Hoop art is extremely popular, and I have been oogling people’s projects on Pinterest and Instagram for a while now. My first crafting skill was counted cross stitch– I learned when I was about seven, much younger than the Big One is now. I loved sewing, and the peace and relaxation that it brings me, but I haven’t done it in years. However, with the dozens of gorgeous hoop art embroidery projects that I’ve seen on the web recently, I’ve been itching to get stitching again! Several weeks ago, we were at an event where the children were given coloring pages from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I thought the pictures would be perfect for some hoop art for the Little Monkey. Using the coloring page, I made a template for my Very Hungry Caterpillar Hoop Art.
When I got home with the half-colored sheet, I found the Little Monkey’s copy of Eric Carle’s book for reference, and found a few spare 9″ hoops that I had waiting for the perfect hoop art project. I made copies for the coloring sheet, and sized them to fit the 9″ hoops. (I made several copies, and didn’t use my original, so that I could always made another one if needed!)
I used a piece of bleached burlap and muslin for the base of the design. Since the burlap has such wide spacing, I felt the muslin would provide more support for the embroidery and felt. I matched up the picture from the actual book with the felt that I had, and I ended up choosing 3 shades of green felt. I used wool felt, rather than craft felt that one can typically find at Michael’s and Hobby Lobby. I actually got the advice about using wool felt from an expert felt craft– Nancy over at Do Small Things with Love. The texture and feel of real wool felt is very different, and it is much more supple and soft than craft felt. It is also more expensive. You can find real wool felt for sale on Etsy or some fabric shops.
To make the design, I first drew a line across the center of the burlap as a guide for laying out the pieces, and then I cut apart one copy of the coloring sheet. I cut out each of the segments of the caterpillar and placed them on small pieces of the green felt. I numbered the segments to keep track of the order. Once all of the green segments were cut out, I pieced them with straight pins onto the burlap.
Then I cut out the head in red. I made sure that there was slight overlap over each of the segments, to insure that there would be no burlap showing. I backstiched around the edge of each of the segments with embroidery floss (all 6 strands), in different shades of green. This is one of those things where the stitches aren’t going to be perfect, but the felt is going to be pretty forgiving.
Once the body segments were sewn in place, I added the antennae, which I sewed to the burlap using blanket stitches. I stitched on the eyes and feet, and finally the nose. For the nose, you can’t see the felt, but it is under the stitching. Then I added in the little “hairs” that were shown on the top of the caterpillar using a straight stitch. The “Hairs” were done using only 2 strands of embroidery floss, rather than all six strands. I didn’t want the little hairs to overwhelm the design.
The very last step was to stitch the quote from the book page, “He was a big, fat caterpillar.” My cross stitch experience helped me free form the lettering as I went. I just made sure that I made the same letters identical in design. Once the stitching was complete, I trimmed the burlap and muslin away, and used fray check around the remained edges. I’ve included a picture of the back, so that you can see the advantage of having the muslin with the burlap. It does anchor the felt and stitching to the burlap.
The Little Monkey loved his caterpillar, and kept coming over to “pet” it during the the process. I can’t wait to make the other 2 in my series to go with this one! I had such fun with this one!