When Makeshift and I went to Alaska last month, we met an awesome octopus in Seward at the Alaska SeaLife Center, and we've been octopus-obsessed since. We'd been tentacle-crazy for years, but they were usually Cthulhu-related experiments, not necessarily octopus-centric. However, once we were home again, the infatuation didn't wear off, and one morning last week we got it in our heads to make a quilted octopus, and a bunch of hours later, Makeshift had one of his very own! Granted, it is a temporary ownership in that the octopus is actually a baby gift. But for the nonce—and until I managed to make the matching quilt—Makeshift had a new tentacly companion.
I'd never even considered the idea of how to make a quilted animal before, but it seemed reasonably straightforward. The biggest problem I had was that I only had a single fat quarter of the olive fabric (I later secured more of this fabric) which I wanted to use for the underside of the tentacles, and I had a very limited amount of the onion fabric (and that was the very end of it after I reserved the piece I needed for the matching baby quilt that I planned on making), so I needed to use every possible inch and not mess up. I was only going to get one shot at this.
I extended the fat quarter by a few inches on both ends of the olive fabric to match the size of the onion fabric I had, which was easy because I knew that the selvage would be hidden inside of the head. I sketched out a head shape and reproduced it on a piece of printer paper.
Then I copied the reverse of that onto the other end of the fat quarter and drew in four tentacles coming out of either head—they all twisted in and around one another to use up as much of the fabric as possible.
Then I made a sandwich of batting and the two fabrics (good sides facing).
And I cut them out.
I then took each half-topus and pinned it up so it wouldn't move around as I carefully sewed the three layers together.
And sewed them up. Here's what the other side looked like.
I had of course left an un-sewn opening so that I could reverse the half-topuses. And I worked on that for a long time ...
Once reversed it looked like this.
I sewed a stitch into all the edges to give the tentacles some additional strength and to flatten them out.
And then I quilted each of the two halves including the heads.
I laid the heads back-to-back and cut off the edges so that they were mirror images.
I had originally planned to use binding to connect the two head pieces which is why I did things the way I did, but in the end I ended up sewing the heads together from the inside, and then reversing them, which made for a much cleaner and easier-to-make product. I could have saved myself a ton of time by sewing the heads differently, and if I ever make another quiltopus, I will know how to save some time; basically though, leave the opening for reversing the tentacles at the top of the head, not within the tentacles, and then don't bother sewing the head up until you are doing it from the inside.
I used some clamp guys to mark where I wanted to stop, and sewed four lines of stitches into the head to make it wicked strong.
Then I reversed the head.
To finish him up, I decided to make a pillow to slide inside the head to give him some extra volume, and to make it removable so that the quiltopus could be easily washed/dried. I'm told that kids barf on stuff, so things should be washable, right?
So I grabbed another piece of the olive fabric—of which I had since secured another 3.5 yards during the week, and washed and dried—and traced out the head shape.
Sewed that up and left a slit for stuffing. In retrospect, I would have left the slit at the top so that the final seam wouldn't be visible when inspecting the underside of the octopus.
Hello extra pillow. Goodbye pillow. Hello awesome stuffing.
And voilà: Octopus brain!
Easy to slip in, and thus presumably easy to slip out for washing needs as well.
And here he is, sitting up, so you can really see how little fabric this project actually took (because the tentacles all sort of fit into one another when not hanging about).
So, I still had that one remaining piece of onion fabric, and now lots of olive fabric (I bought the last of what one local shop had, and found two more yards at another shop), so it was time to make the matching baby quilt.
I laid out my onions atop the olives and I had my front and back.
I'm still working on that enormous piece of batting that I bought a few months ago. A king-size, all-natural, no glues or resins monster that I picked up for a quarter of what it was worth (sale on top of sale and a coupon equals a happy mushroom!). So, here's the sandwich.
I sketched out some baby tentacles for the edges on the back-side of the onion fabric.
And then cut them out (that's three layers there: batting, olives, and onions).
I sewed all around the edges and left a few tentacles un-sewn so that I could reverse the whole thing. Which once again took forever.
But finally I had it fully reversed and all the tentacles sitting pretty.
Then, exhausted, I went to bed. The next pictures include natural light and coffee!
I sewed up the few tentacles that I had left open for the reversing process.
Then I put a stitch all around the edge to strengthen and flatten—so many twists and turns!
And then tens of thousands of stitches got placed as I quilted from the outside edge all the way to the inside.
And eventually, however many hundreds of turns later, it was done! Here's the oniony front side.
And here's the other—sucker/olive—side.
Here's Quiltopus atop his blanket, blending in just as octopuses are prone to do.
And again ...
May my new small friend enjoy these tentacly, octopus-inspired gifts as much as we enjoyed getting to know our Alaskan octopus buddy, the predominant influence behind them.
And here are three pictures of our enormous Alaskan friend and his super-cute little horns:
Thanks for the show, Thumb! You're awesome!