Pin Dog Preoccupation

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Scottish Referendum

In honor of the Scottish Referendum vote today, one of the most historic actions in the history of Scotland, however it may turn out, I thought I would talk about a little project that has been niggling to get completed.  So…

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Having been such a fan of the Great British Sewing Bee’s first season on the BBC, it was only natural to be excited about seeing the second season.  And, it was certainly worth waiting for, we were not disappointed! Since some of you have not seen the second season, I won’t spill the beans on who won. But, while watching the second season, many of the show’s viewers, including yours truly, became rather fixated on Heather Jacks’ darling little “pin dog”.

Pin dog and Heather close up

It was a stuffed dachshund given to her by one of her dressage students prior to the show, for good luck.  Christened Roly, after her own real life dachshund, Roly sat adorably on Heather’s table all through the show.

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I just fell in love with little Roly, and decided that I had to have one of my own.  In searching and searching the Internet, new and vintage patterns, books, and what have you, for a reasonable facsimile pattern, I finally gave up trying to find an acceptable dachshund pattern.  None had the same look, or  degree of “adorableness” as Roly did.

pin dog alone

But, in doing what probably amounted an unreasonable amount of time surfing the ‘Net, I DID come across this cute little Scottie dog.  I found it on Red Ted Art, Maggie Woodley’s very fun blog site.

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Maggie was also duly inspired by something else (a rather blah, but useful lentil-filled, tweed door stop), and decided to whip up a charming little Scottie Dog, for her version of a doorstop. Much more clever, Maggy, well done, girl.

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I thought, “this is my pin dog!”  Seeing as I am of significant Scottish descent, figured this would be the perfect option for me.

I loved the mixed tweeds with Heather’s original pin dog, so I decided to make a “Scottish” version, by making my pin dog out of several different authentic Scottish tartans. I picked these fabrics to use, four different tartans in total.  One for the undercarriage gusset piece, one for the left body side, one for the right body side, and one for the head piece gusset.

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Molly’s instructions were brief but certainly adequate. One of the pieces is made out of my Fraser of Lovat tartan (I’ll let you all try to figure out which piece is my tartan, and yes all you “Outlander” fans, I am a Fraser of Lovat).  Now, for anyone who has sewn on wool twill, you’ll know it has some rather tricky qualities, one of which is stretching in certain directions (with the twill) when pinning, cutting and sewing, as well as the want to ravel rather significantly.  So, I opted to increase the seam allowance a teeny bit, to 1/4″ (plus, took the opportunity to switch to Imperial measurements, being an American of course, and still rather firmly stuck in the “Imperial” measurement rut),

I made sure I cut mirror images of both sides of the body, as well as the two under carriage gusset.  Since the two pieces of the under carriage gusset were cut from the same tartan, I made sure to match the tartan pattern, so when I sewed the two pieces together at the mid-seam, the tartan would line up.  The rest of the pieces were cut so the tartans were nicely centered, and on-grain.

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I took my time, used a regular straight stitch with a 2.0 stitch length, and made sure I didn’t skimp on pins to help prevent creeping or stretching. I did do an overcast seam on the mid-seam for the two under carriage pieces, but I found that the rest of the seams were just so short for each section, it wasn’t practical to use this seam all the way around.  Now, if I had been sewing longer seams (if I were, perhaps, sewing pants, a skirt, or even a kilt), I think I would have enlisted the assistance of seam tape, to keep the creeping down, as well as strengthening the seam.  But, with this small project, I was able to sew both pieces without issue.  I used my clear B foot, so I could get a clear view as I made my was around some of the tighter curves.  I sewed as closely as I could to the gusset seam joining areas, and I actually didn’t need to do any hand-sewing to close up any gaps.  I just left a small opening at the back of the pin dog, for stuffing.

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I decided to use poly beads in the bottom of the feet, to give my little pin dog a big of weight on my sewing table, then stuffed it with a good quality poly fiberfill.  I had wanted to stuff it with non-washed sheared wool, but alas, I couldn’t find ANY wool carding or fill available in a store near me.  It’s very nice to use for stuffing pin cushions (if you can get past the smell of “sheep”), because it retains lanolin, which is helpful in keeping your pins coated a bit, making them easier to slip into fabric.  So, my pins will have to survive un-coated.  I made a paper funnel, and inserted the funnel into the opening, pointed it down into one foot at time, then carefully poured in the poly beads I had placed in a 2 cup measuring cup, until each foot was filled about 1/2 way with the poly beads.

I then proceeded to stuff the little pin dog carefully, making sure I had the pin dog evenly stuffed, but not over-stuffed, for fear of putting too much strain on my 1/4″ seams.  I hand-stitched the opening closed.  Lastly, I dressed my pin dog up with my vintage measuring tape, and mini kilt pins, and dubbed my pin dog, “Aonghas” (pronounced, “Angus” for my American sewing buddies, my Scottish sewing buddies will have already known this), being a good stout name for a Scottie dog.

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So, I finally have MY version of pin dog, and hope Aonghas brings me as much good luck as Heather’s Roly!  Now, to pour me a wee dram of Dalwhinnie whisky to celebrate finally, my own pin dog and to christian Aonghas. To Aonghas, Sláinte Mhath!

