A few weeks ago I got in touch with the folks at Spoonflower,
the print on demand fabric company, to see about getting some
cut-and-sew softie and doll fabrics to play with. I thrilled when they
agreed to send me a few fat quarters and today I’m ready to show you
what I’ve made and give you some tips for designing these fabrics.
allows anyone to design and print their own, custom fabrics. For
creative people this means endless awesome possibilities and for doll
and softie designers it means you can have pattern pieces and sewing
instructions printed right on the fabric for an easy cut-and-sew
project. I’ve had my eye on cut-and-sew softie fabrics since August of 2011 when they
were the focus of Spoonflower’s weekly design contest.
I did a search on Spoonflower's website for "plush" and browsed through so many great fabrics. In the end I went with:
- Kawaii Kitchen and Mister Zombie by Bora
- Zakka Ice Cream Cones by Katarina Dragutinovic Roccella
- Amelia and her Kittens by Stacy Iest Hsu.
Each of these designers has several (or dozens) of gorgeous Spoonflower
designs, including multiple cut-and-sew softies. I had so much fun
looking through them all!
never designed a cut-and-sew softie or doll so after I chose a few fat
quarters to try out, I contacted two of the designers to find out more
about their process. One of them is Stacy Iest Hsu. Stacy is
actually a trained textile designer. She says she isn’t much of a sewist
beyond 4-H as a child, but her dolls are adorable. I also talked to Katarina (Nina) Dragutinovic Roccella who designs prolifically on
Spoonflower and has lots of doll and softies among her fabrics.
Stacy and Nina shared some valuable tips with me for designing this specific type of fabric. Here is what they said:
often starts with a drawing of the doll on paper. She’ll then cut out
pattern pieces and sew a prototype to get the shape right, before
scanning and playing with the colors and patterns in Photoshop. Nina shared this collage of her process with me:
recommends designing the doll with a fairly simple silhouette to keep
the sewing simple and Nina agrees. Nina says, “Try to avoid narrow small
spaces within the design especially at the neck. The first boy doll I
created looked like a giraffe! Try to avoid acute angles because these
can be tricky to sew.”
Considering the Front and the Back
says creating a front and back for the doll makes it come to life, as
opposed to just putting a print on the back or leaving it solid. Nina
does this by duplicating the front, flipping it and then deleting the
Adding Special Elements
designers recommend adding a place somewhere on the doll for the
customer to personalize it. Usually these dolls are made as gifts so
this gives the customer the opportunity to add their own touches and
makes them feel they had a part in the design process
some of the extra space on the fat quarter to make a label with your
brand name, website or blog that can then be attached someplace on the
doll. As Stacy says, “These dolls are your best tool for advertising and
they will probably go to many places where other moms will see them.”
Natalie Doll by Stacy Iest Hsu on Spoonflower
at how Stacy added to her doll. She says, “Think of ways to allow
customers to embellish the doll or toy with embroidery or ribbon.”
Write Up the Sewing Instructions
points out that you should make your sewing instructions simple and
easy to follow. Use the same language used in conventional sewing
patterns and proofread them well! And Nina says to be sure to indicate
that the curves and corners should be clipped before turning and
stuffing because beginners may not know this.
to add a ¼ inch seam allowance. Stacy likes the front and back of the
doll to meet without any white showing at the seam lines once the doll is sewn up.
What's it Like to Sew These Toys?
Here's what I made!
a customer I appreciated clear, well-written and thorough sewing
instructions. Be sure not to skip any steps, such as stuffing the arms
and legs. It helps to have someone else read your instructions, too,
given that once they’re printed you can’t go back and edit them!
really loved the little extra graphic bits some of the designers added
in the white space. These would be great to applique on a t-shirt or a
tote bag to accompany the finished doll. And I appreciated that these
designs were all on just a fat quarter of fabric. This made the project
affordable and quick! One of these fat quarters would be a great gift
for my 9-year-old who just learned to use the sewing machine.
Other Cut-and-Sew Softies from Spoonflower
just a few fat quarters from the thousands of cut-and-sew
softies and dolls available on Spoonflower was hard. Here are some more
of my favorites:
And there are so many more. I must say that this was one of the most fun blog posts I’ve written!
really hope the design tips from Nina and Stacy are helpful to you if
you are interested in designing some cut-and-sew softies or dolls using
Spoonflower. Both of them are happy to answer your questions in the
comments so please don’t hesitate to ask!
Pepper the Penguin, the sew and crochet pattern I designed in collaboration with Stacey Trock of FreshStitches, is being released today! This is such a cool 2-in-1 pattern and we hope you love sewing AND crocheting Pepper. Read more about our collaboration here and get the pattern now in my shop on Etsy!