Harry Potter bedroom · Sewing · Small Projects

Project 20 – The Grindylow

The day I have been waiting for since my children were born has finally arrive…. My kids are Potterheads. For about 8 months now, we have been reading “big boy” stories to Master 6, and Masters 5 and 3 when they feel like it. We started with Roald Dahl and then, at Master 6’s request, Harry Potter. And he loves it. We are about to finish Prisoner of Azkaban and his love for the stories and characters is only growing. We have received our posting home for January and we will be moving into a fairly small house, which means all 4 kids  will share a room with 2 sets of bunk beds. Like a Harry Potter dormitory. So, to get them excited for it, I offered to make their room Harry Potter themed, and the suggestion was met with epic enthusiasm. Since then, they’ve each chosen a house, and thought of ridiculous (and largely unachievable) decorations they’d like. I do have an ulterior motive here, and it is that I plan to make some of the elements their Christmas presents. See, Christmas with 4 kids and one paycheck can get a bit stressful, not to mention that kids get stuff they never use and it clogs up your house. So, we decided to give them things they would love, that we were going to give them anyway and kill two birds with one stone. So watch this space for a lot more Harry Potter themed sewing!

The very first thing I decided to make was a grindylow. To be honest, it wasn’t the first thing I decided to make, but it was the first thing I actually made. We had an old fishbowl floating around and I thought it would make a cool little decoration for the room. I looked high and low for a pattern but to my dismay, none seemed to exist, so I had to wing it. I started by searching the amazing internet for pictures, and found these horrors:

grindylow 2grindylow

Picture credit for both pictures: http://www.harrypotter.wikia.com

Using this, and the fishbowl for size guiding, I made a pattern by first drafting the shape I thought I needed, then cutting it out of paper, and taping together to check the 3 dimensional shape was what I wanted. Then I added seam allowance and got to constructing my critter.

I didn’t want to buy any new supplies for this project, so I decided to use some olive “dupioni silk” (I use this term loosely as that’s what it was labelled in my local shop, but I’m 99.95% certain it was not- it was very cheap and nasty) for the body, and some pale pink cotton for the tentacles on the head, and the arm and leg tentacles. Because of the very fragile nature of the “silk”, and the very small seam allowance I was working with, thanks to the small parts, I used fusible interfacing on the back of every piece, sewing pieces together, and then trimming off excess fabric so that the seams were still interfaced.


Tentacle fabric ready to go, eyes embroidered on the head, and interfaced head and arm pieces ready to go


To make the “tentacles”, I used my free-motion foot and sewed hundreds of little circles onto the fabric along lines drawn with water-erasable marker. To be honest, having used interfacing, I mistakenly thought there would be no need to hoop the fabric, as I thought it would be sufficiently stiff. It wasn’t, but by not hooping it, it puckered in the most fantastic way that really gave the “suckers” the perfect texture. It’s all about the details, right? I also used my free-motion foot to embroider on some shadowy looking eye sockets with little black eyes in them, then I pieced together the head, which I won’t pretend wasn’t a fiddly job.  Actually, this whole creature was fiddly.I added felt teeth to the mouth so that I didn’t need to worry about finishing the edges. Once the head was complete, I stuffed it, ready to attach to the body.


Here you can see the slight puckering of the fabric, which gives the effect of raised tentacles. I actually found this quite relaxing to do and I loved the effect! It’s almost enough to get me sewing quilt-y things, except I hate having to match things perfectly


Next I made the arms, put a pipe cleaner through them so they could be posed, and then began the mammoth task of doing the tentacles. These were very narrow tubes, and were very difficult to turn. If I was ever to make this again (too fiddly! But I’ve said that before and repeated so…) I’d use either a slippery fabric, or something with a slight stretch, for ease of turning. I started by sewing the tentacle tops and bottoms together, then sewing up the sides of the body, with the arms pinned between the side seams. I had to leave one seam open above the arm as there was too much bulk with 2 stuffed arms and 6 empty tentacles to turn. I turned each tentacle individually, inserting pipe cleaner and then stuffing as each was turned (a straw, chopstick and a lot of patience helped with this) Once all the tentacles were turned, I twisted the pipe cleaner ends together to ancho them and enable the tentacles to be posed, sewed the body side seam above the arm, then stuffed the body. Finally, (and very happily), I sewed the head onto the body, and he was complete!


I now have 3 very happy little boys and one happy girl!


Arm pieces ready to be sandwiched into the body




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