fox

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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Owls, foxes and our new bunny …

by Helen on August 11, 2014

I’ve been very busy over the weekend working on the patterns for the September issue of the magazine, including my first Christmas pattern of the year (catch a glimpse of my penguin over on Instagram).  In September my thoughts begin to turn away from the beach inland towards the woods as the trees begin to shed the first of their leaves and mushrooms and toadstools peek up through the mossy ground. So I thought it would be fun to create a woodland-style tea cosy for the September issue and at first was considering an owl …..

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And put together a whole board of owls on Pinterest while I was looking.  There are so many lovely knitted owl tea cosies, but not many that are sewn.  I was nearly decided upon an owl, when I spotted a lovely illustration  …..

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From the very talented EvaJuliet’s shop on Etsy.   I did a little bit more searching and discovered that whilst there were lots of beautiful owl cosies, nobody seemed to have created a pattern for fox-lovers.   So yesterday afternoon while the Newfies were sleeping I did a little measuring and cutting, stitching and snipping and came up with ….

A sleepy fox tea cosy!  Perfect to keep my pot lovely and snug during the colder months.  The pattern for my sleepy fox cosy will be in the September issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine.  Which will also have a bit of a makeover, including the new Bustle & Sew bunny on the cover for the first time……

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Isn’t she adorable!  Next month’s issue will also have some extra goodies inside with more to follow over the coming months!  This website is going to be given a new look in September too – with the updated Bustle & Sew bunny and a more modern (though still very cute!) style.  I do hope you’ll like it!

And finally … thank you so much to everyone who sent lovely emails and messages of support to Ben after his operation and sad experience with some very rude people.  Image4

He’s now fully recovered and allowed to go swimming again.  Here he is about to dive in – what could be a nicer start to the day? he thinks.

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I think the question I am asked more often than any other is how I transfer my design from paper to fabric.  There are very many ways of doing this, and I talk about a few of the more usual ones in my little e-book “Simple Stitchery”  (available on the free patterns page of this site).  But often people are intrigued by what appear to be graphite pencil lines (but they’re not!) on my fabric …

I use a slightly risky method to transfer my pattern – I say risky as there is the potential for damaging both self and fabric in the process  – which is why I would never recommend anyone else to try it, or at least issue the warning “do so at your own risk!”  But it does give excellent results so if you are interested, then here’s how I do it …..

When I’m creating a design like my little Friendly Fox (he’ll be in the July issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine) I first draw him out with pen and ink, making many revisions and using plenty of tracing paper before I’m completely happy with the result.  Then I scan the image and clean up any background smudges etc using Photoshop.  Although I draw with a fine black pen, I use the colour changer tool to make sure that any lines that have scanned as a dark grey are black as this technique only works with strong black lines.  Finally I reverse the image and print a mirror image onto ordinary paper using my laser printer.

Then it’s over to the heatpress.  I set the temperature at 195oC and the timer to around 70 secs.  The fabric goes in right side up and the paper on top, right side down.  Once the fabric has cooled, then I peel off the paper – which can then be used for tracing applique shapes onto my Bondaweb as it’s a reverse image.

I find this method is great for crisp detailed transfer of images onto light coloured fabric.  It is a permanent transfer, so you have to be sure to cover the lines with your stitching/applique.  Obviously it only works with cotton, linen or cotton/linen blend light coloured fabrics and there is always the danger of scorching your fabric.

I have done many test prints in the past, and it’s taken a lot of trial and error to arrive at the above settings, which is why I wouldn’t advise anyone to simply follow my method.  But if you do have the right equipment (I don’t know if it would work with a hot iron or not, I’ve never tried) and are willing to experiment, then you could find the results are well worthwhile.

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A very clever softie in a very silly post!

by Helen on April 9, 2014

This morning as I sat at my table sewing my new top, my eye was caught by a tiny movement in the corner of my workroom ….

Who could it be?  No, not the French hens .. nor the lovebirds …  But wait – I see –  what is my little fox in a frock doing?  Let’s look a little closer ….

She’s taught herself to embroider.  What a clever fox!  What beautiful neat work!

Especially as she only has felt paws!  Well done Miss Fox.  Her vintage bluebird pattern is from an old pattern sheet with half a dozen different bluebird designs and I’ll include it in the May magazine as well as the pattern for Miss Fox.  

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