Make your own cuddly hadron
A hadron is a sub-atomic particle that experiences the strong nuclear force. Sign up for an A level physics course if you want to know more. This design produces a hadron model that looks suspiciously like a reversible pencil case. Unzip it, turn it inside out and reveal the hadron’s alter ego; 3 quarks. Slick, commercially made versions of cuddly toy subatomic particles are also available – google “particle zoo” to find them. Cuddly proton lovingly lit
Chunky zip and thread You will need:

  • Fun fur in 3 colours – or 4 colours if you want to make both a proton and a neutron. Fabricland is cheap for this and their minimum cut is 25cm. The fabric is 147cm wide, which is enough for 3 matching hadrons. Scroll down the website side bar to “fur fabric and faux skins”.
  • 1 (or 2) 22cm zips
  • Felt square to make the letters
  • Thread e.g. Gutermann Sew-All
  • Pattern – download it here. It is 4 files, too big to include in this body of text. Print them out, they fit onto A4 paper. The pattern tells you how many of each piece to cut.
  • Pins, needles and access to a sewing machine if possible. A zipper foot and a hopping foot –see below- are handy too.
pattern pinned to purple pelt Fold the fur to give double or 4 times thickness, pin the patterns to the fur and cut them out. Have a bin handy because the fur trimmings are horrible and get everywhere – asthmatics beware!

For 2 hadrons, you should cut this lot:
16 pieces plus letters, spread on a table
Pin the felt letters onto the quarks. A neutron is a dud and udu protons. If you have a hopping foot for your sewing machine, roughly tack the letters into place so you don’t have to fight to hold them flat, set the sewing machine stitch length to 0, attach your foot and away you go. Remember, a slow machine is more accurate. For the uninitiated, a hopping foot is like a tiny embroidery hoop that is lifted by the needle between stitches. You can move the fabric in any direction between each stitch, sew tight corners or curves or use them for free motion embroidery. They cost about £10 and come from specialist sewing machine shops, either online or in your high street. They are addictive.
Letter tacked to fur Hopping foot close up Hopping foot in action
Mark the place where the seam joining each quark to its neighbour ends, then pin the quarks, ready for sewing
Mark the seam end on the quarks with pencil Pin 'em up And sew them
Insert the zip
Open the zip and put one side of it between one of your quark sets and one of your hadron halves. You need to make a sandwich with the wrong sides out: Sketch showing how to flap the pieces about to insert the zip
The fur will drive you nuts from now on because it jams in the zip. Trim off any offending furriness with a pair of sharp scissors and maybe think about shaving all the fur off the zippy bit before you start this step. I pinned, then tacked, then machined the 2 parts of the zip:
Pinning the zip into place Zip pinned ready to tack Tacked zip, seams flattened
Pinning the zip into place Zip pinned into place, ready to tack Zip tacked into place. Note that I’ve flattened the seams between quarks with the stitches.
Use a narrow zipper foot on the sewing machine and run one row of stitches close to the zipper teeth and a second row near to the other edge of the zip tape. When you have attached the zip to one side of your hadron, attach the zip to the other side. Make sure you end up with both quark pieces on one layer and both hadron pices on the other. Zipper foot in action
Sew sides together Join up the 2 hadron parts and the 2 quark sets. Close the zip and pin the 2 hadron parts together, right sides facing in. Run around the seam line with machine stitching, from zip end to zip end. Catch the ends of the zip tape in the seam so they are lost between the layers of the finished item.
Pin the 2 half-quark sets together and sew all the way around the outer quarks and part way around the middle quark. Leave a gap of about 6cm. Use this gap to turn the quarks outside in, over the hadron. Open the zip – which may be a struggle – and check that the quarks can fold into the hadron through the zip and the hadron identity appears. Turn back to quark side out and hand sew the 6cm gap closed. Hand sewing the last bit, with added grubby thumbnail
Finished neutron, lovingly lit Use a sharp point such as a bamboo skewer to pick the fur out of the seams and your hadron is finished!

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