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So you want to make plushies? A beginner's guide by Diffeomorphism So you want to make plushies? A beginner's guide by Diffeomorphism

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Phew, finally decided that this was good enough to publish! Only took like 10-20 readings after my initial rough draft.

Anyway, here's a guide I threw together for people who want to sew but have absolutely no idea where to start. I wrote this guide in a way which would've been most helpful to me back in May, when I decided to start sewing but didn't really know much besides mashing pieces of fabric together. Naturally the guide is written from my own perspective and experiences in sewing; ask other plushie makers and they'll have a whole different set of experiences and advice to share.

I tried to make the guide as comprehensive as possible, but one thing I didn't do was include links to resources. The reason for this is that links and videos can become outdated all the time, and part of the process of learning is being able to go out and find these resources. Nonetheless, one of the best resources I can recommend is Metroidhat's site, which gives not only visual instructions on how to do stitches but also some good step-by-step tutorials. I found myself going back there all the time when I was starting out.

If you have any questions, comments, or objections, feel free to leave a comment or send me a message! I wrote this guide to help people out, and I'd love to help out however I can! (Although I can't give my patterns away.) Speaking of which, if I get bored, I might release some sort of guide documenting my pattern-making process. It won't be any time soon but I figure it's something which people are interested in and that I'd like to write about. Be warned though, it's going to involve some pretentious math terminology =P

That's all. Happy New Year! 2014's gonna be a good year, I can tell.

Edit: Holy crap, 100 favorites already! I had no idea there'd be this big of a response. Thanks guys!
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:iconlaughbutts:
LaughButts Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I LOVE YOU. You are so systematic! What a fantastic teacher and fun read! 
Reply
:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Haha I dunno if I'd be a good teacher in real life. Not enough patience =P I'm glad you found it useful though, thanks so much =)
Reply
:iconsapphirethewolfdemon:
SapphireTheWolfDemon Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks this really helps! You see I'm a beginner plushie maker & I've been having a lot of problems with making a plush of one of my OC's Kokoro. ^^; This is a very helpful guide! :)
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:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Glad I could help out! Were the problems you were having more about basic sewing techniques, or about getting the patterning right? If it's about the latter you might find some of my other tutorials useful. Or of course if you just feel like experimenting until something sticks, that's one of the best way for beginners to to learn =)
Reply
:iconsapphirethewolfdemon:
SapphireTheWolfDemon Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
It was the patterning, my character is rather hard to make into a plush. I might work on one of my other characters, I do have lots of fabric & string for it. ^^
Reply
:iconlucario-luke:
Lucario-Luke Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2015  New Deviant Hobbyist General Artist
LUCARIO PATTERN PLEASE
AND A LOPUNNY!
Reply
:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Hey there! I'm guessing you're relatively new so I'll let you know before anyone else might react to it, but many plush artists would consider a request in this form rather rude. Quality patterns take a long time to make and are inherently valuable, so asking for not one, but two free patterns without regard to how much work they take is something which some people might be offended by. Not me of course, I don't really care that much, but just a heads up.
Reply
:iconlucario-luke:
Lucario-Luke Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2015  New Deviant Hobbyist General Artist
O MY GOSH
I AM SORRY!
),:
Reply
:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
No worries! Just keep it in mind when conversing with others on the site =) As I said I just don't want you to get chewed up by someone else on dA, haha.
Reply
:icontyler8dart:
Tyler8DArt Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
thanks so much for this!!!
Reply
:icontitanshifter1:
titanshifter1 Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for this. I might be making plushies eventually.
Reply
:iconlucario-17:
Lucario-17 Featured By Owner Edited Jun 6, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I just wanted to thank you for this tutorial. I've been working with my sewing machine for months now and, while I've greatly improved, I still have yet to finish a plush. Why? Well I just can't figure out the dang ladder stitch and thus can't attach final details or, more importantly, the heads! Sometimes I think about giving up but after all this work, I can look at professional plushies and think "Oh, I could totally do that!" This has inspired me even more not to give up! Thank you for that!
Reply
:iconask--flowerpaw:
Ask--Flowerpaw Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
OMFG this is SOOOO helpful!! I just made a very small (and crappy) hand-sewn Carl the cupcake, until i can find my sewing machine this will help when i practice cutting designs on paper, etc!!~
Reply
:iconpaperhana:
paperhana Featured By Owner May 8, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thanks so much for this!  This was very encouraging.
Reply
:iconkaliedo-star:
Kaliedo-Star Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I have been ACHING to make OC plushies for my self and one or two friends. I was thinking of commissioning someone but then it would be tedious to try and find someone to have some open and it would cost money (no offense to the commissioners of course). I was considering making some myself. I just had to think about it in the long run. This might help me move forward into making it a reality! Who knows? I'll figure it all out when I get to it <3.
Reply
:iconlucario-17:
Lucario-17 Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I'd definitely recommend giving it a go! I love sewing. I took a class in high school that gave me the basics in using a sewing machine but I basically had to start from scratch when I began sewing again this past February. It had been years since I'd touched a machine. But, after months of practice, I've gotten much better. It's a very fun hobby, to me! I have a couple patterns that work quite well and if you want to try any of them just shoot me an email. You can have them for free. Finding a pattern that actually worked was a huge pain to me and I ended up having to edit the patterns I started with after trail and error in sewing them. Anyway, you can do it! Good luck!
Reply
:iconkaliedo-star:
Kaliedo-Star Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah I tried sewing once lol. Wasn't all the great at it but I tried at least XD. One of these days I will learn to use the sewing machine mom has. If I practice enough I might even use the serger. But I don't even know if you can use that for making plushies and the like. and I wish we had a home ec class of some kind when I was in high school. Pfffft NOPE. LAUSD could not afford it or didn't care. Anyway, thanks for the reply! Would love to message when I get the time :3. SInce I cannot finish projects for the life of me weeeeeh. But I will try!! No doubt about that! I have concepts of how my OC and muse plushies will be made for fun and for my own liking. Maybe I should post them here who knows.
Reply
:iconzuko-agni:
zuko-agni Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2015  Student Digital Artist
Reading this guide makes me want to actually try and make one..! I've been looking around trying to find someone to commission to make a plushie of my characters, but I don't even have enough money. Thank you for making this guide, it's very helpful.
Reply
:icondarkshuka:
Darkshuka Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, just returned from an anime convention and won some sewing equipment from some contest judges, and I decided to try plushie making a few weeks ago. Ended up spending the rest of my spending money on some fabric and a sewing kit. Your guide reminded me of how I felt about cosplay making lolz. Figured if I can improve in that, I can improve in plushie making. Also used to hand sew bags together and fix comforters when I was younger, so at least the sewing part won't be completely new. Gonna start tomorrow, so wish me luck XD
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:icongemlettuce:
Gemlettuce Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Well thanks to this guide and seeing thousands of really bad Pokémon collectors plushies on ebay I'm also going to try making plushies. I'm going to start off with felt though and from what I've seen it can make plushies look bad :( sadly there are no cheap fabric shops anywhere around where I live so ebay/amazon is my go-to.

