Ok, so it’s not the fabric I was originally intending on using to make a bat, but the pattern is one of my ‘Nine to Try‘ for this year and after my original idea for the fabric proved a flop, I couldn’t resist trying to make a furry bat instead.
First things first, fake fur is a thick fabric. My machine can happily sew two layers together, but once you get to four layers…. yeah, there’s a lot of hand-cranking to get that sewn. In the end, I resorted to hand stitching a lot of the seams, which I do try to avoid with fake fur, as it’s quite challenging to see the fabric backing through the fur pile.
I chose to not make the feet – there was no way the fur would turn out easily for such an intricate shape, and sewing them into the seam would have ended up as a total nightmare. But other than that, so far the bat follows the pattern!
Batty is now stuffed, with some plastic pellets in his body to help him stand on the shelf (as a lack of feet mean he’d be prone to falling over otherwise), and just needs the final bit of hand sewing to get his body and head permanently attached!
Bat Pattern: BeeZeeArt
Faux Fur: Fashion Fabrics
Having struggled with the smaller faux fur bear I’d tried making before Christmas (that one is currently in my “semi-abandoned” bag), I wanted to give the Delight pattern a go. This pattern is designed for faux fur or a non-pile fabric, so I thought it might work in fleece as a trial run. Given that the fleece Delight was a success, I cut the pattern pieces from some very tactile purple faux fur.
This fur is considerably thicker than the fleece, so I trimmed the fur in the seam allowance to make it a bit easier for my sewing machine to handle. The bear’s limbs are sewn into the body rather than being jointed, which means they’re firmly attached! I did use a toy joint for the head, as I found it quite challenging to line up the seam accurate in order to sew it directly onto the body.
Normally I’d use toy stuffing with some plastic pellets to give the bear weight, but I had some bean bag filling in the cupboard, and thought it could be interesting to try that out instead. It was a nightmare to stuff into the bear, as the filling not only has a has a static cling but also doesn’t compress when you try pushing down on it, so it ended up everywhere (including all over the floor at one point)! But it has given Delight a lovely crinkly sound when you squeeze his paws, and he is actually quite ‘squishable’ which is a bonus too.
As you can see, Delight isn’t quite finished yet – he still needs his ears, and a nose & mouth; those are the features which really give the bear character…. and are also the parts which I find the most challenging, as if the ears or mouth are slightly lopsided it really looks odd!
Fabric: Fashion Fabrics
Eyes and toy joint: Sew N Sew
Whenever I’ve tried making a bear out of a non-pile fabric, they haven’t come out looking quite ‘right’. Usually it’s the head or muzzle that just seems to be the wrong shape compared to the faux fur example picture. Delight, however is specifically designed for faux for or calico, so the head shape should look perfect regardless of the fabric I use.
I decided to test it out with some remnants of a fleece blanket (the same one I used for the reindeer a couple of years ago) and made Delight entirely unjointed.
The head was a struggle to align, so I think Delight would benefit from a scarf or ribbon just to cover up the shoddy stitching! I used a combination of plastic pellets and toy stuffing to make Delight as cuddly as he looks. You may notice that he’s missing a nose and mouth – that was done on purpose, as I felt that the stitching would detract from the spotty details of the fleece ….that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!
I do love the overall look – it’s a much better head shape than the other patterns I’ve tried before. I think the next Delight I make will be in faux fur, but as Delight is designed as a signature bear maybe it would also work to have a calico version which has an embroidered design on it (or if that fails, just a hand drawn design instead!).
And yes I admit I used a darker thread than was advisable with such a light coloured fleece!
Fabric: Fleece blanket from Shaws
Most years I’ve set out my New Years Resolutions, and a lot of the time I can’t keep them past March. So when I decided to plan ahead for 2018, I took the idea from a “9 things” post on Instagram last month to make my Nine Things to try in 2018.
- Cheyenne Tunic* by Hey June Handmade
I’m hoping this will make a change from trying to find jersey to make t-shirts, and give me a more varied selection of tops suitable for the spring and summer.
- Zen Pants* by 5 out of 4 Patterns
I was drawn to the Zen Pants as there are so many rise variations included – I tend to wear medium waist trousers, but I usually wear them a bit lower than they’re designed, so the medium rise of these might work brilliantly. It’s also the first pattern I have that recommends using Ponte fabric, so that will be an interesting experiment!
- Marigold by Blank Slate Patterns
I was planning on making the Marigold last summer, but time ran away without me and it was winter before I looked at the pattern again. But maybe this year I will get one made!
- Novelista by Blank Slate Patterns
I really dislike sewing buttonholes, so you might be wondering why I have a Novelista button-up shirt on my list…. well, either I’m going to cheat and use poppers, or I’ll add in a hidden button placket so you get a neat front without the stress of ensuring all those buttonholes are perfect.
