Monday, 18 February 2013

Making of the Buchanan foxes - Part One

As regular Followers (now 300 - the magic number has been surpassed:  finally!) of this Blog will recall, whilst I do purchase fabrics for the manufacture of the ColdhamCuddlies, I do try mostly to use off-cuts where they are available.  I am lucky to have a ready source of such materials from an upholstery factory in nearby Frome, Somerset (about 10 miles from where I live here in Heytesbury, Wiltshire).  If I did not take these off-cuts (and they tend to be mostly the unusual furry fabrics  used for my Teddy Bears, Wombats and Hedgehogs), these unwanted pieces of fabric would end up on local land-fill sites and land for such rubbish is not unlimited (especially in a small island like the United Kingdom!)

I also purchase my supply of polyester fibre used for stuffing all the ColdhamCuddlies from the same factory (at trade bulk prices, rather than the retail charges  normally available to crafters).  It was when I was picking up 4 one kilo (nearly 9 lbs in all) bags of the fibrefill just after Christmas that I also found a large plastic bag (the same size as the 4 kilo bag illustrated in my penultimate post on Transforming TW Bear - Part Two- 08/02/2013) of choice off-cuts too.  Among the furry fabrics on offer was a separate bag of tartan offcuts, of which the Buchanan plaid was most prolific.

There were three large pieces available - just the right size for the Foxes' skirts - plus several smaller pieces which were used for the bodices and will be just the thing for shirts for the next batch of Gentleman Foxes that are on the "To Do" List.  So, I set about making three versions of the Lady Foxes - and here is a description of the production process.  (There are several other, very colourful , plaid fabrics to be used - but there are no hard and fast plans on how they will be used at the moment!)

First of all, I made the three skirts - and decided to decorate them with different coloured RicRac trimming.  I loathe hemming with a passion - always have:  so, using the RicRac enables me to create a hem  and decorate the dress at the same time!  Always like to find ways of cutting the production process time if possible. The trimming is attached with embroidered French Knots in a contrasting yarn.   These three Ladies have taken me about 8-9 evenings in all - with blogging and other Etsy marketing activities having to be fitted in between (as well as general living chores to undertake!)

The Dress Skirts, decorated and ready for use

All the dressed toys (with the exception of the Coyotes) are usually started by cutting out the bodies in calico (using the sheeting material in which the polyester fibre is supplied - I abhor waste of any kind, so everything that is useable is utilised when I make my Cuddlies).  When I travelled to Normandy in October, I actually took some cut out bodies with me.  The aim being to keep my mind from the English Channel's swell on my return journey, as well as to keep my arthritic fingers moving.  While visiting my family in Normandy and on the return trip back to the UK, I sewed up three Lady and three Gentleman toy bodies.

One of the latter was used for a Coyote that is now living happily in Edmonton Canada, and was a custom order from my younger daughter, Clare who is God Mother to the Coyote's recently arrived Forever Friend, AndyB.  The three lady bodies now comprise the Buchanan Foxes and there are two Gentleman's bodies waiting to be utilised!

Having cut out all the pieces required to make three different versions of the Lady foxes, the the process of putting them together began.

Fox heads, ears, shoes, bodies,skirts and arms x 3

All the bodies pieces for lady Cuddlies have two seams made at the top of the legs. One straight across from left to right (or right to left - if one is that way inclined) and the other starting from one side, making an arc to the orther (with about a quarter of an inch between the two sewing lines).  This enables the toys to sit all the time, whereas the Boys are expected to stand upright!  Once stuffed (from the bottom upwards for the legs and from the top downwards for the body), the shoes are stuffed and added to the body.  Then, the pantaloons are sewn and edged with lace or other appropriate trimming.  In these cases, I had some pretty white cotton edging to hand, and decided to use that instead of lace for a change.

Body, with shoes, pantaloons ready 

The next stage is for the head, and arms (with plush paws attached before stuffing) to be made and sewn on to the bodice for each Toy.  One has to remember that one needs to put the eyes in before one stuffs the head (something I have been known to omit! - with the resulting need to de-stuff and start again!).  Then the ears are made up (lining piece and plush sewn together, turned inside out and then over-sewn at the bottom.  I find this makes it easier to sew the ears on upright when attaching them to the head).  Ears can be a problem for me sometimes - but on this occasion, all three went on first time, which was a pleasant change!

This post has now gone on long enough, and there is a need for me to end anyway as I have to prepare a meal for both Philippa (elder daughter) and myself prior to my returning to High Wycombe (home to Philippa for a few days' away from base.)  While I shall be checking my emails while away, I may not be able to do another post  - but will endeavour to do so if at all possible.  I have sufficent material for at least another three more posts and I may have computer time at some time during the week.  As Philippa works from home, her needs take priority, as I am sure you will all understand.

Cy Bear is therefore on guard duty over the ColdhamCuddlies family, together with providing company to the latest Patient in the Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic - one Turner Bear, whom Cy Bear is most anxious to tell you about as soon as possible, even though his treatment has not yet begun, and he has news to impart about Golden Teddy and Ben, the Barn Owl, who have safely reached their respective Forever Homes.

(This is going to be posted off Philippa's computer, as I'd hoped:  the other posts will need to wait until I return, because obviously (at least to all those computer literate Followers of mine) my pictures are filed on MY OWN hard drive, and not on Philippa's!   I will be able to draft, minus illustrations, though, so will prepare the posts alluded to here, and post them after I return to Heytesbury  - on or after February 25).

Until the next time, then.  Keep safe all of you - and may the weather be kind to everyone.  We've all had some awful experiences in that sphere in recent weeks and months, and it's about time the omens changed, methinks!  Isobel