Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Kitty Sweet Tooth plush toy

 Kitty Sweet Tooth is a graphic novel for young readers about the silly adventures of Kitty Sweet Tooth, who as her name implies loves desserts! Written by Abby Denson and illustrated by Utomaru, the book was released this spring.

The editor Robyn Chapman commissioned me to make a plush version of Kitty Sweet Tooth as a gift for the creators.

I took reference images of Kitty from throughout the book and figured out a simple pose and facial expression for the plush toy version.

Her face is a combination of appliquéd fabric and machine embroidery. She is about 12 inches tall from her cute shoes to her ears. Her body is made out of plush minky fabric and her dress is cotton knit fabric with a heart embroidered on it. 

 There is nothing better than reading a book while cuddling with the main character by your side.



While the plush versions were just for the creators, you can still check out the book and join Kitty Sweet Tooth on her adventures!

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

TrevyMetal's Green Meanie monster plush

After seeing some of my plush designs at Meow Wolf, the artist TrevyMetal got in contact with me to create a plush out of his Green Meanie monster character.



The process of creating this plush started with TrevyMetal sharing an illustration of his Green Meanie character. He also shared some great reference of similar existing products that he liked, that helped me visualize what he would like to see with his character turned into plush.

From his drawing, I made my own sketch of the front and back. Making my own drawing helps me think of how the flat drawing will be built into a 3D shape made of multiple pattern pieces. The Green Meanie has some interesting facial features that needed to be shaped out like the folds in its nose bridge, the pushed out eyelids, the flared mustache and the muzzle shape. I made various versions out of muslin, going back and forth tweaking paper pattern pieces and sewing up sample variations until it looked good. Then I made a full plush fabric version for TrevyMetal and sent it to him in person. Once he could feel it, he had a couple more adjustments. I included those in the next sample and then the Green Meanie plush was officially created.

I made a limited edition run of just 25 pieces with a custom embroidered logo, which sold out quickly as there are some big TrevyMetal fans out there.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Turtle Cat Toys

I worked on a bunch of sketches for Sport Pet and then I saw them turned into a cat toy at Target!

Often what I'm asked to do is come up with lots of product ideas and sketch them out for the in house team to think about. This one was for a molded rubber cat toy with a Mylar film crinkle feature. I came up with all sorts of different things that might look cute and Sport Pet ended up making the turtle. I don't always know what gets made as it's a long process that I'm usually just a part of the beginning of, but it's always fun to see a sketch made real.

They did send me a sample of the jellyfish too, but I'm not sure if that went into production.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Fauna Friends: dog, cat, and rabbit plush toys

Fauna Friends is my first foray into making a three in one pattern design. Using the same basic body but swapping out ears, tails and face details you can make a dog, cat or rabbit doll.  I was inspired by my two young daughters dressing up all their various stuffed animals with doll clothes. I wanted to keep this design simple but still leave lots of room for variation by using a two color design with a main body color, then contrasting color for paws, belly and inner ears. I included plastic beans in their arms, legs and bottom to help them flop and sit.




The basic body is about ten inches tall from feet to head. The cat and dog ears add two inches and the rabbit adds four inches to the overall height. The faces are appliquéd and embroidered by hand.

To add to the play,  I developed patterns for three different outfits to dress up the Fauna Friends. It's always fun to work on clothing design in miniature as it all comes together much faster than full size clothing patterns. I worked up a dress with gathered skirt and full puff sleeves, a shirt with a collar and pants and a simple dress with a peter pan collar. They all have built in openings for the tail to pop out.

Dog with gather dress

Cat with pants & shirt

Rabbit with simple dress

The two first samples I made were a purple cat and purple rabbit for my daughters, as they requested. Currently the purple cat is my daughter Wendy's favorite toy, which is one of my toy designer dreams realized. Purple cat may not be a favorite for much longer,  but it makes me very happy to have her playing every day with something I designed and made. Plus I'll get to see if my sewing skills are up to challenge of regular play and cleaning.

The pattern and step-by-step instructions for all three Fauna Friends and outfits are now available for sale on etsy and gumroad.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Blue Bird Wand Cat Toy

Over the last couple of years I've done some projects with Sport Pet, a pet toy company. I made prototypes and samples of their pet toy ideas. As is usual with prototyping work, not everything I make gets manufactured, but this time it did. I worked on the prototype for this cat wand toy in 2015, then saw on the shelves at Target in 2016.

The design process starts with sketches:

 I then worked up the first prototype:

I received notes and changes from Sport Pet, then made a revised prototype:
This became the sample and pattern that was used to make the final pieces.

I worked up lots of different themed ideas for these wands, and made a lot of different samples. Maybe these made it to the store shelves, I did see some products looked very similar, but I'm not completely sure they were my designs.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Rocky Crocodile plush toy

Rocky Crocodile is the latest addition to my plush toy menagerie. One of my inspirations was the book, The Enormous Crocodile by Quentin Blake. I love the sneaky crocodile who is trying to eat kids. Rocky is a much sweeter crocodile who would rather play with kids than eat them.

This is a super fun pattern to play around with using different fabric patterns and textures. I really like the chenille on the top body creating a neat fluffy texture. In the pattern, it's optional to add some plastic pellets inside the legs but it gives them a nice floppy feel.  I also enjoyed using felt for the spikes and claws, it gives a sharper look but then it's reinforced with a stitched line for extra durability.

The pattern is available in my store or on etsy.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Goldie Blox Ruby Rails dress

I had the pleasure of working with the Goldie Blox design team to create the dress pattern for the Ruby Rails Skydive Action Figure that was released in 2015.

It started with a sketch from the character designer at Goldie Blox. Ruby is a fashionable coder, so they wanted to represent that in her outfit. They liked the idea of a cute dress, with a tulle underlay along with a printed pattern on the bodice that would highlight her computer skills.

 I showed the team a lot of different fabric options with colors in the coral pink and magenta families. Ruby is friends with Goldie who wears purple overalls, they wanted something that would complement but stand out from Goldie's outfit. They ended up with a purple/magenta color, but it stands out against Goldie's lavender/purple overalls.

Building a dress pattern for a doll is pretty similar to making clothes for humans. One difference is that with the smaller size you have to factor in tiny seam allowances, but you can often remove seams to simplify the sewing.  Ruby's dress doesn't have any shoulder seams, because they are unnecessary for a doll her size ( 7 inches tall) and it creates fewer pattern pieces which is easier to assemble.

Pretty quickly the idea of a print on the fabric was thrown out, but the shine of liquid lamé was very appealing to the team.

Version 1 in liquid lamé fabric:

 I made a sample with the liquid lamé fabric that the teamed like, but when they got the manufacturing prices back it turned out it was too much. So I worked on the next version in a simpler fabric with ribbon sleeves and a ribbon sewn into the hem to create the look of a double layer of skirt without the cost. That combination turned out the have the right cost and a style that worked for the team.

Final Sample:

Final product in package: