I frequently use wire in my patterns to help with stability, strength and poseability. It is important to me to be able to explain exactly how to assemble the soft sculptures in my patterns, so within my patterns there are often step by step written and photographic instructions for how to assemble your soft sculpture using wire. Figuring out the perfect wire to use has been an interesting journey that I am STILL ON.
As a fluke, I found that packages of paper-wrapped 18 gauge 18 inch faux floral wire works really well for what I want it to do. The crumpled paper wrapped around the wire offers a nice friction resistance against the yarn crochet work, so pieces that you crochet won’t shift as much once the wire is inside, because the wire isn’t just smooth. This particular wire that I recommend also happens to be fairly stiff for 18 gauge wire, and the paper-wrapped quality adds girth to the wire, so although 18 gauge is fairly small, the paper makes it much thicker.
The 18 gauge, 18 inch CLOTH wrapped wire is NOT created equally to the paper wrapped stuff. I’ve found that the cloth wrapped wire is far to malleable and won’t hold up the weight of a crocheted wing (for example) the same way that the paper wrapped wire does. Unfortunately, I also found out that there is no firmness descriptor on packages of wire meant for faux foliage. So it can definitely be a bit of a process to locate a perfect wire to use in your work. Keep in mind, you also DO NOT want the wire to rust.
I explain this because although I found the wire easy to locate in stores here in America (big box craft stores), for my overseas customers it was not so easy. Overseas customers have found wire more readily available at their local home improvement stores — Wire used for fencing or hangers works well, but you should always have a pliers on hand for trimming and shaping. You don’t want a wire that’s TOO stiff, because then you run the risk of not being able to shape it as exactly as you need.
So basically, go out there and find the goldilocks of wire. Good luck!