Sunday, 22 December 2013

Making New Cuddlies for 2014 - Part Three

Hello Everyone:

 Cy Bear back again, and this time we're determined to finish this post about the Replacement Brown & White Rabbits - because Christmas is rapidly approaching, and we want to get the information out to you all, so that Isobel can post about some other things that she's planning for 2014 - for both the shop and the blog!

Etsy Listing #60491625
Here is the Brown Plush Rabbit, completed with her apron and carrot safely stitched into the apron pocket.  The latter is only stitched to keep it from falling out every time the Rabbit gets moved or played with.  Isobel tells me that anyone can unpick the stitching if they decide they don't want to have the carrot there.

This is the rear view, obviously, of one of the Brown Plush Rabbits, showing how the apron has been tied around the white furry Bobtail.  The tails' final shape determines how they get  fixed to the Toy, and thus how the apron ribbons get arranged as well!  It's all part of making the point that our toys are all HAND MADE by Isobel, and thus are individual as well.  She is incapable of making two of us EXACTLY the same!

You'll notice a label on each of these Rabbits - this was so that MrsEB in Australia could choose which one she wanted us to send her.  And you can see that there was a slight variation in the way the collars were decorated.  No 1 had a Chain Stitch decoration around the edge of the collar, with one orange French Knot at the corners.  No.2 had alternate orange and green French Knots all around the collar. Their apron bows are also slightly different, because No. 2 is made with  shot-silk ribbon that Isobel had in her stash:  while No.1 has green satin ribbon, which we've recently purchased to do this project - and any slippers/toys that may require a green trimming in the future They look like this from the front.

  MrsEB originally ordered a White Plush Lady Rabbit, but during the course of the order being produced, changed her mind and decided to go with Rabbit No.2.  Yesterday, on the site, MrsEB wrote a review to this effect, which also tells us that everyone who travelled in the same parcel to Sunnybank Hills, Queensland, Australia have arrived safely

"We actually bought the brown rabbit, and she is gorgeous and beautifully dressed in her green gown and apron. Many thanks Isobel have a lovely Christmas and I will send photos as soon as practical".

Just to round off the post, here are similar views of the White Plush Rabbits, together with their respective labels.  Obviously, we'll include the pictures as and when they arrive - it is dependent upon the arrival of a Little Girl sometime in the New Year, we understand.

Etsy Listing #721688846
The material Isobel used to make all the aprons is a very stiff organza, and the off-cut from which all four were produced had a white satin edging at the hem. It is stiff enough to enable the Rabbits, who normally prefer to sit, to be able to stand, if they are carefully arranged - as in these pictures.  Isobel used mauve and green seam bindings to finish off the sides of the respective aprons, did some buttonhole stitching to applique the pockets to the aprons and just finished off the tops of the pockets with some stitching - machined in the case of the Brown Rabbits, and white embroidery yarn - to match the chain stitching on the Blue Collars of the White Rabbits.
So there you have it - how the first  2014 Rabbits have been made.  Because there are additional items on these models, there is going to be a slight increase in the cost of each Toy.  (The first such rise since COLDHAMCUDDLIES started operating  in 2010).  Isobel plans to spend the days between Christmas and the New Year adjusting these and has decided that with effect from January 2, 2014  all Coldham Cuddlies Toys are going to be listed in Great Britain Pounds (GBP) instead of  USD.  The Etsy folks continually suggest that this route is followed:  so, we're going to give it a go.
If we don't post again before Christmas, both Isobel and I wish all our Followers and Friends a really great festive season - whether it's Hannukah, Christmas or Hogmanay - may you all have a wonderful time.  We'll be back soon.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Making New Cuddlies for 2014 - Part Two

Good evening everyone - Cy Bear taking over for this second installment, which may yet go into a third, depending on how my description of the process goes, and the number of pictures we use to illustrate the story.

Isobel left the last post at the point when everything needed to be put together:  so the next step is for all the bodies to be stuffed.  In the case of all Dressed Lady Cuddlies (whether they are Rabbits or Foxes so far in the story or new models in the 2014 pipeline) they all have two seams sewn at the point where the legs become hips in a normal person.  The first one at the top of the legs is a straight one and the second (about half an inch up the body) starts and finishes at that point on each side, and in between becomes slightly curved.  It means Isobel then can stuff the legs from the bottom upwards, and the body is then stuffed from the neck down!  Apparently that's a much easier (and faster) process than when she has to make the Men Toys. They have to be stuffed from the neck downwards, right to the bottom of the legs - which obviously have to be very stiff so that the finished Toy can stand tall and upright, hopefully without being propped up.

