I am in Singapore now.
In other words, I'm procrastinating.
(Like you're surprised.)
However, here is a preview shot of Menagerie!
All those animals in one photo. All from that single base template. No kidding.
I'm working on this pattern, friends. I may be slacking off in the sunshine here, but I brought the pattern with me to slack off with. When I get back, it will go to the testing lab, and then I will let you know as soon as it's ready to buy. I just wanted to do a pre-release post with some info because I've received so many email messages from you guys asking if you'd missed the actual pattern in the deluge of daily creature-features. So no, nobody's missed the pattern. I've not finished it yet. I'm aiming for April sometime.
Let me explain a few things about it first, though.
1 Templates! Templates! Templates!
At the time of writing this post, there are 14 pages templates alone. Just templates! But then, that's 14 pages of templates for 17 critters. Which isn't a lot. Because, as we keep mentioning, it's just one base template and a lot of smaller add-ons and extensions. And the same construction sequence. Which means that by the time you've made a couple of these guys, you'll be able to do the rest in your sleep.
You don't need a lot of yardage for each animal - about 1/3 of a yard of fleece is sufficient. Obviously, you'll need more colors if you want to make all the different features and contrast panels, and you'll need wool felt or wool-blend felt for the smaller details. And while I made a few of my samples with fancy fur, you can really make them with regular fleece. I'll share the materials list soon.
3 Sewing Level
Can beginners sew these animals? I say yes- especially the simpler variations, although it really depends on what you mean by "beginner". The dragon, having lots of add-ons, and with that curved tail, will require a slightly more adventurous spirit. And remember that there are practically zero straight seams in this project. So if by "beginner" you mean "I've only ever sewn tote bags and zippered pouches and the occasional gathered skirt with elastic and I can't sew a curved seam" then this might be out of your current repertoire of skills. Go try the raccoon variation on Sew Mama Sew to see if you'll be okay with it. Most of the variations will be just like that.
4 What's In The Pattern?
The Menagerie Pattern will obviously not be the same as the raccoon tutorial, because it's not raccoon-specific. After all, it has to teach you to make 17 different animals (and more). However, the pattern covers much more instruction than the tutorial, contains loads more photos (including detailed how-tos on those ears!) and focuses on the framework and concept of this base template. In other words, rather than paying for 17 repetitive tutorials on constructing the 17 animals, you learn how this base template accommodates the various parts of the animal - how to add limbs, ears, eyes, tails, how to make hooves, paws, bulgy patches, spines, horns, bills, and how to make flat, padded and filled shapes for wings, feet, tails. I wrote it to empower you to create your own animals from this base template, beyond the 17 I've included for inspiration. Think of it as learning to make just one project, but being equipped to turn it into many, many more.
My kids have been beyond thrilled to watch me turn out animal after animal in my sewing room. They were very disappointed when I announced that I was finally stopping! This is one of the pages from my drawing pad - you can see the original concept sketches and how the final versions may or may not have looked like them. You can also see some of the critters that I chose not to make, because they were too similar to some of the others that made the shortlist.
I loved this project - it came out of nowhere and brought me and the kids so much joy during the horridest and boringest part of the winter. My favorite part was being able to involve my girls so much in the design process. They had so many wonderful ideas! I found Kate's sketches and took some pictures to show you - it turns out that the fox was hers, after all!
And she badly wanted a horse, but we never got round to making one. Maybe you can!
I hope you're as excited as I am for Menagerie. I can't wait to share it with you!