October 06, 2020
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.
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.
If you sew, you probably have most of these:
Scissors – embroidery + shears
Embroidery needles sizes 3-9
Embroidery needles for your machine (optional)
Clear plastic ruler
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I use closely woven canvas or other sturdy decorator fabric. You can use a solid, or a print to make the back pretty.
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.
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.
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.
For the velvet, I pinned the pattern piece to two layers of the velvet and then cut around the edge.
The upper wings can be cut in two ways.
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)
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.
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)
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 here shortly for part 2 in which you will sew and stuff your moth’s body and then sew the upper wings.
See you soon.
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February 22, 2021
And today, she felt agile and unfettered.
No longer leaf-bound.
February 12, 2021
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