Thank you so much for the supporting words that anyone can learn to do this, I have a bad track record of wanting to learn things and then giving up because "I'm too old to learn"
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:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Admittedly I'm not a big fan of felt myself, but that's mostly because I'm accustomed to fabrics like minky which is definitely a high end fabric. If you intend to use minky in the future, I'd honestly start out using fleece rather than felt; both are cheap, but felt, from what I understand, has very little stretch, whereas fleece has a lot of stretch and is a little bit closer to using minky, which has a medium-high degree of stretch when stuffed. That being said, if felt is the only thing available, then by all means go for it! Train yourself on the basics and go from there. For the record, Plush Addict is a very good minky vendor in the UK, should you ever decide to want to purchase any; they also sell polar fleece and stuff, although idk if it's cheaper to buy in a store (£6.35/meter is definitely way more than I pay for fleece here in the US).
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:icongemlettuce:
Gemlettuce Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thank you so much for the link! I actually asked around my town and there is a fabric place (long walk but oh well) on the outskirts. I will most likely be buying from that site though!  I was wondering if you know of any forums to do with plush making and sewing? I've googled but only found dead threads and forums from 2008.
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:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
There's a pretty active Facebook group called Plush Artists United which is very active right now and includes plush artists of all levels, including some of the best plush artists out there; I feel like that's probably the most active plush community out there right now.
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:icongemlettuce:
Gemlettuce Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Ah awesome thankyou! Just sent a request :D
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:iconwaltervd:
Waltervd Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
this is a good read i want to make a plushy from minky of a pony OC of mine  
i have touched a thread before xD 
i once tried to make a pony cube which ended decently ( picture below ) 
all dem cubes by Waltervd
i also made the cubes for some other OC's of mine but never finshed them ( i think i should ) 
( first is human second and third dog like and the last dragoneque xD )


but yeah this was a good read i learned something from this ouo
all tho i havent done embroidering before i can do felt eyes/cutie mark
and if i may ask do you know a good pony sewing pattern ?
i think i can fiddle around with the legs since my oc has the hooves in view ( like big mac ) 
and he has a female head so if you know a good male/female sewing pattern please show me XD
i have seen a lot of them and not all make sense or the end result doenst look how i thought it would ( some have pictures that show the end result )
Reply
:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Hm, I'm not familiar too many pony patterns out there; I know Voodoo-Tiki has a few, but I haven't found any others since I've never needed to use a pony pattern. I'm sure a few people out there are probably selling patterns for download, but I couldn't tell you where to find them =P Good luck!
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:iconwaltervd:
Waltervd Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thank you :D
Reply
:iconsicatoune:
Sicatoune Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2015
I love you!
Love your approach, your point of view, your words... You love what you do, and you want to share this love with us... Thank you!!!
Reply
:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Glad I could help =) I just like to help people out whenever I can.
Reply
:icondragonsculpt:
Dragonsculpt Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2015  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
you are the best person alive for making this xD thank you alot
Reply
:iconlynn-writer:
lynn-writer Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2015
Excellent guide!  Thank you so much  :)
Reply
:iconelementalbeastie:
Elementalbeastie Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
"...Who have never touched a spool of thread in their lives." 
me: PERFECT!
Reply
:iconspaztastyck:
SPAZTASTYCK Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Oh my God. Thank you so much for making this, this is really helpful. I have been wanting to make plushies for a while now, but I have been discouraged since I totally suck at sewing, or at least used to. I actually successfully made a sock monkey a little while ago, never thought that would happen, seeing as I broke 3 sewing machines in my 7th grade sewing class and 2 in 8th grade (on the last one I broke, I just not-so-casually moved seats and waited for somebody else to report it to the teacher...she knew I did it XD). I think I have buried talent somewhere, it's just taking a lot of blood and tears to get there. 

