I made him using an enchanting pattern book I stumbled upon awhile ago in my craft book collecting travels. Since this month I've been all about patterns, it seemed like the ideal choice for a new Craft Book Corner.
The idea behind it is to share some of the books in my craft book library. Some teach particular techniques, some have themed projects, others have solid background info worth knowing. Why keep them hidden on the shelf when you could go check them out too?
Now let's get to the pattern book goods!
The Brambly Hedge Pattern Book by Sue Dolman. This particular book is one that's just as much fun to look at as it is to use.
Why I'm Sharing It:
I found this pattern book in a secondhand book store while on vacation two years ago. I'm a sucker for anything involving woodland animals and these little mice looked so charming all dressed up that I had to get it. I mean, a little mouse with a bustle & flower hat or wearing a 3 piece suit? That's awesome!
It was only after buying this pattern book that I discovered the actual Brambly Hedge books these soft toys are based on. Brambly Hedge was a book series by Jill Barklem in the early 1980's and all about the adventures of a few mouse families living in a hedge. It appears there were also some Cosgrove Hall claymation-style programs & collectible items too - much like The Wind In the Willows, which our family adores. I love when the worlds of sewing, kid's stuff & literature collide:)
What's it about?
Just like the title says, this book provides patterns and detailed instructions for making 5 of The Brambly Hedge mouse characters: Wilfred Toadflax, Primrose Woodmouse, Mrs. Apple, Dusty Dogwood and Poppy Eyebright. Each character has its own method of construction and specific clothing and accessories. I started with Wilfred Toadflax since he seemed the least complicated.
What's the format?
The book starts with general instructions for making the the elements like hands, feet & heads that will be the same for each character. Then there's a separate chapter for each mouse that gives a specific materials list, pattern pieces, illustrated assembly instructions and how-to's for making accessories like hats, toys and baskets.
I made a few small changes from the book instructions. I wanted to use stuff I had on hand for my first attempt, so I used some anti-pill fleece instead of faux fur for the head:
And some solid red knit instead of striped for the shirt:
I also tried to do machine sewing as much as I could. It's kind of implied you're hand stitching for everything, but my hand sewing can sometimes look sloppy, especially when trying to work with tiny pieces, so I machine stitched most of the clothing and body bits and hand sewed for attaching things like the head to the body.
I was too lazy to make a mini sling-shot for him, but knowing my kids it would have been lost or broken with the first 5 minutes so it's just as well I didn't bother.
What makes it helpful?
Because these are small toys, all the pattern pieces are to scale, so it's really easy to trace them and get started. My biggest pet peeve of patterns in sewing books are the ones that say "scale up X%" instead of providing properly sized patterns. Scaling from a book is never as easy as just increasing and printing and usually results in bits getting cut off or warping. Ugh, it's seriously the worst - it totally delays getting to the good bit, which is the sewing!
They don't recommend making these for babies/toddlers due to the materials, but for older children these are fine as toys. It's nice that they're somewhat posable thanks to some clever pipe cleaners inside the arms, paws & feet. My mouse looks a little different from the book since he's less furry, but he was my first attempt. I'd probably go the faux fur route on future mice so they are more like the book illustrations, but it just shows you can do a variety of looks with the designs. And either way, he can rock my vintage 80's Fisher Price Woodsey Log House like nobody's business!
The projects in this book get full marks for cuteness & the techniques to achieve them are simple enough for a beginner, it just takes a little time and patience to put them together. And it's just plain fun to look at. One day I'll get to making the other 4 mice so we can give them some adventures of our own. Heck, maybe I'll go for broke and do a full cottage (check out the handmade one by Pillis Mini from Germany - beyond wow).
Now were enjoying this little guy and reading about his adventures. I find these old school projects & books so much more enjoyable than all the pre-fab merchandise that's associated with anything slightly popular these days. And the kids feel like these things are special and don't get bored with them as quickly either.
I'm also sharing this with my FAVE LINK PARTIES.
Click HERE to check them out!
I purchased this book for myself, with my own funds. I was not financially compensated for this post. The opinions are completely my own, based on my experience.