Naughty first because it’s just a triumphant update: I FINISHED THE SATSUKI COSPLAY BOOTS!!! They’re a bit baggy, but they’re my first real proper try (the Attack on Titan ones were just boot covers so they don’t count). Glued to a pair of high heels and everything. I’m moving this week though, so I’ll post about them properly later, and for now you can have a photo:
Now for nice. I promised I’d post about the new dragon plushie dragon I made for my friend’s child, especially seeing I never posted about the first one. It was small and green and made of felt, which was a nightmare to turn right-side out.
Damn cute though.
This time I thought I would be clever and make it out of green polyester taffeta with spots on, which would be easier to turn. On second thoughts I decided to make it twice the size of the previous plushie as well. Was it any easier? …Eh?… Kind of? My advice is not to do this the day before you want to give the plushie to the kid. Or you’ll be up till *@#$ o’clock in the morning (even though that didn’t matter so much when I saw his happy little face).
Should you wish to make one of your own, you will require:
-A couple of big sheets of paper (A3 would work well) to draw out your pattern.
-Some measuring tools, ie a tape and a ruler. If you want to get fancy and get a compass too, by all means do, but I didn’t and I survived.
-About 50-75cm of fabric in the dragon’s main hide shade and about 25cm for the belly, feet, inside the ears and under the chin. I used polyester taffeta and satin to make for easier lunch-stain-removal. If you’re giving this plushie to a kid, it’s inevitable that at some point it’ll encounter tomato sauce or hummus or chocolate or all of the above.
-Some offcuts of a stiff fabric like cotton twill or felt (recommended, would have been easier) for the various features like horns, spines, a forked tongue or claws. Go nuts. If you want to do button eyes instead of appliqué eyes, you’ll need some of those too.
-Some felt to underline the belly to make it hold its shape better (not compulsory).
Step 1) Nut out a pattern
I broke the dragon down into the following parts:
- The back, including the neck and tail (two identical halves). Once it’s drawn, add a small dart to the place where the neck meets the back in order to round it out more. Making the neck curve like so at the edge where you set in the head (which for clarity’s sake I will refer to as n) will give the head a charming downward tilt.
- The belly (one part, cut on the fold). Make this a half-football shape. Measure the curved edge and make sure it isn’t too long for the lower edge of the back. You don’t want it going too far into the tail.
- The foot base. This is a circle. It will be the base of all the feet. Measure the radius and work out the circumference (2πr thankyou highschool maths). We’ll call this c.
- The front leg (cut in two identical halves). Start by getting your measuring tape, marking half c on it, then bending it slightly to get a shallow curve. Trace this curve. This is the bottom of the leg where you will set in the foot base. After that, you can draw whatever leg shape you like above it. Trace that base line on another piece of paper though so you’ve got a matching one to build the back leg off.
- The back leg. Start with the tracing of the front leg base and then draw another leg shape. I made mine fatter and with a slight bend for the dragon’s knee.
- The top of the head (which is cut on the fold). This is where it gets kind of tricky. What you want to do first is measure n with your measuring tape. This is what you have to work with re: the edges of the head that attach to the neck. The top of the head is most important. Allocate about 2/5 of n for it. We’ll call that edge h. Draw h as a straight line (because that’s easier). Then measure about 5mm above h and draw a straight line for the fold edge from there. You’ll end up with this: Then what you want to do is decide how long your dragon’s head should be and add in some curves to complete the shape. That 5mm from before will come out as a dart to differentiate the forehead from the neck a bit more and give you a guide for where the eyes go. Now measure the bottom edge of the pattern piece and write it down. I’ll call that edge b
- The chin (cut in two identical halves). I learned the hard way that it’ll be better to have some kind of centre seam in the head somewhere, and the chin works. It can be a straight seam. Allocate about 1/3 of n for the neck-edge of the chin (let’s call it c). Make c a straight line, then remember that measurement b that you took before? That is how long the top edge of the chin piece will be. We will call it b2, using all the powers of our imaginations.
- The cheek (for extra head-shaping) also has an edge that is whatever is left over of n. We’ll call that edge k. It doesn’t matter how long the cheek is so long as it’s the same length on both sides and so long as it’s shorter than b. We’ll call the upper and lower sides of the cheek e. They’re the same so I figure they’re interchangeable.
- The eye, if you want to appliqué, however big you want
- The wing, as you like.
- The ear, in a vaguely star-trek logo shape is nice, but really you can do it however you like.
- Misc other features like spines, toes, tongues etc can be up to you.
Still with me? Have a picture of the bottom of the dragon.
Step 2) Cut out your fabric
I chose to do the body, top of the head, cheek, legs and upper wings and ears in green, the belly, chin and under wings, feet and inner ears in yellow and the spines in black. You do you though.
Step 3) Start your engines (I’m so sorry I didn’t take any photos…)
I started with the details so I wouldn’t forget any. I sewed the wings right-side to right-side around the edges, clipped the corners, turned them the right way out and sewed veins onto them in a zig-zag stitch. Then I decorated the spines, belly and tongue with a zig-zag stitch in green. I also sewed the dart in the back of the body pieces.
Then you can get down to business.
Pin the body pieces together along the spine with any spine details and wings sandwiched between. Sew that seam down to the end of the tail and a little way back along the other side of the tail. Clip the end of the tail and turn it the right way out.
Sew each leg together right-to-right leaving about an inch gap along the top back. Very carefully baste the foot base pieces in to the ends and sew them in. If you’re adding toes, do this in the same seam. It’s fiddly. Then clip the seam allowances and turn the legs the right way out. Stuff them firmly (I used cut-up fabric scraps, but you could use commercial stuffing or lentils or whatever), then slip-stitch the gap at the top firmly closed.
Get the head-pieces ready to go on the body. Sew k to b right-to-right with the wide end of the cheek piece level with h on both sides of the top head piece. Then add on each side of the chin, with the edge of the cheek pieces level with c. Then you can add eyes to the dragon however you wish. I just appliquéd mine on with a zig-zag stitch. I also added a forked tongue.
Now sew up the ears (if you want them) and more spines (if you want them) and baste them to the top of n on the body pieces. Baste or pin the complete head on over the top, right-to-right, ensuring that the centre chin edges are level with the bottom of the neck. Too long is better than too short, and if the head edges are too long you can just pleat the cheeks a little to bring them level and it’ll give the dragon a slightly chipmunky appearance. Sew this seam, then turn it all the right way out and check that you’ve caught all the bottoms of the ears and spines.
Turn the whole thing inside out. Carefully fold the wings up and baste them so they won’t get caught when you sew the belly seam. Starting at the chin, sew straight down the centre seam of the dragon, attaching the belly to the other side of the body, and then stop at the end of the belly. From the other side, sew the bottom tail seam up, leaving about a two inch gap so you can turn the whole thing the right way out.
Turn it the right way out (it will be frustrating). Check that everything’s ok and you haven’t sewn the wings into the belly, and then you can stuff the whole body and slip-stitch the gap closed. Then I added the legs. A curved needle would have been useful here, but I didn’t have one and I managed.
Step 4) Give it to a kid
This is the fun part. The kid will hopefully hug the crap out of it and then start explaining to you that it’s actually a water dragon and it likes to cook with chocolate even though it can’t eat chocolate because dragons eat meat. (This is legitimately what happened).
The kid hopefully won’t care that the spine’s wonky.
See you after I move! I need to post about some exciting things like SHORTS. YES, I MADE SHORTS. I’M SO PROUD I’M ONLY TALKING IN CAPITALS FROM NOW ON! Stay (vaguely) tuned!