Things seldom turn out as you expect, do they?
As you may know, I’ve been making velvet cat dolls for textile designer Sarah Campbell, dressing them in her wonderful fabrics.
But long before the cats were even a twinkle in Sarah’s eye, I found some ginger velvet in a charity shop.
I experimented with it a bit at the time and made a tiny fox… That was the beginning of my dealings with velvet.
However, fiddle-faffing about with foxy taught me a lesson. Namely, that the dark side of that lovely soft fabric is it’s absolutely nightmarish fraying tendencies. Foxy sold straight away, but due to the frustrating fraying of both his velvet pelt and my temper, he was the last of his kind.
I swore off the soft stuff and vowed to stick to poplin, lawn and those other, easier, more co-operative fabrics in future.
So nobody is more surprised than I to now be working with velvet on a regular basis. Just call me a glutton for punishment.
Of course, I’ve learned a few things through trial and error since frayed mister fox.
Like not working too tiny. Nor making legs and arms too thin, because they will either fall apart when you try to turn them, or else just get stuck and not turn at all.
And Sellotape is handy to have on hand to remove all that velvet fuzz that inevitably deposits itself all over ironing board, tablecloth, my frock – and anything else within sneezing distance.
The good thing about velvet is that provided you learn your lessons well and have the right weight of fabric for the job at hand (i.e. not trying to make small dolls from furnishing velvet, another hard lesson learned) it looks and feels lovely.
Hence my being tempted to try making cats from it.
The black velvet cats worked a treat, once I had the measure of them, so I blithely thought I’d get the ginger velvet out again and give it another go. After all, ginger cats are a thing, aren’t they? Well, you can see how that turned out here.
The ginger-cat-that-never-was sat abandoned on my work trolley for months. I never throw any
failures experiments away as I find that over time, something (nearly) always comes of them.
Ginger cat tried being a tiger for a while. But I was never happy with him. I never even photographed him.
And I don’t think he was happy with himself. Sometimes you can just tell these things.
Eventually, I unpicked his stripes and, somewhere between this character… And these little fellas… This guy emerged…
A ginger lion. Or rather, not a ginger lion.
Let me explain…
I buy and use vintage threads for my makes whenever I can.
They are thicker and I find them better for hand sewing than the modern polyester threads that I use for machine sewing. I have a lovely selection to choose from, but never know if I have the right colour until I start a project and go rummaging through my cabinet for thread to sew it with.
My thread is stored in an old wooden card file cabinet, which has a drawer for warm colours, a drawer for cool colours and a drawer for neutrals. I pulled out the neutrals drawer a little further than usual and found a stash of browns at the back.
And there was the perfect matching shade for the velvet of my new lion.
And guess what? It wasn’t ginger…On the label it has, not just a number to identify the shade, as modern threads do, but a wonderfully evocative name:
So he is a Golden Cinnamon lion, not a ginger one.
I think it suits him.
Still a little spicy, but a lion of an altogether sweeter and more mellow disposition.