In the case of the Lady Toys, it means they can sit down easier too.

Once the shoes have been sewn on, the pantaloons are fitted.  In the case of the Brown Rabbits, they were made in light green poplin and edged with a cotton white trim.  Each pantaloon leg was gathered around the ankle using embroidery yarn, which was tied and knotted tightly.  Then Isobel gathered the material at the waist, arranged the fabric evenly around the Toy's waists and sewed the pantaloons in place at the waist as well.

Our Cuddlies are not made to be undressed - which we believe is the secret to their longevity.  Long-time Followers of this blog will recall the treatment of  Madame Lapin and Mons. Reynard (toys that Isobel made for her sister-in-law who lives in France nearly 40 years ago.  They both were treated in our Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185) and their therapies described in our posts (for Mme Lapin these were dated 19/02/12 and 20/02/12 and Mons Reynard featured on 04/03/2012 and 07/03/12).  The only reason they became Patients with us was that they had both become dusty, and Mons. Reynard's stuffing and boots needed attention.  Now, after a bath and clothes wash for Mme Lapin and re-stuffing and brand new boots for Mons Reynard, they look as good as new, and are back in their accustomed positions on MmeIM's dressing table in Normandy.

Reverting  to the present:, the next photo shows one of the two White Lady Rabbits at the same stage - with the Black felt shoes in place and the pantaloons - this time made in white satin and trimmed with pink lace and gathered at the ankles with a purple embroidery yarn.  (She was actually being propped up to stand for this photo!

This shows Brown Rabbit with her trimming and gathering in place as well.  The pastel shades of both the trimming and pantaloons do not show up truly under electric light, as well as they do in daylight -  however, think you can get the idea!

Then come the dresses.  Each skirt actually comprises fabric that measures 10 inches (c.20.6 centimetres) from floor to waist and 36 inches (90.15 centimetres) wide.  That is quite a lot of material, which has to be gathered at the waist and sewn onto the bodies of each toy.  Before the gathering gets done though, Isobel makes a one inch hem and this time used the sewing machine, with a zig-zag stitch setting to make the hem, and at the same decorate the dress as well.  At the same time, the ColdhamCuddlies label is also stitched into the dress at the back seam.

Then the bodices are attached.  The arms have to be stuffed first of all, and then the bodice of each dress is fitted over the waists of each Rabbit, the seams turned under - quite a tricky move for someone with arthritic fingers such as Isobel at times - and then she sews the two pieces together at the waist.

Right, I've been told by Isobel that we're going to have to stop posting this story for tonight, because the space allocated by Blogger for the pictures is getting to the point that she will not be able to upload more of them and see what she is doing to get them onto the blog.  She says that there is probably a recognised way of doing this but to date she has not been able to fathom it out.  So, you'll have to wait until next time to see what happens  - but meanwhile, here is a photograph showing Brown Rabbit, waiting for her head, apron, carrot and collar to be attached - just to whet your appetites (I hope).

Until the next time - when I think I'm expected to carry on the story, while Isobel performs the actions in the background.

 Good Night.  Your Friend - Cy Bear

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

Monday, 9 December 2013

More Cuddlies are on their way - as Christmas Surprises

While in the middle of getting ready to write and post the remaining Christmas cards (intra-UK and locally in and around where I live), I'm trying to do more than one thing at once - and not succeeding terribly well at anything!!  I'm running off my round robin letter - yes, despite everyone's scoffing about such missives, I find them a terrific way to keep in touch with friends and family and shall continue to do one every Christmas until I am unable so to do - but am getting myself muddled with the pages, because this year I've actually produced a two-sided offering, and I really didn't think it had been that eventful!!  I've just wasted several pages, because I didn't present the paper the right way to the printer so it could print the second side!   Oh well, c'est la vie!

Earlier today though, I spent time parcelling up the last two Cuddlies to be sent off in time to reach their destinations before Christmas.  One, as Cy Bear told you in our post last week, is off to Louisville, Kentucky where MsMK is hoping to receive a pair of Ladies Slippers based on our Mens Badger Slippers(Etsy Listing #158936304) to fit a small lady's foot.  Because the original was trimmed with a sober brown satin ribbon I decided that I'd try to find a more feminine decoration - and this is what they've turned out like.

