Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sew ALL the Plushies!

One of my (not so) secret addictions is making cute plushies. Unfortunately, adults just don't need that many tiny stuffed things (or large stuffed things, for that matter), so while I occasionally indulge in this addiction by making gifts for people, it's hard to justify making things that are just going to sit around collecting dust.

[Enter SHB, a toddler who loves unicorns and dinosaurs.]

I know unselfish sewing for small children is supposed to be a thankless task, and for the most part it has been -- SHB is not into any of the quilts I made for him, nor the ocean-themed plushies and accessories -- but when the small child is finally old enough to make requests and then express definite (positive) opinions, it suddenly becomes supremely rewarding. Of course, it doesn't hurt that I love the mental exercise of 1) figuring out what aspects of a creature are most important to preserve for maximum recognizability, then 2) translating the 3D stylized creature in my head into 2D pattern pieces, and 3) coming up with a best order of operations for actually sewing up the creature. It's just enough work to feel like I'm exercising my mental muscles, but not so much work that my school-is-out-and-third-trimester-tiredness-is-really-kicking-in brain feels overwhelmed. Also it feels like a still somewhat productive activity as a means of procrastinating re: figuring out a potty training strategy and how on earth I'm going to deal with having two small human beings.


It all started with this Goodnight Moon parody book, Goodnight Unicorn. SHB loves the original classic board book, so I picked this book up at the library because I love parodies/spin-offs and the illustration style appealed to me. For some reason SHB totally latched onto this book, and kept asking where it was after I returned it to the library, and I totally went through a unicorn phase when I was in elementary school, so I was not at all averse to purchasing our own copy. SHB's favorite unicorn was the "jet black," and for some reason toy manufacturers only make pastel-colored unicorns, so it was up to me to make SHB's unicorn toy dreams come true. And of course, in a if-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie scenario, he then wanted a mommy and daddy unicorn, and then a rainbow unicorn to represent his coming baby sister, and then because the Warriors were in the playoffs, a Steph Curry unicorn, and then things just spiraled out of control.

In the book, the rainbow unicorn and the jet black unicorn sleep in a barn at night.

Steph Curry unicorn with a basketball. I used leftover fabric from the Warriors' pajamas I made a couple Christmases ago. 

He just loves cuddling as many as he can hold at once. 

Current count at ten, but still requested: an orange one, and one with a "patootie," i.e. a cutie mark. I don't know if I'll get around to those, as that would require buying another bag of stuffing. 
And because SHB takes books very seriously, the unicorns needed a rainbow to slide on. Also to please make sure, Mom, that there's pink in the rainbow.

I used craft foam inside the rainbow to get it to stand up. 

I know, I know, he really doesn't need more stuffed toys, but how can I say no when this is the happy face I get when he sees the newest plushie?

And then he immediately has to get the book and copy the picture with his toys. 

I used Nuno Runo's zebra plushie pattern to make the unicorns, and in browsing her other stuffed toy patterns, discovered that there was a stegosaurus pattern as well. Unfortunately, making a stegosaurus just opened up an even bigger can of worms since SHB then realized he could request that Mommy make ALL the dinosaurs. This wouldn't be a problem if he only knew a few dinosaurs, but he has this pack of 30 dinosaur flashcards from the Target dollar section, so after stegosaurus he requested a tyrannosaurus rex, then a triceratops, diplodocus, ankylosaurus, parasaurolophus, brachiosaurus, pterodactyl, pteranodon, and dimetrodon.

I had so much fun designing this pattern! I'm really pleased with how the bony frill turned out. 

The diplodocus was easy; the ankylosaurus' wedge-shaped head, armored back, and clubbed tail was a little trickier. 

The parasaurolophus turned out exactly as I envisioned, but the brachiosaurus' neck had some grain issues so it looks perpetually perplexed with its cocked head. 

