Editor's Note: This series of posts became a book!
Stuffed Animals: From Concept to Construction was published by Lark Crafts in 2013.
Two and a half years ago I was at Barnes and Noble with Charlie looking in the craft book aisle. I was looking for a book on soft toy design. I looked and looked, but to no avail. The book I was looking for – one that would describe in detail how to design your own, original soft toy patterns – was not there. Did not seem to exist, in fact. So I set out to write it.
For a variety of reasons, The Artful Bird came first. And I'm so glad it did because I loved creating and it and I learned so much about how to make a book in the process.
And today I am very excited to tell you that I have accepted an offer from Lark books to write a book on soft toy design! This is the book I have always wanted to write, the book I feel I was meant to write. I have had so much fun with the Elements of Soft Toy Design series here on the blog and it is a dream come true to have the opportunity to turn this series into a book.
I'm thrilled to be working with Lark on this project and I'm just so excited to begin. Thank you for all of your enthusiasm about my series. I hope the book will be one that you will value as a reference when you are doing your own design work!
Great news! Can’t wait to read it 🙂
Caren Adams says
I was reading up on the Elements series at 4am this morning (feeding the baby) thinking “this should be published”! I’m so jazzed for you – this is awesome! Seriously jazzed! Hey, do you ever have a problem with curves being wrinkly when you stuff them? I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. If you know what I’m talking about, let me know, ok? Thanks. And congratulations!!!!!!
Wow! So cool. I just experimented with my first stuffed bird a few weeks ago (very very simple compared to yours) and made good use of your tips about stuffing.
I think a new book is mightily deserved and welcome!!
I’m sure it is going to be a fabulous book. The series has been incredibly interesting and I can’t wait to try designing my first proper toy (other than a rectangle sewn together with felt on top). I can’t wait to see it when it comes out.
Martha Winger says
Congratulations! It will be so nice to have all your wonderful techniques in one place. The penguin series is brilliant, by the way. They look completely real.
I am a constant reader but have never commented before. I have also been following this series closely and was thinking to myself yesterday that it should be a book. Huzzah! Many congratulations to you! I can’t wait to have a copy in my hands (even though I work in publishing and realize we’re probably a few years away from the finished project)!
Congrats – how exciting for you! This seems to come at a perfect time in your crafty process. I’m looking forward to seeing what kinds of soft toys you come up with! The penguins are just so lovely.
Kit Lang says
Many congratulations to you, and I can’t wait to purchase it!
Congratulations!! I wish I could pre-order it right now.
I may have mentioned once or twice (including on my blog) that your softies series should be a book, so I am over the moon that is is happening and will be preordering the second it is available.
In person right now I’d let out a little squeal and give you a squeezy hug, so you’ll just have imagine that bit.
Caitlin Betsy Bell says
how wonderful! I have really enjoyed reading your tips on this blog. congrats!
Congratulations! This is great news! It is just a natural progression from your Elements of Soft Toy Design series to a book! I’ve enjoyed your series very much, and I’m thrilled for you!
Congratulations Abby. I will certainly be adding this to my library. I am really enjoying those penguins.
awesome, when you started this series “book” was the first thing that entered my mind. so glad to hear the news!
Congratulations – I’ll be one of the first to pre-order!
Melissa Crowe says
Ooh–I knew this was coming! I’m so excited for you!
Beth Grim says
I was excited to leave a comment, but so many folks beat me to it! Congratulations! I was hoping you’d put this series into a book. I don’t buy many books, but you can bet I’ll be pre-ordering this one! Yay…The neat thing about your blog posts, is that I can already see how well done your book will be, and containing exactly the information I’m interested in.
Jody Herbert says
I think that is fantastic! Can’t wait to be able to buy a copy of the book. Well done!
That’s wonderful news. Congratulations.
Selfishly I hope this won’t mean the end of the series here on your blog, though it would be understandable if it does.
Can I preorder a copy already? 😉
That’s awesome. I was actually really wishing I had a copy of it to reference while away from the computer and wished it was a book. I am so pleased to hear that it’s going to be a reality. Congratulations and also thank you!
thats fantastic news! I cant think of a better person to do it.
Its going to be a great resource too
Caren Adams says
Hey Abby, one more comment from me (hope you don’t mind)… I read in Elements..#6 “be sure to clip the curves and reinforce any weak seams (we will go over both of these topics in detail in future posts).” I haven’t seen those topics discussed yet, but if I missed it, let me know where to look 🙂
YAY, YAY, HOORAY!!! Because of you, I purchased a used copy of Anatomy of a Doll, but alas, it was not exactly what I was hoping it would be. Because, I think, what I was really hoping it would be, what I’ve really been wanting to buy, is this book that you are about to write. Don’t get me wrong, Anatomy is fascinating, and there are some great, usable ideas in there, but I really want to get into soft toy design, not pose-able, decor dolls. When you started doing the Elements posts, which I LOVE, one of my first thoughts was “She should make this a book!” I suppose I should have said as much, but now it’s happening and I couldn’t be more excited! So, you’ll be done with it by next month and I can buy it for my May birthday, right?? 😉 Good luck, and happy writing! I’ll buy one hot off the press, please!