I'm rapidly running out of Badger striped fabric, alas - although there is plenty of flecked plush fabric that will meet the needs of a Badger's body in future.  There was enough to do the two slipper sides for this pair of slippers, and because no heads were required on these particular Slippers, I was able to use some of the flecked fabric for the front panels.

 However, there may be an order for the Mens' Version in the offing.  It's from a London UK source, but the Buyer wants to have heads on them.  They were originally made to show what a pair of Cuddlies  Slippers for Men would look like without any!  I'm waiting to hear back, because I feared there would not be enough for two more heads, but did offer to make them with different plush fabrics.  But since the correspondence began earlier today, I have discovered a small stash of striped fur and have told the prospective buyer.  Now am waiting to see if she gets back tonight.  It will take me a couple of days to make the two heads and fix them to the original Mens' Slippers, but a  Size 10 Man's model was requested - and that is what we have!  The final guaranteed posting date for UK parcels has still got a way to go

Meanwhile, here are some more shots of the Ladies' version from different viewpoints:

The Slippers from the rear

This one is taken with both slippers sideways on and here is one of the left foot slipper head on.  

The ribbon this time is actually a cotton one, with red check background and red flowers embroidered on - it's rather an attractive ribbon which came from one of my friends, who has had to give up her sewing due to failing eyesight.  There are similar amounts of ribbon trim in my stash, made with the same cotton ribbon and similar decoration, but in Pink and Pale Blue.

Also due to be dispatched to a London destination is a pair of Childrens' Slippers made for a lady from Heytesbury village who divides her time between England and Australia.  She wisely spends the UK winter months in the Southern Hemisphere and comes back to the UK for our spring and summer.  Earlier this year MrsCB purchased a pair of my Fox Head Small Size Slippers for Kids for an Australian grandchild - because they don't have Foxes in Australia.  So, for this Christmas, while she was away in Australia, before leaving for the Antipodes, she ordered a pair of Small Child's Slippers made with Koala Heads, because of course, we don't have Koalas in England.  This what they have turned out like.

The pattern for the heads is the one used for my Small Tree Bears (which is another name for a Koala in Cuddlies' Family-speak anyway) whereas the pattern used for my  Koala Headed Mens' Slippers (Etsy Listing #158098231) is actually that for a small Baby Dressed Bear, which is a toy that has yet to feature in the Cuddlies Family.  When placed side by side, they don't really look that dissimilar, do they?

Perhaps the Mens' version have larger ears, and the heads are bigger, but then they should - so they remain in proportion with the difference in feet size!

Meanwhile, back with the Children's Koala Slippers, this them from the rear and this next picture is a close up of the ribbon trim - a satin pink spotted ribbon which I found when recently staying with Philippa in High Wycombe (having omitted to take trimming with me to complete my sewing while I was away).  I have to keep sewing every day, otherwise my fingers really do stiffen up, and it can be the very devil to get them going again!!

Both pairs of slippers are now wrapped up and ready to be posted on my way to Zumba tomorrow morning.  The Childrens' Slippers are wrapped in Christmas Paper and bubble wrapped, with a card written by MrsCB contained in the Christmas parcel.  A covering letter to the Little Person's parents - without letting them know what is in the parcel, in case MrsCB hasn't told them to expect slippers! - is in an envelope, stuck onto one side of the parcel (forming the address) just to make sure it gets to the intended destination in good time.

Before they were prepared for their impending journeys, Cy Bear insisted that they be given the traditional farewell ceremony with him supervising - just to see that they meet his stringent standards!

Well, in the time that I've taken to input this post, the printing for the Christmas card enclosure is almost done:  so I've utilised my time productively this evening!  Now have got to edit this and publish it before going to bed.

By the way, this blog has reached a milestone in the last few days.  The last time I checked, earlier today, we have had 20,034 views since we began our ColdhamCuddliescalling saga in March 2011.  When compared with some viewing figures of other blogs perhaps that's not many:  but to my way of thinking, it's not bad!  

Closing down now - hope everyone is getting ready for Christmas without too much of a fluster.  Nice to be chatting once again.  Isobel

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Christmas is coming........Cuddlies are away to their Forever Homes!

Hello once more everyone!

