I recently joined a little 'club' called "Six Months of Softies". Basically it's six soft toy patterns from six different designers, but they are new exclusive surprise patterns revealed and delivered once a month for six months, so it's exciting too! I'm a sucker for soft toys, what can I say? (Read about it here, if you are interested.)
The first pattern is from Shiny Happy World, where Wendi Gratz designs patterns specifically for beginners and also has a heap of video tutorials to go with her patterns. So when reading through the pattern, there will be links to videos as you might need them. You can ignore the stuff you already know, and check out the video for extra help on stuff you aren't good at or familiar with. I've picked up some good tips. I also love the way she writes. Cute little comments lie among the instructions to give you a little laugh.
The pattern is an elephant and a mouse, called Napoleon and Josephine. I've actually mostly made the elephant, but I need more stuffing, so I'll show you that one later. For now, I have the mouse.
As you can see, I decided to give him a little hat.
Want to make your own little felt bicorne for your mouse or another little toy?
It's super easy to make. Slightly more tricky to place, depending on the ears of your toy! Here's how:
1. Start with a circle of felt that is a suitable size for your toy. The diameter should be "shoulder width" or wider for a more exaggerated look. (I say "shoulder width" in inverted commas because often toys have no shoulders. This mouse doesn't even have arms.) Basically there will be two folds in the circle, making two segments slightly smaller than a semi-circle for the sides, and a narrow strip in the middle. Kind of like a stand-and-stuff taco.
2. Fold into taco shape, and pinch the sides in and fold them down a bit. Now, I had a go at actually steaming mine to help it keep that shape. I used a cheap craft felt from my stash, so it was only moderately successful, but it might be worth it, especially if you are making a larger hat. You can see my improvised blocking set up in these pictures.
I knew I was keeping that oversized novelty Christmas pencil for a reason.
Just like a taco!
If you haven't steamed any felt before, the idea is to hold it in steam and shape it when the steam has made it a bit more pliable, then keep it in place. Holding it above a kettle is the easiest way.
3. Embellish. I went with a little button and the edges of some wire-edged ribbon in gold and red. Google up some Napoleon pictures for plenty of ideas. Some paintings seemed to have a gold trim, others just a little cockade. Whatever you fancy. Googling other bicorne hats (or chapeau bras) will give you other embellishment ideas.
4. If necessary, also put a stitch in on the other side to hold the shape.
5. Attaching is a variable process depending on your toy. For the mouse here, I used a ladder-whip-mutant stitch to attach it behind one ear, across the top of the head, and in front of the other ear. Wiggling and squishing was required.
6. Celebrate with some fresh banana bread.
Step 6 is the best!
Now... who else can I put a little hat on?