Mariska Vos-Bolman is the designer behind Fluffles and DIY Fluffies soft toy brands. She is also the author of Sew Cute to Cuddle, a book with twelve original patterns for you to sew. Find Mariska’s patterns on her site or via Etsy, and learn more about her latest work via Mariska’s blog and Facebook page.
We asked Mariska to give us her top 10 Expert Tips for Sewing Softies for our Six Weeks of LOVE for Softies series. Add your favorite tips in the comments below!
1. Take your time stuffing!
A softie needs to be stuffed; this is a very important part in creating a softie. If you sewed your softie very well but you don’t stuff it well, your softie just won’t look as nice. Take your time when stuffing your toy and use a lot of stuffing to give it a nice round shape. Use tools like a chopstick to get the stuffing into the right places. A chopstick also helps when stuffing very narrow parts. Be sure you use a good quality stuffing; it needs to bounce and be very soft!
2. Air Erasable Pens
A great tool when creating softies is the air erasable pen, especially if you need to put eyes or other parts in front of your fabric. You can use the pen to get all your marks on your softie and they will just disappear. I love this tool! To get the pattern on the back of cotton fabric I still prefer a 6b pencil. But this is great for the front of cotton and for fleece.
New to sewing softies? Try using fleece. Fleece is a very easy material to work it. If your sewing is not great yet it won’t show on the outside of your toy. Fleece is very soft and stretchy as well, which is helpful for round, cuddly friends. Fleece is not expensive and is available in many colors.
4. Close your turning holes with a ladder stitch.
The best way to invisibly close a turning hole (the hole you used to turn your softie right side out and stuff it) is with the ladder stitch. After a bit of practice, you won’t see where the turning hole was!
5. Use a soft, regular pencil to get your pattern on the fabric.
With a soft pencil (6b) you can draw on cotton fabric easily and very precisely! You won’t notice it on the other side of the fabric. It is much more precise then markers or chalk.
6. Use a chopstick for turning small pieces right side out and stuffing.
Do you find it difficult to turn long small pieces right side out? Use a chopstick! I have a video tutorial on YouTube showing how to use it. A chopstick is also a great tool for stuffing!
7. Use an open toe applique foot when sewing softies.
I almost always have an open toe applique foot on my sewing machine. When sewing soft toys you may need to sew many narrow parts with lots of shapes (i.e. toes). The pattern lines are much easier to see with an open toe applique foot.
8. Glue eyes and other small parts on before sewing.
It is hard to pin eyes or nostrils onto a face before you sew them, but you do want to be sure they are on the right spot. I recommend using fabric glue to get those small parts on the correct place before sewing them. That will keep them in place and you can sew through the glue when it is dry.
9. Trim your seam allowance.
Trim seam allowances before turning a softie right side out. This will give the softie a much smoother shape after stuffing. You can also notch the curves as well.
10. Save your scraps!
Soft toys have lots of small parts, like ears, feet, arms, etc., so save your fabric scraps; you never now when you might need them. It is great to have lots of scraps to choose from.