Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
×

:iconmagnastorm: More from MagnaStorm


Featured in Collections

Journals by Ruurin

Journals by PhuiJL

Journals Worth Collecting by Plush-Fiend


More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
February 28, 2013
Link
Thumb

Stats

Views
39,793 (42 today)
Favourites
775 (who?)
Comments
110
×
Edit: added a part about fabric selection before 'where do I start'!

Ever since I posted Wolf Link and Midna I've been getting an influx of messages asking me to teach, reveal my secrets, take people under my wing, and so on. The sad thing is I can't spend all that much time one on one with everybody asking me to teach them. So I've decided to put together this massive block of text, relating some of my personal experience in plush making and listing off all my resources at the bottom. This will cover the very basics of plush and pattern making so if you are completely new to plush making this is for you, if you're not and you're just looking for resources skip to the bottom. I hope this will be helpful to someone!

First off, the reality. The big secret. The key to becoming a good plush artist is...
Practice.
I can already feel the glares and exasperation but hear me out first.
One thing I've noticed with a lot of the messages I got were that a lot of people were scared of screwing up. Like, deadly scared. To the point that they would not even try anything. But here's one secret: You need to practice to get better. No one wakes up one day and sudently is a master painter, crafter, writer, whatever. You can't become better at something if you don't do it. That's not how progress works. Odds are that your first plush won't be the best looking. But you made something, and you'll learn from that something. My first plush was a Haro from the Gundam series. I free-handed some lines with fabric paint and they turned out wobbly and I didn't like it. But I learned that I should use guides to keep my lines straight. That's progress. It might seem minimal, but it's all those little things pulled together that makes you a better artist. Personal experience is your best teacher, because if you screw up something then you learn what works and what doesn't and why. You don't end up doing things just because that's how you were told to do it. You don't just use guides because someone told you to do so, you use guides because you know your lines will be crooked if you don't.

And because I feel this needs to really be emphasised, again, you're gonna screw up.
I've been making plushies for a long time now, but the people who watched my Wolf Link stream  last week saw me screw up the head 4 times before I got it right. It's normal, it happens, sure it can be upsetting sometimes but you can't just hang up your sewing machine every time something doesn't work. You've just learned that something doesn't work, and sometimes that can be just as important as the finished plush.

Next: Even if all you have is a needle and thread with some fabric, you can still make plushies.
You don't need a $1000+ embroidery machine to make plushies. It can be nice, but it's not obligatory. A lot of artists have steered towards these machines in the past year, myself included, but some of the greatest plushies I've ever seen were made ages before these came along! There are many ways to add details to your plush. Let's take the eyes for example. They can be applique, top stitched, painted (I used to do this a lot, I'd cut out the eye shape in some good quality felt, not the 25 cents variety, and paint on that not directly on the fleece/minky then I'd applique them to the plush), satin stitched, safety eyes, etc. There are a lot of alternatives, and it's up to you to find the one that works the best for you.

Fabric choices
If you're completely new to plush making you might want to hold out on buying expensive and hard to get minky. I would recommend fleece as a starter fabric choice. It has a stretch similar to minky(it's a little stretchier actually), it doesn't fray, it doesn't make a mess like minky does, it's cheaper(about $6-$10 a meter) and it's available virtually everywhere. I used to get a lot of my fleece in pre-cut lengths at Wal Mart. However, I know that another very appealing option is felt. It's dirt cheap(most of the time under 25 cents for an 8.5"x11" sheet), comes in a rainbow of colors, has a little stretch, and also doesn't make a huge mess like minky. I've seen some great things made with felt, but from my experience with it felt deteriorates at an impressive rate, even if the plush is never played with. So I do not recommend felt if you want to make huggable plushies. If you want to make display pieces that are treated like statues, then it would be an acceptable choice. Otherwise I wouldn't even recommend if for pattern testing, since it's not as stretchy as fleece and minky.  If you really want to use minky, I recommend testing out your patterns in fleece or other similar fabrics before cutting into expensive minky. I test my patterns in microchenille. It's a minky variant that can be used in a final plush as well, but I get it for half the price of minky when it's on sale at my local fabric store.

