Having made two bears and two penguins from ‘tried and tested’ patterns, I thought I’d dive in with a pattern I’d downloaded but never actually made before.
Choly Knight’s Owl Plush pattern is a relatively simple shape, but the main feature is the applique face pieces. I used some black felt I had lying in my sewing box for the pupils, but all the white detailing is the reverse side of the fleece.
I’ve never made plushie frogs before, but when I had the opportunity to make something from Velboa, it seemed a natural choice!
I’ve sewn with various styles of faux fur before, but Velboa is totally new to me. It does have a nap (so the fur can be brushed in one direction), but this particular velboa has an abstract pattern where the nap changes direction multiple times. This meant it was a bit more challenging to lay the pieces out, but I tried to just get the background nap in the same direction at least.
I wanted to try out the glow in the dark fabric paint I bought in the sale from Minerva a couple of years ago, so I used that on the white felt eyes for two frogs. It does give them a bit of a strange look in daylight, but the glow works perfectly once the lights are out at night.
As you can tell from my stack of frogs, there’s also a Manta Ray lurking with them. I had enough fabric left over after making those four frogs, and thought a Ray would be a good companion for them.
Since Lockdown 1.0, I haven’t done much sewing – the majority of things I made were face masks for friends and family. I wanted to sew something as a Christmas present for K, but what do you make a young boy who loves dragons? A dragon backpack of course!
I’ve made plush toys before, but this would be the first backpack I’ve ever attempted…. I like to make things challenging!
My original plan was to use some glow in the dark fabric paint on the eyes to add an extra fun little detail. However, the glow paint I’d purchased online was a ‘lucky dip’ when it came to colour, and I ended up with pink – perfectly fine, but I didn’t really want this dragon to have pink glowing eyes! So I stuck with the pattern’s recommendation and appliqued the felt eye pieces onto the face.
This fleece fabric is surprisingly slippy – it behaves almost like a fake fur rather than fleece when you’re sewing. As a result, the zip on the main pocket isn’t the neatest of stitching.
I had a Union Jack patterned fat quarter lying around, which worked perfectly for the pocket lining. I didn’t want anything too dark, as it would make it quite challenging to find something in the bag otherwise.
After a while of fighting the fabric, I tried an alternative technique – placing a layer of calico fabric against the feed dogs when sewing. That worked like a dream, allowing the fabric to feed through evenly, and no more squished stitches!
Because the dragon needed to be stuffed and the fabric had a slight stretch, I wanted to make sure the seams would allow some stretching, so I trimmed down the calico to as small a piece as possible. Ideally I would’ve used a tear-off fabric stabiliser or even tracing paper, as both of those could be fully removed after sewing. But as usual, I didn’t have either to hand, and I really needed to get this dragon finished!
As an optional extra in the pattern, there’s a hidden pocket in the dragon’s tail. I thought this would be a neat addition (which I didn’t point out when I gave K his present – I wanted him to discover it for himself), so not only is this my first backpack make, it’s also my first attempt at sewing in an invisible zip (albeit without an invisible zipper foot)!
My only other slight mishap was when I stitched the strap to the wrong side of the dragon’s paw (oops!) and had some well-nigh impossible unpicking to do to resolve it. But thankfully you couldn’t see the mistake once I’d finished.
And I can safely say that K loves his new backpack – after he’d opened it, he put the bag on his back and ran round the room shouting “I’ve got wings”!
Having made a dolphin, I could hardly pass the opportunity to make a dinosaur! The body shaping was a lot easier, although I will admit his face is slightly off-centre.
I used black faux suede for the eyes and mouth but looking closely at the stitching, I should practise my applique skills for unusual shaped pieces! The spines are also faux suede, just to add a little colour to lift the grey.
The faux suede was quite stiff, which made it challenging to turn such small pieces, but I think it was worth the effort, as it sets off the dotty grey really well.
Both Dotty Dinosaur and Dotty Dolphin are just the right size to sit on your hand, and despite having never made either of them before, didn’t take too long to make up.
I’ve seen a lot of dolphin plush toys online, and I was pleased to find a free pattern from Choly Knight. The pattern uses minky or similar fleece and I thought it would be ideal to use some of the dotty fat quarters I purchased from Hobbycraft.
Although the eyes look embroidered, they are actually appliqued! I cut the black from a faux suede fat quarter, and the eye white is cut from acrylic felt.
The tail is straight rather than having a v-shaped notch, as I made a mistake in the sewing…. but I don’t think that really matters. The dolphin plush still looks suitably cute and her misshapen tail won’t prevent her from pretending to swim!
The body of the Kraken isn’t too challenging to sew, even with the applique spots and eyes. I used a glow-in-the-dark fabric for the eyes like I did for the Loch Ness Monster, although as yet the fabric doesn’t want to co-operate and glow.
The base was the most challenging part to sew (ignore the colours being reversed from the official pattern instructions), with each of those polo mint look-alike suckers being machine sewn to hold them in place.
The Kraken (which incidentally is still in need of a name), is perfectly cuddly and the two shades of plush fabric are a great match for my purple and silver colour scheme. I was hoping to get a photo of the eyes glowing, but for now here’s a mockup of how they might look!
I thought I needed a slightly easier pattern to try, after Bertram Bigfoot, and Choly Knight‘s Loch Ness Monster looked like it would be ideal. The body and head have two sides and a bottom gusset, while the four flippers are sewn into the gusset seam. This means the only hand sewing is to just ladder stitch the turning gap at the end.
I chose some black and white glow-in-the-dark fabric for the eyes, so I used the eyelash eye pattern pieces, and left out any inner eye features. I hand stitched them in place, as I was finding it challenging to machine sew the eyes onto the plush fabric without it sliding about everywhere.
In the end, I using a small amount of fusible interfacing for the body dots, then machine stitched around them afterwards.
The neck dart was a challenge to get right – one side’s dart is a little longer than the other, but that just gives Nessie a uniquely quirky look.
Until I can get the fabric to glow properly, here’s a mockup of how the eyes will eventually look…. I hope!
Unfortunately, the fabric shop didn’t have any white fur in stock. However, they did have some amazingly sleek reddy brown fake fur tipped with a silvery white shade – perfect for a Bigfoot instead.
After all, the only difference between a Bigfoot and a Yeti is the colour of their fur, right?
Instead of adding an applique face, I trimmed the fur to make it look two-tone. That also made the applique features easier to sew in place. I didn’t risk using any fusible web to hold the eyes, teeth and mouth in place, so I tacked them down by hand first, before zigzagging around them on the machine.
You may notice that Bertram’s teeth are a creamy brown shade rather than white…. that’s just because he forgot to take his toothpaste with him!
I did also try trimming the fur for his paw prints, but that wasn’t quite so successful – I think that would’ve worked better if I’d trimmed that after I’d attached them, as once they were sewn in place, a lot of the detail around his toes was lost.
Despite that, Bertram was a really successful make – he only took me a few hours to make, and that included spending what felt like ages on the cutting out!