As you know, our products are made here in Ireland, using age old methods of sewing with a needle and thread. We use pairs of socks as our starting point, some of these socks are made in Ireland, using yarn which is fleeced, dyed and spun in Ireland, from sheep which graze on Ireland's green pastures.........you are getting the picture here!
The tools we use are scissors, hand sewing needles, an overlocking machine and a sewing machine, sewing tweezers, a large, thin paint brush (the brush end to clean out the machines and the handle end to turn the skins - watch the video) and of course, the ever present, pearl headed pins. All of these tools need to operated by a human who knows what they are doing. At Red Rufus we like those humans to also have a sense of design and style, so that the finished product is first class in all ways. Yes, we are demanding perfectionists.
Tools of the trade!
In my recent research online I found this film showing the process of making a soft toy in a factory in China. If you have a few minutes, watch it because it's fascinating!
So what are the differences between a "made in China" soft toy and a "handmade in Ireland" soft toy?
- 4000 workers as opposed to 3 here at Red Rufus - yep that makes a huge difference alright!
- Massive cutting machines - we use scissors and a template.
- Metal detectors at all stages of production - here at Red Rufus we have me, my eyes and my fingers, but it is a serious process and each and every product must be checked.
- A stuffing fluffer - ohhhhh we'd love one of those, we use our hands. Unfortunately, by the look of it the stuffing fluffer would take up the entire studio and some!
Amazingly that is it, really the making of a stuffed toy is the same the world over and can only be speeded up by increasing the work force dramatically and the odd, very large machine!
Importantly though what "Handmade in Ireland" does offer is individuality, craftsmanship, sustainable products, happy workers and an attention to detail. We are passionate about each and every one of our SockAnimals!
At Red Rufus we take a pair of socks, cut them with scissors, sew the pieces together on a machine, turn the outer skin by hand using the end of the slim paintbrush, stuff the skin with stuffing fluffed by hand, hand sew the product up with a needle and thread. Then we attached the head, ears, tail, eyes, nose, collar and label by hand sewing with a needle and thread. It is a skilled job, performed by skilled workers, Elizabeth, Camille and I take enormous pride in each SockAnimal that is produced.
If you head over to the About page on the website you'll find a short film (made ages ago) of me making a SockDog!