Knitting toys and other 3D projects is great fun and it's so satisfying to make gifts for others, especially kids. We'll let you into a few secrets on how to stuff knitted toys and other knits perfectly.
Knitting Expert Freddie Patmore recommends polyester toy stuffing for children’s toys but, for other items, shows how you can use everything from kidney beans to bricks in our video.
Handknitted toys which are stuffed poorly can look a little on the lumpy side. That’s why we’ve brought you 5 great top tips to help keep your knitted toys looking plump and cuddly, with perfect inner padding.
5 top tips for how to stuff knitted toys perfectly
1. Use a smaller needle size
You may have noticed that most knitting patterns for toys recommend using a needle size that is slightly smaller than the size listed on the yarn label.
There’s a reason for this – by using a smaller needle size, knitted stitches are worked into a smaller space which makes the fabric more dense so that any stuffing does not show through to the surface.
Sheep toy knitting pattern from Theknittingnetwork.co.uk
2. Shred your stuffing to make it smooth
The act of stuffing a knitted toy can prove to be a tricky business. Polyester toy stuffing tends to come out of the bag in big chunks – so, to fill your knitted toys so that they have a smooth surface, those lumps have got to go!
Take a fistful at a time and gently shred it apart to separate all the fibers.
You’ll then find that when you put it into your toy pieces, that the toy looks much smoother as the fibres are able to blend more easily.
If there are any awkward narrow bits to stuff, say fingers or slender legs try pushing the stuffing into place with the blunt end of a pencil, the stopper end of a knitting needle or use tweezers to manoeuvre fibre into tiny areas.
To make sewing-up easier you can stuff as you go, joining each small section at the same time to enable you to get enough stuffing into small spaces.
This lighthouse crochet pattern is really special because it uses lots of odd bits and pieces lying around the house.
Designer Lynne Rowe came up with the clever idea of using a cardboard crisp tube to hold the lighthouse upright. She’s also used a yoghurt pot and dried beans for weight at the base.
Just don’t forget to wash and dry everything before you put them inside your toys!
3. Use cardboard or interfacing fabric for flat ends
Cardboard is often used in toys for things like toy shoe soles to keep them flat and help the finished toy to stand proud.
The best thickness to use is cereal boxes; it holds its shape really well – you’ll just need to be a bit careful not to get it wet.
Of course, you may well intend to wash your toy in future. If so, use a firm interfacing fabric instead (the kind that goes inside collars for shirts).
4. Give your toy weight
For a little extra weight at the bottom of your knits and a beanbag texture, try filling toy bottoms and feet with chickpeas or other dried pulses.
Again – these are not washable but for a more hard-wearing filling, there are plastic beans which you can buy.
Avoid sharper grains like popcorn maize as they tend to poke through the knitting and fall out.
Put perishables in a plastic bag inside your project to stop them getting wet.
5. Don’t over or under stuff
Make sure you use the right quantity of filling material, as using too much will stretch the fabric creating a misshaped project and you’ll see the stuffing through the stitches.
Using too little will make the toy too floppy.
If you’d like to put your stuffing skills to the test, we have many other wonderful patterns for knitted toys in our online store. From teddies to woodland creatures and cars to charming vintage toys, we’re certain we’ll have something you’ll love.
Our Gruffalo toy will appeal to kids of all ages with his claws, tusks and prickles. He’s knitted in stocking stitch with embroidered details. Or have fun crafting your own cheeky pair of critters with our set of patterns to make a sweet bushy-tailed squirrel with two front teeth and his ginger foxy friend.
Alternatively, if you’re keen to practice another knitting skill too, why not get to work on our Fair Isle teddy bear. With his bold and beautiful patterned body, he’ll certainly be easy to spot in the toy box.
If you love knitting toys, we have more useful tips
How to: Do loop knitting for the perfect sheep toy