Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Problem of Escaping Pellets

When I made the Elefante stuffy for my mom's birthday it was the first time I had used poly pellets to weigh down the limbs (etc.) of stuffed toys. I really like the weight it gives the toy. For example, I really wish I had known about these when I knit Joe's Pasha - I would have filled up about half his body with pellets so he would sit up straight! The only problem is that the pellets seemed to work their way out of the little holes in the knitted fabric. It's not like they were pouring out or anything, it just bugged me. So, when I was commissioned to make a second elephant for a four year old, I decided I would try lining the pieces to keep the pellets from working their way out of the limbs and into her mouth (they're non-toxic, but still, toys for 4 year olds probably shouldn't leak).

I decided to use old nylons to line the pieces. (Like any proper cat lady, I have to replace my nylonds very frequently!) I only lined the pieces, I didn't acually construct little bean bags, so theoretically, I suppose some pellets could work their way out of the lined part, up through the stuffing and out through the fabric, but I doubt that will happen.

I tried three methods to do the lining: sewing, fabric glue, and hot glue. Here's the scoop:

Sewing:
I lined the trunk first and I decided to turn it inside out and sew the nylon in. I cut a square of nylon big enough to cover everything, wrapped it around and used a little whipstitch to seam it around the trunk, then I just stitched around the top and bottom to tack it to the knitted fabric. This worked really well - probably the best out of all the options because the fabric remained totally natural - flexible and stretchy (and not stiffened by glue). BUT, it took a long time and I am slightly worried than sewing into the nylon might have started a run that could eventually grow into a hole? I geuss only time will tell if that happens. Here's a pic:(BTW, I tried taking this picture several times to make it look a little less phallic, but there was simply no way. It seems a little NC-17 to me...)

Fabric Glue:
I didn't want to sew the nylon four more times into all the legs, so I got lazy and decided to use glue. I pulled out the Unique Stitch fabric glue and spread over the (inside out) leg and then wrapped the nylon around it. I was a little irritated because it wouldn't stay at all (not tacky enough in its wet form) and I got glue all over my hands. But, I grabbed a clothes pin to hold everything down and let it dry for about an hour, then it held fine. The pros of this method are that it didn't take as long to put the lining into place and at the end the knitted fabric was still flexible, but just not stretchy anymore. The con was that it was messy and I hated waiting for it to dry! Pic:
Hot Glue:
After doing one leg with the fabric glue, I got impatient and decided to turn to the tool that everyone turns to when they have grown frustrated - the hot glue gun. This involved turning the legs inside out, cutting out squares of nylon, then just putting a line of hot glue at the top and just holding on the nylon square for a second while the glue dried. It was so easy and I finished up the other three legs in about 5 minutes. The down side is that the ring of glue that hardened around the top altered the fabric so it was stiff at the top. This wasn't that big of a deal with the legs (because the top got sewn to the body anyway) but it would have been a problem on the trunk, for example (because his face starts there). The obvious pro is that it was fast. I will definitely have to put a lot of thought into using this technique again, because it really can mess up the "flow" of the fabric and probably wouldn't be appropriate in most situations. Pics:
Here you can see how they look a little mishapen:
Conclusion?
It looks like you get what you pay for. Sewing is the best way to go, but if I had to line a bunch of things (like for an octopus?) I would probably go for the fabric glue and just plan ahead that I will need drying time. Hot glue should be reserved for times when (1) the stiffness from the glue won't show in the end project, (2) you absolutely need instant gratification or are in a serious time crunch, and maybe (3) you are knitting under the influence (because hot glue always seems like a great idea at those times.)

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