Jan 10, 2010

crafts: how to make a 'sackboy'

little big cake, by LG Weddings

So, you like Little Big Planet, and want to make a sackboy. If you're like me, you'll Google your brains out trying to find a pattern you like. I didn't find any patterns I liked, so I made up my own crochet "pattern" through trial and error. My first attempt took at least five attempts (tearing up and starting over) until I got the head right. The arms and legs were much easier (only one or two tries). I've crocheted three full sackboys (plus one lone head) in total, and they all ended up slightly different; I can't seem to keep my style consistent, and I didn't try to write down a pattern until the third one. Below, I've made an attempt at step-by-step instructions on how to make my third sackboy.

Pattern: Sackboy
I'm providing this "pattern" (I think you'll understand why I keep using quotes in a minute or so) free, and I ask that you do not sell any items you make with this pattern. Gifts are OK, however! This little guy took me about a day, but that's including all the photo-taking and writing down instructions. My first sackboy took a few days because of all the trial and error.

Please feel free to ask questions in the comments, if anything is unclear or if you think I've left anything out. I'm open to modifying my "pattern" to make it clearer and/or better. And if you end up writing your own pattern using mine as a starting point, I'd love to link to you since not everyone will like my pattern.

sackboy, by me

Some notes, before you start: I've never been a very good pattern-following crocheter (is that a word?). I started crocheting only a couple of years ago and I've followed maybe 2 patterns in that time. Most of the stuff I do is building off other patterns, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. So I treat my "pattern" below as guidelines, and I therefore leave it pretty open. You'll see instructions like "crochet in a spiral for 6-7 rows" or "chain 5 or 6, depending on how you feel". If this doesn't sound like the kind of pattern you want to follow, you may want to try one of the more specific patterns elsewhere on 'the internets'. On the other hand, I don't want you to be intimidated by my lack of specifics! One of the reasons I love crocheting so much (cf knitting) is that it's so easy to rip up a few rows and start over. So... jump in and give it a try.

Some general notes: You make the sackboy in 5 parts: 1) head & body; 2) two arms; 3) two legs. You start from the top of the head and work almost entirely in a sc spiral, increasing and decreasing as you go, down to the body of the body. I used a size 3.75 crochet hook and (um...) "standard" Bernat yarn (can you tell I don't know much about yarn...). The pattern will need to be adjusted for thicker or thinner yarns and hooks. I can't tell you how to do that... it's trial and error, as I said. :)

sc = single crochet (video)
ss = slip stitch (video)
ch = chain (video)
dec = decrease by single crocheting two stitches together (video)
2sc = increase by single crocheting two single crochets into the same stitch (video)

Start & first round:
Make a magic adjustable ring (video)to start, and then make 6 sc into the ring. Tighten and tie tail to working yarn (this ensures your head won't end up with a hole in the top), and then ss to the first sc.

2nd round & remainder of the top of the head:
Chain 1 (counts as 1 sc), and then alternate (approximately*) between sc and 2sc in each stitch. When you get around to the start of that round, do a sc (or 2sc) into the first stitch in the round you're just ending. In other words, continue in a spiral around and around. When you've done another round or so, you'll shift more to a sc, sc, 2sc, pattern (rather than sc, 2sc). You're aiming for a circle that's approximately flat and disklike (a bit of a dome is more true to the character), with perhaps a bit of an ovalish shape to it (rather than circular). When your head disk is the size you'd like it, finish the circle with a ss.
*I say approximately because mine went something like this: sc, 2sc, sc, 2sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, 2sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, sc, sc, 2sc, ...

Side of head:
ch1 to start. sc in back loop only of the previous round (this helps create a sharper line between the top and side of the head). After you've completed the first round (for those who like numbers, mine was about 27 stitches around), sc (both loops, not back loop only) in a spiral again, 1 sc in each stitch from the previous round. If you keep your stitches nice and tight, you'll eventually notice a cylindrical type shape start to appear.

After approximately 3 rows, while on the part of the spiral that corresponds to what will be the left or right side of your sackboy's head, do one 2sc to increase by one stitch. Continue sc around to the other side of the sackboy's head and do one more 2sc to increase again. Continue sc in a spiral for one more full row, or where you think the mouth should start.

