Now that the mass of sewing for the book is just about done (nearly 40 birds, whew!), I have a renewed interest in designing four-legged animals. Believe it or not, I feel like my mass of knowledge about fabric birds is now in this repository and suddenly I feel totally ready, and free, to move on to something knew. I still love my birds, don't get me wrong, but I feel like making more birds is the easy path. Easy and endless and I need to push myself forward to explore and to learn.
I've made four-legged animals before. For a long while I made jointed animals. I like how the joints invite people to play with the finished animal, but jointed toys avoid the issue of creating darts and gussets that make the animal stand up and be proportionate.
I've designed some good elephants and a few different dogs, but I really would like to come a better understanding of all the different options, all the diferent methods, of four-legged animal design.
The best place to start, I think, is the same way I started four and a half years ago when I first began making softies: 1970's craft books. My favorite vintage toy making book is Good Design in Soft Toys by Rudi de Sarigny. This book is a classic and one I've read many times. I've learned a lot from Rudi already, but I think if I work my way through more of her patterns I will become better versed in gussets and darts, attaching legs and shaping faces.
I know that I'm not alone in loving this book. Many wonderful people make her patterns. Here is Rudi's duck, which I'm sure you've seen made up by many crafters around the blogosphere:
And I am hoping to work my way through some of his patterns, too. I've always liked Rudi's camel. I made it yesterday from wool felt and already I am learning.
First, I forgot how great wool felt is for sewing softies. I have been sewing in cotton for three year. I learned a very cool way of connecting the under part of each leg to the underbody gusset. I also think the darts that create the hoof are pretty cool. Even the tail is cool.
There are so many excellent images of rams around the craft and design blogs right now. This amazing show is a big inspiration, and Nicole's wonderful work, too. In the end, I'd like to make my own ram using some of the knew techniques I learn. I hope you'll bear with me as I make new things that I cannot sell. I am working to learn so that in the end it will be possible for me to create in three-dimensions all the ideas I have in my head.