Monday, September 22, 2008

hint #8

I haven't posted any hints in a long time, so here's a little advice on something I was thinking about this morning.

Stuffing a knit toy properly goes a long way to making the toy look great, and it's not quite as simple as it might seem. Stuffing a cloth or crocheted toy is much easier, because the fabric is not stretchy, so you just stuff until you can't fit any more, and the finished toy should end up the shape you intended. However, knitted fabric is very stretchy, even when knitted on smaller needles, as my toys are. So if you don't get the stuffing quite right, the finished toy can look lumpy or with strangely shaped body parts.

The type of stuffing you have will make a big difference as to how you go about stuffing the toy. I've only ever used polyester fibre fill, because that's what I can get, so my discussion will be limited to that. If you've used cotton or wool stuffing, feel free to leave a comment about how those work. Polyester stuffing tends to be either light and springy, or soft and dense. I like the springy kind because it's less lumpy and the toy ends up squishier. The soft kind will pack in tighter, giving your toy more weight.

With the springy stuffing, you can just pull off a chunk thats about 1/3 to 1/2 bigger than the piece you're stuffing, stuff it into the body part, and squish it around until the shape seems right. Adding extra bits if you haven't enough rarely leaves lumps on the surface. Adding a bit extra in the nose and for round cheeks makes the head look much nicer, rather than just having a round or oblong blob.

With the soft kind of stuffing, you'll want to pull off a chunk, and roll it around in your hands until it seems about the right size and shape for whatever piece you're stuffing. If you need a bit more, be careful how you add it so you don't end up with lumps. Then carefully put the stuffing into the body part so it fills it out evenly. If you're stuffing a bunny leg, you can do it with two pieces: one for the foot, and one for the leg, squishing the stuffing around a bit so there's no obvious gap between the two.

If you notice any lumps after you've sewn the piece closed, you can use a darning needle as a sort of lever to smooth out the stuffing. Just insert the needle into the lump, and wiggle it into a better position. It does take some practice to get it just right the first time, so try not to get frustrated!

With either kind of stuffing, you'll want to make sure you don't over-stuff the pieces, because the stuffing will show through the knit fabric and look ugly. You won't be able to get a very firm toy with a knit fabric, but I find knitted toys to be quite squishy and cuddly, which is good in it's own way :)


Unknown said...

Thanks for the hints. I've used wool roving to stuff some on my wool critters and it works very well, too.

AmberO at Sleeping is for Sissies said...

I am so glad to actually see a description of how to do this. I've seen lots of toy patterns and none describe how to put in the stuffing. I guess it should be obvious, but it's not to me! (At least, I never could get it looking good.)

Tabatha said...

Oh, this is very helpful. Thank you.

BopBop said...

I gave only made 1 knit toy but, I have made lots of crocheted toys. I find the crocheted toys do stretch quite a bit, partially due to the fact I crochet a little loose, but also just the nature of the stitch worked in the round.
I jsut wanted to add that to your note since you said it doesn't stretch a lot and it's not really true.

However I felt like my knitted toy showed every increase since I used the "bar" increase instead of a kfb. So they both stretch quite a bit.
Your tips are great! I can't wait to read some more! I jsut found your blog! lol