When I was younger I absolutely loved Sylvanian Families animal figures, so when I saw the charming little critters you could make ‘How to Sew Little Felt Animals’ by Sue Quinn, I knew I had to add them to my crafty to-do-list. Now admittedly, having made a rabbit from the book, other than being of the same woodland variety, I can see there isn’t a huge amount of similarity between the two, with the main difference being the size and somewhat delicate nature of the felted friend (note: not a suitable toy for an enthusiastic 2.5 year old. Whiskers were off in under 3 minutes). Nethertheless, I still enjoyed making my little leporine friend and I’m quite pleased with how she turned out.
So would I recommend How to Sew Little Felt Animals? Well, I think you will agree the results are pretty good, so in a nutshell yes.
The book starts, like many craft books, by listing the basic materials and equipment you will need. What’s great is that everything on the list is readily available, if not at your local haberdashery, then from many online retailers. The equipment needed is basic and inexpensive, with most of it being optional, though I would suggest the miniature pliers are a must if you intend to use cotter pins for the joints as I don’t know how you would successfully bend the pins without them.
Following on from the materials and equipment section, there is a chapter detailing the basic and common techniques that will be needed across all the animals. Later on when you are making a particular animal reference will be made to follow the techniques in this section. This approach worked well as otherwise the same instructions would have to have been unnecessarily repeated with every animal.
The remaining chapters concentrate on how to make the animals, including their outfits. There are five types of woodland creatures to make; rabbits, squirrels, bears, moles and mice. There is a chapter dedicated to each animal type, all starting off with a list of tools and materials needed for the particular creature the chapter features. For each animal a pattern is provided that needs to be reproduced at 133%. Now I don’t mind this, probably as I live conveniently for the local Staples with a decent A3 photocopier, but I know some people find it annoying to have to enlarge patterns. Given the small size of the pattern pieces it would only have taken an extra page or 2 per animal to provide full sized traceable patterns so this is somewhat of a let down, though probably more on the part of the publisher trying to save printing costs, rather than the author.
The instructions themselves are organised into concise numbered steps with matching photographs. For the most part the instructions were easy to follow for the rabbit itself but there were one or two points when creating her outfit where I had to rely on my own sewing and garment construction knowledge to figure out the technique. This, in part, can probably be attributed to the photographs that accompany each instruction. Now don’t get me wrong, they are certainly well shot but the problem is it can be quite hard to see the detail, such as the right/wrong side of the fabric, or which bit is being sewn, particularly when it is being obscured by a stripey pattern on the fabric. This was notably problematic with the photographs accompanying the instructions on how to attach the whiskers as the whiskers are made from transparent fishing wire and therefore practically invisible in the shots. Diagrams would have helped alleviate these problems as hard to see elements could have been highlighted easier.
All in all though the instructions were relatively easy to follow but I would perhaps recommend that this is a book for a more intermediate level of crafting skill rather than beginners. I’m looking forward to making a mouse next!
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