Where do I start?
Since making basic shapes only is boring, start with simple characters that use those shapes. I find that learning how to make a sphere is particularely important because a lot of more complex shapes can be derived from a sphere. In training Digimons, Kirby, some Pokemons, etc. Anything that is mainly a sphere. And simple. I know everyone wants to make epic complex plushies but believe me start with something simple and work you way up to the complex plushies. There are two general ways to make a sphere: using two dumbell shaped pieces or 4 football shapes. I use the footballs,  because I never understood the dumbells but use whatever works for you! When drafting a pattern you have to remember that what you're drawing on a flat surface will become a 3D object so it will not look exactly like your pattern piece. You have to keep the stretch of your fabric in mind, and remember that everything will get rounded with stuffing. So for a sphere, you want your pieces to look something like this  i14.photobucket.com/albums/a30… . So how do you know if your sphere is going to turn out the right size? Measure it at the midpoint(the red line) then multiply that by 4. The result will be the circumpherence of your sphere. Also remember that you will need seam allowance. It's up to you wether you add it around your pattern as you're cutting it or if you add it to the pattern itself. If you add it to the fabric as you're cutting, you'll want to trace your pattern onto the pieces so you can follow the right lines. Personally, I add it to my pattern because it's an old habit, and probably a bad one too. I add a presser foot's width all the way around my patterns so the line I have to follow is the edge of my fabric.Again, whatever works for you. The simplest way to sew a sphere together would be like this i14.photobucket.com/albums/a30… . Once you can make sphere characters you can start moving on to characters with sphere heads and simple bodies or extra accessories. And then just keep trying out new things. Before you know it you'll be an acomplished plush artist :)  

edit: a little more about drafting spheres, as well explained by xSystem in the comments: To make a sphere your pattern will need to be half as wide as the length, so if your pattern is 5" wide it needs to be 10" long. The points should also be 90 degree angles so they meet nice and square.


And finally here you go, my master list of resources;
materials
-Minky shopping list by PlanetPlush fav.me/d4xb16v (my personal favorites are fabricdepot and theminkyboutique)
-CR's crafts: for suede, doll joints, some fur, and a whole lot of other things www.crscraft.com/Lobby.asp
-Glass eyes online: plastic eyes, safety eyes and noses, doll joints glasseyesonline.com/
-Mendel's: Fur (though I've never ordered from them they have quite a selection and I've head good things about them from others) www.mendels.com/creativity2.sh…

patterns
-Pheleon's pattern drafing lesson part 1 fav.me/d2ub2to and 2 fav.me/d36fxy2
-babylondonstar's sit plush tutorial www.members.shaw.ca/plushie/pa… (the pattern that really got me into plush making. She also has other patterns, sometimes with instructions, available here www.members.shaw.ca/plushie/pa… )
-Simply-Plush's patterr/tutorials colelction simply-plush.deviantart.com/fa…
-Plushie-Database's pattern/plush collections: plushie-database.deviantart.co…
-My own chibi human (pattern only, tutorial hopefully to come at a later date. I recomend printing it full page, but the size is up to you) i14.photobucket.com/albums/a30…
-Voodoo-Tiki's beginer pony tutorial: fav.me/d5ah55b (she also has a few other tutorials check them out! )
-valleyviolet, need I say more?
-cute patterns  nuno-runo.blogspot.ca/
-Kirby pattern by Kat-Aclysm: kat-aclysm.deviantart.com/art/…

Other useful things
- plush forum plush.yuku.com/
-satin stitching tutorial by usako-chan www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMAog9…
-My Tribble tutorial, which is really a 'how to work with fur' tutorial fav.me/d5gegt5 Something I forgot to mention in the tutorial though: if you have an exacto knife, it makes cutting fur a lot easier because it will only cut the backing, not the fur. This way you only have a fur mess when you're trimming the seam allowance.
-pheleon's human hair tutorial fav.me/d1hsuzh and her painted eye tutorial fav.me/d1eylls
ThisUsernameFails's needle sculpting tutorial fav.me/d3jh5qd
- nfasel's polymer clay eyes tutorial fav.me/d5nqi0w
- dolphinwing's eye tutorial fav.me/d54d0t8

If you have any other useful tutorials, patterns, website to shop from, let me know and I'll add them to the list!

