November 10, 2008

How to..., design a softie, step one,

Ideas, inspiration and resources, through to pattern development. 

This isn’t intended to be a definitive guide to designing, just a run through of the methods I employ, which have been honed down over the years I have been crafting. When it comes to softie design, the first step is to choose or at least have a vague idea, of what it is you would like to make, be it animal, insect, doll, inanimate object etc.  Once you have that, next, you need to begin searching for reference through the various resources available in order to refine the initial idea.  I find inspiration firstly, in amongst the books and magazines I have here at home, then by doing basic Google image searches.  For the purposes of illustration, I am going to show an owl (I can’t show something new really, have to keep at least some secrets!), first for actual real life owls, owl drawings and/or illustrations, and then for owl softies (can you spot mine?!), also trawling places like Flickr and Etsy. This is a very useful way of collecting inspiration and will also help identify what is already out there, design wise, is order to avoid any potential copyright conflict.  When I'm searching for ideas, in addition to looking for examples of styling and techniques that inspire me, I'm also looking at ideas to avoid, which may have already been done many times before.  I prefer what I make, to have it's own unique features and characterization.

There are some new online softie resources I've come across recently, the first has been created by Jhoanna of One Red Robin, a whole website dedicated to Softiemaking.  Then there is the website to go along side the 'Softies' books, (I have only just managed to get hold of the first softies book, and now they have brought out another!).  Both are full of ideas, links and downloadable free patterns to get you started.   On the MyCraftivity website, I have recently started a group covering plush and textile sculpture, which you can join to show and share what you make.  In addition to these, there is also Plush You and Softies Central which are both well worth checking on a regular basis, and a list of other places to look in the 'softie link' section in my blog sidebar. 

Once you have some images pulled together, it's time to get the sketchbook out.  It is through this process, that the inspiration you have collected, will develop into a much more personalised idea.  I tend to re-draw my design over and over again, each time taking it further away from what I have been using as reference, and closer towards the finished design.  

I also like to try and draw it from different angles, given that what you are going to construct out of fabric is in 3D, this is a useful way to think about how the different components will fit together, and also serves to highlight the various different pattern pieces you will need to draw.

Japanese craft books are ideal for gaining an insight into breaking down a sketch of a softie into a pattern, even if you can’t understand the words, the illustrations are hugely educational and convey most of what you would need to know in picture form.

Step two will be next, covering going from pattern to prototype, choosing fabrics and additional materials and the actual making of the softie. Now, I need to get back to my own sketch book and work on some new designs, thank you for all the ideas from my previous post, a huge help. 

See you soon!


Locket Pocket said...

A great post Amy - thanks for sharing your tips - I'm going to bookmark it for future reference!

Lucy x

Lindsey said...

Cheers Amy.
This little series is going to be soooo helpful. I have just been commissioned to make 3 or 4 different softies based on a range of creatures for a stationery (or is it stationary?) company.
Have a pretty good idea of what to do but your posts will be great as reference to check I'm doing it right. :o)

Amanda @ said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for such a great post. I've wanted to make some softies of my own, but it seems so complicated and like such a mystery. I can't wait to see more!


Izabela said...

this is fantastic tutorial - can`t wait for next one - thank you for sharing it!

cutedesigns said...

Great post, nice tutorial. :)

Gigibird said...

Very interesting post as I find how other people work things out fascinating; however my approach is very different.

Gina said...

That was really interesting to see your thought processes during diseigning.

Kitty said...

Wow - a really interesting post. Thanks Amy. And now I have a zillion links to check out and learn from. Looking forward to the next one! x

sweetmemorymakingmom said...

I love your post and your blog. I found you through flickr. I really enjoyed reading about you creating your patterns. I have to pattern I created for pin cushions and was thinking of having them copyrighted. But I have no clue how to do it or right a pattern up to sell it. I just drew the cat and the owl for my pin cushions and then sewed them together!

Look forward to reading new posts and going back and reading older posts. hugs, Ellen

Things Hand Made said...

Thanks, its good to see how you use your sketchbook, its as scribbly as mine!

Anonymous said...

I love your sketches, and I'm so impressed that what you put in your sketch-book translates so well into the material version!