Isobel has just returned after a short stay with Philippa, and now she's really got to get down to sewing and meeting all the Christmas orders, as well as those that were postponed until Christmas orders were completed!

There seems to have been a rush in the past few days, and today, we're sending two Cuddlies on their way to their new, Forever Homes:  two more are scheduled to be off shortly and we thought you'd like to see some of them, as well as those already en route.

These were the Cuddlies whose destination was the home of MrsEB at the delightful address of Sunnybank Hills in Queensland, Australia.  The Pink Fleece Baby Rabbit, with its white front (Etsy Listing #166947912)  is going as a "Welcome to the World" present to a little girl due to arrive sometime in the New Year.  Mummy Rabbit (Etsy Listing #60491625) is going to little girl's Mum and the Panda Bear Glove Puppet (Etsy Listing #91356474)  is being sent so that Dad can keep Baby amused and give her Mum some respite:  at least that is the plan!

There's always a lot of mixed feelings on these occasions.  Whilst Isobel and I are always pleased that our Cuddlies have found Forever Homes, we know we're going to miss them when they go.  So, if I'm looking a little solemn in the photograph above, that is the reason.

Here are the other three recent Replacement Rabbits making sure that I know what I'm doing!  Of course I do!  I'm just checking that Isobel has got all the needful pieces of paper on the parcel before she takes it to the Post Office.  It's not just a case of checking that the address is correct, you know:  we have to put our own address on, so that the parcel can come back if it can't find its way.  Then Isobel always puts a "Fragile" label on every envelope.  Even though Cuddlies are all plush or fabric toys - and therefore unlikely to break en route - international travel can be hazardous and uncomfortable, and we do like to try to ensure that our friends are as carefully cushioned from being hurt as we possibly can.  I have heard that parcels do get thrown about, and I'm jolly glad I stay safely at home on these occasions.

Then we have to put an Air Mail sticker on every envelope (Isobel likes to put a sticker on both sides, so that the post men can see where the way the parcel is meant to go whichever side happens to be facing them when they are handling them).  It would take even longer than it already does for a parcel to reach Australia if we didn't put that sticker on our parcels.  Finally, the last piece of paper that has to go on all our parcels (except those going to European addresses) is the Customs Label. We just have to put what the parcel holds and the value of the contents.  That's for the Customs authorities in each country to which the parcel is travelling, so that they don't have to open it up to make sure what is inside it.

This parcel left England last Friday (November 29) and we're hoping it will reach Queensland in the next two weeks.  Even though it is not needed until next year, that is now only 4 weeks away, I'm told, and the Christmas Festive Season is now upon us - which means there could be delays in parcels getting through to where they are meant to go.

Then today, Isobel took two more parcels to the Warminster Post Office - which is where most of us Cuddlies are handled when we leave for pastures new.  Our Village Post Office can only take really small Small Packets - as we are categorised - so it's easier for us to be taken to either Warminster Post Office where they can handle ALL SIZES and shapes - or Codford Post Office (which is in the other direction, and is on the way to Isobel's weekly Zumba classes).  These two are destined for different addresses in America - one in Texas and the other in Virginia.

Grey Bunny on the furthest right of this photograph is the one travelling to Winchester, Virginia later today.

While it's the Lady Fox (Etsy Listing #65456642) in the centre of this picture, with the yellow ric rac trimming to her dress that is wending her way to Richmond, Texas.

Here they are lined up for their final photo before being wrapped up in their individual tissue paper and bubble wrap travel protection.

The Leopard Slippers (Etsy Listing #156616186) are actually not now travelling.  They were needed for a specific task - appearing in a play apparently - and had to be at their destination by December 16.  Alas, international postal services are not known for being the most reliable, especially when there is the likelihood of delays during the VERY BUSY Christmas period.  So, when Isobel pointed out that she could not  GUARANTEE the Leopards would get there for that specific date, and the buyer was not prepared to pay the extra postage cost to ENSURE they would, it was mutually decided to cancel the transaction.  No wonder Left Slipper is looking just a little disappointed:  although all of us are pleased that the decision was made in time for no recriminations on either side had we not had that discussion! Wouldn't it have been awful if we'd sent the Slippers and they hadn't arrived on time?

That's it for this dispatch (pun not intended!).  Hope to be back here again very soon - we've been a bit bad about posting on this blog (again, pun not intended!) just recently, but we've both been very busy!!  Hope everyone is well!  Your Friend Cy Bear