Mouth & eyes:
The mouth starts a couple of stitches in from the absolute side of the head. You're going to have to eyeball it because I don't have any numbers for you (sorry). At one side of the mouth (this will become the corner of the mouth), do ch stitches until you have a chain of a length that seems like the right size for a mouth when you hold the chain next to where it would have been had you been continuing sc. Then do one sc to connect the chain back to the spiral. Again, you'll have to eyeball where you want the other side of the mouth to end. For me, I did a chain of 14 stitches and then I skipped 10 sc from the previous round.

Once you've got your mouth outlined, it's time for the eyes. I used little black shank buttons (guess how long it took me to figure out the name of that kind of button... way too long) that were in a big mixed bag of buttons from Value Village ($2.99!). I've since tried putting normal buttons on a plush doll and it just looked creepy so I think this is the way to go. I positioned my eyes about halfway between the top of the head and the mouth. Once I knew where one eye was going, I pushed in through so I could see the shank from the inside when I turned the head inside out a bit. I then sewed the eye on by doing repeated loops through the hole and surrounding yarn. It takes quite a few loops because the button seems to want to fall out of where you've got it. Keep checking, periodically, to see if your eye is firmly attached. When it is, do a couple knots to tie it off. Or you can do like I did, and just start sewing the second eye with the same thread, because it seemed easier at the time.

To make the inside of the mouth, you'll need cardboard and two small pieces of fabric (black & red). I used a triscuit box from the recycling box and some fabric scraps from a some shirts/PJs I've modified. Like most things so far, sizing the piece of cardboard is a bit of trial and error. I started by making a rectangle, then folding it in half and shoving it inside my sackboy's mouth to see roughly how big of an oval it needed to be. Then I'd trim bits off until I had the right size. I usually make the bottom of my mouth smaller than the top or else sackboy ends up with an underbite. I cut the black fabric to be large enough to fully cover the cardboard and then have some overlap on the back (it's this black fabric that will be used to attach the mouth lining to the "lips"). For my past two sackboys, I glued the black fabric onto the cardboard, and then glued the red tongue onto that. However, I couldn't find my glue yesterday, so I sewed the mouth and tongue instead. This makes things a little less neat, although quicker because I didn't have to wait. Up to you, whether you prefer sewing or gluing. I, personally, have terrible sewing technique, as you can see.

When the mouth lining is done, it's time to sew it inside. Basically the idea is to turn the head mostly inside out and sew the mouth lining to the inside loop of the crocheted part that outlines the mouth. Make sure you've got the cardboard the right orientation - I've sewed one in upside down before. I found it helped to do a couple of stitches in the corners of the mouth first, just to keep it in place as I started sewing. I didn't sew through the cardboard - I just used the black fabric. When finished, turn it right side out.

This next part is optional. I Like to put a cardboard disk in the top of the head to help keep its shape. But the LBP sackboys have rounder heads. Up to you. I just cut an oval out of cardboard and shoved it into the top of the head. Then I stuffed the head. For stuffing, I used shredded up napkins that would otherwise have been thrown out (no, they weren't used. They were simply impractical since they left silver sparkles on anyone who used them!).

Neck & body:
Now that the head and eyes are in, and the head's stuffed, it's time to start decreasing. Do 3sc after the connection of the mouth (the right side of the mouth), and then start alternating dec, 1sc, dec, 1sc until you think it's the right size for the neck. Stuff a bit more stuffing in there before you start increasing again. To increase for the body, do 2sc in each sc around for one row/round (still working in a spiral), and then alternate sc, 2sc for another row until the diameter is good. Then sc in each sc around continually until the body is approximately the right length (mine was ~1"). Dec 1, sc about 3/4 of the way around the body and then dec again. sc about 1/4 of the way around and then dec again. sc, sc, sc, dec, sc, sc, dec, sc, dec, and then alternate sc and dec until you're really small. Cut the yarn so that you have about 2 inches left, and thread through the loops of the last row. Pull tight and do a slip knot to close the bottom hole.

