Introduction: Old T-Shirt to Stuffed Cthulhu

About: I'm a 41 year old theatrical designer and educator. I have boundless curiosity, chimerical aesthetic, and Sisyphean perseverance. The results of my whimsical adventures can be found here and on my instagram.

When I saw the weekly t-shirt challenge announcement my eyes went instantly to my box of old shirts I keep meaning to do something with.  Then I broke out my projects pad and got to brain storming when it hit me.  I could make a stuffed animal from my old t-shirt, that would be great.  This left me pondering what animal I should make.  Then bubbling up from the depths of my subconscious like star-spawn from a sunken city in the south pacific It came to me... I should make a stuffed Cthulhu.  So I gabbed my pen and began doodling the madness that now thundered in my head.  What follows is a chronicle of my decent into cuddly button eyed madness.

Step 1: My Mad Doodlings

I knew the T-shirt material would be stretchy so I did not have to worry about complex structures.  I was going to keep this simple.  So I broke out my doodling pad and began sketching rough Ideas for the shape.  To do this I had to think of what things were the essence of Cthulhu.  The mouth tentacles and wings were what popped into my mind first.  Then I thought webbed hands but changed my mind later.   Once I had these doodles I could have scanned them into a computer and made a scale pattern but with madness gripping me I decided to wing it.

In case you have avoided madness here are some really rough measurements of the parts before serging.  So you wont have to wing it as much as I did.

Head-5"X7" (12.7cm X 17.78cm)
Body-8"X11" (20.32cm X 27.94cm)
Wings- 5"X4" (12.7cm X 10.16cm)*
Arms- 4"X3.5" (10.16cm X 8.89cm)*

*I did not follow these exactly as you can see from the pictures the wings and arms turned out slightly different sizes.

Step 2: Equipment

What follows is a list of the tools I used to bring forth this physical manifestation of my subconscious anxieties.

•Polyfil (Polyester Stuffing)*
•Black Thread
•2 buttons*

Tools(I made it at the techshop which had all the tools on hand)
•my trusty Project Pad**
•rotary cutter
•Needle for hand sewing*
•industrial serger*
•sewing machine*
•stick (one of my favorite tools of all time)*
•seam ripper (I long for the day I do a sewing project and don't need one of these)•
•cutting mat

*Not pictured
**Not supplied by Tech Shop

Step 3: The Sacrifice

I began by laying my sacrifice down on the cutting mat.  This shirt and I had been together for a decade until it met tragically with a large amount of yellow mustard.  First I cut off the sleeves.  Then I cut off the collar and shoulder seams. Next I cut off the bottom hem and finally I cut down the sides to make 2 pieces of fabric.

Step 4: A Pattern Appears

I wanted my Cthulhu to have character.  Which in my world equates to unsymmetrical and a bit wonky.  So instead of designing a pattern and cutting it out so I could make identical arms or wings I drew directly onto the fabric while it was 2 layers thick.  If you want your shirts picture or logo to show up on the final Cthulhu you would want it facing the center.  The parts will be sewn inside out then made to be right side out.  After I had inscribed the fabric with each of Cthulhu's parts I cut a square of fabric out around each piece because the serger would cut as it joined the pieces together.

Step 5: Time to Serge

Now that I had all of the parts of my stuffed Cthulhu drawn and cut out I headed over to the serger to begin making the seams.
The first thing I did was check to make sure it was threaded correctly and the needles were in good condition.  If you ever need to thread a serger there is a neat diagram right inside the door.  However helpful this diagram is it is also a lie.  It has spots that do not exist on the machine.  Some crazy black magic must be at work here.  Once I determined everything was in good and working order I ran a scrap piece of t-shirt through the serger to make sure the tension and thread distance would work for me.  Luckily for me it looked like I was in good shape.

I started serging the dark ones body.  Here is where I made my first mistake.  You will want to leave the first little bit of the body unserged for attaching the arms later on.  Seam ripping serged things is horrible.  While serging I kept the foot of the serger on my drawn line as best as I could to accommodate the seam and cutting the serger does.

After my mishap with the body I serged the rest of the body parts without indecent.   When serging the head I made sure to leave a small unserged spot on top of the head so I could flip it right side out and stuff it.

Step 6: Turning Cthulhu Bits Right Side Out and Stuffing the Arms

Grabbing my stick I began the process of turning each of the body parts right side out.  I left the body inside out so I could attach the arms properly later.

Once the pieces were right side out I began stuffing the arms.  Making sure to leave an inch (2.54cm) unstuffed for the attaching to the body.

Step 7: Attaching the Arms

Now that the arms were stuffed it was time to attach them to the body.  To do this I stuck the arms one at a time into the inside out Cthulhu body lining the seem allowance on the arm up with the unserged spot on the respective side body.  With this done I serged the arm and the body together completing the body and securely attaching the arms.

After this was done I had no more need of the serger on my decent into cuddly madness so I brushed it clean, turned the body right side out, gathered my bits, and headed over to the regular sewing machine.

Step 8: The Wings!

Now that I was in front of the sewing machine I spread the wings out in front of me bolting out the sun.  Well not really I just set them out.  In every picture I have seen of Cthulhu his wings are similar to bat wings or dragon wings.  To try and recreate the membrane aspect of the wings I decided I would sew a few parts of the wings shut so the stuffing would form ridges.  I am pretty happy with how it turned out.  I wish I had grey thread for this step but the black is not so bad.  I just used a straight stitch and working slowly sewed in the membranes with out a drawn guide.  Then I stuffed the wings.

Step 9: Time to Hand Sew

I stuffed the head closing it's seam with a ladder stitch.  Craftzine has a good tutorial on how to do this stitch( at least that is where I learned how to do it).  A ladder stitch is a mostly hidden stitch to keep form seeing much thread in your hand sewn parts.  Once the head was stuffed I picked a side of the head I wanted to be the front and sewed on the button eyes.  At this point I had a headless wingless body, two wings, and a head.

I had come to far to stop now so I sewed the head to the neck.  After the head was on I held the wings in place and looked at Cthulhu until I was happy with the placement of the wings.  Being happy with the placement I sewed the wings on.  This was all done using a ladder stitch.

Step 10: Bow Before Cuddly Cthulhu

Now that your Cthulhu is done you can perform various dark rituals while chanting "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" or you can just give him a hug.  After all Cthulhu only wants hugs and souls.

I hope you enjoyed this instructable.

If you want to lean more about the Tech Shop you can swing by