Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Santa Chronicles: Part Four

A quick note: I just noticed that in the previous Santa Chronicles posts, I said I decided to finish both of my Santas—the little one from a kit, and the head I sculpted in 1999--in 2010. That was a typo. I really just did the work on both Santas in 2011 and finished the large one on January 4, 2012!

Now Santa needs legs and boots! As indicated in an earlier post, I had removed the legs from the muslin doll skin and set them aside. After stuffing the foot and leg with polyfil, the next step was to create a pattern for his boots. First, I traced around the foot on paper, then added generous seam allowances all around and made the boot fairly tall so there would be plenty of room to adjust the fit and the final length later.

I used the rough pattern to cut two boot pieces from scrap fabric, then pin-fit the boot around the foot.After pin fitting, I drew stitching lines along the pins, removed the pins and then machine-basted the pieces together.

Then I tried the boot on the foot (inside out) to check and adjust the fit. When I was happy with the results, I trimmed the seam allowances to an even 1/4" all around and took the trial boot apart to use as my pattern.

I cut the boot pieces from the same soft black knit I used for the mittens. After stitching the seams and clipping the curve in the front of each boot for easier turning and smooth shaping, the boots were ready to turn right side out, but not yet ready to slip on Santa's feet.

The stuffed foot actually has a flat bottom, making it three-dimensional, but my boot was only 2-dimensional, requiring a firm shape inside the boot so the bottom of the boot would be firm and flat on the bottom. Using the bottom shape of the stuffed foot as a guide, I cut boot inserts from scrap mat board in my craft supply stash, shaping them like the bottom of the foot. These were tucked into the boots before putting the boots on the legs. The shaping took a bit of experimentation—I cut the pieces oversize and then trimmed as needed after trying them on the feet. It helped that the boot fabric was knit, making it easier to shape the boot to the insert too. This idea worked like a charm to create a smooth, flat-bottomed, more realistic-looking boot and foot.

Then for a touch of realism, I cut soles from scrap leather in my stash and glued one to the bottom of each booth with the tacky glue.

At this point, I decided how tall I wanted the boots, and cut off the excess boot and muslin leg as I had decided to make the upper portion of the leg/pant section the way it was constructed for Nicholas Little—with fabric and just a bit of stuffing. See how well the boots stand all by themselves?

In order to attach the boots to the upper legs, I had to create a "knob." This was accomplished by hand basting 1/2" below the cut edge of each boot and drawing up the gathers. After securing with stitches, I was ready for the pants/legs.

Because the legs would be soft, with a minimum of stuffing, I needed a soft fabric. Out came the box of flannel scraps. The black-and-red lumberjack check called to me. To make the legs, I cut a rectangle of a length that would finish off to the desired length of the leg and the desired fullness--just a visual guess. I included 1/4"-wide seam allowances all around the rectangle. I sewed each rectangle into a long tube, pressed the seam open, and then hand-basted around one end, 1/4" from the raw edge so I could draw up the gathers around the "boot knob" with right sides together, and sew it in place. I was careful to position the seam in the leg at the back of the boot.

Next came the addition of the white fake fur. I made "tubes" of the fur, turned them right side out and stitched them to the boots along both edges. A handful of polyfil was placed inside each leg for a little added dimension.

Finally, I placed the upper raw edges of each leg together with the seam in the center back and hand-basted through both layers so I could gather the legs before attaching them to the seam allowance along the front of Santa's body. I pinned them in place, adjusting the gathers as desired, and then stitched them in place. Isn't he just the cutest little guy? I think I'm falling in love!

Now Santa just needs his hat and jacket—and a bag of toys.

To be continued….

No comments: