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October 06, 2020

Hello ! I’m so glad you’re here.

So you want to create a moth, a larger-than-life fabric moth made from your own fabric stash, all those fabrics you’ve been collecting, plus the leftover scraps from various projects and the bag of remnants your aunt brought over to the house last month.

This project is not about buying more fabric, it’s about putting together fabrics you already have and creating a harmonious and beautiful moth.

Click here to download your free PDF pattern.

 

Why moths? What’s so special about them?

Well, they are Lepidopterans, just like butterflies, but while butterflies have come to represent spring’s arrival, sunny days and positivity, moths are more mysterious, many of them being night flyers, hiding in the shadows by day. Butterflies are associated with bright colors while moths tend to have more furry  feathery textures. Not always, of course! There are black butterflies and bright yellow moths, for example.

All lepidopterans undergo complete metamorphosis, and they are all symbols of rebirth, undergoing change, getting through a tough time (in the cocoon or chrysalis) and coming out transformed!

I personally love the textures, the mystery, the colors of the (mostly) night creatures we call moths.

And I am here to help you create your very own fantastical moth, in your choice of fabrics, colors and details. I just provide the pattern, the step-by-step instructions to help you get your moth made.  

Supplies/Tools

If you sew, you probably have most of these:

Pinning/cutting/sewing

Sewing machine

Scissors – embroidery + shears

Pins

Embroidery needles sizes 3-9

Embroidery needles for your machine (optional)

Marking/measuring/drawing

Seam gauge

Clear plastic ruler

Frixion pen

Dressmaker’s tracing paper & Tracing wheel

Conté crayon or chalk marker

Tracing paper for drawing (optional)

Fabrics from your stash: Upholstery fabrics/decorator fabrics/canvas/burlap/velvet/heavyweight linen or cotton

Any other sturdy fabrics with interesting colors/patterns/texture/flocking, etc.

Threads:

I used  

  • Gutermann polyester thread for edging, sewing flat pieces together
  • button craft thread for assembling the moth body and wings
  • Decora rayon machine embroidery thread for the veins (optional)
  • DMC 6 strand embroidery floss for embroidering the eyes
  • a piece of waxed cotton string for the antennae

Stuffing:

I use polyester fiberfill, or you can use wool stuffing.

  For hanging your creation

Metal curtain ring or any metal or plastic ring measuring ½ - ¾ inches in diameter (1.5 – 2 cm)

Plus a painting hook or nail.

 

So, let’s get started !

1. Fabric and tone

I wanted my moth to be elegant and mysterious, so I chose the dark tapestry remnant, which is also thick enough to stiffen nicely when I add layers of other fabrics behind it.

A black linen body would add to this elegance. I used a thick linen since it has to hold the weight of the wings once it is stuffed. You could use canvas, decorator fabric, even velvet.

For the underwings, I wanted them to be a solid color to contrast with the floral motif of the upper wings. Either a blue or a light green satin to pick up the colors in the tapestry. These are small samples I got from an upholsterer. A tiny piece of lots of amazing colors!

I finally went with the light green for contrast, to soften the darkness of the tapestry.

  blue tapestry fabric next to remnants of dark blue and light green satin

I also wanted to make a second moth, this time with a more playful feel to her. I chose another upholstery fabric, this one not as thick as the tapestry. It has a large repeat, so I knew the upper wings wouldn’t look exactly the same, and I like the asymmetry. I picked up the orange in the florals by using an orange satin for the underwings. And for the moth ‘furriness’ I chose an orange velvet.

cream upholstery brocade with orange flowers next to a small piece of orange satin

 

Stiffener

In an effort to use only what I had in my stash, I began using burlap a while ago, as a layer in between the main fabric and the backing, to add some rigidity to these rather large outspread wings. Without stiffener, they may droop.

You might also use canvas, or cotton duck, or buckram, which is fabric soaked in a sizing agent. Color doesn’t matter, as we won’t see it.

a rolled up piece of natural colored burlap, next to a folded piece of beige and brown striped canvas fabric.

Backing

I use closely woven canvas or other sturdy decorator fabric. You can use a solid, or a print to make the back pretty.

a rolled piece of yellow canvas upholstry fabric (cotton) with a machine embroidered rose in the center.

2. Cutting

As the adage goes, “Measure twice, cut once.”

It may not be as important as it is with cutting into fabric to make clothing. But if you have only a tiny bit of fabric, just be careful of the placement.

Body

Using two layers of fabric, pin your body pattern piece to your fabric. I placed the long side of the body parallel to the selvedge, or the lengthwise side of the fabric.

moth body pattern pinned to double thickness of black linen 

I then traced around the edge with a light gray Conté crayon, marking an arrow and the letter ‘T’ to indicate the top, the side that will face upwards and become the back of the moth’s body.

body pattern tracing in gray Conté crayon on black linen

 

For the velvet, I pinned the pattern piece to two layers of the velvet and then cut around the edge.

 

moth body pattern pinned to a double layer of orange velvet

 

Wings

The upper wings can be cut in two ways.

  1. You can take the pattern piece as is from the paper pattern you printed, and folding your chosen main fabric in half, place the pattern (which looks like just one wing, but when unfolded will be two) on the fold and cut around the edge. Unfold to reveal two upper wings connected to each other in the middle.
  1. The other way, which I use, is to retrace the pattern onto a folded piece of tracing paper first, placing the small part on the fold. Unfold to reveal your two wings, then place this tracing paper pattern on your fabric. You can see where your pattern or motifs will appear on your wings, and this gives you more control of the final moth. These upper, outstretched wings will be a focal point of your creation.

tracing paper wings pattern placed on tapestry fabric

  tracing paper wings pattern on tapestry close up of final placement

 

The underwings are cut in two separate pieces. I simply folded over my little scrap of satin and pinned my pattern in such a way as to use the least fabric. (green satin)

underwing pattern pinned to double layer green satin

 

Stiffener + backing

You’ll also need to cut your upper wings in burlap or other stiffener, same as above, so that you have the same shape of double wings joined in the middle.

And likewise, cut this shape again from your chosen backing fabric.

At this point, you’ll have three double wings: Main fabric, burlap, backing. You will sew these together in a later step to get sturdy wings for your moth.

The underwings don’t need stiffener, they can be a little more fluttery. You will cut out backing for these small wings in the same way you cut your main underwing fabric, by folding over your backing fabric and pinning, then cutting around the edge of your underwing pattern. 

All the pieces

You now have all your pieces cut.

Here’s a list:

Double upper wings, 3 pieces (main fabric, stiffener, backing)

Underwings, 4 pieces (2x main fabric + 2x backing fabric)

Body, 2 pieces (body piece cut 2x in same fabric)

all fabric pieces cut and laid out

wing pieces cut and laid out flat

 

In the photos, I have already pinned the burlap to the wrong side of the yellow the backing fabric, to avoid the burlap coming unraveled.   

That’s part 1. Join me back her shortly for part 2 in which you will sew and stuff your moth’s body and then sew the upper wings.

See you soon.

Click here to download your free PDF moth pattern.


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