An elephant unravels – almost

Well, the wedding was festive, the bride lovely, the bridegroom handsome, the weather wet but nobody let that get them down, and the Wedding Elephant was finished in time – though not quite as originally intended.

All went well initially. The elephant itself, including the wording, the date and the decorative lattice, was finished on Tuesday, and apart from the placement of one of the flowers I was quite happy with the result.

The Wedding Elephant finished

On Wednesday evening I wouldn’t have any time to stitch, so I had to snatch some time during the day to do the finishing. A line of pale yellow stem stitch as a border, then cut 3-4mm around that and unravel to make a fringe, then sew onto a card using four wooden floral buttons. That way, no glue or other adhesive would be needed, which might be better if the happy couple decided to keep the card for any length of time. I know that stem stitch (or back stitch, which is what it looks like on the back) isn’t the most obvious stitch to keep fabric from fraying, but as it wouldn’t be handled much I figured it would be secure enough. That was the plan.

A stem stitch border Cutting around the border

And then it all went horribly wrong…

Unravelling stitches

There was no way of saving the stem stitch border, so it had to come out, in the process unravelling the fabric a bit more. A new border was out of the question – not only was there no time, but the fabric was not stable enough to stand stitching so close to the edge. It would have to be double-sided sticky tape after all. This was duly applied to the fabric, right against the fringe, but as so often happens when one thing goes wrong, it now seemed impossible to get anything right. The sticky tape stuck to bits of the card that it shouldn’t stick to, and unpeeling the fabric, however carefully done, only served to curl up the fringed edges and destabilise it even further, until I was a tearful soggy mess trying to think of a place to buy a last-minute wedding card.

Did I tell you that my husband is an engineer and likes solving problems? (He is also very good at comforting hugs and cups of tea.) He suggested Vilene, or iron-on interfacing. So I carefully ironed the elephant flat (sounds like quite an undertaking, doesn’t it?) and applied the Vilene to the back. The rectangle of fabric was by now not at all rectangular anymore, and no amount of ironing could restore its 90 degree angles, so the fringe got snipped off and the fabric trimmed without taking too much notice of the grain. I sewed on the buttons (niece’s stuffed elephant business is called Nelly Buttons, so I felt buttons were practically obligatory) with one of the greens used in the embroidery, then stuck the whole thing to the front of a bright yellow card using double-sided tape, and here it is:

The finished wedding card

If you didn’t know what it was originally meant to look like, you probably wouldn’t notice that this was a last-minute panic alternative finish smiley. And now I’m working on a second, initial-less elephant for my own archives; I was going to do this one outline-first, but in the end decided to do it lattice-first after all, as it does seem to work better in spite of the away-knot spaghetti. The elephant turns out to be quite a relaxing project when there isn’t a wedding looming!

4 comments on “An elephant unravels – almost

  1. Next time, you might want to try a nun’s stitch border. It holds the edges securely so the fabric won’t ravel. It is not the most decorative edging, but it isn’t unattractive either and it is quite sturdy.

  2. Accolades for Engineers! And nun’s stitch is an excellent suggestion.

    If it’s any consolation, I started a mind-bogglingly difficult bit of hardanger once only to have it come to pieces in my hands because I was cutting both sides of a series of kloster blocks. Not that this can’t be done, as some of your designs beautifully illustrate. However, I didn’t use the fabric that was specified. Didn’t have it, and didn’t think it mattered. It did. (And I was roundly told so by the designer…) A Lesson Learned! 😉

    Glad the wedding went well, and that elephant is so cute (as are the bride’s ‘nellies’; next time I have a baby to buy for…)

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