The first step is creating a good body. Most of my figures use one of two basic patterns. I use an alternative smaller pattern for a few birds, and I decided to alter this one for the rodents. I knew I wanted larger thighs and shorter legs. I drew the changes and cut out a sample in muslin. It is important to put all the parts together to see the final dimensions so I strung some string through the appendages and body and tied a simple bow to simulate the joints.
The next step is making a body with 'real' fabric. Because this figure will be much smaller than others I make, I have to be more mindful of fabric choices (smaller figures are more difficult to sew than larger ones). The arms and lower legs are narrow, so using mid-weight wools -my favorite- would add some difficulty. The best choice is light or mid-weight linen or silk. In this figure, the front and inner legs and arms are off-white mid-weight linen, with the back and outer appendages beige handkerchief linen lined with muslin. The lining is necessary to give strength to the seams and a quality 'feel' in the hand (you can always tell if cloth is flimsy just by touch). You can see the finished body in the photo. With a head, it will be about 2/3 the size of my regular figures.
I played around with the rodent body, and it became apparent that the knee joint was not as flexible as it should be. When the knee bends, there is too much fabric behind it and it wants to spring back straight. The solution is to remove a portion of the back of the upper leg to make room for the back of to the lower leg. I will alter the pattern for future projects, but in this case, I took in the fabric with needle and thread.
Stay tuned for more about the new rodents...