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All patterns are written assuming that the reader has a basic understanding of crochet and amigurumi, IE: working in rounds, sc increase and decrease, basic understanding of construction of the parts.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tips line #1 - Take your time!

I've had alot of requests for tips and ideas on making plushies. I have alot of them, but if you asked me what is the one most important thing about making plushies it would be the one that is the simplest in its concept, but the most difficult in its application: TAKE YOUR TIME.

I know how hard it is to slow down when you're excited about seeing the results. You've worked carefully and diligently on creating the various parts, you've followed the pattern to the letter - and now you just want to see it finished! But this is most often the biggest mistake we make.

In nearly every pattern I post or write, I state that I highly recommend taking the time to pin all the parts on before you sew any of them on. Think about this: if you were sewing together a dress, you wouldn't sew it together until you had pinned it together - and the same applies to making plushies.

What will pinning do for you? Well first and foremost, it lets you see whether you've gotten all the parts done correctly and that they all fit together. Secondly, it will allow you to gauge exactly how you want the parts positioned... arms further apart, legs higher up, head turned to one side a little.... it gives you room to make your plushie unique and special.

What kind of pins you use is up to you (or just what you have). I like using the longer straight pins with the plastic ball ends. Pinning crochet with the standard short, flat headed pins can be difficult, not to mention the pins are easily lost in your pieces. Try to pick pins with colors that can be easily seen against the color of the pieces you're working on... white on white isn't as easy to see.

After you have all your pieces pinned on, set your piece down somewhere highly visible and just look at it. View it from all sides and from different distances (sometimes a few feet back makes placement mistakes very visible). Don't hesitate to re-pin a part and then back up and look again. Sometimes I'll just look at a pinned plushie for a couple of days, because *something* isn't right, I just can't figure out what exactly it is. After a day or two of re-pinning and looking at it, I find the problem. It's amazing what one arm being an eighth of an inch too high or low can do to the over-all appearance of the finished plushie.

Once you're certain you have it like you want the finished plushie to look, then sew. Sewing order is up to you, I tend to start with the larger pieces, and work my way thru to the smallest. This way, I can make any last minute adjustments to the smaller pieces , in the event that I see the need for it.

Take your pins out as you sew. Leave the other pins in till you reach them. This way, your manipulations while sewing won't cause the part you are sewing to go all crooked. Try using a 'curved' sewing needle for sewing on those difficult right-angle pieces like arms and legs. You can buy them easily in any sewing dept, they're usually in the quilting or upholstery sections. Those needles are one of the more handy items to use, I have several and use them on every plushie. They help you to sew the parts on, without as much bending or moving, and that results in fewer 'crooked' parts.

Finally, when you've sewn all your parts and pieces ... don't forget to check that all the pins have been removed! It's not the surprise one wants when hugging a lovely plushie, to end up being stabbed by a wayward pin. I should know, I'm the one that got stabbed when I forgot to remove all the pins. :)

For alot of people, I know that slowing down and taking these extra steps sounds like torture. But impatience is "Public Enemy: #1" when it comes to sewing your plushies together. Don't let the enemy win! Steele yourself to the knowledge that by slowing down, pinning, evaluating and re-pinning and only then sewing.... you'll end up with more of the perfect plushies you work so hard to make and you'll always be happier with your results!

Have fun... and "Plush on!"
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