Oh me and this Mandrake. I struggled with this block at lot. I just couldn’t settle on what I wanted to do. I drew out the block and hung it on the design wall at least 5 times. After walking past it for days and still just feeling meh about the whole thing I decided to just make it. If I hated it, I could always toss it and do it again after all!
My biggest problem – I LOVE the screaming Mandrake blocks I’ve seen around the web and I really wanted one! I couldn’t settle down with the interaction though. There’s a lot of activity on this quilt. Things are moving and caught in moments of action all over the place. The screaming Mandrake just seemed one toke over the line and somewhat distracting from the other items. Also – I knew I really wanted the pink earmuffs. After much soul searching (yes, I take these decisions this seriously), I decided that a plant with earmuffs sitting next it to was very likely a Mandrake and drew this sketch.
Just a plain old houseplant with the ear muffs next door telling the rest of the story. I was pretty happy with this, but couldn’t help but to keep adding. You can see that my mandrake went through several versions. Through it all, I keep finding myself drawn to that original sketch.
I finally edited down to the plant and the eyes popping out over the pot. I’m not 100% sure I don’t want the plain houseplant version of him, but I like enough that I’m not willing to have a do-over. Besides, he’s starting to grow on me. I’ve been calling him mini-bob. I had considered redrawing him (yet again) to get his pieces and parts more consistently laid out. After thinking about it for a while, I decided it might be cool to capture my actual sketch. Now I also have a little drawing hiding in my quilt too!
Making the Mandrake
Since a few of you asked… Here’s a MandrakeAppliqueTemplate for making the Mandrake portion of the block. Be sure when you print it, you select the option to print “actual size”
Special Note – I made this block by drawing it on tracing paper and creating applique pieces from that drawing. It is very similar to the process described with the Monster Book of Monsters block. The applique template is hand drawn in photoshop based off of my tracing paper version. It is a little sloppy, but everything is there.
IMPORTANT NOTE – The black line around the block in the template DOES NOT include seam allowance. When you tape your template together, each line around the block should be 10″. When you trim your finished block, you need to add a 1/4″ all the way to get the 10.5″ block.
Another Note because this is fun – It prints in two pages, the red cross is for lining up the two pages for a single template.
You can use the template in anyway you like. Raw edge applique, needle turned, machine turned. Whatever float-ith thy boat-ith as they say. Sometime soon, I’ll write up my revised way of making blocks like this, but if you’d like to see how I’ve done it in the past you can check out these posts:
- How to think in layers and plan for a multi-layer applique
- Cutting out and preparing your pieces. (Don’t forget – if you’re using paper backed fusible – REVERSE the template!)
- Choosing and using a zig zag stitch to finish applique
The Ear Muffs
This was one of those crazy ideas that popped in my head. It seemed reasonable that it might work, it also seemed reasonable there was something I didn’t consider and it wasn’t going to work at all! I was quite pleased with how they came out and here’s how I did it if you’d like to make a pair of your own.
I cut out several circles. For the “front” muff, I cut three in the finished size of the ear muff rounds, two about 1/4″ smaller, two about 1/4″ smaller than the previous two and another two 1/4″ smaller than the ones before it.
For the “rear” muff, I cut three circles in the finished size and a second circle in a contrasting color for the inside of the muff.
I started with the back muff. I did a small zig zag stitch around an entire circle to set the space and make sure the color was all way to the edge. I put two layers of the same circle right on top of the first circle. I used a tight zig zag stitch in a loose circle shape about 3/4″ from the edges of top two circles.
Next I pulled and tugged and frayed the two top pieces right to the edge of the zig zag line. I used the contrasting color circle and a zig zag stitch around the edge of the contrasting circle to finish the back muff. Next, I put the base circle down for the front muff and tacked it down with a zig zag stitch around the outside edge.
Then it was a matter of wash rinse repeat with each set of two circles. The first set of a matching size and each set after it being a little smaller.
The last circles are pretty small. Rather than using a circle zig zag, I made a button hole style string of zig zags.
- Use a matching thread from one set of circles to the next. It hides away and you’ll never even see it again
- Pick a fabric that has some color variation.
- Turn the sets of two with the grain running in different directions. This will help even distribute the fray
- Perfection is not rewarded! Wonky circles are completely ok here!
When I was all done, I rolled over it with a plain old lint roller and picked up all of the loose threads. Take a look at how nicely the stacked layers create both a fuzzy and raised effect.
Check out the TBZ’s Harry Potter Quilt index. It is full of links including a link to the original project and patterns as well as links to any of TheBoredZombie.com’s related posts and other custom blocks complete with downloadable embroidery patterns or applique templates. You can also see more about my machine and software in this post.