[note: these directions are for the exact arms on the sackboy above. I think they're a little large so I would have decreased the initial number of chains by 1.]
Row 1: ch7
Row 2: sc into the 2nd chain from the end. sc to the end
Row 3-6: ch1, sc to the end
Row 7: ch1, sc to the end, and then do another sc into the last stitch ( you should have 2sc in the last stitch from the previous row)
Row 8: same as row 3-6

continuing from the last stitch of row 8, ch 5. ss into 2nd ch from the end, and then sc in remaining 4 ch. ss into one of the stitches in the last row you made for the arm. ss into one stitch over, and make another finger (5ch, 22, 4sc). repeat until you have four finger. For the thumb, do 4 ch instead of 5. You may need to play around with the fingers a bit, to make sure you get the placement correct. I kept making 6 fingers by accident because my arms were too many stitches wide. When the fingers are done, cut the yarn with about 3 inches left, and use it to sew the arm (i.e. fold the arm in half). Tie off but leave some loose yarn so you can tie the arms onto the body.

For the second arm, follow the same directions except the first finger has 4ch and the last finger has 5ch.

Start and round 1: Make a magic adjustable ring and make 6sc into it. Tighten and tie with knot and ss.
Round 2: ch1, then do 2sc, sc (approximately alternating again) for one round. You want a flat disk. ss to first sc to make the loop.
Round 3 and rest of leg: ch1, then sc in back loop only of previous round. continue for one round. When you've completed this next round, instead of ss to the first stitch, continue in a spiral but doing normal sc (not back loop only). Continue sc for one row.
dec 1. Add a little cardboard circle to keep the foot round and flat.
sc in a spiral for 2 more rows. dec 1.
sc in a spiral for ~5 more rows, then start alternating dec, sc, dec, sc until you've gotten quite small, but not too small. Add stuffing to the leg. Cut the yarn with a couple of inches and loop the yarn through each sc in the last row you made. Pull to tighten, do a slipknot to tie it off, leaving a bit of yarn to attach the leg to the body. Do the other leg in the exact same manner. It might be useful to count your rows (i didn't), because I ended up with 2 legs of slightly different length. I hope Eric doesn't notice...

The exact assembly technique is up to you. I just left lots of 2-3" threads on each body part and then used those to attach the limbs to the body. For the legs, I used a single loop through the body to attach each leg, which leaves the legs pretty mobile. If you wanted your sackboy to stay locked in a particular position, more sewing is necessary. For the arms, I needed two loops: one for the top of the "shoulder" and one for the "armpit". I then used a small crochet hook to grab each loose thread and pull into into the body cavity.

Voila! You have a sackboy.


Ashley said...

Hi Nicki!
I just read your comment on my blog (I'm new to this and just discovered the comments to be moderated, oops!). I totally agree we should keep tabs on each other. I've recently started a 52 week challenge to try to keep myself posting regularly.
I also want to say that I love your sackboy! I recently took up crocheting and am totally obsessed. I plan on following this tutorial soon!

Sabine said...

I did not finish him yet,but your pattern is wonderful.
I write only a few words, there could be more of them, but my english is not sooo good.
I hope you can understand what I like to tell you.
Greetings from germany (Hannover).zessn
Thank you so much. If the sackman is ready I will send you a picture.

AngelSkymore said...

Wow talk bout step by step! i would get bored before i could finnish making a pattern. but then again i get bored and confused trying to read the patterns.lmao!

Steph said...

I am making this for my 3 year old. He's having a little big planet party for his 4th birthday. I have no idea how to crochet so hopefully it will look ok when I'm done! Thanks so much for posting this! I think he's gonna love it and I never would have attempted this if I hadnt come across your instructions =]. I made his invitations in Photoshop this morning and they came out pretty awesome wahoo

Renee said...

Luv it!! My 7 year old is going to be excited when this project is done!

Jordan said...

Haha. I know tis post I old, but I just had to leave you a commet thanking you for this tutorial. A guy friend of mine wanted meto make him one in an outfir he likes to call the "russian turtle monkey". Yeah. Lol. Anywas, this is probabky one of te best patterns I've found. So thank you!!