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A Geometric Approach to Making Plushie Patterns by Diffeomorphism A Geometric Approach to Making Plushie Patterns by Diffeomorphism

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Here's something that I've been wanting to write up for a while, but never got around to for a couple of months. A lot of people have asked me about the techniques I use when patterning, so in this document lays out in (somewhat excruciating) detail the general approach I take when designing plushies. In general, methodical guides to making patterns are rather lacking on deviantART; I've seen a lot of guides offer only very simplistic advice like "trace out the body shape" without going any further, so this document is an attempt to expand on the varieties of techniques you can use to improve your patterns without having to sculpt foam or anything like that.

I understand that this is a very dense and verbose writeup and that it's likely to confuse a decent amount of people, especially since a lot of my examples are rather abstract and a lot of my images are drawn in MS Paint. If someone out there would like to become my personal editor for any future tutorials I write, I'd love to hear from you =P In all seriousness, If there's anything in particular I can attempt to clarify, please leave me a comment! If enough people ask me the same question, I may eventually update the tutorial with new details and clarifications.

This guide is intended for people who have already put together one or two plushies; if you're a complete beginner looking to get into making plushies, check out my completely non-technical beginner's guide!
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Daily Deviation

Given 2014-03-26
A Geometric Approach to Making Plushie Patterns by Diffeomorphism

The suggester said: "Diffeomorphism has put an extraoadinary amount of effort into constructing this amazingly useful and well thought-out guide for people who want to get into plush making! It's very clever and well-written, and represents a huge amount of time input by them!" ( Suggested by SilkenCat and Featured by cakecrumbs )
:iconlugia75:
Lugia75 Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2015  New member Hobbyist Artist
I will use that in class XD
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:iconturtlechap:
Turtlechap Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Nice! Geometry really is in everything as my teacher had put it. Thank you! :D
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:icondaiin:
daiin Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2014  Professional General Artist
Wow. I mean just...wow. *.* When I went hunting for instructions on how to design and make patterns for plushies, I didn't imagine I'd find something like this! I appreciate your effort and congratulate you on your DD - it's well deserved!
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:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
No problem, glad I could help!
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:iconlunaflyaway:
lunaflyaway Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2014
I- Wow! This has got to be the most useful pattern tutorial I've found! The detail you go into is really helpful an leaves nothing unclear or to thought! So thank you for posting this!
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:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
No problem! Funny though, I thought I left plenty of stuff sorta vague =P
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:iconlunaflyaway:
lunaflyaway Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2014
It was rather detailed, which is nice. I love to draw and sew, and I wanted to make a human glados like the one in my gallery~
I really needed the tips :iconanimesweatdropplz:
Any tips for human Plushies?
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:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I must admit I don't have any tips on humans in particular, I'm more of a fantasy creature plusher myself =P Patterning a basic human shouldn't be too hard though, I'd imagine you could have a simple spherical-ish head and a simple body pattern and hide most of the body under clothing. Of course I don't know how to make clothes for plushies so that's a moot point, haha.
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:iconlunaflyaway:
lunaflyaway Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2014
Thanks XD
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:iconshirley448:
shirley448 Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Thank you so much for sharing your methods--very helpful indeed even though the math is tough to get through!  Especially since I've been out of school for more than 30 years! Lol! I have a question that I've been searching for the answer to and my gut tells me there is a very simple solution that I haven't yet run across.  Can you tell me the process of figuring out how to make a shape like a cone but with the tip cut off?  I make felt food and often I've needed that sort of shape and have had to resort to finding something of similar size & shape that I can wrap paper around, mark and then flatten.  I'm talking about things like a cup, flat bottomed ice cream cone, angel food cake...  I understand the shape those things require but not how to get it without basically draping something else.  I would very much appreciate your input if you have time.
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:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Well, let's see. To make something that's cup-shaped, I would use a similar approach to the cone pattern. You have two circular pieces to deal with: one representing the base of the cone, and a smaller one representing the "cut off" part of the cone. Let's say the circle representing the "cut off" part of the cone has a radius 1/2 of the base circle. Then you would use a similar 4 piece approach for the sides of the cone, except each of the 4 pieces would look trapezoidal instead of triangular, where the top of the trapezoid would be 1/2 of the length of the bottom of the trapezoid. That's how I would go about it. If you need more clarification, let me know, I could hastily sketch out a diagram or something =)
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:iconshirley448:
shirley448 Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
I'll try that--I've been using just one piece that ends up looking similar to a crescent.  It works just fine but trying to find something the size I need isn't always possible.  I figured there had to be some mathematical way to go about it.  Thank you for your time!  :-)
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:icondeidaraslittlebird:
Deidaraslittlebird Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
sweet mama jamma you are a glorious person <3 thank you so much for putting this up and taking time to make it
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:iconcrystal-mew:
Crystal-Mew Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2014
I'm not even all the way through reading it yet and I just want to say how frickin' amazing this is. You're explaining this in ways I had never ever thought of before, all I had ever heard about pattern making was "just guess until you get it right!" even from the utmost of professionals.

