Put a Face On It!


This is becoming my new motto.

Ever since I started this #domesticthrowdown, I’ve been pondering the challenge of having a more masculine landscape to sew for at home.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I always assumed having girls meant you would have more options to customize and personalize sewing projects.  Have a plain t-shirt or bag?  Just add a bow.  Maybe some pink trim.  A ruffle.  A double ruffle.  Lace.  Put a tutu on any store bought halloween costume, and you’re a golden DIYer.
Then you get to boys, and particularly when they get old enough that appliqué seems a bit infantile…

Yeah, I’ll just put a face on it.

That’s exactly what I did with this plain backpack this week:





This is a $3.99 plain backpack from Walmart.  My older son currently uses one exactly like it, but with a construction site print on most of the bag.  I like these bags because they’re a scale that makes more sense on a preschooler, but they’re still tall enough to accommodate a standard school folder.  For my face, I cut up an ill-fitting pair of grey corduroy pants and used plain old craft felt for the ears, eyes, and nostrils.  I left most the edges of my corduroy unfinished, as this is not an item that would go in the washing machine, and I felt that my grumpy gorilla probably should be a little rough around the edges, anyway. 😉

So, some tips?

With whatever you put a face on, it really helps to be aware of how much of the product you’ll be able to use on your standard sewing machine.  See how the gorilla’s jaw only goes about two thirds down the “face” of the actual backpack?  That was a practical decision based on how far I’d be able to get into that pocket with my sewing machine.  The small jean patch monster at the top of this post took me just as long to create as this entire gorilla book bag, simply because its location required me to hand stitch it!

Also, it helps to do a Google image search for whatever sort of character you’re hoping to emulate with your face.  Licensed characters are kind of easier, in my opinion.  You just look at the character’s features as individual shapes and try to cut pieces of fabric that would replicate them.  See Pete as an example:



Pete’s look has changed quite a bit in the past few books.

But coming up with an original face can be quite a bit trickier.  My gorilla was a composite of several cartoon gorillas I saved from an image search.  I had also just finished watching Muppets Most Wanted with my kids.  You can definitely see a bit of Henson influence in the eyes!

The saved images really helped when my gorilla’s nostrils weren’t quite right.  I kept trying to place them very close to each other and in a vertical orientation.  It wasn’t until I went back to my reference cartoons and realized a horizontal orientation was what was needed instead of the “piggy snout” look I was getting!

Pinterest is, of course, another great resource when looking to create characters with your sewing.  My kids’ halloween costumes last year were based mostly on several adorable plush robots I found posted to Pinterest from Etsy.


This robot has heart.


But this robot is all business.

I like putting faces on things.  It’s my only tried and true trick.


P.S. When I was searching Pinterest for “face backpack DIY”, I did find a mom who added a monster face to what looks like the exact same backpack!  Go look at it!


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