Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Making Your Own Crochet Patterns Part 2: Making Shapes!

Another post with more tips about how to write your own plush patterns. This time focusing on shape making! I'm working on a bunch of patterns simultaneously right now so I don't know when the next one will be up but hopefully soon! In the meantime, why not try your hand at making your own pattern? If people find these type of posts useful I might make it a more regular thing. If anyone has any suggestions for the next post on pattern making let me know too!

Original post on making your own patterns: here with tips for starting out and designing the pattern.

Patterns you may wish to refer to as you read:

Sc-single crochet
work even-no inc or dec, sc in each sc
ring-magic ring, a great technique for plushie making, look it up if you're not familiar with it.

Below are all basic techniques to help you get started making your shapes, you can alter them as you wish to change the shapes. Add rows or take away rows, start with more stitches or less to get the shape how you want. Play around with it and you'll be making your own plushes in no time!

Basic pattern for making a circle
A basic circle will be the starting point for many different pieces you will make.

R1: Xsc in ring (X is however many stitches you want to start with, 6 is the most common number)
R2: Inc in all (total is now X+X)
R3: *1sc, inc* repeat (X+X+X)
R4: *2sc, inc* repeat (X+X+X)
And just continue to follow the pattern if you want the starting circle bigger. Basically whatever number you start with you want to add that many stitches each round to keep the circle flat. So if you start with 6 your row totals will be:
R1: 6 total
R2: inc in all 12 total (6+6)
R3: *1sc, inc* repeat 18 total (6+6+6)
R4: *2sc, inc* repeat 24 total (6+6+6+6)
and so on. If you kept increasing your next row would be *3sc, inc* and the next after that would be *4sc, inc* ect

Making the head
Start with a basic circle and once you have it as big as you'd like, work some rows even. How many rounds worked even depends on your design. If you work less rounds even before decreasing you'll get more of a perfect circle. More rounds before decreasing gives a longer, tube like shape. Once you're ready to begin decreasing simply follow the patterns of increases backwards. For example if you started like this:
R1: 6sc in ring
R2: Inc in all (12)
R3: 1sc, inc repeat (18)
R4: sc in each sc (18)

You'll end like this:
R5: 1sc, dec (12)
R6: dec all (6)
Finish off.

As you can see, we're just doing the increasing backwards, while we were adding 6 stitches each round before, we are now taking away 6 stitches each round. This helps the circle remain even and round. It's best to make either the head or the body first when designing a pattern. Another tip is to stop increasing one row before you think you should. If it seems like it needs to be a little bigger, stop increasing and start working some rounds even. At least in my experience whenever I do that one extra row I ususally end up taking it out.

Making the Body
Making the body is sort of like making the head except we don't decrease as much at the end. Start by making your circle as wide as you want, it will likely be bigger than the circle you used for the head but it could be about the same size or even smaller, it depends on your design! Does it have a big head and tiny body? Then stop at a lower number of stitches before you begin to work rounds even. You will generally work more rounds even in the body than in the head as the body is likely longer than the head and more tube-like than round. When you're ready to be done with the body, begin your decreasing just like you did when making the head (work your increase rounds backwards). How much you decrease will depend on how you want your design to look. Will you be attaching the head to the 'top' of the body (As in the pansage pattern) or to the side (like in Joltik)? If you attach it to the top, you don't have to close the body up all the way since the head will be sewn over the opening. Again, modify this pattern to suit your design. You may wish to do a slower decrease (work some rounds in between the decrease rounds) to achieve a longer, smoother body shape ect.

If you have a pretty simple design you can just make a tube for these shapes, start with 6sc in ring and make your circle as big as you want/need to (see basic circle pattern above). Once you've done this you simply work rounds even (without inc or dec) until the arm or leg is long enough. If you want to accentuate/suggest a paw or hand, a really simple way is to make a ball like shape at the end of the arm/leg. You do this by increasing to a certain width then decreasing again, this is a pretty common technique in amigurumi (the arms and legs of Pansage are done like this). You can make this paw ball as exaggerated as you want, just add more or less increases before decreasing again.

For a simple tail start by making your circle as in all the other pieces, you'll usually have a smaller number of stitches than the arms or legs, but again this depends on how wide you want the finished tail. Once you've increased to the desired size, just work a bunch of rounds even until its long enough. This will give you a tube like tail which is suitable for monkey or cat like patterns. You can even add wire to the tail (Before stuffing!) to make it posable. Be sure to stuff the tail as you go to save yourself some trouble too. Again, see the Pansage pattern for some help. You can also make a simple bunny type tail by just making the beginning of a arm or leg and stuffing it!

Cat style ears (and another variation on tail shape)
To make a cat shaped ear you will make a triangle shape. When this shape is unstuffed and flattened it forms a triangle ear, when it is stuffed, it forms more of a cone shape (see joltik pattern). To make the triangle shape you will start out with a small number of stitches, say 3 or 4 in your magic circle. From then on you will add from 1 to 3 increases each round. Add only one if you want a pointier shape and add 3 if you want a broader triangle shape. Once you have the shape as wide as you want, simply work some rows even. When it's done flatten and shape it into the cat ear type shape and sew it on accordingly. You can also use this shape to make claws (see Joltik pattern) or teeth. By starting out with a pointed end you can also make a pointed tail style too! (and if you increased a bit after making the point then decreased again you'd get the sort of teardrop shape seen in Umbreon's tail or ears). 
It's important when making this shape to keep the right side of your crochet outward (this is the side which sort of has ridges, look up more info online if you're confused). Once I've done a few rows I'll turn mine inside out (for some reason my right side always ends up inside). The easiest way to do this is thread the tail through the bottom and use it to pull the shape inside out while rolling it with your fingertips (but be careful not to break your yarn!). This will make your shape more pointy. If you want it less pointy then keep the wrong side out.

Dog ears/rabbit ear/flat ear style
To make big flat ears you will basically be making an arm or a leg and not stuffing it, it's as simple as that! Instead you will flatten it into an ear shape. It will then have the rounded end (like a dog or bunny ear) since you started with a large number like 6 in your starting ring. It will likely not be as long as an arm or leg though, but again, it depends on your design. It's important to remember that shapes look different if they are stuffed or not! You can get drastically different designs this way so be creative and play around with the shapes you've created.

When working on your pattern, always always always have your reference images out. It is essential to look at these often as you go along, this will save you time and trouble in the long run. If you get stuck, take a look at other patterns you have done, and try to find similar shapes to get you started. Drawing and sketching can really help you when you get stuck too, as does imagining the shapes in your mind. 

Above all, have fun and don't give up! It's important not to underestimate yourself! If you've made some plushies before you already have the necessary skills toolkit to design your own plush! All you need is the motivation! ^_^ Do your best and good luck!

1 comment:

  1. This will help a lot and I think you covered everything tip wise.