1/5/2017: Homemade Primitive Deer

While I did finish my camo-teddy bear creation last night, I gifted it immediately upon completion and forgot to take a picture…this is what happens when the giftee is literally sitting next to you and watching you finish the gift.  I’ll attempt to purloin a picture of said teddy bear in the future and write it up.

Instead I’ll write about what was my favorite new craft of the year but tragically I didn’t get to complete that many of them, having gotten wrapped up in my snowman production instead.  On the same shopping trip where I spied the primitive snowmen, I also caught sight of these critters and instantly yearned to make them:

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It was another how-dare-you-charge-this-much-for-these moment.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge supporter of handmade crafts and charging not only for the materials needed to make the craft but the time spent on crafting said item.  Having said that, I’m not shelling out $20 on scraps of felt and wood when I can spend $2 and make them myself, and have the bonus pride of craftsmanship!

Thus in the spirit of Yankee thriftiness and following in the footsteps of my extremely crafty grandmother, I searched the web for a pattern for these critters.  They were harder to find than I expected though not tremendously difficult, and again I found a relatively inexpensive paid pattern on Etsy and diligently printed out the directions.

…at which time I discovered that you could basically trace the outline of a reindeer body and head onto two layers of felt and stitch them together to make a reindeer.  Duh.

It was still money well spent, as I obtained the basic materials list: felted wool (or as I like to call it…felt), sticks, stuffing, and for me, puff paint for facial features and assorted scraps of yarn and Christmas garland for the scarf/wreath around the neck combo.  That decoration on the deer is used to hide the hand stitching needed to sew the head to the body and the hole for the stuffing, so it’s not just decorative.  Otherwise your reindeer ends up looking slightly like Frankenstein’s monster.  Felt and plastic hide a surprising number of sins made during the creation of these guys.

It ended up being surprisingly cheap, the felt was a Joann’s off-the-roll purchase with a coupon that ended up being $3 with a coupon; I had the stuffing, paint and felt in my stash already. Some creative pruning in my backyard, a little thread, and a little glue (low-temp hot melt is the best thing since sliced bread!!) and voila…deer! I produced around a dozen in my herd and still have more than enough felt left over for another half dozen at least. The trees in my backyard ought to be quavering in fear for the next time I approach!


Personally I loved the deer with the horns, but goodness what a tremendous nuisance they were to make ‘properly’ (to me anyway). As you can see, the horns I chose were made out of some pretty delicate branches, and to have them glued into place inside the deer head and then stuffed and sewn on while not destroying them was an adventure. But when they turned out…

Lifelike and with a character and charm of their own. I love it.

More of these guys will definitely be coming along. I rather like the more exaggerated features of the store-available item, similar to my thoughts about my store-available snowman muse. Using thick branches for the antlers and legs will make things significantly easier to work with, as well as to store and wrap. My heart stopped a few times while putting the antlered fellows into tissue paper.

Truly, I’m rarely pleased with the final quality of any of my creations, whether it’s cooking or sewing or crocheting or home improvement or god knows what else I try my hand at. Despite my best efforts, my scientific brain often can’t see past the faults that I know are there and into the beauty of the work as a whole. But these guys…these I’m truly pleased with from stem to stern. Or nose to tail, as the case may be! I’m also rather happy that, in gifting them to family and coworkers, those people are literally taking a piece of my home, home with them. It kind of makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over! Much like the deer themselves!

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