A few years ago, my family and I found ourselves in Seattle and at a wonderful, whimsical store called Schmancy, in the Belltown district, that specializes in all things plush, most of which are hand-made. Shelves were lined with plush cupcakes, benign monsters, felt woodland mushrooms, large-eyed sandwiches, and storybook elves, many of which took their fun sensibility from Japanese art and design.
My daughter has always loved to sew and to make whimsical plush objects (in addition to her own eco-friendly totebags.) She struck up a conversation with Schmancy owner and artist, Kristen Rask, and she ended up having this abstract applique- designed piece in the store’s annual Plush Show.
The Plush Show is happening again, with receptions and activities this weekend and displays throughout the month. In addition, the Northwest Film Forum will be screening Faythe Levine’s film, Handmade Nation. This documentary about the D.I.Y. craft movement will be appearing in other cities; check the film’s website for details.
If you’re crafting at home, there’s plenty of inspiration and instruction available. Kristen Rask’s own book is called Plush You! Loveable Misfit Toys to Sew and Stuff. Another book my daughter Anna has really enjoyed is Softies: Simple Instructions for 25 Plush Pals by Therese Laskey. A bonus of plush-toy crafting is that it can often be done with felt. Felt is so tactile and pleasing to work with. Handmade felt is great but, for children and others wishing to experiment, bright squares and pieces of felt are relatively inexpensive, as well as easy to use.
Another cute fabric-crafting book I recently came across is Betz White’s Sewing Green: 25 Projects Made with Repurposed & Organic Materials. Not strictly oriented to plush, this book has lots of cute ideas for easy, green D.I.Y. sewing projects like sweet pillowcase dresses, mans-shirt aprons, screen printing, a fall-leaf felt scarf, and more.
Be warned: a visit to Schmancy or a poke into one of these books will make you want to start crafting every cute thing inside.
Top Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman