Although I’m not a huge fan of Portal 2, I really do love Wheatley and the other personality cores. They’re cute, funny, quirky little characters, who provide a touch of lightness and humor to an otherwise dark game. I love sewing things out of felt, from video game and movie characters to original creations, so of course I had to make myself an adorable little Wheatley plush. Here he is!
Basically, he’s a white felt sphere with a bunch of decorations sewn on, plus the handles on the front. I used these photos as a reference. Lots of people make awesome plushies and other fandom goodies and post pictures online, but there’s hardly ever a tutorial. I’m okay at figuring out how to make things based off photos, but I know there are plenty of other geeks not blessed with this skill who would probably love to know just how to make something geeky and adorable from their favorite fandom. So, today, I present my first ever geeky DIY tutorial! I know that usually this blog is about writing and books (and movies) and author stuff, but I thought it would be fun to show another side of my personality, the geeky DIY side, and help you Portal fans out there to make yourselves an adorable plush! Posts like this will not be super regular, but if I make something crafty and geeky, I’ll be sure to tell you about it!
For this tutorial, I made Kevin the Space Core (Kevin is an unofficial name. It’s what he’s called in the Blue Sky fanfiction, so I’m going with it because Blue Sky is awesome), but you can make any core you want just by using different eye colors; green for the Adventure Core, purple for the Fact Core, blue for Wheatley, etc. I’ve taken tons of pictures and listed out all the steps and provided some printable PDF patterns. Usually, I cut everything freehand, but if I can get my hands on a pattern I’ll use it. It just makes everything so much easier, and hopefully it’ll make it easier for you too!
I make the majority of my plushies out of Rainbow Classic Craft Felt by Eco-Fi. It’s really good quality acrylic felt made from recycled plastic, comes in a variety of lovely colors, and, where I live, retails for about 23 cents a sheet, or four sheets for a dollar. Also, it doesn’t stretch unless you really pull on it, which is good when cutting out small or thin pieces that you don’t want to become misshapen. You can usually find this felt at Walmart, in the crafts section. They also used to have it at Meijer, but the one near me doesn’t carry it anymore, so I’m not sure if other Meijers still have it. However, you can use any kind of acrylic or wool felt you happen to have lying around. Just make sure the colors are consistent!
I sew all my plushies by hand. If you would like to use a sewing machine, you’ll have to cut out some of the pieces with an extra half-inch or so. Felt is very easy to sew by hand, and good for beginners and seasoned sewers alike. Usually I use a blanket stitch and turn it right side out so that the ugly edges are all on the inside. This results in a nice, smooth exterior. However, acrylic felt is a bit coarse, so you could try sewing your personality core out of soft fleece using a sewing machine so that he’s cuddly and fluffy. If you do that, please send me a picture!
Finally, this tutorial will be divided into several parts, as it is so long. This is part one, where we will deal with cutting out all the pieces, and sewing together the optic, or ‘eye’, of the core. Please read everything below carefully before you begin, so you have some idea of what you’re doing before you start.
Okay, enough talking. Let’s get started!
You will need:
At least four sheets of white felt, wool or acrylic (assuming the sheets are about 9’’ by 11 3/4’’)
About two sheets of black felt (or large scraps. I have tons of scraps lying around from other projects. Always hold onto your big scraps! They come in handy and you won’t waste felt)
About one sheet of dark gray felt
Two sheets/large scraps of eye-color felt, light and dark shades (i. e. one sheet of dark blue and one of light blue, for Wheatley, or dark yellow and light yellow for Kevin the Space Core, as shown below)
Gray thread (Try to find some that matches your shade of gray felt)
Core decorations pattern (printable PDF link here) I made these patterns myself, using Windows Paint (yes, I’m so professional). If you repost these somewhere else, please link back to my website. 🙂
Polyester Fiber-fill (stuffing). Amount will vary based on the size of your core, and whether you want it to be firm or squeezable. For Kevin, who is fairly firmly stuffed, I used most of a 16 oz. bag. You’ll also need some stuffing for the handles above and below his eye.
Q: How much will this cost?
A: If you went out today to my local Walmart and bought all this stuff (minus the needles and scissors), it would be about sixteen dollars, assuming you bought a big bag of Fiber-Fill. Now if you like, you could go shell out about thirty bucks for a Wheatley plush online (Not kidding. I looked, and you can get one), oooor you could make your very own customizable personality core for about half that, and then go impress your friends when you tell them that you made it yourself… 😛
Q: How long does it take to make one of these?
A: I didn’t do a precise count, but I’d say that it took me somewhere around 5-7 hours start-to-finish to make the Space Core. So, it’s probably best to do this project over several days, or find an extra-long Saturday afternoon and an engrossing audiobook.
