Baby Yoda Plush: Behind the Scenes
The construction of Baby Yoda took a lot of trial and error. Making custom plush often looks like pure voodoo magic, so I wanted to show some behind-the-scenes photos of the progress. I always like to remind myself that there’s a midpoint in most projects where it looks like a failure… and that’s not a sign to give up. Garment sewing is the biggest offender. There is a point in the middle of every.single.garment that I make at which I try on said garment and it looks completely, irredeemably awful. But just like any muscle, that creative willpower muscle gets stronger every time we push through that moment.
The construction of plush Baby Yoda’s face had many of those opportunities to work on my creative willpower muscle. As I said in my first post, it didn’t take much to transform him from super-adorable to weird-and-creepy. I wanted to keep his face proportions accurate, and also adorable, so I started with some sketches and some measurements and MATH.
I found the biggest safety eyes I have, they’re about .3″ in diameter, and used those as my starting point. I measured Baby Yoda’s eye size and the width of his face, and used that ratio as a starting point for the size of my face and ear pattern pieces. I literally held my calipers up to the computer screen! It was a charming, nerdy moment.
I made a rough sketch of what I wanted his shape to be so I could start to identify pattern pieces: head, ears, body, arms, collar. Above right, you can see my face sketches: the top face is a direct sketch of what baby yoda “actually” looks like. The lower face is a sketch of what I wanted my softer, cuter baby yoda to look like.
These sketches are all hugely valuable to me as I move through the process of sewing just about anything. Often my drawings aren’t even very clear, and definitely wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else, but they help me to remember the picture I see in my head of what I want to make.
In my first prototype, I used the fuzzy tan fleece of his robe to line his ears, because I love how soft it is and think that fuzzy ears would make him so cuddly. But even from this first glance, it wasn’t right. This looked more like a cutesy version of old-man, regular Yoda. This plush needed to read as BABY Yoda. And babies don’t have hairy old-man ears.
The pink lined ears were a big step in the right direction, but right about here was when I started to hate his face. It was clearly baby yoda, because he’s green with big ears, but he just wasn’t very cute.
I gave him felt eyes because those could be bigger and any shape I wanted. I added darts to his head to add depth and also imply some of the yoda-style wrinkliness. But these eyes lacked dimension and sparkle – even though they could be huge, they weren’t as cutesy as the 3d eyes, so I went back to the safety eyes.
My large safety eyes had a clear “iris”, so I painted the back of them brown. This was all guesswork: I used my highly pigmented watercolor paint (the only brown I had) and it managed to stick, and even gave a nice uneven, partly transparent look that was perfect for eyes. I sealed it with a coat of clear nail polish and rubbed at it with some fabric to test and make sure it wouldn’t wear off over time. Not fancy, but for a one-time thing, it was perfect!
Already such a huge improvement over the clear eyes. This was when I knew I could move forward and I would love his little face.
From there it was back to basic shapes and math to construct his robe and his little arms. That furry fleece sheds like CRAZY – I was waving around the hand vacuum every hour or so, to keep David from finding the secret.
His body is just a basic tube sewn to a circle base. The collar on his “robe” is also a convenient hiding place for the raw edges of his arm seams. I didn’t take any more pictures of the construction – too busy with the aforementioned constant vacuuming and secret-keeping – but that’s also the boring part.
If you missed it, here’s a link to the baby yoda plush photoshoot. I hope you enjoyed this peek at my process! My goal is to show that there is no right answer in the creative process – you just have to try things and see what works.
Baby Yoda Plush
David is a huge Star Wars fan, so we watched The Mandalorian as soon as the first episode was available. He was hooked from the first second of the first episode because… it was Star Wars. I was hooked by the end of the episode, when we got our first glimpse of “baby yoda”.
I wanted to hug baby yoda from that moment on, and certainly the rest of the internet shares my feelings. But it wasn’t until David wondered aloud, “I wonder if you could make a baby yoda,” and “maybe for my birthday,” that I really began to plan the plush version in my head. I mean, was that a challenge? Of my plush-making abilities?!
Baby yoda took a lot of planning, sketching, and practice sewing. First his head was too big, then too small. For my first ear prototype, I lined the ears with a furry fabric to give him some ear fuzz, but that immediately turned him from baby yoda into just… regular Yoda.
And I have a newfound respect for the Muppet/Yoda sculptors because it is alarmingly easy to turn baby yoda from cute into horrifying – just a few millimeters difference in eye placement or ear size could transform him from that cuddly frog-snacker into some kind of Furby-monster.
All of this tweaking, cutting, and stitching happened in secret, because I forbade David enter the sewing room by telling him I was working on my wedding dress. I would have known if he tried to peek, too, because I’m sure he would have been horrified to see the green fleece and tan fur as part of my “wedding dress” progress.
There are many stuffed baby yodas on the internet, but the pièce de résistance of my version is, in my opinion, his little mug. My favorite scene (and corresponding gif) featuring baby yoda is when he is holding his little mug, and casually takes a sip as he stares at the world with his adorable giant bug eyes. I knew my version needed a mug, but I didn’t want him to have the mug all the time… so of course the answer relies on the magic that is magnets.
Each of his little hands has a steel washer sewn inside, and the mug (filled with blue milk, which I thought would be appropriate) has two hefty rare earth magnets sewn inside.
I filled his base with poly pellets, the little plastic beads used in Beanie Babies, so he has enough heft to stand on his own… most of the time. When I took these photos outside, the wind buffeted his giant ears more than once, causing the poor little guy to faceplant on the ground.
When it came time for David’s birthday, back in late January, I wrapped baby yoda in a box with his mug to the side, the “accessory kit”. (I’m still meaning to make a frog with magnets, too, to complete the collection). David loved it. He was completely surprised and very impressed, so it’s safe to say that I’ve defended my custom-plush-making crown.