Jun 15 2010

Bringing up baby, the nerd way.

Our friends, Tom and Stella, have recently been blessed with two precious little boys, Tyler and Connor. Tom is a gamer, an RPG player, and all around great guy.  When choosing gifts for his two babies, I had to make sure that they would help send these boys down the nerdly path right from the start.

Now, I love making quilts, especially baby quilts.  In terms of crafts, there’s a pretty good amount of instant gratification involved.  Once everything is cut out, it goes together quickly and pretty soon you have something that looks like you’ve gotten a lot accomplished.  I love that.  Plus, there are so many cute baby and kid fabrics out there that simpler patterns actually work better to accentuate the designs.  If making quilts was a financially viable career, I would do it in a heartbeat (sadly, it isn’t).

I went to the fabric store already knowing one of the fabrics I was going to buy.  It was an all-over castle print with knights and dragons and princesses looking out of windows and standing on walls. I had seen it when putting stuff together for another baby quilt, but it had been a little too “boyish” for little Grace, so I picked pink dragons for her.  I knew, though, that as soon as I had the chance to make one for a little boy nerd, that was going to be my first choice.

Detail of the knight quilt

The backing fabric was amazing too.  The same company puts out a fabric that is a map.  It has the same characters and names of Arthurian places.

The back. I fell in love with this.

The back. I fell in love with this.

I’m really happy with the way this came out in the end.  It was a good size, with some vibrant colors for a little fellow. The pattern that I chose was, as I mentioned, simple.  It’s just center squares with two borders around them and squares at the corners.  The only problem with the pattern was that it was a little older, so rather than coming with instructions on strip piecing for all of these borders, it called for cutting out all the individual squares and rectangles.  Instead of risking a miscalculation on my part, that’s exactly what I did.  Cutting took a bit longer, but everything more or less lined up in the end, so no harm done.

The full knight quilt

Of everyone that I showed these to, this one is pretty universally the favorite.  I’ll admit, that sweet little dragon is hard to resist. For the second quilt, I had been hoping to find something that was all dragons, but there was nothing to be found.  Fortunately, I found an alternative.


I fell in love with this fabric set a long time ago.  In fact, I fell in love with the designs when I saw them on scrapbook paper, before they were printed on fabric.  I was going through some of my quilting supplies the other day and found a set of small cuts of all these that I bought over a year ago.  So I guess, in the end, it was an easy choice.  I love that the colors are so different.  They’re vibrant without being primary colors.  Again, there was a fantastic fabric choice for the back.  It’s just a huge field of gears.  The whole quilt really makes an impact and is so different from the knight quilt, even though they are the same pattern.

The completed robot quilt

As much as I love the knight quilt, this one was my favorite.  If I was to make either of them again, the knight one would probably get a couple of fabric tweaks, but this one I would make exactly the same.

There was one more gift that I made for the birth of little Tyler and Connor.  This one was more for Tom, though.  We had been at a party where there were a bunch of babies and small children.  One of the fathers had a Steelers diaper bag.  While there was no accounting for his taste in NFL teams, the bag was really cool.  Tom asked him where he had gotten it, hoping to secure a Patriots one for himself.  The guy informed him that a friend had made it.  I told Tom I’d make him a Patriots bag, and he said it would be “the best gift ever”.  Well, that settled it.

Yeah, dude. Patriots.

I was really happy to find this fabric.  A lot of the sports fabrics are a little lackluster, probably because the licensing costs for the logos and team names are so high, they don’t want to go covering them up or going though the effort of designing something interesting.  They’re usually just the logos spread on a field of solid color.  I found the pattern for the biggest diaper bag with the most pockets.  It’s really a good size, and should be enough for the twins.  I enjoyed making it (other than the part where I put the zipper on upside down) and Tom really loved it.

I adore doing these sorts of projects.  I feel I have to do my part to make sure that the next generation of nerds are getting off on the right foot.

Apr 9 2010

Gerp and Henry inspired projects

Now that these have been sent off and received by their intended target, I can make a post about the projects that have been keeping me busy for a while now.

I need to preface this story with a little background information.  For those of you who don’t know, Scott Johnson is a very talented comic artist and podcaster.  His shows are always of the highest quality and unbelievably entertaining.  I’ve been listening to all of his stuff for a while now.  He plays World of Warcraft, and his main is an Orc hunter named Gerp whose favorite pet is a tiger named Henry.  This has spawned all sorts of things, like the Obey Henry movement.  I’m a huge fan of Scott’s, which is where this crazy story begins.

Just before Christmas, I was working on some gifts with fleece.  I got this crazy idea in my head that I could make a pretty good Orc hat.  Oddly enough, that’s a perfectly reasonable thought for me to have on any given day.  Then I thought of doing a tiger scarf rather in the style of the old fox stoles.  You know the kind.  The ones with the feet that dangle off the end and such.  Now, I have ideas like this all the time.  Projects that I could do tend to flit in and out of my mind while I’m working on other things.  This one was different.  This one stuck.  I found myself thinking through the construction problems and details that would need to be worked out. I imagined what it would look like finished.

I got a basic hat pattern so that I wouldn’t be working completely blind.  I chose one with a band at the bottom that would serve as the separation where his mouth would be.  I got myself some screenshots of Gerp off of the Armory (which was much easier now that it’s new-and-improved with 3D goodness) and got to work.  The braid was pretty easy, the ears were a challenge.  I got plastic doll eyes and gave him eyelids (which I thought was rather brilliant, if I do say so myself).  All in all, other than a few snags, it came together pretty smoothly.

Detail of the Gerp Hat

The finished product.

He’s even got the sweet braid down the back.

Back detail of the Gerp hat

Sweet braid!

Alright, hat done.  The scarf proved to be much simpler. They tell me that tiger striped fleece exists.  It does not exist at any of the area Joann’s Fabrics, so I was unable to acquire it.  Besides, it was not quite the right colors for Henry.  I cut a big long piece of fleece and sewed all the triangle strips along it.  I made the little feet to hang off the ends.  To keep the scarf from getting too bulky, I opted to do a flat head and tail with only the ears sticking up.  Sadly, my pictures of the scarf aren’t quite as good as I would have hoped, but you’ll get the idea.

Overview of the Henry scarf

The scarf in all it's glory.

His face turned out a little sweeter than I expected, but I think it’s a little bit precious.

Henry's sweet face

So sweet!

On one of the episodes of The Instance (Scott’s World of Warcraft podcast), he mentioned that he wished there was a Henry plushie.  This was right after the Blizzard release of their new plush line.  Since Brian gave me a book on making fleece animals, I thought I’d try my hand at a tiger.  Now, again, I didn’t have any tiger print fleece, which is what they used in the book, so I had to improvise and add the stripes to the fabric pieces as I went along.  There are a few spots where they’re a little strange, but I think it turned out pretty well in the end.  I even printed out a custom “Obey Henry” tag.

Henry Plush with tag detail

And he's extra cuddly!

I had an absolutely fabulous time working on all these projects.  It was great to have a focused outlet for my creativity and something to fill the time.  And it was all worth it knowing that I was sending it to someone I knew would appreciate them.  Along the way, I figured out that the only possible fate for these items was for me to send them to Scott himself.  He got them today, and I’m really excited that he liked them so much.

Scott with his presents

He wears it well.

I’ve put up a flickr album with all the pictures of this stuff.  I’m excited to move on to the next big thing.