Tutorial: Soft-Sculpture for Petite Pocket Pets
My Petite Pocket Pets pattern makes six tiny and lovable toy animals for you to cherish. While I tried to include as much detail in the instructions as I could, there is one technique I want to expand on here. The shaping of the toys' heads was done as carefully as I could, given the limits of the materials. To take your projects one step further, from cute to downright adorable, try this soft-sculpture tutorial.
The goal of this tutorial is to show you how to achieve a more life-like shaping to the faces of your knitted toys, so they're not just lumpy balls of fuzzy yarn! These instructions are specifically for the Cat and both Pups, which have forward facing eyes. The Rabbits and Hamster are discussed further at the end of this post, although the tips on stuffing are useful for all my toys.
The first step is actually accomplished with the stuffing. Below is the head from the Doodle Pup, shown with the seams partially sewn, and no stuffing. Already you can see where the nose sticks out a bit, but not as much as we're aiming for.
In the next photo, I've added stuffing to the head, shaping it into a smooth ball. Note that I've left the nose portion empty, so it's barely sticking out.
Now I've added extra stuffing to the nose, packing it in firmly, so the nose sticks out from the rest of the head. If your toy has fuller cheeks, such as the hamster, you'll also want to add extra stuffing to the sides of the face.
Once I've added all the stuffing, and am happy with the shape, I finish sewing the seam, and knot the yarn ends together. You can see that the shape is already mostly clear, but the next few steps will help to accentuate the shaping, and hold the stuffing in place.
To make the next steps clearer, I'm using a contrasting yarn. Normally, I would use the same yarn from which I knit the toy. I've cut a length of yarn (about 20 cm or 8"), and placed it on a tapestry needle. The needle is inserted at the centre-bottom of the head, and exits just in front of one eye.
I pull the yarn through, being careful to leave a short end where I started. Then I make a stitch across the bridge of the nose, inserting the needle in the centre, and exiting at the centre-bottom of the head.
I pull this stitch tight, pulling in the bridge of the nose. This also causes the eye to face more directly forward.
I tie a tight, secure knot with the yarn ends to hold this stitch in place. I don't cut the yarn yet, because I need to repeat this stitch on the other side of the nose.
Here I'm making a stitch on the other side, trying to make it symmetrical to the first stitch.
After pulling on the second stitch, so the bridge of the nose looks the same on both sides, I again tie the yarn ends in a tight, secure knot. Now I can trim the yarn ends, and continue with finishing the head.
In this photo, I've replaced the contrasting yarn with yarn which is the same as the head. While the stitches are visible, they look like part of the toy, and are keeping the face in the shape I want.
The Pug's short, squashed nose is especially helped by this method of shaping. For the Cat, I've made the stitches in front of the eyes, rather than across the bridge of the nose, for a slightly softer shape.
The Rabbits and Hamster have a different face shape, with the eyes facing more to the side, and with fuller cheeks. To see how to achieve this shape, please check out my other soft-sculpture tutorial. Although the technique is demonstrated on a different toy, the results are the same for the Petite Pocket Pets.
I hope you've found this tutorial helpful! I would love to see what you've made with this pattern, if you feel like sharing on social media.