Tips & Tricks

Benzie Basics: Miniatures


Benzie Basics: Miniatures Series Part One

In addition to beautiful, high quality felt, Benzie sells delightful hand sewing kits to stitch your own miniature animal! Maker Team member Dani of @knitty34 has taken these miniatures to another level. She will be sharing all of her tips in a four part series dedicated to crafting in miniature. Go big - or small, in this case - or go home!

A few years ago, after sewing one of Cynthia Treen's miniature creatures, I decided I would create a mini sewing studio for it. I showed the daily progress in my Instagram stories and you can watch them in my highlights. It was a really fun project! Over the next few months, I am going to show you the basic steps to create your own miniature creature and room to house them. Today we will start with some tips for working on small sewing projects.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Time: 4-6 hours

Supplies for making a miniature creature

Supply List:

Hand-Stitching Sewing Kit
Wire cutters
Stuffing Tool or Skewer
Freezer paper (optional)
Thread gloss (optional)

It can be a little intimidating the first time you work on a sewing project with small pieces. Here are some tips to get you started and to show you that anyone can do it!

Cutting Tips

- The pattern pieces are laid out so that they correspond to each piece of felt in the kit. No need to cut out the paper pattern pieces first, if you don’t want to!

- Larger paper pattern pieces can be pinned to the felt using small pins. Pins are included in the kit, but you can use any small, flat pins.

Pinning pattern pieces

- Smaller pattern pieces tend to distort when pinned, so it is better to use a large running stitch to baste the smaller pieces to the felt before cutting.

Small pattern pieces

- The patterns include detailed instructions on how to use freezer paper to create your pattern pieces. This is definitely the way to get the most accurate pieces. Hint: If your freezer paper gets stuck to the pattern pieces when you peel them apart, warm the freezer paper up slightly with an iron as you peel.

Freezer paper pattern pieces

- Cut your pieces using the sharpest, pointiest scissors you have. Hold your thumb very close to the point where you are cutting. In addition to the pins, this keeps the paper and felt from shifting.

Cutting pattern pieces

- Cut with just the very tip of your scissors when turning tight inside corners.

Cutting techniques

- Use wire cutters to cut the pipe cleaners. I ended up with stitches in my finger from trying to cut a pipe cleaner with scissors. Use the right tool for the job!

Sewing Tips

- I highly recommend using a thread conditioner to keep your thread from tangling as you work.

- The video below is my favorite method for threading a needle. Cynthia also uses this method and has written instructions within the kit.

- Cynthia provides excellent tips for using a whip stitch for piecing the miniature creatures. However, I like to use a blanket stitch, which stands out much more. This is completely personal preference! If you would like your seams to be very hidden, use a whip stitch. If you want a more rustic look to the seams, use a blanket stitch. Just keep your seams very narrow - less than 1/16”. You can see my video on how to do blanket stitch here.

- Pull your stitches through the felt at a moderate speed. It may seem like this makes the process slower, but in the end it will save you time because you will not be constantly untangling your thread.

Finishing Tips

- For marking things like eye and ear placement, a Frixion pen can be really useful.

- Using a stuffing tool or skewer, make sure that you stuff your miniature creature firmly – it will give it lots of structure!

Dandelion and Rilla Raccoon

I hope these tips help you get excited about sewing your own miniature creature! Next month we will be making clothing accessories for our friends using a pattern and coming up with our own ideas!

Rilla Raccoon

Thank you to Maker Team member Dani for designing and writing this tutorial! You can follow her on Instagram @knitty34. Check out parts 2, 3 and 4 of this series and stay tuned for more Benzie Design Maker Team tutorials from Dani and the rest of the team!