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Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Swirly the Sovereign Snake stuffed animal

Swirly the Sovereign Snake is my latest stuffed animal. Inspired by funny snakes like Sir Hiss from Disney's Robin Hood, I designed my own royal snake.  I think snakes are really silly, so it was fun making a plush version with a bouncy, coiled body. Top it with a crown and you've got a very regal but funny snake.




Alec often draws funny looking snake sketch, be them sad or mad, they always crack me up. I used that idea is putting together Swirly the Sovereign Snake. I played around with a couple different eye looks and ended up with an appliqué solid eye, with highlight and eyelashes. I think the eyelashes add a lot of character.

The finished snake measures:
9 inches long (nose to body coil)
10 inches wide (base to top of head)
7 inches long (body coil)

It's a great pattern for extra scraps, you can patch them all together on the body to make unique markings on the body.

Adding the cape and crown really gives Swirly a lot of personality, as well as their regal attitude.

Once it hand, Swirly is very springy and can be posed in many different ways.

The Swirly the Sovereign Snake pattern is now available for sale on etsy & ko-fi as a digital download. You get the pattern as well as step by step instructions to make a custom swirly snake.

 Make a bunch of new snakes friends!

Monday, March 21, 2022

Meow Wolf Bearret plush toy

 I worked on the plush toy version of Bearret, one on the creatures at the Meow Wolf Convergence Station in Denver. The original sculpture is a design by Caity Kennedy and her team. I worked with them in creating the much smaller plush version.

 

These are the reference images I was given as the team was constructing the exhibit at the same time I was working on the plush version. From these images I worked up a sketch of some options for the plush toy.

There is always lots of back and forth in interpreting a large sculpture into a small plush toy. The real Bearret has many layers of cut felt to create its body texture. We ended up creating several custom patterns to be printed on the minky fabric through Spoonflower to give the feeling of the multicolored texture of the real sculpture.

Once of the perks of custom printing the fabric was once I had the pattern pieces shaped, I was able to get both the fabric design as well as the pattern pieces printed directly on the fabric.



 

With its long spindly legs, I wasn't sure if Bearret would need an internal support armature to stay in a standing pose. Luckily by firmly stuffing the legs that was enough to get it to stand and it keeps some flexibility so Bearret can sit and be posed in different positions.

I developed the prototype and pattern for mass production, which is currently in the works. I also handmade a limited edition of 20 pieces for the opening in September 2020.

I haven't been able to get to Denver to see the real Bearret, but I know it's huge. The plush version is smaller and more huggable at about 15 inches tall and 12.5 inches front to back.


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.


Front

Back 
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.

Front
Back

Side

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.

Dog

Cat

Rabbit

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.