All good patterns require testing to perfect. This isn't a process that can be skipped, but there is also no need to use high quality fabric. I personally use scrap fleece and I do not affix safety eyes in the back so they can be taken out and used. I also remove stuffing when I am done so that can be re-used as well.
Sometimes a pattern can be refined with only one test plush, but sometimes it takes many more. Here is my first cardinal test plush.
As you can see, it's not perfect, but it did make a recognizable cardinal shape which is good. It was sewn with black thread so I can see the seams more easily. Sometimes I will also mark the seams with a pen so see it better.
In the end, I did end up wiring the feet to allow it to stand, using 2 pipe cleaners for each leg.
Now I will go through and highly some of the changes I want to make.
From this side view I can tell I want to move the position of the eye and move it in, make sure the "black" area will go around the eye. The subtle shapes I made in the pattern aren't easy to sew and don't show well, so I will simplify the shape. The head needs a more rounded shape on top and a more defined dip in back, as well as a more refined area under the beak. The beak is a bit large, but I like it. I was once out mist netting and banding for a class and got my hand pecked up pretty badly by an angry female cardinal so I have a great respect for those beaks. Larger seems fitting.
Finally, the body ends a bit abruptly and could use a longer rump. The legs could also use a bit length, they just show as little bumps.
This side view simply shows that the eye placement must move. It demonstrates it better than the side photo.
The photo of this side shows the other wing. I chose two different styles of detail for the feathers and I prefer this one, though I want it to be straighter than I sewed it. I also made this leg too thick.
I also mark the image of the foot (which I inserted into the body, but didn't sew). This is for my reference, so i can remember how I inserted the pipe cleaners.
I use all of this information to revise the pattern.
I changed the black face patch to simplify it and moved the eye marking. The beak was a bit too big for the space allowed on the patch, so I increased that. I also gave it more curve under the beak. The crest is thinner with more definition on the back of the head. The body is elongated and the legs made longer. The belly gusset has been changed to match. The middle toe needed to be slightly longer, a minor adjustment.
I also doubled the leg pattern instead of sewing two together, just to simplify it.
Next is to make a test with this new pattern.
This one was made with correctly colored ati-pill fleece and turned out wonderfully. I only need some minor changes.
The only thing I need to change is to to make the black belly dart area shorter. I had increased it, but it wasn't necessary. The feet worked wonderfully this time, it was able to stand without any problems right from the start.
Next I'm going to cover cleaning up the pattern using photoshop and photographing the steps to put it together.