I enjoy sewing. Like yard work, it relaxes me. But, other than the usual mending or hemming (I’m a short, wee lassie), I haven’t been able to sew much in the last ten years of so. I either didn’t have the room for my sewing machine to be out, which means sewing was never on my mind (outta sight, outta mind), or I just didn’t have the inspiration to sew (I like to sew as a project, or as a gift).
There have been an explosion of children in my and Eric’s life. Our Catoe friends boast three younguns, with plans for at least one more. IT Guy and his wife are expecting a little boy Sasquach soon. Our friends and neighbors down the street are expecting a boy, too. And there are chirren running all ‘round this sweet neighborhood we live in. I want to give gifts when births and birthdays happen, but the pocketbook is a little tight right now. So, I’ve taken up sewing again. Fabric comes in many inexpensive forms: vibrant linen thrift store clothing, a retired shower curtain, markdown fabrics at Walmart. I have managed to scavenge some really beautiful cloth and buttons from lots of different sources. If it still has life in it, it is game to be upcycled into something else.
I first tried to make a stuffed animal when I was about eight years old. A friend of the family had recently had a baby, and I wanted to make the baby a stuffed dolphin. My Gran helped me (Gran was a master at making Red Riding Hood flip dolls…you know, the ones with a granny and a wolf hiding under Red Riding Hood’s skirt?). She helped me sketch a picture of a dolphin onto a brown grocery bag, found some leftover grey fabric from wolf-making, and set me to work pinning, sewing and stuffing (with the end of a wooden spoon) what turned out to be a pretty nice little dolphin, whose curved body fit perfectly into the hand of the baby.
Now, I’ve not made too many stuffed animals since then. Most of my sewing has been reserved for alterations, decorative bags, pillows, curtains and the like. So, when I decided to try my hand at making a stuffed bunny, I’m not sure that I was mentally prepared…I drew a lopsided, misshapen rabbit onto a piece of scrap paper. I pinned it and cut it from a retired pair of beloved palazzo pants. I embroidered eyes, nose, mouth and tail. And I sewed and stuffed the little rascal. Yes, it required that I use the end of a wooden spoon to get the stuffing into all the ears, arms and legs. The end result was a bunny worthy of a Tim Burton film. All it needed were fangs and dripping blood…it was a frightening looking thing. But when I took it over to give to little Cash Catoe for his birthday, the other Catoe children wanted to hold it immediately. Now, I know the reason why they all wanted to hold it was less for its Tim Burton charm and high quality stitching, and more because there was only one bunny (it is a law that when there is only one item and three children, there is bound to be dearth and feigned despair). But then the other Catoe children requested a stuffed animal of their own. Zoe requested pink (probably because it is less about the shape and more about the color for her). Ben requested a bison (probably because Eric and I are affectionately thought of by Ben as large shaggy, lumbering ungulates…well, more so because before Eric’s accident, we played bison with him and his siblings).
So, I had my orders, and I took them seriously. Something in pink for Zoe. Something in bison for Ben.
I associate owls with Zoe because her mommy and daddy had an owl pillow waiting for her on her bed when she came home from China. Stuffed owls shouldn’t be too hard to make, so I began looking for simple patterns on the internet. And I found the most adorable one from the wonderful blogger Toad’s Treasures. Toad, who is a mommy, photographer, artist, among many other things, offered the cutest owl pattern for free on her blogsite. She also offers the pattern, plus an instructional booklet through her Etsy Shoppe for a very reasonable price. I think she’s the bee’s knees for sharing her owl pattern. And for posting a tutorial on owl construction on her website. I made two owls Friday night, while Eric worked late. I thought they were cute. The pink one is for Zoe. The blue one is for a forthcoming male offspring of a friend. Now, I just have to get cracking on that bison…