Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Making of Mrs. Fox - Part 1

Having spent the last few weeks making Bears (two Hairy Bears and Cy Bear himself) decided that I needed to have a change in toy-making procedures.  Since November, when the replacement Foxes for Freda and Freddy Boss Fox ( listing #62236207 and #62236009 respectively) found their way to Western Canada and a new home with my little great neice, I've been meaning to get round to it, but something always intervened.

Making foxes has always been a favourite pastime for me - the first  one made was for my elder daughter, when we were living in Edmonton, Alberta and it was also the first toy I'd made for about 15 years.    She called her Fanny and if memory serves, her dress was made using a small blue gingham printed cotton material.  It was in the late 1970's/early 1980's that this happened, and I don't think this version survives.  On the other hand, I made one a year or two later for my younger daughter, and that one is still going strong! 

So, last week-end, I dug around in my material cupboard - keep forgetting what I've been given., so it was a lot of fun - until I had to put everything back again!  Must  not complain, because I  have really been so lucky with the generous folks hereabouts (even though I suspect I am doing them a favour sometimes - as it's giving them more space in their cupboards).  Having selected some colourful material and cut out the patterns for a Mrs. Fox, I found that the selected remnant was big enough to give me three outfits.  So once the current Mrs. Fox is completed, I may two a couple more - or then, I may do another Mrs. Rabbit ....  In't it wonderful to have the luxury of being able to choose?  Though I'd just as soon welcome some more commissions as well.

Anyway, back to my current story.  Once the pattern pieces are all cut out, then the sewing begins.  One begins with the body, for which I use plain material  - calico, sheeting or something similar for preference.  At this stage, I often resort to my sewing machine to do the seams - takes less time and the seams hold as well as those that are hand made.  I attach the sleeves from the dress to the paws, stuff them and attach them at the appropriate places to the body.  I do two lines of stitches where the legs join the body - the top one with a curve, which allows the toy to sit  Then the body is stuffed.  The pattern for all my lady toys  allows the toy to sit, rather than stand.  Standing is an occupation reserved for the Mr. Foxes.

Then the felt shoes (pale blue fleece type material - again a donation) are sewn up, stuffed and attached to the legs.  Then come the pantaloons, decorated with a pale blue zig-zag braid I had in stock from another commission and the waist is gathered up and the whole thing sewn to the body, both at the waist and ankles.

Showing shoes and pantaloons
Then I make the dress skirt and top.  This is the time that I fix any additional decoration on.  In this case, I sewed on red zig-zig braid to the lower skirt, just above the hem and at the waist - picking out the red parts in the material design.  The dress top is attached to the arms with ladder stitch (resulting in "invisible" stitches) and the dress is completed by being gathered at the neck and stitched to the body.  It is also stitched to the body at the waist, with the top over the gathered skirt.  (This is when the braid is attached to the waistline).

Mrs Fox, Stage 1, with sewing aids

I'll finish the description of how Mrs. Foxes are made with the next post.  Meanwhile, I'll close for tonight.  Isobel