I've made a few plushies and other things from other people's patterns, but I really want to create my own. The problem is I have such trouble thinking in 3D, but somehow just knowing that there's some kind of mathematical approach to it that is, in fact, usable makes me feel like it's maybe not as intimidating as I was afraid of! Thank you! :D
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:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Did people really only tell you "guess until you get it right"? I mean, sure, guesswork definitely comes into play at times, but I must say that's probably the least constructive "advice" I've ever heard =P

Thinking in 3D is definitely a challenge! I took a class on multivariable calculus a few years ago, and I had to quickly wrap my head around how things unfold in 3D. In fact, a lot of my intuition is probably grounded in what I learned in calculus! But it's not like you need calculus to make plushies, you just gotta have the right approach to get you started, and this is pretty much the approach that I use.
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:iconcrystal-mew:
Crystal-Mew Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2014
You have no idea. I always felt there had to be some "trick" to it, some starting point, but all I ever could find was just to experiment until the pieces fit together the way you want them to. Well that's all well and good, but what if you have absolutely no idea where to begin? One person had a somewhat more helpful suggestion of building the thing in 3D and draping fabric over that to figure it out and picture it better, but I just knew there had to be a better way. I had no idea about anything as simple as how to make the curved line length match the straight line length! This is going to make everything so much easier! :D

I have so much respect for people good at math, I am so impressed. :lol: I am DEFINITELY going to incorporate as much of this as I can in my designs now. The math was over my head, but I don't need to understand why it works to see that it obviously works and is very useful. I can measure a line :lol: It's so exciting to me just to know that there is, in fact, a method of ensuring things line up BEFORE you cut the pieces instead of just hoping for the best! I knew I wasn't crazy :aww:

I actually just finished reading this and it was even more stupendous and useful than I thought when I left my first comment! :glomp: Thank you so much for making this!
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:iconredtakomaster:
redtakomaster Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Love the guide!! Thank you!
(also, LateX typesetting!!?? )
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:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I've never actually used any of the image libraries for LaTeX, but ultimately for deploying text-heavy documents with things like images and clickable ToCs with only a few intermittent formulas, I find that using Microsoft Word is more time efficient than LaTeX. I use LaTeX for stuff like math homework when putting a million equations on the document makes Word start to lag (or when I need access to fancy mathematical notation Word doesn't have).
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:iconredtakomaster:
redtakomaster Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks! I always wondered if there is a better way to include images into documents. Besides enjoying your plush instructions, I also noticed how neatly the images fit in your documents. Lately I've been doing some typesetting with LateX to organize the sections, day-to-day class notes, etc, but not sure if it's more efficient to do it with LateX or if it would've been fine over Word doc. Anyhow, thanks for your guides! I've just started making plushes and ive decided to invest in a pin cushion and other basic stuff according to your beginners guide :D
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:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Depends what you're taking notes on. For ordinary classes LaTeX might be a little overkill =P Although it's probably less CPU-intensive than running a traditional word processor. It definitely makes things look nice and professional though. Good luck in your plush endeavors!
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:icons-meerschwein:
S-Meerschwein Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
This is so great! Thank you very much for this great tutorial!
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:iconstealalive:
Stealalive Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014  Professional General Artist
Brilliant
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:iconspigos:
Spigos Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This is incredible! :clap:
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:iconblanket86:
blanket86 Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
This is so amazing! I love this composition and style! Really good work! Congratulations!
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:iconcavalier-renegade:
cavalier-renegade Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow, making plushies is serious business...
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:iconfoxy-yazoo:
foxy-yazoo Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014
This is really fascinating!  I've wanted to get into plushie making myself, and I always wondered how to do gussets/darts like that.  In an odd way this reminds a little bit of what I do for my needlefelts - while I don't use that much math, I do take proportions into account using the head size to determine how long each part of the body will be. 
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:iconsovriin:
Sovriin Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Student Artisan Crafter
Oo this looks awesome! Cant wait to try it out! :D
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:iconscriptkittie:
scriptKittie Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Great work!
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:iconvyrilien:
Vyrilien Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This deserves some serious applause! Congratulations on your well-deserved DD!
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:iconnazegoreng:
Nazegoreng Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
Wonderful tutorial. 
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:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Oh hey, I know you. I think I recognize you from, um, completely being one of my plush idols. Even though I'm not a pony person, your plush quality and professionalism is something to which I can only aspire.

