Rudy the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudy the reindeer 1

I confess – I hate hand sewing. I mean, I absolutely loathe it. I think it’s difficult, and even worse, the end results never come out looking as good as they do in the pattern. Ladder stitch, slip stitch, blanket stitch – it doesn’t matter what you call it, all my stitches look the same – messy! And when you have to hold several three-dimensional pieces together while you’re sewing, and get them positioned just right – say, for example, an ear onto the top of a stuffed head – well, forget it!

This lead-in should give you a clue as to how I feel about this sewing project. Yes, it was very simple – basically just sew together and cut out the pieces, and then hand-stitch them together – but the devil is in the details, or in this case, the hand stitching. The body was fine – a big enough piece to comfortably work with. The legs called for stuffing, but I put poly pellets in the hoof section of the legs, then stuffing on top, and I think it gave them a lot more heft (and, as a result, helps Rudy stand more securely). Sewing the legs to the body was actually not that difficult – sewing them through buttons is ingenious, it makes the task much easier, you hide any ugly-looking stitches behind the buttons, somehow using the buttons makes the stitching much sturdier, and finally, the stitched-on buttons allow the legs to move. Great idea!

Rudy the reindeer 2

The part I hated was the ears and antlers. The antlers were supposed to be sewn from a contrasting fabric, but they are so narrow that I found it impossible to turn the fabric to right side out. So, I switched to felt – it looked just as good (if not better), and you could sew on the “right side” and not worry about turning it. Then, the horns were difficult to stuff – even with a wooden skewer, it’s hard to force enough stuffing up into them. The worst part was trying to sew them on – no matter how many stitches I took, I couldn’t get them on securely enough at the base to support their proportionally too-tall height. As a result, they droop – kind of looks cute, but still not what I was going for. Also very difficult to get the ears identically positioned. Finally, hand-sewing on the eyes and nose is too exacting for me – I keep getting the nose skewed off to one side, no matter how many times I tried, and sewing the little pieces of felt on for the eyes was too frustrating, I used fabric glue and then ran a knot of white embroidery thread through the center to secure it (and to act as the pupil).

The pattern correctly suggests a dollmaker’s needle – in other words, a REALLY BIG needle – anything less won’t push through the layers of fabric, stuffing, and felt. Another great suggestion was to use embroidery thread instead of sewing thread to sew the pieces together – much sturdier, a lot less frustration with breaking thread.

Rudy the reindeer 3

I bought the fabric and felt for this pattern from The Pine Needle, a great quilting store in Lake Oswego. The pattern I ordered here – it’s made by Melly & Me. It would be really cute to do an entire herd of these guys, each out of different Christmas fabric, but they won’t be coming from me – I don’t think I can justify spending over six hours again to produce another one of these little guys!

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