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…
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!