Posted by: JoAnna | April 19, 2014

Game of Thrones Dragon Eggs

 photo finishedeggs_zpscafd9077.jpg
After I saw this Game of Thrones dragon egg tutorial, I thought it would be fun to make a set for an upcoming GoT themed party. ¬†Plus, like I need an excuse to craft ūüôā ¬†To save time, I bought plastic eggs instead of making them with paper mache. ¬†You can buy paper mache eggs at the craft store, or even foam eggs, but none were the size I was looking for. ¬†I was lucky that¬†it was Easter time, so the stores were full of eggs of all sizes.

Materials Used

  • 8″ plastic egg (purchased at Michaels around Easter time)
  • Polyform Model Air clay (each 2.2lb package made enough scales for two eggs)
  • Small cookie cutter
  • Duct tape
  • Rolling pin
  • Rock
  • Spackle
  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Paint
  • Krylon Gesso spray
  • Aleene’s Acrylic Sealer spray

Cutting and Applying the Clay Scales
I studied the eggs from the television show and landed on the shape and layout of the scales. Then I took a small heart cookie cutter (on clearance from Valentine’s Day!), opened it up (by pulling the seal apart), and used pliers to reshape it into a dragon scale. I then used duct tape to seal the cookie cutter back up. ¬†I actually cut scales out of paper and experimented with the look before shaping the cookie cutter. ¬†You don’t want to have to bend the cookie cutter more than you need to, but this was also helpful in learning the scale pattern for laying the pieces of clay later on in the process.

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Next¬†I took some of the air dry clay and flattened it to about 1/8-1/4″ with a rolling pin (while you’re rolling a piece, be sure to put the rest in a zip lock bag so it doesn’t start to dry out). ¬†First I cut a piece that would fit on the bottom of the egg and pressed it on. ¬†You can skip this if you want to put scales all over the egg, but if you want to make it exactly like it is on the show, you need a more rough, stone looking area at the bottom. ¬†After applying the piece at the bottom,¬†I used a rock to give it texture and to make it look like weathered stone. ¬†Finally it was time to cut the scales out with the cookie cutter and apply them onto the egg.

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Adjusting the Clay Scales
It’s important to note that the air dry clay shrinks a bit when it dries (because I used a plastic egg base, I couldn’t use a clay that could¬†be baked in the oven). ¬†The shrinking means that small gaps form in between some of the scales, which affects the aesthetics¬†and¬†the stability. ¬†You need a fair amount of overlap to eliminate gaps and ensure that the clay will stay on the plastic egg (which it will not naturally stick to permanently). ¬†I found that as a result of gaps,¬†a few¬†scales felt like they would fall out.
 photo gap1_zps0489f398.jpg

First I tried using crazy glue to put the scales back on the egg, but the gaps made it difficult. The solution I came up with was to use a mixture of spackle (normally used to fill in holes in the wall) and Elmer’s glue (it’s possible I could’ve just used straight spackle) to fill in all the gaps I could find, after the clay dried. ¬†It was time consuming, but the eggs turned out extremely sturdy after this step (after the eggs rolled off my spraying contraption a couple times onto the floor, the durability was confirmed!).
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Painting and Finishing
After waiting a couple days for the clay to completely dry, I sprayed the eggs with gesso spray to prime them for painting.  You could probably skip this step, but I read it was a good idea to do this before painting clay.
 photo gesso_zps773a5b86.jpg

Leaving another day for the gesso to dry, I then painted each egg in their primary color (green, yellow, and black) on the scales and a stone-like color (white or grey) on the bottom part.  For the yellow egg, I mixed water and brown paint to do a wash over the egg to create a more weathered look (I used a wide brush to paint the mixture over the egg, waited a few minutes, then wiped off the excess with a cloth).  For the green egg, I did a wash of water and dark, greyish green and for the black egg, I did a wash of water and red to create the red/black sheen.

Allowing a few more days to completely dry, I then sprayed the eggs with acrylic sealer.

