again, with the deer


I have been obsessing with the making of the small stuffed woodland creatures.  My original desire to make a simple deer has not quite abated yet, given that my attempts thus far have fallen short of simple and dear.

Meanwhile, my ambitions have swollen greatly as I make my way through the first Wildwood book by Colin Meloy, which is chalk full of talking animals dressed in all sorts of waistcoasts and coyote soldiers in epaulettes.  I am slightly ashamed to say that I think that talking animals in waistcoasts is exactly my sort of thing (we have chatted about my childhood love of Alice in Wonderland, it has obviously imprinted the most frightening sort of anthropomorphization upon me).

So, I'd really like to make some woodland creatures.  And then put them in clothes. Unfortunately, its been a rough go, trying to carve out a three dimensional creatures in fabric with their wee noses and hooves and tails being all fussy and difficult. I've been using one pattern, the instructions from another, and studying my first deer, all just trying to figure out what exactly I need to do.  I've been having troubles wrapping my mind around it spatially and now I'm worried that my sewing skills are limited to making children's trousers, usually in some shade of brown. Sort of depressing, when I think of it.

Today, however, I had a bit of a breakthrough when I decided to put away the sewing machine, which hates doing fiddly bits and hasn't worked well since the last craft night I hosted anyway, and hand basted a small deer together, making extra sure that I wasn't tucking or stretching or missing bits.  Somehow, the act of removing the intermediary of the machine helped bring the shape of the deer into focus and I was finally able to grasp what steps needed to be taken.  And then, with a tremendous break from my usual M.O., venturing far beyond my comfort zone, I hand sewed almost all of the little deer into being.  

I usually view my hand sewing as greatly inferior to the machine but today I found it to be more effective for this particular project and, when I took it slow and carefully (and wrapping a band aid around my middle finger on my right hand), my stitches were just as nice as the machine.  Certainly as strong.  Hm, who would of thought it?  I feel rather pleased with myself.

I would be showing you a picture right now of the new hand sewn deer but I had to spend a great deal of time picking out small buttons for eyes, leaving none left for actually finishing off the deer or making little clothes for him.  You know how that goes.  I think I spend just as much time sorting through notions as I do actually sewing.  But here is a picture of some of the button eye contenders for you.  


I have been casually searching for bloggers who work exclusively with hand sewing but didn't find any striking examples except for a company, Alabama Chanin, featured in a fascinating Etsy handmade portrait that designs and sells only hand sewn items.  Does anyone know of any good websites/blogs on hand sewing?


  1. Have you read A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore? I think it would be right up your alley, it is a bit dark, a bit funny and there are small creatures in waistcoats. :)

  2. You should share this pattern because I need to make a dog and I was thinking all last night "How do people make those 3-D animals?" and I could not wrap my head around it...

  3. AnnaPK, I haven't, but I will now. Thanks!

    Shary, I am using a pattern from this etsy shop:

    But, because it's a vintage pattern that has been scanned and pdf'd and the pages are not well labelled and out of order I've had an extremely difficult time using the instructions. I had the Wee Wonderfuls book and was using her instructions for making a stuffed dog (also a cute pattern).

    It's not easy for me either. Gussets and places where the fabric meets from three or four different directions... oi.

  4. Can't wait for the completed project!

  5. Hi, Abby Glassenberg has a great blog here <>
    Abby has some great tutorials on how to design your own toy patterns. She uses a machine for most things but I think she does do some hand sewing on her toys. Worth checking out anyway. :) Mignon

  6. Sabrina, soon soon :)

    Mignon, what an excellent resource! I've just ordered her book through my library's interlibrary loan program. I hope it doesn't take long. Thank you for sharing!