Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Hanging Bat Mini Quilt

I have been back at the sewing machine, hurray! At the start of the New Year, when I thought about what I wanted to be making, one of my priorities was a few more mini quilts. I've been waiting to hang them all up together till I got to a point where I felt that I had a large enough, and well balanced enough, collection to work together. And I'd like to get to that point soon now!

I remember that I mentioned when I made my last mini quilt (a kite) that one of the things I liked about it was that it wasn't a standard square/oblong mini quilt shape. And this was something that I decided at the start of the New Year that I'd like to explore further, partly for fun and partly to try and give my Mini Quilt 'wall-to-be' more balance and variety. I decided I wanted to cover a few different design elements somewhere within my next few mini quilts - make one a bit taller and thinner, one with a radically different shape, one with some kind of 3D element and one upside down!

And I'm very happy I seem to have covered 3 of those bases with this bat! As soon as I got to the 'upside down' idea, the thought of a bat popped into my head. I love bats anyway, seeing them swooping around at dusk in the Summer is always a treat, especially when we're swimming in the river late, as we often do, and they sweep low over our heads catching juicy insects that gather together and buzz just above the water.

And their shape does, I think, lend itself quite well to patchwork. I started out drawing a basic shape, and then building up the patchwork to fit.

Did you know bats are the only flying mammal, and there are over 1000 different varieties? More than 250 species have been identified as endangered, vulnerable or "near threatened."

If I hadn't been keen to get back to some machine sewing I think I might have been tempted to paper piece the wings, but as it was I managed fine by machine.

Bulmer's fruit bat is the world's most endangered bat. It is only found in one cave in Papua New Guinea.There are only around 160 individuals left in this colony.

I drew my basic shape again on a scrap piece of wool...

A fungus that causes a disease called white-nose syndrome has devastated bats in North America.
And kept it small enough so my patchwork wings could just fold over at the edges...

Flying foxes (genus Pteropus) are the largest bats. Some species have wingspans of 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 meters).The smallest bat is the bumblebee bat, it grows to only about 1.25 inches long (3 cm) and weighs about 2 grams (0.07 ounces).

That's the end of my bat facts but I used some glue basting spray to fold those wings over!
Then laid it out on another, nice and coordinating piece of wool, with a green, cotton body piece as well...

Wool was great so it wouldn't fray around the edges.
Then sewed a tight zigzag all around the patchwork, including the body piece, cut it out with a very narrow, wool border and quilted it...

I added a little star applique in my patterned fabric to balance it out a bit too.
My plan was always to be able to hang my bat from his claws. I have no idea whether there might be lots better ideas out there on how to make hanging bat claws, but I decided to use craft wire...

I mummified them with a thin strip of fabric, using a little drop of glue here and there to secure it...

And then wrapped a thin strip of my green fabric around that, again using a drop of glue here and there and also a few stitches with this outer layer too. I also wanted bat 'arms' for the wings, and used a fluffy pipe cleaner for this (I did think about a pipe cleaner for the hanging claws, but wasn't sure it would have been quite firm and strong enough).

Because it was very fluffy and padded already I just skipped straight to covering it with my thin green strip, starting in the middle and winding out in both directions seemed to work well.

You can see here I've also made a top layer for the body - just very slightly larger than the original body section, and I zigzagged this cotton shape onto a piece of the wool and then cut it out with a very narrow border of wool again.

I sewed on my words (all my mini quilts have a quote or words of some sort on them) and quilted it - just to add a bit more strength and detail.

He has 2 button eyes sewn on too - and if you're wondering I did sew them on a little crooked on purpose, for added quirkiness!

At this point I decided my 'arms' needed fingers at the end of them - did you know bats have 4 fingers and a thumb?! (Researching that is what set me off on the bat facts generally!)

Fingers were sewn on by machine in a small zigzag stitch.
 Now I was ready to start putting it together. I just hand sewed the arms and the claws to the body.

I also hand sewed the ends of those arms to my fingers in the photo above.

Then padded the body area with some scraps of soft fleece.

And then hand stitched the outer body all the way round, poking a bit more stuffing in as I went round if I felt it needed it. And there he was done.

The pipe cleaner arms and wire claws are fully 'poseable' so he can hang in a more bat like, but less visually interesting manner, with his wings tucked up...

And then out pop the wings as he's about to fly off!

His toe claws are bent the other way here and could fit into the crack on this beam!

He hangs nicely from shelves, ledges etc, or from a thin wooden skewer as he was in some of the photos above!

So, now I just have to cover the tall and thin design in a mini quilt, which is kind of shrieking giraffe at me. But I might leave that a little longer and see if anything else comes to mind.



  1. A little yoda. Am loving the facts as well

  2. I absolutely love bats, Sally, and your bat facts are awesome! :) This mini quilt is fabulous, and I really love seeing it all tucked up with the wings folded in. I am also thrilled to hear you were having fun at the sewing machine again. Yay!

  3. What a cutie. I don't have the imagination for such projects and so love to admire your clever ideas

    1. Ahhh, thank you! The internet, especially Pinterest, is amazing for sharing ideas, and so easy for ideas to then breed and grow. But I'm sure your imagination is there too, I think imaginations and creativity are like parts of our bodies, if we haven't used them for a while it can be hard, but if we start exercising them and build it up little by little, they get stronger and stronger.

  4. What a great idea for a mini quilt! It never even occurred to me to make anything other than rectangles. Brilliant!

  5. Oh I think he's genius - i love that he's fully poseable, although you need to remember where you've put him, can you imagine what you'd think if you bumped into him in the dark with just his button eyes glinting!!

  6. Such a creative use for a bit if quilting!

  7. You are amazing and wildly creative!!! I am so happy to see you sewing again. xo

  8. What a fabulous idea for a mini quilt!!! So, so creative and he's moveable, too, so you can move him around the house.

  9. Awesome is just the right word! Made me happy to look at it.

  10. In our family lives a bat (appropriately named Batty Bat). He has been with one of our sons for over 20 years, and is still beloved by all. He has a personality, and makes us all laugh wildly when he is naughty. My grandchildren now love Batty Bat as well, but poor BB is getting worn out. He is the bat version of the Velveteen Rabbit, but is still hanging in there. His coat is worn away with love, and I redraw his eyes periodically when he makes an appearance at my place. At any rate, I hope the little bat you've created delights your children as much as our bat friend has delighted us! (Batty Bat was a fantastic communication tool when our son was a little guy, and has lived on. Now you KNOW how kooky we are around here! Ha!) Yours truly has character, which I adore!

  11. Love your 'bat facts' interspersed with quilting methods, fantastic! I love seeing the bats swoop round our garden on summer evenings too. Your little fellow is full of character and so cleverly made! X

  12. What a brilliant idea, would never have thought of an animal shape when planning a quilt. This bat is so lovely and thanks so much for the bat facts (had to search for a flying fox instantly, wow!)
    Mh...long and thin, maybe the Eiffel Tower?

  13. Sally, that is just about the cleverest and cutest thing I've seen in a long while. You will never cease to amaze me!


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