Working With Long, Skinny Plush Pieces
If you are just starting your plush sewing journey you may encounter a surprising area of difficulty: sewing long, skinny pieces.
When sewing long, skinny pieces it’s important to minimize your fabric shifting as much as possible. If your fabric isn’t feeding evenly it can cause your plush to start to curl.
There are 2 main ways to stop this. First, make sure your fabric is feeding evenly. Use lots of pins and a walking foot. For minky, a longer stitch length can also help. The second is to make sure if it does feed unevenly, it’s doing so in the same way.
Take this snake for example. If you sew the top seam from the neck to the tail, sew the bottom seam starting from the neck to the tail.
The next major challenge you’ll face with a long, skinny piece is turning it right side out. I have 2 preferred tools to use for this.
First, and my favorite, is hemostats.
Also known as forceps or hemostatic clamps, these are medical tools that you’ll quickly fall in love with for sewing. Reach in and pinch the other end of the fabric. You may need to bunch the fabric up if it’s longer than your hemostats. Then simply pull the fabric through to turn it right side out.
Another method I like is to use a straw and chopstick. Insert the straw into the piece. Again, you can bunch the fabric up around the straw if it’s longer. Then poke the chop stick into the straw from the other side of the fabric, shoving the fabric down into the straw. Roll the fabric down around the chop stick to turn it.
They also make a variety of specialized tools specifically for turning fabric, but they tend to work in the same way as these 2 options.
Stuffing a long, skinny plush is where a stuffing fork really shines. These tools are just metal sticks with a handle on one end and a U shape cut out of the middle at the top.
Grab a small bunch of stuffing. Pinch it between your thumb and forefinger and push the stuffing fork in the middle. Twirl the fork around, keeping pressure with your fingers, until the stuffing wraps around it like a q-tip.
Use your forefinger to hold the stuffing in place so it doesn’t unwrap and insert the stuffing fork into your plush piece and push the stuffing into place. You can pinch from the outside so the stuffing stays in and pull the stuffing fork out. You can also use the stuffing fork to push and manipulate the stuffing around in areas you can’t reach by hand.
You can also DIY your own stuffing fork with a chopstick! Just cut the similar U shape out of the top (be careful not to split it, chopsticks aren’t super high quality) and use it in the same way. It’s not quite as effective in my experience, but it gets the job done.
Hemostats are another really good option here. Just use them to grab a bunch of stuffing and stuff it in. Similarly to the stuffing fork, you can also use them to grab and manipulate stuffing inside the plush that your fingers can’t reach.
Finally, if you really can’t reach the area you need to, you can open a gap in the seam and close it back up by hand. Or leave gaps intentionally when sewing if you suspect it will be a problem.