Nick the alpaca

I do not actually know how I found the alpaca pattern, but it sure was an exciting find! Shishi Girl has the pattern up for free download. Although I have a ton of projects that I need to be working on, this one flew to the top of the list. It was perfect for my friend’s birthday. I met her during my bioarchaeology field school in Peru in 2007 and not only did we eat alpacas (a taste for me, no more!) but she has one as a pet. (If you are curious, it reminded me of steak flavor but with pork chop texture.)

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Itwas my very first attempt at a “Softie”. But considering my large project for my niece Kaia (who incidentally was born on 1/30, yay!), I need to practice. People my age would set softies up on a shelf but little miss Kaia might find it appropriate to chew and squish and who knows what else with them so they need to be made very well.
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The pattern was very easy to follow. In fact, there are only 3 parts to it – a side (cut twice), the top of the head, and the belly. I was in such a hurry to churn this out and see how it worked that I didn’t wait to buy a fabric marker (I must have given the one I had back to the person I borrowed it from). I didn’t think it would be a problem to mark it in ink, but sure enough, there is a small spot on the face, of all places, that you can see it. Darn.

For it being my very first stuffed toy, I am pretty gosh darn proud how it turned out. I was careful with my measurements and so there’s really no weird pokey places where I was off on the seam allowance from one piece to the next. I stitched it together by hand, and you can see some of the stitching but I don’t think that it bothers me. I think it adds to the hand-sewn look.

I really didn’t know how she did the bridle so I studied the image and decided to just try it. Something like that would leave a big knot so I used a teeny tiny crochet needle and poked it through from the opposite side of the head, in the stitch line. Then I grabbed the knot and carefully pulled it into the toy and worked the crochet needle back out. It seemed to have worked pretty well. Then I just looped it around the nose, poked it through to the other side and up and over the head and back into the alpaca. I made a knot and again worked it back into the animal with the crochet needle. Then I tied the reins around it, like in the picture.

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The saddle was not included in the pattern, though the picture shows one. I just cut a piece of paper out and kept shaping it (folded in half) until I had the look I want and then cut the felt out with it. I beaded the blue felt first and then attached it to the black. Then I sewed it on to the body, hiding the knots underneath.

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The drawback to this for me was that perhaps I went too little for my first toy. I had a really hard time reversing to right side out with the ears and tail. I also had a hard time stuffing the ears. Although I should mention that I decided to leave the needle in when I reversed it (and I did clip the seam allowance all the way around). I started with the tail on one side and went up to the chest and knotted. Then I repeated for the other side and continued up to the head pieces going to the stuffing gap and back around to the finish the head and knotted. Then I sewed from the tail up the back to the stuffing gap and rather than knotting it like I know I would have done years ago, I left it there. This allowed me to stretch the gap open a little further, but not have such a wide spot to sew from the right side. My stitches were ugly, but I knew I was hiding it with a saddle. But the worse part about it, that you may have noticed, is that he is a little crooked. Once I started sewing the saddle on, it pulled it to one side and I couldn’t stretch it enough to even it out. And his head is just a little bit off (we call it the Taco-Neck syndrome;).

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I do have to say that I totally enjoyed it though, and cannot wait to do another! When I went out to pick up more supplies, I also grabbed some fat quarters, so I can’t wait to try it out with fabric and a sewing machine (that I currently do not have, poo). In fact, Shishi Girl offers a sting ray pattern – Kaia’s playset will be killer!