( Fake cut to the entry of the finished pictures of the pony. )
So sajex showed me a link to this ebay auction for a Fluttershy plushie in her grand galloping gala costume, and I was floored. Not so much for what it went for, though that is amazing in itself, but for the quality of the pony.
It looks absolutely amazing!
So apparently she's also on dA, and I got a few more pictures that I could look at.
I didn't want to make a copy though, I looked at them for a little bit, and then put them away. I wanted to figure out my own pattern. Unfortunately, seams are seams, and not quite like topology in 3D. To create the same shape, you kind of need the same seams. So it wasn't a copy, but it's still pretty similar. :I
The next thing I looked up were plushie pattern making tutorials, because I have never made a pattern this complex and I was a little lost on how to proceed.
I found This Epic How-To: Make a 3-D Plushie Pattern From a 2D Design, and knew I had a winner.
While I did eventually do the actual pattern making differently, this was a really, really cool read.
I also found this rather amazing blog called 'While She Naps'. There were a bunch of posts on the Elements of Soft Toy Design, and the one I'm linking to in particular is on how to make underside gussets for a pony that will stand. It's not easy, and this helped me understand the darting process under the armpits.
Yes, I laughed and thought of the Elements of Harmony, lol.
I also found out that babylondonstar used minky fabric. Having seem some at my local Fabricland (Fabricland!), I decided to do the same. It was an EPIC journey, because the one that I usually go to is really very far north. I decided to go to the other ones listed on Google maps, and was once again taken in by the evils of google maps.
Stop number one? Fabricland headquarters for Ontario. Stop number two? NO MINKY FABRIC what is this? I also hopped off the bus at a random fabric store that was 'open to the public!' because I thought that they might have more selection.
Oddest experience. First, it looked like the landlord had closed the store due to non-paying of rent, but that was the wrong door. You open the door, and it is some kind of workshop with lots of sewing dummies and industrial machines. You walk through that thinking, this is an 'open to the public store, right?' to the back room, which is filled with rolls of fabric.
Someone is eating, but they never come to say 'hello'.
OooooOoOOoOooooo, like a ghost town.
The fourth stop though, that brought success! They didn't have a lot of different colours, but they did have something that would work. I also got the fabrics I needed to make his shirt collar and his jacket lapels, and got some funny looks why I declared that "Point three will be plenty!"
They always showed me how much it was, and I explained it was for a doll. Then they nodded, and everything was good, lol.
With thread, embroidery floss, and stuffing in a bag and ready for home, I came back! Time to start carving out my pony form.
Well, okay, first I had to make a design. The 2D design had to be scaled as I wanted it, so I could print it off and get trace that onto my foam block. So I grabbed a reference picture of Doctor Whooves off of the MLP wiki, resized it, and got to work.
I figured out a side, front, back, and top view.
I knew that some of this probably wouldn't work out so well, because while they are super strong as 2D designs, they don't rotate terribly well... But now I had my plan. Next step was the foam!
Everything lined out. Let's do this thing!
The foam curved, I'm not sure how I could avoid that in the future. I cut out my reference, and traced it onto the block trying to line it up as best as I could.
I carved the sides first, and then went about shaping it. I can't even tell you how I did it, because I am still not sure. I hold that I'm not much of a sculptor, and I'm a little terrified of doing projects that require it.
I'm lucky that my house mates are really nice, and didn't mind me taking over the kitchen table for a day with this mess. And it's so staticy! In the end though, the form was done.
I wound up chopping off the head, because I found it too difficult to carve around it. I also just did the base head, and figured that I'd figure out the hair later. My one house mate S also suggested that I take off a layer for the width of the fabric, which I hadn't thought of. So it was originally a bit bigger than this, but I took it down so that the fabric would bulk it up, but you'd still have space between the legs.
The Epic How-To mentioned a process called 'draping' to get what you want. I was very excited to try it out, so with my test fabric in hand, I set to it. This was the resulting pattern:
And this was the resulting pony:
Which doesn't look *awful* in this shot, but rest assured, was awful. This pattern was basically two pieces for the body, a piece for the throat, a piece for the bum, and a piece underneath if I recall correctly. I'm sure I could have made that work with a bunch of fancy darts, but all of the nice curves that I had in my model just didn't translate without the seams to hold them.
