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Versus: Fluffy Toy Filling – or – Puffy Wadding?

Gee's Blog, Versus Series
2016
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Certain projects call for a nice, big square of cotton or polyester wadding. Others, like cuddly dolls or comfy cushions, will see you adding polyester toy filling to your shopping basket without a second thought. If you’re charting your own course with a home-designed make, though, you might find the decision isn’t so clear cut.
Taking inspiration from aquarium-themed playsets I’ve seen around, I picked up a brightly coloured charm pack and sketched out my own tropical fish, clam shell and coral. The packs I’ve seen include fishy friends of all shapes and sizes, so there aren’t many design limitations, but I do want to ensure that they’re fun to hold and play with, and easy to clean. Choosing between wadding or polyester toy filling could make a big difference to the final result, not to mention the making process.

Fluffy Toy Filling versus Puffy Wadding

Fluffy Toy Filling
Polyester toy filling or fibrefill is so versatile. I always have a bag open, ready to grab a handful for a little amigurumi creature or to pile into a cushion. As the name suggests, it’s well suited to toys and could be a great way to shape my sea creatures:
– Select your squish level. With polyester filling you can choose exactly how squishy or firm your shapes will be. Chubby little fish could be very cute indeed.
– Fill in a flash. Just turn your work the right way out, leaving a small gap, and tease out the fibres a bit for an even filling. Done!
– Oh so versatile. Use a lot and fill up a bear or cushion, a handful for amigurumi creatures or a tiny little bit for a raised panel. And that also means that any leftover filling can be saved up for a future project.
As always, though, I’ll need to compromise:
– Where did it all go? Some little projects just need a few pinches, others seem to gobble it up.
– The reanimation process. Polyester filling needs to be coaxed back into shape after washing. As a confirmed worrier, I can’t relax until the washing and drying process is over and done with.
Wonderful Wadding
Wonderful Wadding
I’m keen to use polyester for its washing credentials, so I’ve eliminated cotton from the race. For future reference, cotton wadding is a delight to use. It tends to be heavier and it’s all natural, but as can shrink a bit in the wash I don’t think it would be suited to this wash-and-go project. On the other hand, polyester wadding has a lot of potential:
– Stuck tight. Wadding fibres are bound together fairly well. I’ll check these sea creatures over every time I bring them out, but loose strands of fluff are less likely to be a problem.
– It’s easy to add texture. Wadding is a quilters’ favourite. I’m planning to machine sew this project to make sure it stands up to lots of playing and washing, so it would be quick and easy to add texture by machine stitching across my patch-pieced creatures.
– Wash and go. Polyester wadding is lightweight and perfect for washing and using, time after time. In my experience it usually dries pretty fast too. Always check the instructions, of course.
And now the negatives:
– Set in its ways? There are a few set weights and thicknesses available, making it less versatile than polyester toy filling. But you can always layer it up.
– Turning around. If you choose to stitch it onto your outer fabric, you need to leave plenty space to turn those thicker layers.
Squishy Filling
My Squishy Decision?
Polyester toy filling is my go-to choice for cuddly little creatures, but easy washing and drying won this time. I’ve plumped for wadding to make my little aquarium chums, using a double layer for a bit of extra volume before machine stitching across the finished fish to add definition and texture.
And of course, I’ve been careful to check the care instructions of my materials and selected hard-wearing stitch settings. Next time I’m tempted to combine both options – wadding stitched to the outer fabric for a quilted effect, then polyester toy filling for a round, huggable finish. What do you think?
For your next project, try William Gee’s fantastic range of waddings and fillings.

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Jane grew up in a craft-loving household, and since then has worked with some wonderful designers and makers. Today you'll find her writing about craft and culture (when she's not got a needle and thread or a crochet hook in her hand). She loves nothing more than curling up in front of a film with a project to work on and a hot chocolate to sip.

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