One of the first questions I’m asked at craft fairs, classes and right here is “what do you use for toy stuffing?” So I thought I’d do a round up here. There are three types of stuffing I’ll cover;
- The hard stuff
- The natural soft stuff
- The synthetic soft stuff
The hard stuff
Pellets in various materials like plastic, rubber and steel are sometimes used for stuffing but they’re a choking hazard for babes and small children so I wouldn’t recommend them for toys, softies or plushies. They also tend to make sock toys look like they have serious cellulite issues so I’m not going to go into detail on the hard stuffing!
The soft natural stuff
Corn Fibre Fill
I’ve used this extensively and I love corn fibre fill. The texture is a lot like a polyfibre, it’s soft and beautiful to work with while holding it’s shape really well. It also has a very low flammability rating – very important for toys for little ones. It’s washable, hypoallergenic and good news all round.
You can get corn fibre fill from Inner Green (AUS) and Fairfield along with Mountain Mist in the USA have it listed too (although I haven’t tired theirs)
Wool has been used for toy stuffing for an eternity. It’s lovely to work with, holds shape really well, low flammability. Wool has a weight to it that corn fibre and poly stuffings don’t have, you can achieve a real firmness with wool stuffing. It’s also available as an organic fill, perfect for toys for newborns. The only downsides are that you can’t machine wash it which is a tricky for anything kids drool on and it is expensive compared to other stuffing products on the market.
Winterwood (AUS), Ecofill (AUS), CozyPure (USA)
Cotton Fabric Scraps
Fabric scraps are another traditional toy filling and I love the idea of recycling fabric. Unfortunately it does tend to clump up and leave bumps in your softies – it’s unsuitable for sock softies but you can use it for fabric softies – just make sure you stuff firmly and evenly to achieve a smooth surface on your toys.
Cotton fibre is a another great natural product, especially the organic option. It’s lovely to work with although it does tend to compact and doesn’t spring back quite like a PolyFill or Corn Fibre which for me brings down the cuddle factor. If you’re after dense, firm stuffing for your softies made from cotton fabric then this is a great option, not so great for sock softies as you’ll get lumps and bumps.
Mohair Bear Making Supplies (UK), Organic Cotton at EcoFill (AUS), Honeybegood (USA), CozyPure (USA)
This is one that I haven’t tried personally as yet, but I’m a big fan of all things bamboo. It’s reported to be soft and silky, not quite as bouncy as polyfibre and needs careful hand washing as it has a tendency to clump.
Available from Bamboo Fabric Store (USA), Fairfield (USA)
Kapok was once the stuffing of choice for teddy bears and cushions but fell out of favour in the 50s when synthetic stuffing became available. A natural fibre from the Kapok tree in Thailand and Indonesia, this stuffing is silky and soft. It can be a little messy to use with the fibres flying around and will mildew if it isn’t kept clean however it does wash very well.
Available from Kapok.com.au, Amazon (UK) and White Lotus Home (USA) for bulk Kapok orders.
A brand new option that I’ve noticed, it’s expensive but I imagine oh so good for toys for little ones as it’s naturally hypo-allergenic and anti bacterial sourced from sustainable plantations. It’s reported to be lovely to work with (head over to SweaterDoll Blog for her review)
Available from EcoFill(AUS)
The synthetic stuff
Poly fibre fill is great – it’s washable, holds it’s shape. easy to work with and hypo-allergenic. This is the stuff your cushions are filled with. It’s also very cheap and available in almost every craft store on the planet. A reliable option for toy stuffing and one I first used when making toys.
Recycled PET FibreFill
This is a poly fibrefill made from recycled PET bottles so every softie you fill is saving plastic bottles from becoming landfill. While it’s not as soft to work with as some of the other fills, this stuff really holds it’s shape – even better that the regular polyfibre fill. It is washable, hypo-allergenic and a great eco-friendly option.
Innergreen have a recycle PET fibrefill that I use, I’d love to hear on where to buy from readers in the USA and UK.
(Pssst… grab the free tutorial for this Mr Ted softie over here)
So what should you use? Personally I’d recommend the Corn Fibre Fill or the Recycled PET Fibrefill, they are bouncy, cuddly, washable and kind to the planet.
Do you have a favourite stuffing? Recommendations for other Schmafters? Tales of stuffing disaster?
Love to hear about your experiences and sources for this post so please don’t be shy about commenting.