Studio Ghibli Craft Swap: The Totoro Pieces I Made

Studio Ghibli Swap: The Pieces I Made {an Art School Dropout's life}It’s that time again. Time for me to talk a whole bunch about the current swap I’m part of!

This last one was a Studio Ghibli themed craft swap. So it wasn’t just quilts, it was any type of craft. Well, almost any. The partner you are assigned does have a preference. I’m lucky mine likes mini quilts. If you are unfamiliar with anything Ghibli, then I recommend reading up on it a bit. Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation film studio that has some of the best animated films out there (in my personal opinion, and apparently many others too). They created such films as Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Ponyo, Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky, etc etc. I 100% recommend you go and watch every single film they’ve made, if you havent already.

Anyway, for this swap I focused mainly on the film My Neighbor Totoro. My partner listed it as one they loved, and it fit best with their favorite fabrics and colors. Even though this should have been an easy make for me, I struggled. I couldn’t pin down just one idea. I had TOO MANY IDEAS! I put off working on the quilt until I made up my mind. In the meantime I made a little soot sprite brooch that you can read about a few posts back. So I wasn’t slacking completely.

I went out of town twice late Feb and early March, and then came home to the entire family being sick. So there was no time for any making for three whole weeks. Once everything got back to normal I went into panic mode and quickly picked out one of the designs I had come up with. It was a simple applique design of leaves around a hole that Totoro could peek out of.

Studio Ghibli Swap: The Pieces I Made {an Art School Dropout's life}

To accomplish this look, I drew all the leaves by hand in a 5″ square. I then scanned in the doodle and enlarged it to 18″ square in illustrator. I also did a quick outline of Totoro and divided up all the pieces I’d need. I did this early in the morning before CT woke up, so instead of using my Silhouette CAMEO like usual, I decided to iron on the double sided fusible interfacing, print out templates, trace everything and cut out all the fabric by hand quietly. I miss doing that sometimes (not TOO often though).

The first part I pieced together was Totoro since that’s basically the bottom layer. I used a Corelle plate and traced a circle on the black and white fabric as my circle guide. I then did a reverse applique to get that perfect circle cut out (detailed instructions will have to wait until a later date) I made another circle 1/2″ bigger and attached my totoro applique to that. I then glue basted the two pieces together just so I could get a feel for the whole thing.

I pretty much just eyeballed the placement of the leaves, using my original sketch as a guide. I ironed them on in quadrants. Once they were all secured I attempted to hand embroider around all the edges. Lets just say it was the worst idea Ive had in a long time!! After a bunch of cussing and pulling out thread, I decided to do a machine blanket stitch around each piece using a dark mustard thread. Even though it was faster than by hand, it still took me a few hours to finish (broken up in two days of course).

Studio Ghibli Swap: The Pieces I Made {an Art School Dropout's life}Once all of the applique work was finished, I quilted it up using invisible thread on the front and the same mustard thread on the back. I did 45 degree angled stitches on each corner, so it overlapped on the middle sides. I then did a simple straight line stitch in the circle and then around the applique to permanently secure it. Can I just say how much I’m loving invisible thread for these projects? In certain light you can hardly see any stitches at all!! It’s awesome.

To finish the piece off I bound it in some black chambray and hand painted the eyes, whiskers and mouth (using fabric safe paint of course).

Studio Ghibli Swap: The Pieces I Made {an Art School Dropout's life}Since it was a swap, and all, I also added a few goodies in the package! A beautiful card I picked up at Disney World that would make a great framed print, the Soot Sprite brooch I made, some japanese sweets and a pile of Lizzy House fabric scraps (some from the new and yet to be released line).

I really loved working on this piece, and it really made me realize I LOVE making themed quilts. LOVE IT! If I sign up for anymore swaps (in addition to the other two im working on), they are going to be themed, period.

Whew, I think thats it! Everything was sent out two days ago, and it doesn’t look like my partner has received it yet. I’ll let you know what he/she thinks once they receive it. I also haven’t received my package yet, so expect another post talking all about that!!!!


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Adventures in Casting: Soot Sprites

Adventures in Casting: Soot Sprites {an Art School Dropout's life} #totoro #spiritedawayI talked a bunch about quilt swaps lately, and just how much I love them. I also commented on applying to be part of a few more!

Well, above you can see a piece I made for the Studio Ghibli Craft Swap I’m in. It’s a swap purely dedicated to everything Studio Ghibli (think Totoro, Spirited Away, Ponyo, Castle in the Sky, Kiki’s Delivery Service, etc etc) and can be any type of handmade project! My partner likes Totoro A LOT! So I sculpted, made a mold of, cast and then painted this little dude. I think I’m going to make him into either a brooch or a needle minder.

Adventures in Casting: Soot Sprites {an Art School Dropout's life} #totoro #spiritedawayThe piece measures almost 2″ wide and is about a half inch thick. I cast a few in a black with a little added glitter to make it fancy. The mold had a few bubbles (I Think something was wrong with the sealant I used on the clay) but I decided it added to the texture of the whole thing and didn’t make a second mold.

Adventures in Casting: Soot Sprites {an Art School Dropout's life} #totoro #spiritedawayI really hope my partner likes it. It was a fun item to make and it’s got me itching to sculpt again. I have soooooo many toy ideas. SO MANY!

P.S.: I won’t be making any to sell, but I am up for using them in trades. Like “I’ll swap you some fabric, thread, toys, etc for a brooch” type of thing. 

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Remember the Totoro doll I started last week? Well, I finally finished him! Technically I finished him earlir this week, but I didn’t get around to photographing him until today.

I had forgotten the seam allowance on the body, ears, tail and arms, so I had to start from scratch. I went and picked up a whole new batch of felt since I didn’t have enough to redo the whole thing. I found the pattern for this little dude on Pinterest, and the pin directed me towards the Cheek and Stitch blog where there is full on instructions and pattern pieces. I’m not too great at hand stitching anything, I messed up a bunch when closing up the bottom and attaching the arms, but I still felt it was super easy to do! I recommend this to anyone who is a fan, or has a little super fan like us!

Oh P.S.: after writing this I went and looked a bit more on the Cheek and Stitch Blog and I found a post about a fleece version! How cute are they?!?

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Behind the Scenes: Unfinished Projects

The past few weeks I have been feeling very discontent. I want to do so much but I hardly have the energy or strength to walk to the other room. Being forced to do nothing is frustrating, I’d rather it be my own choice. I would probably enjoy it more if I was the one saying “I’m not going to do anything today”, instead of my body.

I do find spurts of energy here and there and have started a few projects lately, and finished about half! I’m trying not to buy more craft supplies until I use the ones I have. I don’t think I’ve stepped foot in a Joann’s in weeks, and even then we were there to buy frames, I don’t think i even looked at anything else. Well, that will probably change this week. I realized after finishing the top section of the chevron quilt that I did NOT have enough coordinating fabric for the back. I had fabric, yes, but not COORDINATING fabric! So that project is at a stand still!!


I also started a Totoro Doll for CT since she LOVES the movie(I found the pattern on Pinterest) well, I messed up on cutting out the ears, paws and tail. I forgot a seam allowance. I also used the last of my grey felt, so now that project also has to be put aside. Frustrating.


I DID finish a simple little tote bag and tank top using supplies I already had. I’m happy with the outcome of both, but feel super great about the tank top!! It’s the first piece of clothing I’ve made myself that didn’t have to be taken apart and redone. I got it right on the first try. I didn’t use a conventional pattern either, I just did a rough crayon rubbing of my favorite a-line tank top and tweaked it a bit. It fits perfectly, and now I want to make a dozen or more. Especially since I’m not fond of the fabric I used for this one, it’s not really me.


Oh and I’m also, slowly, working on a shop update! Ive been working on some new pieces that I can not wait to share fully! You can see a few above. I’m trying out a few new ways of photographing them since I think it’s time for change. I always think its time for change! Any suggestions?

As I was proof reading this post I thought “well, I guess I did get a few things done… but how much could I accomplish if I just felt better?”. Ugh, I guess I just want to do too much…