Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stuffing: poly fill vs. natural fiber fill (corn), and yarn for tight spaces

When you're making a stuffed toy, pillow or amigurumi (ami) you have options for your stuffing material.  For tight spaces like narrow arms and legs, I like to use yarn.  It is easy to slip/stuff some yarn, the same color as the arm/leg, into the tube and be done with it.  The benefit of that is:

a) you've got the yarn on hand;   and
b) it doesn't show through the stitches (for instance if your work is black, white poly fill can and show through).

With more than a tiny space to fill, your options are fill, such as polyester fill (polyfill/polyfil) or eco-friendly fiber fill made from corn.   Mountain Mist brand makes both of these, but there other polyester fill brands on the market.

Unfortunately, Mountain Mist Fiberfill, while boosting that it is eco-friendly, is a mess to work with.  It is very fiber-y.  After using it once, I decided against it.  Small fibers were all over my immediate workspace, my table and my project.  A thin dusting of it went everywhere.  Worse, it went into my nose and I suspect into my lungs.  After using it, I was sneezing it out!  I cannot imagine it is good for the lungs, regardless of how it might be good for the environment.  Also, it was crumbling out through the stitches of my project!  Imagine giving a stuffed animal to a baby who is going to hug and love it and be sniffing out those fibers.  Not good.

It has the feel and look of cotton candy--when you break a piece off, it literally breaks off.   Also, I wondered how it would stand up to repeated washings, since it also reminded me of cotton balls.  No one would intentionally use cotton balls to stuff a crochet/knit project unless they were desperate and never intended the item to be washed.  Once washed, the item would likely stay flat and never "bounce back" into shape.    So, the eco-friendly FIBER fill gets a thumbs down from me.

Conversely, this product from the same manufacturer gets a thumbs up:

Notice the "100% Polyester" on the bottom.  The fibers are long spun strands that keep their shape, pull apart (not break apart) nicely, and when washed it will bounce back into shape.  There is a reason this has been used for decades to stuff pillows and such.

By no means is Mountain Mist the only manufacturer of polyfill either, here are a two others:

You have to love it when a product, such as polyfill - goes by the brand name poly-fil.  That pretty much says it all!!!!

Lastly, the polyester fill is cheaper than the eco-friendly-corn-fill.

I've heard some very frugal crafty people will use scrap fabrics and scrap yarn to stuff their stuffies.  I haven't done this, and I can't speak to it one way or the other, but its an option I thought I'd mention.

However you choose to stuff your projects, happy stuffing to you all.


  1. Good posting. I never thought about yarn in stuffed animals. It makes sense for a tight fit.

  2. Thank you for the info about the corn fibre stuffing. WOW! not a good choice for crochet toys that have small openings all over ( the very nature of crochet). Plus the mess in your shop, up you nose and on your clothes. It's nice to hear someone else's first hand experience. I will stay away. In the search in the last week for ideas for stuffing that come from natural sources to be as green as possible with the toys I make to sell I have some across a lot of options. Wool is lovely... but quite pricey and not able to go into the dryer which makes me have to pass on that cost, making the toy more expensive and not ideal for young children... not just drool but sickness mess as well. Cotton mats and shrinks when wet. Corn, you say, is messy but can also be GMO. PLA is made by bacteria. I think Kapok sounds like a good one for being springy and washable but I hear it puts fibers in the air... it seems a lot like Milkweed fuzz. It's more affordable than cotton or wool and comes from the seed pod of a tree... trees live a long long time, do not deplete the soil, and naturally produce these pods. I'm not sure if I might be allergic to these fibers. But it is worth a try, I think. Being in the US there is the cost and footprint of shipping it but have found an American company. So for now I will not feel too bad about the poly-fil... it's washable and hypo-allergenic. As a side note... I had a doll my granma had made which was stuffed with sawdust- economical, uses waste, washable, and packs well. but not very sqeezable and occasionally gave a prickle. Yarn (especially left over, and too small to use amounts) is an interesting idea! I'd love to hear if anyone has used Kapok.