Reconstructing Cécile

Face of Cecile
Face of Cécile

Allow me to introduce Cécile.

Grandmama made her for me when I was about two or three, we think, and  I remember her as a constant and beloved part of my childhood. We rediscovered her recently in my parents’ loft, and I thought it would be nice to have her in my own living room, as a footstool and a seat for visiting children. Unfortunately, when I sat back and put my feet up, the stuffing collapsed, and Cécile began to look very sad indeed. So we skinned her (as it were!), washed the skin, and started looking for a suitable replacement for the padding.

Padding For Cécile
Padding For Cécile

In the end, we used a spare cushion pad, and rearranged the stuffing slightly to leave the cover free to be stapled through. I think my grandfather must have made the basic internals – four sections of square wood for legs, screwed firmly into some equally solid half-centimetre thick hardboard.

I have all of Grandmama’s books about needlework and crafts, and there’s nothing like Cécile in any of them, so I think Grandmama must have made her up as she went along. I can’t imagine how she managed to assemble the whole thing unaided, because it took the combined efforts of my mother and myself to put the stockings on, and covering the assembly with the body was even more of an adventure.

Cécile Reassembled
Cécile Reassembled

But we got there in the end!

I added more stuffing while I was doing the assembly, to make sure that the finished piece would be nicely padded, and swapped the ears around – there was a hole in one side of one of them, which is now the underside.

I’ve also replaced the feet. Grandmama had glued small sections of carpet to the bottom and then stitched around the edge with wool. The carpet was looking distinctly sad and tatty, so I removed it – not without considerable effort! – and replaced it with two layers of grey felt.

Cécile is now reassembled, and just needs some of her finery re-instated. I’ll write about that when I have returned her to her former glory.

16 thoughts on “Reconstructing Cécile

  1. She’s absolutely charming, what a lovely heirloom.. I’m very much looking forward to seeing her completed.

  2. Taxidermy? I have never heard of anyone with both embroidery and taxidermy as hobbies, but to each his/her own. (haha) Just kidding, Cecile looks sweet. 🙂

  3. Oh you lucky girl what a wonderful thing to find in the loft. Have you thought about making a pattern of her?

  4. You’ll have a giant elephant in your living room! Cool! I’m trying to remember what Winnie the Pooh called elephants and it’s just not coming.
    I have a patterned carpet covered (felt on the bottom) footstool made by my grandmother. It is made from large tin cans attached in a circle and one in the middle (war time economy, I assume). I want to restore it….one day. When I have room for a footstool. Even tho it’s’ pretty much ruined from age, I’ve always held on to it – I remember it being in her lougeroom, along with a child sized wooden chair, near the gas fire, so I understand how special Cecile must be to you.

  5. I too have all my grandmothers needlework books and am more fond of them than the modern day equivalents. Great job with Cecile…she’s going to be beautiful.

  6. It’s a precious keepsake from generation to generation. A good memory of your grandmama and your childhood. A touch of love. It must be a beauty in your mighty hand.

  7. Cecile is beautiful! I can’t wait to see her in ‘all her finery’? Megan…I think it was a heffalump?

  8. Oh I love her so much…..and what a lovely thing to still have around. Like having Grandmama back with you….

  9. Cécile is charming!! She is the perfect shade of grey, and what a lovely thought…to prop one’s slippered feet on her in comfort!!
    Now I’m wondering how you will restore her ‘finery’?!? With something embroidered, I hope!! Grin. XXO-

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