Add a Comment:
 
:iconpaichii:
Paichii Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks a ton for this! (as late as it is) I'm finally jumping over my fear of messing things up to try my hand at plush making :)
Reply
:iconspiffynoodles:
SpiffyNoodles Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
I've always wanted to try this, but I'm so terrified of what my parents will say . . . *sigh*
Reply
:iconspuggey:
spuggey Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks. I was looking for advice on patterns made with minky... I suppose I've just gotta give it a go!
Reply
:iconsmugglemuffin:
SmuggleMuffin Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2014  Student General Artist
After sewing for 6 years and making plushies for 4, I completely agree with everything you said. You WILL mess up.
Reply
:iconsadhandle:
SadHandle Featured By Owner Edited Oct 25, 2014  Student Artisan Crafter
How do you attach tush tags if you want to make your own? I've just started making plushies and I think a tush tag would be so cute
Also, how do you attach plush heads with a ladder stitch?
Reply
:iconmagnastorm:
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
Tush tags are simply sewn into any seam you want. Stick one in between your two pieces of fabric along the seam line, sew normally and that's it. I don't use them since I machine embroider a signature on my plushies instead, but I've heard good things about Miss Label misslabel.com/label/pages/home…

Most of my plushie's heads are entirely separate from the body. Once both the head and body are done I pin the head in the position I want on the neck (that I leave open) and ladder stitch around the line where the neck and the head meet. I usually go around the neck twice for extra durability.
Reply
:iconsadhandle:
SadHandle Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2014  Student Artisan Crafter
Okay thanks so much, ypu were so helpful! I just made a little caterpie head and I had no idea how to attach to his body lol
Reply
:iconmedusagorgonse:
MedusagorgonSE Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2014  Student Artist
Is fleece good for making a huggable plushie?  And is it soft?
Reply
:iconmagnastorm:
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
A lot of people use fleece for plushies, it's actually what I started off with before switching over to minky. It's soft, but it doesn't have a pile like minky does.  It's also very stretchy so that has to be taken into consideration when making patterns and stuffing.
Reply
:iconmedusagorgonse:
MedusagorgonSE Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2014  Student Artist
Okay.  Thank you.  I'm trying to learn how to make plushies for all my friends so thank you again!
Reply
:iconzazzs1andonlygirl:
Zazzs1AndOnlyGirl Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
What about using flannel fabric to make plushies with?
Reply
:iconmagnastorm:
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
I would not recommend flannel. It has no stretch and frays, the complete opposite of what's desirable for plush work
Reply
:iconangeldelilahstarr:
AngelDelilahStarr Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2014
Hello, Elise! :) I just want to say thank you so much for posting this! :D *hugs* I have been making little stuffed animals for myself and for friends all throughout my childhood, and while these toys were very good considering that they were made without any pattern whatsoever and how young I was when these toys were made, now years later I find myself missing the art of plush making, and now I want to pick it up again, but this time with patterns, perhaps the sewing machine, embroidery (Something I always wanted to learn how to do anyway), and far more professional-looking results, and I feel that the wonderful advice and resources that you've so kindly laid out for us will help me to do just that with a lot of practice ^_^ so again, thank you much!!! :D
Reply
:iconmidnightdreamblast:
Midnightdreamblast Featured By Owner Edited Aug 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
My only question is:
If I use acrylic to paint fabric, Can I wash that fabric?
Thank you for all the tips! I´ll keep them in mind, always. This is really helpful to me.
Reply
:iconmagnastorm:
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
I've never tried washing plushies with painted details, so I don't know how it would turn out sorry. ):  I do worry that the acrylic would either wash off or bleed, so maybe using fabric paint would be a safer bet? Or if you're set on acrylic, do a test piece first and see if it holds up in the wash
Reply
:iconmidnightdreamblast:
Midnightdreamblast Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh, I see. Thanks a lot! I´ll try doing both.
Reply
:iconzeldafreak44:
zeldafreak44 Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Thank you so much for this reference guide. I've wanted to make my own plushes for a while but I never knew where to even start. I've made a few scary-bad plushes in the past but after I took up making amigurumi I never went back to sewing. This just opened up a whole new world of plush making for me. You have my eternal thanks.
Reply
:iconmagnastorm:
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
I'm glad this was helpful to you! ^^
Reply
:iconmarenmoo:
MarenMoo Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
thanks! i really hope this will help me with getting started with plushies! :)
Reply
:iconcredechica4:
credechica4 Featured By Owner May 17, 2014  Student Digital Artist
would u know how to make a tails plush?? I'm looking to make one 
Reply
:iconzombietox:
Zombietox Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Curious question you know anyplace/Book I could get and exaplains about gussets and darts?
Reply
:iconmagnastorm:
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
this awesome tutorial/guide talks about them near the bottom! fav.me/d7ampxx
Reply
:iconllycaon:
llycaon Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think this journal is really going to help me! Thanks for posting this :D
Reply
:iconsuperhetawholock:
superhetawholock Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2014  Student Artist
How do you sew your chibi plushies'  heads?
Reply
:iconmagnastorm:
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
All my plushies' heads are sewn onto their bodies by hand using a ladder stitch, the actual head itself is usually machine sewn unless it's super tiny and too small for my machine.
Reply
:iconsuperhetawholock:
superhetawholock Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2014  Student Artist
Oh! Thank you!
Reply
:iconillbuyyourocs:
IllBuyYourOCs Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2014
Thank you for the tutorial vuv
Reply
:iconstargazer1300:
Stargazer1300 Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I was thinking about maybe trying my hand at plushies sometime soon, but I don't know where to start. I have only ever worked with clay and pencils, never fabric or needles or sharp things. I received a fancy sewing machine a few birthdays ago, but I don't know how to work it that well Sweating a little...  This page helped me out, and I just wanted to thank you personally. Actually, part of posting this was just to get it off my mind. Thanks! :) (Smile) 
Reply
:iconcrescentmoon96:
CrescentMoon96 Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
Do you have an example of your chibi human? I just wanna see how I should attach things. :)
Reply
:iconmagnastorm:
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
These show them pretty well 
Teen Titan! by MagnaStorm
The arms are sewn into the neck seam 
Reply
:iconcrescentmoon96:
CrescentMoon96 Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
Thank you!! It really helps to see a model. :D
Reply
:iconzavrongears:
ZavronGears Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013
I gotta say, getting started kinda has me discouraged or at least afraid. I know, I know, "I shouldn't compare myself to others" But it's REALLY HARD. I look all around and I'm seeing so many amazing pieces that I start to question my own work BEFORE I've even attempted it. I have an idea for a gift but i'm scared and nervous about my first piece being made. I think I just need to go out there and make it, if it sucks then it sucks, otherwise I won't get anywhere... Maybe this page was what I needed to get me started, I already have most of it planned out (it is a goomba so it's pretty simplistic) and I guess all that's left is getting materials. Sorry for the lengthy post, I use this to help my mind out, plus posting makes me feel a bit better about it. Thanks for the post though, really helped me out.
Reply
:iconmagnastorm:
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
Not comparing your own work with others is hard. But instead of looking at other people's work and thinking "they're so much better than me", think "look at how good I can get". We all started the same place with no experience. I managed to botch a 4 piece round plush for my first attempt at plush making(the pink Haro) fav.me/d3382t3 . Now almost 10 years later I make plush toys as a living. So just keep sewing, it takes time but it's worth it!
Reply
:icontheturtleduckman:
TheTurtleDuckMan Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
i'm the exception cuz i said "i feel like drawing a fusemon today" so i did and it came out great here it is theturtleduckman.deviantart.co…

