Friday, January 26, 2018


Some aquatic critters next!

One of the many things I enjoy about working with my Menagerie pattern is discovering new ways to make the base template approximate real animal anatomy. Especially by visualizing the base template shape from completely different angles.

Case in point: the torpedo-shaped Shark 

(and the more generic Fish), 

whose templates were devised by doubling the original template end-to-end so that the pointy bits became the Shark head and tail.

Then Emily's friend wanted a Blobfish for her birthday, 

and we turned the template 180 degrees and used the pointy bit for the tail, and the flat base for the face. 

It opened my eyes to new possibilities for other animals that were similarly shaped.

Whales, for instance.

Here is a Sperm Whale. The kids have named him William.

Of all the whale species, this one looks least like a torpedo,

and has the blockiest head 

and so was the perfect candidate for the base template to be used without alteration.

Here are the details:

What was the original base has now become the forehead of the whale's blocky head.

In the center back seam are two inserts:

a spout of water from the blowhole

and the dorsal ridges (or humps) close to the tail.

The tail fin is attached along what was the original mouth seam of the upright Menagerie animals, but is now the horizontal seam that goes around the whale's body.

Here are the pectoral fins, which in this prototype whale are each inserted into a shallow dart along the side of the body. In future versions, however, the pectoral fins will be situated lower, and inserted directly into the horizontal seam,

so they'll sit below the eye, which would make more anatomical sense. Sometimes this anatomical mix-up happens when designing prototypes, because we're adding features out of sequence. With this whale, for instance, I attached the fins first, intending to situate the eyes about halfway down the side of the body in the last stage of construction. But when the whale was finished and stuffed and I'd positioned the eyes where I thought they should be, the resulting face looked weird so I moved the eyes to where they are in the photo, which happened to be under the fins! Bizarre. All will be rectified in the next version, though!

Here's the mouth of the whale.

The belly view shows how the pink mouth pieces were attached. I split the belly piece into two sections along a new seam so I could insert seam allowances around the edges of the mouth opening 

to join to the pink mouth pieces. 

Overall, a very quick sew, and I love how blocky-headed the outcome is!

Here's a final shot of William goofing off with one of the other sea creatures from Season 1. No animals were actually harmed in the shooting of these photos, incidentally. Squid and sperm whales may be natural enemies in real life but these guys here don't know that - they just think it's fun to give each other chokeholds. Daft!


  1. The expression on the squid’s face has me cracking up!

  2. I think the whale is adorable. I have a kit I bought on holiday in Hermanus and this reminds me it would be nice to sew it up.

  3. These are all just great! Will there be patterns for sale of those fish creatures? My niece has a fish themed room and I would love to make a few of these for her.

    1. Mardie Feikens: Yes, that's the plan - the new animals will be in an extension pack.

    2. Sorry, Mardie - I meant "expansion pack" , not "extension pack".


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