Isobel left the last post at the point when everything needed to be put together: so the next step is for all the bodies to be stuffed. In the case of all Dressed Lady Cuddlies (whether they are Rabbits or Foxes so far in the www.ColdhamCuddlies.etsy.com story or new models in the 2014 pipeline) they all have two seams sewn at the point where the legs become hips in a normal person. The first one at the top of the legs is a straight one and the second (about half an inch up the body) starts and finishes at that point on each side, and in between becomes slightly curved. It means Isobel then can stuff the legs from the bottom upwards, and the body is then stuffed from the neck down! Apparently that's a much easier (and faster) process than when she has to make the Men Toys. They have to be stuffed from the neck downwards, right to the bottom of the legs - which obviously have to be very stiff so that the finished Toy can stand tall and upright, hopefully without being propped up.
In the case of the Lady Toys, it means they can sit down easier too.
Once the shoes have been sewn on, the pantaloons are fitted. In the case of the Brown Rabbits, they were made in light green poplin and edged with a cotton white trim. Each pantaloon leg was gathered around the ankle using embroidery yarn, which was tied and knotted tightly. Then Isobel gathered the material at the waist, arranged the fabric evenly around the Toy's waists and sewed the pantaloons in place at the waist as well.
Our Cuddlies are not made to be undressed - which we believe is the secret to their longevity. Long-time Followers of this blog will recall the treatment of Madame Lapin and Mons. Reynard (toys that Isobel made for her sister-in-law who lives in France nearly 40 years ago. They both were treated in our Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185) and their therapies described in our posts (for Mme Lapin these were dated 19/02/12 and 20/02/12 and Mons Reynard featured on 04/03/2012 and 07/03/12). The only reason they became Patients with us was that they had both become dusty, and Mons. Reynard's stuffing and boots needed attention. Now, after a bath and clothes wash for Mme Lapin and re-stuffing and brand new boots for Mons Reynard, they look as good as new, and are back in their accustomed positions on MmeIM's dressing table in Normandy.
Reverting to the present:, the next photo shows one of the two White Lady Rabbits at the same stage - with the Black felt shoes in place and the pantaloons - this time made in white satin and trimmed with pink lace and gathered at the ankles with a purple embroidery yarn. (She was actually being propped up to stand for this photo!
This shows Brown Rabbit with her trimming and gathering in place as well. The pastel shades of both the trimming and pantaloons do not show up truly under electric light, as well as they do in daylight - however, think you can get the idea!
Then come the dresses. Each skirt actually comprises fabric that measures 10 inches (c.20.6 centimetres) from floor to waist and 36 inches (90.15 centimetres) wide. That is quite a lot of material, which has to be gathered at the waist and sewn onto the bodies of each toy. Before the gathering gets done though, Isobel makes a one inch hem and this time used the sewing machine, with a zig-zag stitch setting to make the hem, and at the same decorate the dress as well. At the same time, the ColdhamCuddlies label is also stitched into the dress at the back seam.
Then the bodices are attached. The arms have to be stuffed first of all, and then the bodice of each dress is fitted over the waists of each Rabbit, the seams turned under - quite a tricky move for someone with arthritic fingers such as Isobel at times - and then she sews the two pieces together at the waist.
Right, I've been told by Isobel that we're going to have to stop posting this story for tonight, because the space allocated by Blogger for the pictures is getting to the point that she will not be able to upload more of them and see what she is doing to get them onto the blog. She says that there is probably a recognised way of doing this but to date she has not been able to fathom it out. So, you'll have to wait until next time to see what happens - but meanwhile, here is a photograph showing Brown Rabbit, waiting for her head, apron, carrot and collar to be attached - just to whet your appetites (I hope).
Until the next time - when I think I'm expected to carry on the story, while Isobel performs the actions in the background.
Good Night. Your Friend - Cy Bear