You’d think that stuffing a plush toy would be the easiest part. But there’s a knack to doing it so your cute little Alphabet People don’t come out looking lumpy and weird-shaped.
1. The first trick is to stuff it while you’re sewing it together. Place the wrong sides of your finished knitted pieces together and use a mattress stitch to sew up your letter. (YouTube has several excellent videos demonstrating the mattress stitch.) As a leg or arm or head is formed, before it gets too far along, gently place some stuffing in that cavity. Notice that I said “gently.”
2. The second trick is to stuff your plush toy gently. If you cram a piece of stuffing in and pack it down, it’ll form a hard wad. The next piece you cram in will form another hard wad, and before you know it, your poor little Alphabet Person will be all lumpy and bumpy. So, gently place a fluffy, un-wadded piece of stuffing into the cavity. Press it into place with care, then add another fluffy piece and press it into place with care. This way, the fluffy pieces will mesh together and retain their soft, cuddly texture.
3. Don’t overstuff your Alphabet People.
Add enough stuffing to your plush toy give it shape, but no more. Your goal is to create a toy that looks really nice and feels good. If you overstuff, the knitted fabric will stretch too far. You’ll see the stuffing through the stitches, your seams will show, and your plush toy will look bloated.
4. Take time to look at what you’re doing. Think of your plush toy as a soft sculpture, and you’re the artist. As you gently press the stuffing into a cavity, look at its shape. Is there enough stuffing in the far corner? Is this arm/leg shaped the same as the other matching arm/leg? Every so often during the finishing process, hold the plush toy away from you, stand back, and evaluate how it looks. Are the knitted rows still neat and fairly straight? If you overstuff in spots, it will stretch the knitted material and the rows will look crooked. There should only be gentle, natural swells where the pattern has called for shaping.
5. Use your fingers to shape corners while sewing it together. Your finished corners should be ever so slightly rounded, not squared-off with a point. Stitch right up to a corner and pull your stitches tight. As you start down the next horizontal/vertical, make about three or four loose stitches. Then, on the wrong side of the piece, insert one finger into where the corner will be and pull your yarn tight. This helps to form that corner shape.
6. Weave your yarn ends into the seams as you go. A lot of loose ends can get tangled up in the stuffing and prevent it from meshing together properly. And by now, you know what that could mean – lumps in your plush toy! You won’t be able to weave the last few ends into the seams, but just trim those to about two inches and tuck them neatly along the sides as you stuff and sew.
7. Make your final corner match the rest. When you get to the final few stitches at the very end, gently press those corner edges into themselves as you stitch. This will help to shape it into a slightly rounded corner to match the rest. Make your final stitch directly into the corner and bring your needle out another place on the body of the plush toy. Pull gently on the yarn to help your final corner be more of an “insy” than an “outsy.” Clip the yarn close to the body; the end will disappear inside.
8. Give your plush toy a massage. When you’re finished, gently massage the plush toy into just the right shape. If it’s a little bit lumpy, massage those lumps until they loosen up and redistribute a bit. If a limb is sagging, tug it into place. Smooth the knitted rows into place. Don’t be afraid to work with your finished Alphabet People to make them look their very best.
If you have any questions about making your Alphabet People beautiful, feel free to write in the comments section of this blog or email me at TheKnitKnoodler@gmail.com.