Sunday, 11 May 2014

Make way for the Coldham Koalas - Part 2: A Happy Ending in sight

Hello again Everyone - good to be back, after an eventful week (outside the Etsy world) which took more time than intended.  Isn't that always the case when one lays careful plans for maximum use of one's time?
Anyway, when we left the Coldham Koalas story last time, I promised you a photograph of the newly made Baby Koalas - with the newest additions all having new plastic noses, as opposed to the wool embroidered ones used to date.   like both versions - wonder what everyone else thinks?
Etsy Listing # 55190188
They're all sitting happily among the Aubretia plants edging a flower bed in one of the nooks and crannies that abound in the garden here at The Hospital of St. John.
Now to the saga of Colin the Giant Koala - the Cuddlies specimen that I was "persuaded" to produce by a customer who turned out to be what I believe is described a "spammer".  I returned to the conversation between him and I begun before Easter, when he told me he would pay the initial deposit when his pay cheque arrived (due on Good Friday - which is when my suspicions as to his real intent were definitely confirmed!).  When I attempted to renew the conversation on the Tuesday after the Bank Holiday, Etsy informed me that the person "did not exist" - even though there were some 15 or 16 messages between us on record!  So, the entire episode was reported as "Spam" to Etsy.... and life went on.
While I try to persuade myself I needn't have gone along with his suggestion, in my last post I described how I responded to the challenge posed by the buyer, because until then I had been quite positive I was incapable of altering an existing pattern.  I'm pleased to say that subsequent events have proved me wrong - which is what the rest of  this post is going to be all about!
The first step in creating Colin was, of course to create the paper pattern for him.  My normal patterns are made using discarded cardboard cereal packets. ( I do try to maintain ColdhamCuddlies' recycling credentials as much as possible.)  However, enlarging Big Koala's (BK) original template to become a 24 inches high Bear needed larger pieces of cardboard than was available, so a packet of 2" (5cms) square graph paper was acquired the next time I was in Warminster,  and BK's individual pieces fitted on it.  The difference in overall dimensions between the intended Toy and BK was about 5 inches so I drew the shapes an extra 2-1/2" bigger around all the shapes.  The finished article did look enormous, but the process had begun!  For those interested in vital statistics, these are Colin's  final ones:

                              Height: 27 inches.  Girth (around the base) 48 inches.  Weight: circa 4-5 lbs
The enlarged pattern pieces just fitted on to the Silver Grey Flecked Faux Fur fabric offcuts in my stash.  Making Colin was pretty straight forward - but being so much bigger than the standard ColdhamCuddlies toy it took just a bit longer.  Added to which the beautiful, furry fabric used has a tendency to fray, so every seam had to be over sewn to maintain the Toy's overall integrity.  Still, as it was the Easter week-end, once all the necessary Easter church celebrations were attended to, I had the time, the weather was not that good, and by the Tuesday after Easter I had got to the stage that the Body and Head were sewn together, and the mammoth task of stuffing him was the next step.

This picture shows his body - waiting for the head to be sewn on - sitting on what the family calls the ""Office Chair" (because that is what it used to be when we had an office!).  It  now serves as the place for the stuffing to sit waiting to be used in the toy-making process, as well as being somewhere some Cuddlies have been photographed in the past.   When completed, Colin took over 2 kilos of stuffing - because I wanted him to be a firm armful when completed.  (All stuffing, over a period of time, does relax, and the last thing one wants in a big toy like Colin is for him to go floppy when being played with.)
This is the first photograph  of Colin, perched (without being propped against the wall) on one of my pillows.  The next shows BK sitting just in front of him, to give you some idea of the size difference.  (BK's vital statistics being - Height - 14 ins (30.55cms):  Girth (at widest point) - 21 ins (50.35 cms):  Weight - 15.5 ozs (438 g). 
Both of them didn't fit on the pillow, so they were both placed on my mattress - which had been stripped for the weekly change of sheets!  Not the best shot of Colin, but for the purposes of this blog, it will have to do.
While stuffing was in process, it quickly became obvious that the single leather claws that look fine on BK were simply too fragile to look realistic for Colin.  So, I unpicked the end seams on arms and legs, cut out four more pieces and sewed the leather together - with button-hole stitching around the fingers.  Then each hand was lightly stuffed, and I attached the claws using ladder stitch.  The fluffy faux fur conveniently hides any of the stitching that was used, so no one is any the wiser - except those of you who are reading this post, of course!
In the meantime, my daughters were being kept apprised of the saga of the spamming buyer.  When the first picture of Colin was circulated to them, Clare - my younger daughter, who with her husband is currently negotiating the complicated process of adopting a child (or children - a sibling group could be accommodated) suggested that Colin would be the perfect candidate for the Nursery when it becomes a reality.  She reserved him on the spot!  
 So, later this month, when I am due to go for a week or so to stay with Clare and her husband, Alan, I am being picked up by Clare.  Colin will be strapped in with his own Safety Belt on one of the back seats of her car - together with all the other impedimenta I cannot seem to travel without!!!  (As I'm coming back to Heytesbury by train, that will of necessity have to be considerably restricted.  Because, no matter which way I travel - via London (which I prefer to avoid) or cross-country, there are at least two change of trains involved!!!)  Interestingly, there's not that much difference in the time it takes between a car or train!  It's a matter of convenience, and inevitably, cost!
So there is a happy ending.  Colin  will have a Forever Home after all.  His picture will remain in our Shop (  as a replacement could well be in the offing.  He was such fun to make, although the recent foray to replace the stuffing he "ate"  has indicated that its cost is sky-rocketing, and may necessitate some increases in charges for future Cuddlies.  My source is still considerably less expensive than purchasing from a normal haberdashery store, but even so - these things have to be taken into account!
Before leaving this post, here are some other pictures of Colin, frolicking - if someone of his size can do such a thing - in the garden.  Thank goodness the weather is enabling me to take lots of new photographs of the Cuddlies - which are appearing as each is renewed or re-listed.
Sitting sideways in the Coldham Bears' favourite mulberry tree
Trying to climb up the tree - not very successfully
A view from the rear
Colin sitting unaided - with a neighbour's azalea plant to show off his furry coat

And finally, a mug shot - if it should ever be needed!
With that, I'll love you all - and leave you for the present.  Hope to be back soon, probably with Cy Bear at the helm, with some more stories about recently renewed Cuddlies - and, maybe, a description and a few pictures of The Hospital of St. John and its lovely grounds (as requested by several of you lovely Followers).  
Until then - Good Night and Good Bless.  Isobel
Coldham Cuddlies Clinic