When was the last time you walked into a store and saw an appealing stuffed animal sewn from quilting cotton? Dolls yes – the smooth fabric makes it easier to dress and undress a doll. But cuddly stuffed animals? They’re ALWAYS made from softer stuff.
And they’re almost always made from fabric that you can’t buy at your regular fabric store. Super soft stuff that’s made especially for these toy companies.
Polar fleece and minky fabrics are usually as close as home sewists can come – and it’s just not the same.
But I found a source!
When I was at Quilt Market last spring I met with a company (Shannon Fabrics) who makes amazing plush fabric. They sell to a few specialty fabric stores, but none of the big box stores. They mostly sell to manufacturers.
I knew as soon as I touched their fabric that this was what I had been looking for to take my softies to the next level. I touched every kind of minky and fleece they made (and they make a lot!) and I kept coming back to something called Cuddle Fleece. It was amazing! Super soft, slightly stretchy, with a nice drape. I knew it would make terrific stuffed animals – and also blankets and quilt backs.
I searched for a few months, but I had a heck of a time finding reliable sources for anything but their dimple minky. I wanted cuddle fleece and I wanted to buy it by the yard!
You know what I do when I can’t find the materials I want to use? I find them at wholesale and add them to my shop. I figure if I’m having a hard time finding them, then so are you.
So I rearranged my studio, hemmed and hawed over color choices, and bought six enormous bolts of fabric. Now I’m going to have to rearrange my studio again because they. . . ummmm. . . don’t fit in the space I had made for them. 🙂
Over the next few weeks I’ll show you some of my favorite patterns made up in these fabrics. I can’t wait to play! And Jo is already claiming the samples. 🙂
In the meantime, you can find this super-soft cuddle fleece here and start making your own super soft softies!
I’m convinced that the fabric is the key to a sensational stuffed animal – but there are a few other materials that play a strong supporting role.
Safety eyes make your handmade softies look really special. I love the way the light glints off those shiny black domes – it makes the whole face come to life!
Make sure you’re using a good quality stuffing – it makes a far bigger difference than I ever anticipated – until I actually tried it. Here’s a post about my favorite kind and where you can find it.
I don’t make a lot of baby toys – but Abby Glassenberg at While She Naps is a master at it. Most store-bought baby toys have extra interactive bits: rattles, music buttons, squeakers, etc. Did you know you can add those to your handmade softies? I’ve never seen any of these components in a brick & mortar store, but Abby carries a few special supplies in her shop. Give some of these a try the next time you’re making a gift for a baby!
High end mass-produced stuffed animals are made pretty much the same way you make yours at home. Yes – they’re made assembly-line style by low-paid workers in a factory, but the process of sewing and stuffing is essentially the same. They just get softer results because they’re using softer materials. Materials not readily available to home sewists. Until now. 🙂