It’s helpful to have something to put the eggs on when you’re working. ¬†Duct tape rolls made perfect egg stands while I was applying the clay or painting. ¬†For spraying (the gesso and acrylic sealer), I made a makeshift contraption by taping pieces of hangers on the inside of the duct tape roll to create an elevated stand (with minimal points of contact).


Posted by: JoAnna | November 7, 2013

Jon Snow and Arya Stark Cloaks + Jamie Lannister Costume

This was a super last minute project!  As part of the Game of Thrones themed Halloween, two of my friends asked me to make cloaks for their Jon Snow and Arya Stark costumes, about a week before Halloween.  The cloaks are basically a wool or textured fabric with a fur trim and crisscrossing straps in the front.

I found a lot of cape/cloak patterns where you essentially cut a semi-circle out of fabric, but I was on a budget and that method uses more fabric than I wanted to use. Instead I used elastic to gather the cloak around the neck area (it would be more of a problem if this area would be visible, but I knew the gathered top would be covered by the fur trim) and hemmed the bottom where I took more fabric off the front than the back so that it was more or less straight/parallel to the ground.

 photo jonsnowcloak_zps7a4338f7.jpg

Materials Used

Jon Snow
  • 1.5 yards of black fabric
  • 3/4 yard of black fur trim
  • two ~12″ pieces of black tote bag strap trim
  • Thin elastic
Arya Stark
  • 1.5 yards of dark grey jersey fabric
  • ~1/3″ yard of light grey fur trim
  • two ~12″ pieces of black tote bag strap trim
  • thin elastic
Jamie Lannister
  • 2 yards red satin (probably only needed 1.5 yards)
  • Red t-shirt
  • Gold fabric paint
  • 2 gold buttons
How Much Fabric to Buy
For the Jon Snow cloak, I picked a fabric that was wide enough to generously wrap around the body (at the shoulders) so that I could buy 1.5 yards of fabric–enough to cover the length of the shoulder to the floor. ¬†Obviously you don’t want the cloak dragging on the ground, but once you hem the bottom and finish the top, it ends up at a good length.The Arya Stark cloak was for a shorter friend, so I was able to find fabric where the width was sufficient for the length of the cloak (it was a jersey-like material, so I think changing the direction of the intended drape was okay). ¬†So I bought the amount I needed to wrap around her body (you have to be generous with this measurement because adding the elastic will “take away” some of the fabric).
Sewing the Cloaks
Since I didn’t use the semi-circle method, I needed to gather the top of the cloak around the neck area. ¬†I ended up folding the fabric over by about 3/4″ and sewing a skinny “tube” of space to pull elastic through.After the “tube” was created, I pulled thin elastic through (aided by a large safety pin) and sewed one side of the elastic to the cloak end of the cloak. ¬†Next I put the cloak on and pulled the elastic, gathering the fabric, until I was happy with the amount of gather. Then I sewed the second side of the elastic to the other side of the cloak.
Adding the Fur Trim
Before I worked with the fur trim, I put Elmer’s Glue on the edges of the fabric to prevent fraying. ¬†Adding the fur to the top of the cloak required pleating to keep the piece parallel to the rest of the cloak (since the top is gathered by elastic). ¬†These are the steps that I followed:
  1. Pin one side of the fur trim to the side of the cloak. ¬†I wrapped the fur around the end of the cloak, by about two inches or so, but you don’t have to.
  2. Pin the other side to the other side of the cloak.
  3. Find where the middle of the fur trim is and pin it to the middle of the back of the cloak.
  4. Pin pleats in the two sections (between the middle and side)
  5. Hand sew each pleat (I didn’t find that I had to sew across the whole back of the fur trim and cloak, just in strategic places)
Adding the Straps
I actually made these cloaks at the last minute, so there was no time to properly size/alter them. ¬†So I sewed one end of each strap to the top of the cloak and then left the ends hanging with safety pins so my two friends could adjust them.On the actual costumes, I believe the straps are attached to the top of the cloak, go around the body, and attach behind the person’s back. ¬†But in the interest of time and money, I just did two straps in the front.
Jamie Lannister Shout Out
I also did a quick and easy Jamie Lannister costume–a red satin cape and a red t-shirt with a large Lannister sigil in gold fabric paint. ¬†The cape had two gold buttons sewed at each corner in the front and was tied together with an extra piece of fabric. ¬†If I had more time, I would’ve added the elastic at the top like the Jon Snow and Arya Stark cloaks, but this used less fabric. ¬†It worked fine, but the only downside was that the fabric bunched a bit at the back of the neck.

