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Saturday, 12 January 2019

A Bigger Purl Bee Penguin

Purl Bee Penguin crafted by eSheep Designs
Don't you just love that button?
Flip back about seven years on the calendar and that's when the famous Purl Bee Penguin was unveiled to the world. A free pattern courtesy of Molly from the Purl Soho shop, I first saw this in late 2012, just as I was getting back into sewing.

Not quite ready to tackle a 3D stuffie at the time, I downloaded the pattern and saved the tutorial, firmly believing that someday my very own penguin would be realized.

And here he is. I made my guy with enlarged pattern templates so that he's 25% bigger.

Purl Bee Penguin crafted by eSheep Designs
My penguin's coat is made out of some of Craftsy's Boundless fabric collection...

Do you think it odd of me not to make him in traditional black and white, considering my usual colour preferences?

Somehow, when I took a peek through my fabric stash, these DECOdent selections from my Craftsy purchase from last February popped out at me as being the right choices.

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But before I got around to cutting any fabric, I wanted to make the sewing job less finicky by increasing the size of this penguin.

So what's the best way to enlarge a pattern? I have a combo printer/scanner that allows me to photocopy something at a custom percentage. After printing off the original set of pattern templates, I set the printer at 125% to make copies of those pieces.

The original size of the body pieces, however, already took up an entire sheet of paper, so I couldn't simply enlarge each one of those. What I did was cut the two largest pieces in half and then placed them together against the edge of the scanner — right side down! — and copied them at 125%.

Original templates on the left; enlarged templates on the right...

It took a couple of tries to get the positioning right for all of the pieces, so I suggest using scrap paper and printing in draft mode until you get the results that you want.

Then it's just a matter of cutting out the pieces and taping them together. My 25% larger pattern resulted in a penguin that stands about 11.5" high.

Purl Bee Penguin crafted by eSheep Designs
Straight on front view...

The pattern calls for his beak and feet to be made out of (yellow) felt, but I had scraps of t-shirt left over from my orange infinity scarf makeover, so I used those.

Because jersey handles differently from felt, I interfaced my t-shirt pieces with fusible fleece to provide a bit of body and stability.

Purl Bee Penguin crafted by eSheep Designs
Back view...

All said, I think the "jersey for felt" substitution worked out fine.

Purl Bee Penguin crafted by eSheep Designs
Side profile...

He's got the perfect set of buttons for his eyes, as you can see. They came from a bag of buttons that I picked up at a dollar store several years ago.

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One thing that I forgot to do (and that's not part of the instructions) after I sewed up the main body piece and turned it right side out was to press the open part of the back seam to the inside. (I did it for the two wing pieces and had no problem doing a ladder stitch along the crisp folds of the seams to close up the gap after stuffing them.) The result is that after stuffing the main body, it was difficult to hold the fabric edges together to do a ladder stitch, so I just opted for a slip stitch.

Purl Bee Penguin crafted by eSheep Designs
The penguin stands up by itself quite well...

Fortunately, the fabric is dark enough that it doesn't really matter.

As with my Fritz Frog, Mr. Penguin is just stuffed with fabric scraps. (It's called "making do" and not spending more than necessary.) The instructions also mentioned using embroidery floss for some of the hand sewing, which I don't have; I just used regular thread, doubled up.

Overall impression? It was relatively easy to sew; nothing terribly complicated about it. Attaching the curved front part of the body takes a bit of care and patience (particularly to get the "v" shape under the chin), but it's nothing that provokes hair tearing. The fact that I enlarged the pattern likely made it easier to handle any tricky areas.

Probably didn't need to wait six years to take on the challenge, but glad that it's now checked off my list.

Purl Bee Penguin crafted by eSheep Designs
What's a penguin without snow?

I now have a penguin to justify having all of this snow. :-)


  1. Aw he is adorable! If you gave him red or blue feet, he could almost pass for a red-footed or blue-footed booby. Love him in the snow. But you know not all penguins live in snowy climates. In fact only 4 penguins live in arctic or cold climates and about 14 species live in warm temperate climates. I remember seeing penguins and other tropical birds living in a resort in Hawaii decades ago.

  2. That stash is coming in handy. He's adorable in those colours. The pattern / texture of his body is very effective.

  3. Replies
    1. Claire, it's you! What a nice surprise. :-)

      I guess the verdict is in with three of you using the same word: he is officially adorable.


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