For the opera "Hänsel und Gretel" (by Engelbert Humperdinck) the costume designer wanted to have Gretel a handbag in the shape of an IKEA rat, so I made one...
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Step 1: Taking Apart and Taking Notes
As in so many other hacks, taking apart carefully is crucial for this piece of work. As well as taking notes and numbering the parts, so you can assemble them at the end in the reverse order.
Step 2: Pattern and Cutting
To create a pattern in the needed size I placed all the parts on a scanner, and scanned them in. Then I used the scans to create a vector file. I basically opened the imagefile with inkscape and traced the parts as vector shapes. Then I printed it out on A4 (scale 1:1) and enlarged it on the copier to A3 (144%).
Finally I transferred the shapes onto the fabric of my choice and cut the parts out.
Step 3: Sewing: the Head
Important tips, when sewing furry fabric: tuck as much of the fur as possible into the seem (this conseals the seem when turned) and use lots of needles (I placed one almost every 5 mm)
Sew the darts on the upper part first, then connect to the lower part. Don't forget to add the teeth!
Then sew the ears, turn them to the right side and add them to the head.
Step 4: Sewing: Feet and Tail
Nothing special here: Sew, turn, stuff!
Step 5: Sewing: Body (Zipper)
First I sewed the darts and cut off the excess fabric.
Fur and zippers normally don't mix very well, so I added a black cotton ribbon to the middle edges before sewing in the zipper.
When sewing in the zipper, I added loops with D-rings at both ends of the zipper. This is not only important for using it as a bag, but also hides nicely start and end of the zipper.
After that a added the upper parts of the legs to the back piece.
Then I added the lower parts of the legs to the bottom piece.
Finally I connected back and bottom (don't forget to sew in the tail in this step), but left the ends of the legs and the neck open.
Step 6: Sewing: Adding It All Together
First come the feet. Stick them into the leg openings (toes first) and close them with a straight seem.
Then stick the head (nose first, ears up) into the neck and close the neck/head with a roundish custom made piece (not included in the IKEA design, but needed for the head keeping it's form), sew, but leave a small gap on the bottom half for stuffing.
Stuff the head with some acrylic wadding.
After that close the gap and finally turn the rat outside out.
To give the bag some stiffness I slipped a slightly formed piece of cardboard into the body.
The handle was made of carabiner hooks and some leather string, jacketed with leftover fabric.
Two dark and shiny buttons gave the eyes and some stiff black string made perfect whiskers (not pictured here).
Step 7: On Stage
On this site you will find more pictures of the opera (@Musiktheater im Revier, Gelsenkirchen, Germany, my former employer). Really some great set design by Michiel Dijkema (Amsterdam). The honors for the costume go to Claudia Damm (Berlin).