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 Post subject: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 17:32 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2068
In an attempt to rid get myself away from a computer screen, two years ago I made a promise to get myself doing more interesting things with my life than debugging hideous code interactions on websites. I ended up making a big modroc mask, a crazy costume, silly shoes, and a ridiculous hat.

But now I have another new hobby!

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U WOT M8?

While I was walking to the next town over in the absolute pissing freezing horrible rain just to buy a single sheet of plastic, I stopped in at a strange second-hand shop that I didn't expect to be open. (Most places like that shut at 4pm, this was almost 5pm.)

They have the usual stack of car-boot things that make me puke by looking at them, and that I'd rather saw my hands off than be forced to touch, and a whole stack of rotten-paged Tom Clancy novels and Peter James' famous Dead You Super Dead Very Dead Like The Dead Who Are DEAD series.

And beside all those, a very large hardbound book with a curiously intact intact dustjacket:

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It's Making Soft Toys For Children by Pamela Peake! I say that as if I know who that is or I'm familiar with the book, I'm not! But it looks pretty good. These folks on the cover remind me of a bunch of really old animal toys my mum has. She was going to chuck 'em out but I went 'noooo wayyyy'.

It's a reassuringly old and expensive feeling book (it's from 1988), chunky as hell. Full colour printing, and very nice individual photographs of all the stuff you can make. There's four categories of toy: nursery items + floppy toys, dolls, animals, and animals in clothes!

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I really like these double page photographs with all the characters lined up together. How could you not want to make all of these things? Like... the cubes! Or the football! Or the grotesque Man In The Moon?

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I'm not a fan of these dolls, but purchasers of this book are spoiled for choice as to the kind of doll-that-I-don't-like that they can make!

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I've not made a soft toy before, though my recent monstrosity is close to a soft toy I suppose. (Coming to an MCM Comic Con near you soon!!)

I was mostly curious if they had any dragons in there, and they did! But it was 'Oliver Ocelot' on this page that made me buy the book instantly 'cause he's simply too cute.

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The wonderful folks at the model shop were kind enough to give me a few extra bags so I could get my book and my plastic home without them getting completely drenched. It was raining enough to wash all the black out of my socks and make my jeans feel like cardboard afterwards.

When I'd finally gotten home, I settled down with a cup of tea and flicked through the book to see if there was anything else other than dragons and lots 'n' lots of ocelots.

Hey look an Awesome Panda!

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I've never heard of a panda referred to as a 'beshiung-chin' before. Today I learned that 'panda' is commonly written in China using the characters for 'big bear cat' 大熊猫 'Dà xióngmāo', and that the kanji for cat is the same 猫 in China and Japan except in China it's pronounced 'maow' and in Japan it's pronounced 'neko'.

'White bear' is 白熊 'Báixióng', which is pronounced 'bai-shiung' which now refers to polar bears as far as I can tell. Though Google does list a Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia which calls them 'beshiung-chin'. I don't know what chinese character is 'Chin' (it might be a transliteration of 'chen', but there are EIGHTY-FOUR 'chen's that my searches have found and I have no idea which one they mean.). All of the animals in the book have names, so maybe this guy is just called 'White-bear Chen'? A fine name!

There's instructions for assembling each project, material pattern layouts (drawn on a grid for you to copy at a magnification of your choosing) and full colour, meaningless and complex illustrations throughout!

I think sewing instructions are written in a secret code known only to the witchiest witches because sometimes they just make no sense. Also they seem to assume all kinds of things that aren't readily apparent (and would have been if they'd taken the time to label each point on the diagrams instead of leaving me to assume!).

As it happens, I recently met somebody at a con that's a big fan of pandas and has a birthday coming up... and I've got a big mangled cardboard box of unused black and white fleece fabric I was going to make a dragon's head out of but never got round to...

It's panda time!

ImageImageImageImage

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I am sad.

ImageImageImage

I am happy again!

I've never embroidered anything before and I seriously hope to never have to again! My large needles were too big to go through the layers and my small needles were too small to take the thread or to go through the nose. My stitching is all uneven, and the squishy nose was changing shape as I stitched against it. It's a miracle the nose looks as good as it does! The mouth on the other hand* looks absolutely fantastic and I'm so happy that it turned out straight and taut and lovely. I don't know how long it'll last (I'm incredible surprised my ladder stitch on his belly to keep the fluff in held overnight without spontaneously popping.) I didn't know what thread to use either so I used some chunky 'star thread' from a set my sister bought me for christmas. I think it was the right stuff...? No idea.

Any and all embroidery advice gratefully received!

