shut it you staaaaaag

This week’s lesson is that necessity is the mother of invention.

It is my brother Andy’s birthday today, and being thoroughly broke at the moment, I needed to come up with a present for him that cost £0. Luckily, he likes homemade presents* and weird shit for his house. So, using a few items I’d consigned to scrap plus some craft supplies from the stash, this is what I made him:

I’m pretty sure my brother hasn’t got one already.

A lady called Nichole tweeted me to ask if I had a tutorial for the DIY stag’s head. I don’t, because I was making it up as I went along; but here’s roughly how I did it:

The fabric for the head was a pair of old New Look trousers which had worn out in the inseams. I cut two symmetrical pieces for the sides of the head, and one piece for the gusset down the middle of the head. I tacked these together, stuffed them to see how the shape was looking, then fiddled about with it a bit more, then sewed them and stuffed the head properly. Oh, and I put a squeaker into the snout, because…just because.

The nose is a triangle of brown felt. The eyes are tear-shaped scraps of pale brown felt with brown velvet buttons on top.

Using more trouser fabric, I cut four identical ear shapes; these were a bit like leaf-shapes, but with a straight line across the bottom edge. I sewed two pieces together, turned them inside out, and folded them in half lengthways before stitching to the head.

The antlers were a double thickness of garden wire. Once I’d bent the wire into an appropriate shape, I wrapped it in twine, first doing the tributary branches from the tips down, then the main antler from the tips downwards, wrapping the ends of the twine so that they were secured and not visible. I stitched them onto the head firmly; it took quite a bit of fiddling to stop them flopping forward or backwards, but this seemed to resolve once he was hanging up.

I don’t have the wherewithal to cut a piece of wood for a plaque upon which to mount him, so I made a fake one by cutting a plaque-shaped piece of leather from an army surplus bag that had fallen apart. (It’s times like these that justify my inclination to hoard things that really ought to be thrown away.) I stitched the back of the head onto it with brown 3-strand embroidery floss. I cut a piece of felt the same size as the leather, and a piece of cardboard from a box in a slightly smaller version of the same shape, duct-taping a loop of cord in the centre of the top. The cardboard was sandwiched between the felt and the leather, which I then sewed together with large back stitch, going around the edge of but not through the cardboard.

The project took the length of There’s Something About Mary and one episode each of True Blood, Neighbours and Glee, so I’d guess about 4-5 hours altogether. I slightly wish I didn’t have to give him away, but brothers will insist upon having birthdays.

*Readers, how do you feel about receiving homemade presents? There seem to be two camps:
Camp 1: how touching that someone took the trouble to make me something. And even if it’s shit, at least it’s unique shit! Aww.
Camp 2: how cheap of someone not to get me a proper present, and how dare they pollute my house with this tat!

I’d love to hear your views about the etiquette surrounding this matter. Generally people seem to be positive when I give them something I’ve made, but they could just be being polite.

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9 Comments to “shut it you staaaaaag”

  1. Sorry, that previous comment was meant for your painted knobs…

  2. My sixteen-year-old daughter gave your knobs her highest praise, “ooohhhh, cute!” I hope you feel duly honored. I especially like the cyclops and his sheep, which made me think about the word “sheep.” If you say it enough, it seems like there should be another word for the singular form, like shep or something…Now I can’t stop thinking about sheep.

  3. I have only just discovered this site Helen. Amazing stuff. I am firmly in the first camp, one of my favourite presents ever being the knitted Girolamo Savonarola you gave me for my 30th birthday.

  4. This stag is absolutely marvelous.

    I am not a crafter myself, but several of my friends are. I have never been disappointed by their homemade gifts. I personally don’t expect my friends to spend money on me and I find their unusual presents wonderful.

  5. When I win the lottery (when) and move into my country pile, I will be commissioning a lot of these!

  6. I love this!

    I make people crafting gifts all the time and the results are varying but most people know I spend a lot of time making them. I’ve been making things for my friends who all seem to be popping sprogs at the moment. One couple were delighted with uniquely-embroidered baby clothes whilst another just threw them on the pile of clothes they are bought. Sometimes it just depends on the awareness of crafting and how it sometimes costs a bloody bomb to make things, despite what people think.

  7. I love the stag so much!

    I’ve been crocheting people presents recently and I’m hoping they are appreciated- mostly because it costs me a small fortune in wool! I spent almost £70 and a full month of work on this blanket for my sister which I was really pleased with- but I did worry it still seemed a cheap gift! http://ramblingsandwool.blogspot.com/2011/06/secret-birthday-project.html xx

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