I have a baby niece! Adorable, huh? That cutesy-wootsy ickle tongue and beeyootiful big eyes . . . Don’t be ridiculous — SMR is MUCH more attractive than the stuffed thing I made for her! [Sorry, for the sake of infant anonymity, no baby photos here]
Let’s be honest, my sewing skills aren’t exactly sweatshop-worthy, so although I initially drooled over a complicated stuffed monkey made by another crafter [professional, mind you], I really needed a design that was enough of an amorphous blob to accommodate imprecise stitches and lack of a sewing machine. Besides, isn’t it cooler when your friend can climb trees AND fly, just cause there’s no encyclopedia entry saying it can’t? Having made a giant Uglydoll-inspired thing once before for a friend, I went that route again, spicing it up with bright lime fleece, a crooked tail for dragging on the floor, and long hug-ready arms. It’s bigger than SMR is right now, but at three months and counting she’s growing fast!
I sketched out a number of wacky designs before finalizing this one. Being a proper feminist, I did not want it to be gender-specific in shape or color. Instead I focused on features that SMR could latch on to, both physically — ears, tail, and arms for easy grabbing — and mentally — bold, over-sized eyes and tongue to stare at. And after agonizing about sourcing the materials, I chose organic sweatshirt fleece [in a few different eye-popping colors with some future projects in mind], organic bamboo stuffing, and recycled felt for the detailing. She can suck on it to her heart’s content! Construction was incredibly time-consuming but zen in the chopping vegetables kind of way. The head, torso, and tail are composed of two identical pieces of fabric tacked together inside out, then flipped, stuffed, and the holes blind-stitched shut; the same goes for the arms, but these were made separately so they could attach at a bendable “joint.” The arms and ears are stuffed firmly to give them greater definition and durability while the rest of the body is soft and cushy enough to snuggle into.
Mum warns me that I’ll be stuck mending the creature for the next ten years if SMR decides to fall in love . . . I can only hope that happens, otherwise I have to keep designing them from scratch until I figure out “the one”!