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Posted by: JoAnna | November 7, 2013

Daenerys Costume Part 5: The Wig

This has nothing to do with sewing, or even crafting really, but there were so many questions and discussions online about choosing a wig for Daenerys costumes that I thought it would be helpful to post my experience.

I’ve never worn a wig for a costume before, so I had no idea which one to buy. ¬†I initially tried to go for a wig in the $20 range on Ebay from China. ¬†Not the best idea. The top of the wig was too sparse and you could see through to the wig cap. ¬†Adding in the Daenerys braids made the hair even more sparse. ¬†In the end I decided to look at wigs in the $40-60 price range. ¬†After all the wig can make the costume and I didn’t want all my hard work to be undermined by a bad wig!

I started to look at what cosplayers were using for Daenerys wigs (and got introduced to a whole new world and level of costuming!) and the two most popular choices were Gothic Lolita Wig’s Rhapsody in Platinum and Five Wit’s Lunar Dragon Fire Resist 20 wig. ¬†I’m indecisive so I decided to buy both and return the one I didn’t want to use.

For a great comparison of Daenerys wigs, check out¬†jellyfish soup’s Daenerys Wig Guide. ¬†Another popular choice that’s not in the Wig Guide is using a straight¬†Arda wig and styling the waves in, which I didn’t want to do.

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Gothic Lolita Wig’s Rhapsody in Platinum
+ Good color
+ Nice waves
— Too poofy
— Have to deal with bangs

Five Wit’s Lunar Dragon Fire Resist 20
+ No bangs, hairline looks a lot like Daenerys
— Not wavy enough (more like the crimped hair she has in Qarth)
— Color seems a bit off (too golden?)

I ended up getting the Gothic Lolita Wig and was mostly happy with it, but I still think it’s way too poofy. ¬†Also, even with the quality of the Gothic Lolita Wig, it wasn’t designed for the hair to be in Daneerys braids. ¬†Putting the braids in exposed the wig cap. ¬†I ended up buying wig extensions and sewing them onto the wig cap.

Here’s the wig styling contraption I created out of a foam wig head from Sallys Beauty and my ladder ball lawn game:

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Posted by: JoAnna | November 7, 2013

Daenerys Costume Part 4: The Tooth Necklace

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This was a nice touch to the costume and was not hard or time consuming to make. However, I found working with the Fimo Classic clay to be super annoying since it’s really hard to knead and style. ¬†I chose it over some of the softer clays, like Fimo Soft and Sculpey III, because of its strength (I later made thin, needle shaped pieces for the decorative pins on the top and the clay is indeed strong).

Fortunately I found a tutorial on how to use canola oil to soften the clay, which helped enormously. ¬†The canola oil can potentially make the clay more brittle after baking, but I used it sparingly and I wouldn’t have been able to complete the project without it. ¬†The end result came out great, although not as smooth as I’d hoped (there are some crack lines on the sides of the “teeth”). ¬†You can also see the clay needles I made in the picture below.