- Giverney Blazer by Winter Wear Designs
Back when I started trying to sew clothing, I hadn’t read the information that said “jackets are hard to make” so naturally I made myself a few blazer-type jackets from duvet cover fabric. Other than one collar being put on the wrong way around, they came out surprisingly well! So I decided I really should make myself a decent blazer this year, out of some fancier fabric than a simple duvet cover. This pattern uses woven fabric, so there should be a great selection available in my local fabric shop.
- Bat Plushie by BeeZeeArt
On to the bats, and I admit I have made a few of these bats before! But when I was sorting out my bag of fabric last month, I came across some spare black and blue plush fabric which is just calling out to be made into a bat or two (or maybe three!). Because the wings and inner ears are made from woven cotton fabric, it’s a great pattern to use up oddments, or to so slightly crazy with glow-in-the-dark fabric like I did for the latest two bats I made.
- Refined Raglan by Winter Wear Designs
Another top, but it’s not quite what you’re thinking – the Refined Raglan is made from woven fabric, not jersey! It includes details on how to alter the pattern to fit your individual shape, so it should be more successful than some of the previous woven tops I’d tried making – those never quite fitted ‘right’.
- Willa Bear by Emma’s Bears
On the theme of plushies, I’ve been wanting to make a Willa Bear for a while, but haven’t managed to get to grips with adding in non-jointed limbs…. hopefully this year I’ll find enough patience to sew them on, without arguing (too much) with my sewing machine!
- Real Deal Jeans by Winter Wear Designs
The thought of sewing jeans is quite scary to be honest, but if I can get to grips with some of the other patterns, then maybe (just maybe) I’ll hunt down some stretchy denim and try making some jeans! As with the other Winter Wear Designs patterns, the Real Deal Jeans have a section on getting the perfect fit, with the relevant pattern alterations you need for each fitting problem.
So there it is, my 9 things to try in 2018…. but it remains to be seen if I manage to make any of them this year! If I don’t, it’s no big deal, but I thought having an aim at the start of the year might help focus my attention a little!
* affiliate links
I actually made this bat back in August but I had to wait until now to share this post, because it was a Christmas present. Using the tried-and-tested BeeZeeArt bat pattern, I got on much better sewing the head gusset and feet than I did with my starry bat.
Strictly speaking, the spiders are a little large for the wings, as it’s only the spiders and strand they’re dangling from, which glow in the dark.
But as a gift for a friend who likes Halloween and bats, it should work really well. The dark “minky” fabric means the spiders seem to glow even better than the stars do on my blue bat.
Have you been over to the Minerva Crafts blog this week? I’ve written a product review for the Crafting Tilda’s Friends book.
There’s nothing better for inspiration than a rummage through a fabric shop. On this occasion, I found two soft long-pile fake fur fabrics. They were more like 1/3 to 1/2 of the standard width, but at £8 a metre, I knew that 50cm of each would be enough to make a few small bears.
The red is quite a bright intense shade, which looks plain until it catches the light at a certain angle, when you can see an almost silvery shade to some of the fur strands.
The forest green is a more muted shade compared to the red, but the two tone look with the silvery tips caught my eye in the shop.
I will admit I normally wouldn’t pick green fabric, but this was too sleek and soft to pass up! It should definitely make a bear that you can’t resist running your hands through its fur.
Having made a dolphin, I could hardly pass the opportunity to make a dinosaur! The body shaping was a lot easier, although I will admit his face is slightly off-centre.
I used black faux suede for the eyes and mouth but looking closely at the stitching, I should practise my applique skills for unusual shaped pieces! The spines are also faux suede, just to add a little colour to lift the grey.
The faux suede was quite stiff, which made it challenging to turn such small pieces, but I think it was worth the effort, as it sets off the dotty grey really well.
Both Dotty Dinosaur and Dotty Dolphin are just the right size to sit on your hand, and despite having never made either of them before, didn’t take too long to make up.
I’ve seen a lot of dolphin plush toys online, and I was pleased to find a free pattern from Choly Knight. The pattern uses minky or similar fleece and I thought it would be ideal to use some of the dotty fat quarters I purchased from Hobbycraft.
Although the eyes look embroidered, they are actually appliqued! I cut the black from a faux suede fat quarter, and the eye white is cut from acrylic felt.
The tail is straight rather than having a v-shaped notch, as I made a mistake in the sewing…. but I don’t think that really matters. The dolphin plush still looks suitably cute and her misshapen tail won’t prevent her from pretending to swim!
I’ve finally finished Raspberry Ripple Bear! I’d finished the main parts a while ago, but had been putting off adding in the ears and embroidering the nose and mouth, because those elements can either make a bear look perfect, or end up making it look really weird.
Raspberry Ripple has a jointed head, but the arms and legs are machine sewn into position, so they should be securely attached to allow for lots of play. The paw pads are made from some faux suede from Hobbycraft, just for a little different feel.
I stitched the ears on a lot lower than I would normally do, in the hope that Raspberry Ripple would have a younger look, as this little bear is destined to travel to the US to be a gift for a friend’s young child.