Monday, June 26, 2006

Bugs and Sylvester

Nope, it's not a cartoon story - it's a sewing story. After all the blog is named "SharonSews" for a reason. I was cleaning up in my sewing room this evening when I came across the box that held the remnants of fabric and this craft pattern - Butterick 6347 - from the 1978.

I originally found out about the pattern when a coworker of mine was selling the big stuffed rabbit (Bugs) for about $25 back when my son was a preschooler. Everyone was ordering one from her because it was such a novelty - it wasn't like you could surf the Internet to find a Bugs stuff animal. Well I knew he would love one - he had his fourth birthday coming up - but I sadly admitted to myself that $25 was way out of this single mom's price range.

But wait! I knew how to sew! I could just buy the pattern and the fabric and stuffing and make it myself. After all, how hard could it be to make a 42" stuffed rabbit? I found the pattern at the local fabric store, but no appropriate fabric. Don't you just hate that you are limited by what is offered in the fabric stores? I am so glad that the Internet has opened up other options for fabric buying and choices - anyway, back to the story.

I ended up finding the right color fabric at a J.C. Penney store in their fabric department (back when you could purchase fabric in department stores). The perfect grey velour! It was shiny on one side and velour on the other and had a bit of a stretch to it. Not at all what the pattern called for, but I was a single mom on a limited budget and I sure as heck couldn't afford faux fur! I worked on the rabbit every night after the kids went to bed and was so excited to give him to my son as a birthday gift.

He was thrilled with Bugs! But there was a problem. His older sister (by only a year) wanted one too, along with all of the neighborhood kids, and he wasn't about to share.

So being the good mom that I was, I promised to make her one for her next birthday. But she didn't want Bugs- she wanted Sylvester. Even better (I hate making the same thing more than one time). Back to J. C. Penney to purchase black and white velour along with red felt for Sylvester's nose. I cut out the pattern pieces, pinned them onto the fabric, and rolled the fabric up and put it away. Cutting and sewing would have to wait for another day.
That darn Bugs was so time consuming that I just couldn't bring myself to pull out the pattern and work on Sylvester! I dreaded the thought and "another day" turned into another, and another, and another...(oh how I wish I could go backwards and redo the times I thought other things were more important!) until all of a sudden it was 25 years later!
This pattern along with the fabric - with the pattern pieces still pinned to it - moved with me I can't tell you how many times! (Okay, if I really think hard, it was 11 times, but I may be forgetting a move or two.) For some reason I just couldn't bear to throw it out even though I still didn't want to sew it.
By now, the undone Sylvester had become a family legend and a joke, and Bugs eventually was so bedraggled he was tossed out. However, no one knew that I still had the pattern and fabric buried in my sewing room just waiting to be sewn. Then I knew the time was here - the time to finish the project begun 25 years earlier. My daughter was turning 30. Along with her other gifts, this would be the year that she finally got her Sylvester.
Turns out the big stuffed cat was quite easy to make, but then again I had another 25 years of sewing experience under my belt. I was able to sew him up in two nights and then hide him away in anticipation of the big day. We threw a surprise 30th party for her and after all her gifts had been opened we told her to close her eyes. I went to get the surprise and one of her aunts teased "maybe it's a man!" As I walked into the room with Sylvester, her grandpa teased "oooh, it is a man! and he's really handsome!" She then opened her eyes to see her request as a five-year-old sitting in front of her.

To see the grin on her face - well that's a gift I'll always treasure.
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