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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...
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… . 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… . 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;
-Minky shopping list by PlanetPlush (my personal favorites are fabricdepot and theminkyboutique)
-CR's crafts: for suede, doll joints, some fur, and a whole lot of other things
-Glass eyes online: plastic eyes, safety eyes and noses, doll joints
-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)…

-Pheleon's pattern drafing lesson part 1 and 2
-Simply-Plush's patterr/tutorials colelction…
-Plushie-Database's pattern/plush collections:…
-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)…
-Voodoo-Tiki's beginer pony tutorial: (she also has a few other tutorials check them out! )
-valleyviolet, need I say more?
-cute patterns
-Kirby pattern by Kat-Aclysm:…

Other useful things
- plush forum
-satin stitching tutorial by usako-chan…
-My Tribble tutorial, which is really a 'how to work with fur' tutorial 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 and her painted eye tutorial
ThisUsernameFails's needle sculpting tutorial
- nfasel's polymer clay eyes tutorial
- dollphinwing's eye tutorial

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:
FireBreath128 Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Aight so i gave myself like 2 weeks to just make sure if i really wanted to make a plushie. And its been two weeks and i started. My first one i took ur advice i made a ball, which i fucked up, but then i did another one. Thats what i got. Although im having trouble with how to stitch the part where i stuff it since i cant make it inside out anymore xD
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2015  Professional Artisan Crafter
To close the stuffing hole use a ladder stitch!…
VulpineFury Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015
The Babylondonstar links are dead, btw.
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2015  Professional Artisan Crafter
Ah that's a shame, thanks for letting me know, I'll remove them
SideQuestPubs Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
On the subject of practice, my big problem with making plushies, just like doing wood carving or jewelry making, as opposed to digital arts like using my computer to write, has always been about "using up" materials--no "undo" button if I make a mistake. ;)
But you're absolutely right, everything requires practice if I want to get good at it.

On the subject of plushies in particular, my first problem is one of finding patterns or tutorials that are specific enough to tell me how to do the job, but are still compatible with the changes I need to make. I think that "master list" of the common shapes CosmicRhapsody mentioned would be useful if anyone's made any such list.
Although.... looks like I'll need to learn to draw better if I ever plan to make my own patterns for woodcarving or pendants, it's no surprise I'd need the same for plushies.
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2015  Professional Artisan Crafter
this is a pattern list I came across recently;…
All patterns can be modified, it's just a matter of planning and figuring out where your changes fit before starting the plush
SideQuestPubs Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Ooh, thanks. I went and bookmarked that list, as well as several of the links on it.
I might have to start with an MLP Pegasus pattern and adapt it for one plushie, though, at least at the start--I want to do a winged stag, but most patterns I find for deer and for birds tend to be such wildly different styles that the patterns simply won't match up. ^^; But that list still looks like it'll be useful in the long run once I really get going with other patterns.
CosmicRhapsody Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2015
Does anyone know where I can find a free master list of all the flat shapes commonly used to make plush toys and how to put them together?

That would be awesome!...Or would it just be cheating?
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2015  Professional Artisan Crafter
there's some lists floating around, but your best bet would be to google whatever pattern you're searching for to see the most results.
One list I've recently come across is this one, which seems to be a good starting point…
drtoucan Featured By Owner Edited Jul 12, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
First of all thanks for the article.
So I took someones image of a Pumpkaboo and I plan on printing it and using it as a template for a plushie. My plane was to cut out fleece in the shape of the images I made, backstictch them together and then fill. I assume that I only need to worry about "spheres" when trying to make the sphere from one solid piece, but if I am using two halves stitched together then just cutting out the pokemon's outline would be ok?

MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2015  Professional Artisan Crafter
Using the image as a starting point is totally alright, but it probably won't work perfectly just as-is. When you're stuffing, you're adding a 3rd dimension to a 2d piece. That thickness has to come from somewhere, so you'll need to add some ease to your pattern for that or else your plush will turn out warped and too short or narrow(if not both). The best way to figure out where you need to modify your shape would be to make a prototype with the image you linked. Then once that's done you can determine the areas that need to be modified and make your final version.
BirdOfDeStars Featured By Owner Edited Jul 10, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Questions: Is it possible to get gradients on plushies without fabric that's already a gradient? I want to plush this character ( for a contest, but I'm at a loss on how to do the gradients.
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2015  Professional Artisan Crafter
One alternative to dyeing would be airbrushing, but that requires a whole slew of specific equipment and techniques.
The other would be to get your patterns printed directly on minky through
Otherwise I'd recommend making the gradients into solid color changes, but add purple between the pink and blue to give the illusion of a gradient
TheBigBunearyfan901 Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the tutorial, MangaStorm. I would like to create pokemon plush toys from the closest quality to professional plush toy makers from companies. i've got 3 questions:

1: is it possible to create a store-quality plush with enough money and material?

2: can i use construction shapes such as templates to a character?

3: do you have to learn geometry to create a plush (not meant to be all finicky).

I hope the cute pokemon plush toy tutorials like buneary and others will be posted soon from other professional users :)
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2015  Professional Artisan Crafter
1- while good materials are a good start to making high quality plushies, you'll need a lot of experience and trial and error to get there.

2-not sure what you mean by that? like patterns? Definitely make paper patterns and save them, if you're looking to make high quality plushies odds are you'll want to revise them several times.

3- Geometry is a must, which is why I recommend starting with making basic shapes like spheres. Everything can be broken down to basic shapes, and knowing how they work on their own before you try to make them work together is important. 
TECHNOPONYBOT Featured By Owner May 23, 2015  Student Artist
what kind of paint do you prefer for painting the faces? I just started and I have no idea what kind of paint I should use.
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner May 24, 2015  Professional Artisan Crafter
When I used to paint faces I always used acrylics. I don't recommend painting directly on fuzzy fabric like fleece and minky, I would applique some high quality felt in the shape of the features and paint that instead.
Alyshywolfyarty Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2015  Student Digital Artist
ahh dis is amazing thank chu for de help x3
DriftingBlackfoot Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Hey there, I'm planning on taking a crack at making a plushie, actually three to be exact, though it's my first time doing this. I make costumes sometimes during my free time, especially if I have the hit of inspiration.

I was gonna attempt to do one of my OCs because he has quite a few basic colors, gray, tan, red, black, and white. But I deemed him a little too difficult for a first time, especially since he's human and I had a chibi design in mind.

I decided to save him for a later date and chose three characters that seemed quite simple. All three of which are FNAF character: Golden Freddy, Mangle, and Springtrap, who I had originally planned to do alone until one of my friends asked if I could possibly do Goldie, and I secretly planned to do Mangle for another friend.

I guess my question is, any advice? 

The tutorial you gave is actually fairly useful with materials and stuff, but I'm not sure how to get started.
digigirl789 Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2015   Artist
How did you add a gusset to plushies with round heads like Gatomon and that Sparks plushies that you made? I never seen many people use that technique. Any way you explain  method for creating that type of pattern? 
Xchibi-nikki-chanX Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2015
I googled "what are plushies made from" and you were the first result. I was thinking fleece with felt accents, so I'm on the right track! Thanks for the advice! I'm going to bookmark this page for future reference!
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 :)
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*
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!
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.
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?
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…

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.
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
MedusagorgonSE Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2014  Student Artist
Is fleece good for making a huggable plushie?  And is it soft?
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.
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!
Zazzs1AndOnlyGirl Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
What about using flannel fabric to make plushies with?
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
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
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.
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
Midnightdreamblast Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh, I see. Thanks a lot! I´ll try doing both.
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.
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
I'm glad this was helpful to you! ^^
MarenMoo Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
thanks! i really hope this will help me with getting started with plushies! :)
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 
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?
MagnaStorm Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
this awesome tutorial/guide talks about them near the bottom!
toastypup Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think this journal is really going to help me! Thanks for posting this :D
superhetawholock Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2014  Student Artist
How do you sew your chibi plushies'  heads?
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.
superhetawholock Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2014  Student Artist
Oh! Thank you!
IllBuyYourOCs Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2014
Thank you for the tutorial vuv
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) 
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. :)
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