In my searching, I happened upon Tilda, the Norwegian designer who seems to have taken the doll-world and home-decorating-world by storm. Everything in Tone's world is about pastel shades next to bright colours, bird cages and pearls, wide-hipped dolls and angels. Angels.
Anyway, I spied a certain circus doll collection featuring elephants and giraffes, and I knew that I had happened upon the perfect doll pattern. And so, I bought Tilda's Studio.
And here's Beatrice, my finished elephant, sitting on the shelf above my desk while she waits to be shipped off to South Africa.
I changed all the fabrics in the book to ones that I had more readily available here. They're all 100% cotton which is a little more expensive than I'd have first thought, but really worth it. I tried making the elephant body out of calico and it was a disaster: there were pulls and frays all over the place and it really didn't feel like you might be able to cuddle it. The answer? Dress-weight cotton.
I also embroidered the eyes instead of marking them with permanent marker - thought this looked a bit nicer.
The arms and legs are hand-sewn with embroidery thread which gives it a bit of durability. You sew them through the body which means you can move the arms and legs quite easily - clever for posing purposes if you want your elephant doll to sit down!
I made some minor changes to the dress, too: I added on a dark purple binding along the top and the bottom, I closed the back off with a purple button flower, and I added the recipient's name on the front of the dress in chain stitch embroidery.
Also, I joined the skirt to the dress top with a row of added pompoms. You can't have a circus without pompoms.
I finished Beatrice with the addition of a small folded rose and two leaves. I just folded large satin ribbon in half (like bias) and tacked it to itself as I twisted and turned it around the folded middle bit to make a rose shape. It really helps if you sew as you go so you don't end up with a massive chunk of fabric to sew through at the end.
And who could forget pink toenails? It made me think of that joke - why did the elephant paint his toenails red? So he could hide in the cherry tree!
Ever seen an elephant in a cherry tree?
Works pretty well, eh?
I love this pattern. It's simple, easy to sew, and although it takes some time to put together, I think the results are worth it. I'm definitely going to make another one (some time) to sit on my shelf. The instructions in the book are a bit vague ("sew the head"), but it's really not an issue piecing things together and figuring out what goes where. Not bad for a 'first' sewing project.
The book contains two patterns: one for a large elephant (I chose this one) and one for a small elephant. I think the large one is a good size - it definitely adds a cheery addition to my work space!