Booties!

Octopus Tutorial: Cover that Tush!

Welcome to part three of my series on making a softie octopus. By now you have constructed the body, and made eight plaited scrappy legs. In this tutorial I will show you how to attach those legs to the body, and “cover that tush”! 🙂

Preparation

There are two quick things you need to do before we get started today. First let’s have a look at what we are aiming to accomplish:

Bottom of the octopus covering the legs
Bottom’s Up!

We are going to attach the legs and then cover the join with a piece of fabric that matches the body of the octopus (or, alternatively, matching the legs). You might remember picking out the body fabrics and having one piece left over: that’s what this is for! I’ve used a piece of a man’s tie as my coordinating fabric. It can be whatever you like. 🙂 The other thing you need to do is to trim the excess fabric away from your legs, and decide which way “up” they will go. The top of the plait needs to be secured with thread instead of a safety pin.

Secure the tops of the legs where the safety pin was.
Secure the tops of the legs where the safety pin was.

Once you have secured each leg, we are ready to begin.

Attach the legs

With the body piece in your off-hand, bottom-side up, take each leg and attach it with a safety pin in a circular arrangement:

Legs attached in a ring shape
Attach the legs in a ring around the bottom of the octopus

I start with the first leg in a random location, then I do one opposite. If you imagine an invisible line joining up these two legs, you’ve now divided the body in half. I attach the next two legs on opposite sides of this line, so I have four legs, equally spaced (roughly). Then I pin each remaining leg about half way between the ones I’ve already done. If you are like me, you will have to fiddle with the placement a little to make room for all the legs. They are surprisingly bulky! If there are knobbly bits getting in the way, you can do a bit more trimming to make some room. Just don’t cut up your stitches holding the tops of the legs together. 🙂 Once you are happy with the placement, it is time to stitch the legs on. With a piece of ordinary sewing thread, take a few stitches in the one spot, catching the body fabric and the side of the leg in a diagonal stitch, like so:

Stitching the legs to the body
Stitch each leg to the body

This is basically tacking the side of the leg to the body nice and firmly. Once that side of the leg is done, do the same thing on the other side, with a similar diagonal stitch. Go over it a couple of times to make sure it’s really secure. Remove the safety pin and give it a good tugging. If it holds: great! Time to move over to the next leg. Repeat this until you don’t have any legs attached with safety pins. 🙂

Prepare the bottom piece

Now measure the size of the ring you have just created. I tried a bunch of circular objects like small bowls, glasses and so on before I found something that was just the right size:

Child's bangle is the right size
This child’s bangle was just right

Use the object to cut out a circle of stiff fabric (such as old denim or canvas):

Then use the denim to cut out the “fashion fabric” you selected earlier:

Cut a larger circle
Cut this circle larger, with about a 1/2 inch allowance all round

This next step is a little like the paper piecing template preparation from when you made the body. The denim is not stiff enough to sew across from side to side, though, so instead take a thread and go round the seam allowance:

Running stitches around the edge
Make a running stitch all around the edge, about halfway through the allowance.

Use a safety pin in the centre to make sure your fabrics don’t slip about (especially if you used tie silk like mine!) 🙂 Pull up the thread to cause the allowance to gather up and fold over the denim:

Gathered outer fabric curled over the denim
All gathered up ready to use

Take the safety pin out and then place the “bottom” over the legs, with the raw edges facing down:

Once you have the piece secured to your liking, it’s time to stitch it down. I used a piece of sturdy thread for this (no. 8 perle cotton, in fact). It doesn’t need to be that strong, but I like the decorative look of the stitching. You want it to be sturdy to cope with the legs being pulled on.

Starting stitches to anchor thread
Make a few stitches in place to start off the thread

First make a few stitches on the underside of the “bottom” to anchor your thread. Then whip stitch all around the edge, taking at least three stitches on the body between each leg. It won’t hurt to reinforce the stitches on the body that are right next to each leg, if you like.

Whip-stitching around the bottom
Take a few extra stitches next to each leg, for strength

Once you have gone all the way around, secure the end of your thread with a few more stitches in place, and then push the needle through to the centre of the bottom, like so:

Bottom of the octopus covering the legs
Trim this and you’ve buried your thread end 🙂

Trim the thread, and that’s it for attaching the legs! Nice work 🙂 Now might be a good time to put a little face onto the body, though, so stick around a little longer. I like to draw some closed eyes on my softies, it gives them a peaceful look, and is pretty easy to do! Fiddling about with pupils and eye shapes can be really hard to get looking right! Take a piece of scrap or paper and draw a couple of half-circles next to each other.

Test fitting the eyes
Compare your eyes for shape and size with the body piece

I held mine up against the softie to see if the placement was right. I then used the guide to draw directly onto the softie face, replicating the curves and size. You could transfer your eyes using whatever technique is your favourite (pins, transfer wax paper, whatever you like). I find the eyes simple to do, so I’m happy to just draw straight onto the face with a washable marker.

Now take some embroidery floss or perle cotton, and anchor your thread inside the gap between a nearby leg:

Anchoring the thread
Anchor the thread in a gap between the leg and body

Then make a line of backstitches over the top of your marks:

Backstitching the eyes
Backstitching the eyes

When you get to the end, go back along the line and fill between each stitch to represent eye lashes. I use short stitches at the edges, and long ones in the middle of each eye:

Finished eyes
Face complete!

To finish off the thread, push the needle back out somewhere on the underside – perhaps another leg gap if you can manage it. Then you can anchor the thread somewhere hidden.

Now your octopus is looking pretty good! He just needs some booties, and he will soon be finished!

I really love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment! :)

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