I have several urban vinyl figures, and I enjoy browsing in designer toy shops. I'm always slightly disappointed, however, by designer plush toys. While popular lines like Ugly Dolls are cute, it always seems to me that they don't take full advantage of the medium of fabric. Most of the designer toys I've seen are simple shapes made in simple fabrics and stuffed with polyester fiberfill. While there's nothing wrong with that, there's also a whole world of different types of fabrics and stuffings that aren't being utilized.
I've always been slightly fascinated by designer toy lines like Qee and Dunny, where vinyl figures are made in one shape but decorated differently by different artists. In this instructable, I'm going to be applying this idea to plush toys. That is, I'm going to start with one basic shape, and make it several times with variations.
My primary theme for this experiment is texture, but I'll also be playing with color and shape.
Note: this is more of a general exploration than a set of sequenced instructions. Please read the entire thing before making your plushie.
Step 1: About Fabric
There are two primary types of fabric: knitted and woven. Knitted materials tend to be slightly stretchy, while woven materials are not. (Your t-shirt is probably made of knitted fabric.) Of course, there are also special materials like spandex which is stretchier than a standard knit.
When making a toy, keep in mind that woven materials hold a shape better than stretchy ones. This is probably more of a consideration when making a jointed toy like a teddy bear, but if you want your toy to be a very precise shape with no distortion, choose a woven material.
Also keep in mind the thickness of the material. A very thin fabric may allow internal seams and stuffing to be visible, and won't stand up to rough handling. A thick fabric (like denim, for example) will make a solid, sturdy shape but might not be as huggable.
And of course, there's fur. A wide variety of furry fabrics are available, ranging from expensive, woven, mohairs used by collectible teddy bear artists to cheap knitted synthetics. When choosing a fur, run your hand through the pile (that's the furry part of the fur). A good quality fur should be thick and soft. Poorer quality fake furs feel rough in comparison.