Do-it-yourself seems to be the Portland way. With endless craft fairs, online shops like lov.li
, and recycling havens such as SCRAP
, I don't have to forage very far to feed my crafting addiction, and I have an endless supply of inspiration. Usually when something sparks my interest, I jump in full-force and start searching out everything I can get my hands on. Lately, I've been obsessed with plush toys.
Luckily for me, softies seem to be experiencing a resurgence in popularity, and there are some fantastic how-to books on the market. Therese Lasky's Softies: Simple Instructions for 25 Plush Pals (which was one of last year's bestselling craft books at Powell's City of Books) and Linda Kopp's Plush-O-Rama were so popular, their publishers released packaged kits complete with fabric and patterns. Still other publishers are getting wise to the softy revolution, publishing English translations of popular Japanese crafting books. Whether you're into amigurumi, Aranzi Aronzo, or Sock and Glove, I can't recommend these books enough.
The first softy I made was Owly, from Lucinda Guy's And So to Bed. I love Guy's knitting books ? she has two beautiful knitting books of children's clothes and toys, and recently released Crochet Designs for Kids ? and I knew I had to make Owly the first time I picked up her book of bedtime-themed handknits.
However, knitting can be a time-consuming endeavor, so I pulled out the sewing machine and vowed to teach myself a faster trade. (I also wanted to break into the stash of fabrics that keeps threatening to take over a corner of my room.) There are several ways to go about creating stuffed creatures, and I've narrowed it down to two options: cute or monster.
Jess Redman and Meg Leder's Softies Only a Mother Could Love is my inspiration for cute. This book is filled with fantastic projects for using up irresistible printed fabrics and stylish buttons, and also encourages a little embroidery. It features such a variety of shapes and styles, I had a hard time deciding on only one pattern. In the end, I went with a combination of the bear's body with the monkey's bibs. I haven't made a sewing project since eighth-grade Home Ec., but I found these directions straightforward enough for a novice and the designs easy to modify. I can already tell I'm hooked on cute softies.
For my best friend, I decided to go more the monster route. I fell in love with Veronika Alice Gunter's Invasion of the Plush Monsters! and found myself combining aspects of several designs to come up with the perfect monster. He has big ears like a Gremlin, a hollow belly for stashing treats, and a sweet lopsided nature. Secretly, I wasn't sure that I'd be able to pull off the inner lining, but with colored diagrams and detailed instructions, it was no problem. I've studied more craft books than I could count, and I have to say this book has the best layout and design for the newbie sewer.
I'll be making the monster helmets next.