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How to...

In this section you'll find lots of support and help to guide you through any of the tricky parts of toy making. 

How to...

What do I need to get started?

Toy making doesn't require any special equipment really, they can all be made using basic sewing supplies. Of course, if you want to add details for safety or appearance like, safety eyes or joints then it can certainly help and make life easier if you splash out on a few pieces of equipment. 

Basic equipment

  • A good pair of sharp scissors.

  • Good quality needles.

  • Strong pins. I prefer large headed pins, but any will do.

  • Variety of threads. It's best to use a colour which matches the fabric.

  • Stuffing. To begin with it's absolutely fine to use pillow stuffing but if you want a more professional, firmer feel to your toys, then toy stuffing will give you those results.

  • Chop stick or knitting needle or anything long and thin to help you push the stuffing in through small gaps.

  • Sewing machine. Even this you can do without. All my patterns can be sewn by hand, it will just take a lot longer.

Specialist equipment

  • Doll needle. This is a very long needle which can be extremely helpful when making button joints, like on Bernard Bear and Gina Giraffe.

  • Rotary Cutter. I wish I'd discovered Rotary Blades earlier in my career. They save an incredible amount of time cutting out pattern pieces, but you'll need to be confident and use a good cutting mat.

  • Safety eyes, noses and joints. These can add a really professional touch to your toys and don't cost a lot.

  • Erase-able maker pen. This can be really useful for marking on your fabric or drawing around pattern pieces before cutting out. The beauty of it is, it magically fades away over time.

What's a dart?

Darts are areas on the fabric which make a tuck to give more shape to a piece. For example the most common dart you will be used to seeing is on the bust of a fitted dress, shirt or even on the bra itself. It's the short line of sewing directly under the bust and it's used (in this case) to shape the fabric around the bust. Darts are super easy, once you know how.

Mark the dart onto your fabric. Fold down the centre of the dart with right sides facing and pin in place. See down the dart from the open edge to the tip of the fold. Going in this direction will make a much neater finish as it allows you to run the stitches right off the tip of the fold.

Ta Da!

Safety tips for making toys at home

When you're making toys at home it's always important to bear in mind the recipient. If you know your toys will only be handled by adults, then it's fine to add things like button eyes. But if your toy might end up being played with by a child it's worth bearing in mind some safety precautions. Toys can be made a lot safer by using things such as safety eyes, noses and joints. These just ensure that nothing loose can be swallowed. Another safe option is to embroider all the features on. If you want to make your toys stand up to some rough play, then re sewing along the same line twice (double stitching) will make you toys really strong and durable. If you're thinking of selling your toys then it's wise to consider CE marking them in the UK or the equivalent for other countries. 

How to resize a pattern

It's so much fun to play around with the size of Cuddle Crew toys. From gigantic Gina Giraffes to mini Mr Monkeys. If you have access to a printer this is an easy task.

Choose the percentage you want to decrease or increase and then it is a case of turning the paper after each print to ensure that all the pattern pieces on the original sheet have been caught and printed out. It might be necessary to cut and stick pieces together which have been split over two pages. If you don't have a printer it's trickier and takes longer but it can be done.

Firstly you'll need to have or draw a 1cm grid on paper. Then place one pattern piece onto the grid and draw around.

If you're are wanting to double the size of the pattern, you then need to have a 1 inch grid on paper. Change your grid size larger or smaller depending on whether you want to increase or decrease the pattern size and by how much.

Now look at the first drawing and copy the shape of the pattern onto the new grid one square at a time. Repeat for all the pattern pieces.

How to pin your fabric

When your sewing toys it's important to use lots of pins to hold the fabric together as pieces are often small and fiddly and have lots of tight curves. 

I find it best to use large headed colourful pins, if they're easy to see there's no risk of leaving one in. You should always pin vertically to the edge, this way your sewing machine foot can see straight over the pins without hitting them.

How to make a button jointed toy

I think Button joints, give a teddy a real homemade feel and look so cute. You'll need some thick thread and the longest needle you have. It's fine to use a normal needle but you'll find it a doddle using a doll needle.

Firstly, take your arms and place either side of the body in position.

                                                

 Now run the needle through one arm then the body and then the next arm.

                                                

Pull the thread and go back the other way. Repeat this until you feel the arms feel secure.

                                                

Tie off your thread and then sew on the button separately. Repeat this for the legs.

                                                 

How to use traditional joints

Traditional joints give a more professional finish to a toy and aren't expensive. Firstly take your arms, legs and body turned wrong side out. Put a small hole in the fabric where the plastic joint will come through. I do this by cutting a few stitches of the fabric with a quick unpick.

Next, turn right side out and put the bolt piece of the joint through each arm and leg from the inside. Then align an arm to the whole on the body and push the arm bolt through the body whole. From the inside of the body, place the nut piece of the joint onto the bolt and push together.

Ta Da!

If you're still unsure you can find my full video tutorial here

 

What stuffing can I use?

To begin with it's absolutely fine to use household pillow stuffing but if you want a more professional, firmer feel to your toys, then toy stuffing will give you those results.

How to use safety eyes

Safety eyes, not only make your toy safe to give to a child but they add a professional feel to your toys. And the good news is they're cheap and easy to use!

Firstly take your head turned wrong side out and put a two small holes in the fabric where the eye will come through. I do this by cutting a few stitches of the fabric with a quick unpick. 

Next, put the bolt piece of the eye through each hole from the right side. Then simply put the nut part of the eye onto the bolt and push together.

Ta da!

If you're still unsure, you can see a full video tutorial by clicking here.

How to make boggly eyes

Boggly eyes are a really fun and easy way of adding eyes to your toys. You'll need to cut out two circles of white fleece or felt and then hand sew a line of running stitch around the edge of each circle. Pull up the thread so the circles gathers. Poke in a tiny amount of stuffing and then pull the threads as tight as possible so the hole closes. Tie off your threads.
Sew on a bead for the pupil or some felt. Sew the two eyes together and then sew onto your toy.

Ta da!

 

 

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