Here you'll find some hints, tips, and tricks to help you while making your dolls from patterns, or creating your own crochet designs. Affiliated with my pattern site WolfDreamer Off the Hook!, hopefully the two blogs together will help you with learning about designing, creating and perfecting your crochet doll making skills!

As I add pages, I will keep a list on the right hand side of the page with links to the various groups of tips (much like the pattern list on my sister site ) . As the list grows, you can find the information you need by scrolling the list for the topic you're interested in.

If you have a question about one of the many aspects of crochet doll making that you don't find help with here, email me at WolfDreamerOTH@gmail.com and I'll answer your question in email, and will add it to the topic page on the site!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

STUFFING YOUR WORK


  • The stuffing is what makes the doll look like what you want it to.   Crochet is just the 'skin' of the doll...  by itself it has only a slight shape of what you want to end up with.  The stuffing is the 'muscle and bone'.   Always have more stuffing handy than what you think you will need.    As you stuff the doll,  don't just 'stuff'  - shape while you stuff.   If you need a round shape,  stuff it firmly till it's round.  You might need to 'massage' the piece to help the stuffing work in smoothly and to get the shape you need.
  • When stuffing,  don't just grab a wad and shove it in there.  Remove the stuffing from the bag,  pull it apart several times to 'loosen' the fibers and then add it to your piece.  As you're adding it,  move the stuffing material around to get the shape and density you're wanting... your crochet piece won't shape itself,  that's your job  :D
  • If you don't like how the shape is coming out,  pull out all the stuffing,  pull it apart from itself a few times to 'loosen' it again,  and start over.   It might be a pain in the butt,  but it can make all the difference in the world in your finished piece.
  • Choose your stuffing carefully.  Whenever possible,  use 'Low loft'  or 'medium loft'  (often called 'craft quality stuffing').    
  • 'Low Loft' stuffing is firmer and less 'cushy'  but it's much better for smaller pieces because it will conform to shapes faster and easier.    Low loft stuffing is also more effective when using a tool (the back of your hooks,  a knitting needle or chopstick/skewer to poke it into tiny places).   Low loft stuffing has longer individual fibers that will entangle with each other to give you the shape you need in tiny spaces.   The longer fibers don't tend to poke through the stitches of work as easily.
  • Low loft stuffing also has its drawback.  It tends to 'ball'  up,  or get clumpy.   This can give your finished piece a lumpy look.  If this starts to happen,  just remove the stuffing,  pull it apart to loosen the clumps and restuff until you get the desired look.  Adding your stuffing in slightly smaller 'batches'  and shaping it,  then adding more can be helpful.
  •  'High Loft'  or 'Ultra Loft' stuffing   has very short fibers which makes it very 'soft and cushy' and extremely 'huggable'.  This kind of stuffing is really good for stuffing pillows and large areas.  It's really best suited to use with tight woven fabrics.  It can be difficult when used with crochet work,  because the short fibers tend to poke through the gaps in between crochet stitches much more so than low loft.  
  • High loft has its drawbacks too.  While High Loft (or ultra loft)  doesn't clump like lower loft stuffing,  it takes a good bit more of it to get the 'firm' density you want for most stuffed dolls.   When working with smaller areas like necks or legs,  it's harder to 'poke in ' with a tool,  because there's none of the long fibers to use for resistance (your tool will tend to poke straight through it, making it harder to manipulate in small areas) -  and because you have to add so much of it to get the firmness you need for support in necks, arms and legs,  it can sometimes cause 'bulging' of the piece.
  • When stuffing a piece with a larger opening that will be sewn to another piece,  slightly 'overstuff' the open piece  (have a little stuffing bulging out of the opening).   You'll need this extra to make up for the slight gap between the two pieces.   Sometimes you'll want to sew the two pieces together 'almost' closed,  then poke in more stuffing to the small opening left to give the firmness you need for the support  (such as with necks, arms, legs,  etc) - then close up the rest of the opening - poking in what ever stuffing you need as you go.     This will help prevent the 'wobble neck' or weak joints that can plague you when making stuffed dolls.
  • When stuffing your pieces,  pay close attention to corners and other details.  If you have a 'nose'  worked into your piece - make sure the stuffing is getting into these design details so that your shape is correct for the piece.  This is where a chopstick comes in handy.  I use the 'flat' end for most work,  but sometimes the pointy end comes in very handy for tiny little crevices or little fingers/ears and other small details.   An old knitting needle with a nice flat 'stopper' end is great too.   Sometimes just the eye end of a yarn needle is all you need to poke in that teeny bit  into a finger or toe.
  • They DO make 'dark' stuffing material for use with darker fabrics.  These are awesome for use with black,  dark blue or other dark colored crochet pieces.  It is however, hard to find,  and usually costs more.  If you have it,  use it... if you don't - don't fret,  the white stuff works just fine,  just don't 'overstuff'.
  • If you can see the stuffing easily through your stitches,  you're overstuffing... OR you need to work your pieces in a size smaller hook.   If you normally crochet loosely,  you should consider going to a smaller hook size until you can get a fabric that's tight enough to take a firm stuff, without letting the stuffing show through.   Outside of that,  stuff a little less firmly,  until your stitches are staying true,  but not allowing the stuffing to show through too much.
  • You'll ALWAYS see some stuffing if you look close enough.   Don't beat yourself up over it.  If you have a nice looking piece,  and very LITTLE stuffing showing through... you're good to go!  :D