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Materials Used

  • Fimo Classic clay in black
  • Necklace chain in brass (from Jo-Ann Fabric)
  • Thin wire (I had this at home, but guessing it’s from Home Depot)
  • Antique gold acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush
This necklace doesn’t need a clasp because it just drapes around the neck.Steps
  1. Make a pattern for the size of the “teeth” with a piece of cardstock (definitely confirm the size while wearing the top)
  2. Figure out how long the chain should be (alternatively I made it longer and will adjust the size with a paperclip)
  3. Use needle nose pliers to bend the wire into an upside down balloon shape (I wanted to make sure the wire would hold the clay teeth securely), loop one end of the necklace chain onto the end of the wire, make a small circle (the part that will be exposed outside of the clay “tooth”), and wrap the end of the wire around itself. ¬†Using your pattern as a guide, make sure your wire piece is smaller than the pattern, since it will be encased inside the clay tooth.
     photo necklacepichook_zps93ee992c.jpg
  4. Repeat step 3 for the other end of the necklace and you should end up with something that looks like this:
     photo necklacewithchain_zps5898f181.jpg
  5. Mold the clay around each wire formation to create two “teeth”
  6. Follow the directions to bake the clay (chain and all) in the oven
  7. Paint with antique gold acrylic paint (only about two layers of paint so that some of the black comes through to give the necklace texture)

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Posted by: JoAnna | November 7, 2013

Daenerys Costume Part 3: The Dragon Clutch

For my Daenerys costume, I bought a dragon for my shoulder (which stayed on with straps), but I needed somewhere to store my stuff (phone, ID, etc.) when I was out and about.  Then I came up with the brilliant (and maybe crazy!) idea to create a dragon clutch!  This actually turned out to be easier than I thought.

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One of my key purchases was an invisible zipper in the perfect color from this amazing store, Sil Thread, in the garment district that has just about every color zipper under the sun. ¬†That way if my invisible zipper wasn’t sewn perfectly (which it wasn’t, due to my impatience and the fact there wasn’t much dragon fabric to work with), it wouldn’t stand out.

 photo dragon-zippershop_zpsc8eeb56b.jpg

Materials Used

  • Plush dragon
  • 8″ invisible zipper (ended up shortening this to about —“)
  • Extra pebble suede cloth
  1. Use a seam ripper to open up the top of a plush dragon
     photo dragon-slit_zps94e45b40.jpg
  2. Resize an invisible zipper to the size of the opening
  3. Create a simple pouch out of fabric (sewing three sides together), more or less to match the opening of the zipper
  4. Remove some of the stuffing from the dragon
  5. Insert the pouch
  6. Pin the zipper to the top
  7. Fold over the top of the pouch, folder over the dragon fabric and place on top of the pouch fabric, then place those fabrics together on top of the zipper and start sewing
     photo dragon-zippercloseup_zps43381967.jpg
My original plan was to use a chain to create a wrist strap, but due to time constraints, I tied thin black elastic to his feet so I could slide my wrist through, which worked perfectly.

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Posted by: JoAnna | November 7, 2013

Daenerys Costume Part 2: The Bottom

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Materials Used
Fabric Part of the Bottom 
  • Pebble suede cloth
  • Brown textured silk matka (used for the top and the bottom)
  • White cotton fabric (taken from an extra piece I had at home)
The Two “Belts”
  • Leftover scrap of the brown distressed suede cloth/fabric used for the handwraps
  • Craft foam
  • Faux leather cord
  • Puffy paint (any color)
  • Dark brown acrylic paint
  • Antique gold acrylic paint
  • Arleene’s Jewel-It glue

The bottom was much easier since it’s basically three hanging pieces of fabric with a waistband piece at the top. ¬†Still I should’ve cut pieces of paper or scrap fabric to figure out exactly how big I wanted the pieces, but I was feeling kind of lazy after spending so much time on the top!

I ended up with the pieces not as wide as I had hoped–partly because I started measuring the fabric at my waist, but the bottom actually sits below the belly button, so it needed to be wider. ¬†Also I mostly ripped the fabric instead of cutting it to give it a unfinished look and it ended up taking up “cutting” into the fabric more than I anticipated. ¬†In the end I sewed extra strips of fabric to the sides and I actually think it gives a hint of that look of leather curling at the sides.

I pinned everything where I wanted them to be, folded the white waistband piece over, and sewed straight across.  Then I added a button and snaps to keep the costume on my waist.

Making the “Belts”
I searched all over the NYC Garment District for trim that looked like the two belts on Daenerys’ outfit, but was not successful. ¬†I ended up making both from scratch and am really happy with the way it turned out. ¬†Although it was very time consuming! Some people asked if the lower belt was made from leather, so I guess it came out well!

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The Oval Medallion Belt
For the belt with the oval medallions, I cut ovals and tiny rectangle connecting pieces from craft foam.  Then I took puffy paint to create little dots along the edges to give it texture.  Then I painted over the piece with antique gold acrylic paint.  It needed several coats to cover the yellow color of the craft foam.

I cut a long piece of the faux leather fabric I was using for the hand wraps to the width of the ovals. ¬†After sewing the strip of fabric to the rest of the costume, I used Arleene’s Jewel-It to glue the foam pieces to the fabric. ¬†It held up surprisingly well after wearing the costume twice. ¬†Two of the pieces are partially hanging off now, so I’m going to put more glue to re-attach them. ¬†But the other pieces don’t look like they’re going anywhere.

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The Leather Pieces Belt
For the other belt, I looked closely at photos of Daenery’s outfit and cut each piece individually from craft foam. ¬†To get the leathery look, I first painted each piece with dark brown acrylic paint, then the antique gold paint. ¬†After it dried, I used a razor blade to create two small slits in each piece and threaded a piece of faux leather cord through to create the belt. ¬†If you look closely you can see the orange and yellow of the craft foam peaking out from the slits. ¬†Maybe one day I’ll cover them in gold paint, but I left it as is since it wasn’t that noticeable from a reasonable distance.

 photo bottom-belttogether_zps2c9876d3.jpg


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Posted by: JoAnna | November 7, 2013

Daenerys Costume Part 1: The Top

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The top was definitely the most difficult part to create. ¬†The look is basically a piece of weaved fabric wrapped around the body and kept together in the front with penannular pins, plus the braided halter part on the top. ¬†But it obviously needs some tailoring so it doesn’t look like I’m wearing a draped piece of fabric. ¬†I knew it would take some trial and error and I didn’t want that trial and error to be on the expensive fabric it took so long to find. ¬†So I ended up making two draft patterns out of paper and scrap fabric first.

Materials Used 

  1. Make the first draft pattern out of paper. ¬†Took my bust and waist measurements, but ended up just making the pattern through trial and error and lots of pinning. ¬†I made the first draft from a large thin sheet of paper (the kind used to wrap breakable items at the store… thicker than tissue paper). ¬†This also allowed me to make a plan for how this was all going to work. ¬†I decided to make the top in three pieces. ¬†a rectangle piece for the back and two pieces that would overlap in the front. ¬†There will be two seams down the side (under the airmpits) to connect the back to the two front pieces. ¬†The two front pieces will pin together.
  2. Then I made the second draft with fabric from an old pajama set. ¬†From the second draft I kept putting the piece on my body and making adjustments. ¬†For instance, I’d either cut or determine I needed to add more fabric. ¬†If the later, i’d take it off, sew on a piece of extra fabric in that area and then cut as desired.
     photo top-muslin_zps5b298834.jpg
  3. Once the pattern was finished, I cut the actual fabric! ¬†Since the edges will be frayed, I traced the pattern in chalk, but left extra room when I cut for the fraying. ¬†I definitely didn’t need the 1 yard I bought, but having a lot of extra gave me the freedom of cutting my pieces wherever I wanted to get the weave direction to mimic the costume in the tv show.
     photo top-muslinpattern_zps0c7e08cd.jpg
  4. Pin it on myself and pin where the darts will have to be
  5. I basted all the seams, ripped them out, and re-basted to make adjustments. ¬†Then to be sure, I pinned all the seams and tried on the top one last time before sewing the seams (ouch!). ¬†The two darts turned out a little gappy at the tip/point… maybe it’s because I put too much fabric in the dart… or maybe I should’ve done a curved dart?
  6. Then I added iron-on interfacing to the inside of the fabric to give it a little more strength (especially since I’ll be attaching braided rope at the top) and to prevent more fraying than I want
  7. I braided rope from brown jute rope and sewed it to the top to form the halter that ties in the back. ¬†In the end it was easy to get the top on and off without having to untie (since the front of the top opens), so I couldn’t just created one solid piece.
  8. Then I sewed hidden snaps to close the front of the top
  9. Sew the decorative “pins” to the front of the top (originally I was going to glue pin backings on, but ended up sewing them on). ¬†The pins are created from trinkets I bought from a bead shop and aren’t replicas of the actual penannuar pins on the show. ¬†To make them look like pins, I made needle looking pieces out of clay, painted them gold, and used a hot glue gun to stick them to the trinkets. ¬†I glued a piece of fabric on top to make it look like it was piercing the fabric.
     photo top-pin1_zps916f34cc.jpg    photo top-pin2_zpsa73d16ff.jpg
For the handwraps, I cut a long strip of brown distressed suede cloth and wrapped them tightly around my hands.  I tucked the end under the already wrapped part to keep it together.
Posted by: JoAnna | November 7, 2013

