Chem TA Toni (sannalim) wrote,
Chem TA Toni

how to hatch a dragon

While JD and I were visiting his relatives last week, I mentioned to my sister-in-law, R (JD's brother's wife), that I'd been thinking about making a stuffed toy dragon. R thought this sounded like a fun idea and offered me the use of her sewing machine and stash of fabric scraps. I drafted a pattern on sheets of 9x12 drawing paper, then got to work. R helped me figure out some of the trickier parts of the pattern and the construction method, too. When it was done, JD's sister C kindly used her fancy camera to take some nice pictures of it for me.

I used a green velveteen decorated with gold snowflakes left over from my nephew & nieces' Christmas stockings for the main fabric and the gold satin left over from the men's ties from my wedding for the contrast. The leading edges of the wings are reinforced with pipecleaners sewn securely to the satin, then covered with ribbon. The trailing edges of the wings and the edges of the feet were finished by singeing the fabric with a candle flame, so that the synthetic material melted together and wouldn't fray.

It is approximately 10 inches long, and its wingspan is approximately 12 inches.

I carefully positioned and cut the pieces for the top of the head and the hindlegs over the gold snowflake designs of the velveteen.

I cut a small circle out of felt, divided it into thirds, then rolled up two of the pieces into cones to make the horns. The mouth is made of skinny rickrack, with seed beads embroidered into the curves. The eyes are larger beads. R suggested that I use her glow-in-the-dark thread for the eye and mouth embroidery -- though I haven't actually tested how it looks in the dark.

The pattern was rather roughly drawn and not perfectly symmetrical, causing the head and tail to twist to the side when I sewed it up and stuffed it. The imprecision in the matching between the back pieces and the stomach piece created some "baby fat" folds. I embroidered the ribbing in the feet and wings by hand.

The children were so fascinated by the whole process that I immediately decided to make a second baby dragon to leave behind with them. R said I should use some of the leftover pink satin from various of my nieces' dresses for the second dragonling. At first I thought I would just use two shades of pink, but then we found some suitably sized pieces of a fabulous rainbow-spangled black fabric in the scrap bag.

The second baby dragon is constructed a little differently than the first. Its wings are two layers of fabric sandwiched with felt, and they are sewn into the dorsal seam so that they will be a little sturdier to withstand children's play. My mother-in-law was rather distressed that the first baby dragon did not have a row of spikes down its spine, even though I explained more than once that the first dragon is a species that can be tamed and ridden by humanoids and has heavy armor plating (rather like an armadillo), instead of spikes, on its back when it is fully mature. When I made the second dragon, I cut a row of spikes out of felt to match the curve of the dorsal seam and stitched that into the seam, as well. It was a little tricky to get the layering of the body pieces, the wings, and the spike piece just right!

I did the ribbing of the wings and feet for the second dragon just using zigzag stitch on the machine. The combination of the black, rainbow-spangled fabric and the hot pink satin makes me think of the late 1980s and very early 1990s.

I embroidered the eyes and mouth of the second dragonling with floss, again to make it sturdier for children to play with. The head and nostrils of both dragonets were further shaped by pulling a thread through and tying knots, a typical soft-sculpture technique.

click for the full-size version
Here is the pattern. As I said, I didn't spend very much time drafting it, so it is quite asymmetrical and could certainly be further improved and refined a great deal.
None of these pieces have any seam allowance included. I cut the body and head pieces with approximately 1/4 - 3/8 inch seam allowance. I cut a similar seam allowance around the upper, curved parts of the leg pieces, but didn't cut a seam allowance around the feet, which are held together only by the rib stitching and are finished by singeing with a candle flame. I did not cut any seam allowance on the wing pieces, but you might want to use one if you decide to use a different construction technique for the wings.
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