felt

The making of Miss Matilda Catkin, or ….

by Helen on September 12, 2014

…. why you should never give up on your softie!

As a child I much preferred my collection of stuffed animals to the dolls that misguided relatives presented me with from time to time. These were always left on my toyshelf – beautiful – and often naked as I would heartlessly remove their pretty clothing to dress my teddies, rabbits and most favourite of all, my panda! Now I love to design and make my own softies, and sometimes it’s hard to limit myself to just one in each issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine.  But sometimes, even after carefully drafting and re-drafting my pattern pieces, as well as making a sample in some scrap fabric, actually continuing with a softie make can be a bit of a leap of faith.

This year I’ve enjoyed putting together a collection of long-limbed, jointed softies, beginning in January with Fred and Ginger the dancing rats …

Then continuing with Miss Mabel Fox, and later in the summer Emily (and Albert) Rabbit……

And this month I thought it would be fun to add a cat to the collection.  I knew the body should be fine, although I made a couple of small adjustments to the limbs, giving my cat rounder paws, to which I plan to add little stitched claws.  But the head was trickier.

Here she’s beginning to take shape.  I decided to add nice plump little cheeks – I’ve been staring very hard at some of the cats that live nearby, and have noticed they have quite round faces that only narrow to little pointed noses quite low down.  I’ve marked the position of her eyes with glass-headed pins to try to imagine how she’ll look, but honestly?  I’m not feeling too enthusiastic at this point.  But experience told me to persevere, so I gave her a body and a nice long tail with a cream tip to twitch …..

(yes, it’s been warm enough to sit and sew in the summer house still .. lovely!).  Then the next afternoon she grew a leg ….

And a temporary nose – an old button secured in place with another pin (sorry Miss Matilda!).  And I could at last begin to imagine how she would come together.  This morning I finally finished assembling her body, giving her proper beady eyes, a pink button nose and long whiskers.  Now she’s helping choose the fabrics for her dress – and perhaps she needs a flower or a headband too?

I’m glad I persevered with Miss Matilda Catkin and think she’ll look very cute when she’s finally finished.  But I have noticed that almost all my softies seem to go through that ugly stage, when I ever-so-nearly lose faith and think they’ll never turn out OK.  If this happens to you too, and you’ve discarded any half-finished softie projects, then it might be worth taking a second look as they (nearly) always come right in the end!

 

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Happy colours, splashy pups (part one)

by Helen on December 10, 2013

I love visiting our local garden centre, Avon Mill near Loddiswell.  It’s grown up around an old mill on the River Avon and is a great outing for us all – dogs are allowed too – that’s well behaved dogs Miss Daisy!  When I was a youngster I used to dread my parents’ trips to Watkins Roses, our local garden centre.  Back then these places were soooo boring, just acres of plants which had no interest to me at all as a child.  But today garden centres are so much more than just plants.  Avon Mill has a lovely restaurant – their jacket potatoes are to die for, and a selection of small shops, including a deli with a sweet counter …

Sugar mice in potYes, a couple of those pink and white sugar mice did  find their way home with me!  There’s always plenty of cheerful colour, delightful on a grey December day …

Garden centre colour

 And there’s lots of colour in my latest pattern for the January issue of my magazine too …. 

handukkar 004

Two Dala Horses and some folk embroidery.  Bright primary, happy colours using simple felt applique and crewel wool worked on a neutral linen background.  It’s funny how designs develop – I was thinking of horses as 2014 sees the Chinese Year of the Horse, but I also really love the folksy Scandinavian look and the Dala Horse appealed  as a good way to combine these two ideas.  I’m enjoying rediscovering crewel wool, I haven’t worked with Appleton’s wool for many years and I’d forgotten how much I like it – look out for more crewel work in future issues! 

But what about the splashy pups? I hear you ask!  I think I mentioned that Avon Mill Garden Centre is directly on the River Avon – there’s bit of a clue there!  Back soon to show you what the terrible twosome got up to!

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Fred & Ginger: A Giveaway to Enter!

by Helen on December 6, 2013

I haven’t had a giveaway here on my blog for quite a while so I think it’s time to put that right!  But before I tell you what it’s all about, I really must show you a picture…  In my last post I mentioned the problems of effective time management when living with two furry friends who feel that my life should be spent giving them everything they want.   In Daisy’s case this means playing and lots of walks.  She has developed a habit of sitting next to the table as I work and if I ignore her then she begins to stare – very hard indeed!

DaisyIt’s very hard to concentrate when she’s doing this, which of course is the whole point!  “Work not going too well Mum?  Let’s go for a walk instead, or perhaps a nice game of tug-o-war will help refresh your brain.”  Little monster!

Fred & Ginger

But back to my giveaway….. I’m a bit of a Strictly Come Dancing fan (how dare they eliminate Ben?!?), and my Saturday evenings are filled with tinsel and twirling – on the TV that is – not me!  So I thought it would be nice to include a Strictly-inspired pattern in the next issue of the Bustle & Sew e-Magazine.  And here are Fred and Ginger, the two little ballroom dancing rats, seen above in profile, and below in all their glory ….

Fred & Ginger

 The giveaway is your chance to win a Fred or Ginger kit (your choice) that contains everything you need to make your very own little dancing ratty!  They’re quite large – about 12″ from ears to toes with moveable joints – buttons and strong threads and lovely button noses.  

Caption Competition

 To enter all you need to do is leave a comment on this post and, just for fun (not essential), suggest a fun caption for the picture of Fred and Ginger above.  The winner will be chosen by random selection.  The giveaway will close on Thursday 12 December and winner will be announced the following week.  I will post your Fred (or Ginger) kit anywhere in the world – and hopefully it will be with you before Christmas!  

Good luck everyone!

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Softies – not just for Christmas!

by Helen on December 1, 2013

Bustle & Sew Softies

I’m already looking beyond Christmas makes – to the next issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine – unbelievably that’s January 2014!  But the fun (and the softie-making) won’t stop when Christmas is over – here’s a sneak preview of the first pattern for the January issue ….

Mouselet

 Here is Fred, looking a little forlorn.  He is still waiting for (1) his outfit and (2) his beloved – I have a bit of a Fred and Ginger moment going on here in honour of Strictly – watch out for developments!!

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