Updated: Jun 7
Visited the dreamy Studio Ghibli museum in Tokyo, and brought home a little DIY sewing kit to create my own Totoro!
Built him as a little project on a Saturday – thank goodness I have some basic sewing background, because the instructions were all in Japanese! Grateful for diagrams and my knowledge of Chinese characters (so I could roughly make out some parts of the instructions)
Although the end product is so cute, some parts of the process didn’t look quite as adorable, especially when Totoro was still inside out (and I was struggling to bring Totoro to the right side of the world).
I messed up the ears a little bit, as I didn’t manage to attach them to stand up – instead, they look a little floppy. But I guess floppy is cute? 😀
Like a proud parent, I proceeded to do a photoshoot for my baby Totoro 😀
Turns out, the best spot to hold Totoro was on top of Togepi (not easy to keep Totoro standing because its quite round)
Details of the workshop
Duration: This was a DIY kit without any guidance (a sheet of instructions in Japanese, with helpful images). I took about 3 or so hours to complete the kit – I had lunch in the middle, so the starting & stopping made me lose a bit of momentum. Plus I also tried to trace the pieces out right at the start, in case I wanted to make another Totoro with my own material…
Price: <1,000 JPY for the kit (I think it was about 800?), inclusive of all materials needed for Totoro, but you’ll need your own sewing needle, scissors, and pins (to hold the parts together) while working!
Level of fun: 2.5/5
My favourite part of the exercise was watching Totoro slowly come together. The sewing was pretty standard, so nothing very new, except that it’s the first time I was making a stuffed creature and the stuffing part was rather exciting, as I saw Totoro filling up and getting into his nice round shape. Funnily, it felt like I was giving birth to Totoro, because I was literally creating him, and had to work so hard to push him to a tiny hole to emerge and become the full size he was.
Level of difficulty: 3/5
Conceptually, it wasn’t very difficult to do – the main challenge was that Totoro was so small, and it was tricky working with small pieces, especially when I had to turn Totoro’s little ears the right way out (as the sewing is done on the insides), and also flip Totoro the right way around (from inside out) via a 2cm hole on its back. It was also challenging to stuff the tiny ear with the cotton filling. I used a chopstick to help me push through these little spaces 🙂 Another slightly tricky part was having to sew the curved parts together (so that it’ll end up in a three dimensional shape), while keeping them in the right position (given its small size). Experienced sewers will find this much easier!