Search This Blog


Gift Certificates!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Stuffed Puppy Follow-Along

I haven't done one of these follow-along blog posts in awhile and now that I have a pretty good customer base I thought I would do another one so that everyone can see what it takes to make a stuffed puppy ;-)

I have already started this project so this won't be from the ground up but from assembly up.  Just for good measure and time-keeping sake... we will say I have 4 hours invested in making all the pieces.  It might be a bit more than that but since I didn't start from the beginning, 4 hours is a good starting point!

Just as a note.  The start and stop times are all inclusive to the project.  I update the blog after the end time hence the break in between the next start time.

Here are all the pieces:

This order was for two puppies.  We will be following along with the brown puppy on the left.  The gray puppy has been completed already.

The parts for this project include:
4 feet
2 ears

Now that we have all the pieces completed, the next step is to start sewing everything together.  The first thing we will do is stuff the head. (start time 0935 end time 0940) (time to stuff 5 minutes)

Once the head is stuffed then we have to stuff the muzzle and align it and sew it to the head.  The muzzle is not a closed piece like the head so starting out with light stuffing to get a form and then adding more as I go is best for this particular stuffed animal.  (Start Time 0945  End Time 955.  Total time to stuff and sew on the muzzle 10 Minutes)  Total time so far:  4hrs 15 minutes

Once I get the muzzle aligned and a couple starter stitches in, it is important to make sure the alignment stays centered on the head so that there is room for the eyes.  Failing to do this will result in the muzzle covering the entire head and no room for eyes hence do-over.  We don't like do-overs!!

Stuffing as you go is important here to get the muzzle to take shape while it is sewn down.

Almost done!  About 3/4 of the way around now ;-)

And Finished!  Yay!  It went on straight the first time, no do-over needed here.  Now to attach our eyes.

For the eyes, I use 20mm Animal Safety Eyes.  I can't find them online or locally here in Hawaii so in the future I may have to start crocheting the eyes and sewing them on but for this puppy, I happen to have a pair of the safety eyes!  Safety eyes are great for little kids and then again so are crochet eyes that are sewn down.  I do not like buttons because kids can and will detach buttons.

Attach Safety Eyes (Start Time 1005am  End Time 1010am)  Total time so far:  4hrs 15 minutes

The first thing I do is push the eyes in the head in the position I think looks good.  Before attaching the backs, I then hold the nose to the muzzle and check the eye alignment with the nose.  If it looks good, then I attach the backs of the eyes, if it doesn't look good, reposition the eyes until it does.  It is VERY important to get it right BEFORE attaching the backs because once the backs are attached, they don't come off without breaking the eye apart.

I had to stuff the nose first with this one since the nose didn't look right unstuffed.  In my opinion, the right eye needs to move a little more to the right so I will reposition the eye now.

Ok, that looks better!

Now in order to attach the backs of the eyes, I have to re-arrange the stuffing in the head in order to get the back against the inside of the head to attach the eye properly.  Make sure to push the back on until you hear the big "snap".  The eye is secure and no little fingers are gonna get these eyes off !!

Oh, I also want to mention the second string hanging down.  When I finished sewing down the muzzle, I did not tie off yet.  I did this so that it would be easy to unsew if needed and re-sew.  Now that the eyes are in place and we are happy with the way the face has turned out, we can now tie off the muzzle tie and tuck the end in.

The next step is to stuff the nose and attach it.  I already stuffed the nose as part of attaching the eyes so now time to sew it on.  (Start Time 1025am End Time 1035)  Total time so far:  4hrs 25 minutes

As the nose is attached, it is important to make sure it stays aligned in the center of the eyes.  It is very easy when sewing animal pieces together for the alignment to get off.  Take the time to do it right the first time ;-)  also if desired, add more stuffing as sewn around.

Once the nose looks good, tie off and tuck in the end.

Now at this point some would like to attach the ears next but I like to do things a bit backwards.  I like to attach the head to the body first and attach the ears later when I have a good alignment on the head.

No stuffing is required for this part, just align and sew down.  I sew two rounds to give the neck an extra sturdy support.

(Start Time 1045am End Time 1105)  Total time so far:  4hrs 45 minutes

As I pick up the body and begin the alignment process, I feel the body could use more stuffing so I am going to put more stuffing down the hole I haven't tied off yet for this very reason ;-)

Once the body is of the desired firmness, I then sew the hole shut, tie off, and tuck in the end.

