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...