It was actually really interesting how much this seemed to relate to 3D modelling. There the edge loops are what defines a form, and here it's the seams. When I was carving out the foam model, I kept rotating and flipping it around, just like when I was working on a model in Maya. So that was an interesting correlation for me.
So I tried a second time, and I have NO idea what I did with the back legs, but wow they went out there.
I decided it was back to the drawing board. Or in this case, the foam model. I carefully covered it with saran warp, trying to get as close to the form as possible, and then covered it with clear packing tape.
I then drew the seams I wanted on the packing tape, marked the fur direction, and the tabs I wanted to make to line it all back up again. Then I cut it apart.
After that, I traced the pattern piece out onto a piece of paper, added my seam allowance, marked the fur direction, named the piece, and put which version it was on it. When I was done with them, I put all the pieces together in a bag labelled with what it was, and the pattern version number. I really wanted to keep everything straight, and I knew I'd get confused with all of these little pieces of paper everywhere.
The head that resulted from that pattern was actually pretty fantastic, first go!
Uh, ignore the inside out ear. P: It did take a lot of fiddling, I think I might have actually been good just cutting out the pattern WITHOUT adding any seam allowance. It felt like the fabric stretched the same amount, and I always wound up with something huge and ugly.
Back to the body!
I was pretty pleased by this iteration:
You can see how I did my alterations here, too. I stuffed it, and then decided how I wanted the seams to lay differently. I don't know how successful this was, because I kept going back to the original model and taking a pattern off of that with my new seam designs.
Here is the head with the next version of the body:
There were a few more versions which I didn't take pictures of, and then I decided to go to my good fabric.
I got skinnylegs Mcgee here:
Which was really disappointing. Back to the drawing board, and I got the final version:
After that I made the head, and tried to do the embroidery on the pony. I didn't want to do it before hand, because I *knew* I would sew it in slightly wrong, and the eyes would wind up on different levels. And it would look STUPID and I would be really sad. So I decided to do it on the already stuffed pony.
I think it might be possible to do this, you just need a fine curved needle. Since I didn't have one, I abandoned that idea and decided to sleep on it.
~In a dream~ the answer came: Do it flat, cut them out, and stitch them on! So that's what I did. I also put some iron on interfacing on the back of each eye and cutie mark, so that will hopefully help hold in the embroidery threads. I cut them out, leaving a bit of an edge of fabric around them so I wouldn't cut the actual embroidery threads.
Then I pinned them on the pony, and got this disturbing thing:
The extra white around the eye just creeped me out. Oh! I also figured out the hair. No pictures, though.
The hair was basically just draping, then making those 3D shapes. The back part wound up being five pieces, and the flippy bit is seven, just because I was trying to get the fur direction to flow down it. I wound up doing a bunch of darts by hand, to have it sit the way I wanted.
So I did change up his cutie mark a bit, including a stalk of celery on the diagonal. I think it turned out really well, and I think it also helps to sell just which regeneration he is.
When I was embroidering, I tried to take stitch direction into account too. For instance, in the cutie mark, all the stitches are going up and down, except the celery which is going diagonally. And the poof of the celery leaves at the end is going in a fan kind of way. With his eyes, the whites are going vertically, the iris is going left to right at the top, pointing to the middle of the pupil. It follows the curve of the eye, so at the bottom it's going vertically. The whites are done in a circle, and the pupil is as well. I stitched the black eyelid on directly on the pony, because I didn't think I'd be able to turn the fabric under something so small.
After, I had to make the little collar thing that they have in place of actual clothes.
I used a piece of fabric to figure out the length and design of the lapels, cut that out twice, sewed it together and then turned it inside out. This is the first pass at that, I wanted them to be longer in the final.
I then made two separate collar pieces, to go on either side. I really wanted to have the red underneath his collar like in this reference from honorarydoctor's Five breakdown
So I made the bottom pattern two pieces, so it could be red underneath the actual collar part.
Then I made them again, embroidered on the question marks using reference also from the five breakdown, and embroidered on the celery on his lapel.
And that's it! That's how I made him. It took a while, but I'm really really pleased with the results. :D