In 2013 my book, Stuffed Animals: From Concept to Construction, was published by Lark Crafts. This book was my baby. The idea for it came to me way back in 2009 when I was searching for a guide to designing my own sewing patterns for stuffed animals and couldn’t find one. After months of looking it finally dawned on me that what I needed simply didn’t exist and if I wanted it I had to write it.
I drafted a book proposal that I now realize was ridiculously overcomplicated and sent it off to a half dozen publishers. Craft publishing was still thriving back then and despite the fact that I clearly didn’t know what I was doing I got phone calls from several acquisitions editors including Tricia Waddell at Interweave. She nicely pointed out the weaknesses in my proposal and suggested that instead, I do a book of the birds I’d been making. That seemed so easy, and really fun, too, so I went for it and wrote my first book, The Artful Bird, which was published in 2011.
Writing that book was a massive learning process for me. My editor was a poor communicator (but I had a great publicist!) and although I’m proud of that book I came away with one major regret: the templates are not full-size. In order to sew a bird, you first need to enlarge the templates on a photocopier. There’s really no excuse for this. The birds aren’t large to begin with. The user experience is sub-par and it still makes me upset to think about it.
The day The Artful Bird came out I realized that I now had a much clearer vision for my original book idea, the guidebook to designing stuffed animal sewing patterns. I pitched it to Interweave because my contract granted them the right of first refusal. They turned it down. (They offered to publish a book similar to The Artful Bird, but with sea creatures. I politely said no.) So I shopped my idea around, this time with a much tighter proposal, and Lark Crafts bought it.
I was assigned a fantastic editor who understood me and my idea from the get-go. He knew exactly what to do to create an amazing book and custom designed everything so it would be beautiful and user friendly. I’m so grateful to him (thank you Thom!).
I paid for and shot this book trailer with money from my advance. That was a neat experience, too!
When it came time to talk about templates I got really serious. They had to be full-sized. But there were a lot of them and it was going to be a tight squeeze. Thom suggested a CD, but I said no way. CDs were already a thing of the past (this was in 2013). There was no way I was going to put the templates on a piece of hardware that would be out of date in a year or two.
I suggested that we overlap them like they do in the Japanese craft books. Although it’s unusual in an American craft book, in Japan templates are almost always printed on top of one another. Readers just trace off the one they need. We would also offer them online in the usual single spread layout for free for anyone to print out. Thankfully Thom liked this plan and when the book came out readers seem to like it too. (The book has 96 reviews on Amazon with a 5-star average rating. Yay!)
Unfortunately, Lark Crafts is no more. It was a subsidiary of Barnes and Noble and they dissolved it some time ago. The Lark Crafts website where the templates for the book were hosted was maintained until a few months ago, but now that’s gone, too. I had no warning that it was about to disappear and actually didn’t realize what had happened until several readers emailed alerting me to the situation. I hadn’t downloaded the PDF of the templates and sadly had no way to retrieve them. Then, last week a reader named Daniel found them and sent them to me! He says:
Hi Abby, I was able to find my PDF version of the patterns after scouring my files. I have attached them just in case you’d like to add and link them on your site for others to download. I have found the separated out version to be helpful and quick to print. Thanks again for a wonderful book; I just finished making the kangaroo for our newborn nephew.
Thank you so much, Daniel! I’m going to do just as you suggested. The PDF of the templates for Stuffed Animals: From Concept to Construction are right here. Download them for free and enjoy!