Have you ever wondered how an engineer would make a stuffed animal? I did!
Clover the Ingram Raccoon
My first stuffed animal was based on a joke sketch of a really strong raccoon I made back in 2020.
This project, oddly enough, started in Blender, where I created a model with just enough geometry to establish the form of the raccoon. I used Blender's paper model feature, which I'd previously used to make a paper sci-fi vehicle to make a pattern I could print out and assemble in real life.
Once the model was assembled in real life, I drew lines to mark out sections I believed I could get to lay flat when cut out. I analyzed some existing stuffed animals but had to make adaptations to accommodate the unique shape of my raccoon. Once cut out, I made a few additional relief cuts and modifications to get everything laying flat.
Using the paper pieces as templates, I cut my fabric and started sewing! I used t-shirt fabric as I had a lot of old t-shirts in different colors on hand. I made the nose from a scrap of faux leather and the eyes from ebroidered over beads.
I used hand-sewn blanket stitches for the entire raccoon. This let me use smaller seams and gave me a greater level of control for some of the trickier connections. It also let me work on him anywhere! I sewed my raccoon at a friend's house, in a car, and even on an airplane!
Leaving just a small opening, I turned him right side out, stuffed him, and closed him up with a curved needle. I didn't have one on hand so I just annealed a regular needle and bent it.
I'm very happy with how he turned out. The model gave me a good starting point and the fabric stretched leaving no geometric artifacts behind. He's not perfect but I think it just gives him extra character and charm.
Eli the Elephant
My next project was a little stuffed elephant I made for my partner.
Like I did for the raccoon, I made a paper model, cut it into pieces, and used those pieces to make templates. This time, I made them a bit more polished, with marks for alignment and labels, so it's extra clear where everything should be sewn together!
With the templates made, I cut out pieces and hand sewed them together. Because of the small size and many complex connections of the stuffed animal, hand sewing really was the easiest option. Like on the raccoon, I used a blanket stitch to allow for a small amount of stretch.
I did most of the sewing while visiting Holden Village in Washington State. Having such a small, portable project allowed me to set up nearly anywhere and work.