Patching a gap

baby rhino upcycled textile doll sitting on the desk playing

The small bundle of fabric in my hands, now, looks more organic, than the old clothes that it is made of.

I held it close to the desk lamp to meet the new rhino baby. It looks the type who would enjoy a harmless debate about anything, and end up agreeing to disagree with me. I like it already.

I turned it on its belly and started reading the semi-exposed stitches.

The unevenness of hand stitches brings back a warmth absent in toys produced in industrial environment.

I stroked the baby on the back. It didn’t feel right. It felt bumpier than usual. Bumpy even for a hand stitched doll.

Beneath the the baby wrinkles I added, a teeny tiny bit of the allowance has escaped, and came through the gaps between two stitches just so slightly further apart than the others.

The baby is at fault, it ate too much. Kidding. The fault is mine, I did the feeding.

As it is, I see three easy options:

  1. Remove the stitches and redo. But it is not a ‘thing’, not a dress I can unpick and alter to fit. Rhino just asked to play outside after the rain.

  2. Add reinforcement stitches. In order to close the gap—created by the narrow allowance which contributed to the problem in the first place—these stitches will have to be much closer together. They will form a cluster of thread to cover up the hole.

  3. Patch it up—like a permanent bandage. The extra fabric will stretch over the problem area, with stitches whipped all around in every direction, providing good support.

I’m excited by the opportunity of a new element, as much as the idea of wearing a wound like a badge.

I’m going with the third option.

The natural choice is to go with the same fabric, and I have just the scrappy piece lying on my desk. And, next to it, a small strip of denim. I can’t even remember why it is there.

I cut both materials down to triple the size of the area to be patched, and matched them against baby rhino.

The denim piece looks really cool, it is even begging for an embroidery to be made into a hipster patch. But what would the kids in school say about little rhino when they see it?

The original fabric looks… the same. This is a skin graft after all.

“Forget the denim, you greedy dollmaker!”

I can almost hear baby rhino raising its voice. Of course, I was imagining it, it’s a newborn, it cannot speak. Yet.

Obligingly, I whipped stitched around the tiny rectangular patch in the same fabric to the baby’s back.

There was a gap that needed to be closed.


It wasn’t big, but enough of a problem over time if overlooked. The patch isn’t pretty, it is visible, but with a shirt on, no one has to know. For rhino, it is now part of its being, and an important lesson learnt.

Get your own baby rhino in the shop.

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