Friday 14 September 2012

Calico Rat

Who said rats are creepy, sly, unappealing little creatures who hover in dark corners just waiting to surprise the unsuspecting among us? Inspire by Queenie the Preschool pet, and a fascination with trying to create and transform the most unexpected creatures into natty and lovable toys, I have created calico-rat. I intended him to be a simple, uncompleted prototype, but after constructing the body and stuffing him it seemed like a crime to deprive him of a little cute face.

The drafted out pattern
  I made a pattern by drawing out a simple body shape and adding a dart to enable the ears to be easily attached.

 From there I used the measurement of the length of the body to draw an under body panel.

Add a tail, feet and some ears, as well as a 1cm seam all around and my little rat is ready to take shape.

Cut out the paper pattern. Then pin onto calico. Cut 2 body panels, 1 under body, 1 tail, 4 ears and 8 feet.  

First sew the 2 pairs of ears together and turn them into the right side so the seams are enclosed. Iron, then fold a little pleat into each ear.

Sandwich them into the dart on the top of the head and sew together.
Do the same for both ears.

Now sew the 2 body pieces together.

Fold the tail piece in half and sew up one side. Its quite tricky, but it needs to be turned in the right way to enclose the seam.
Pin the tail to the body.

Sew the 4 pairs of feet together and turn in the right way. Iron and top stitch around the edge. This holds the seams firm and stitches closed the gap used to turn the feet in the other way.

I decided to zig-zag the feet onto the under body.
This picture shows the feet on the completed rat.

Once the feet are attached, pin the under body to the bottom edge of the main rat body.

Pin the main body to the under body and sew together.

Leave a gap to turn the rat in the right way.

Be sure to place the right sides of the main and under body together, or else you may find yourself looking for a quick unpick.

If the under body is too large, just trim a little fabric from it. Be sure to adjust your paper pattern so it will be correct for next time.

With such a tight curve it is useful to cut little notches into the main body in order to make it fit neatly and avoid annoying little fabric tucks.

The tail will be caught in the seam.

Turn in the right side and you have...

One little rat, ready to stuff!

Push the stuffing into the rat body until it is fairly firm. The stuffing will compact over time.

Hand sew the opening closed using matching thread.

Then sew on a little face, and behold a lovable little rat. Here he is, after school, with Miss 3, visiting one of our favourite local cafes for a flat white and an apple juice.
I can't wait to try out the pattern again on some cute cotton floral fabric. I'm thinking a mixture of different fabric colours and patterns.  

It's a hard life being a rat...


  1. Thanks for joining my blog. I have just been reading yours and love it. You must be a busy person!!!
    Cheers Karen

  2. Thank you. I was just thinking the same thing about you. It's really nice to read the blog of another Christchurch woman who is passionate about creating 'everyday masterpieces'