Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tutorial: Making Your Own Pattern


A year ago (or maybe more), I promised my best friend I'd make him a Totoro. It would be a giant Totoro that could be snuggled up against on his armless couch. This promise was made when I was in the middle of a big sewing kick, and lo' and behold, when that kick ended, I still hadn't made that Totoro.

For those of you that are wondering what a Totoro is, it's the spirit of the forest from the 1988 Miyazaki film My Neighbor Totoro. Totoros come in all sizes, but the largest one is referred to as the king of the forest, who, if I made him, would be larger than the couch.. so I went with the middle-sized Totoro.

Me being me, I refused to purchase an existing pattern and instead made my own. I also took lots of pictures of the process and now it's a tutorial! Yay!

So step one is of course figure out what you want to make a pattern for. Sketch it at every angle you need and break it down into its core pieces. Ears, body, tail, arms, etc.

Then, using pencil, sketch out these pieces on parchment or butcher paper.

For pieces that are larger or are the same on both sides, you can assume you'll cut them on a fold to get perfect symmetry and only draw half. Because I didn't want to make my first go at this a giant Totoro, I scaled down the pattern to start so I could make a test Totoro.

Once you've got your pieces sketched out to what you think you need, cut them out.
Feel free to lay the pieces out like how you'll be assembling your toy and adjust as needed. It's only paper, after all.

After you're happy with your pattern pieces, or just fed up with trying to make it perfect, trace the patterns onto your fabric.
All of these pieces need at least two, aside from the circle bottom, so my fabric is doubled instead of on the fold.

Cut out your fabric pieces and pin them into your shape. Just like with the paper pattern, you can trim as needed to get things just right.

Try and put off sewing until you're 100% happy with how you're going to assemble the toy, and make notes about what you're going to do! It's easy to forget exact steps in the middle of sewing things together.


For the ears I went ahead and sewed them into the body with the machine, but they made them flop in a very un-Totoro way. This is why I decided to make a mini one first, though, so I could run into these problems on something a lot more manageable  Also, because this little guy is a prototype, I'm not worried about ripping the ears out and redoing them.


Notice the point on the side of his head? That's another unforeseen issue that the prototype helped point out about my pattern. For the real Totoro pattern, I know now I'll need to make the curve of the head less drastic.

After I got his arms attached, I decided that aside from a few minor adjustments, I like this little guy. Enough that I didn't worry about giving him a face for a few days.

Sewing his face on by hand was a bit of a pain, so I decided that I would use the machine for the larger Totoro. All in all, I'm happy with my mini-Totoro and I made lots of notes about what to change about the pattern when I scale it up... which will be my next crafty post!


Interested in getting my Totoro pattern? Well, I'll be scanning both the big and little one in as soon as I get a chance, and making a tutorial about how to use the pattern to make your own Totoros. Stay tuned!