Friday, December 6, 2019

Llama Rama

Around the middle of last winter, I was overcome by a desire to have more casual winter tops—you know, something comfy enough to laze about the house in, but cute enough to answer the door in and possibly even take out on some errands.
Fortunately, I had just the shirt to start me off: a plain grey long-sleeved T-shirt handed down to me by a friend.

I spent lots of time trying to come up with decorations for this shirt. For a long time, I thought I was going with a dinosaur theme, but several of those ideas proved impractical, so I switched my trajectory to fuzzy mammals. The fake fur that I used for my Mothra costume was just the ticket. By this time, I had removed the black fabric front and replaced the fur in my stash, so it was ready to use.
My initial idea was to do an alpaca, an adorable animal I fell in love with on a trip to New Zealand. However, I found that alpacas don't have a really recognizable silhouette, so again the theme changed, to the larger and more distinctive llama.

I found a llama photo I liked on the internet, and converted it to a black silhouette in Photoshop. Then I enlarged the graphic to the size I wanted it on my shirt and printed it out.
I (temporarily) glued the printout to the fabric, and cut around outside it.
Next, I folded the edges under to achieve the final llama shape.
I ripped off the paper so I could work better with the fabric, then hand-stitched the fuzzy applique to my T-shirt.
A long time passed. My llama needed a face, but I wasn't sure how to achieve it. First, I tried buttons for eyes, but they looked positively ludicrous. So did the eyes I had salvaged from my now-totally-destroyed unicorn slippers
I decided to illustrate the eyes and attach them somehow.
Here's the design I came up with, drawn with marker and cut out of paper. Now how to convert them to a material that would work on a T-shirt?
I don't know how to embroider (and thought that would be too difficult over the shaggy fur in any case). I thought about getting custom-made embroidery patches, but that would send the cost of this cheap DIY into an astronomical range.

Custom-printed fabric swatches? I thought about it, but they might pucker and/or fray.
Felt was the way to go. For a long time, "felt" sat on my shopping list, as I envisioned that I would make detailed cutouts with every color of the facial features represented by a corresponding color of felt.

Then one day, I realized there was no need for that; I could just use a sheet of brown felt I already had and paint on the contrasting colors. So that's what I did!
I carefully cut out the felt pieces and hand-stitched them onto the llama, then the llama onto the shirt. It was a year ago now, but I know I was concerned that the felt wouldn't hold up in the wash, so I'm pretty sure I decided to make those pieces easily removable. When I do the laundry, I'll just have to detach and reattach them. That's a lot of maintenance for a loafing-around-the-house shirt, so I made it worth my while by wearing the llama shirt out for dinner!
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of that outfit, so allow me to console you with a few other llamas that have graced my life in recent months.

First, some llama lloafers, that I picked up at the thrift store last spring for just $5.49 (probably 20% off?). I've already worn them once, but again, that was an outfit unworthy of a blog post.

And, in a rare non-fashion-related purchase, I also acquired a "Fa la la la llama" decoration early last year, which I made the centerpiece of a holiday-themed table in my house when I decorated for Christmas this month.
Though I've been saying it for decades, I finally get to say it in my blog: I llove llamas!

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