Learning to Sew: An Apology to My Felt Fish Victims

The final bit of Christmas gift creation is done.  My wife, my mother-in-law, my firstborn (and my brother who babysat for us when the toddler and four year old realized that the process was pretty boring) and I put in a hefty amount of time to stitch, glue, thread, cut and carve two sets of felt fishing game things.  Only now do I realize that the school of fish above is full of animals that should not be hunted for food or fun, but there’s no going back now.  The highlight of the project was, by default, spending time with a bored four year old and a toddler that has decided that he loves climbing things when adults have their backs turned, but also I learned how to sew.  Horribly.

First off though, let’s talk about the fishing poles first.  Dowels.  Cut and sanded and drilled through for the rope.  Magnets were attached with copper wiring at the end.  Super fun and quick to put together but will soon be handed to small children.  We’ll give fishing lessons so they know these are not just sticks to swing around a heavy magnet with.  You know, as the projects complete I grow more and more panicked about Christmas mornings at our friends’ homes.

Knots on either side of the dowel prevent the rope from slipping out prior to the magnet being added.

I contemplated making a pan flute for a minute.

Behold! Ropes of doom.  Oh golly, friends, I am so truly sorry.

The oldest wanted to help make gifts for his buddies too so he chopped up construction paper and made cars.

After cutting out patterns my wife made up, layers were cut to each animal (not all were fish I realize, but for the most part aquatic mammals are not well represented in this group).  Between the layers flannel was added to boost the threeeee deeeee aspect of the toy and a small metal washer was placed near the head in most of them, but a few got washer butts (hehehe).

Pictured: Not how this is meant to be done

I tried to dew this turtle after a brief tutorial from my wife and watching a slo-mo recording her doing the process well.  Edges were ok, I could wrap my head around that concept.  However when it came to the internal portion of attaching this turtle’s shell I was like a first grader looking at a calculus text book; totally lost.  My wife kindly removed the turtle from my grasp and fixed it.  She had it fixed and completed about 3 dozen of the other felt animals by the time I was half way through my second attempt.

My next attempt went much better.  Not great, and it was all edges like a good brownie, but it looked better.  My wife denied my request to let the bottom string remain in place.  It would have been funny, but difficult to explain to little kids that have never seen a fish tank.

Lots of felt was used.  Lots.

The fishing games get their own carrying bags too.  I stitched one together (not the one below, that one is nice looking) and only stabbed myself once.  I am pretty sure the fast rotating blade of a circular saw is safer than sewing.  Cutting the dowels down was a three second job.  Holding the rounded wood piece against a table and jamming a sharp drill bit into it, my hand just centimeters away, was less terrifying than the fine tipped needle poking through the cloth like it was ax vs. bathroom door scene in The Shining.   Still a very fun project and a very necessary skill if for no other reason than, as a friend pointed out, zombie apocalypse survival.  Now that’s the Christmas spirit.

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