Introduction: Jessyratfink Light Up Rocky Mountain Mermaid Wooby
When lounging around or “working from home”, stay wrapped up and toasty with a comfy blanket. This one has a fancy fish tail at the bottom to slip your feet in to keep them cozy. And, it has onboard mood lighting to simulate the ebb and flow of the ocean waters for meditation or relaxation.
To check how cold it might be outside or to see how really cold it is inside…make a Giant Thermometer Scarf.
and what it would be like in the dark deep blue sea...
Step 1: Washed Ashore...
What we will essentially be making is something that resembles a short skirt tacked on to the end of a blanket. The light up part is two ocean wave shaped "pillows" stuffed with Neopixel LED strips.
I was originally going to make this from cut fleece from fabric store but I found these microfleece throws at the discount store. They had a nice pattern and were less expensive than buying the raw material to use. I had some other bits of white fleece, fiberfill batting and plain blue fabric to add to the project.
The electronics is the same setup used in my Neopixel Light up Falling Meteor Scarf. It is an Adafruit Flora Arduino-type board that controls several Neopixel LED strips mounted in sewn panels.
The Arduino code is a variation of the Ghostbusters Ecto Scarf. Here, the lights go up and down to give the feels of the tide washing in and out. The colors were made blue and green for the water(sorry, ocean water here in NYC looks murky green, neon green in the Gowanus). https://gist.github.com/caitlinsdad/c25b71b9fd5fe7...
I just needed to make another "cover" for the already made light panels.
I cut white fleece in the shape of splashing ocean waves to fit over the light panels. I cut a similar sized piece of blue fabric to be the backer. To further diffuse the Neopixels, I added in a layer of fiberfill batting.
When sewing things, you need to visualize how things are inside out. After the seams are sewn, you turn everything inside out to present a neat finished seam on the outside.
I am fortunate enough to have a serger so I was able to quickly sew all the seams. It also does a rolled hem edge so that it encapsulates or binds the raw edge with thread. That was key when working with the microfiber fabric next.
Step 2: Who Let the Dogs Out?
You can make the tail in any shape you like. As I was laying out the fabric, I folded the bottom blanket in half and folded the resulting two layers in half. I figured I would just cut it there to use the material that presented itself. Maximize what you have and try not to be wasteful.
The microfiber throws had a better printed face side of the fabric so I had to keep track of that when making the fabric sandwiches to sew. The material seems to be an equivalent to a short nap faux fur so tiny fibers get everywhere once the material is cut. The lint brush got a workout afterwards to gather up all the fibers that got on my clothes. I think it is the same story if you have a cat around.
So the tail part is really just a tube or open-ended cone of fabric. Since the square piece of bottom fabric was not right for the shape of a tail fin, I cut it down to be more rectangular by cutting a strip off the top. The excess strip could be serged together to make a piece big enough for another layer.
Have in mind what the opening on top should be. It should be big enough to comfortable pass your feet through and not be too restrictive when your legs are in. You could sew the far end shut but having it open leaves you with the option of sticking your feet out if it gets too warm or you actually need to quickly get up and walk.
What I wanted to do was to add in textural details to the fish fin by sewing in lines to represent the "ribs" of a fin. To further make it more 3-dimensional, I could layer in some fiberfill batting. The salvaged scrap would make a great back layer.
What we have is a "quilted" fish tail pattern with the top layer of fabric, fiberfill batting, and another microfleece layer where your feet will brush against. I used a regular sewing machine with a zigzag stitch to sew in the fin lines. The zigzag stitch allows the fabric to move a bit keeping the whole thing soft and stretchy.
To finish one of the raw hem edges I did a faux cover seam. The edge was serged and then folded back and tacked with a zigzag stitch. I guess one of these days I might be able to afford to get a dedicated cover-stitch machine.
The back piece or layer was then serged on the sides to the quilted front. The top and bottom were left open.
And oh, if you noticed I still had black thread loaded in the serger. It's quite an effort to change out the 4 spools of thread to a different color. Each thread goes through a complex route and you need a pair of right angle tweezers and a flashlight to manipulate the threads through machine. It's a bigger job when the machine jams with the fabric embedded in the needles and tangled up in a big knot of thread. But it's worth the trouble for what a serger can do.
Step 3: The End of the Tale...
With the bottom tail fin finished, we just need to sew the front top edge half to the center bottom of the top blanket.
When used, attach a battery pack to power the electronics. Place the electronics under the tail and pull up the light panels on the sides. Don't be foolish to eat the tide pods.
Get under the blanket and stick your feet through. Wrap the excess blanket under you.
Go find a comfortable spot and snuggle up in the mermaid wooby.