The Quest for Plushie Perfection pt 2

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My first post talked about pattern preparation and getting the pattern onto the felt.  If you missed that, you might want to go back and take a look.  After all your tracing and cutting is done, transfer any construction marks onto your fabric.  I’ve used several different things for this purpose and I haven’t found one that I like above all others.

Pilot makes an erasable pen called FriXion that I really like.  The ink disappears with heat so it’s great…just run an iron over the lines and they’re gone.  There’s a drawback to these though.  Apparently they reappear in the cold. I’ve never had this happen but then again, I don’t put my work in the fridge for safe keeping so it hasn’t been a problem for me!  You may also be using a fabric that can’t be ironed, so in that case these would be a bad choice anyway.  I’ve also used Clover pen style Chaco Liners. DON’T use these on felt or anywhere lines will or may show because the chalk doesn’t come out.  I learned this the hard way.  What’s up with that Clover?  I would think that piece of pertinent info should be put on your packaging?  I don’t know…maybe it’s on there and I just didn’t see it.  Either way, it’s a shame because I love these markers.  Just not on felt.  The other option I would love to love, is disappearing ink marking pens.  I haven’t had much success with these because the point just seems too fat and I don’t get good crisp lines.  There’s also a water soluble version that I haven’t tried yet.  Another absolute DON’T that I used in the beginning to trace my patterns onto the felt, was a regular ball point pen.  The ink smears and it will never, ever, EVER come out and it gets all over your hands…yuck.  If you’ve tried other marking methods with success, I’d love to hear about it so leave a comment if you’d like.

Once your marking is done, the fun part can begin–stitching.  But what stitch to use?  I know that a lot of people swear by the buttonhole stitch and that’s what I always used at first too.  I found though, that it took too big of a “bite” into the piece and the seams didn’t lay flat.  To me personally, that just isn’t very professional looking.  Maybe you can see what I mean here:The buttonhole stitch makes a seam that leaves a definite ridge on the hot dogs on the left, compared to the hot dogs on the right where I’ve used a whip stitch instead and the seam lays nice and flat.  It’s totally personal preference though.  The buttonhole stitch makes a piece with a certain country charm and if you like that, go for it!  I do always use it to finish outer edges but not when I’m joining pieces that will be stuffed because the seams just won’t be flat.  Each stitch has its place.  I must say though, that I know a woman who makes the most phenomenal felt food and she uses the buttonhole stitch exclusively.  Absolutely beautiful work and I have no clue how she avoids the typical ridges.  Trade secret maybe.

All of that assumes that you do all of your construction by hand.  I’ve designed my patterns to be sewn that way because it makes them within reach of everyone–no sewing machine required!  If the pattern you’re using calls for machine sewing, the most important tip I can give, is to use a very short stitch length but for now I’ll be referring to hand stitching.  If you’re here as a beginner and you’re not sure what I’m talking about, here’s a diagram to help you see the difference between the two stitches.  Interestingly enough, I stitch backwards; I go left to right with the whip stitch and right to left with the buttonhole stitch.  I guess I figure I can see my work better that way?  I don’t know but that’s my story and I’m stickin to it!  I drew the diagram the way most people perform the stitches though in case not everyone is weird like me!  Bottom line, do what works for you–there aren’t any rules–if it works for you, it’s right!

No matter what stitch you’ve chosen to use, some things apply to both.  Keep your stitches small, evenly spaced and not too tight.  Tension is important because even if you use a whip stitch to avoid the dreaded ridges, you’ll get a ridge anyway if your stitches are too tight.  On the opposite end of the spectrum though, is that you have to have the stitches tight enough to keep the stuffing inThe seams should never pull apart to allow you to even see the stuffing.  It’s a very fine balance and when you’re a beginner, that can be hard to achieve. Keep practicing though…you’ll get better with every item you make!

It occurs to me that even though I mentioned in the first post, that I use wool blend felt, we should probably have a discussion about felt in general. The differences between the different types are huge and your finished results will vary a lot, depending on which type you choose.  So next time I’ll talk about felt:  Acrylic vs Wool vs Wool blend!

 

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