elephant cake would be beyond my skill level so I made a peanut. The outside is actually just cream cheese frosting with food coloring {red+yellow = orange + more yellow + a little blue = peanut butter}.
She looked absolutely gorgeous, and so full of excitement.
The little elephant garland ended up making a nice gift too after the shower was over since she plans to decorate in an elephant theme.
Changes I would make to my own design:
  • Make the elephants larger {the trunks and tails were ridiculously hard to turn right side out at that size}
  • Attach ears to both sides of the elephant {at the conception of the idea I had planned to hang it against a wall so only one ear was needed}
  • Don’t use thick fabric or fabric that frays as easy as the canvas was and did. Sheesh, I had to do a lot of repair work on those guys. Aside from that, I liked the frayed look I ended up with.
Speaking of friends from high school. Check out this music video. I went to high school/church with the lead vocalist sporting the goatee, and the CD this team recorded is being released today!
You can purchase it here.

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