Sunday, 29 November 2020

Ten great tips for sewing beautiful soft toys


Hints and help for creating beautiful and robust soft toys and dolls

soft toy, doll with doll's quilt
'Poppy dolly' all ready for Christmas.

I love to sew for children and one of these loves is of course toys. 
I am hoping that these practical hints will give you the confidence to get started.

Soft toy ,linen rabbit floppy ears

Tip 1. Preparing your fabric.....Press and starch, in my opinion starching is a must, the fabric is wrinkle free, crisp and easy to cut especially little pieces.
Tip 2. Fabric 'straight of grain'.....Please follow the straight of grain references on the pattern pieces and cutting instructions.
Cotton, linen and all other woven fabrics have a 'straight of grain' which is in the direction of the weft threads.
The weft threads run parallel to the selvedges and the warp threads run across the width of the fabric. The weft threads are stronger and more stable while the warp threads add more give to the fabric. I often use Minky (velour)and fleece fabric in my toys and they too have a greater stretch across the width of the fabric so the same rule applies.

Tip 3. Accurate cutting.....It's so important to cut these small pattern pieces exactly on the lines because any deviations can completely change the shape of a foot or little face etc.

Tip 4. Stitch length....Set your machine to a small stitch I set mine to 2, this keeps the seams firm and robust enough to hold the stuffing in and cope with loving  handling.

Tip 5. Back stitch....Reinforce the beginning and ends of every seam with back stitch, it will prevent the seams unraveling while constructing and stuffing the toy.

Tip 6. Seam allowance....If the pattern states 1/4 '' seams please stick to this or the feet won't fit the end of the legs, the collar won't fit the jacket etc. Most toy and craft patterns including mine have 1/4 '' seams unless otherwise stated.

Tip 7. Construction.... Read the pattern through first as it really gives you a feel for your project then follow the sequence as laid out in your pattern 'step by step' guide. Most pattern designers have worked hard to achieve the best way to construct the toy.

Tip 8. Curves and clipping seams....You can't make a doll or a rabbit without dealing with sewing curves, the secret is to take your time and have your machine needle set in the down position so you can lift the foot and pivot carefully around the curves. Don't stretch the fabric just guide as you stitch. Clip curves carefully but not to close to the stitches. 
Where the head meets the neck is the trickiest part so clip carefully but not through the stitching line...this is why back-stitching at the beginning and ends of each seam is so important.

Tip 9. Stuffing....I always use cushion inners for my stuffing, the stuffing is hypoallergenic and has a much softer feel than specific toy stuffing. You can buy cushion inners at most household linen type shops. 
Tease out the stuffing and push in small amounts at a time. Push the stuffing up into the head first and manipulate it to get the desired shape, the neck needs to be quite firm to hold the head and then stuff the rest of the toy.

Tip 10. Finishing and hand sewing....Once the stuffing is done close up the openings with very small and close together stitches, ladder or slip stitch is best hide your knots and ends inside the toy. 
Embroidering the face is pretty simple but it is the key to a cute look so take your time, you can mark the face details with a fade away pen if this helps. I use simple stitches like back stitch, satin stitch and sometimes French knots for freckles.
If I add blush to a doll I use pink craft ink dabbing it on with a cotton wool ball. Please practice on a scrap of fabric first to get a light look... just a hint of pink, if you are heavy handed it can mean disaster. 😕

soft toy, fluffy mouse doll very cute
'Miss Country Mouse' one of my favourites.

I haven't dealt with sewing the dolls clothing in my ten tips but all the above principles apply, precise cutting, seam allowance, backstitching and neat finishing off.

soft toy, linen rabbit with clothes
Adding the cute look to 'My friend Molly' bunny.

dressed doll, linen rabbit sewn toy
'My friend Molly' dressed bunny 

Soft toys, plushies in a basket
A basketful of delightful toys.

Soft toy, gee's projects patterns
All the joy captured in that sweet face.

Dressed doll in pink, very cute
Poppy dolly.

soft toy, embroidering the face
Sewing the face details 'Kerah Rabbit'.

soft toy bunny with a halo of flowers
'Bobby Bunny' with her halo of flowers.

These are just a few of my patterns that are available in my Etsy shop , I do try very hard to make them easy to follow, lots of 'how to' photos and 'step by step' instructions.
Hopefully you will practice these simple tips to get that professional look and the joy of creating.

