Thursday, September 15, 2011

Meet Baron - my first plush German Shepherd!

A couple of days ago I started offering custom made plush dogs. You can choose a breed I have already made or one that I have yet to make! I received my first order the next day for a German Shepherd. I was pretty excited. I thought I would share what happened so you can see the process I use. Nothing Harvard would approve of, but nonetheless, successful. At least mostly. 
First I look at the dog breed. I pull up dozens of pictures on the web: live shots, drawings, silhouettes, clip art. I mostly study the live shots. The hard part about the shepherd is that almost all the photos are of a dog with his mouth open! I had to guess. I then start drawing on whatever piece of paper is available...newspaper, drawing paper, bags, magazines...anything available. I have quite a colorful collection of patterns for dogs and cats! I usually end up piecing the pattern together. This one is a combination of yellow paper and brown shipping paper. With lots of tape! This is actually the tweaked pattern. You can see how I shortened the legs by folding and taping. I'm so creative!

I thought a nice black and white fabric might be kind of cool. The buyer left fabric choice to me. So I carefully cut out the shepherd and sewed it together. I knew from the start that the ears were going to be the most difficult. Something about pointy ears always gives me trouble. As soon as I started stuffing, I realized my mistake. This is going to be a zebra! I could also tell the legs were too long. I always have to remember that fabric stretches, no matter what kind, when stuffing. This is what is left of my first attempt. Go ahead and laugh....

Pathetic dog...scrap that.

I decided flannel is good. I love flannel and have made many dogs from it. I cut again. I sewed it all with a zigzag stitch on the outside like all my dogs. Looked pretty good. I stuffed...and stuffed....and stuffed. BIG dog! Almost a whole pillow! (I use standard pillows for fill) And then.....arrrrrgh! Neck too long, legs too long, not buff enough in the chest. The tail was awesome though! Here's what's left of that one. Head is still stuffed and tail cut off. 

I hate to destuff a dog that is almost finished. I feel like I am killing it! I name them all and they become my little buddies, my fosters, if you will. Fortunately, I hadn't named this one yet. 

After fixing the pattern, I cut again. I could tell this was much better. But I still had the ear problem. I decided to go with just stitching them on at the top and hope they looked alright. I had tried to place them on the side and hand stitch them on, but they looked funny. After all of that, I finally ended up with a shepherd I approved of.

I decided he needed eyes. I don't put eyes on a lot of my dogs, but this one begged for eyes. Felt eyes and a felt  nose. And a nice country collar. 

Say  hello to Baron! If the buyer does not want him for some reason, I will put him in my shop. He will be $35.00

Here is one of my listings for a custom dog. There are two so you can see a variety of dogs. Click the photo to go to the listing in Dogbarks. I will add Baron somewhere in the group of photos. 


  1. REALLY great post! I loved it -- and seeing the steps you go to :) Proportion is everything (as I am reminded constantly as I work too) and you hit it spot on! I love everything about him! That he is a German Shepherd is immediately recognizable, no easy feat :) An A++++ from me!

  2. Aw, how could the buyer not want it? It's adorable! Great job, and amazing perseverance!

  3. I did have to laugh at the first one especially. I had no idea that the stuffing part could change the look so much. You do such a wonderful job on these. Great post to see your process.

  4. The pattern all the way at the top looks great. The outer edge would have made a great seam line. strange that it didn't. These things can become quite mysterious at times...

    The clincher of the story for me was: "Fortunately, I hadn't named this one yet." All i could think was... "poor woman, she had to euthanize a dog by de-stuffing it today.... NOT good !" May the nameless rip.

    Vive Le-Baron !

  5. I am a sewer myself and appreciate your perseverance and determination! Baron Shepherd looks great and I am sure the buyer will love him!

  6. Love the Shepherd. I know what you mean about stuffing. I usually sew several of my Wienies and stuff all at one's the part I don't like. Trying to get the stuffing in their tails is the worst part.

  7. @Tisha - I agree! I have restarted tail stuffing so many times!