This is Gulla’alla. She’s a project I first designed many years ago and has been a favorite with the girls in my holiday workshops ever since. They seem to love the fact that she has a little one in her pouch and they refuse to go home with their mums until they have finished the baby. There can be some pretty frantic sewing going on as the mums arrive. That little bikini thing was my daughter Yiscah’s addition when we decided to take them both to the beach where I swim for a photo shoot. Yiscah is also the source of the name “Gulla’alla”. This is how she pronounced the word “koala”when she was learning to talk.
My mother-koala is about 25 cm high x 22 cm wide from paw to paw. I’ve used a greyish-brown homespun for Gulla’alla’s back (which you can’t see in the beach photo) and unbleached calico for her front and pouch but whatever colours you use, a darker colour for the back will always work out well.
And if you haven’t done this sort of thing before, here are some simple steps:
1. Trace the template onto your calico and cut the pouch from a separate piece of calico.
2. Place the calico with the traced outline facedown and pin the pouch into position on the untraced side of your material. You might need to hold the calico up to the light in order to see the outline of the koala so that you can put your pouch in the right place. I sewed my pouch on with seed beads to make it look pretty…mums need a bit of pampering just after they’ve had a baby.
3. Attatch the koala nose (which should be available from a craft supply shop) onto the same side of the material as the pouch.
4. Now put the calico with the traced side facing upwards onto a piece of greyish-brown homespun or onto whatever colour you’ve chosen for the koala’s back. When you sew them together remember to leave a turning gap at the bottom. Then just turn the whole thing inside out (which basically turns it right side out).
5. Lastly, fill the koala’s head and top half of her body with stuffing and fill the bottom half with rice grains to give the base weight. I used about a cup of rice grains for Gulla’alla. Slipstich the opening of the turning gap closed, add eyes, paws, and voila! The baby is made in the same way except there’s no pouch and you don’t add rice grains to the stuffing. A baby’s nappy (ie diaper) can be made from a triangle of terry towelling and kept in place with a saftey pin or glue.
Koalas are actually quite big down here in Australia. Generations of Aussie kids have been brought up not only with world-famous celebs like Winnie the Pooh and Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit but also with Blinky Bill and his friends. If your kids like Gulla’alla you might like to check out this Aussie classic: