Let's make some toys together, shall we?
I've had patterns and tutorials on the to-do list, for what seems like, forever. Selling patterns and instructions has never been a very comfortable place for me. It's a strange, and probably even self-indulgent, sliver of obligation that I attach to every pdf file or toy kit. An obligation to the purchaser's, or student's, success.
I think about pdf files sitting in email accounts, un-opened. I wonder about kits on shelves, left for "some day." So, I've decided to give away what I know. I'll share, I'll try to be available to you, I'll try to be orderly, take what you can, leave the rest, come back if you need more, and please, stay as long as you like.
I'm not totally turning this blog over to toy making instructions. I'm sorry, but you will have to endure my personal ramblings from time to time. lol.
I'll start from the beginning and I'll try to keep the lessons brief, full of photos, and with graduating degree of difficulty. We'll build your toy making skills and stash deliberately, with thoughtful consideration of costs and necessity.
Pretty straight forward.
From left, to right;
- Scissors. Make sure that you have at least one pair that are sturdy (and sharp) enough to get through two or 3 layers of fabric. Also make sure that they snip all the way to the very tip of the scissor points. A good deal of toy making requires scissor work that requires snipping and getting into tight corners. Demand a lot from your scissors when you select a pair and insist that they'll be your wing-man for a very long time. Expect to pay around $20.00 - 30.00 for a forever pair.
- Bamboo skewer. Kitchen variety. There are usually two sizes of skewers at the grocery store. If you have a choice, select the larger of the two sizes. If you don't have a choice, that's ok too. I snipped off the pointed end of mine to make it blunt. Pine or hardwood dowels won't work. This is used for stuffing animals and I'll explain later, with visual aid, why bamboo is a better stuffing tool than other things.
- Crochet hook, on the smaller side. Not required. Sometimes it just helps to have something that can grab a loop of thread. We may venture into doll caps and animal coats and it would be needed then. But for now, it's more of an aid than a requirement.
- Needles. An embroidery needle with a larger eye and sharp point. Mark sure the needle has a sharp point, don't accidentally get a needlepoint needle that has a blunt point. The eye should be larger to acommodate emboidery floss. A doll head needle. This is the long one. It's needed for all sorts of things like applying hairs and snaking through a long neck. Finally, a small eyed quilting needle. The smaller the eye the better, the longer and thinner the eye, mucho better. The idea is that the smaller the needle, the easier it is to pull through multiple layers of felt or fabric. If your eye and thread get too thick, you'll need a pliers to pull that needle through a bunch of layers. Smaller is better in most of the upcoming applications.
- Stiff bristle brush. Plastic or natural fibered bristles. No metal bristles. A hard toothbrush will work. It's for combing hair on horses and for fuzzing up wool hairs. Not required, because I'll show you alternative ways to achieve desired results later, but an inexpensive addition if you'd like.
- Toothpick. Just an all around universal poking and moving fabric kind of tool. It reaches where your fingers cant. Not required.
- Needle puller. Also not required. They're small rubber disks and available at sewing supply shops. They're cheap and come in a 3 or 4 pack. They give you just the right amount of extra grip needed when you can't seem to pull through a needle.
Supplies and Materials
- Wool felt. Yes, you can use 100% acrylics. Actually most crafting wool is a blend of 30/70 wool and poly so we're not all that far apart on fabrics. However, wool will felt up if you want it to, it has a nice dull finish and just looks....natural. Further, I happen to prefer wool felt because it has great recovery and is self-healing. Meaning, if you sew in the wrong place, you can ripped out the thread and the pin hole should close up without a lot of help. It also feels good in your hands, doesn't feel....plastic. Wool felts are available on line, at some retailers, or from me on occassion. The colors, of course, are up to you. If you dye, purchase some white and dye up your own palette.
- Embroidery floss. I'm loyal DMC. I've tried Sullivan's, and even have one Sullivan hank in the photograph. DMC has a nice sheen, it's not slubby and it doesn't hang up on your fabrics. I can't say the same for Sullivan. I'd like too, but I can't. Also, most floss is made up of 6 strands of thread and we'll very often take it down to 2 threads. Separating DMC is cake compared to sullivan. DMC is at Joanns, Sullivan is at Hancocks.
- Wool batting. 100% wool. Clean, carded and the most heavenly stuffing ever. The loft is amazing and poly fill can't even come close. BUT this is not a deal breaker and you're welcome to use poly fill in place of wool stuffing. I do offer it in my shop and there's a link on the left over there if you'd like to check it out.
Coming next, the first lesson. A pocket. You know, in case you find a wocket, you'll need a pocket. *wink*
Actually, it's a fast project that allows you to try out or brush up on two stitches; the blanket stitch and the running stitch. You'll also be working with sewing in layers, edging up fabrics. This is a necessary skill for toy making in dimesion, like sewing animals.
Here's a preview....