Epic Plushie: How I Made A D20

Epic Plushie: How I Made A D20

Greetings, dear pond readers! At last, I’m writing to share the epic journey that was completing another D&D toy for my future DM, my own Wee Bairn. Being a big fan of Dungeons & Dragons, I’ve used my crafty skills to make a few D&D projects. I’ve made a cloth Player’s Handbook, I’ve made a cloth d20, and now I’ve finished an even bigger plush d20. The critical success? I did it with the help of the Wee Bairn. Bonus: minimal mess and no injury. Woo hoo!

When I finished the first cloth d20, I learned that the d20 shape really lended itself more to a squishy ball than a defined polyhedral when crafted in cloth. It was also a small squishy ball that was going to be quickly less magnificent in size as my Wee Bairn grew. While my Wee Bairn does still like the squishy d20 and remembers the fun of helping me stuff it, the child pretty quickly began pestering me for an even bigger one to play with. I’ve seen the large Ultra-pro plush ones in stores and other ones online but some of those look too round and black isn’t my Wee Bairn’s favorite color. It was time to get inventive.

I found a book called Geek Knits with some super cool projects in it including giant plush dice. The book is lovely and I am incredibly inspired to improve my knitting needle work. However, my rudimentary skills lack the stamina to make the d20 outlined in the book. I could however adapt the pattern to my skills as a sewist. I made my own equilateral triangle template out of cardboard using a protractor and the patterns in Geek Knits. Armed with a sharpie and scissors, I cut out 20 triangles from green fleece I found in the remnant bin on sale. It was fuzzy and washable. Then I cut out the 20 sides of the mini-rainbow d20 pattern that came with the red d20 plushie I previously made for the Wee Bairn. Armed with glue sticks, the Wee Bairn helped me glue each rainbow number to each green triangle. Surprisingly, we didn’t get glue all over everywhere.

Equilateral triangle fun by E.A. Schneider

I was still worried about maintaining the structure of the 20 sides. Pellon introduced a new stabilizer product that comes with a thin foam back called Flex Foam. This is probably going to be terrific for making purses and housewares but my first thought when I saw it advertised was d20. I traced my green triangles on the foam and cut out these layered triangles. Once again, the Wee Bairn helped me glue all the layers together. Happily, we didn’t get stuck together. With a preschooler, this is always a pleasant surprise.

Originally, I had planned to have this be the end of the Wee Bairn’s involvement until it came time to add polyester fiberfil. But the Wee Bairn had other ideas that were vocalized repeatedly: “I want to help you, Mommy! Please, I’m a good helper!” I’m never one to turn down help with crafting and for the sake of my future in-laws, I want to encourage handy participation in the Wee Bairn. Strict instructions to sit still and follow directions or else resulted in the role of Presser Foot Operator for the Wee Bairn. The following scene played out several times in subsequent weeks with the Wee Bairn perched on my knee and my arms wrapped around the cuddly human.

Me: Presser foot up, please!

Wee Bairn: I’m on it!

Me: Presser foot down, please!

Wee Bairn: On it!

Here are some pictures of the triangles in progress. We didn’t do all twenty together but we definitely did the majority. I was surprised at the attention span exhibited by my preschooler but it was probably really neat to see all the whirring gizmos visibly making stitches. Sometimes, we even guided the pieces of fabric together but not super often; I didn’t want any fingers getting incorporated into the project.

To stitch all those layers together, I used a Schmetz Universal needle. I also used all purpose thread and zig zag stitches.

Assembling the three dimensional plushie was definitely the trickiest part of the process. I looked at a bunch of pictures online, my previous d20 plushie, Geek Knits, and my own hoard of dice to get the layout just right. I also used a combination of large safety pins and basting stitches to piece the die together and was continually checking that the sides would line up. This part of the process took place during D&D games instead of anxiously scarfing down treats. The Wee Bairn’s contribution was asking every day multiple times a day if I had finished the d20 yet. That kind of accountability does help one focus. When I was sure I had the layout correct, I turned the die inside out so that I could finish the seams. Here is a gallery of these in-between steps complete with an actual D&D book from the game.

To finish the construction, I did sew some of these seams in the sewing machine. This required quite a bit of patience and upper body strength to maneuver the plushie under the presser foot. I broke multiple needles. A couple times, my Presser Foot Operator did step in to help but thankfully I was able to finish most of the remaining seams by myself. Turning the die right side out again, I discovered some raw seams where the Flex foam was visible but not as many as I’d feared. Using a long needle that was double-threaded, I was able to hand sew the raw areas closed during more D&D games. Here are some pictures of the finished empty plushie.

At last, it was time for the long promised role my Wee Bairn was anticipating: stuffing the giant d20 with squishy poly fiberfil. We used recycled poly fiberfil a friend gave me when something plush of theirs fell apart as well as scraps of torn up quilt batting but you could use any poly fiberfil or fabric scraps you wish. Knowing that this dice is destined for many hefty rolls, we stuffed it super tight. To close the opening, I had to use a curved hand quilting needle threaded with a four strand length of thread as well as a lot of upper body strength. This was the step where I pricked my fingers the most.

Finally, the d20 was complete. When my Wee Bairn went to bed one night, it was stuffed awaiting the final seam and upon the morning, there it was, ready for action. The delighted squeals and games of catch we played together were absolutely perfect even if I can’t say the same of every seam in the plushie. I’m okay with imperfection. Thankfully, the die is also still big enough to be a fun play thing with my growing preschooler for a while and it actually rolls on a side rather than being only a squishy ball.

As an artist, I’m pleased that this plushie looks recognizably like a d20 and it is very cuddly. Even though this was a labor intensive project and took me two years to finish, I could conceive of replicating this plushie with probably greater efficiency. We shall see. For now, it’s satisfying to see this beauty in my Wee Bairn’s hoard of toys and roll it together knowing that this was our collaboration. I want my child to know the joy of creativity and the satisfaction of making things; that was something my parents gave me. Every time we do something creative together, it is an extra special experience and I look forward to the next time even more.

Ready to Roll for Initiative by E.A. Schneider and Wee Bairn

What kind of projects are you working on with your family or friends? Are you exploring the world of Dungeons & Dragons or other RPGs?

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I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!