May 2, 2013

tricks of the trade #1...

A while ago I made two short films which are uploaded to You Tube, one of those films, the free motion embroidery one has had over 160,000 views.  I keep meaning to make another, this time showing how I stuff a softie.  The reasoning for this is that I am quite brutal when it comes to getting that stuffing in, there's lots of banging and bashing it on a table top involved to shape it, and poking with a stick, which is what brings me to the point of this post, tricks of the trade #1...


  I find that all artists and designers always have certain tools they love, and I do love my stuffer sticks.  Except this one is not really a stuffer stick, it's a chop stick!

Now, you can buy proper bona fide stuffer sticks,

 (my Harry Potter wand)

and I do have one, except mine wasn't bought, I pinched it. 

When I worked for Coats Crafts UK (I can tell this story now as I haven't worked there for a good few years now!), one thing that did bug me was their reluctance to try anything new.  Ideas would be put forward at the product development meetings only to be met with a negative reaction, that was until one of our competitors came out with something similar.  Imagine the scene : an idea that had been pitched for a while :  Rag Doll kits, 'Oh no, couldn't possibly do that, too complicated/expensive'.  That was until a company called the Little Experience came out with a range, then the reaction was 'We should be doing these, why aren't we doing these?'.  Err, well we could have been doing them if you'd listened to your design team!

The story rolls on, as happens in most in-house design studios, we then have to go and purchase one of the competitor products for manufacturing analysis.  Inside said kit, was exhibit A, the stuffer stick, which eventually fell into my bag and made it's way home.  While this particular stuffer stick is very nice, has been extremely useful over the years, and also doubles as a wand occasionally, I do tend to revert back to my trusty old chop stick (which was also 'acquired', this time from a chinese restaurant), and this is why...

Stuffer sticks are used to get the stuffing into all the little nooks and crannies of a softie.  I use the end to push small chunks of stuffing in one at a time.  The chop stick is thinner than the stuffer stick, but despite that, it seems to retain it's strength, which is good as even when I'm being really rough with it, it doesn't feel like it's going to break. 

I also find the little square end it has very useful.  Quite often when I'm stuffing softies, I'll get issues like the one above, a stubborn crease which will just not go.  The most effective way to rectify this, 

is to take a small piece of stuffing,

and gently push it into place, over the existing stuffing, to fill out the crease with the square end.  The chop stick works better for me in this instance, as the pointed end of the stuffer stick is too fine and pokes straight through the stuffing I'm trying to get in, and the flat end is too wide as it tends to move not only the extra stuffing, but also what is already inside, which is exactly what I don't want it to do having already spent time shaping it.

So, that's it, a post all about sticks!  Just to finish off, here's oops of the week...

I made two right ears, ...oops!


surgical girl said...

im not sure why exactly but the one eared cat is so funny, hehe

Jodie said...

Oh I love stuffing !!! Nothing makes me happier than a basket full of flat toys awaiting stuffing. I use haemostats to stuff, I adore them, and they double as a turning tool as well.

Jessie's Needle said...

A chop stick, what a good idea. I usually use a blunt pencil or a random old knitting needle. But a chop stick is way more classy.

J xx

Unknown said...

I have been looking for your cat pattern everywhere. All no longer available. I love countryside softies and have made some for nieces and nephews. I guess I'll have to improvise.

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