Thursday, January 20, 2011

Squealfest 2011: Nerdle the Turtle

I couldn’t stop squealing for days after I made him. He makes me so happy!

In my quest to make a total of 4 stuffies this month, I began with an idea I found scrawled in my day planner from a very long time ago. All it said was “Nerdle!” And then I remembered the afternoon when M and I were talking nonsense (probably about how much I love turtles and tortoises!) and somehow the idea of a Nerdle was born. I’ve wanted to make him ever since.

So I began with some preliminary sketches and tried to think about how I was going to make the basic shape of his body, how I would shape his glasses, how they would stay on his head, etc. For Nerdle, I knew it would be important for his shell to be rounded and not flat as if I were making a “sandwich” style stuffie. This was achieved by darts running along the four “corners” of his shell. It was so easy to create that shape! I must do more with darts…I can see them having all kinds of applications, from rounded bodies to a little bulk to the top of the head.

After my sketch was done, I scoured my fabric stash for just the right materials. I found an old vest my grandpa made for me when I was probably 12 years old. It doesn’t fit right anymore, but the fabric was perfect! It even has a tactile texture. For the under-shell, I knew I wanted to use some corduroy to create that sort of “lined” look.

Since the shell was made of stiff fabrics, I thought it pertinent to use a softer, squishier fabric for the legs, head, and tail. I always like that distinction between the hard shell and the vulnerable inside-bits. I could go on and on about turtles and tortoises, but one of my favorite things about them is their little neck-folds. They look like old people and it’s so cute! I also love watching them eat. They have pink tongues!

Case in point:

You have to squeal at that!

Anyway, the design process was relatively easy, but I still came across some snags. Mostly, I’m still learning by trial and error how gussets work. I knew I wanted a specific shape for the head that required a gusset (a strip of fabric sewn in between a seam to give the piece dimension). At first, I was very tempted to skip this and make an easier “sandwich style” head with only two pieces. But the theme of this project, it seems, was to be patient and make the best product possible. And it was worth it!

I had to re-make his head three times to get it right, and I sewed his shell/legs/tail on twice. This is a big step for me. I am not the editing type. I want to do something and have it be over. Even with my writing, it is difficult for me to go back and make major edits because once I get it out there, I am on to the next thing.

However, I’ve found that taking the time and care to go back and edit your work makes such a big difference! There was a time in the process when I almost decided to just press on without fixing my obvious mistake (his legs were sticking out longer than I wanted them to be). I thought to myself, “well, I’ll just use this one as a learning tool and then make another one later.” But something within me in that moment said not to settle for less than the best. I suppose I was so in love with the idea of Nerdle that I wanted him to be the best he could be! So I got out the seam ripper and got to work.

And here he is! Not bad for the first stuffie of 2011. As with all of my stuffies, I love him a lot. A lot!

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