now im in the middle of making my first plushy and it's coming along great
Reply
:iconflareice:
Flareice Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow!  Thank you so much for publishing this journal, I just read it a few minutes ago and it's already been a lot of help and I haven't even started plushie-making yet!  'Course, I'm still a bit lost, but that's only because I only started researching this half an hour ago on a whim.
Reply
:iconkingofsouls:
Kingofsouls Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2013
This is a good place for me to start! Thank you!
Reply
:icongreyscalerainbowxx:
GreyscaleRainbowXx Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
One question I have about plush making is that when I'm drafting patterns and making plushies, I have a problem with properly attaching the ears to the plush. I try sewing them in when I sew the head pieces together but they end up not in the right spot or too deep into the head when it is turned and don't have that nice curved shape. I have heard that some people secure the ears on the head after turning and stuffing but would they be secure enough? And how would you hide the stitches if it's not fur? I can understand cuddle fleece and some other fluffy fabrics would hide those seams well if done right, but if the ear is curled in like a rabbit's for example, wouldn't those be harder to secure or hide the seams are if that technique is used on smoother fabrics? Sorry if my question is confusing, it's just something I've had trouble with, especially since I've tried making my own pony pattern and don't like the look of ears in the same piece as the head as opposed to them being a separate shape. I can't seem to get the ears in the right spot when using the sew before turning the head technique.
Reply
:iconmagnastorm:
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
both methods are valid ways to attach the ears! If I'm sewing the ears in the head's side seam I'll mark the exact position I want the ears on the pattern (usually a dot for top and another for bottom) which I transfer to my fabric pieces with a fade-away fabric marker. However like you said the ears turn out pretty flat this way. Hand sewing them on after the head is done is a good way to give them more dimension. If you use good thread hand sewing the ears on should be resistant. I use a ladder stitch whenever I'm hand sewing pieces together since it hides really well, but I'm not sure it would work well for super smooth fabrics. Though I'm sure there's other types of hidden stitches that could be used! 
Reply
:icongreyscalerainbowxx:
GreyscaleRainbowXx Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for your advice that really helps and I apologize for never getting back to your comment! I'm so bad at keeping up with my DA page these days I'm trying to get better at it! ^^; I think I'll see what sewing them on after does for me since I mostly use fur or cuddle fleece anyway, so the stitches should be easy to hide!
Reply
:icondigigirl789:
digigirl789 Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2013   Artist
any tips for drafting a pattern for demiveemon? I know are tired of answering the same questions over and over. Have you ever thought about  selling an eBook on pattern making?
Reply
:iconmagnastorm:
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
I don't think I would write a very good book since I do a large part of my pattern drafting by trial and error ahah. I can give a little bit of help with deconstructing shapes, but not much after that. 
When I start drafting a pattern, if I'm really unsure of what I'm doing I'll start by drawing a full front and profile view at the size I want the finished plush to be to give me a better feel of what I'm dealing with. From there, I start looking for basic shapes. For DemiVeemon, his head is a sphere, his body is an oval, and things like his ears, arms and legs can all be done using two pieces of the same shape. Once I got that figured out, I make and test patterns based on what I deconstructed then make any necessary adjustments before moving on to the final plush.

