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Experimental Sewing

So I don’t actually know how to sew.

I have never learned to use a machine, and all these stuffed animals are basically made with one stitch, by hand, and the lumps are hidden under faux fur. I design the bodies by cutting out a shape on paper that looks sort of like it should work. Pludwump was basically a football with a head, Rough Seams involved some real sewing atrocities on the inside of the body, and I had to do Quippet twice over. (That I have succeeded at all never fails to amaze me—fabric is clearly forgiving stuff!)

And now I want to try making a thing with a soft head instead of resin parts—I have this grandiose vision of a faux mink stole with the head attached, only the head is a stuffed animal, possibly with tongue hanging out, and I don’t think resin would be very comfortable–but since I have no pattern and the head is not faux fur, I have to actually make a pattern.

I have a couple of books on sewing stuffed animals. I basically took a head pattern that looked sort of right and freehanded it to more-or-less the right size. (Probably less…) and now I get to go mutilate some innocent fleece to try to make it look sort of like the thing in my head. And sketchbook.

Either it’ll work or it won’t, and if it doesn’t, I may try a very flattened sculpted head because I am totally in love with the idea, but I want to at least try it this way first.

Is there a trick to making patterns that I am just missing that makes this all super easy, or is it all “try, try, cry a lot, try again, get it sort of right, yell “CLOSE ENOUGH!” and start sewing?”


Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.

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Allow extra seam allowance, and mock up in muslin (aka cheap fabric of your choice.) I've also had good luck when mocking up patterns by sewing the seams on the outside, to take in or let out seams easily. Don't cut the fleece until the test shape works for you. Once you have a mock-up you like, clean up the seams (standardize the width) mark anything that you need to remember (darts, where to stop stitching, things like that) on the fabric, take it apart, and press it flat. Voila, pattern!

FWIW, fleece and furry fabrics are considered challenging by many sewists (sewers, seamstresses, whatever). So you're starting at the hard end, as it were. Also don't knock yourself for hand sewing; a lot of high end sewing is done by hand even today because it's sometimes the simplest way to do complicated things.

See, I think fleece and fur are considered challenging only because they're so different from things like cotton and so on. But I learned to sew on faux fur, and I find sewing on "normal" fabrics incredibly difficult and challenging. So I think it's just what one gets used to.

And to continue on from this: you only need a limited number of types of hand stitches anyway. The Dreamstress, an historical costumer, points out in this post that she only uses 3 simple stitches for the vast majority of the sewing she does (and has a couple of other tips for hand sewing that may be useful).

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