Blog Archive

Powered by Blogger.
January 5, 2021

It's me again.  

Well, ok. 'us.'

It's time I introduced Maxwell.  Maxwell Overlooking Pearl, to be exact.

Maxwell is my shoulder dragon.  I made him from Simplicity pattern 8715, an amazing design by BeeZee Art.  Seriously, check out her website, she has a ton of amazing stuffed animals and plushy patterns!

I'd wanted a shoulder dragon for a while.  To be more specific, I wanted a gargoyle perched on my shoulder.  For cosplay reasons.  It seemed appropriate?  And fun?  I just had a really hard time finding a pattern I liked, and wasn't secure enough in my sewing skills to design one.  So when this pattern came out in 2018, I pounced on it.

Then I had to decide on fabric.  I went to Joann's, hoping to find something that looked like stone.  The original pattern calls for fleece or minky, but I thought it would make up just as well with cotton.  Ideally, I wanted a reversible sequin fabric, but there was very little in the stores and I wanted to be able to see it in person to make sure the sequins were to scale. (hah!)   

Eventually I settled on a Keepsake Calico cotton called metallic galaxy . . . brown?  It was mottled grey, but it also had little dots of crusty, glittery spots that looked like bird droppings, and it made me laugh.  I found a dark grey fabric to match, and then a plain grey for his horns, and home I went to tackle the pattern.

This post is mainly about how I made him, in case you've tackled the project yourself and are getting frustrated.  I've never had a project go so fast, start to finish.  Usually I put it off for months, but he wanted to be made.  

So, firstly, gargoyle vs grotesque.  He is technically not a gargoyle, because water cannot actually pass through him.  DO NOT THINK I DID NOT FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO THIS.  I just figured other cosplayers would not appreciate their own costumes/projects being spat upon.  

I did try to make him with an open mouth.  It didn't go well. It looked like he got stung by a bee, actually.  I probably could have tried harder, but the next head I made was so perfect I no longer cared about accuracy.  

He is a well behaved gargoyle.  He does not spit on people, nor indoors.

All right, so, the pattern was pretty straightforward, but here are some tips you might want that were either not in the pattern, or I neglected to read the pattern fully.

**Please note my notes are based on working with plain cotton fabric!**

  1. You need a tiny bit of iron-on interfacing for behind the eyes.  I'd recommend it for the spikes, too, if you want them to be particularly spiky.
  2. A washable fabric marker and Fray Chek will come in handy, too.  Draw out your sewing lines and go slow!
  3. Increase your sewing tension.  I used 6.
  4. I used a 1/4" quilting foot.  It made it easier to guide.
  5. Decrease your stitch length, especially on the head.  I shortened it to 1.5.  I found it easier to navigate the curves this way, and it kept my stitches from showing after I stuffed it.
  6. The iron is your friend.  The iron is your friend.  Obey the details, don't rush, it will show in your work on a piece this small and detailed. Iron and clip.  
  7. Stuffing tools (i.e, a pencil or chopstick) will come in handy.  Do not skimp on the stuffing.
  8. I stuffed him with rice and cotton.  I thought the extra weight would help keep him in place on my shoulder, so I focused on filling the tail and front with the rice.
  9. I ignored the instructions about cutting holes in the legs and body and sewing them on that way.  I just hand stitched them on, according to instructions for making plushes found on other websites. There are numerous ways to do this.  Do a web search and pick your favorite.
  10. I used 12mm eyes, mostly because I couldn't read when I was in the store.  I thought the 15 mm were too big with the cotton fabric.  It's also possible the pattern on the fabric played a role in how he looked.
  11. I twisted together a number of chenille stems/pipecleaners and used them to reinforce his neck.  See below for more details.

Maxwell, obviously, ended up being adorable.  He was more so once I made him his first hat - a pair of Mickey Mouse ears, because his debut was at Disney World.  I am not making this up.  He had a fantastic time.  He even got to meet several Disney Princesses, and they were gracious enough to pose with them.  (I also spent several minutes stalking Gaston, but he was gone before I worked up the nerve to talk to him, and beg for a photo. Next time?)

Next I took him to a local Colorado con, and he was also a huge hit.  I loved having him with me, because, well, I have social anxiety, and knowing what people were likely to say to me first (OMG YOUR FRIEND IS SO CUTE CAN I BOOP HIS NOSE) helped a lot.    He greatly enjoyed the attention, and even more so when he was in costume and everyone wanted to know what he would wear next.

However, can you see the problem?  Check out that neck droop.  This was his first outing.  It got worse.  His neck couldn't support the weight of his head, even with just a felt hat, and I had plans for many more hats.  I tried to avoid it, but  eventually had to make the difficult decision to operate.  I took his head off, reinforced his neck by stuffing a thick bundle of chenille stems twisted together into his neck area, then restuffed him and sewed his head back on.  Since then, he can wear any hat with his head held high.  

I didn't give him wings initially, because I had vague ideas of giving him steampunk style wings.  Then my mom randomly sent me an adorable embroidery link for bat wings, designed to be laced to your shoes, asking if I needed them.  Yes, please!  We spent a few evenings making him two pairs of removable wings to wear.  

I have plans for even more wings in the future.

You're still wondering about the name, aren't you?  I used Sir Terry Pratchett's method of  naming gargoyles in his Discworld novels, based on their location.  I was living on Pearl Street in Boulder when I made him, so that part seemed obvious.  I was considering Allistair, Third Stair, and Stairwell Overlooking Pearl, but Maxwell seemed to suit him best.  

Yes, I might have an obsession now, but really, he's a great pet, with a ton of personality, and does not need feeding or vet visits.

He has his own twitter feed now, too.  We'll see how that goes.  

Here's some photo collages, too.