7 comments:

jmo said...

Great first article! I look forward to more. I've made at least 5 of your pieces so far, and think you have a great talent for shaping and doll/pattern making! I'd LOVE to see some photos/examples with this article though. (show the differences in the loft stuffings? show lumpy/bumpy stuff vs same stuffing "refluffed" etc?) It may help me or others even more! LOVE LOVE LOVE it though! Thank you! :)

WolfDreamer said...

I agree that photos would be great. I hope to be able to do that at a later time. I'll be honest, most of what I do on these blogs is in my free time (I'm a homeschooling mom of four - although two of my kids are now 'past' that schooling stage - housewife, and also have a business at home).

I don't have a camera worthy of doing the photos at this time, and I'm currently working to save that last 20 bucks to buy my middle child a new computer for her birthday. I do plan though, on adding photos at a later time. For now ... I'm stuck with just words LOL

The photos we take for my patterns are done with my oldest daughter's camera, which I don't have access to all the time... but we'll try :D

monkeyonion said...

I don't suppose you have any ideas where I could find dark stuffing, do you? I've been looking online for hours and can't find anything - I have a real problem with overstuffing and was planning to make a big black dragon, so there's no way I could stop the white stuffing showing through =/ Thanks :)

dawn_dreamer said...

The way you add the stuffing and shape the piece gives it the shape we see in the nice pictures, right? So is it normal for the toy to look very little like the original object after extended periods of being snuggled? I made a strawberry last week and my cats keep sitting on it so it looks like an apple/strawberry hybrid x.x

WolfDreamer said...

Yes, that will do it! Try just 'massaging' the strawberry (kind of like fluffing a pillow) and see if you can get the stuffing back into the right shape. The firmer the item was originally stuffed, the harder it is for it to loose it's shape. You can usually get the shape back to fairly close tho, with a little work.

Dereck_Donzell said...

I have the stuffing bit down. I'm having trouble sewing together the seperate parts while also keeping proper proportions. Like, I'll have placed all the peices, but once I begin to sew my opening i make the much too small. Not sure how to do this properly.

Sadie Riley said...

use a nylon stocking in black, or a nude color (double them up if needed) to contain the fluff and to make it a lot harder to see the white common stuffing. No matter what kind you use. Just start with a little stuffing in the nylon and then place the nylon into the piece and since the nylon streches just keep stuffing as usual. And this way you can also use rice as a weight filler along with unpopped corn, beans and those plastic pellets. PS using a fun color of nylons can make interesting depth or contrast.

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I'll keep adding hints and tips here as I think of them, or as new questions get asked! If you have a question specifically about something that isn't answered here, email me at WolfDreamerOTH@gmail.com ... I will try to answer your question in email AND will add new information here as well :D