I’ve been on a fabric diet, and I can’t seem to stop making softies. Not that I’m complaining, but I swear this sudden deluge of fluff was unplanned. I promise to get back to quilting soon. I have my first all-solids quilt planned and can’t wait to start!
But, back to this little foal (donkey? mule?)… My original inspiration came following the news of Moore’s devastating tornadoes. I had really hoped to find him a home there, with a little boy or girl who might appreciate the comfort. Try as I might though, I couldn’t find anyone who was able to find him a home — which is completely understandable. Handmade toys are a bit of a niche thing. As it turns out, hospitals generally won’t take stuffed animals either because of the infestation risk. Ah well, lesson learned.
At any rate, on the face of it, this seemed like a pretty easy project. The pattern came from Jill Hamor’s book Storybook Toys Sew 16 Projects from Once Upon a Time Dolls, Puppets, Softies and More . (As an aside, if you haven’t checked out her blog, you should. The eye candy is amazing). The horse is my favorite project in the book. I just love his vintage look. In fact, I loved this horse so much that I decided to make a very similar horse in royal purple (Jill’s was navy blue).
Well, as it turns out, I’m still a bit of a novice at toy-making. I really struggled with this pattern, and there are quite a few imperfections in this guy. For example, you need to hand stitch the head gusset around the muzzle first (as seen in the top right picture in the mosaic) because that curve is a little too intense for a sewing machine to handle on its own. Not to mention the fact that I was also fighting the mane and ears that were tucked inside.
Well, I’m too impatient for that kind of artistry. His crooked head just goes to prove that, ha! Luckily for me, his crookedness translated into “aw, the horse is tilting his head.” Phew 🙂
I also decided (a little too boldly!) to modify the pattern and give him three dimensional feet (it calls for the legs to come together as a two-dimensional seam). I used some of the techniques outlined in Stuffed Animals: From Concept to Construction to draft his foot pads. You can see my template in the bottom right photo above (it’s the light blue circle). Man, those little hooves were fiddly! The footpads were small and required sewing through 5-7 layers of wool in places. Not easy, but I’m glad I made my way through it… though only somewhat successfully. One of his hooves came out tiny and stunted, see it up there? He’s been affectionately dubbed Nemo ever since.
Nemo’s legs are stuffed with cotton batting scraps to give him enough structure to stand on his own. The rest of him is stuffed with squishy wool. I’m happy to report that the firm stuffing job went a long way in correcting his stunted hoof. His mane is wool yarn, and his hooves are 100% wool felt. Nemo’s saddle was made from Kate Spain’s Good Fortune collection for Moda. His saddle includes a metal snap (new trick for me!), so it can come on and off as needed.
As for his fate? My mom insisted on taking Nemo herself, so he’s going to make a not-so-surprise-birthday-present for her tomorrow. I know he’ll be loved there, and I’m pretty sure that she will take good care of him 🙂
And now I’m going to swear off curved seams and 3D construction for awhile. For real this time!