Is it a mouse, a cat, a bear…?

For those who know my work, The Linen Cat started with, in fact, a linen bunny which quickly progressed to a cat and these are still my favourite things, I especially love the mix of linen against the bright cotton prints.  The cats/bunnies are, however, one of the most expensive things that I sell as there is a lot of work and fabric involved (all the tweed trousers and dresses are removable and lined) and although I go to every length to make sure they are hard wearing and washable the buttons mean I have to state they are unsuitable for children under 36 months.  I have thought for a while about making something that mixes the same combination of fabrics but is a bit smaller, simpler in construction and young child friendly and also has a hint of my mouse egg cosy.

Some designs are very organic and ‘just happen’, others I think about, draw down and tweak a lot before I am happy.  In this case my starting point was the linen cats/bunnies, the mouse egg cosy and existing patterns (as I have written before I like to try and keep some continuity with shapes and sizes – the latter to make easier packaging and posting!).

Pattern one is based on the one used for the Wool Bunnies, and it’s passable but not right.  The head doesn’t work, I quite like slightly weird shaped heads but I know from sales, not to go too abstract.  By the way, the cute owl fabric is from the new additions at Fabric Rehab and was an extra sent to me on my last order (thanks Sally), I am rather smitten and will have to buy more.

Apart from the head shape, I struggled to stitch up the body, there wasn’t enough room to tuck the arms and legs in (the legs in the corners of the triangle dress were a nightmare) so I have made pattern two wider at the top and I’ve moved the legs in a bit.

I am also trying out new heads in cotton, so I can draw on them and not waste good linen and also because the shapes change so much once stuffed.  I think the cat is the winner but I am worried about making my lovely full size Linen Cats redundant if there is a cheaper smaller more ‘young child’ friendly version.  As always any opinions greatly appreciated.

Hummm, plenty to think on, in the meantime I am waiting for fabric ordered for the project and I need to pre-wash and dye some existing linen.  Little mouse has gone to live on the shelf with some of my other samples…she may get buttons on her dress, just for fun, at a later date.

9 thoughts on “Is it a mouse, a cat, a bear…?

  1. Interesting to see your working process. I totally agree about trying to find simpler constructions. I’ve discontinued several things because there’s just too much work to make them viable. I like the idea of introducing a new animal to the collection. Could you make the mouse but with sewn in ears like the bear? Love the whiskers.

    • Nicky, I think you’re right, had thought of that but figured it adds another fiddly bit. I will do some more experiments methinks. Thanks for your thoughts, it helps when I get stuck to have other peoples input – the upside of the blogging world is feeling more ‘connected’ to crafty peeps when stuck in geek (M) and little boy world.

  2. I am sure that if you can get the mouse pattern right for efficiency of production it would be a good one to go for – it complements the larger cat, rather than being a potential replacement, and looks very sweet.

    Pomona x

    • Pomona, you are right, the mouse looks cute on the shelf with the other ‘creatures’ so I’m sticking with miss mouse! Thanks for your thoughts. Bx

  3. u love the mouse shaped ears, i think they look more stream lined and perhaps a bit cuter. if you would like the new designs to be for younger ages…im no expert ot anything…but would the cats ears be a a little pointy…could they get put into an eye or something. saying that i like the cats face!

    • I like the cat face too, might save it for a later project. The pointy ears are ok, as they are in fabric, you just can’t have anything that could be a choke hazard (so buttons or beads) or anything that could get caught around the neck (so long ties). I tend to want to put buttons on everything!!

  4. I agree with Pomona regarding the mouse being a good design to go for and how it would compliment the larger cat.

    What I think would be nice would be a mouse with material ears like in the egg cosy and with a plain body like the woolly rabbit, and for embellishment just a wide ribbon in the same fabric as the ears tied round its neck in a bow (sewn on).

    I can see why you don’t want to make a simpler cat as to do that you’d have to in effect lower your standards (eg if you didn’t line the outfits for example), when I make my mirrors I always fully back them with MDF which adds quite a bit to the manufacturing process but I just can’t leave the mirror glass unbacked (as I have seen done with other people’s mirrors) as it just looks like shoddy workmanship to me.


    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, it’s much appreciated. I am going for the mouse as it’s what everyone is saying. I did think about doing fabric lined ears (like mouse cosy) but it’s harder than it looks to get them ‘straight’. I will have a play and see what looks nice together (fabric wise).

      I hate shoddy work, I know everyone’s idea of shoddy differs, I read in a blog once that someone hated machine sew outer seams, ie not hand slip stitched, they thought it was lazy, but I always machine sew mine as I like the uniformity (even though I am a neat hand stitcher) plus my softies have to be extra strong to deal with kids playing. I guess it’s a matter of your own personal standards and taste, I’m with you thogh, I’d be ‘backing the mirror in MDF’! Bx

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