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:

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Meow Wolf Fridge backpack

If you visit Meow Wolf Santa Fe, one of the cool features is opening the refrigerator in the house to discover a cool vortex that takes you to another dimension. I worked with the Meow Wolf product design team to turn that experience into a backpack.

The backpack is constructed out of off-white vinyl fabric, with interior vortex made from a combination of frosted clear vinyl with sparkle vortex overlay. It's fully lined with white water resistant rip-stop nylon. It's got a handle shape on the exterior but you pull the whole door panel open. I used magnet snaps to pull the door back together when you need it closed. The used spoonflower to print the interior door image onto cotton fabric, then combined it with the other door pieces.

I handmade a limited edition of 20 pieces. Then Meow Wolf will be getting them mass manufactured to keep them regularly in stock.

Open the door...

...to reveal the vortex. I illustrated the interior of the fridge door. It's filled with Ωmega Mart Products like Blk Mlk, Happles (happy apples), Powdered Dreams and Alien Juice.

Unzip the backpack to reveal room for your stuff.

Padded Inner sleeve for precious electronics.

Side pocket fits a bottle filled with the liquid of your choice.

On the front door is a hidden metal panel to attach real magnets, for an authentic fridge experience.

Top handle and adjustable shoulder straps make it easy to take this magical vortex with you wherever you need to go.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Plush Pears

I just made a bunch of super cute pear plush toys for Marlena Compton's Let's Pair kickstarter.

The design process started with Marlena sending me a sketch of what she wanted. I used that as reference to make my own scale sketch which would be the basis of starting to build the pear pattern.

 I made the face an Illustrator file to easily turn it into a machine embroidery file. I still use SewArt to convert images to embroidery files for my Brother PE-770 embroidery machine.

Once I got the shape of the pear right, I sent Marlena several minky plush fabric swatches to pick the right color for the body. I made the stem out of the cotton flannel to still be soft but a have different feel than just another minky piece.

Once the final sample was approved, I made a bunch of pears!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Plotzo the Rat plush toy

I made a plush toy version of another Meow Wolf mascot, Plotzo the rat. You can find Plotzo hanging out at Wiggy's Plasma Plex with the rest of the juviegangers. This toy version is the only one you would dare touch, as the real Plotzo would rather stab you than hug you.

Plotzo cut out
I used Benji Geary's painted cut out as the main reference for the toy version of Plotzo. Then I did my own sketch simplifying details that wouldn't show up well in a plush toy roughly 14 inches tall.

Plotzo is a rude dude with attitude and that is represented in his attire. His jacket has real studs on the shoulders, and anti symbol patch on the back. He's been in a couple of scrapes so he's got a notch taken out of his ear, but he doesn't care. Who knew that acid wash denim would make a come back?... Plotzo did.

I handmade a limited edition of twenty pieces for the Santa Fe Meow Wolf store, so by now they are all sold out. But they should be getting more made soon, keep checking the Meow Wolf online store.