Game of Thrones Daenerys Dothraki Costume

 photo costume-merajtif_zps5ceb9335.jpg

I haven’t made a Halloween costume in a really long time. ¬†I haven’t even had a sewing project in awhile, so when the idea came up for doing Daenerys from Game of Thrones, it became a fun challenge to do it as accurately as possible (without going too crazy… although I guess the definition of crazy is subjective!). ¬†This project was particularly fun because it had both sewing and other crafting elements to it.

This is less of a step-by-step recap than some of my other posts, but I at least wanted to document the process as much as possible since I spent so much time on this costume!

Creating the Costume
I divided the recap up into a few posts since this was such a lengthy process.  Click on the links below to read about the different parts of the costume:

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Finding the Fabric
Sourcing fabric for this project was interesting. ¬†Game of Thrones weaves and embroiders their own fabric (check out this web site for amazing close ups of the embroidery), so it’s difficult to reproduce the exact fabric. ¬†For the bottom chap/skirt looking part and the handwraps, I used suede cloth/fabric. ¬†Jo-Ann Fabric has a great selection of suede cloth printed to look like suede and leather. ¬†And when you can combine a sale with a coupon, you can get it pretty cheap.

The top took some searching. ¬†I looked far and wide for a fabric that looked like a burlapy weave, but was softer and not itchy. ¬†I collected swatches from stores around NYC’s Garment District but never found exactly what I wanted. ¬†First I started looking at wool boucle and tweed fabrics at Paron and Mood, then eventually discovered silk matka at B&J Fabics which was nearly what I wanted, but the weave was too loose.

After some online searching I found a great textured matka at B. Black & Sons, a store in LA’s Fashion District that specializes in wool and suiting fabrics. ¬†It’s available to order online, but luckily I was going to be in LA in two weeks! ¬†Visiting the store was cool and they had posters of movies and tv shows, like the Hunger Games, that used fabric from the store to make their costumes.

 photo planning_zpse4eb8a8a.jpg

This isn’t related to the costume, but here are our GoT pumpkins to complete the Halloween theme!

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Posted by: JoAnna | November 24, 2012

Buckwheat Neck Warming Pillows


I’ve been using a similar neck heat pad that I bought at the store. ¬†They’re great because they’re easy to use (just microwave for 30-60 seconds), reusable, and smell nice.

When a friend of mine mentioned that she was creating homemade buckwheat versions as Christmas presents, I offered to help.  We made the pillow itself out of cotton (from the quilting section) and a removable cover out of flannel for easy cleaning.  We microwaved the bag for one minute to heat it up.

