My Dad is a very difficult man to buy presents for. He'd say he isn't because he has an Amazon Wish List, but he's going to buy that stuff for himself in the end anyway (if he still wants it). I did very well last year with the Mystic Order of the Elder Gods fez; it's a thing of beauty and a tribute to American craftsmanship, and he wears it very well!
But this year is his 70th birthday ... so something significant needed to be designed/developed/created. My Dad isn't really a quilt person—it takes an act of magic to keep a darn napkin on the man's lap (if we do end up giving him one, he inevitably stands up and dumps it on the floor anyway, so we mostly don't bother unless fancy company is around who might notice that a setting is lacking a face wipe). But he does love to watch his obscure episodes and movies, and often I think he might want company or might possibly be chilly in the 50-degree room where his monitor is (we don't have a TV, we have a "monitor" that plays DVDs and streams video). So, for a month I was trying to imagine a quilt-like thing that I could make him; something fun and yet maybe useful.
Finally, on the first page of a new journal, on the day before his actual birthday, it came to me and I drew it out: a Cthulhu Quilt! A lap blanket (a cotton codpiece if you will) that might keep him warm (or at least the popcorn bowl better balanced), and provide a smattering of company.
Within the hour I had the fabric ironed and was cutting out tentacles! Luckily, I already had all the fabric I needed in my fabric box and it had previously been washed and dried. I had purchased all of the remaining three-plus yards of this incredible onion print fabric from a nice lady at a tiny quilt shop in Port Townsend, Washington a few months ago with a quilt for my brother's new baby in mind, but I hadn't gotten around to making it yet. And I had two types of orange fabric that were also originally destined for two other quilt ideas, but that also hadn't yet been used, and I even had the green and orange thread that I'd need, and the batting. This quilt was magical from the start!
This is only the sixth quilt I've ever made, and I've never done one that was more fabric-art than blanket-type-thing. So I was totally winging it.
I started out by making a sandwich of fabric and batting for the tentacles.
Then I cut out curvy strips that I imagined would make good tentacles.
One of the two green spools of thread I had on hand was from my first quilt—the RIPLEY quilt—which used a bizarre gradated green thread. I still had quite a lot left so I used it to sew the thousands of inside tentacle stitches.
To make the tentacles, I took the fabric that was on the bottom of the sandwich and put it on the top, front-to-front, with the batting beneath.
The I sewed the three layers together.
Reversing the tentacles was much more time-consuming than you ever might have imagined. If the tentacles were wide, it wasn't so bad, but if narrow, they took forever and a certain amount of swearing was expressed. (Makeshift, cover your ears!)
The two most useful tools I had during this phase were a bone burnisher and the pen for my drawing tablet. With the burnisher on the inside and the pen helping to guide the sleeve from the outside, I managed to get the tentacles reversed one after the other.
It did rather feel like I spent my entire afternoon skinning hagfish (aka slime eels), but it was worth it as the door to the Airstream became progressively covered in tentacles ...
Then I switched to a darker green thread and added a stitch all the along the outside of each of the tentacles, helping to give them some additional strength and uniformity as well as a bit less floppiness.
Oh wait, then I couldn't sleep, so I started playing with ideas for the eyes. A while later I had constructed these lovelies. Completely winging it once again ...
Makeshift was especially pleased.
I should also mention that I broke my first needle! Crunch and Snap! Quite the surprise when it happened. And a rite of passage I suppose. Lesson learned: No matter how awesome those metal clips are, you must remember that one end is longer than the other, and the longer end should be on the TOP of whatever you are sewing. Otherwise, your sewing machine needle will hit one and snap apart in a blaze of terrifying glory. Thankfully, I had 100 spare needles waiting. Turns out, sewing machine needles are incredibly cheap when purchased in bulk (I paid $16 for 100 on Amazon—those are cunning little pouches of 10 each).
The next day I started working on the two sides of the head. Somehow, overnight, I had gotten in my head that this quilt should be able to be worn as a HAT. Don't ask my why, it was just very clear to me that this needed to happen ... (Bad Makeshift!!!)
A sandwich of fabrics and batting began the back side. I chose an orange fabric to line the inside of the head.
Smaller tentacles were cut out of the sandwich.
The fabrics were re-sandwiched and prepared for sewing.
Note how all of the clasping-pins are long side ON TOP this time.
Ends snipped away and edges also cut down a bit to make for easier reversing.
And then, much later, the tentacles had been reversed. Note to self: Long thin tentacles are almost impossible to reverse successfully. And one of them got completely buggered up. But in fact, the anemic little deformed tentacle might even be my favorite. So Cthulhu!
I was much smarter about the front of the head—the tentacles are much wider.
So I sewed the head tentacles, reversed them, added a stitch all around the outside and then started attaching the long tentacles. Again, long sides UP with the metal monsters.
Also, I attached on the eyes ...
More tentacles added ... seventeen in all ...
Makeshift was totally enthralled with Cthulhu ... it was a bit of a love affair for a few days.
The back and front of the head were quilted ...
Then, Makeshift demanded that Cthulhu have wings. So I made some ...
Makeshift spent quite a lot of time that day trying to fly ...
Wings were attached.
The two sides of Cthulhu's head were shaped and cut, and then sewn together with some binding.
Makeshift pleaded to keep Cthulhu ... but alas, their friendship will have to exist via the Interwebs.
At that point, I was rushing to get out the door to start my trip to Alaska—planning to meet up with our large-sized Badger in Seward when his ship pulled into port—so Makeshift and I ended up in a hotel room in Seattle for the night. The room had two large beds, so they took over one of them while I attended to some well-deserved beers at the bar.
And then we were in Alaska with our beloved Badger!
We made him wear Cthulhu as a hat in a sweet church-cum-cafe in Seward that we frequented quite a lot during our week together. As usual, he was a very good sport about it.
And we made him model it, too (I laughed for WAY too long):
Then Cthulhu got mailed from Seward, Alaska to rural Midcoast Maine. I knew he'd probably fuck up the works, but I had no idea he'd shut down the government nor that he would take two extra days to arrive (the Express Mail money-back guarantee meant I collected my refund with no trouble, so although the government is still askew, I have my $40 back in my pocket = essentially free shipping and money for another QUILT!).
But then he did finally arrive in Maine!!!
(The following pictures—as well as the two at the very top of this post—were taken by my mom of my dad with Cthulhu; delayed but unharmed.)
Happy Birthday Dad! May Cthulhu keep you warm and amused for decades to come.