At least with these stitches in place for the nose, the structure of the snout is going to be a lot firmer so I could just do a second layer of stitching over the top of this to make it superneat... but for my first go I'm totally giving this guy an A-. Even if he does look weird and skinny because his eyes are huge and bulgy and his stuffing didn't want to stay inside his head and I only had fleece instead of fur...

(*I don't have a mouth on either hand that would be gross)

Check out all my pictures at:

http://www.mrdictionary.net/stuff/2017/panda/

I totally recommend this book to anyone who is willing to put up with the general obtuseness of sewing patterns in order to make some fluffy little ocelot kitten teddies and send them to me!

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 17:35 
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Gogmagog

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Brilliant. Well done.

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 17:36 
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INFINITE POWAH

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awesome.

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 17:57 
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I think that's brilliant :luv:

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 17:58 
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Bad Girl

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Amazing.

Now can you make me a Trico plushy? Fankcoo.


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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 18:15 
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What-ho, chaps!

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Satsuma wrote:
Now can you make me a Trico plushy? Fankcoo.

I don't know who Trico is :( Is he similar to Treelo from Bear & The Big Blue House?

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 18:16 
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gooby pls

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That is pretty cool.

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 18:18 
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Everybodys gilf

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I'm seriously impressed by the effort you've put into not just that awesome panda, but also the post you've written about it.

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 18:48 
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Mr D all of this is amazing! I want to have a go at the polar bear! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 18:54 
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That's a wonderful, winderful piece of sewing, Mr D! I've made a few soft toys over the years (a really realistic badger, and a pig that was about 3ft long and almost spherical, with a little zippered pouch that held three piglets amongst other things...) but that's a pretty advanced pattern to have started with (not least because the black/white patterning of the panda's markings necessitate extra piece-joining than if it had been (say) a brown bear.

I absolutely love the process pics and descriptions. Such an interesting skill! Embroidery of features can be made simpler/more difficult depending on three factors (fabric, yarn and needle). An embroidery thread or floss such as the little skeins of anchor thread that have six strands are cheap, colour-fast and have the added benefit of being able to divide into one, two... up to six threads so you can make your working thread thicker or finer as you need. I can't tell the type of fleece fabric you have there, but it looks like s relatively tight weave with integrated piles, which can be difficult to get your needle into. A sharp embroidery needle with three strands of floss would give a smooth finish but require more stitches. For thicker threads I like sashiko (Japanese embroidery) needles, but they are difficult to source. I bought a good few for my sashiko projects, though, so if you think you might be embroidering any more noses, give me a nod and I'll pop a pack in the post.

I'm going to try and come up with a pattern for a human head (sans features) like that of a wig stand to block hats, and it will likely use a lot of similar skills in the design (by which I mean a lot of small darts, though a lot of the pandas will have been disguised by the joins.

The good thing is that the symbols in the patterns you use will be pretty much universal between pattern publishers, so the voodoo code just starts to make sense.

I'm going to look that book up :D

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 18:58 
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By the way, the fleece you've used there looks similar to what I often use. If you happen to live near an IKEA, just keep an eye on their £3 fleece blankets/throws. They regularly change up the colours, there's a good pile on the weave and it doesn't bobble as much as s lot of other fleece fabrics, and at the equivalent of about £2 per metre is perhaps the cheapest youll ever see.

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 18:58 
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Goddess Jasmine wrote:
I want to have a go at the polar bear!
niche title

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 19:07 
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The book was only £2.80 on eBay so I've bought a copy.

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 19:08 
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Everybodys gilf

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MrChris wrote:
Goddess Jasmine wrote:
I want to have a go at the polar bear!
niche title


Brave title.

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 19:12 
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Awesome.

I like pandas. They lie around all day, eat the wrong things, and fail to get laid. I can identify with some of that.


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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 19:33 
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Oh, and if you ARE near an IKEA then their cheapest (£1.20) pillows are the cheapest source of polyfill stuffing I know. You may have to tease a few bits apart, but it's generally great.

I found pics of the badger I made. He's not as realistic looking as I remembered in my head :D


You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 20:02 
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"Praisebot"

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These posts are all kind of awesome and have cheered me up no end.


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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:46 
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What-ho, chaps!

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That badger is fabulous Mimi! :D It's like the anti-panda, with its chunky round back feet and bladed front feet. Thanks for the advice about the stuffing and stuff.

I live super close to a few branches of Abakhan and a Calico Laine, which is where I get most of my stuff. The towns around here all have stinky cheap markets with useful upholstery stores too. I don't remember how much the stuffing was, but I think it was £5 for a 450g bag perhaps? I don't know whether that's good or not. It took an entire bag to fill my dragon tail.

