When you sew a soft toy using a fabric with ‘Nap’ or ‘pile’, for example fleece, Minky or toy fur, you can very easily reduce the appearance of the seams with this very simple trick and these two every day tools.
But first lets have a quick look at some different fabrics with ‘Nap’ …
Toy fur or Faux Fur comes in all sorts of lengths, styles and fabrics and can range in price from about $13 per fat quarter to over $80 per fat quarter. (based on prices found in Australian on-line business’)
I bought this (synthetic) example from Spotlight and as you can see the ‘fur’ is quite long with the bulk finishing at about 25 mm, but some are almost 5 mm long.
This very bright toy fur is actually bright red, (it was a very difficult colour to photograph). It’s fibres are 15 mm long, so still quite ‘furry’ , but not as lush as the first example.
Minky is a very popular knit fabric for soft toy making. It’s fibres are quite short at only 1 mm, but it is super soft and makes a very ‘cuddly’ soft toys.
I buy most of my Minky from ‘Minkee’ (Australia)
Fleece is also a very popular choice with plushie makers. It is in-expensive, comes in a large range of colours and easy to work with. Its fibre length is also approximately 1 mm long although unlike Mink’s straight ‘fur’, fleece has a more tangled ‘scruffy’ look.
Now – lets get to making those seam disappear …
The Technique …
By using something like a pin or awl (shown in my first picture), slide the end under the caught fibres and gentle pull them out. If you are using something sharp like a pin or awl, be careful not to snag the fabric it’s self. The more you free from the seam, the better the end results. After, you can use a brush to help ‘fluffy’ the fibres up.
Now, lets look at what happens when we sew the red toy fur. In the follow photos, I have sewn across the grain and across the lengths of the fur fibres, as well as along the grain of the fabric or in the direction of the fibres.
The first and second pictures are the cross-grain seam. Picture one is how the seam looks and in picture two I have folded the way-ward tufts of fur out of the way so you can more clearly see how the fibres in the top section have been caught in the seam. The last picture is of the seam that has been stitched along the grain. It’s more difficult to see the caught fibres, but even without pulling the caught fibres out, this seam is less visible than the cross-grain seam.
The first picture is of the cross-grain seam after I have pulled the fibres out and then brushed the fur. The seam is still a little visible, but it is a lot less obvious. In the second picture, I have ruffed up the fur a little, buy doing this, the cross-grain seam has virtually disappeared.
Next lets look at the minky …
Again I stitched two seam, one with the grain and the other across the grain. Most fabrics with a pile have the ‘fur’ running in the direction or ‘with’ the grain. Most Minky I have worked with however has the pile running ‘across’ the grain – from selvage to selvage. This can create a few challenges when deciding which way to lay your pattern pieces … with the grain or with the pile.
In the first picture I have indicated the grain of the fabric and the direction of the pile. This time the seam that is stitch along the grain is the one that is most obvious. The second and third pictures are close ups of these seams. You can see the fibres caught in the ‘with grain’ seam of in the second picture.
A: After gently pulling the fibres free of the seams I brushed the Minky in the direction of the arrow, which, in picture A is in the direction of the pile. The seam that cuts across the pile has been reduced in appearance, especially the further away from the centre point where the two seams meet.
B: The fibres have now been brushed in the opposite direction. Again, the centre point where the seams meet is the most obvious, but the texture of the fabric has change helping to diminish the appearance of the seams even more.
C: Here I have pounced the brush up and down with slight flicks in different directions to create even more texture. Now, even the thicker centre point has all but disappeared.
Finally, lets have a look at how the fleece comes up …
Because of the textured nature of fleece, it is more difficult to see the caught fibres even on the cross grain seam. But as you will see in the next pictures, pulling them out can make quite a bit of difference to how your finished toy will look.
Again, as with the Minky, I have brushed the fleece in three different directions … A – down … not the best look for fleece; B – up, this starts to make the fleece look a lot more like what we are used too as well as helps hide the seams more effectively. And finally, C – pounced, which has taken us a step closer to the textured look of fleece and helps to hide the seam.
Before we finish, lets have a look at this technique in action an a toy part …
And now, on a finished toy …
As you can see from these photos’, some seams will almost disappear completely, while other are still visible, but their appearance is greatly reduced. The overall effect though helps to give your product a more polished and less ‘mass-produced’ look.
Do you have a favourite tip or trick you use to help give your projects that extra special look? Why not share it below.
Happy sewing everyone ... 🙂