Saturday, 14 December 2013

Year end in sight: time to make new plans. Part One - Two New Cuddlies are here!

With Christmas 2013 almost upon us and the last Etsy orders fulfilled, and hopefully en route to reach their various destinations in time, it's now time to think about what is going to happen to in 2014.  With that in mind, and realising that most of the Cuddlies models have been replaced/made in the same way since we started four years ago, - our anniversary is February 2014 -  when we had to make another Mrs. White Rabbit (Etsy Listing # 72168846) and a Mrs Brown Rabbit (Etsy Listing # 60491625) I decided that there would a modification in their appearance - to include a juicy carrot in a pocket in their respective aprons.

So, while undertaking this re-make, Cy  Bear and I decided it would be a good idea to show you how we went about this new project and this is how it went.

Each individual toy has 16 different pieces - from the skirt and top - including the arms and paws, via head (ears and all), the body- which is made separately from the clothing, and finally the apron, pocket and carrot pieces.  I decided to cut out four sets - two for the White Rabbits (seen in the back ground of the picture) and two set for the Brown Rabbits.  Readers will recall that this replacement was needed as we had an order to provide either a Brown or White Rabbit for MrsEB in Queensland, Australia.  I decided to make two of each, so that when the choice had been made, there would still be at least one of each in the Shop, before a further replacement was needed for fortunate Rabbit who had found a Forever Home.

The Brown Rabbits were to be dressed in Green Candy-striped Poplin and the White ones were made up in a Purple and White Striped/Floral Pattern which has been used for both our White and Grey Rabbits (Etsy Listing #63379098) to date, but will shortly not be available - because there is no more of it to be had!  These will have Green Felt Shoes to match the former's dresses, while the White Rabbits are going to have Black Felt versions.

(Running out of fabric is an occupational hazard when one is using off-cuts provided from my usual source in Frome, Somerset - The Fine Quality Feather Company, who are soft furnishing manufacturers with a seemingly endless supply of unusual plush faux furs and other interesting materials.  But it does also mean that one can vary the look of one's Toys as one goes along as well.  I've been lucky to date to have had the option of making several similar versions since first registering on Etsy).

To begin the construction process, and because I was making four sets of the same thing I actually decided to use my sewing machine.  That certainly sped up the process of producing the bodies, pantaloons, bodice, skirt and aprons. (It took me an evening to make the four sets, as well as the four bodies). Here the first two of each pair of Rabbits can be seen with their various bits sewn together before they get made into a finished Toy - first are those for White Rabbit.  (Once all the straight seams were done, I then reverted to my normal hand sewing activities.  It's much easier and far quicker that way!)

Next here are the same pieces made up for the Brown version.

You can see the clothing pieces are arranged on the left of the picture, with the body in the middle (with the carrot pieces ready to be stuffed and attached), then on the right of the photo are the head (rear), two ears, two shoes and the white fluffy tail.

This time around I decided to make the bodice in such a way that the paws and arms were slotted in once the front and back of each bodice had been attached at the shoulders.  The furry paws are sewn to the arms first, and then the arms are sewn in at the shoulder seams.  Then it is possible to sew the under-arm and side seams at the same time.  It results in a smoother look in the end.  You can see from the Brown Rabbit photo, that the pocket has been appliqued on to the apron, and the ribbon waistband attached.  I tidied up the side seams of the aprons with seam binding in the matching colour and when I made the skirts for each Rabbit, I attached the "Coldham Cuddlies" label at the back seam. (I cheated a little when doing the hems for both apron and skirt - by using the machine and stitching it with a wide button hole stitch, rather than hemming each item (a process I find extremely tedious when having to do it by hand!).

There is actually only one seam for each skirt, and I usually turn up the hems before attaching the skirt to the body, once that has been stuffed. The calico body has two seams at the place where the legs curve to make the hips.  One seam is a straight side-to-side and then - starting about half an inch (5cm) on each side from that straight seam, I sew a seam with a slight curve in it.  This ensures that the Lady Rabbits sit down, rather than stand - although in these cases, the material used for the aprons was sufficiently stiff to allow them to stand upright (at least for as long as it was needed to photograph the finished toys, anyway!)

Then comes the fun part - putting the various pieces together.  Now as I'm doing four Rabbits at the same time, and I don't want this post to be too long, I'm going to finish this post now - and complete the description of how the Mrs Rabbits are put together next time.

Until then - Good Night and Bless you all.   Isobel