Dimetrodon was just a thicker version of the original NunoRuno stegosaurus, but the flying dinosaurs were trickier because they're so unlike any of the other shapes. The magenta one was version 2.0, because the first one was too skinny and fiddly to make, and was missing its hands. 

A favorite activity: matching the dinosaurs to their flashcards. Poor (magical) liopleurodon, of Charlie the Unicorn fame, doesn't have a flashcard. 

As I got better at making dinosaur patterns, I realized that my original T. rex didn't really look very accurate, so then I went back and improved the pattern to give it a boxier head and allow it to sit up better. And once I made two, because toddlers are nothing if not consistent, SHB labeled them as the parents, which meant that once again, we needed the rest of the family...

According to SHB, he is the purple one because he loves ube ice cream, I am the teal one, Mr. Cation is the magenta one, and baby sister is the seafoam one. 

I then turned the original derpy T. rex into a dragon since the unicorn book features a red dragon, but (and you can probably guess what's coming) it didn't look very dragon-y either, so then I had to make a better one. SHB requested purple, so I gave it orange accents so that it would look like Figment.

A pair of wings and horns does not a dragon make. "Mom, where the bony plates on his back?" Okay fine, you picky boy, I'll make a better one. 

There, bony plates added. Happy now? (Also the creeper gingerbread man who looks more like a voodoo doll than anything was added by SHB while I was taking pictures of the dragons.)

All this to say, SHB now has a veritable menagerie that he sleeps with every night. Which is more trouble for me, because now there are thirty-odd creatures that we need to track down every night and they barely fit on his bed, and if he wakes up in the middle of the night and can't find one of them in the dark, he'll start crying until I get up and help him find the prodigal plushie. Sigh. Mr. Cation has very little sympathy for me, though, since, as he rightly pointed out, this is really a problem of my own making. Literally.

This isn't even the entire collection of his "friends." There are more that can't fit, but this is the core group.

Eventually, I'd like to turn the dragon and dinosaurs into cleaned up patterns, but with only a month to go until baby girl's arrival, that's unlikely to happen anytime soon. My one goal is to make a quilt for her so that she has at least one new thing that's all hers and not a hand-me-down from her big brother...

36 comments:

  1. This is a really cool zoo! I like the many different and colorful dinosaurs. Who knows, maybe they were really so colorful? And with unicorns I would have loved to play ... Your SHB really has a great, creative mum. Many greetings from Mrs Go

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I'd like to think that dinosaurs really were so colorful!

      Delete
  2. First of all AMAZING WORK! Second, the t-rex turned dragon looks a lot like the red and yellow dragon in Dragons Love Tacos (a fun kid's book with great pictures).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, and I need to check out that book...people keep recommending it!

      Delete
  3. These are incredible! I would have loved a plush dinosaur menagerie as a kid! Your SHB is a lucky (and clever, to realize he could make demands!) kiddo, and vague regrets aside, you're a wonderful mom for indulging his requests for ALL THE DINOSAURS (and also unicorns). ;-) Best wishes for the remainder of your pregnancy and baby girl's delivery!
    -Abbey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I'll be honest, I'm indulging myself in acceding to his demands, as I know how much I would've loved to have all my stuffed animal requests met when I was young.

      Delete
  4. I cannot handle how cute these are!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a great mom you are! Such a fun way for both you and SHB to marry reading and playing and imagination and creativity. All valuable skills/talents!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well, you are the best mom ever, and he's the cutest kid! I love his choices, and that he thinks of his baby sister as the rainbow unicorn. So sweet.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This makes me SO EXCITED for Evie to turn into a toddler!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, it is SO FUN. I know people make a big deal about the terrible two's, but I'm really enjoying hearing SHB's thoughts and getting to talk to him about his interests!

      Delete
  8. Gotta love that second trimester creative surge. I am equal parts loving and sympathizing with how this mushroomed on you. LOL. For several weeks Taco had his own "sleepover gang" of only the black and white stuffies (penguins, pandas and a bunny that I knit). So funny how they express their preferences with EVERYTHING.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PS - I thought Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki had some real insight, even if you don't follow her method.