Start by cutting out all your pieces. Below, I have a photo of all the cut out shapes used for the Space Core. For Wheatley, the original plush I made, I used five of the sphere shapes, because I had cut them out bigger than the guidelines, as I was trying to make a larger plush. Unfortunately, this seems to have resulted in Wheatley being slightly lumpy at the back, and not entirely spherical. But I ended up using five panels for Kevin as well, and I’ve had to cut out the panels with an extra quarter inch on all sides to make the sphere big enough. No matter what the original website says, five panels is the way to go. It’s still not a perfect sphere, but Kevin did turn out a lot better than Wheatley, just in general.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you print out the sphere panels to be about four inches across at the widest part, you’ll have to add an extra quarter inch to either side, if you’re hand sewing, and about half an inch if you’re machine stitching, to make sure that all the pieces fit on the surface of the sphere.
Above, you can see all the pieces cut out.
Now, we’ll start by making the core’s optic (his eye aperture, no pun intended). We’ll sew all the pieces of the optic together before stitching it onto one of the white sphere panels.
Here are all the pieces you’ll need:
One of the large (four inch) black circles, the dark eye-color circle, the light eye-color circle, and the two outer optic shells. Optionally, you can add an eyelid (or two) to give your personality core a bit of… personality. With the Space Core, I gave him a little lid on the bottom of his eye to give him a goofy, crazy, space-happy expression. If you’re making the Fact Core, for example, you might give him a drooping, disapproving lid on top of his eye, to emphasize his cynical nature.
Below, you’ll see the layers of the Space Core’s optic, the order in which we’ll attach the pieces:
First, place the dark eye color circle in the center of the black circle. We’re going to stitch it on first.
Thread your needle with a length of eye-color thread, and tie a knot at the end. I always double-thread my needle. This is essential when sewing a plush, because it makes the thread twice as strong, and so keeps the seams from pulling apart. Take your needle, and , starting on the WRONG side of the fabric, pass it through the black and yellow felt, so that it comes out right at the edge of the yellow circle.
The needle will now be on the RIGHT side of the felt (the side which will face outwards). Pass it back through the black circle, just above the first stitch, as shown above, and pull the thread through.
The needle is now on the WRONG side of the felt (the back). Make another stitch, beside the first one and about an eighth of an inch away, passing the needle out through the black and yellow felt and onto the RIGHT side, as shown below:
Pass the needle back through the black circle, just above the second stitch, as you did before. On the back, it should look like this:
Continue to stitch like this all the way around the dark eye-color circle.
When you get back to the top of the circle, tie off the thread as shown below:
This is what the back and the front of the optic will look like now:
Next, stitch on the smaller, light eye-color circle, right in the center of the darker circle, once again using the yellow thread:
This next step is optional. If you want to add eyelid(s), now is the time to do it. I stitched it on using the same method as above, but I didn’t stitch across the flat edge, as I think it leaves a crisper, more defined line between eye and lid.
Next, it’s time to stitch on the outer optic shell, which surrounds the eye itself. Grab another needle and a length of white thread for this step. Unlike with the Wheatley plush, I didn’t cut out a chunk of the optic shell from the upper right hand corner. If you want to do this, go ahead. I just found it simpler to leave the right shell all in one piece. Also, on Wheatley I did try to draw a little Aperture logo in the lower right corner of his optic shell with marker, for a game-accurate look. It didn’t come out very well. If you want to try this, or try to embroider it or something, go ahead. You probably know how to do it way better than me… 🙂
Again, I didn’t stitch these all the way around(I stopped at the top edge of the eyelid), so as to leave a crisp line between the shell and the eye:
We’ve now finished the optic itself! It’s time to grab one of the white sphere panels and attach the optic to it.Place the optic onto the sphere panel as shown. It should be right in the middle of the panel, at the widest part. Make sure the piece is centered before you sew it on! We’ll use the same method as before: up from the back, through the white and black layers, then over and back through the white, all the way around. Use a length of black thread for this.
Here is the fully attached optic! If you’ve made it this far, awesome! You’re well on your way to creating your very own Aperture Laboratories Personality Core plush. Join me tomorrow for Part 2, where we’ll tackle the sides of the sphere and the handy handles for carrying him around. 🙂
Please let me know if you enjoyed (Part 1 of) this tutorial! I’ve been wanting to do sewing tutorials for a long time, but this is the first one I’ve ever made. I know there’s probably a lot I could do to improve, so… give me a chance to make another tutorial! If there’s something geeky that you’d like to be able to sew, please let me know. I’d love to hear you suggestions, and if there’s something you want me to make, I’ll definitely see what I can do!