The last couple of textile toys I’ve made, I’ve made more or less freehand, with no real planning beyond maybe a light sketch to guide me in cutting pieces out. One of the things that happens is that what I cut out is the “wrong” size. It’s not seam allowance – I am reasonably familiar with my sewing machine and my stitching options, and my seam allowances are fine. But I find that when I get the pieces partly assembled, I don’t have quite enough room to close the piece entirely, or am worried I’ll have to do a lot of hand-sewing that won’t stand up to cat play.
Tonight I decided to go a little further, starting with a detailed sketch of a proposed toy, including all the pattern pieces, where the stitching goes, where the detailing goes, and notes about all the materials. For this example I chose a sushi. It’s a simple shape but not obvious if you want to use a sewing machine for close to all the major seams.
I initially worked out piecing this together in my head on a bike ride, during which I realized that the way I wanted to assemble it (with a pretty good chunk of embroidery for detailing the top of the sushi roll) would involve LOTS of hand-sewn thread, which is not a great thing for a cat toy – too easy to loosen and possibly swallow. That made this object a particularly good choice for that standby of the user-interface designer: the paper prototype!
I think I’ll be doing more with paper—just for itself, too.