Monday, 28 April 2008

Tabling my frailties

'Elgar' 21"

I wish I could tell you I enjoyed creating this quirky chap, but if I did, I'd be fibbing! He has been such hard work, a real trial. Now that he's completed, I still can't look at him without seeing all the problems he has caused me, not to mention wishing I'd had enough fabric to make him a slightly larger head ... not quite the catastrophe I feared, but not the dream outcome I had hoped for either!

On arrival, this seemed like a good sized piece of mohair. I was entranced by the richness of colour and the wonderful autumnal leaf pattern, but by the time I had carefully placed each pattern piece to avoid the most worn areas, I realised there wouldn't be a spare inch anywhere and if I didn't want to completely waste my money (this wasn't an insubstantial purchase!) I would have to proceed with utmost caution.

I think this particular mohair must have begun life as a table covering or similar all those years ago, because the backing didn't have the strength of the other antique mohair I worked with previously, which was probably intended for use as upholstery once upon a time. With the exception of Elgar's arms, I found it necessary to line each pattern piece with interfacing to ensure both the fabric's integrity and my sanity.

Once or twice I almost gave up in despair as the closing seams threatened to weaken, but I persevered, making sure I took substantial stitches with my ladder stitch and giving myself sufficient seam allowance for the stitches to hold firm.

Now that Elgar is finished I can at least say I am very satisfied with the placement of the tapestry on his body and I do like his antique boot button eyes, particularly as they are gently pitted and undeniably aged - I think they give him a unique expression quite different from my contemporary bears. I also love the 1960's 'aurora borealis' buttons I've used from my little magpie horde, as they give him an extra special zing. I guess all in all, he's not quite what I was aiming for, but he does have a certain awkward charm and if nothing else, is definitely one of a kind!

Button detailing

With gentle handling I think this unusual bear will see out his days in comfort, but he will need treating with respect, just as an elderly gentleman should be. He will probably stay with me for the forseeable future and who knows, maybe we will become more accustomed to one another eventually! For now though, I'm more than ready to take a short break from my foray into vintage mohair and instead indulge myself in something modern, something completely 'All Bear' and dare I say it, something wholly more predictable!


  1. He's beautiful Paula! I admire you for diving into another bear so soon after all the hard work and stresses you had with this chap. I think I would need a few days off!

    Big hugs for being so brave with such a precious fabric.

    Sarah x

  2. Simply delish! Love him, he is incredibly gorgeous and rich---that face just steals one's heart away..

  3. He turned out to be a special guy Paula... and those buttons... lovely.
    They look like some my sister had on a soft lilac shantung silk dress that she made in the late 60's ... she was a fantastic seamstress from about 2 years into sewing. Darn it anyway....wish I had not been kicked out of home ec. class. I am finally just learning to use a machine ain't easy at my age.

    beautiful flowers... love the colours... we are finally having some warm days..had the motorcycle out yesterday for a bit...

  4. Paula, you're too hard on yourself. He's a striking fellow for sure. The fabric is beautiful and he's truly one of a kind. I love everything about him.

  5. Paula, I LOVE him! He's fantastic and quite unique.

  6. Thanks everyone. You say the nicest things and you've definitely helped me to see this bear a little more kindly.


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