Toy Stuffing and Other Weekend Pursuits

This is Henry, one of our cats.  He likes a very thorough nap round about midday or any time of day actually.  Mr. Tialys says he looks like a badly stuffed nightdress case.  Which brings me, rather neatly, to my question today. How on earth do you stuff toys properly?  Is there some sort of devious method?  Not that I haven’t done it before but it always takes me so long and I find it so hard to get into the ‘pointy’ bits that I am sure there must be an easier way.  Also, I can never get over how you need a bag of stuffing about 5 times the size of the thing you are stuffing  – where does it all go?  Well, in my case anyway, not into the ‘pointy’ bits.

A little while ago I bought some delightful cloth kits on Etsy from a lady called Sarah Young.  She produces these gorgeous silkscreen printed tea towels which you can, in fact, use as tea towels or you can cut them up and make lovely cushions or doorstops or cuddly toys from them.  I bought a set of 4 and on Saturday, flushed with success having finally cleared up and reorganised my sewing room after the mess left after my quilting marathon recently, I laid out one of these tea towels on my work table and thought – this will be nice and quick and easy.

….and, of course, thanks to Sarah’s lovely  images and clear instructions, it is easy.  Except for the stuffing.  I started with the ears and thought I had them nice and firm but, as soon as I moved downwards, the stuffing followed me, leaving the ears strangely deflated.  I had to empty the cat out twice and start again.  I used a wooden proddy tool thingy which I think is actually a turning tool and I used some round bladed scissors.  I broke a paint brush and a bamboo knitting needle which had a posh round spotty wooden head so was expensive grrrr.  Still, no luck.  It was as if the stuffing had developed a mind of its own and there was no way it was staying in a cat’s ears.  In the end I just had to stick with my best result which I display for your delight below.  Love Sarah’s design on the cat.  There are two little mice to make too which I thought I’d hang round his neck on a ribbon – how difficult can it be to stuff two little mouse shapes?

Anyway, I need some advice quickly as I have got a fox to do next and you know what pointy ears they’ve got!

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  1. #1 by Mary Ellen on October 2, 2012 - 15:54

    I use a large sharp pointed darning needle after I’ve closed up the toy. I insert it from the back where a tiny hole won’t be noticeable, and push some of the stuffing into the points.

  2. #2 by tialys on October 2, 2012 - 16:35

    Thanks Mary Ellen. I did try something similar with an upholstery tool that I have but, because I’m more used to shifting horsehair around underneath hessian and webbing with it, it seemed a bit violent and the holes were a bit large although they did miraculously close up again afterward. A darning needle might be a little less drastic next time!

  3. #3 by UniqueNique on October 3, 2012 - 16:58

    It seems no matter what you do you can make it entertaining – I wish you luck with the mice – mostly when stuffing I use a knitting needle and then an embroidery needle/beading needle to get into the points.

  4. #4 by tialys on October 4, 2012 - 08:48

    Hi Monique. Mr. Tialys always says I never do anything where there isn’t some sort of story to be told about it afterward. I will let you know how I get on with the mice.

  5. #5 by Jan Marriott on October 5, 2012 - 23:48

    This dino only knows how to reply to an email……I have neverheardof SarahLund sweaters ….are they always 2 or more colors? It is Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend…..myfavorite meal of the year…jan


  6. #6 by tialys on October 6, 2012 - 17:48

    Hi Jan. Sarah Lund is a fictional female detective in a series called ‘The Killing’ – a big hit in the U.K. despite it being in Danish with subtitles.Her jumpers have become legend. Here’s a link to give you a bit of info & images
    Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

  7. #7 by wendy on October 7, 2012 - 21:27

    Oh boy! Toy stuffing! What a nightmare – the whole process of making toys is a bit mindboggling actually. My toys look quite sad. Wilted. Droopy. I think your cat is splendid.

  8. #8 by tialys on October 7, 2012 - 22:11

    The designer of the pattern tells me that it was much easier with kapok stuffing as it stayed in place much more easily than the more ‘slippery’ stuff you get now. Today, when I was foraging and rummaging in a lovely big autumn flea market, I saw a big sack of kapok. Unfortunately, the stall holder had gone for a cup of tea or a wee or something so I couldn’t ask the price or buy it so I carried on walking and, by the time I went back past it had been sold. Poo! I’d like to have given it a try with the fox.

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