Is that enough fanboyish hyperventilating? Yeah, I think so. But seriously, thanks a bunch for the compliment, it really means a lot to me. (It also helps validate that my tutorial isn't a bunch of baloney =P)
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:iconnazegoreng:
Nazegoreng Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
Oh gosh I'm honoured!! I was just admiring your patterning skills myself XD. I use a little math and a cpl methods you mentioned already, not quite to the degree you do but I can certainly support that it works! I smiled when I saw our gusset making system was the same, that's just what I do ^_^. 

Oh and a suggestion I might offer is the use of hard plastics in a plush. To stop something ballooning out, place a hard plastic insert (for eg at the bottom of your prism) etc. Just a thought
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:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Haha, that's awesome to hear that our gusset-making systems match up. I honestly can't imagine doing it any other way =P To each their own, of course.

As for flattening a base, my main concern with putting in an insert is that you'd have to leave a large part of the pattern pieces unsewn to fit the piece of plastic inside the base, and then ladder stitch the remainder of the pattern closed. I never convinced myself of a way around this, so I've never tried it out. Also when I think of plush with nice flat bases, I think of the Litwick Pokedoll, which is super soft and squishy but somehow has a perfectly flat base. Maybe it's just because it's so small, but still.
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:iconnazegoreng:
Nazegoreng Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
Ahh good point. I use the method in hooves, and luckily I have the neck opening (which is later covered by the head) to squeeze it through. Gotta love when things magically work though XD. 
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:iconmonstarenata:
MonstaRenata Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014
This is an amazing resource! Thank you so much :D 
I have been struggling with the pattern making aspect of plushies lately
So this will be invaluable :heart:
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:iconrainbowreverie:
RainbowReverie Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
I wonder if this could help with crochet plushie patterns as well? I'll have to see!
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:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Haha I must say that I have no idea. Crochet seems like a totally different beast than traditional plushies, but I could be completely wrong =P Just the fact that you can write down the instructions to crochet entirely in words, whereas that would never happen with normal plushies, gave me that impression.
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:iconrainbowreverie:
RainbowReverie Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
Well, it's not all about the writing, I have to plan the pattern with sketches first, and figuring every angle can be difficult I usually end up fudging it and it turns out okay. If I can figure out a way to translate sketches to a written pattern with out fudging it that would be sweet! Sewing fabric does seem a lot more finicky than crochet though, as you can just start working on a 3D shape and don't have to worry about flattening anything out... it's kind of like being a 3D yarn printer! haha. Reading through your tutorial, it has given me some things to think about, maybe it will be a little helpful after all! 
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:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Ah, that makes sense! Yeah, in particular I remember seeing a crocheted Klefki which had a thin outer loop, something which would be very difficult to replicate in plush form because of having to invert the pattern piece through the loop, which I can only imagine would be a nightmare. They do seem to be a bit different, but in the end I guess there's always some patterning intuition that can be applied to any 3-D art, be it crochet or plushies.
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:iconmillenniumfalsehood:
MillenniumFalsehood Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014
THANK YOU FOR THIS!!! :D
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:icondarthaislin:
DarthAislin Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I think this is going to help a LOT of number-inclined people to achieve better results in their plushmaking efforts, great job on the tutorial!
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:iconsaramations:
saramations Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
This is a pretty awesome guide. *__* Congrats on the DD~!
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:iconfrimy:
Frimy Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014
Awesome! Thank you for this tuto! *__*
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:iconliliatx:
LiLiatX Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the information! Pretty much a lot in life asks for math when it comes to creating something :D

I do have a hard time making round figures but I do get the idea when I study out the figures of professional plushies. Usually that's how I can figure out how to make certain shapes~

I'll definitely keep this in mind if I ever try out a challenging figure to make into a plushie~
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:icontrainxheartnet:
TrainxHeartnet Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014
Omg thanks so much for this you dont understand iv been looking for something like this everywhere >< ♥
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:iconchimaerix:
Chimaerix Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm absolutely too horrible at math to read through the whole thing, but this will definitely be useful in the future! Thank you for making.
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:iconcheerysoundninroren:
CheerySoundNinRoren Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Nice! I'm glad to see that this got a Daily Deviation! Congrats!
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:iconhopeofriuton:
HopeOfRiuton Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Student Artist
Yes! Yes! Make it! And congrats by the way.
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:iconthe-carolyn-michelle:
the-carolyn-michelle Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Brilliant brilliant BRILLIANT!! I love the math side you have taken in this approach. Really, I do similar things to this when I set out to make a plushie and I would have no idea where to begin in writing this out. Superb!! :worship:
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:iconbow-stitches:
Bow-Stitches Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Omg, I knew you deserved this right when I saw it a while back! About time the world sees your helpful hints and tricks! Good job!
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