When I was a little kid, my sister and I used to make clothes for our stuffed animals, all sewn by hand. My mother was fine with giving us needles and thread and showing us how to stitch, but we weren't allowed to use her sewing machine. On the one hand, I have fond memories of all the little outfits we made; on the other, I remember quite vividly exactly how many times I accidentally stuck myself with a needle. Sewing by hand is not an easy thing to do at all.
Even more difficult than making outfits by hand is making a three-dimensional plush toy. Katie, known in game as Adgie the warlock, not only made the adorable murloc shown above -- she did it entirely from scratch. That's right, the concept and pattern were all her own, and every bit of stitching on the murloc was done by hand, no sewing machine used at all. How impressive is that? But there's more -- this is only the third plush that Katie has made! Katie sent in a whole host of photos of the construction process and her other projects, and she had a chat with me about crafting homemade plushies and World of Warcraft.
World of WarCrafts: Hi, Katie! So how did you get involved in gaming and with WoW?
Katie: I didn't grow up with a computer or even video games at all in my house as a kid, so I was kind of a latecomer to the gaming world. My first console was the PS1, and I mostly played things like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro. I was almost in high school (around 2002 or 2003) when we finally got our first computer, and I quickly realized that there was quite a lot of things to do on this internet thing. My first MMO was Maple Story, which I played obsessively for a while. In 2004, one of my friends at school told me I would get along with a friend of his from middle school who lived a few towns over, so he and I started talking online and eventually met in 2005 and started dating in '06. He was the one who recommended I play this new game called World of Warcraft.
When I first started playing, I hated it. I died repeatedly and lagged awfully (of course, I was still using that 2002 computer that wasn't so great to begin with), but I kept playing. After a week or so, I was completely hooked and have been ever since. The first character I enjoyed playing was Adgie, my warlock, and while boyfriends and WoW servers came and went, I still have an Adgie warlock as my main on my current server. I met my current boyfriend in 2008 and convinced him to play WoW in 2009. Very soon after he started playing, he discovered murlocs and immediately thought they were just fantastic.
You've definitely got a knack for crafts. Have you done any other kind of crafting?
I took a few art classes in high school because I've always loved drawing, but I've only recently started trying out more 3D stuff. I work at a craft store, so I get a lot of inspiration from customers and products in the store. I like to work with polymer clay. I also get plain boxes and cover them in scrapbook paper for cute gifts and storage.
So what made you jump into making plush toys?
I learned basic sewing skills from my mom when I was a kid. My family didn't have much extra income, so she taught me how to make clothing for my Barbie dolls. I learned a lot of it through trial and error as well.
Honestly, I tried my hand at plushies on a complete whim when I saw a couple online. I watch My Little Pony with my boyfriend and his brother, and I had seen some of the parasprites done as plushies. I thought that doesn't look so hard -- I think I can do that. Christmas was coming up, so I thought a parasprite would be a great gift for my boyfriend's brother. After I finished, I couldn't help but make one for myself. They're just so cute!
How did you put the murloc idea together?
As I was making the parasprite, my boyfriend hinted that he thought a murloc plush would be really cute. I dismissed it at first because it seemed very difficult and way more complex than a circle with wings, but then I started thinking more about it. I started doodling some ideas down, like a simplified round body with little round feet, and I eventually settled on a slightly more complicated one. I figured that most parts were pretty much basic bean shapes and started drawing out patterns. Big bean for the body, smaller beans for the legs, long skinny beans for the back fins, and so on. I cut out all the beans in paper and assembled them flat. Making the three-part body was a little trickier. I ended up taping the body papers together at the top, holding it open onto another piece of paper, and tracing the shape on the paper.
I made him completely out of regular felt and embroidery thread I bought from work, and for the most part just made each piece separately and assembled them at the end. After cutting out the body pieces, the eyes were first and easiest, since they're really the only 2D part. After that, I made all the little pieces like the back fin-beans, leg-beans, and fin. I traced from the paper cutouts onto the felt, cut a little wider than the line, and pinned them inside out. I sewed each piece up, turned them inside out, and stuffed them. I pinned the main body inside out with the back fins inside sticking out slightly and sewed up the whole back. The tail fin was done similarly.
For the side fins, I stitched the visible front-side first, then closed up the back onto the main body. The feet and legs were almost last. The feet took me a bit longer because they didn't fit the bean theme. I ended up making them each flat out of two pieces, sticking the open end of the leg over the top of the foot and stitching them on that way. Then I just sewed on each of the legs from the inside. I attached about two-thirds of the belly pretty easily, but by this point with all the limbs and things attached, I couldn't turn the body inside out anymore. I had to be careful with the last few inches of sewing since I was going from the outside while it was full of stuffing and still wanted it to look nice. That part looks different but still pretty good.
I'd say the most difficult part of making him was just those last few inches of stitches to close up the belly, because the stuffing was poofing out, I was having to hold it closed because I couldn't get it pinned like I wanted, and I was so worried I'd mess it up somehow and all the work I did would be ruined. Luckily, that didn't happen!
Since this one turned out cute, and since I learned what not to do, I am definitely planning another one for myself! I think Lawrence (the murloc's new name) needs a girl murloc to hang out with, so I've bought some pink and purple felt already. I'm also planning something for our best friends in our guild, but I would hate to spoil the surprise if they read this!
Any advice for those that might want to try making their own?
I went into this as a blank slate, just knowing how to do a basic stitch (I've never used a sewing machine in my life), so I learned quite a bit. If anyone like me wants to try, I'd be happy to share my limited knowledge.
First, get a thimble. I can't count how many pokes I got, and pushing an embroidery needle through four layers of felt can be tough. Second, take a break once in a while, or your neck will hurt quite a bit. Make sure you have a nice, bright lamp nearby as well. Something I didn't think about before but which I will never sew without again is a magnet. You do not want to have to try to tiptoe barefoot to find one if you accidentally drop a needle or pin. I traced a lot of my pieces with a pen, which I won't do again. It doesn't show through from the outside, but if light-colored thread goes through the cloth that has pen on it, it darkens the thread.
Oh, and start simple! Something like a pillow is really easy and can look good. With that in mind, also don't be afraid to be ambitious with your project. You just might surprise yourself.
Well for an ambitious project, Lawrence turned out just great! Thanks for sending in the submission Katie, and be sure to let us know if you finish any other cool projects.
Are you a crafter? We'd love to hear from you too. Fan art, music, writing, clothing, figures, stuffed animals -- you name it, we'd love to see it. So send it in, and you could be featured too!
World of WarCrafts spotlights art and creativity by WoW players, including arts and crafts, fan art, WoW-themed recipes, comics, cosplay, music and fan fiction. Show us how you express yourself by emailing email@example.com with your not-for-profit, WoW-inspired creations.