I realize my above comment sounds “me, me, me” when really I should be saying CONGRATULATIONS!!! You will make a wonderful book, and many many people will be so thankful! You are very talented and creative and just the right person to write this book! (p.s. Please include instructions on how you attach those beautiful lion manes of yours!)
Erika Davison says
Congratulations!! I can’t wait. I have really enjoy your blog series.
Congratulations to both you and Lark books. I never fail to love a Lark book and yours will fit in perfectly.
What wonderful news… I cannot think of anyone better suited to create such a useful resource. The only reference books I’ve ever seen for soft toy design are decades out of print and basically unavailable, so your book will be very welcome and be filling a very necessary place! Though I very rarely purchase craft books, I will definitely be making an exception in this case, and eagerly await the eventual release.
Thank you, Alison! Yes, they are all out of print and the time has come for a new, updated soft toy design book! I’m thrilled to be given the chance to make one!
Thank you so much, Courtney. I will certainly have a section on manes and tails. The book will come out in May of 2013, but I hope it will be worth the wait!
I didn’t get a chance to cover those particular points yet, Caren. I know there is information on clipping curves and reinforcing seams available out there! My Elements series is going to pause while I work on the manuscript, but all of the information in it, and much much more, will be in the book!
Awesome, Beth. Everyone’s enthusiasm gave me the confidence to propose this as a book. So thank you!
Thank you for commenting for the first time, Karissa! Yes, the book will take a while to write and produce. The scheduled release is spring 2013. But I hope it will be worth the wait!
Hi Caren, I think small bits of stuffing packed firmly into the curves can help. Also, check to see if you are cutting the fabric on the bias. That can create wrinkles when you go to stuff. The other thought I had is that the pattern piece for that particular part of the toy may need to be edited down some. Even a 1/4″ can help to pull things in and avoid wrinkles. Let me know if you come up with a solution!
lucykate crafts... says
this is excellent news. it has been a long time since a technical manual of this kind has been published, and i honestly can’t think of a better person to write it than you abby. since i joined blogland i have been bowled over by both your design and creative ability. i’m sure this book will go a long way to inspire the next generation of toy makers!
Cynthia Patton says
That is wonderful news! Congrats… Can’t wait to own a copy!
Lemon Tree Tami says
Congratulations!!! This will be a perfect book and I’ll definitely be adding it to my reference library once it comes out. I think the principles of soft toy design will add to my doll making books. And yes, Susanna Oroyan’s books are great sources. They were the very first ones that I ever bought on the subject. Now I’m off to cut out my very first wren.
Whoo hoooo! You go girl! You rock it! Can I preorder it now. : ) I just picked up your book and love it so much. Thank you for writing this. I’m really looking forward to your next one!
Thank you Abby!
I can’t wait to buy the book.
Thanks to The artful bird I was able to sew a flock of birds, some with my original pattern. I am sure that I will be able to sew more challenging softies with your suggestions.
YES! This will be a wonderful book. And if it came packaged with some of the tools that you use that would be even better.
Hooray! I was hoping this would happen for you! I’m so excited!
That’s so amazing that you’ve been sewing birds! I would love to see them! Will you add them to the Flickr group? http://www.flickr.com/groups/theartfulbird/
Rachel L. says
Congratulations! I have very recently been made aware of your blog series, and it has been just the thing to inspire me and help me on my way down my path, if that doesn’t sound too cheesy. 😉 I am thrilled that there will be a soft toy design book for our generation, especially that it will be coming from someone as knowledgeable and generous as you. Now, to count down the days till Spring ’13…Best of luck to you in the writing process ahead!!!
Amanda Pedro says
yep, this book will be in my library. I learned so much from your blog series. As a book/paper person, I’ll be looking forward to holding it in my hands.
best to you in your writing!
I have added my birds to the flickr group, under the name of duelmint.
Holly Dawes says
Fantastic news! I’ve learned so much from your blog, can’t wait to buy the book! Congratulations. 🙂
great news! Lark is wonderful, and this book will be excellent.
emily b says
Congrats! I will most definitely be adding it to my library!
stephanie s says
abby, congratulations. this is another well deserved opportunity. i look forward to the book.
