Tag Archives: stuffed animal

Side Project: Mole Friend

In addition to creating clothing and accessories, I like to make creatures.  Secretly, I want to grow up to be a monster-maker (okay, not so secretly).  My passion is creating: clothes, costumes, creatures, whatever.   When I interned at the Sesame Street Live costume studio, I went to work each day in a building labelled “COSTUMES & CREATURES.”    So perfect.

A few months ago, I started painstakingly working on patterning some plushies. It’s hard for me to think three-dimensionally.  I know patterning for clothing requires three-dimensional thinking and planning, but I’ve been able to figure it out after years and years of working on it.  Plushies seems EXTRA three-dimensional (does that even make sense?!), so it’s super hard for me.  Like most people, doing things that are tediously difficult is annoying.  Most people tend to enjoy doing things they are naturally good at. But, if I had followed this model for my career, I’d be a mathematician instead of an artist/designer (not kidding, not even a little).  But, I ENJOY designing and creating patterns even though it’s tough for me.

Using the muslin to double check shapes.

The first creature I made was an adorable, chubby beaver.  He turned out really cute, but it took me quite awhile to get him there.  I decided the next creature challenge was going to be a mole.  Why a mole?  Why not.


This mole was going to be sewn out of an old faux suede winter coat that was given to me with hope I’d turn it into some awesome.  (Moles are awesome. Maybe not a real one that’s messing up your yard…..but this one will be awesome.)  I really do love to recycle fabric.  Actually, I ended up turning the lining of the coat, which was a nubby faux fur in the same color, into a second mole.  (You can see the nubby fur in the picture below.)

Spare parts (aawww, look at the cute little mole tail!)

Creepy Deflated Moleskin

I needed these moles to have some rockstar digging claws, so I brainstormed lots of different materials to make them out of: fabric, interfacing, felt, plastic, clay.  Then I remembered I have a pretty stellar leather scrap stash.  Leather claws would definitely look pretty gnarly.

Claw time: getting his nails did.

When it was finally time for stuffing, I was so ready to see him.  The anticipation was killing me.  He also turned out SO CHUBBY AND ADORABLE!  I was hoping to create a mole that looked sleepy, vicious and cute all at the same time.

Cutest chubby mole and chubby beaver I’ve ever made.

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Posted by on 07.11.12 in Side Projects


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Side Project: Beaver Fever!

I’m a textiles recycling enthusiast.

Or, as my partner sees it: I am incapable of throwing fabric away.

Seriously, I have boxes and bags of scraps that I just KNOW will come in handy for some project someday that will need just a teeny tiny scrap of that ONE fabric.  So, I keep it.  In addition to keeping fabric scraps, I even save thread clippings.  I’ve used thread scraps in the past for stuffing small plush creatures, so I’ve just continued saving thread bits for years and years.  I told you I’m a textiles recycling enthusiast: recycled thread guts.

Recycled guts collection site: Toss your thread clippings here!

I’ve been working on some plush creature patterns lately.  The first one I focused on was a super chubby beaver.  Now I’m SUPER glad I’ve been keeping all these scraps for years, because it takes alot of guts to stuff a super chubby beaver.  (I meant that sentence in the G-rated version.)

Pile o' beaver parts.

While I’ve been patterning clothes/accessories/costumes for years, plush creatures are real, real hard for me to pattern.  I think it’s because I don’t necessarily have a brain that works three-dimensionally.  Sure, clothes are essentially soft, three-dimensional sculptures worn around a body, but I have learned the shapes, curves, and contours of these sculptures.  The starting point is always human body shaped, so I’ve been able to spend years figuring it out.  With my plush creatures, there’s not really a starting point.  My brain panics. I decided to dive into this project despite my “holy cow…..what?!” mentality.

Using recycled guts.

While I still have some fine-tuning on my pattern, it definitely turned into a chubby beaver body.  When I use the recycled textiles, I tend to stuff them fairly tightly.  This gives the plushie some weight and they feel pretty dense.  I happen to like this, but not everyone does.  Some people prefer the super soft and squishy type.  Personal preference, no judgement here.

Now the fun part: details!  You all know how I love to get caught up in details.

Nose job!

A soft leather nose, suede stitched teeth, mop of furry hair, a quilted tail.  Yep.  Details are definitely my favorite.

Securing the teeth. Audio Helkuik: designer, costumer, beaver dentist....?

Over all, I’m reeeeeeeally excited about the outcome of this side project.  While I love making clothes, I’ve always wanted to be a monster-maker.  Okay, so a beaver isn’t a monster…..but if I can make a beaver, I can make a monster, right?   Plus, I love using up the scraps from all my other projects.  The beaver was stuffed using scraps from my clothing collection. A beaver with circus guts has got to have a destiny of serious awesomeness.  I think I have enough scraps to make a small army of creatures.  Since I’m constantly sewing clothes for clients, I’ll be continually creating guts.  Really, my studio has created a great cycle of sustainability as far as guts goes.  Textiles recycling winner!  And chubby-beaver-maker winner!

Beaver Fever: my new chubby beaver friend!

You know what they say: If you can’t make friends….MAKE some friends.



Posted by on 03.13.12 in Side Projects


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