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19 responses »

  1. Patty, This is so cute.I love the tartans that you have used. I am an Outlander fan as I belong to the Laird McKenzie Clan!! I have about 5 pieces of their tartans and I will see if I have enough to do this cute dog!!!! Thank you for sharing this project and so lovely to hear from you. Roberta Danielson

    • Well, we can swap clan stories, then, Roberta! I take it your maiden name is McKenzie, then? Mine of course is Fraser. That would be so nice to make your Aonghas all out of your various McKenzie tartans. I really wanted to use the hunting Fraser tartan, but alas, I didn’t have any pieces left. So, next time I order tartan fabric, I’m going to make sure I have enough of all the various Fraser tartans, and make up a little friend for Aonghas, all in Fraser tartans. I’ll have to come up with a nice, Scottish ladie’s name for my second Scottie. My aunties and great-aunties all had rather boring first names – Ann, Mary, Jessie (weird that name for a woman born in Scotland around the turn of the century), so need to look a bit further back in my family tree to come up with a cute Scottish female name!

      • Maiden name is McKenzie. I have found some of the McKenzie tartans are just downright ugly!! Yipes. Their dress tartan is a bit better so that will help. I do hope you can find a wonderful name for the second Scottie. She will deserve that for sure. Stay well and thank you again,. Blessings. Roberta

      • Ach, weel! It will be Isabella! My great-grandmother’s name. My mom’s middle name was Isabell, the last “a” dropped for some reason, in memory of her grandmother. So, my next little Scottie companion has her proper name, now!

  2. Thanks, gals! I’ve been wanting to do this little project for so long. I know I have other more pressing projects, but darn it all, this one was just bugging me to be done. So, it is, now, and I can go back to the projects that I should have been working on, in the first place!! Love my Aonghas!

    • Evie, I saw Michelle’s rendition, but it just wasn’t quite the same as Heather’s Pin Dog, and it just didn’t “do it” for me. So, decided since I couldn’t get my hands on the real thing, probably better to do something entirely different. But, for those who like the pattern, it is certainly an option!

  3. Patty, he is adorable! I was really interested to see if you came up with a dachshund pattern, my daughter having three of them, but love your pin dog equally. I have Lamont and Henderson (amongst others) in my family. My Aberdeen-born grandmother emigrated to Australia when she was 17 years old, but still had her delightful Scottish accent right up until her death at age 99.

    • I was really hoping to find a good dachshund pattern, too. I’ve owned miniature dachshunds myself, and thought Heather’s little pin dog was darling, but alas, I could not find an acceptable pattern. So, when plan A simply will not work, time to institute plan B! And, many, many Scots emigrated from Scotland to Australia, New Zealand, Canada (where my family went), and the USA after the ’45 and the subsequent Highland Clearings. It was a black time for Scots, especially Highlanders. My grandparents’ Scottish burrs were so heavy, when I was little, I needed my mom to “translate” for me, lol!

  4. Great British Sewing Bee……Is this still running and how do I find it?? I love your site Patty and I am
    so delighted to be following you here further. I have often wondered about your daughters and how they are doing and about where you are living now. Your blog is fun to read and I can see what your life is like now! I love our daily chats on Yahoo and all things we share, like our Viking Gems!
    Blessings on you and your dear family, and all your pets too! Katie in Pensacola, Florida

    • Well, if you do a Google search for, “Great British Sewing Bee”, you should come up with both season 1 and season 2. Season 1 was uploaded to YouTube, so all 8 episodes may still be on YouTube. On of our Designer Gems Yahoo Groups members, the lovely & incredibly talented Ann Rowley was a contestant, so the list was all watching with baited breath to see how Ann made out. I won’t be a spoiler, so see if you can find all 8 episodes. It was being broadcast on the BBC2, which you can see here in the USA, as well, but not sure if the BBC2 has archived shows or not. Worth watching, both seasons. I can’t wait for season 3, and apparently, the production company is planning a “Great American Sewing Bee”. That will be fun, but it still will never match the adorableness of the original British version, in my opinion.

  5. Thank you for this story & pattern. Some time ago my mum returned from a trip to England, bringing with her fabric scraps from a slipper factory. Not knowing what to do with them, I put them aside. Seeing Heather’s pin dog on the Sewing Bee gave me the idea of making my own pin dog with these precious scraps. Precious as my mum is no longer with us, so these are special as she loved her dogs & cats. thanks again. Plant wait to see who wins, but counting on Heather!!

  6. This is just too darling Patty!!! I have NO idea where you find the time to do such a darling project… much less write about it so cleverly — considering you work full time — have an acre of the most beautiful garden I have ever seen — are a Master Gardener … Member of the Rare Fruit Growers association — are a very involved mother of 3 girls — have a fabulously successful marriage — keep a beautiful home — and have time to be an extraordinary next-door neighbor!!! Hats off!!!!!

    • Hah!! Yes, I paid my lovely neighbor to post the comment! No, only kidding 🙂 Thank you Kathy, this is why you’re my dear friend. And coming from a wonderful gardener, those are words of high praise! This was a fun and easy project, and cool way to use up some of my own Fraser tartan scraps! Je Suis Prest!

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