A very big congratulations to you on the new book Abby! I came upon your wonderful series of posts on softie making after I had been wondering what you were up to a few weeks ago. (I listened to your interview on CraftSanity last year – and loved it – so you and your work making lovely birds and animals crosses my mind from time to time) So I googled you to find your blog and whoa – you were writing about how to make softies and dolls – exactly the territory I have been wrestling around in for the last few months! It is so good to hear everyone talking about their experiences making softies and dolls – I have been soaking it up.
I can’t wait for your book to show up on the shelves of bookstores – I know it will be a beautiful book!
Wonderful news and huge congratulations to you. I can NOT wait for this book to be available. I have enjoyed and learned so much from the series and my desire to continue exploring the world of softies is directly due to YOU and all you share.
You do have a lot of work ahead of you to be sure. I wish you nothing short of the greatest success with your book. I will definitely be owning a copy.
I picked up your book for my birthday and wow, it is full of inspiration. I particularly like the ones made out of bits, scraps and frayed edges. And now I see you are in the midst of your next book, hooray.
Oh Abby, I’m so happy for you! I so enjoyed reading your book and making my project, and I know I’ll enjoy the next one just as much. Good luck on the project!!
I’m thrilled to hear about your new book!! I love to make dolls and animals and am head over heels for Artful Birds…in fact I’m making 3 of them for prizes at my bridal shower because all my decorations for my wedding have a fabric theme and I was so into the process of making my bird that I called in sick to work today so I could have the entire day for sewing!! It’s good for the soul on occasion 🙂
That’s great to hear, Kaci! Happy bird making to you!
Belated congratulations to you on the book! I’m so happy that your talent and knowledge has been recognized in the publishing world and that you’ll be able to write the book that you feel called to write. Good for you!
Amy E. says
i can’t wait to buy the book! i’ve thoroughly enjoyed your soft toy design series and can’t wait to see how they come together on paper!
julia pettit says
I wish to thank you personally for having made, posted, commented, designed, incorporated, planned and ultimately SEWN this most beguiling(as in enchanting ~winks~) series. More than six months ago i embarked on creating a stuffed animal for my grand niece who was born in december.
I, myself, am an artist and for years have been doing the fabric end for my sister’ OOAK doll sculptures. I have been sewing since i was 9 which is now nearly 50 years – pretty crazy to actually see this in type and realize it has been that long! Being left-handed was not the easiest trick in the book for my mother to teach me and she often gave up because i was backwards to her. But my determination for what i now know is my love of sewing, i taught myself and took home ec classes whilst in high school. As a young mother i could have sat behind my sewing machine 24/7 creating clothing, home accessories, toys, dolls & clothing, stuffed toys, costumes from patterns and the list goes on and on … but i digress.
Embarking on this stuffed animal ie giraffe landed me on a journey that i never would have believed when it started. Designing, fashioning a pattern, constructing, writing notes, notes, notes. Doing character studies. Gathering photographs of alive giraffes, artistic made giraffes, simple stuffed animals (softies? or is it stuffies? ~chuckles~ i know i have read what they are referred to but it escapes me now). Looking at the hows and whys or whats of stuffed animals i own or my grandson has and how they were made. Trying to make every initial, critical decision before ever setting my scissors to fabric. If there isn’t a challenge involved in it for me it would not be worth the while.
In all my years of sewing, i had never actually “created” a pattern. Tho i have re-made, re-fashioned, snipped and clipped here and there, taken out seams, added trim, etc to make ready made’s a little more personal. Or picking up something second hand and making it uniquely my own, making something completely from scratch i had never attempted but knew i had the knowledge, capability and skills to do so.
Never! would i have ever imagined that embarking on this task would have challenged every ! single ! notion i ever have had in being a seamstress. Everything from design, to math, to construction, to fabric choices. How to sew it, in what order to sew it, if it needed an armature – how to do that. To stay stitch or not to. Gathering, clipping, hand sewing verses machine. Jointed legs and/or head or not! Embroidered eyes? glass eyes? inset eyes, imbedded eyes? Open mouth, closed mouth, no mouth at all. O my goodness!!!
The day i found this series in the middle of the posts and backtracking to find the start and devour absolutely every detail has been a grateful learning experience. And thus my reason for sharing this tale with you!
I have such a new found AND profound respect for what you do and that you make it all look so simple and executing with ease …. ~sighs~ Truly you are blessed! And i thank you!
…. i have yet to complete my creation but having tackled what i consider the most difficult of all the design (ie head and neck) the rest of the pieces will come together with ease. Once finished it will be nearly four feet in length. Created from a deconstructed wool herring bone men’ suit jacket, suede leather, mink, antique silk, and glass carrousel horse eyes. Hopefully it will become something of an heirloom and add a special touch to Sylvia’s vintage circus nursery. ~smiles~
Again, Thank You! … i could not have done it without you!
(sisters in stitches)