Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sew Darn Sweet: A Mouse from The Brambly Hedge Pattern Book

How about a little mouse for the house?  I promise this one is sweet and will not eat you out of house and home.  

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!

Today's Book: 

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!

Extra info:
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.

Book Score: 

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. 


  1. I loved the brambly hedge stories and had all 4 season books growing up! Tempted to search around for this to make them myself, lovely post :)

    1. Thanks Kayleigh - I feel like a kid again discovering the stories now with my own kids. This book is old but not impossible to find - I see it in Amazon's used section & on eBay for pretty good prices.

  2. OMG the woodsy log house! Must raid the parents' attic this weekend--I used to LOVE that toy!!!! And I adore those books! Your little mouse came out adorable--I love his little puffy butt :)

    1. Thanks Bethany. The log house - I know! I was sure mine had been thrown out years ago and when my parent's were having a clear out in their basement a few weeks ago my sister found it (and one of the squirrels and table inside). I was beside myself with excitement. LOL.

  3. Oh I need this book! Hope it is still available. I love to knit little animals like this. It would be fun to sew some as well.

    1. I found mine in a used book shop in Canada in like-new condition, but I see you can get a used copy on Amazon for just a couple of bucks. Well worth it!

  4. OMG! LOVE this book! I too have the woodsy log house!! AND Mama, Papa & Boy Squirrel!! Wow, what memories I have of my DD playing for HOURS w/ this!! I would LOVE to chat but on the run to find this book so the Squirrel Family can gain some new Pals! Thanks for the memories & the info bout the book!! kweenbee_612@yahoo.com

  5. Awww how cute is the little mousie. Love those dungarees. I love the Brambly books, the illustrations were so good.

  6. so adorable! and looks great without the fur.

  7. adorable!!! SO cute!! The detail is really, really amazing! Emily@nap-timecreations

  8. Me encanta como se ven los ratoncitos.


    Costa Rica

  9. I am always on the look out for darling mice patterns! I'm going to have to get this one, the mice are just too cute! My mind is already buzzing with ideas of what kind of halloween and Christmas outfits I can make to dress them up. And even better are the story books that go with them :)

  10. Such an adorable little mouse, Cheryl. I'm sure your children will treasure him!!!

  11. This mouse is delightfully sweet. I want to make him a whole family!

  12. Cheryl,
    I just wanted to let you know that I featured your wonderful project on homework. Thanks so much for sharing it on The Inspiration Board. It makes me so happy to see beautiful creativity linked up!

    homework &

  13. Thanks for joining the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop. Carrie, www.amothersshadow.com

  14. I would welcome this mouse in our house! Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite things hop xo

  15. If you enjoyed Pillis Mini from Germany's Winter House then you will surely be gobsmacked when you see Maddie Brindley from Chesterfield, England's Inspired by Crabapple Cottage "Miniature Mouse Tree https://madsmousehouse.wordpress.com/House"

    And Nicki Howman's version of the house from Brambly Hedge: http://www.dollshouseblog.com/2013/02/28/see-nickis-brambly-hedge-house/

    1. Those are amazing! Thanks for sharing them - I can't wait to show those to my kids too.

  16. We have all of the Brambly Hedge books. They are delightful
    I just found this book on Amazon and it has been purchased by me!
    Thanks so much for sharing
    Your little Wilfred is adorable

    1. Awesome Rosemary and thank you! I love the books too - which reminds me that with the seasons changing we need to read some soon (and maybe make a few more characters).


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