My dazzling, darling friend Bridget was turning 30, and I spent hours on Etsy trying to find her the perfect gift. Or gifts, because it's too hard to just pick one thing for her. Naturally I searched "fox" (have you seen her art?) and this came up:
I was like, "I love it! I want it! But I want Bridget to have it more! How much is it?" When the price was $5.00, my heart fell. It's not available to purchase 'made', it's just a pattern. I had less than a week before Bridget's birthday. My only experience in this area was attempting a cross-stitching kit that I then quit after about 100 stitches. And cross-stitching includes easy counting from stitch to stitch! This is embroidery. No counting. Plus, this would be my first real go at it.
Could I use my rules of DIY?
Rules of 'DIY With Maryann'
1) Spend more money than you would if you've just bought something already made by a professional.
2) Do not use any professional tools.
3) Do not consult any professional advice or helpful hints on the internet.
4) Use the most inefficient method possible to complete the project.
5) If the completed project didn't turn out perfect, leave it as is. You tried.
I had to do #1, but I binned the rest (well, except for #4--it's practically impossible for me to not keep to that rule--it's my nature) because I did want to be really good and look as professional as possible. This was for Bridget, damn it!
Step 1) Buy the pattern.
Step 2) Realize the seller does not live in your time zone, so you probably won't get it until the next day.
Step 3) Freak out.
Step 4) Decide to go to the craft store that evening anyway, and using the above picture on your phone, buy as much dark orange-ish, red-ish, brown-ish, white-ish, cream-ish embroidery floss you can find.
Step 5) Buy about 20 different colors. Just go for it.
Step 6) Find some clearance linen fabric, buy a yard.
Step 7) Go home and hope the pattern arrives...
Step 8) It's the next day, and you received the pattern. Learn that the original artist only used about 6 or 7 colors of floss, and that even with the TWENTY you picked out, you only bought about 4 of them.
Step 9) Realize you should have bought fabric transfer pencils and tracing paper at the craft store, but you didn't. BECAUSE THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME AND YOU'RE ALREADY A FAILURE. You somehow thought that a PDF image would magically draw itself on your fabric. Such is your super right-brain logic.
Step 10) Decide to forge ahead. Print the pattern on a piece of paper, take the shade off a lamp, and hold the paper behind the linen in front of the naked bulb and faintly trace with a pencil. Curse repeatedly.
Step 11) Considering how free-form the stitches are within the fox, once you have the general proportions of the outline down, you can sort of do your own thing. Because who wants it to look as awesome as the original? No one. Let go of that dream. Shhhh, just let it go. Embrace your own pathetic limitations. As a result, you end up doing about twice the amount of stitching that the pattern uses. Why? Because another rule of DIY with Maryann is that too much of a good thing is never too much.
Step 12) Be so stressed about finishing the project that you forget to take 'before' and 'stages of the process' photos.
Step 13) Amazingly finish two days before the birthday party. Reconsider why you stayed up all night embroidering for last three days. Oh well, at least you caught up on some West Wing and got to see a few sunrises.
Step 14) Tighten the fabric within the embroidery hoop as much as possible, and then cut the excess fabric off. It looks like this:
Hey! Not totally terrible, right? It's ok!
Step 15) Realize missing something. Namely his left cheek past the tail. You just plum forgot it.
Step 16) Heeeeey, that's easy to fix! Just add it.
Step 17) You're done! It's fine! No problem! Except that for each of those extra stitches, you stretched out the fabric. And you cut off all the excess, which means it's virtually impossible to tighten again.
Step 18) The natural next step: MAKE ANOTHER ONE.
Step 19) This one will be bigger, and use more colors, just for fun. Minutes before your ride picks you up for the party you're still trying to finish the new one, and at the last minute you have to decide between the two. Personally speaking, I still liked the first one better, so that's the one Bridget got, even though it's not as tight in the embroidery hoop as I wanted it to be:
And here's the one I ended up keeping for myself (that I don't like as much as the first one):
You may have noticed I also added white tips to the ears (on both versions--it's the original pattern that didn't have them):
I also gave Bridget the smaller one in case she didn't love it so it could take up less room in her home or walls. But I'm glad I have one too. It's like those necklaces with the 'best' on piece of a heart and 'friends' on the other. Oh, and I forgot to mention, I was inspired by a painting she did (for me!) of a fox that looks like Oz curled up:
(I have plans for it next Christmas...) Her fox had some black tips which I loved, so maybe I'll try that next time!