Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Here's one of the very first projects I made for my boys: two cheeky little tomcats from Bettina Schons' book "Meine Kuschelfreunde: Die wunderbare Nähwelt von HerzensTREU" (in German, rough translation: "My cuddly friends: the wonderful sewing world of HerzensTREU"). Yep, I had twice the fun sewing one for each of my boys ;-)) As far as I remember, it took me several months (although definitely less than nine) from choosing fabric to the final assembly.

Some of the details are pretty cute, like the sewn-on band-aids, and the appliqued minky noses and teeth. Hidden inside the heads are music boxes, the blue and white cat plays "Stairway to heaven", the green and tan one "Canon in D" by Pachelbel. To wind up the music boxes, you have to pull the little mice dangling from the cats' mouths. Opinions on the cute factor of this feature vary, however. As my mother-in-law is scared of mice, she refuses to touch them. And although I like mice, I can totally understand - never in my life would I sew any kind of animal with MORE than 4 legs... One visitor even asked me who the hell would give a baby an ugly little rat to play with. If you ask me, the idea is hilarious.

However, I didn't have any experience sewing stuffed animals, so I didn't spot the design and construction issues that this pattern has. Looking back from what I know now (mostly thanks to Abby Glassenberg's wonderful book "Stuffed Animals - From Concept to Construction"), the first thing to change would be the way the head is attached. Because of the music box inside the head, there is a lot of wear and tear at this point, and the fairly small, hand-sewn attachment is really quite weak. I'm sure I'll have to take it apart and reassemble it sooner or later. The same goes for the opening for the band of the music box. Instructions say to just cut a little hole, but needless to say, without any reinforcement it'll just get bigger and bigger. Also, I'm not a huge fan of the way the limbs are joined to the body, and as I now know, there are much better ways to do this.

In sum, these weak spots make the cats rather floppy and it's really difficult to posture them in any suitable way. On a side note, it wasn't all too easy to find postures for taking the photos above, which I originally did for a Craftsy class I took a while ago: Caro Sheridan's Shoot It: A Product Photography Primer.

BUT: My kids love their cats, and they won't go to sleep without playing their music. Sometimes I'll even hear that now-familiar "crrrr" sound followed by a little tinkle in the middle of the night. And I like them as well. I'm just so proud to have finished such a complex sewing project. Twice :-)

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