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.

49 comments:

  1. She is beautiful, love the outfit. The perfect gift for a little girl made with love and wonderful for making lots of memories.

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  2. Maggie is adorable, and so are her clothes.

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  3. What a well executed piece of craft work . I'll give you 10 out of 10 for the most gorgeous rabbit ....xx

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  4. She is a beautiful bunny!!! I am sure that GB will love and treasure her for many many years to come. I think that you made her very well, but I can understand your anxieties. I would love to make a Maggie, but the thought of the liberty fabric and the knitting put me off, but I am somewhat reassured now after reading your post! Great job Jennifer! xx

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  5. You have done an amazing job on her! Bravo! It must have been most tricky keeping her a secret and I, like you, prefer to create during daytime which certainly limits our working hours.

    Liberty, like yarn, can quickly become an obssession! You should see my shelves!

    Warmest wishes,

    Stephanie

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  6. Wow - you have so much patience to create such tiny details. I'm sure your daughter will love her rabbit for a very long time. Jx

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  7. You've done a beautiful job with Maggie, she's wonderful! Bound to bring joy on Christmas morning!

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  8. Oh those little boots! She is beautiful. I love the comparison with a jackrabbit - very apt! I like her slightly lean look and her relaxed whiskers. If you do make a bunny for LB perhaps you could call him Jack Rabbit. :)

    Liberty lawn has got to be the nicest fabric in the world. What a treat to work with it, and what a great job you did.

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  9. Maggie is the cutest little bunnyrabbit I've ever seen ! I think there will be one happy GB in your home at Christmas :-) !!

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  10. She is a beauty, Maggie is. I don't have the patience or nimble fingers for such delicate work. Sadly. Have a lovely week. x

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  11. She is beautiful Jennifer! I have held both Teresa's and Gracie's Maggie Rabbits and they each have their own personality even though they're made with the same pattern. Yours is the same. All her own rabbit! Perfect for the Girl Bear. You did a GREAT job and I'm sure she'll be well loved.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  12. Hi Jennifer,

    It's been a while since I've said hello but when I saw Maggie in my blog feed, I just had to read more about her. I love Maggie's entire look...that rustic, woodland feel. Her shoes are so adorable and there is so much detail in everything. My daughter is asking for a sewing machine for Christmas (yay! not an electronic gaming device) and I hope she will gain the talent and patience to sew something like this one day.

    Yes, I love Christmas secrets but it kills me to keep it a secret.

    Hugs,
    Jayne

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  13. Maggie rabbit is so cute. I love her little boots there so sweet x

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  14. She's beautiful. I can't see any of the imperfections you point out. I love the way each sewer makes their Maggie look so different to the next, they're all unique. You GB will be delighted. X

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  15. What a beautiful present. I'm sure GB will treasure her for years to come. x

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  16. That rabbit is gorgeous and love the little clothes too. Very clever mummy bear and a surprise is
    one of the most fun gifts xoxo

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  17. Awe I love Maggie, Jennifer, she's so sweet and well done on keeping such a big secret! :)
    V x

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  18. Your Maggie Rabbit is gorgeous. I have mine tucked away still in her kit. She will be an after Christmas project. I hope mine will turn out as well as yours. I am sure GB will love her. Great job!

    Birgitta xx

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  19. I bet the GB will be over the moon with her! I sense a lot of love in every stitch and that will make her the best present ever x

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  20. Your Maggie is charming, Jennifer! I am so impressed that you can use a sewing machine as well as do hand stitching and crochet. My attempts using a sewing machine have been :( So I did Maggie all by hand and am amazed she is still intact :) [ I didn't stiffen her whiskers either ] Thanks for letting us in on your secret for your Miss GB. Christmas secrets are fun! xx

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  21. Maggie is such a charming little rabbit, and no doubt GB will be thrilled with her. You made a beautiful job of the body and the clothing, and expressed your nervousness quite well here too!! Personally I love making doll clothes, but my daughter was never interested in dressing up dolls, so it was a wasted gift. She has a little case FULL of homemade doll clothes that have never been played with. I'll bet your son would love a fox ... and it would be more special to him to have something completely different to his sister. Love the last shot of Maggie in the tree ... yes, Christmas secrets are the best! Have a great week Jennifer. Wendy x

