Monday, 16 January 2012

Rejuvenation of Big Koala

This looks like being a joint production between Cy Bear and myself - since he mentioned my involvement in the various stages of rejuvenating Big Koala (as opposed to the Little Koalas (Etsy Listing #55190188) already in the ColdhamCuddlies shop at  This turned out to be a much more involved job than I had originally anticipated.

When Big Koala arrived as an in-patient at the ColdhamCuddlies Soft Toy Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185) in mid-summer 2011, he was a very heavy toy indeed and really could not be described as either cuddly or soft.  He was very heavy and hard and as his Best Friend, RE told us, had sat on a bed for all the time he could remember - never having been played with at all.  He really did not encourage cuddling or playing.  He just SAT - as this picture of him shows:

In the garden, with his friend Ed Ted
When I began to assess him, it became obvious that he was not going to be able to get the same treatment that Ed Ted had received for example.  Although looking in a lot better shape than Ed Ted had on his arrival, once I began to unpick the stitching, I found that his skin was actually real hide, very tough (through being over 40 years old) and quite unsuitable for recovering with a new fabric coat.  So, while still being careful to keep all the pieces in the same order, I resolved to create a new template, and once that had been achieved to discard the skin all together.

Koala's back pieces ready for a template to be drawn

The rest of Big Koala's bits and pieces, with his base on the right

I then separated the skin from the stuffing - which was absolutely rock solid, felt somewhat sticky to the touch and had a very faint whiff of eucalyptus or some such odour.  This caused me to conclude that the stuffing could well have been eucalyptus bark.  I had to use my hand-held "Dust Buster" vacuum to clear it from the hide and collected some of it in a plastic bag - shown below - prior to discarding everything to do with the original Koala toy.

Koala's original stuffing
Once this process had been completed, the cardboard templates of New Big Koala were put in my usual envelope filing system to await his reconstruction.  The Christmas Bazaar, Christmas itself and other family events intervened, so it was only last week that I was able to get down to cutting out the new member of the ColdhamCuddlies family, and start the sewing process.

Cy Bear taking over from here - at Isobel's insistence!  She found the reconstruction process a lot easier than taking Big Koala apart had been.  The sequence of putting the parts together is also completely different, apparently, to the way she does the rest of us Bears, but in the end a lot easier.  There are a lot fewer seams involved and, of course, no joints to be taken into consideration.  His eyes went in much easier than Isobel has found to be the case when making some of the other Cuddlies, so she is very pleased with the new pattern she now has to offer friends, family and visitors to our Etsy shop at www,

She made the head first - and to begin with wasn't too sure that she had got the seams in the right order.

As it looks here, his muzzle is far too long and pointed, and she was somewhat concerned that the leather nose would not show up properly.  When she came to put the head on the body (shown below), she realised her mistake - she had not sewn up enough of the neck area, apparently! - quickly corrected it and the result was much more satisfactory.

Body, without stuffing, but with claws in place
Big Koala's claws are made from some of the dark brown leather off-cuts Isobel has been able to source from the Dents' Glove Factory in Warminster, Wiltshire, and taken from one of the only original claws on Big Koala in his previous guise.

Isobel then had to stuff both pieces of the new Koala frame.  His eyes were put in before she began stuffing the head and ears - the other Bears' ears do not need that treatment, but Big Koala's do.  Then the two bits were sewn together, leaving an opening at the top of Koala's back through which the stuffing has to be  pushed.

Please ignore the electric tooth brush, and broadband connection hub in the background, if you can!
This picture shows Big Koala with his two pieces in place, but minus any stuffing.  Once that had been done, Isobel closed the gap, and hey "voila" (as the French would say), there was the new, modern Big Koala ready to be introduced to the world, once Isobel had embroidered in his mouth.

When measured up against Hairy Bear 4 and me, he is just about the same size in height  - 36cms  from his base to the middle of his forehead over his nose (14-1/4 inches).  He is actually fatter than any of us Bears, but doesn't have the separate arms and legs like us.  However, his girth is 58 cms, if he is measured between his arms and legs (22-3/4 inches) and Isobel says he took as much, if not a little more, polyester fibre to complete.

Showing the different shape that Big Koala is
So, when she's done this blog tonight, Isobel  is going to list him in the Etsy Shop ( at the same price as she charges for all of us Bears (except me, of course). As the Official Mascot to ColdhamCuddlies, I'm not for sale!).

As a final picture - here is one of  the ColdhamCuddlies' Koalas all together. 

Good night to you all - Cy Bear and Isobel.