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Topic: Help! Advice for sewing small stuffies please!  (Read 1180 times)
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lunamadre
« on: November 15, 2012 09:07:02 PM »

I'm thinking this board is probably the best place to ask this.

One year for Christmas, I had made about a dozen camel ornaments out of fabric, machine sewn, turned and stuffed. I've been wanting to try llamas next.
I just spent the day tracing and sewing over a dozen llamas in a cotton fabric. I tried to turn them, and I'm having some problems. First of all, the ears aren't turning out, I must have made them too small? I'm also having a problem with the seams splitting as I try to turn them or stuff them, specifically under their chins or on their long necks. I'm frustrated, because I did them the same way as the camels and these are NOT going well, so I threw in the towel for the night. I'm bummed because I was on a roll and I wanted to complete these for a craft show next week.

I can't tell if the problem is the fabric? Maybe it's cheap stuff and therefore fraying, or I trimmed the seams too close to the stitching, used too long of a stitch...any suggestions on why the seams are pulling open once I turn it or try to stuff it?
Any advice on getting two pointy tall ears on such a small scale to turn out? Or do I need to revise my pattern or should I just go larger in scale?
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1CraftyBunnyGal
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2012 08:05:48 PM »

Maybe just hand-stitch the difficult parts with stitches that don't show?  Huh For the ears are you making them separately then stitching them to the heads? If not, that might help. If you already are, maybe leave the ears open and hand-sew them after you turn the head right side out?

Hope things go better!  Wink
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And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. -- Colossians 3:17
lunamadre
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2012 06:55:03 AM »

I didn't think of that, that's a good suggestion, thanks!
The whole piece is a traced outline of a llama on doubled fabric. I machine sew the whole thing and then leave the butt open for turning and stuffing.
I figured out the problem, and saved some of the pieces. First of all I think the biggest problem was trimming too close to the seam allowance. I cut the remaining ones with more of a margin and that seemed to help.
Second, I think I made the turning hole a little too small. I snipped a few stitches out to make the hole bigger, and that put less stress on the seams and was easier too. I also switched to the eraser end of a pencil instead of a crochet hook to do most of the turning.
In the future if I make more, I think I will try to turn the hand wheel on the machine to add one stitch across the top of the triangular ear. I think that might help push the ears out to a point better too.

Anyone have any more tricks for tiny stuffed toys? I'm kind of new at this so I would love to hear what works for everyone else.
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Thedashinglee
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2012 07:39:28 AM »

I'm a big fan of stuffies. This is the stuff I had wish I'd known a few years ago;
1) Edge fray stopper stuff. If you go to the fabric store tell them you're looking for the stuff that stops the edges from fraying and they'll give you a little bottle that kind of looks like eye drops. This stuff is awesome if your working with any kind of cotton or cheaper fabric. Cut out your pieces and anywhere that your seam allowance is going to be kind of short dab it on the edges. It stiffens and binds them and stops them from fraying, so once you do sew your piece the edges don't come unraveled and ruin your project.

2) But cheap fabric (I'm a big fleece fan) and experiment. You have to learn the basics of construction and the easiest way to do it is to jump in head first. Also, you can buy stuffies from thrift stores and pick the seams to get an idea of how those are constructed and then just make stuff. Just do it. Browse flickr stuffie groups or Stuffed magazine and you'll realize that as a community we embrace quirkiness and imperfection. Like Bob Ross said, there are no mistakes, only happy accidents. Stuffies are like babies, and there are no ugly babies.

3) Fabric is only one dimension. There are all sorts of fun things you can do on top of that fabric. I'm a big fan of needle felting roving onto wool pattern pieces (Do this before you sew the piece, usually. It's easier this way, but, if your felting swirls or something that spans pieces, or something that is dependent on the shape of the piece then wait and do it once the item is stuffed.) The roving ou can buy in the yarn section, wound into balls. Also, acrylic pain looks neat on stuffies too, if your a painter. I've also found there are some very neat miniature items in the floral section, usually attached to wire. I made a nature goddess stuffie once and used the little sparrows they sell in the floral section to make it seem like birds were flying around her head.

