Noel, The Christmas Rabbit, as he seems destined to be called, is not quite complete, although he looks like it to me. However, Isobel has just decided that his boots don't look right, so they're coming off tonight, before his final portrait is taken, and together with his various other views, listed at www.coldhamcuddlies.etsy.com. Apparently, when sewing them on, the right boot went on the left leg and vice versa! Result is that he doesn't look quite right and standing is definitely not too easy for him at the moment!
Before going any further, though: here are some pictures of Noel's head before it got completed and fixed to the body - which usually is one of the last items to be added when Isobel makes one of these toys.
This picture is Noel's right side image, with his eyes and ears added. The next one shows him head-on, but still needing his facial features. You can see - he's a very hairy rabbit! And, because we've finished all the brown plush fabric, he's also likely to be a "one-off"!
You had a taster in our last post - when Isobel was announcing the arrival of her new camera - of what his jacket looked like at the beginning of the dressmaking process. Here's the jacket, the other way around, with the edging being where the hem of the jacket is when finally completed:
Alas, this is really mid-way into the process of making a Gentleman Rabbit - be he a Daddy, Uncle, Cousin or whatever! But, Isobel forgot to take the pictures as she was going along doing this fellow, so she will include these early steps when she makes up the two Uncle Brendan replacements - which are next-but-one in her list of "Things to Do!"
The reason they are not the next item is that there seems to be a dearth of brown plush fur fabric to be purchased anywhere we've tried, and Isobel is having to wait until the end of this week before she can get any to make the two Uncle Brendans!
Noel has been made with the last of her brown plush fabric stock, after making the two Brown Rabbit Glove Puppets in time for the MacMillan Cancer bazaar at the end of September - and try as hard as she has, so far, Isobel has been unable to locate anything - on the internet or locally. She's been promised some for Friday this week, by our local haberdashery supplier in Warminster, so we're all keeping our fingers crossed. We did get a sample sent from the supplier of the fleece we're going to use to rejuvenate Tommy Teddy. I'm told it was beautiful quality stuff - but far too good (and therefore pricey) for the job(s) they are intended for. As a ladies' coat, absolutely spot on: as a skin for a cuddly toy, well - not really appropriate!
So, having missed the basic elements of rabbit body making, here is the first shot of Noel, The Christmas Rabbit beginning to get dressed. Once his body is stuffed, Isobel makes his plus-fours/jodhpurs/riding kit - call them what you like - and fits them on to the body. Noel's are made in a shiny, silvery satin type fabric which we felt looks nice and festive! To keep the trousers' shape, Isobel then added a little of the polyester fibre stuffing. With the darts that are added to the waist line, it's usually a pretty tight fit, so adding the stuffing can be tricky - but is usually accomplished with the aid of a judicially placed knitting needle, shoving the fibre between leg and trousers!
Isobel then makes up and puts on the waistcoat. It's cut out double, front and back being sewn separately, turned inside out and pressed and then sewn together at shoulders and along the side seams. They have to be fitted individually, because whatever Isobel does, she can never make an identical body each time she makes a toy - whether it is a lady toy or a gentleman one.
Here is Noel with his waistcoat on, showing his jacket arms already in place, together with his furry paws.
Once the waistcoat is on, the furry white bobtail is sewn together, stuffed and added to the body, and when adding the jacket, Isobel has to make sure there is a gap cut and sewn in the jacket back to accommodate it. You can see that quite clearly in the jacket picture above, as well as the taster photo in our previous post.
|Tail being attached with yellow-headed quilting pins, and cotton trailing|
Then she adds the jacket, which she has sewn together at the shoulder seams and neck. The jacket is lined in order to hide the seams because velvet - as everyone who has used the fabric knows, frays incredibly. Sometimes, Isobel has to over sew all the seams, but on this occasion, it was not necessary on all the seams. So that saved some time. The jacket arms have already been made and sewn into the body, so the jacket is added and sewn to the body, using ladder stitch all round the armhole gap - which is why all our rabbits have arms outstretched to their sides. That's the way the pattern goes!
Once the jacket is on, then come the boots, which have to be sewn together, individually, and Isobel tries to help them to stand up by themselves, by adding a bit of cardboard cut in the shape of the sole of the boot before she adds the stuffing. It's not always successful, but does give them some sort of a platform which helps them to lean better against an upright wall, shelf or what-ever! All gentleman toys boots are made in real leather - this fabric is obtained as off-cuts from a local glove manufacturer, based in Warminster. The firm is called Dents, and has been making gloves and handbags for over 150 years here in the West Country of the UK.
A contrast piece of felt is then cut, sewn and added to the bottom of the trouser leg and then the boot gets sewn on - in theory at least. However, Isobel really does have a problem sometimes in getting the boot and legs right first time around. Noel is not the first one to have his boots taken off and re-fitted - and I don't expect he will be the last either!
(Don't tell anyone, but she has a similar problem with getting heads on the toys first time around too! She had quite a job with mine, before she was satisfied, and Noel's had to be taken off at least once! Still, that, I suppose, is the good thing about hand-making soft toys - you can change it before you finally list it on www.coldhamcuddlies.etsy.com!)
While Isobel has been waiting for the brown plush fabric to arrive, she has not been idle - you'll be pleased to hear, I'm sure! The four little bunnies destined for Saudi Arabia have been cut out and sewing has gone ahead - for two reasons. The little six-year old girl for whom they are to become a birthday present needs them by November 29, and they have to be on their way as soon as possible, in order to negotiate the postal services involved between the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia. Two are completed, a third is almost there and the final one has to be stuffed, and have his ears and tail sewn on. We're hoping they will be on their way by the middle of this week.
The next post will show Noel, The Christmas Rabbit completed and ready for listing (if he has not already arrived at the www.coldhamcuddlies.etsy.com shop). We will wait to tell you about the production of the Saudi Arabian bunnies, and show pictures of them, until they have safely arrived. After all, they are as much a surprise to MB-P and her sister, CB-P, as they will be to their little baby-sitting client and to show them in a blog post before they arrive would spoil it for all concerned. We know that we have readers in Saudi Arabia (according to the Blogger Stats, anyway) so they may be among them! Suffice to say that Isobel and I think they're very sweet and that they should be enjoyed by all concerned!
That's it for now. Goodnight everyone! Cy Bear.