Toy Production Techniques

Just a preliminary look into the options that are available to me to create a toy to accompany my book.

Sewing

I remember trying to sew my own stuffed animal once, when I was about 14, and giving up in frustration. Working under the assumption that I am now older, wiser, and more patient (and in possession of an actual sewing machine), I’ve turned to the internet to see what new information pops up.

As it turns out, there are infinite amounts of sewing patterns available online, a whole lot of them for free. There are loads of websites that provide free patterns and tutorials, and all of them are horrendously designed.

http://www.knowledgehound.com/topics/dolls.htm

http://www.craftsofchaddsford.com/sewingstuffedanimals.htm

http://www.allcrafts.net/sewing/stuffedanimalssewing.htm

Knitting and Crochet

I have always wanted to learn how to knit, so this is the most exciting option for me as of right now. I love the quirky, homemade look of knitted dolls, as well as the actual yarn itself – the texture provides an interesting feature outside of the actual shape of the doll.. it’s just over all very nice and cozy. My Grandmother used to crochet a lot when I was younger, which gives a similar effect to knitting, and I used to ADORE a teddy bear she made for me when I was a toddler. I’m not just going off on a random anecdote here – my thought is, if I loved knitted/crocheted things when I was a young kid, hopefully other kids will too.

As with sewing, there are an abundance of knitting and crochet patterns available online. Additionally, I’ve had this book recommended to me:

I’ve also looked into the differences between knitting and crochet, and the most coherent source I found was Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crochet#Differences_from_knitting

One of the more obvious differences is that crochet uses one hook while most knitting uses two needles. This is because in crochet, the artisan usually has only one live stitch on the hook, while a knitter keeps an entire row of stitches active simultaneously. So dropped stitches, which can unravel a fabric, rarely interfere with crochet work. This is also because of a second, perhaps less obvious, structural difference between knitting and crochet. In knitting, each stitch is supported by the corresponding stitch in the row above and it supports the corresponding stitch in the row below. In crochet each stitch is only supported by and supports the stitches on either side of it. If a stitch in a finished item breaks, the stitches above and below remain intact, and, because of the complex looping of each stitch, the stitches on either side are not likely to come loose unless put under a lot of stress.

Round or cylindrical patterns are simple to produce with a regular crochet hook, but cylindrical knitting requires either a set of circular needles or four or five special double-ended needles. And free form crochet can create interesting shapes in several dimensions because new stitches can be made independently of previous stitches almost anywhere in the crocheted piece.

Knitting can be accomplished by machine, while many crochet stitches can only be crafted by hand. Although some crochet patterns can emulate the appearance of knitting, distinctive crochet patterns such as the Granny square cannot be simulated by other methods.

Crochet is more suitable than knitting for joining pieces of fabric and knit patterns for sweaters may incorporate crochet for finishing. Crochet can add borders or surface embellishment to both knit and crochet fabric. Crocheted fabric uses 1/3 more yarn than knitted fabric. Crochet produces a thicker fabric than knitting, and tends to have less “give” than knitted fabric. And, generally speaking, crochet technique produces fabric faster than knitting.

So basically, what I’ve gotten from that is that crochet is easier by comparison, is less likely to unravel is broken, and is much simpler for developing tubes and circular shapes.

Vinyl

I found this “How To” on making your own vinyl toys/sculptures:

http://www.mnartists.org/article.do?rid=117339

As well as this website that offers production services:

http://www.bigshottoyworks.com/

I’m not sure how I’m feeling about the possibility of vinyl with this project, but I wanted to look into it just in case I found something that piqued my interest. As it stands, it’s looking like it’s going to be too expensive for me and/or too time consuming for the unit – in terms of having to send the design off and get it properly produced.

Edit: Also a thought on plastic toys… depending on the age range, could be dangerous!! Need to keep this in mind.

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