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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Monkey Ear Headband & Tail Belt Tutorial

I've had a few readers contact me with requests for a tutorial on the 
that I made for Little Man's Monkey Party.  
Remember these cuties?

I happened to take several photos while I put these together.
AND I made a printable pattern, just for you ; )

This will be the first printable pattern that I've tried to make and share.
I printed it myself and all looks okay, but if you use this and have 
some trouble, please let me know!  I will do my best to help you get 
the right size.  This should fit on a full 8 1/2 x 11 page,
and equally, pre-cut sheets of craft felt.

I purposely made the tail to fit two on a sheet of  felt,
because I was making several at once for a party.

plain, plastic headbands
dark brown felt
light brown felt
pink felt, or ribbon (for girl monkey bows)
shoelaces (1 per tail), or ribbon
brown pipe cleaners (2 per tail)
hot glue gun
sewing machine

*A note on supplies*
I used sheets of dark brown felt, but my contrast felt
was by the yard in my stash.  You could still use pre-cut
sheets, but would have to piece two sections together on the main
portion of the belt to make it long enough
OR use ribbon instead of laces, 
to make up for the length with longer ties.

For the Ear Headband,
Cut two pieces of outer ear in dark brown felt,
and two pieces inner ear in light brown felt.

Place the inner ear piece on top of the outer,
like in the photo below.  Sew a straight stitch around 
the edge, about 1/8" in.  Repeat for the other ear.
Now heat up the glue gun and grab your headband.
This is important - 
turn the ear over so you are looking at the backside.
Put a line of hot glue down the long edge of the outer ear,
on the outside of the stitch line you just sewed.
Again, on the backside!
Now place on the inside of the headband,
about an inch up from the end.
Press to hold for a few seconds.
Now add a new line of hot glue,
along the flap of felt above the plastic of the headband.
Wrap the felt around and press to hold for a few seconds.

Your monkey ear is now glued to both sides of the headband,
but if you were to put it on, the ear would be sticking straight
out in front (like your nose).  To fix this, put one more thin line of hot 
glue right along the crease where the end of the felt wraps around 
and meets up with the bulk of the ear piece.  You're gluing the edge 
of the felt to the backside of the ear.  Roll it and press to hold till set.

Felt Bow
The felt bow is made from two pieces,
3/4" by 1 1/2" strip, and a 2" x 3" rectangle.
Pinch the larger piece in the center, so that it is in a
mini accordion fold.  Hold with a dot or two of hot glue.
Now wrap the thinner strip around the center and hold with hot glue.
The felt bow can easily be hot glued to both the ear headband 
and the tail belt, to make a girl monkey set.  We tested them out!

The Monkey Tail Belt
is done a little differently than you would expect.
My first one, I did the traditional way -
sew right sides together and then turn right side out.
It was very time consuming to turn out!!!
Since I was making a whole batch of these, I changed my method.
This way saves a lot of time, and is easier.

I made the tail pattern on cardstock,
and traced onto a sheet of pre-cut felt.  
I was able to fit two, by flipping and rotating
(like a pair of shoes in a shoebox).

Each tail is a front and back piece sewn together -
stack two pieces of felt and pin them together.
Then trim through the center to separate the two tails,
if you are making two (they are still double thick).
You are going to be sneaking your pipe cleaners 
between the layers before sewing.
It's easier to do this if you separate the two traced pieces first,
so you aren't dealing with full sheets of sandwiched felt.
The below pic will illustrate what I mean.
Two pipe cleaners, twisted together at one end, are long enough
to wind along your curly monkey tail end to end,
with some extra coming out at the base.
I used white, but recommend brown,
to avoid seeing the end poking out as much as possible.
Pin your pipe cleaners down the center of the tail.
The only place your sewing machine should go over it
is right at the tip of the tail.  When you get to this part,
go very slowly and carefully to protect your needle.
You want to be sewing OVER the pipe cleaner, not through it.

Let the outer edge of your presser foot follow the trace line of the pattern.
Sew right on top, guiding the curved shape through,
sewing the two pieces together, with the pipe cleaner inside.

When finished, trim the tail about 1/4" outside the stitch line
(you should be cutting along your traced pattern line for the most part).
The teeny fuzzy end of the pipe cleaner at the tip of the tail will
be hidden if you use brown pipe cleaners.  You can just barely see it 
in this pic, because of this sew-on-the-outside method.

For the belt piece,
first get your ties ready.  I used one shoelace per monkey belt,
and simply cut it in half.  I knotted the cut ends to prevent unraveling.

*A note on sizing*
These were made for four year olds.  If you are making for age 4 or under,
I think the pattern measurements (and half shoelaces) will be fine.
For older kids, you will need to adjust the lengths of your materials
to accommodate a larger waist.

Take your long rectangle of felt and fold it in half lengthwise.
You need to see where to hold the ties in the center, and this
helps you see how wide it will be when finished.
I laid my ties with about 1/4" going past each end,
and used scotch tape to hold them at the center.
The only place you will be sewing over them is at the ends,
so the rest needs to be along the center of the belt so that it
doesn't get stitched down as you sew the perimeter.
Once you have the ties placed and held down,  flip the center fold
so that they are on the inside.  Pin the ends, holding the tie in the center.

Use pins to mark a 3" opening in the center.
You will be sewing up one short end, then down one long side
until you reach your marking pins.  You need the opening to turn it out.

Now you can reach through the opening and pull your ties through.
The scotch tape comes free easily.
Use the ties to help you gently pull the rest of it right side out.
Now you have a belt piece, with a centered hole for inserting the tail.
I inserted my monkey tails with the ends folded so that the side seams were
centered top and bottom instead of on the sides.  You can see the seam
centered in the pic below.  This way, the shape of the tail curls upward instead of laying flat against the body.  Poke the end in about an inch and pin to hold.  OH, you will have to trim the extra pipe cleaner off, if you used them.

Don't be confused by this pic - this is the one tail that I sewed the other way,
and had such a headache turning it right side out that I did the rest with the
method I have explained above.
 The final step is to top stitch at 1/4" all the way around the belt section,
going over the tail to attach it.  You may want to stitch that bit twice.
Pay careful attention as you cross the center of the tail so that 
your needle doesn't bite it on the pipe cleaner!

Cute, cute, CUTE!!  Check out how the pipe cleaner helps
hold the shape of the tail.  Pretty sweet, right?
The belt wraps around and ties in front.  Easy peasy.
You can see it in this front shot.
Little Man was not thrilled about it, but he did agree to
model one of the girl tails for my photo session ; )
I hot glued another felt bow right in the center.

The pattern and assembly directions that I have shared here were my own creation.  I have seen pin-on tails, and elastic belt tails, but I went with a tie-on version.  It worked for me!  If my explanation is confusing, or you are making these and run into trouble, please don't hesitate to come screaming at me asking for help ; )

And if you DO use this pattern and tutorial to make your own, I would love to see a photo!  I recently announced a Reader Submissions photo album on Craft, Interrupted's facebook page.  Show me your stuff!

**You can now see ALL the Monkey Party posts with the links below**


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