4) The zig zag stitch on your sewing machine can be set to a very close zig zag that looks great when you're applique-ing pieces onto other pieces, and it also makes them very hard to rip off. No loose parts is always good.

5) LEARN DARTS. They will make your life so much easier.

6) Tweezers are great for getting stuffing into small corners. Also, not all stuffing is created equal, shop around and find your favorite.

7) Wool is your friend. Felting is a super technique to learn, and can result in lots of different and unique project. BUT, if you're going to felt you have a choice of whether or not to stuff first. If you stuff before you felt you'll wind up with a firm stuffie with strong seams (if you use wool yarn to seam up.) If you stuff later it's going to be much softer and your seams will be more evident.

Cool Throwing projects does make you feel better.

9) Use pins. Don't try and escape them. Embrace them instead and make them your friends.

10) If you have trouble sewing in a straight line, put a piece of masking tape on your machine and keep your project lined up to it while you sew.

11) Being inspired by someone is not the same as stealing their idea. You can browse etsy and see what your fellow craftsters are up to without feeling guilty. Obviously, don't copy them, but learn something from them.

12) Be proud of what you make. This goes along with my happy mistakes comment. The market for hand made stuffies is there right now, and if you think selling or showing your pieces is something that you want to do, don't stop yourself!

13) If you plan on washing your project prewash the fabric before you sew. It's not going to shrink evenly and if you wait then after you sew it, it could look wonky.

Those were in no real order, and I apologize if I over simplified, you probably knew some of those. Sometimes though, I think we, as crafters, need to be reminded to have confidence in our work.

Best of luck!
Lee
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lunamadre
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2012 08:36:07 AM »

Wow, thanks for all the suggestions, there are quite a few that I haven't considered. I do have some FrayCheck but I didn't even think to use it, haha! I like the idea of using paint on stuffies, that's something I didn't think of but it's giving me lots of ideas. Thanks again, I feel inspired!   Cheesy
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sewmess
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« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2012 02:55:52 PM »

It sounds like you're making them two dimensional, right?  outlines sewn together?  If you're having issues with the ears, try making them seperately and attaching them.

and I heartily second Thedashinglee Fraychek is your best friend when making mini stuffies.  I just finished a fairy where I had made the ankles ridiculously small and fraychek is the only reason she still has feet.

And the throwing projects.  Very theraputic.   Tongue
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Reclaiming my Crafting heritage one stitch at a time.
lunamadre
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2012 07:31:25 PM »

It sounds like you're making them two dimensional, right?  outlines sewn together?  If you're having issues with the ears, try making them seperately and attaching them.


Yes, they are basically llama silhouettes sewn wrong sides together, with a hole in the bum for turning. I took a picture of them in progress, here they are before I finished them. They have embroidered harnesses and reins with a few beads, and little tassels in their ears now:

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Thedashinglee
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2012 09:30:35 PM »

Aww, those harnesses are so cute! Have you thought about fringe for a 'mane'? Wait...do llamas have manes?
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Message me sometime Cheesy I Don't bite!

Up For Personal Swaps
(I knit, sew, paper craft and do a whole bunch of other random stuff.)
lunamadre
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2012 08:13:12 PM »

thanks! No, they don't really have "manes", but they do have long shaggy hair. Some pictures show them with kind of tufty "haircuts", after they get shorn, kind of like poodles.  Cheesy
Actually here's one before and after his haircut http://www.memecenter.com/fun/95428/Haircut
and some hipster llamas. http://www.i-am-bored.com/bored_link.cfm?link_id=72338

I had my craft show today and sold every single llama, it was my biggest hit! I'm going to have to make some more now. Maybe with fluffy hair on their heads. Smiley
« Last Edit: November 25, 2012 08:14:07 PM by lunamadre » THIS ROCKS   Logged

sewmess
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« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2012 09:08:47 AM »

They are super cute!!
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Reclaiming my Crafting heritage one stitch at a time.
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