May 4, 2015

Fish the Boxtroll

I kept seeing links popping up in Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook to a Heritage Auction of a ton of Laika props. Since I am broke and could not afford anything in the auction, but still wanted a ton of stuff, I did the next best thing and made something.
(WARNING: Very long post. Scroll to the bottom for finished pics if you don't care.)

I decided to make Fish from the Boxtrolls. His overall shape did not look too complicated to try to replicate in amigurumi. Though it is not my super favorite Laika film, Fish is one of the more charming boxtrolls and is very lovable. Plus, I already have a little me from Coraline.  I found a dusty green yarn and a darker green for accents and set to work writing the pattern as I went along.

I started with the head and just sort of roughed out a shape that I thought would work. I was using the high quality images from the auction itself to reference for the shapes of everything.
Head with nose, ears, eye dark and mouth embroidery.
Head & Body in main color green (numbers at the ends are stitch counts)
Notes: The head and body are worked as one piece. I do a lot of strategic increasing and decreasing to try to get the shoulders then a tuck-in through the chest area and then moving the increases to the front to make a belly bulge that tapers down into hips and finally a seat.
1: mc 6
2: sc 6 around
3: inc, 6sc  [7]
4: inc, 7sc  [8]
5: (inc,sc)  [12]
6: sc 12 around
7: (inc, 2sc)* repeat around   [16]
8-9: sc 16 around two rows
10: sc 13, 3dc popcorn in next one, 2 sc  [16] (makes the nose)
11: (inc, 3sc)* repeat around  [20]
12: {inc, 4sc)* repeat around  [24]
13-14: sc 24 around two rows
15: 5sc, ch 4, turn, sc, hdc, 3 dc in one to make 1st ear, slip stitch to same stitch, sc10 around, repeat ear, sc 9  [24]
16: sc around including one sc in the base of each ear [26]
17: 5sc, dec, 8sc, dec, 9sc  [24] (decreases should be under each ear)
18-21: sc24 around four rows
22: back loops only, dec, 5 sc, (in both loops: inc, sc, inc, sc, inc) in back loops again: 8sc, 2 dec  [24]       (the back loops make a line under the chin separating the shape of the head from the body)
23-26: sc 24 around four rows
27: 5sc, 2dec, 6sc, 2dec, 5sc  [20]
28: sc 20 around
29: 2inc, 16sc, 2inc  [24]
30: sc, inc, 20sc, ins, sc  [26]
31-35: sc 26 around five rows
36: dec, 6sc, inc, 10sc, inc, 4sc, dec  [26] (good idea to stuff here)
37-40: sc26 around four rows
41: (dec, sc3)* repeat around, sc in last stitch  [21]
42: (dec, sc3)* repeat around, sc in last stitch  [17]
43: (dec, sc2)* repeat around, sc in last stitch  [13] (stuff more here)
44: (dec, sc)* repeat around, sc in last stitch  [9]
45: dec around to close
Finishing embroidery in dark green: mouth, chest/nipples, over belly arch, belly button, shoulder blades, butt
Head and body with most embroidery. Butt was a little off center here, I redid it after legs went on.
I then decided to make up a shape for all that darkness around the eyes of the dark green. That way I could sew it on and not have to paint it.
Eye Dark in dark green
1: ch 6
2: 3sc in first, 3sc, 3sc in end, 3sc down other side of chain, slst to first
3: ch 1, 2slst, 2hdc in one, 2hdc, 2hdc in one, 2slst
bind off leaving tail, sew to face centered over nose