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  22. Bravo on finishing Maggie Rabbit before Christmas! You did a super job and I love yours! I kink of hope you get the Basil Fox as I have a kit here that I need to start. I named my rabbit - Maggie Maria - keeping Alicia's "Maggie" name but adding a name I wished I'd had when a child - Maria. It's so melodic. Wouldn't it be fun for Gracie, you and I to have a Maggie tea party? LOL!
    *********************************************
    *H*A*P*P*Y* * *H*O*L*I*D*A*Y*S*!*!*!*
    *********************************************
    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  23. She is gorgeous Jennifer so much detail and she looks perfect to me, GB is going to love her. :)

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  24. Beautifully done Jennifer, your little girl bear will no doubt adore her. I love that handmade toys are always completely unique, she does indeed have a very sweet face, and one that is all her own. The crochet cape is lovely, a good idea to use the craft that you are most comfortable with. CJ xx

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  25. Maggie Rabbit is beautiful! She is perfect and made with absolute love. Your daughter will adore her.
    Marianne x

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  26. Maggie is so sweet! What a wonderful Christmas surprise, I'm sure your daughter will love her! Congratulations on all you have achieved with this project, it's so nice to learn new things and all that effort is converted straight to love for the recipient! x

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  27. Fabulous. Your daughter will be thrilled on Christmas morning. I don't think you can improve on a handmade toy, totally unique, Maggie will be a much loved bunny.

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  28. She is just gorgeous and I am a bit jealous as mine is still packed away in the mailing envelope she arrived in. I am a mess at hand sewing, well sewing period and I am scared to death to make her. I also have a friend for her, the dear little deer, I had better get moving.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  29. Loving Maggie and her outfit is gorgeous. Well done you. P x

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  30. What an amazingly special gift for your little girl, something to be treasured for the rest of her life. I really admire your patience in making this, I am not one for hand sewing, especially fiddly sewing like this, so I can only dream of making such a pretty rabbit. I love her, she is perfect in her little flower dress and boots :) Elle x

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  31. She's lovely. Well done - I know how fiddly making toys can be :)

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  32. I do love Christmas secrets! She is amazing Jennifer! The details are exquisite!!! She will have this beautiful treasure for the rest of her life! Just too special for words! A job well done and a wonderful week to you! Nicole xo

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  33. Jennifer that is totally AMAZING! I am sure she will become a much loved heirloom xxx

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  34. Such a lovely sweet gift, I bet your daughter will be thrilled with her!

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  35. Maggie is beautiful. You've done a wonderful job stitching her and her sweet little outfit. No doubt your daughter will adore her - I do! x

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  36. oh she is so beautiful.. your daughter is going to love her.

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  37. Maggie is adorable! I'm sure your daughter will love her and play with her very carefully! Well done, Jennifer! :o)

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  38. She is wonderful! Your daughter will love her. I love how neat your stitching is...you can see how made with love Maggie is. Such a beautiful gift. xx

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  39. Oh she's beautiful Jennifer - you've done so well! I love her little weeny imperfections as it makes her individual. You've certainly inspired me! J9 x

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  40. Maggie is beautiful! Absolutely gorgeous, and your daughter is going to be thrilled when she unwraps her on Christmas morning. You were brave to do the dress. A friend and I swapped jobs - she did the dresses for our rabbits and I did the knitting. I think you were wrong about something you said though, because I can't spot a single imperfection. :-)

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  41. Your Maggie rabbit is adorable! I loved reading about you making her. I wish I had the sewing skills to make one. What a treasure for your daughter! I hope it lasts several lifetimes for lots of little girls to enjoy. So sweet and delicate.

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  42. That Maggie Rabbit is one of the cutest things I've ever seen! Those little boots are to die for. She (Maggie) reminds me of the soft toys from Alicia at Posie Gets Cozy. Is that where you got the pattern?

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  43. Maggie is adorable. I think my favourite part is the dinky little boots; your stitches are so neat. I'm sure that GB will treasure her. x

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  44. She is lovely and I'm sure will be treasured. I still have a little rabbit my mum made for me many many years ago

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  45. She is gorgeous! I'm sure the GB will love her!

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  46. I'm so glad Maggie Rabbit is ready for Christmas, Jennifer. I enjoyed the details of how you made her and your daughter will adore her.

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  47. Oh she is gorgeous! I love her little boots - so sweet. xx

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