A good read about pattern drafting would also be *pheleon's pattern drafting tutorial pheleon.deviantart.com/art/How…  . It focuses on human plushies, but everything she says also applies to creatures/animals/etc :) 
Reply
:icondigigirl789:
digigirl789 Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2013   Artist
Thanks. How did you design the belly piece for your Wolpertingers. I would like animals that stand on two legs, but I do not know how to design a animal in that manner without attaching the legs with joints.  
Reply
:iconmagnastorm:
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
You can actually view my chibi Wolpertinger pattern, specifically the body, right here fav.me/d4m96ll and you can see how it was put together by following the tutorial here fav.me/d4m95zk  (However an even easier way to put the leg piece together that I only figured out after making the tutorial is to sew the side seam first(but not the butt or back) then sew the inner leg part to the curve).
Basically all you need is a matching curve in the inner leg part and belly to have the leg connected to the body.  
Reply
:iconsapphire-stitch:
Sapphire-Stitch Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
The thing I have the most trouble with when making pony plushies is getting the hooves flat. They bulge out and I just don't know how to fix that.
Are there any tips out there explaining this?
Cheers!
Reply
:iconmagnastorm:
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
I don't really go for the super flat hooves or feet on any of my plushies, but I think a way you could get it done would be by placing something like a cardboard disk at the bottom of the hooves or by using something more malleable like poly pellets 
Reply
:iconsapphire-stitch:
Sapphire-Stitch Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thanks for that.
:)
Reply
:iconchanice0:
chanice0 Featured By Owner May 16, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Can you please tell me how to make a pattern or at least how you do it because im currently looking to make a snow leopard based plush and i'm stuck on the pattern what do you think i should do?
Reply
:iconmagnastorm:
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner May 16, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
Check out this tutorial [link], which was the first link at the bottom of the journal. She uses human plushies as examples, but it covers the basics of plush pattern drafting.
Reply
:iconchanice0:
chanice0 Featured By Owner May 17, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks soo much for the link but i'd also love to know any tips you may have for me to learn how to make proper animal plushies if you can't though i'll understand. :)
Reply
:icondigigirl789:
digigirl789 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013   Artist
Do you have any tips for making removeable clothing for pony.
Reply
Add a Comment: