Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Velveteen Rabbit Sew Along: Welcome and Schedule

Welcome to the Velveteen Rabbit Sew Along!

If you have never made a stuffed animal before, the Velveteen Rabbit is a great place to start because it has a simple shape without too many curves or tight places. This sew along will help guide you through the process.

The holidays are coming right up and I know many of you makers are getting busy. I wanted to get this sewalong up to help those of you that might be considering making a special toy for someone special on your list!
Velveteen Rabbit in Maroon and Pink Cotton Velour

About the Pattern

The Velveteen Rabbit pattern is a PDF sewing pattern to make a nearly life-size standing rabbit toy. The bunny stands about 14 inches tall when his ears are down, and is weighted to feel like a real rabbit. The pattern is designed for woven fabrics such as quilting cottons and velveteen, but it also includes instructions for how use a stretchy fabric like cotton velour or minky.

The pattern includes downloadable step-by-step instructions with photo illustrations. The sewalong and the accompanying videos provide additional examples and information.

The pattern was first released in Love Sewing Magazine in Spring 2017. The version that is for sale on this website or Etsy includes more detailed instructions.

If you haven't gotten your pattern yet, you can get it at my Etsy store here. Use code VELVETEEN to get 10% off through November 27.

Sew Along Schedule

Welcome and Schedule
Day 1: Fabric and Supplies
Day 2: Assembling the PDF and Cutting (Video: Understanding Napped Fabrics)
Day 3: Sewing the Ears (Video: Assembling the Ears)
Day 4: Sewing the Body (Video: Attaching the Ears)
Day 5: Stuffing, Weighting, and Finishing (Videos: Introduction to Safety Eyes and Stuffing)


If you are working on assembling your materials for making your rabbit, here is what you will need:

Velveteen Rabbit Pattern
1/2 Yard Main Fabric
Fat Quarter (18”x22”) or 1/2 Yard Contrast Fabric
Matching sewing thread
1/4 yard cotton muslin or similar plain woven fabric (for weighted bags)
Sew-in Horsehair Canvas or medium/heavy fusible interfacing for ears
Two 12mm safety eyes
Embroidery floss
Stuffing (Wool or Polyfill)
Ground Walnut shells or poly pellets for weighting

Optional (suggested for stretchy fabrics or thin fabrics):
Additional cotton muslin for interlining or medium interfacing

History and Inspiration

I've always been a fan of classic toys, and the Velveteen Rabbit is one of my favorites! Most of us know about the Velveteen Rabbit from Margery Williams' 1922 book, The Velveteen Rabbit.

It was Williams' first book, and it told the story of a young boy who receives a stuffed rabbit toy for Christmas. Once the novelty of the talking and mechanical toys wears off, the rabbit becomes a favorite toy. Their relationship grows for many years, but one year the boy gets sick, and all of the toys that consoled him when he was sick are discarded. Left overnight in the garden, the rabbit cries a single real tear, then a fairy grants his wish to be a "real" rabbit. The following summer, the boy sees rabbits playing in the yard and remarks on how much one of the resembles his former toy.

Cover of the first edition of The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, Illustrations by William Nicholson.

While the book made the idea of a Velveteen Rabbit famous, such a toy might have been commonplace in 1922. There are several stuffed rabbit toys in museum collections that date back to before Williams published her book. One of my favorites is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The Velveteen Rabbit Pattern was strongly influenced by this sweet standing rabbit.

"Toy rabbit called 'Tiny', in an upright stance, printed cream velvet with brown spots," ca 1902, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
There are also several excellent examples of "velveteen rabbits" by the famous toymaker, Steiff. The orange bunny was sold at a Christies Auction for over $2,000!

Steiff Rabbits: Left: Steiff sample, ca. 1929 | Right: Steiff jointed rabbit, ca. 1910 (ebay)
Other examples of upright stuffed rabbit toys can be found on Ebay and collector websites. 

Left: Vintage Farnell Winfred Rabbit, ca 1925 |  Right: Antique Edwardian Mohair Bunny (ebay)

The velveteen rabbit has been around for a long time, so you can be sure that it won't go out of style in a hurry.

Here are a few more that I created from the pattern. The one on the left is made from a silk/rayon velvet with a white ribbed cotton velour ears and belly. The one in the middle is made from a cotton print by Cloud 9 fabrics.

I'll be back tomorrow with the first sew along post where we'll talk about fabrics, hope to see you there!

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