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How I Make Your Keepsake Animal – Part 1

Lovely large lion keepsake.

I love making your animals for you – it’s such a privilege to be entrusted with such a beautiful task.  Making the animals takes a long time and each and every one is crafted with your clothes and hopes in mind.

The very first thing that I do when I receive your order is read through your notes on the order form to see which parts of the clothes are your favourites.  Some people have lots of favourite bits and other people don’t have any – all the clothes are their favourite!

Once I’ve read through your notes I lay all the clothes out in front of me and visualise what your animal is going to look like.  I can see every part of it slot into place like a jigsaw puzzle.  Nose from this, feet from that, sides from that and this.

I lay all the clothes out in front of me on my desk and visualise what your keepsake is going to look like.

Each animal has a different set of pattern pieces which all need to be treated in the same way before I even start sewing.  A huge amount of the work involved in making your keepsake is in the preparation of the fabric and the cutting of the pattern pieces.  It’s essential that no part of this is missed out as it’s what assures me (and you!) that your keepsake will stand the test of time and will look truly spectacular when finished.

The first thing to do is cut out the part of the fabric that I am going to use.  This is usually the arms or back of a baby grow.  The front can often be hard to use as it is normally where the buttons or zips go.  I do sometimes use the buttons as a feature in the final keepsake but it takes quite a lot of preparation to make them useable.

The fabric has to be cut out and ironed before I can do anything else.

The the fabric then has to be ironed!  Your final keepsake is only as pleasing as the prepared fabric, and ironing is an essential part of that.  I never realised all those years ago when I started sewing that I’d spend a large amount of my life ironing things!  I iron a lot!  Just never any shirts…..

Once the fabric has been ironed then each and every piece needs to be backed onto a stable cotton.  I use a temporary spray adhesive to do this and each piece of fabric has to be careful smoothed into place so that the fabric doesn’t have any kinks in it.  Oh and the backing fabric needs to be ironed as well!

The backed fabric then had the pattern piece pinned to it.

The backed fabric then has the pattern piece pinned to it and cut out. In the case of the hooves I need to cut four of them.  So rinse and repeat.

It’s essential – as with all sewing – that the pieces are cut accurately as the quality of the finished keepsake will only be as good as the originally cut pieces since when sewing you use the edge of the cut fabric to guide where the needle sews.

It’s easy to cut the fabric for the smaller pattern pieces as one complete piece of fabric, but when the pattern pieces are larger than the biggest part of the baby grow then I have to patchwork the different sections together.  This will give me a complete piece.  There are a few stages to this.

You can see here that the giraffe is considerably bigger than the largest section of the baby grow.
The baby grow has been attached to the backing fabric with the pattern piece on top. This shows me where I need to add fabric to complete the pattern piece. I wanted to make a feature of the lovely ruffles here.
You can see here that I have various sections that need to be patchworked onto the original piece of baby grow.
I have sewn the little bit of extra fabric needed to complete the hoof onto the main giraffe section.
Here is the completed giraffe piece. For some reason I managed to take a picture with the front leg tucked up. She does have two legs – promise!

Each and every piece generally needs to be cut 1-4 times depending on which section it is.  So there is a lot of ‘repetition’ in the process.  The reason it’s not true repetition is because no two pieces are ever the same and therefore can’t really be repeated.  But the theory of it remains the same each time.  Each animals has between 18-24 pieces depending which animal it is.  So there is a lot of cutting and preparation in your keepsake.

Olympic lion for one of the team GB gymnastics coaches – from Rio 2016. This lion used all sorts of sports wear from the game.

The first part of the process takes 4-6 hours depending on the size of the animal, the complexity of the fabric and which animal I am making for you.

I will post Part 2 of this series soon.  Watch this space!

I’ve got lots more information about what it means to have a keepsake made that you might find useful if you are still in the early stages of deciding whether you’d like to go ahead and make one.

If you’re not sure what sort of clothes to choose for your animal then please do have a look at my blog post that helps you to decide what is right for you.  If you’re not sure then please don’t hesitate to contact me on


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