I love Halloween. For lots of reasons. My first born child…a bright and fantastic son, about to turn 18 and go off to college in a few months came into the world on trick-or-treat. Must have been all the chocolate I ate! This time of year is always a lot of fun for me. I love the colors, the crisp air, and most of all, making his birthday really really fun. (I throw some epic Halloween parties). When a fabulously cut tweet motorcycle jacket came into my life, inspiration hit. I wanted a creepy but fun jacket for this time of year. I took my design inspiration from the American Traditional tattoo genre and with the help of my supervisor, sketched out a design to fit the jacket on tissue paper.
Next, I transferred the design to wash away stabilizer, and mounted it onto tulle, which is then mounted on my longarm. One of the fun parts is picking out a palette of colors. This is where it gets expensive…as I have developed quite a crush on my local independent yarn store and all her indy hand dyed yarns! Fortunately I only need one skein of (everything), unlike knitters who need several. I also got smart when I started yarn couching and began sucking up to one of the designers at the store, who designs knitwear for Ravelry and has leftover partial skeins she has no use for!
Yarn couching is a great deal of fun, and each project teaches me a lot about the art. I have basically decided it isn’t a wonderful medium for fine details. It is yarn after all, and a couching foot actually obscures your vision…it is a solid steel 1/2″ circle with a tiny hole in it. I am thrilled with the way this came out…but only because it is a skull. If I was making a portrait of my kid smiling…I think I’d be a bit horrified at what I did to his teeth. It would be like he hadn’t actually spent those 4 years and 3 days wearing braces after all. I have been considering some portrait work with yarn couching, and I still want to…however this project taught me to choose my images carefully. It needs to be more about the light and profiles, not about toothy details.
After couching, I cut away everything I can, leaving 1/2″ of tulle on the edges, then soak my project to remove the stabilizer. And, if at all possible have a good time while doing it. Kitteh is not such a big fan of snakes. Not everyone is. In fact…I had some pretty rude comments left for me as I was making and sharing pictures of my project on social media. I try to take these things in stride…but to be honest, I never understand why a person has to actually take the time to tell me they hate something I made, rather than just scroll on by. Bottom line is that snakes don’t scare me…I actually like them, and it is MY jacket. All the nasty commenter did was get themselves bounced off my page…it certainly didn’t affect my willingness and joy at making a fun thing.
Once the yarn couching was dry, I began to fit it onto the jacket. The snake was only tacked into place as I used classic free motion machine quilting on my domestic sewing machine with clear thread to attach the skull and roses part to the back, straight through the lining of the jacket, turning under the 1/2″ of tulle to catch any fly away bits of yarn and smooth the edges. This wasn’t necessary on my octopus jacket, which had very solid edges. Most of this does too…except the leaves. Rose leaves are jagged. so the edge is literally a single piece of yarn doubled back on itself. So, I wanted more security. When I reached my limit of being able to manipulate the jacket, I switched to hand appliqué for the rest of the snake, always checking the fit, so I knew I would be able to bend my arm, and the snake’s head ended up on my outer forearm.
The last part to do was the head. I glued a glass dome bead under the empty eye socket and stuffed the head of the snake with a little poly stuffing. I appliquéd around the eye so the lids really are a part of the snake. And the rest is all having fun at coffee shops and fending off the creepers! LOL! I will say, wearing this jacket out is a lot of fun. I cant decide which is funnier. The horrified looks of those that think Im essentially insane, or the complete fascination of those that recognize how cool this jacket really is.
Happy quilting everyone! If you aren’t having fun…you aren’t doing life right. Do what you love and nothing else!