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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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Extra seam allowance has made a huge difference in my life. I add it to ready made patterns just in case something needs to be a little looser or shifted. Multicoloured pencils/markers are also good, especially for making 2nd/3rd/4th drafts on the same pattern. I use either Sharpies or felt tips since I have the motor skills of a howler monkey with dressmaker's pencils. Two other useful things are a french rule and a seam allowance metal measurey thing. Not vital, but very, very helpful.

Hand sewing is definitely a lost art and requires a lot more effort than people give it credit for. I look at things my grandmother made and the teeny, even stitches blow my mind. It's a labour of love.

Actually, even hand stitching is muscle memory - and not that difficult, really. Hand sewing IS the way to go on complex shapes though.

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I wouldn't even think of using the sewing machine to make a 3D shaped critter! I would, however, strongly consider needle felting. But considering Ursula's famous ability to hurt herself with tools... maybe I shouldn't bring that up here. Great results, but the felting needles have burrs on them. OUCH!

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