After a year of intermittent sewing lessons and carefully supervised ventures, I decided to attempt a sewing project on my own. I chose the book ‘Everything Alice’ by Hannah Read-Baldrey and Christine Leech as a starting point. The book is full of whimsical projects and the designs on each page are simply enchanting. Early on in the book my eye was caught by the Dandy White Rabbit. Here is what he should look like.
So how did I get on?
Firstly I traced the templates from the back of the book and carefully cut them out. Then I realised I was supposed to enlarge the templates to twice the size. This filled me with dread, for despite being an administrator for 5 years and having spent a depressing amount of time hovering over photocopiers, enlarging always seems to end with me kicking the copier and running away before anyone sees me. I couldn’t risk that sort of bad luck on my first solo sewing mission.
So my rabbit was going to be a little rabbit. Following the instructions I cut out the various rabbit body pieces and pinned them together. This took a long time because I kept convincing myself I was doing it wrong, changing it, only to discover I was right the first time.
Stuffing the body was more fun, although I might have overdone it a bit. He ended up having a very puffed out chest, like a little body-builder rabbit. Also I put his head on backwards but you would never notice.
His ears caused me a lot of trouble. The first time I folded his head and ears out, the left ear was completely the wrong way round. I had to un-pick it and in doing so accidentally tore the head. After creating two fresh head pieces I tried again. This time I was more successful, they are still quite wonky, but in a lovable way.
All that was left to do now was to dress him. I forgot to take pictures of this part of the process, because I was too occupied with making and fixing mistakes. Again I had to do the trousers twice because the first ones did not fit around his fat legs. With a lot of patience I eventually had him dressed in an ill-fitting, somewhat raggedy-around-the-edges suit. It was at this point I returned to my friend and sewing guru Mary for help.
Mary, showed me how to pull him together. We hemmed his trousers and pulled them in at the waist. She showed me how to fix my errors on the jacket. She sewed the cuffs of the jacket into his arms to neaten it up, and created his tie out of a tough piece of ribbon.
As we were working, Mary said that the suit we were making for the rabbit was much more complicated than making my own clothes would be. She asked if I would like to try making my own clothes. She gave me a magazine of patterns and set me the task of choosing one to try or bringing her an old top whose pattern we could follow.
We continued working in silence. As I added the button on rabbit’s jacket my imagination soared with the beautiful clothes I am going to make. Flared skirts, fitted cardigans, dresses with pockets… I am going to hand design all of my clothes, they will all be perfectly fitted for me. I will invest in beautiful, high-quality fabrics. Friends will start asking me to make clothes for them. Who knows maybe I will produce my own line and stock them at local boutique shops? Maybe I will become the next exclusive new designer.
But before I fall further down the rabbit hole of possibilities of my untested fashion designer talents, I had my rabbit to finish.
I took him home and gave him a little pocket watch and tucked it into his jacket. Then he had an Instagram photo-shoot using a box of watch pieces I found at a local craft fair,
So here he is; my Dandy White Rabbit, made with love, patience and day dreams.