For the last couple of years I have been slowly working through Abby Glassenberg’s book “Stuffed Animals, from concept to construction”. Last year I finished the last of what I felt was the basics of soft toy designing. From now on the projects are more challenging as we start to get into much more detailed designing features — but this is where the real fun begins :)
The Project – Puppy
The main subject of this project was to create a toy with a turned head, giving an animated feel.
It’s amazing how doing one simple step like turning the head a little helps create so much character in a plushie. And it’s not that hard to do — just separate the head from the pattern and twist the head in one direction when you stitch it to the body rather than matching the seams up as you would to have the head facing forward.
As I was doing this I remembered some advice I was given from a professional fashion designer when I was studying dressmaking and pattern making –
… when you want to create a design feature such as something that’s off centre – make it ‘obviously’ off centre. Subtle changes wont work, instead of looking like a design feature, it will look like you made a mistake.
Other Lessons for this project.
The another lesson in this project that I had a lot of fun with was creating a dart to add shape and fullness to an area. This one starts to get a little more technical — but it’s not too hard, just requires a bit of thought. Things such as where you want the fullness and how to compensate for the fabric that has been removed where you have stitched the dart. For the Puppy, Abby created a gathered dart in the cheek area to create a ‘cute baby’ look. I followed this example and created fuller cheeks on my deer, but this could be used anywhere.
Abby’s instructions for compensating for the fabric removed is to add it back at the side seam under the chin, but I ran into some problems with this on my pattern, the snout on Abby’s Puppy is much longer than on my deer, so to add the whole amount here meant I lost the chin almost completely — hmm – what to do?? I tried adding half to the front and half to the back of the neck, and that seemed to work, although I haven’t sewn up the sample yet to see just how well it worked. While I was pondering this problem I had a look though some of my pattern making text books to see how they deal with this problem in apparel. What I found was a technique that requires you to cut the pattern piece all the way through from the dart opening to the opposite side, stopping just a millimetre from the edge to keep the 2 halve together, then spread the 2 halves apart the required amount for the dart opening. You do gain a little extra fabric throughout the whole piece, but this shouldn’t distort the overall shape too much.
Other lessons included in this project are sewing with faux fur and using eyes with a back loop as wall as tips for sewing with thick fabric and bulking layers.
Living in a regional area, some supplies are a bit hard to get. I have a little faux fur, but I’m saving it for a future project, plus I didn’t think a red and blue puppy would really work for me. The other thing I wasn’t able to try out was the eyes … I’ll just have to save these for a future project when I am able to find some :)
My design — a Deer.
For this project I thought I would try designing a deer. This is the very first prototype and (S)he still needs quite a bit for fine tuning — especially those feet ;) but in general I’m happy and excited by this experiment. I think (s)he has potential to become a pattern one day. I especially like the look of the turned head. I can imagine my little Bambi wanna-be as a Christmas decoration someday :)
Next project — A Lion
I’m looking forward to growing my skills as a designer with each new lesson and designing more complex and dimensional plushies. Next time I am looking at animals in motion — I can’t wait :D — what animal can I use for this project???
If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy the others in this series.
If you’re interested in seeing my process for designing and developing a plushie pattern you can follow along on my Instagram account – @mignonpriderdesign and use the hashtag #design_a_Plushie to search for the post I have up so far :)
Until next time …