Monday, August 8, 2016

Seahorse Tutorial


The construction of this seahorse does not use paper piecing. It's just regular patchwork with lots of flip triangles and other traditional construction techniques. This seahorse is based on a .75 inch grid and its finished size is 6 by 13.5 inches.

The assembly is straight forward and I improved the construction to remove fussy intersections. The most tedious part is the initial cutting of the background fabric (which I will refer to as blue) and the seahorse color fabric (which I will refer to as purple).

To start, I cut three strips from both the BLUE and PURPLE fabric. From each fabric, cut a 2.75 inch, a 2 inch and a 1.25 inch strip.

From the 2.75 inch BLUE strip, I cut:

one 2.75 by 5 inch rectangle
one 2.75 inch square
one 2.75 by 2 inch rectangle

From the 2 inch BLUE strip I cut:

two 2 by 3.5 inch rectangle
six 2 inch squares

From the 1.25 inch BLUE strip I cut:
one 1.25 by 9 inch strip
nine 1.25 inch squares (for flip triangles)

plus extra 1.25 lengths of the BLUE that will be sewn then trimmed. At least 18 inches.

Next, for the PURPLE fabric:

From the 2.75 inch PURPLE strip I cut:

one 2.75 by 6.5 inch rectangle
one 2.75 by 2 inch rectangle

From the 2 inch PURPLE strip I cut:

one 2 inch square
one 2 by 4.25 inch rectangle

From the 1.25 inch PURPLE strip, I cut:

two 1.25 by 2.75 inch strips
one 1.25 by 9 inch strip
two short lengths somewhere between 1.5 and 2 inches.

plus extra 1.25 lengths of the PURPLE that will be sewn then trimmed.

PLUS 1 bit of black or very dark fabric that is 1.25 by roughly 1.5 to 2 inches for the eye.

And let's start with the seahorse eye. Sew the 1.25 by 2 inch (or so) length of black inside the 1.25 by 2 inch (or so) lengths of purple. Trim across the three strips so they are 1.25 inch long. You end up with a rectangle that is 1.25 by 2.75.

The next step is much easier than it looks. I have laid it out to correspond with the seahorse so you can see how it will go together. But really you are making the basic building blocks of the seahorse.

A: Sew the 1.25 by 9 inch purple strip to the 1.25 by 9 inch blue strip. After its sewn an ironed, cut the paired strip into two 3.5 inch lengths and one 1.25 inch length.

B: Sew a 1.25 inch purple flip triangle to three 2 by 2 inch squares of blue. (As a reminder, a flip triangle is a square that is sewn along the diagonal in the corner of another square. The inner part of the purple square is ironed over the sewn line to make a triangle. The bottom two layers are trimmed away leaving a quarter inch seam.)

C: Sew a 1.25 inch blue flip triangle to one of the 1.25 by 2.75 inch strips. See diagram for direction. This is the seahorse's back fin.

D: Sew three 1.25 inch purple flip triangles to the 2 by 2.75 inch blue square. This is the section just under the seahorse's back fin.

E: Sew three 1.25 inch blue flip triangles to a 2 by 2 inch blue square. This is the ear or whatever that is on the top of the seahorse's head.

F: Sew a 2 inch blue square onto the 2 by 2.75 inch purple square. See diagram for the direction. This is the seahorse's forehead.

G: Sew a 1.25 inch blue flip triangle to the bottom left corner of the 2 by 4.25 inch purple square. Then sew a 2 inch blue flip triangle to the top right corner. See diagram for the direction. This is the seahorse cheek and nose.

H: Sew a 2 inch blue square to the top right corner of the large 2.75 by 6.5 purple rectangle. Next sew the 2.75 inch blue square to the bottom right corner. See the diagram for the direction. This is the seahorse's belly.

That may have seemed a bit chaotic, but as you can see you've made substantial progress with a bit of chain piecing. In the diagram above, please note where the sections of the paired strips go. From the nine inch paired strip, you cut two 3.5 inch lengths. One becomes the back of the seahorse's head. One becomes part of the tail. And the 1.25 inch length becomes the tip of the nose.

Now, let's make the tail. This will follow a basic log cabin construction built around one of the 2 inch squares with a single flip triangle.

Just like a log cabin take a length of 1.25 inch purple fabric, lay it on the side of the blue square away from the flip triangle. Sew the blue square to the strip and then trim the purple strip. Iron or finger press the purple strip. Next, sew the 1.25 inch purple strip across the top and trim.

Please note that I am using short lengths of 1.25 inch purple strips, but only to make the photograph look neater. There is no reason to trim the lengths ahead of time.

After we have sewn on the two purple logs, we will add two 1.25 blue flip triangles to the top of the block.

Now add a length of the blue 1.25 inch square along the front. Trim and iron or finger press.

Time to add a purple 1.25 inch flip triangle to the bottom left corner.

Now add a purple log to the bottom. That is, sew a length of the purple 1.25 inch strip to the bottom, trim and then iron or finger press.

Finally, add two 1.25 inch blue flip triangles to the bottom and you have finished the seahorse's tail. He/she thanks you for it.

Now let's make the seahorse's head. The very first step is to sew the eye to the forehead, that is, the purple 2 by 2.75 inch square with the 2 inch flip triangle.

At this point you will have to indulge me while I make the head using partial seams. They are so much fun. This means that we will sew about an inch of the purple strip to the center...that's the partial seam. Then we will work our way around the center, sewing on the top blue strip, then the blue rectangle and then the cheek. At that point, we can finish sewing the purple strip to the back of the head.

And again, I have not cut the purple and blue 1.25 inch strips to size. I simply sew them, then trim, then iron or finger press.

Let's take this step by step, in case you aren't that familiar with partial seams.

We will do this in five steps. First, sew the purple 1.25 inch strip about one to 1.5 inches down. This will let  you sew across the top of the seahorse's head in the next step.

Next, sew the 1.25 inch blue strip across the top. Trim to make it even, and then iron it back or finger press it.

Next, sew the 2 by 3.5 inch blue square to the right side.

Finally, sew the cheek section to the bottom and then finish sewing the purple 1.25 inch strip down the back of the seahorse's head. Trim the purple strip and at this point you may want to iron the entire head section.
Now you can start compiling the parts to see what you have. You almost have a complete seahorse! Let's just get all the sections together.

Let's get the small parts together first. Sew the seams with the red arrows pointing at them. That is, you'll sew the "ear" to the back of the head piece. You will sew the top of the back fin to its matching strip piece. Also sew the 2 inch square bottom piece to the paired strip on the tail section. Sew the 2 by 3.5 inch blue rectangle to the flippy tail part. And last but not least, sew the snout to a 2 inch blue square with a flip triangle.

By now you should stop and pay attention to your cat and kitten. Otherwise, the cat and kitten will run up the design wall and knock all the bits to the floor. And you will only have yourself to blame. Ask me how I know. And of course, when I put the pieces back, some of them were turned around and I almost had to engage in reverse sewing.

Once your cat or kitten is happy, sew the ear piece to the back of the seahorse head. Sew the back fin pieces together. And sew the snout section to the large blue 2.75 by 5 inch rectangle.

You can probably figure it out on your own by now. But humor me. First, Sew the seahorse back to the back of the tail. Then sew the belly section to the snout and large blue rectangle. And finally, sew the flippy part of tail to the belly section.

Only two more steps: First sew the back of the body to the front of the body. Second, attach the head. And voila, you have a right facing seahorse. In a week or so, I'll add the tutorial for the left facing seahorse. The component pieces are all the same, its just the direction of the flip triangles that get switched around.

And now that you've worked through the tutorial, check your understanding by teaching it to Buddy.

8 comments:

  1. This will be a fun one to try. It looks complicated but fun. We appreciate all the worth you put into it!

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  2. My goodness Sally, a beautifully explained and illustrated tutorial - but I ain't going be trying it!! Way too many pieces for my sad fingers presently. I don't think Buddy will be trying it any time soon either!

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  3. You are amazingly creative and generous. Thanks for the detailed instructions!

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  4. Amazing. I plan to make some standing bunnies one of these days. I even have the fabric for the first two picked out. But the seahorse looks a little bit too intricate for me.

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  5. Amazing. I plan to make some standing bunnies one of these days. I even have the fabric for the first two picked out. But the seahorse looks a little bit too intricate for me.

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  6. Buddy looks ready to learn all the things! But maybe we should start him on a piglet and move up to the seahorse... (Even though this tutorial is exceptionally clear and well-explained.) (Molly will back me up on this.)

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  7. Hi Sally! I posted a picture of my seahorse on my blog today! Thank you for this free pattern and all the work you put into it. I am keen to make another, but I seem to be distracted by Poodles ...

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