Anyway, I think this guide will help save me a couple ounces of blood and tears. Adding you to my watch so I can keep seeing more adorable plushies :)
Reply
:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thanks! =) Even I'm still pretty bad with a machine, I'm trying to get better though. So far I've only broken one needle, which is a pretty good average for the 1.5 years I've had my machine, haha.
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:iconspaztastyck:
SPAZTASTYCK Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Of course :) And that's good! That's really good actually. I think I was just an idiot because I broke them all over the course of two years. Technically a few months because they were different trimesters. I think it helped to learn how to thread the bobbin correctly... XD
Reply
:iconthecommentator88976:
TheCommentator88976 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2014
I've favourited this to look at over and over again. I want to learn these things so I can make my own Marionette plush from Fnaf 2. I can't find any patterns for Marionette, so I'll have to make my own. Which will be tough. But I believe with enough practice I can make my Marionette plushie. I'll study the details of Marionette carefully so I can make it as good as it can be for a beginner. Reason I'm doing this is because there are no Marionette plushes for sale. Your guide should really help me make this plushie!
Reply
:icondekiigrupo:
DekiiGrupo Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
thank you very much!!! so helpfull!
Reply
:iconchibi-pets:
Chibi-pets Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2014   Artisan Crafter
Is ok If I share this in my fan page in facebook? ^^ is really cool! 
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:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Sure, no problem! If someone with your skill level thinks it's worth sharing then I'm pretty happy =P
Reply
:iconchibi-pets:
Chibi-pets Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2014   Artisan Crafter
www.facebook.com/ChibiPets?ref… thanks! 

Thanks for your kind words too 
Reply
:iconhadescreations:
HadesCreations Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
~Hugs so much an gives much love~ you - have made my day~! I 've been searching for something on how to do decent plushes and felt like I was doing bad but I'm so happy this has been shown to me~! <3
Reply
:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Glad I could help! Even if this tutorial didn't provide too much specific pattern advice =P
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:iconhadescreations:
HadesCreations Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It's helped a lot more than some guides I've found ^~^;
Reply
:iconsadhandle:
SadHandle Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2014  Student Artisan Crafter
I have a question: I just made my first plush ever (caterpie!) and the issue I had with him was that once I stitched him up I could see the stitches on the outside, even though I did them on the inside. My ladder stitches weren't visible but my regular ones were. How do I avoid this in the future, as I don't plan on using a sewing machine any time soon.
Reply
:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
A lot of times it actually just depends on the fabric you use. I know that generally when I sew fleece by hand the stitches tend to be quite visible; fleece definitely seems to look much nicer when it's machine-sewn. However, for minky, which I use for all my plush, generally I can hand sew without stitches being visible from the outside, mostly because the fuzz covers the seams up. Other than that, I'm not sure I can offer much advice; just pay attention to the spacing and tension of your stitches, and perhaps consider using a backstitch.
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:iconsadhandle:
SadHandle Featured By Owner Edited Nov 4, 2014  Student Artisan Crafter
I tried backstitches actually on part of him and I found them to be more visible. I am using fleece. I don't think it helped that I was using white thread on green fleece ^^;;
Thanks for your help though :) and getting back to me so fast
Also one other thing and I promise I'll leave you alone lol! I use knots from my ladder stitches and they are VERY visible. Any tricks for hiding them? Or different knots? I've been using french knots for the top stitched details, but I don't think I can do that :/
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:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
For the starting knots, you typically just have to figure out a good starting point that'll hide them. For the finishing knot, typically what I do is that after tying up the finishing knot, you want to bring the needle into the seam as close to the knot as possible and pull the string through tightly; many times this will cause the knot to get pulled into the seam, and you won't be able to see it from the outside. 
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:iconsadhandle:
SadHandle Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2014  Student Artisan Crafter
Oh I see! Thank you so much!
Reply
:icontransforpuppy:
transforpuppy Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014
This in an amazing guide! I'm trying to start learning how to make plushs and this has really helped ^v^ especially the bit about the patterns 
Reply
:icondiffeomorphism:
Diffeomorphism Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
No problem, glad I could help! Yeah I definitely understand how pattern stuff can be pretty intimidating; it really is true that being good at making patterns just involves trying over and over again. The only way to get better at making plushies is to make more plushies.
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