Standing dragon

There are still some tweaks to make (the neck join, the muzzle, the tail) and of course this is the less-horned Pernese variant, but I have successfully made a non-beanie dragon on a 4×4 hoop. Well, almost: I mirrored the wing and did them simultaneously in the 5×7, just to speed up testing.

It’s a fair bit smaller than the green 5×7-hoop one that made a guest appearance in the call for pattern testers, though I couldn’t really get an angle that showed it.

I may tweak the legs/feet a little more; they’re not much changed from the venerable Basic Standing Dog design.

The forelegs are a little shortened but once the wings are on the curve of the back is not that noticeable. (Yes, I’m seeing both a bat and an otter/ferret pattern happening there.)

I have experimented with a standing-on-hind-legs version but so far I only have a mutant kangaroo. 😂

Pattern testers, of course, will get versions of the pattern only after I’ve settled on a design, well past the mutant-kangaroo stage. The outside testing point is “I have a working pattern, now I have to see if other people can duplicate it with my instructions.”

Pattern testers needed

It’s approaching the time I will need people who aren’t me to test my patterns. People who have different embroidery machines, different experience levels, different stabilizers, different threads… whatever variables might be introduced, I’d like to run into them up front. Here’s what I’m looking for.

  • someone who has never made a stuffed animal
  • someone who has
  • someone who has little to no conventional-sewing experience
  • someone who has little to no embroidery-machine experience
  • someone who has a lot of embroidery-machine experience
  • someone who has a machine that doesn’t use PES files

And here’s what I’m offering:

  • a free version of the pattern(s) you test (I mean, duh. But also you get the final version)
  • a free version of any one of the other patterns (and if you decide you don’t ever want to make another stupid plushie as long as you live, it can certainly be Queen of Unfinished Projects or a custom design or something)
  • never-ending fame and fortune (okay, just credit in the pattern)
  • preferential “hiring” if this works out and I get to actually pay real cash money to testers down the road 🤞

And here’s what you’ll need:

  • an embroidery machine with a 4×4 hoop that can read PEC, PES, EXP, DST, JEF, VP3, or U01 files (if you have the wherewithal to convert from one of these to your machine’s HUS or whatever, that’s fine)
  • assorted threads
  • some minky or fleece or reasonably stretchy fabric; each critter takes anywhere from three to a dozen 5×5″ squares
  • possibly some bits of other fabrics (the test dragon’s wing membranes are quilting cotton, for instance)
  • fiberfill
  • a needle for hand sewing
  • a way to take pictures to send me (nothing fancy and nobody but me need see them; they’re just for “is this right?” or “look at what went wrong” or “look how it came out” purposes)

And here’s what I need you to do:

  • not flake (I mean, I get that life happens, I just mean don’t take a free pattern and run)
  • tell me what your skill level is
  • tell me what machine(s) you tried it on, what thread brand, fabric brand, stabilizer brand, etc. you use (as much as you’re able)
  • tell me how many tries each piece took and what caused any failures
  • tell me anything else you want to tell me about the pattern (“I got frustrated and gave up” is valid!)

The first test will be the orca, which is a simple little three-square critter and a good intro to how the three-dimensional ITH plushies work. The only hand sewing is closing up the tiny little turning/stuffing opening. If you’re interested, drop me a line.

Important tools: the hemostat

I decided to spent the afternoon cleaning the workroom because my hemostat got buried on the work table and I couldn’t stuff the horse test without it.

(I should probably put an Amazon referral link or something here, but just do a web search, you can find them all over including at the same places that sell doll- and bear- and plushie-making supplies.)

The smaller hemostat is one that a friend gave us years and years ago. He was a nurse, and showed up at one of our game nights with a whole handful of them, that his hospital was just going to dispose of. The sterile packaging had been damaged, and it apparently wasn’t practical to put them in an autoclave or whatever. Eh, they might be handy, we all said, and took one.

It’s turned out to be one of my most useful tools for turning and stuffing small plushie and bear parts. Many people use smooth needle-nosed pliers to turn parts. The hemostat works the same way but will latch so you can let go of it to adjust other parts of the fabric before going back to pulling it through. It’s also more consistently narrow and is less likely to pinch other parts of the fabric into its hinge.

They’re great for stuffing, too. Traditional bears, for instance, are stuffed as close to rock-solid as you can get (related: at least 30% of our bear-making guild had wrist surgery, or was told to give up bear-making if they wanted to keep the use of their hands, etc.) Some people use a tool that is a modified screwdriver, with a notch in it to grip the stuffing to get it where you want it. I pinch a bit of fiberfill in the hemostat instead, and can put it exactly where I want it. The rounded nose means I can slide it along the fabric around the outside of the rest of the stuffing to hit a spot that was missing just a little extra fill.

And that was needed with the tiny horse, whose legs have a lot of little nooks and crannies, and which relies on careful stuffing to stand properly.

Admittedly, once I got back to stuffing it this evening, it didn’t seem really worth all the work… poor goofy little critter. Such is the nature of first drafts, though.

Dragons!

A pair of dragon silhouettes embroidered as snap tabs.

We interrupt the mostly-boring stretch of fine-tuning patterns to bring you a new upload: a Pernese dragon silhouette, shamelessly swiped from the cover of Renegades of Pern.

Pernese Dragon Snap Tab files

The SVG source file is in the zip archive so you can edit it if you want, say, an eyelet version instead.