From Conception to Prototype
I, like many others, am an admirer of Loungefly products. From their licensed pins to their most adorable mini backpacks. There is so much storytelling through these accessories, which makes me inspired as both a designer and as a lover of pop-culture.
Speaking of inspiration, I thought that it would be so fun to design some of my own backpacks based off the Loungefly style, but using some characters I’d like to see in stores or at the Disney Parks.
Enter Little Mikey.
Who is Little Mikey?
Little Mikey is a cute little 4-legged teddy bear owned by Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc., my favorite Disney Pixar movie. This movie is probably my favorite because of how special it was to me when it came out in theaters–I was 11 and had just started middle school, where I was having a really excruciatingly difficult time acclimating.
Everything about the movie gave me comfort, from a couple of funny looking monsters to their cute little human friend Boo. But more importantly, something about Mike having a beloved stuffed monster animal even into his adulthood just filled my heart with joy. Seeing the depiction of childlike comfort from a stuffed animal for a character who was very obviously an adult gave me validation I needed as a pre-teen struggling with adolescence.
I started by taking into account the shape and size of the traditional Loungefly backpacks. But there was one thing I really wanted to include in this backpack–a pin window display because I also am a Monsters Inc pin collector.
Now I have to preface everything going forward with a simple true statement: I am NOT great at sewing. I try, but prior to very recently I had never really properly used a sewing machine. This is probably why I accidentally broke two needles in the process!
I used tan-colored marine vinyl for the exterior, and a cute Mike & Sulley scarf pattern from Daiso as the interior. A small amount of clear vinyl was used for the eye window, and a sheet of canvas was used as the backing fabric. I used foam interfacing to make the backpack hold a shape. For the little horns, I painted the marine vinyl with an off-white acrylic. For the eyeball, I painted a blue and black acrylic right on to the clear vinyl.
From cutting out the pattern to finishing sewing the thing and turning it right-side-out, it took about 10 hours. This experience was definitely a testament to how important learning while doing really is. As primarily a kinetic learner, I really needed to experience all of the difficulties of this project to grasp how I would approach it next time.
Because… there probably will be a next time. This is a prototype, after all. In its first, gloriously lumpy form.
I’m seeing now that his arms and legs are a bit too long at this stage. I think I would go back into it and make them shorter and cuter. Since they’re non-functioning, purely for decoration, I think they need to have more of an appeal.
I’d also consider playing with a different material for the exterior. I used marine vinyl because it seemed like the closest choice to Loungefly backpacks, but I’m thinking maybe a faux suede, or maybe even a plush fabric to get it to be something exciting to touch, just like a teddy bear.
I would really like to continue exploring new options by getting input from other fans of Loungefly backpacks.
And then I would really like to take another stab at this project with the new changes.