Sunday, December 7, 2014
A Rabbit for a Bear
I've just finished making a Maggie Rabbit soft toy for my Girl Bear. Maggie will be one of her Christmas presents. I had originally planned to give her Maggie for her birthday, back in September, but I wasn't able to make Maggie in time. I'd been working feverishly to finish the Flowers in the Snow blanket in the above photo. I think it worked out fine; the GB got a few more months of growth and maturation under her belt. I've seen remarkable changes since she started kindergarten this fall; I think she'll better understand that Maggie is a delicate doll to be played with gently. I really hope she'll like her Maggie Rabbit. I like her a lot myself!
I took it slow making Maggie. I had never made a soft toy before, and I wanted to do it right. There were new experiences; I had never used a water-erase marker before and needed to buy one before I could get started. I'd always used tailor's chalk or water-erase pencils, but hadn't tried the marker. I really liked it! I couldn't believe the way it disappeared, like magic. I will definitely use it for future projects. Making Maggie was very enjoyable and a bit challenging. I learned some new skills. I had never really used the blanket stitch before and there's a lot of it in the body-construction. I think I'm an expert now! I probably should have stuffed her a bit more, especially in the face, but I didn't want her to be too plump because then her dress might not fit. I think she looks okay; maybe she's more of a jackrabbit, like the ones we have here in the desert.
Do you remember when I showed you this black fabric with strawberries? I was cutting out dress parts with it, using Maggie's peasant dress pattern. I wanted to make a practice dress before I cut into Maggie's beautiful Liberty dress fabric. As much as I enjoyed sewing Maggie's body, I was very apprehensive about making her dress. Doll clothes are difficult! The few pieces I'd made in the past were fiddly and not much fun for me. Judging by the pattern, I knew Maggie's dress would probably also fit one of the GB's baby dolls, Nellie, so she got a new dress herself. I didn't have elastic for her dress but it fits her well enough. Apparently, it's her school uniform. Or so I've been told.
Making the sample dress helped my confidence a lot, but I still felt nervous making the real thing. I just took it very slow, spending almost three hours on just this one part of Maggie's creation. I loved working with the Liberty lawn (who wouldn't?), and I can totally see why it's so sought after. Maggie's dress isn't perfect - the hems are a little crooked and I probably should have used a finer needle in my sewing machine - but I think it turned out pretty well. I love that the pattern fits the other doll; I think she may be getting a flannel nightgown soon.
I loved making Maggie's boots. They were easier than they seem and it was enjoyable to watch them taking shape as I worked. I found it easier to lace them up using two needles, one on each end of the floss. This allowed me to poke the ends through exactly like shoelaces.
I think my Maggie has a sweet little face, but it's not perfect. Her eyes are lopsided and her nose is a little pinched. I didn't starch her whiskers. But I think she's cute. I'd never embroidered a face on anything before.
I struggled to knit Maggie's capelet, so I came up with my own crocheted design. I'm not much of a knitter; I can cast on and knit as many stitches as will fit on the needle, but I don't know how to do much else. After many attempts at understanding the kit's capelet pattern, I opted to crochet the capelet instead. I was afraid I would ruin the yarn from frogging so many times. My crocheted capelet is very simple; I just made a foundation chain long enough to go around Maggie's back (about 8 inches, I think; this is sport-weight yarn and I used a G/6 hook - the first thing I ever crocheted with one of my new Clover hooks!), then did four rows of half-double crochet (hdc) stitches, followed by a row where I decreased in both the first two and last two stitches of the row, following that with two rows of that same length. I didn't count stitches, I just eyed the size and shape. I ended up with a slightly trapezoidal shape, narrower at the top for Maggie's neck. I left a tail of yarn at one end, then reattached my yarn and did a row of slip stitches across to the other end and left a tail on that side. I hope that makes sense; if you're a knitting-challenged Maggie-maker, please feel free to borrow my idea.
I had my difficulties, but I really loved working on Maggie. I'm really glad I made her for my daughter, and that I did while she is still quite little. I kept my Maggie-making a secret from her, which wasn't easy. I don't have much child-free time, since our school situation is unusual and they're home with me a lot. I preferred to work on Maggie in daylight, since there is so much hand-stitching, so I did most of the work during the mornings while the small Bears were at school. I could only do a small bit at a time, but I savored the chances when I had them. The LB knew about Maggie; he'd watched me work on a Saturday morning while the GB went to her music class with the Bear. I think the LB wants a soft toy now too; I've got my eye on Basil Fox, one of Maggie's friends, but I'm also considering making another rabbit but using some of the boy clothing patterns now available instead of the dress. We'll see.
Maggie is hidden away in a closet for now, waiting to surprise the GB on Christmas morning. I took this photo while the GB was playing outside. Don't you love a Christmas secret? It's so much fun to work behind the scenes. I hope the GB will enjoy Maggie - a lovely girl rabbit for my sweet Girl Bear.