Materials Used

  • Buckwheat (2lbs makes about 4 pillows)
  • Cotton fabric
  • Flannel or fleece fabric (if you want to make a cover)

Making the Inside 
Cut a piece 19″ x 6″ with the long side on the fold, so you end up with a piece that’s 19″x12″ folded in half (note that next time, I would add 2″ to the length). ¬†Sew two sides (one short side and the other long side that isn’t folded).


We wanted to sew the buckwheat into three sections, so that it wouldn’t bunch all at the bottom. ¬†So we put approx. 4 cups (3 oz. bathroom cups) of buckwheat per section, which was about 6.1″ each, which we marked with chalk. ¬†We put the 4 cups of buckwheat in, sewed a section, put 4 cups of buckwheat in, and sewed a section, etc. ¬†Then when we got to the top, we folded in the top and sewed.


Making the Cover 
When cutting the cover fabric, you need to separate pieces. ¬†Measure your finished inside and add 1.5″ to the width (1″ for a seam allowance on both sides and 1/2″ to accomodate the buckwheat) and 4.5″ to the length (1″ for the seam allowance, 1/2″ to finish one side of the fabric, and 3″ for the flap)… so in our case that was 22.5″ x 6.5″.

Finish one end (for the flap). ¬†With the right sides together, line up the two pieces, and put it next to the finished inside. ¬†Leave 1/2″ at the bottom (for the seam) and 1/2″ at the top. ¬†Fold the ends in… the top one towards the wrong side of the fabric and the bottom piece towards the right side of the fabric… so each flap is facing up, one on top of the other.



Changes for Next Time
Would make it longer and the cover a little wider to make it easier to get the cover on.

Project Stats
Pattern: Improvised version of a neck warmer I already owned
Time: 1 hour??
Fabric: Cotton (for the pillow itself), flannel (for the cover)
Notions: Thread
Other Supplies:



Posted by: JoAnna | November 9, 2012

Agility Tunnel Bags

Sorry, I realize I have to take a picture of the final product! ¬†Will add that one of these days…

For my non-agility friends, tunnel bags are essentially sand bags that hold the tunnel in place so that it doesn’t move when the dogs run through it.¬† I had debated making tunnel bags for awhile because I wasn’t sure if my sewing machine could handle the thick material or if I could sew the bags strong enough to hold several pounds of sand.

But two pairs of tunnel bags will set you back about $100 and that doesn’t even include the sand that goes inside!¬† Some people use straps that stake into the ground, but it can be annoying to move the tunnel position and re-stake if you’re working a couple different sequences in one training session.¬† Others have come up with cheap, creative solutions like two backpacks full of sand or gallon jugs of water held in place with a bungee cord or strap.¬† I was thinking of using two plastic cat litter buckets and a strap, but decided against it.¬† My family already puts up with the “PVC junkyard” in the back of the house, so I thought it would be nice to make something a little nicer to hold my tunnel in place.

It cost me about $30 to make two pairs of tunnels bags with the usual JoAnn’s Fabric coupons. ¬†It makes a big difference to use a 40 or 50% off coupon for the marine vinyl since it’s $16.99/yard.¬† The $30 doesn’t include the sand or zip lock bags that go inside.¬† The play sand is pretty cheap (a 40 pound bag of play sand is under $4 at Home Depot).

The tunnel bags came out to be about 10.5″ x 4.5″ x 23″.¬† I experimented with different sizes (and actually have one bigger bag and one smaller bag), but I found this size to be ideal.

Materials Used

Creating the Pattern
I designed the pattern so that the bottom of the tunnel bag is on the fold. ¬†The bottom of the tunnel bag has to be the strongest part, since it’s carrying the full weight of the sand, so I wanted to avoid putting a seam down there.¬† If you want to recreate this pattern, fold a piece of tissue paper in half (along the longer side) and copy the following measurements.¬† Draw the dotted line 1.75″ from the top for your reference (the back of the tunnel bag will be 1.75″ longer since the flap will fold over the opening at the top).


