There's a standing joke about expectant parents (not to mention expectant grandparents) buying up huge stuffed animals long before the baby arrives.
I guess it's natural, since these mascots are marvelously furry and cuddly. We never really outgrow our love of them, even as adults. Look at the success of Miss Piggy.
Stuffed animals are marvelous to sew, and make fantistic gifts. Paper patterns are available for stuffed toys -- you'll find them in the gift-novelty section of the pattern catalogs.
I think one of the most interesting stuffed-animal patterns comes from Burda, a German firm that's just beginning to market its products in this country.
This large, gentle lion would made a wonderful gift for some lucky child or an adult who happens to be a Leo. For best results, use a knitted deep-pile fabric such as those from Collins & Aikman.
A low-profile fabric such as corduroy or velour can be sewn by conventional methods, but if you're using fake fur, it should be sewn with a zigzag stitch.
Cut away the seam allowances and, as you pin the pieces together, use a straight pin to keep poking the "fur down and away from the seam. Then, using a narrow, tight stitch, zigzag along the very, very edge.
If you've done it properly, the fur will pop up, nice and fluffy, completely hiding the seam, so that your animal will look as if he really grew his fur. This pattern is Burda No. 9688 and retails for $3. If you can't locate it in your area, Burda will fill mail orders. Send $3 plus 35 cents for postage and handling to: Burda, Box 1568, Symrna, Ga.
Q. My grandmother had a crocheted cover for her canopied bed. I've been trying to find a pattern like it. I've looked in a number of old pattern books, but none of them has it. Can you help me?
A. I didn't see your grandmother's bed, but I have a hunch it may have been one of the lacy covers so dear to fans of "Gone with the Wind."
The lacy canopy is easy to make without a pattern. Measure the length and width of the bed. Crochet a chain 12 inches wider than the width. Single crochet in 11 stitches from the hook. Chain 9, skip 6 stiches, single crochet in 7th. Repeat from chain 9 across the row to make a pattern. For succeeding rows, chan 7, then single crochet in 5th stitch of loop, chain 9 stitches. Repeat to form a pattern across the row. Work complete rectangle in this manner, to 12 inches more than length of bed.
The old-fashioned crocheted covers often had elaborate borders. A simple pattern is: 5 double crochets, skip 3, repeat across the row. Make 3 single crochets in each corner.
Your grandmother's canopy was probably worked in fine crochet cotton. Worsted-weight yarn makes a more modern -- and less time-consuming -- version. White and off-white are the traditional colors.
Q. I'm sewing a chiffon caftan that goes over a long satin slip. The seams show through the chiffon and look tacky and homemade. How should I finish the seams?
A. Designer chiffons have slipstiched rolled hems. Although this means handwork, the machine can help you a bit. Make a row of machine stitching 1/4-inch from the seam edge. Trim close to the stitching. Roll the edge between your thumb and forefinger, a few inches at a time. Slipstitch the rolled edge in place.
Q. I know you're always telling us that corss stitch is one of the oldest stitches there is, but does that mean the skeins of cotton floss have to be quite so old-fashioned in design? Needlework people must be very patient because think how many years they have been pulling out the thread from the skein only to find the label with the color number drops off as soon as the skein gets skinny. That makes it hard to find the same color again. Erica, tell the manufacturers its time to change!
A. You are right, but imagine the cost of changing all that machinery! So the "Skein Organizer" has to come to the rescue. It's clever plastic binder design with sheets of see-through pockets to hold your cotton floss together, label and all. You never have to remove the skein from the pocket when you pull out your thread. Besides, it holds graphs, scissors and needles as well, so next time you embark on a cross stitch project you'll be all together. Send for the Skein Organizer from Needlework Originals Piedmont Plaza, 3349 Piedmont Road, N.E., Atlanta, Ga. 30305.