I’m starting to understand my creative rhythm. I can’t keep churning out project after project for myself without losing a little bit of my sanity. Somewhere in there, I need to vary levels of difficulty and concentration to keep myself from burning out. This should be really no surprise to me, or that’s certainly the way I was taught to teach–alternating activities of high concentration with just plain fun to keep students engaged and more receptive to learning.
In light of this, I present an argument for making simple stuffed animals or stuffed whatevers.
Nostalgia: You know your room was populated with them when you were a kid, so why not populate your own kids’ rooms with them. For me, making a stuffie is a triple-whammy of nostalgia. Sure, I had my own collection, but also my Great-grandma made them, and when I was a kid, I made them all outfits as well as making my own little stuffies from whatever bits and scraps of fabric I could muster up. My crowning achievement in stuffie making?: crafting a faux amber heart necklace for my American Girl doll out of–wait for it, temporary dental adhesive (wouldn’t you know it was the right color and dried perfectly?).
Scrap busting: If you’ve sewn for more than 3 minutes, you know that sewing creates tremendous amounts of scraps. There’s sometimes when mentally you just have to chuck things because it’s ridiculous, but there’s other times that you can’t bear to part that precious bit of voile or silk or corduroy or what have you. Stuffies allow you to use up those bits and highlight their beauty too.
Mental health: Sewing stuffies is not difficult. They use little fabric and it’s mostly straight line sewing with a few curves thrown in that won’t be ruined if they end up a little less curvy. It’s glorified pillow making, really, just cuter. After all of the topstitching that goes into a pair of jeans, it’s just the kind of simplicity your brain needs.
Death to (knit) wadders! We all start every project with dreams of that perfect fitting shirt or dress, but despite our best intentions, sometimes everything goes awry. If you’re like me, wadders tend to stare back at you in the closet, mocking you. I say dispatch of them in a satisfying way! Take a big rotary cutter and turn them into confetti stuffing for your stuffies (I say knit fabrics because wovens tend to make for a lumpy hand when used as stuffing. Of course you could use polyfil too, but it can leak out of the seams–and that’s a kind of fiber I’d rather not have in my kids’ diet)!!! Fabric confetti will give your stuffies a delightful heft that polyfil stuffies cannot reproduce.
Smile factor: Can you put a price on this (acutally I can–it cost me 2 naptimes and a couple of hours watching a movie only because I made them fancy with embroidery, but my materials were otherwise free, unlike pricey homemade stuffies you find on places like Etsy)?
Go make someone a stuffie.
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.