Stuffed animals are a traditional, welcome gift and they’re fun to sew. But, why just sew the same old thing? These five little charmers each have a distinctive twist and I’m including tips and tricks for successful stuffies at the end, too. Come see what I found!
Elephant Coin Purse
This little pachyderm is as practical as he or she is pretty! The sample on the Handmadiya blog is sewn from felt, but fleece, soft plush or faux leather would be just as charming. The brief written instructions are well illustrated with photos, but they’re not designed for beginners. If you’re an intermediate sewist looking for a stuffed animal to sew, you’ll have no trouble at all. For durability, I suggest that you sew all the pieces together rather than the optional gluing the designer offers. Make sure you choose a good zipper, too! Click here for the photo tutorial on the Handmadiya blog.
Sock Stick Horse
A grinning equine on a stick is just too, too cute to pass up! Designed by Hetty who writes her Light Blue Grey blog in the Netherlands, the Sock Stick Horse has a lovely European charm. Made from a men’s sock, it’s a wonderful upcycle with delightful, nostalgic roots. When choosing yarn for the mane, find one that is as wooly and thick as possible for the best styling results. Once you have your sewing supplies assembled, you’ll need a dowel or broomstick plus Hetty’s terrific directions and you’ll be ready to head for the sewing stable! Click here for the tutorial on the Light Blue Grey blog.
Jodie from the Vintage RicRac blog designed the most enchanting little amphibious party animals for you to sew! Just 2” x 3” finished, these mini-crawlers would make wonderful pocket buddies for the littles in your life. Follow Jodie’s shell embroidery instructions precisely or make up your own to add individual personality. Have fun with the hats! After the party, the turtles might enjoy prince or princess hats, flowery bonnets, rain hats, top hats or any other style that belongs in a well-dressed turtle wardrobe. Click here for Jodie’s free PDF pattern download on Craftsy.
Felted Sweater Pig
This little piggy is another delightful upcycle animal to sew. Made from a felted 100% wool. argyle sweater – fair isle or another pattern would be fabulous, too. Sweater Piggy’s tail contains a pipe cleaner and for a younger child, you may want to leave that out and stitch into a permanent curl. The seam allowance is just a tiny 1/8” , but I suggest you add a little more to the pattern to create a 1/4″ seam allowance for sewing ease, then trim it down for turning. Click here for the Sweater Pig tutorial on Martha Stewart’s blog.
Circus Animal Cookie Pillows
Looking good enough to eat and cuddly enough to snuggle, these Circus Animal Cookie Pillows are delectably yummy. They’re a childhood favorite treat turned into a childhood favorite toy. Kelly of Studio DIY stitched these up in nice bright felt, but I can see them in fleece, plush fabrics or a soft wool. The rainbow pom-poms are perfect – little dots of applique would be cute, too! Click here for the tutorial on the DIY Studio blog.
Here are my hints for successful stuffed animals:
- If you’re using felt, use the best quality wool felt available with the highest wool content you can find. It will last much longer than craft felt.
- Many designs call for gluing select details, but whenever possible sew these details for more lasting durability.
- Be patient with details and tiny pieces. Precise stitching is key when you are working on a small project.
- Clip all the curves even if the instructions do not suggest it. Clipping makes turning small pieces go smoothly.
- Use a chopstick or other long, dull pointed stick to gently maneuver stuffing into ears, noses and other small spaces. Pulling fiber-fil apart into small pieces will help avoid hard clumps forming inside your creation. Firm stuffing will keep your critter cuddly without it becoming floppy.
- When closing openings by hand, use a double thread whip stitch and closely spaced stitches for security.
And last, but by no means least, think about the thread you’re using when you have animals to sew! Detailed sewing of eyes and other features on handmade animals is usually done by hand, so you’ll want a strong thread. Coats has just the right one for you to use and I love it’s weight for stitching details. Dual Duty Plus Button and Craft Thread is a cotton covered, polyester core thread, so it’s very strong and the colors stay bright.. Click here for more info and check out the color card at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!
About the Author
Annette Millard began sewing at the age of three, made her first dress at ten and is always happiest with needle, fabric and thread in her hands. Annette feels very privileged to have spent most of her work life in the sewing industry and loves teaching, making her own handmade wardrobe and writing about sewing. She spent over ten years as the newsletter and web site content writer for the Pacific Northwest's largest locally-owned family of fabric stores and is now thrilled to have the opportunity to share her passion for sewing with the Sewing Secrets community.