Meet Wimbley, he's an ul. I've made this fellow for my boyfriends birthday. It might seam strange to gift a 24 year old man a stuffed toy on his birthday, but Wimbley just had to be made. We've had another owl toy, Wembley, for almost two years now and he seemed lonely. We thought it best to reunite him with his family. We could not have forseen the family feud that followed. Their mother unfortunately named her children after the vowels of the alphabet. The brand of stuffed toys however only sold four different owl toys of the same design. I had to improvise to find the fifth family member.
|Our collection of Wild republic owls: left to right: Wombley, Wumbley, Wambley and Wembley|
These excellent stuffed animals are made by Wild Republic. The brand advertises them as cuddlekins, and they are purposefully under stuffed. This, paired with their uniqueness (all of their toys are different and many look kind of off or ugly) gives them a unique level of expression. They've also got large flappy weighted wings, these are wonderful in a toy to play around with. They make the owls somehow come alive more. They certainly have a large impact on other people. Most claim that (Wembley in particular) looks menacing and deranged when they meet him. We got so used to how he looks that he just seems slightly stupid to us now.
The decision was simple, I needed to copy our first owl, to make the last owl brother Wimbley. He had to be blue, we knew that too. Here's some pictures and words about the creation process. You can basically use it to copy every project you want.
|for the wing I just traced it round from the original,|
then I added seam allowance and pattern marks
I started out by measuring the first owl thoroughly. I used the seams to determine how my pattern pieces should look. You can also just trace pattern paper on top of around shapes in the fabric. (I did that with the wings.) I found that it's more accurate to measure up the rounded pattern pieces yourself, you want the pieces to fit into each other and tracing them isn't always accurate enough. I usually did a sketch of how the piece should look and measured along the seams. I then filled these in along the seams I had drawn. I tried this in pencil on pattern paper and made sure to check the measurement across at some points to. This ensures that the pieces have enough body to them too.
|Wembley chilling out surroundedd by suplies for his brother|
When making stuffed toys you need a surprising amount of extras. I purchased some animal eyes, some felt, some stuffing and some blue hair to accessorise my owl. The upside is that you can make them out off all of your leftover fabrics, and still have fabric to spare. I chose a withe towel fabric and velour the pane fabrics for the largest parts of the owl. I also needed a plain blue and cut up an old dress I once made for it.
The cutting process took the most time by far. There where almost 20 pattern pieces (almost all rather small) and I had to interline the stretchable fabric I used with a cotton since I didn't want him to lose shape immediately. So I laid out some old cotton and put the fashion fabrics on top and cut both at the same time. This had to be done precisely since the stretchy fabric wanted to spring back and shrink on me all the time. I also used eight different fabrics which made my life unnecessarily difficult.
|Wombley is helping me arrange the pattern pieces by fabric|
|cutting out fabric on top of interfacing, pattern layout for the main and secondary fabric|
Since the original owl has a shaded tummy and I didn't have any fabric that would do, I decided to paint some white fabric with green and blue ink. I rather like the result. Since I've made permanent stains with this by accident before, I'm rather confident that the colour will stay. It also enabled me to give a personal touch, keeping in mind which part of the fabric would become which part of the body. I really like the overall result.
The construction was rather fun, since I like puzzles and this felt like a rather intricate 3D one. I decided not to over think the process and I think that was a good decision. I started of with the smaller parts and then atatched those one by one. In stuffed animals it's important to leave some room to stuff your toy and to turn it right side out in the end, This is most convinient in the back or at the bottom of the toy. This room cant however be to big or small lest you ruin your seams or the ability to turn the piece inside out.
|wing outline before turning right side out|
I started the individual flat pieces, wings an tail. The wings have a little bag filled with some small round weights in them. I substituted this for pepper balls, which might have been a mistake since wimbley smells faintly of pepper all the time now. these bags where filled, then stitched shut and stitched onto the cotton interlining only. I then put the good sides of the wing together on the inside and stitched the side seam, Turned everything inside out and top stitched the feathers on top.