Happy Sewing


Thursday, 18 June 2020

How to do jointed arms on 'Hope Bunny' or other small soft toys

'Hope Bunny' jointed arms tutorial

Don't be afraid of tackling jointed arms on a small soft toy, it's easy and I will guide you through the process.
Having made your soft toy or bunny in this case, here's what follows.
1. Thread up a long needle with some stronger thread, quilting thread or extra strong thread at least a metre or yard long, make a knot to join the two ends so you have a double thread.
2. On the side seam of your bunny (toy) about just under 3/4 '' below the neck seam take two tiny stitches to secure the thread then push your needle to the other side keeping it straight.

3. Push the needle through the underside of the top of the arm, now thread through the both holes of the button and back through the top of the arm..through the body and into the other underside of the arm button etc.
4. Repeat the process one more time, carefully pull your thread tight making sure that the body and arms are balanced and equally positioned.
5. Finish off with a secure knot underneath the arm.

And there you have it, not hard at all. my HOPE BUNNY is available in my ETSY SHOP  along with other patterns.

Happy sewing

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

'Heart' applique and embroidery fabric coasters and Place mat ... free pattern

'Heart' fabric coasters and place tutorial

 There is a huge amount of work in producing a pattern so when you the buyer purchases it all the work, the measurements, and thinking are done for you.
I buy patterns even though I know I probably could work it all out for myself...but I don't want to and because it's good to support other crafty women like me and I want to try something new.
But what I'm noticing is that most of the instructions include diagrams to follow rather than pics.
So...I have been teaching myself graphics to help with my pattern making business. I generally take multitudes of photos to help with my step by step instructions... but sometimes the photos are blurred ( a bit like some of my photos here ) or the light is wrong and then you need to start from the beginning again...very frustrating.
I've written this tutorial so you can make these sweet coasters and place-mats but the template and text can be used in many other projects like my fussy cut purse, so I hope you enjoy and take the time to make something from it.
 If I could put a free pattern on Etsy I would but it doesn't work and I don't have the knowledge to put a downloadable file for this tutorial here but if you click on each numbered page below and save image and download them they will be true to size.
Happy sewing

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

'Sleepy Suzie' patchwork block and carry bag

'Sleepy Suzie' patchwork block and carry bag

I've had it in my mind for sometime to revisit my original Sleepy Suzie, she was a wee doll I made a few years ago. A little project using my ideas turned into a much larger one with my first patchwork block coming to fruition.
It's simple and combines applique, patchwork and embroidery, the finished block is 14 1/4 ''  x 14 1/4 '' square and can be used for a number of projects.
You can make a quilt or cushions but I've made little carry bags for my Granddaughters with a custom luggage sweet.
My pattern includes the patchwork block, a tutorial for the bag and the little tag with the full alphabet script so you can embroider your own custom tag, the link to my pattern is HERE

I've written a separate post here about how you can print simple designs directly on to fabric using your own printer.
This luggage tag is an example, once printed you can embroider over the script...easy.

Make the little luggage tags and use them with love, print out the two pages below A4 size.

Here is my inspiration little 'Sleepy Suzie' doll in her night gown and slippers, she is available in my ETSY SHOP  along with my other PDF toy patterns.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my work and happy sewing everyone


How to print on fabric using your ink printer

Printing on fabric at home

It's very simple to print out a design on fabric using your home printer.
I use this method often when I wish to embroider details that won't be washed...yes you can't wash the finished product as the ink will run. But don't despair there are plenty of uses for this method and I will show you a few so read on. All the projects below were made using this method.

Here's how
Go to your local stationary shop and buy a pack of laser/inkjet labels, the ones that only have one large label per sheet.

1. Press your fabric well and starch it if you can. I often use white linen so I add lightweight fusible interfacing on the back. 
2. Trim your fabric to fit the label.
3. Peel off the label, it has a sticky underside.

4. Carefully sick the fabric to the adhesive side, place in the printer making sure you place it so the design prints on the fabric side and not the label.

5. Peel your fabric off and it's ready to embroider. 
6. Take the used label and press it back onto its original backing paper, you can use this several times.

* Use Word or Open Office or a similar program to prepare the lettering, making sure you get the font and size to your liking.
* Leave a gap around your design so you can cut them out if you are adding them to a project or putting your work into an embroidery hoop.
* A few pointers before you get too carried away, print the design on paper first so you know its ok.
* If you are doing your own designs keep the lines fine and grey so your thread will cover nicely.

Hope you enjoy this method as much as I do...lots of uses. If you would like to make this luggage tag the template and tutorial is HERE

Remember keep the grain of your fabric straight when getting it ready to print especially if it has texture like linen because you will be disappointed with end result if you don't.
Happy printing and sewing


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