Legs make 2, in main green
Note: These are made from the foot up. I did try making a foot with popcorn stitches for toes, but they did not look accurate to the model, hence embroidering them on when done.
1: mc 6
2: inc each  [12]
3: (sc, inc)* around  [18]
4-5: sc 18 around two rows
6: dec, sc 7, dec, sc7  [16]
7: 16 sc around
8: dec, sc 6, dec sc 6  [14]
9: sc 14 around
10: dec, sc 5, dec, sc 5  [12]
11: sc 12 around
12: dec, sc 4, dec sc 4  [10]
13: sc 10 around
14: sc 5, popcorn 3dc in one stitch, sc 4  [10] (popcorn makes the knee)
15: sc 10 around (stuff)
16: dec, sc 3, dec, sc 3  [8]
17-21: sc 8 around 5 rows
leave tail to sew to body, stuff, embroider toes
Legs and first arm made. You can see how long the arms are, just like the movie!
Arms & Hands in main color, make 2
Note: these are worked from the shoulder down to the fingers. You will make three fingers and then add the thumb separately and sew in place. Stuffing the upper arms is tough but can be done with a chopstick-like stuffing device and patience. Stuff the fingers and forearm as you go along.
1: chain 6, connect to first to make loop (leave long tail end to sew to body with later)
2-16: sc 6 around fifteen rows (makes full upper arm)
17: inc, inc, sc 4  [8]  (makes elbow)
18-22: sc 8 around five rows
23:  inc, sc 7 around  [9]
24-26: sc 9 around three rows
27: inc, sc 8 around  [10]
28: sc 10 around
29: (inc, sc)* repeat around  [15]
30-31: sc 15 around two rows (stuff forearm here if haven't yet)
Now starting to make three fingers. Stuff before closing them off!
Index: sc 1, sc in last 5 stitches bridging the gap. First finger is 6 sc around. Do 18 sc around for length, stuff, then dec around to close. Cut yarn and hide tail.
Middle: 8sc around. Attach yarn in next open stitch by index finger. Sc in three, skip to three on opposite side right next to index finger. Do 3 sc in those, and 2 sc in the edge of the index finger to make 8. Do 24 sc around for length, stuff and then dec around to close. Again cut and hide tails. 
Pinky: 6sc around again. Should have 4 open stitches left. Attach in one right next to middle finger, do 4 sc around and two in the edge of the middle finger. Do 18 sc around for length, stuff and dec around to close. Bind off and hide tails. 

Thumb in main color, make 2
1: mc 3
2: inc around to 6
3-6: 6sc around
Bind off, leave tail, stuff, sew to hand at appropriate place.
So dang cute once those eyes are on.
Finishing Details
Sew thumbs to arms. Sew arms to area at shoulder. Sew legs to bottom of body toward the font so he can sit or stand. Do all embroidery of details if haven't yet. I made eyes out of orange felt and black pupils with black felt. Adhere to dark green eye background with Fabri-Tac glue (can be whatever you have on hand but that glue is especially great for fabric and yarn). I also added a little hair to the top of his head by looping and fraying a few strands of yarn.
Adding the pink shading.
Paint pink acrylic or fabric paint onto the ear, nose, elbow, fingers, knees, etc for highlights based on model. Can also paint on gray and dirt tones if desired, but I didn't. I love Nerdigurumi's video tutorial on this
All painted. Don't forget the butt. :)
I wrapped the legs with a brown flecked yarn to get the bandaged look.

Fish the Boxtroll is finished, but naked!

Now to make him a box... I measured him up and cut open a large cereal box and patterned a flat box on it and cut it out. After realizing the cereal box was not large enough to make fish's box, I taped it up anyway, missing some parts, to try it on him. His hands are so large that I had a really tough time getting it on him and had to cut slits in the sides to get it to work. Also the box made him a lot less cuddly.

With my paper box a failure I decided to get some felt and try to make him a box that way. It meant that I would have to embroider the design on the front with actual thread, not to mention sew... neither of which I have much experience with. I got a heavy stiff brown felt for the box itself, a dusty green for the fish design, and a tan for the paper label the fish design is on.

I used my paper template and cut out all the pieces: four sides, two with arm holes, the top with head opening, the seat with leg holes, and the flappy lid that hangs off the back. I cut out a rough rectangle for the label, and used a blue pen to sketch out the fish on the green. I have this cheap set of thread in a 10 colors and used what I had to backstitch the fish onto the label, using the thread to draw on the eye, fins and gills. I went back over with a second light tan to give the fish some more highlights. I also used it to help define the little bit of text I drew on with pen.

After the front was finished, I started sewing the pieces together. I used a backstitch to attach the head hole top to the long sides as I liked the line it created on both sides. However once that was done I realize I was in danger of using up all my thread. So from then on I did a simple sewing stitch and it held up fine. I did tweak the panels a bit once they were coming together to make it fit a bit more snugly.

I am a little bummed with the arm holes, as I think they are too large, but his hands wouldn't fit through anything smaller. Once I had a few pieces on, I added the base at the seat with the foot holes to start closing up the box.

As I got to the back I realized that with the amount of detail I put into his body, that it would be a shame if I sewed him into the box with no way to get it off. So I left one long side open as well as one short side at the base of his butt. I added tabs to the inside and then added snaps so that it could open and close. It will probably be a little difficult to get him out, but it should at least be possible this way.
Two snaps to be added to both the base and the long side tabs.
Anyway, now he's really done and not naked. I also think that this box actually looks a lot nicer on him than a cardboard one would. Plus he's cuddly even in his box now.

Time to complete naked troll: 10 hours
Time to complete felt box: 4 hours
Difficulty: Advanced for sure.