softie

Another peek behind the scenes …

by Helen on September 14, 2014

Thank you so much everyone for all your kind comments on the making of Miss Matilda Catkin – who I’m delighted to report is now finished, though I haven’t taken her official photographs yet.  But a lot of people told me they liked to see what went on behind the scenes, before I present my finished projects, so I thought you might like a peep into this afternoon’s activities.

Of course before you start work it’s very important to make sure your “helpers” are all quiet and content – especially our little visitor who, I have to say, is more trouble than both the Newfies put together.  However, even lively energetic puppies have to stop and rest sometimes ….

She looks as though she’s finally managed to find her inner newfie – though I don’t think for a moment she’ll stay this way for long!  But anyway, while they were all resting, having enjoyed fun and games in the garden, a long walk, and a delicious tea, I sat down and switched on my laptop.  It’s been cloudy and a little chilly here this afternoon, so I’m back indoors ….

Though there’s no need to light the log burner just yet!  Here’s the view from my laptop – I am stacking up projects that need their patterns writing for this month’s Bustle & Sew Magazine.  There’s my Toadstools Patchwork bag and Miss Matilda Catkin – looking very pretty in her vintage feedsack dress with little lace trim.  She also has a lovely necklace decorated with a flower-shaped button, but I’m not sure if you can make it out very well in this picture.  My Cath Kidston mug was a gift from Rosie a few years ago now.  Sadly it has a hairline crack in the side so I can’t use it for coffee any more, but it looks very pretty holding an assortment of pens, pencils and brushes. At the back is a blue box that contained my new camera – very exciting!  I’m still learning how to use it, but already I think I’m taking much better pictures than before.  Then on the other side of my laptop (I’m a very messy worker I’m afraid) ….

Is what I think will be the final set of three images for my Christmas Woodland Friends hoops.  There’s a bear, fox and (disappearing from view on the right) a rabbit wearing his Christmas stockings on his ears!  I draw my designs out quite a few times, tweaking and changing, before I reach this final version that I hope will be good enough to scan and print ready to work with.  You can see the dotted lines marking the bottom of the hoops and at the top is a rejected bear  – I think there was a problem with his scarf.

Then over the coming evenings I’ll be stitching them ready to photograph for the magazine.  But my canine friends are on the move and I think I’d better go and see what’s happening – what mischief Tilly has led Daisy and Ben into now, I wonder!?

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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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September’s Projects …

by Helen on August 9, 2014

Just a quick peek ….

The first two projects for the September Magazine xx

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At last the sunshine has returned, and though I don’t think you could call it hot, certainly there’s a pleasant warmth in the air and so I’ve been able to take my work out to the summer house today.  I’ve been finishing off another project for the July issue of the magazine – another trophy head – a Hare in a Hat!

Inspired by the lovely brown hares I see running and gambolling across the fields when I take Ben and Daisy to their favourite kennels.  And of course the furry pair were outside with me this afternoon, “helping” in their own special way.  Here’s a view of the summer house with my hare on the wall ready to have her picture taken ….

And it’s easy to spot Ben, snoozing gently on the warm slate paving.  But where, I wondered, as I took this photo, is Daisy?  Not far away was the answer – all tucked up in my favourite clematis and far too sleepy on this warm and drowsy afternoon to open her eyes, even just a little bit …

Naughty girl – she knows she’s not supposed to be in the flower beds!  Perhaps she thought if she didn’t open her eyes I wouldn’t be able to see her?

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