|securing the beak by hand (wrong side showing)|
|cute owl nose|
|face under construction|
|face parts ready!|
I then continued with the face. since it's made up out of a lot of very curvy pieces (cutting in to make it curve really does pay off!) I put together the eye pieces first, then attached them to the nose piece as a whole. The nose/beak I just stitched, turned inside out, stuffed and slit through a slit in the nose piece. I then stitched it in place by hand. I've noticed that it's often easiest to prestuff certain smaller parts of the stuffed animal, since you will not have the same opportunity to do it as thoroughly later on and it makes it a lot easier to just stitch it in place.
|after attaching the eyes|
The next step is a delicate one: placing the eyes. If you do this wrong your animal can look really cross eyed! Since my eyes where a bit to small for my taste I added a round of felt arond them. I just made a hole in the felt and pushed the eyesocket through, then cut around the eye in an even circle. To place the eyes I measured 1,5 cm in from the point of the eye patch and 1,5 from top and bottom (in the middle). I marked this spot and punched a small hole. Then it's just a matter of pushing the eye completley through and securing it.
|browflap attached, looking confused|
|back view of the head before attaching the back of the head|
|finished pieces awaiting assembley|
I then did the brow piece, which I later attached to the face. The brow flap became straigth after that. To insert the hair I just cut the upper fabric open and sandwiched the hair in between stitching it shut with a very small seam allowance and zigzagging that into place. Do not do this with fabric that will fray easily, you would have to adjust the pattern pieces then. The brow piece was attached with hand stitches in front and just held in place by a quick machine stitch at the bottom. I then added the back of the head and collar pieces.
|attaching the leg|
|one leg attached, right side, you can see the hole for the other leg|
|legs attached wrong side|
Next in line was the construction of the body. I had given myself a larger seam allowance here, since the pieces weren't as fiddly. I attached the sides to the belly pieces first (side and bottom) and then decided to make the feet. This turned out to be the most challenging of the entire process. I hand basted thee larger pattern piece onto the sole of the foot and then machine stitched it in place. I cut a cross where the leg needs to be attached, turned the foot right side out and stuffed it. I then hand stitched the leg into place, starting at the side leg seam and ending by doing that seam to. I then stuffed the leg too. I then pulled the legs around 1cm through the holes that where now visible in the belly pieces and attached the legs by hand. I felt that pre stuffing them really helped manipulate them and gave me the opportunity to get them stuffed exactly the way I wanted it.
|attaching the wing by sandwiching it between the back piece|
|finished pieces ready to be assembled. Note the gap in the center back seem for filling|
I pinned and mostly stitched the belly to the collar piece (leaving room for the side seams). I inserted the wings into the back pieces at this point (again by just slicing the fabric open and sandwiching the wings in between. I did the centre back seam first but I left enough room in the centre to fit my hand through comfortably, I just wanted the upper and lower part of the seam done so I could rely on the finished length of those horizontal seams. I attached the sides to the belly parts and then finished by attaching the head to the body and sandwiching the tail part in between the belly and the back. I had to figure out where to put the wings in this process (I ended up letting them out of the back hole).
|wrong side out, wings coming through|
|Halfway out, looking blown away|
|In desperate need of stuffing!|
After that I was just a matter of turning things right side out and stuffing some stuffing inside. Then I closed off the back seam with some more hand stitching.
|My lovley assistant Wombley|
I like how this project has turned out a lot. He looks exactly how I wanted him to look. Making stuffed animals involves more hand stitching than I thought it would, but I don't really mind doing it so that's fine. I'm glad that I stuffed certain parts before attaching them to the main body. I've learnt that the order of working can be crucial while working with these fiddly pieces especially in the extremity's but I'm glad I got the feet attached securely in this project. (I found out the hard way while making Kermit once upon a time..). Most importantly my boyfriend loved his gift (although he complains of the peppery smell) good thing he's not allergic. I think the finished product is actually sturdy enough for a child to play with, which encourages me for future projects (or in the hope of avoiding those emergency "my favourite toy is gone and I will never be happy again" moments in a child's life).
I might upload a scan of the pattern pieces, if somebody would be interested. Just comment below if you are.
Labels: copy cat, crafts, owl toy, pattern, stuffed toy, Wild Republic