How to Design Your Own Stuffed Animal

Written by margaret mills
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How to Design Your Own Stuffed Animal
Design your own stuffed animal for a special personalised gift. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Creating a stuffed animal from a pattern of your own design can make for a wonderful, personalised gift for friends and family. It is well worth the required effort, however, creating a two-dimensional pattern for a three-dimensional object can be challenging. Visualising the necessary shapes is a talent some possess, while others will acquire it in time with a little patience and practice.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Paper
  • Pencil, pen and markers
  • Ruler
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Felt or muslin
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Needles
  • Polyester fiberfill
  • Embroidery floss (optional)
  • Safety eyes (optional)

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  1. 1

    Determine the basic size and shape of the stuffed animal. Make a drawing of the proposed animal, if you want. It is best to keep the shape and details simple so you have to make only a few basic pattern pieces.

  2. 2

    Draw the pattern pieces on paper, using your drawing to determine the basic shapes needed. Tissue wrapping paper works for this. Stuffed animals are often made of two identical side pieces plus gussets, or additional sections to give them depth and shape. Gussets can be made for the head and stomach. While some animals have simple rounded shapes, you may want to include arms and legs. Draw arms, legs, and ears separately and keep the shapes as straight and smooth as possible.

  3. 3

    Cut out the paper pattern pieces, leaving a minimum of 1/4-inch seam allowance around each pattern piece.

  4. 4

    Place the pieces on inexpensive cotton, muslin or felt to create a prototype of your animal. Pin them in place and cut them out. Sew the pieces together on the sewing machine with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Leave an opening along one seam for the stuffing. You may want to stuff and attach arms and legs separately.

  5. 5

    Stuff your prototype with polyester fiberfill to get an accurate gauge of the final shape your design makes. Make adjustments in the pattern and repeat the process as necessary.

  6. 6

    Cut the pattern pieces from plush material, or a fabric of your choice, for the finished product. Sew the seams, leaving an opening for the stuffing. Add safety eyes before stuffing the animal. Stuff the animal, then whip stitch the opening closed. Embroider details such as whiskers or mouth based on your design.

Tips and warnings

  • Work with the design, creating prototypes from inexpensive fabric until you get the look you want.
  • Dismantle a stuffed animal similar to your idea to see how the pattern is cut to see how it was made.
  • Study a printed stuffed animal sewing pattern for ideas and insights.
  • Use a simple computer drawing program to create uniform shapes for patterns.
  • A French curve, a drafting tool used in apparel pattern making, is useful for toy animal patterns as well.
  • If using a thick, furry fabric for your animal you may want to increase your seam allowance to 1/2 inch.
  • Pins and needles are sharp, be careful.
  • Use good sharp scissors so that you don't pull or pucker the material.

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