Cutting the Fabric
In preparation for cutting, I laid out the fabric so that the bottom of the pattern lines up with the fold and the dotted line aligns with one edge of the fabric. ¬†I started out using a fabric scissor, but eventually switched to a¬†rotary¬†knife. ¬†This was more important for the top since I’m not finishing the edges where the flap will be and wanted it to be perfectly straight (working with marine vinyl is convenient since you don’t have to hem any of the edges!).


I also cut the following pieces of the nylon webbing and velcro:

  • Two 17.5″ pieces of the 2″ black nylon webbing
  • Four 17″ pieces of the 2″ black nylon webbing
  • Two 5″ pieces of the 2″ velcro
  • Four 5.5″ pieces of the 1″ velcro

After I cut the nylon webbing, I applied Dritz Fray Check to the ends so they won’t unravel. ¬†I experimented with a couple different sized handles for the tunnel bags, but 17″ seemed to be big enough to fit your hand in and small enough so that there was room to add a strap connecting the two tunnel bags on top of the tunnel. ¬† Once you have the tunnel bags finished, you can cut the strap that will hold the bags around the tunnel accordingly.

Sewing the Tunnel Bag
For the sewing, I used a size 18 needle and regular polyester thread.  The velcro and nylon strap (with the D-ring on) has to be sewed on first, since it would be difficult (if not impossible) to do this after sewing the whole tunnel bag together.

I put one piece of the velcro on the inside of the longer side of the fabric and the other piece on the outside of the shorter piece (only sewing through one layer of the fabric).


Then I sewed the strap to one side, put the D-rang on, and sewed the strap to the other side. ¬†I sewed the strap about 5″ from the top (on the longer piece of fabric, I measured from the top when the flap is folded over). ¬†The strap location should be the same on all the tunnel bags to be consistent (otherwise the strap that holds the two tunnels bags on the tunnel won’t fit).

The biggest question in terms of strength will be in the strap. ¬†I sewed a rectangle with an X in the middle and double stitched all the sides. ¬†The stitches attaching the strap to the tunnel bag holds the weight of the sand, so this will be the breaking point if these tunnels bags don’t work. ¬†Either the thread will break or the thread will cause the holes to rip into larger holes.


After both sides of the handle were sewn, I lined up the fabric, right side to right side, and pinned the border to keep everything lined up.  I sewed each side with a half inch seam allowance.

To create the sides at the bottom, I spread each corner with the side seam exactly in the middle and drew a 2″ line on either side of the seam.


After I sewed both sides on the line, I turned the tunnel bag inside out.

Making the Connecting Strap
Because one of my tunnel bags has a different sized handle than the other three (since I was experimenting with the handle length), one of my connecting straps has to be sewn onto that tunnel bag. ¬†If I had made all the handles the same size, this wouldn’t have mattered.

I pinned the nylon strap on one of the tunnel bags, looped it through the second one, and marked where I wanted to sew the velcro and where I wanted to cut the nylon strap.

Then I sewed one side of the nylon strap to one of the tunnel bags and sewed the 2″ velcro onto the nylon strap.


Changes for Next Time

  • Design the strap so it goes all the way around the bottom of the tunnel bag. ¬†If anything gives out, it will probably be the stitches that attach the nylon strap to the tunnel bag or the fabric where the nylon strap is sewn on. ¬†I’ll see if the straps and stitches are strong enough to hold the tunnel bags long term, but this problem would probably be eliminated if I used a longer strap that went around the bottom of the tunnel bag, putting less stress on the stitches.Another alternative would be to not use nylon straps at all and make the skinny part of the tunnel bag longer to extend over the top of the tunnel and attach to the other side with velcro. ¬†But you’d need to buy a lot of marine vinyl in order to cut a continuous piece, thus making the price higher.

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