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Llama: Step by Step

1. First I pin the paper pattern to the fabric, and then cut around the pattern as precisely as possible.

2. I then fit the pieces together, with the right side of the fabric on the inside, and stitch around the edges, leaving a seam allowance of about 1/8".

3. After sewing all the pieces together I turn the figure right side out using a tool called a point turner. For the tiny legs and other very small parts, I use a small dull scissors, as the turner is too thick. This may be the most exacting part of the whole process, as too much force will result in holes being poked in the fabric. (Then you throw it against the wall and go have a beer.)

4. Next I stuff the llama with polyester fiberfill stuffing. I put in very small bits of stuffing at a time to achieve firmness without lumps or wrinkles. I use a small scissors to do this, but other tools such as a knitting needle would work as well.

5. After stitching the opening together by hand, I sew lengths of yarn to the body. I then unravel the yarn and brush it.

6. I then stitch the yarn to the body to make the llama appear as realistic as possible. This may take as many as one hundred stitches.

7. Next I sew on the tiny ears, which are made of two different kinds of fabric sewn together and turned right side out.

8. Finally I hand embroider the last details---eyes, nose and mouth. I add a tiny eyelid of white thread, and the llama comes to life.

The llama may end up with a hand-embroidered blanket, or with baskets full of gifts or vegetables. I employ many methods to embellish the basic pieces I make. The llama's fur is brushed to look like long hair; I might also tack the yarn down unbrushed, with many stitches, to give the appearance of curly wool, as on the sheep or bison. I apply fabric paint with a brush to create spots and stripes, and then use a hot iron to make the paint permanent. A piece of fine wire covered with fabric or wrapped with thread becomes a fishing pole or the foot of a bird, and a piece of clear plastic gives shape to a snowboard or a cookie sheet. Hand embroidery adds richness to blankets and cloaks, and with the art of applique I can create a tiny painting or a packet of seeds.

I use a wide assortment of threads---stiff quilting thread for a woven basket or a witch's broom, nylon filament for a bunny's whiskers, knotted sewing thread to make tiny flowers and leaves and stalks of grain. Detail is all-important in my work, and I constantly seek new methods to make the small world that I create more real.

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Please note: these handmade items are not meant as toys for young children - tiny things for BIG people!