Here's a strange little project that takes advantage of a cool technique I've been refining and exploring: sewing with backwards painted vinyl. This instructable will go through the steps I used to create the toy monster in the bottom image. Try experimenting with backwards painting and using this method on your own creature designs! Once you've made the "fabric", it can be used with any stuffed animal pattern, or even for making clothing and accessories.
You will need:
- Clear heavy gauge vinyl/shower curtain liner
- Secondary fabric (I like the look of pleather or satin)
- Acrylic paint
- Sewing thread
- Sewing machine
- Fiberfill/polyfill stuffing
Step 1: Paint the Vinyl
Cut your vinyl into manageable pieces and lay them over a light colored surface. You can use a shower curtain liner, clear vinyl from the fabric store, or repurpose some packaging materials. I used a shower curtain liner as well as the pvc bag that my comforter came packaged in.
Begin painting on the vinyl. You'll be painting on the "wrong" side. Because it's clear, you're painting in a backwards order, so whatever you lay down first will show up in the foreground of the final piece. I like to start with black outlines. I paint a clear design so I can go a bit wild with the colors later, and they won't end up looking mushy.
Step 2: Keep Painting & Fill It Up
Let each layer dry before painting a new layer. I have several pieces going at once so I can let one dry while I'm working on another.
Build up your layers of paint until the vinyl no longer has any clear parts. Experiment with patterns and shapes. You can flip it over to check on how it will look when you're done.
Step 3: Pick the Favorites
Pick the pieces of painted vinyl you want to sew with. Maybe some patterns will go particularly well together, or they fit the shape you want to make. I've labelled the ones I'm using for this project.
Step 4: Cut Out the Flaps
Cut out pieces for the flaps first, these won't end up being stuffed.
Cut out backing pieces, either in vinyl, or in a complementary secondary fabric. I'm using black pleather I had left over.
Pin the pieces right sides together.
Step 5: Sew the Flaps
Warning: practice with some scrap vinyl to calibrate your machine first. It can be fairly hard on your machine when it comes to bulkier seams. Have the stitch length set fairly long. If it's too short, it will perforate the vinyl too much and cause it to tear.
Sew the flaps together along the edge. I keep a narrow to moderate seam allowance.
Turn the flaps inside out. Use a chopstick to push the seams out, but don't push too hard!
Step 6: Cut Out & Sew the Body Pieces
This creature is going to be a pyramid shape, with two "hands". Cut out the body pieces.
Begin sewing the pieces together. In the images I've labelled which edges should line up by giving them matching letters.
Step 7: Attach the Flaps & Sew the Body
Sew the flaps to the body pieces one at a time. I am attaching them so they extend radially out from the 3 seams of the body.
Sew the body seams. The shape is essentially a pyramid with 3 major seams. For the "hands", sew close to the edge so they can be turned out and stuffed. Tuck the flaps inside when you sew the main seams. Take care when sewing through so many layers of vinyl when you get to the flaps. Hand sewing may be necessary, or hand cranking your machine slowly.
Leave the last seams (f & g) undone so it can be turned inside out and stuffed.
Step 8: Turn It
Turn your creation inside out, so the beautiful shiny side shows. Use the chopstick to turn the tight, difficult parts, like the "hands".
Step 9: Stuff It
Stuff your creature with fiberfill. I am stuffing this one rather tight. I like how the vinyl looks when it's more filled out. Take little bits of stuffing at a time and feed it through the opening. Use the chopstick to maneuver it in tight spots.
Sew the final seams (f & g) shut from the outside using a slipstitch.
Step 10: All Done!
You're all finished. Play with posing your new creation! I originally planned for this one to be a pineapple-with-feet shape like the last image, but I ended up liking the menacing-squid it became when turned upside down a lot more.
Use the other pieces of vinyl to make more! These lend themselves well to using up scrap material from other projects. In the pieces at the top of the tutorial I used different stretch knits, burlap, glass pieces, buttons, shiny mylar and more. They are remarkably tough and have all held up well over the years. Have fun!