This fleece was from myfabrics.com, I bought a bunch of their 1m remnants for mouth and jaw details on toys/puppets/costumes. I've got no problem with the pattern itself (my dragon suit was a McCalls 6106), it's just that the book's instructions are so terse they read like hip-hop tweet raps.

https://twitter.com/SkullKidUK/status/7 ... 6877606912



https://twitter.com/SkullKidUK/status/7 ... 0420130817



https://twitter.com/SkullKidUK/status/7 ... 9498742784




If anybody would like to play along at home, here's what you've got to work from for the panda:
http://imgur.com/a/0YrZP
The grid should be magnified to 5cm squares (or bigger if you'd like a bigger panda!)... sorry there's a little bit of distortion on the far left side of those images but I think I've straightened the images out. The head gusset, muzzle, ears, tail and soles should be symmetrical. The back, legs, side head, underbody and eyepatch shouldn't be. (G to point should be slightly longer than H to point I believe.)

Jasmine, are you going to try this panda but totally white for your polar bear? Or do you mean the white guy on the far right of the page with the panda on? Or the teddy beside the dragon, but done in white?

I can take pics of any of the other patterns if you'd like to try them. :) I ought to make myself a proper digitising cradle and preserve this book!

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 8:51 
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Nooooooo! I love Abakhan, though we are a long distance from any to visit. I went with Jazzy, Russell and Joans once, it was glorious.

I think the older a book the fewer the instructions in both sewingvabd knitting. There is probably some degree of economy of print space, but I think it's mostly assumed knowledge. I have knitting books from the 30s and 40s that explain in two or three words what a modern knitting pattern would take half a page to communicate. In the 30s and 40s it was expected that women could knit and sew, and this was passed from generation to generation as an expected skill, taught at schools, etc. So stitches were known, and how to apply them also. Even in the books I have from the 80s it's expected that you know how to knit to a fairly good standard, but now the information in modern books is simplified and expanded, and every marking and instruction explained as often we haven't been taught these skills and are teaching ourselves. It's just amazing g that this is your first soft toy, though obviously you have a wealth of skill behind you due to your costume work. Was that all self-taught also? There's so much accumulated knowledge in the things you make. I'm in awe. Is modroc what I'm thinking of? (Plaster soaked bandages, almost?)

Your panda is wonderful. Do you know what you might make next? I love his blue safety eyes and his smile, they really bring him to life!

I've got a couple of massive (2") pairs of solid black safety eyes. I think I may use one pair to make a colossal squid.

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:29 
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Yes

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Mimi wrote:
I've got a couple of massive (2") pairs of solid black safety eyes. I think I may use one pair to make a colossal squid.


We definitely have room for this as a decoration in Darwin's room. I can mount him up on the wall to be taken down to play with.

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:33 
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Totally not cool to mount your kid on the wall just to make room for a toy squid.


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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:10 
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What-ho, chaps!

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Quote:
I love Abakhan, though we are a long distance from any to visit.

I live next to three... To tell the truth the Liverpool one used to have a lot more in it ten years ago, they closed off some of the space on the upper floor and seem to have reduced their fabric choice steadily since then. Birkenhead and Chester are pretty similar in terms of choice. Good for habadashery, but it's pot luck whether they'll have anything similar to the material you want.

Quote:
Was that all self-taught also? There's so much accumulated knowledge in the things you make.

Guesswork and just forcing things into the machine until it broke. :)

Having a super creative and awesome sister for inspiration and advice is great too!

Quote:
Is modroc what I'm thinking of? (Plaster soaked bandages, almost?)

Plaster soaked bandages, exactly! Dunk it in warm water, 'manipulate it' a little bit, and lay it in thin layers. In retrospect, possibly a bad choice for my mask, but it is lasting well.

I'm writing a whole bunch of stuff about how I made the Skull Kid get-up, but sometimes writing doesn't come so easy.

Quote:
Your panda is wonderful. Do you know what you might make next? I love his blue safety eyes and his smile, they really bring him to life!

I had real trouble with the smile, it took a few goes before I found a sequence of stitches that lay straight and sucked in the stuffing in a pleasant way. I yelled in triumph when I tugged the stitches taut and they actually lay on top of each other properly instead of having one set sagging loose. I have no idea how to lock these threads in place so I just backstitched all inside the nose a lot and hoped that nothing would ping out in time.