Now I can attach  the head.  I align the head so that the bottom of the head is at the tie off point of the body so that the tie off point is sewn under the head.  I attach a couple stitches and then sew around.  Again, very easy for alignment to get off so make sure to sew slow and watch the alignment!

Halfway through first round

Ok at the end of round one I thought maybe the head was slightly off center but I am not so sure now.  It it were, I would undo round one and do it over but I am going to proceed on with round 2 and see if I still see it.

Once the alignment looks good, tie off and tuck in end.

Now, I am ready to sew the ears on ;-)
(Start Time 1135am End Time 1145)  Total time so far:  4hrs 55 minutes

I whipstitch the top of the ears closed and then line them up on the top of the head and sew them down.

Ensure that the ears are on straight and then tie off and tuck in ends on both ears.

Next we stuff and sew on the feet.  The way I do this part is I stuff them one at a time when I sew them on. 

(Start Time 1210am End Time 1245)  Total time so far:  5hrs 35 minutes

Once the first foot is on, I take the needle off the thready but I do NOT tie off yet just in case I don't get them all to line up proper.

Once all 4 legs are on, it is time to do the "stand" test.  Does puppy stand up ok?  If not, we add more stuffing to legs or adjust leg position as appropriate

Puppy stands just fine so now we can tie off and tuck in the ends of each leg.

Next step is to lightly stuff the tail and sew the tail on.

(Start Time 1pm End Time 105)  Total time so far:  5hrs 40 minutes

Once the tail is sewn on for the most part in most cases the puppy would get a ribbon around the neck and be done but in this instance, "personalization" has been requested so before we put the ribbon on we need to personalize the puppy.

Personalization Step
(Start Time 115pm End Time 215)  Total time so far:  6hrs 40 minutes

I used a modified surface stitch to embroider onto the stuffed animals.  I'm not sure if this is the right way to do this or not but it works for me and I like the look of it better than just needle and thread.  Personal preference I guess but this is the way I like it ;-)

I do not tie off any of the letters or break points until after the entire phrase is on the animal.  This allows an easy way to just pull it right back out and do it over.  Thankfully I had some practice earlier this morning with the other puppy so I didn't have to take out the stitches with this puppy.  I had a heck of a time earlier with the first one.

Once I get the letters the way I like them, then I will tie off and tuck in the ends.  I also try to clean off as much of the stuffing that pulled through as possible.

Now....  To finish off Ringo....  we need to add toes to his feet and tie a bow around his neck!

(Start Time 220pm End Time 230)  Total time so far:  7hr

And that is how this:
Becomes This!!!

Total time to make brown puppy about 7 - 7.5 hours.  Keep in mind this puppy went VERY smooth!  No mistakes at all!  With the gray puppy I had several mistakes and do-overs.

Here are some common questions:

Q:  If it only takes you 7-8 hours to make a puppy, why do I have to wait a week to get one or sometimes longer?

A:  Basically because I work full time.  Let's say a puppy is ordered on Monday.  Say I get maybe 2-3 hours a night during the week to work on orders.  If it takes 8 hours to make a puppy, that means I would finish on Friday or Saturday given the order was placed on Monday.  It also depends on current customer orders as well as paid orders are made in the order in which they are received.  Also, the 7-8 hours is straight time working on said puppy.  It does not include resting my hands, bathroom breaks, meals, etc.

Q:  How do you calculate cost?

A:  This is always a difficult question to answer.  If I go by "normal" costing methods... I should be charging ALOT for the puppies.  Let's say minimum wage is $8 an hour.  It takes 8 hours to make a puppy, about $5 in materials, $10 to ship, $5 in fees so in a true "Retail" market, I should be charging about $90 - $100 per puppy.  Now let's get realistic.  Are any of you going to pay $100 for a puppy?  I'm sure some of you would but I know I sure as heck would not.  So... I do my costing this way....  2 X cost of materials ($10) shipping ($10), Fees ($5), and $1 per hour roughly ($8) and then I add $10 on the top for profit.  What does that mean?  It means I sell the puppies for $40 instead of $100 ;-)

Thanks for reading along!  Do you have questions or comments?  I would love to hear them!!