How denim grain direction affects plush shape

tail fin variations

A few days ago, I wrote about the intention to re-make my fish plushies. I turned a handful of sketches into sewing patterns, which I then simplified for more efficient sewing specifically for denim fabric.

I usually make plushie patterns and test them on separate days. I feel like my heart needs time to process what my mind has created.

Anyway, today is the sewing day. I looked around my stash, and, found a small piece of grey denim1—twice-reclaimed.

From it, I cut 2 sets of shapes from the simplified fish plushie pattern.

Work In Progress - Fish plushie - I like sketching with ink, isn't it appropriate for sea creatures? //Marn made it


Effect of change in denim grain direction

The pattern cutting on different denim grain direction yielded a very different result. It is true of most fabric, but, the effect on a stiff fabric like denim, is even more pronounced.

2 differentplush from the same pattern

  1. On grain – with tail fin attached to body
  • anorexic
  • stiff to touch
  • stands up on fins
  1. Cross grain – tail fin separated from body
  • weight controlled
  • soft to the touch
  • stands only when leaning against the wall

tail fin variations

Armed with these observations, there are many changes to be done. Sigh. Pattern making always feels like a never ending cycle of improvements and change of minds.

Angular curves

The first softie (on grain) sewn has a disappointingly angular face. Okay, it may be desirable for fashion models, but trust me, this fish has no desire to be one.

very angular head even after clipping

By the way, I clipped the allowance using my usual method—2mm away from the seam with my pinking shears.

So, On the 2nd (cross grain) fish plush, I tried something different to smooth out the jawline. I clipped the inner seam allowance a lot closer to each other, one cut at a time, using normal scissors. That was time-consuming.


The result was hardly worth it.

I knew then, it’s not just the allowance. It’s the stuffing I had to work on.

I’m keeping the angular look on file in case anyone commissions a stuffed stonefish.



After the 2 prototypes, I found out the shapes different denim grain directions creates. Also, the various options of eyes and lips are fun to play with, and often to hilarious result.

Going from here, I would need to rethink the curve of the face, whether by construction or fabric manipulation.

Made it,

  1. What happened to these grey jeans?
    It was a pair of grey jeans, first slashed below the bum to create a pair of frayed denim cut-off shorts. As expected of any shorts reclaimed from a pair of skinny, it was much too tight for comfort. The then-shorts were traded for a bigger, more comfortable pair. The remaining fabric from the jeans’ leg was then upcycled into a pen roll for my art supplies. Eventually, the collection of pens, pencils & brushes grew so big they had to migrate to a big drawer. Again, I ripped it apart to make into these soon-to-be-stuffed animals. 


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