Quote:
I've got a couple of massive (2") pairs of solid black safety eyes. I think I may use one pair to make a colossal squid

Get another pair and make a big fluffy spider!

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:43 
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markg wrote:
Totally not cool to mount your kid on the wall just to make room for a toy squid.

Efficient though.

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:31 
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Mimi wrote:
I've got a couple of massive (2") pairs of solid black safety eyes. I think I may use one pair to make a colossal squid.

I think you should sew them on Russell.

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 1:15 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
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I'm back! And I've got more books!

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I got this book from amazon on a recommendation while searching for more information on Pamela Peake's book.

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By sheer coincidence, more pandas! But that's not the book I'm going to be talking about tonight.

Nor is it these two fellows I checked out the library on Monday:
ImageImage
The narrow book has got lots of wonderful guys in that I'd love to make, and the other Pamela Peake book has got a big mixture of things in it. The first quarter is toys, mostly baby stuff (the same clutch toys as in the other book mostly sadly), then it moves onto more dolls, then woodworking! and then how to make miniature furniture for dolls houses.

Instead, I'm going to show you this book I found for £1:

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It's The Blackberry Hollow Cuddly Toy Book by Valerie Janitch.

You've got to have some gusto to make your own whole new childrens soft toy, puppet TV-show animal gang, and utmost confidence in your own creations. Somehow the book seems humble at the same time, full of simple charm and innocent delight, without ever, ever trying to 'sell' the characters in any kind of off-putting way.

More double-page photo spreads!

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

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The instructions seem a lot clearer and prosaic than Peake's book even though the characters a lot simpler, but I haven't tried making any of the characters yet. I only have long pile orange fur to hand, so I could perhaps do some ginger hedgehogs?

The patterns aren't gridded this time, which is a real bother for me.

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I imagine you're supposed to trace them, or lay a piece of gridded tracing paper over the top. I doubt the previous owner has done either since this book is absolutely pristine. And I can't blame them, because it's so fantastically lush and pleasant to read and hold and look at.

For example: it has short stories for each of the characters, so you can read out the little tales of all the characters once you've made them!

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I can't fathom how somebody could assemble such an honest and personable book as this. The kind of book where the author's postal address is in the front in case you'd like to chat about soft toys. It's magic is what it is.

But it's not entirely twee, it's also a bit mercenary, with the inside cover promising "If you're already a dedicated toymaker, you'll discover a wealth of original new designs for toys and mascots: quick to make - and quick to sell, too!". A little bit of reality to poke the adults awake, and reassure them that these aren't just nice toys, they're great toys.

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:09 
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Oh, that book looks wonderful, do show us what you make!

I'm still waiting on delivery of my copy of the first book. I contacted the seller yesterday and they've replied this morning saying if it isn't with me by February 1st (which is today) to contact them for replacement (they seem to be a book reseller as they gave numerous copies).

Could you either use the long pile orange fur for a squirrel tail and trim it for the body (do I remember seeing you got clippers to trim haberdashery fur?). A ginger hedgehog sounds cute, though :D

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:38 
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What-ho, chaps!

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Yup I got clippers to neaten up the face on my cat head, and I also had the brainwave of using it to trim it to a light fuzz to make the paw gloves for the guy as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:48 
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They look ace! So professional. Did you dye the spots as well?

You should definitely make a ginger squirrel. It could be Grim... and Craster's mascot ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 11:28 
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What-ho, chaps!

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Thanks! They're just a simple two-layer back to back glove. Miraculously, my first tracing + sewing attempt worked perfectly!

I was nervous about making them since I don't have a good track record with gloves. But I had some inspiration when making tea and felt like a silly dilly for not trying it this way first. Usually I screw up gloves by making the fingers too small or the wrist to narrow to get my curled hand in. And that's usually because once you cut out a glove-shaped piece of fabric, it's a real pain in the behind to keep things from flapping about when you sew right to the edge...

But if you're just doing two layers... you sew first and it's dead easy and you can worry about cutting when you're done!

http://imgur.com/jb21psD
http://imgur.com/DjrKoaV

The spots are drybrushed ( http://matrices.tumblr.com/post/1399549 ... o-faux-fur ) - neat acyrlic paint applied very very lightly and then brushed with stiff bristles to separate the fibers.

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 Post subject: Re: Mimi, check out my Awesome Panda!
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 5:53 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
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What's a good cheap material for testing out new patterns on?

Somebody's asked me to make a custom toy based on some pictures and I think I can do it but I want to try my patterns out on something cheap first. Is there some material I can ask for in the shop that's super cheap and basic that's used for trying stuff out? There must be something like that. :s

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