      Delete
    2. Toddlers, man, they have so many opinions! Black and white stuffies only sounds a lot more manageable thought.

      I just borrowed that book from another mom friend but third trimester is kicking my butt this time around and I just can't muster the energy to read such a "non-fun" book!

      Delete
  9. I love all of these! But especially the dinosaurs. I totally want to make myself a set of these... and I guess the kids in my life >.>

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, who cares what the kids need... :D

      Delete
  10. I love everything about this post. The plushies, the adorable toddler and his ALL THE TOYS demands, the vague sensation of being played, the alarming avalanche of toys in bed... But most of all, the love!!! My laughter is the laughter of recognition because I've been there too!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow, I didn't realize the mythical/prehistoric menagerie had gotten quite that big! And while I'm happy for you that he likes the results, that's a tough bedtime routine. We've had some meltdowns too, and we only have two stuffed animals to deal with! (Meaning the only two in his extensive collection that he actually cares about.)

    I'd love to see the dinosaur pattern someday, but seriously, no pressure. Toddler + baby is enough to deal with!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really would love to release a dinosaur pattern line, so it's just a matter of time!

      Delete
  12. What a cool set of plushies! And what a cool mom to grant all the requests! Good luck with the potty training... it is truly a dreaded task. All four of my kids went about it differently, so there's no one size fits all method. They won't do it until they're ready, so if you get lots of resistance, just wait and try later. Best wishes for baby number 2!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! At this point I think I'm just going to wait until after #2 arrives...

      Delete
  13. First off, congratulations!!

    Second, SHB is so lucky to have a mom who can create these for him! I don't have the skills to think in 3D like this, and I wish I did. They're all so cute! And I feel you about the bed - my daughter is 10 with a twin sized bed, and there's barely room in there for her with all the critters. Same with my son who's 14, but at least he has bunk beds.

    Good luck with 2! It's crazy but so much fun.

    Elizabeth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! It took a while to get into the groove of translating 3D to 2D, but once I made a few I started to see the pattern in how certain shapes resulted.

      Delete
  14. Oh, those are so epic! I mean, I knew it from instagram but seeing them all together---!

    I wouldn't worry too much about the potty training. 😂 Annoying as two sets of diapers can be, it'll come and it'll probably be less frustrating to do it later than have him regress when the baby's born. 😭 (Says the person whose kids potty trained at 2 with almost no effort on her part so she really should keep her mouth shut on the subject 😉.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha let's hope SHB is on the less frustrating end of the potty-training spectrum...

      Delete
  15. That's an amazing work! I love these plushies, especially the triceratops one... Your work is incredibly inspiring! (I hope it's correct, I'm French and my English is, well, pretty bad...)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Your English is just fine :)

      Delete
  16. These are so wonderful! What a great collection, and what a talent you have for designing the plushies.

    ReplyDelete
  17. lol! You're grooming a little designer - "that's nice but it needs fill-in-the-blank, mom!" I don't blame him for wanting all and more of your plushies because they are adorable! I would want them all for myself too. And that happy face is the best payment ever!

    ~ Brooke

    ReplyDelete
  18. Potty training is actually Mom Training. Knowing not to get too far from a bathroom at particular times of day. Summer is a good time, because Child is wearing those rubbery shoes that aren't destroyed by pee running down your leg. Also yard time. Nakey Yard Time. Confession: I made the second one stay in a pull-up for a week in Italy, even though he was pretty much done at home. I just wasn't up for the dash to the unknown toilet location. He doesn't remember that, or being mugged by gypsies. I call it good.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to tell me your thoughts! I appreciate reading them and I try to reply to most, if not all, comments, especially when they are questions. I ask that you keep your comments polite, and if you're a spammer, don't bother because your comment will just be deleted! Also, if you're commenting on a post that's more than two weeks old, it will be moderated.