How to sew soft toys

Whether you need a handmade gift for a child or just want a cuddly new friend to keep you company, consider sewing a soft toy. Soft toys can be made to resemble creatures of all shapes and sizes, from rhinos to dogs to humans, and they can be fabricated from many types of material, from fleece to felted sweaters. Beginners to sewing can create these toys, too. Even though a first try might not come out absolutely perfect, the resulting toy will be a unique original.


Select a pattern. Patterns can be found in sewing books at the library or bookshop, purchased from websites such as Funky Friends Factory or obtained free from websites (see Resources).

Enlarge the pattern pieces on a photocopier. The instructions on the pattern should specify by what percentage to enlarge, but you can also try different amounts of enlargement to create different sized toys.

Cut out the pattern templates. If you wish to make them sturdier for reuse, glue them to cardboard first.

Lay the fabric out on a flat surface with the right side facing down.

Place one of the templates on the fabric, then trace around it with a fabric pencil. Repeat for the rest of the template pieces.

Cut each piece out.


Sew the pattern pieces together either by hand or on a sewing machine. Because each pattern is a little different, the individual pattern will tell you in what order to sew the pieces. The right sides of the fabric should be facing each other, and as you sew, leave a quarter-inch seam allowance and a 2.5 cm (1 inch) gap for turning and stuffing.

Turn the resulting toy piece or pieces right side out. Use the eraser end of a pencil or a chopstick to aid in turning.

Stuff the piece or pieces. Don't overstuff, however; the toy should be slightly squishy.

Ladder stitch shut the gap used for stuffing each piece. Secure the end of the seam, then snip the thread with the scissors.

Sew any completed pieces to each other, if needed. Many soft toys are created in one piece, but if your toy isn't, follow the pattern's instructions for joining the pieces.

Create the toy's face. You can use beads for eyes, but if the toy is for a small child, embroider the eyes along with the rest of the facial features.


You can make a toy that will sit up by adding a small pouch of plastic pellets to its bottom. If the toy will be used by small children, secure the pellets thoroughly inside of the pouch so that they won't pose a choking hazard.

Things You'll Need

  • Toy pattern
  • Photocopier
  • Glue
  • Cardboard
  • Fabric
  • Fabric pencil
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Needle and thread
  • Polyester stuffing
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About the Author

Melissa Harr is a writer and knitting pattern designer with a range of publication credits. Her latest work includes blogging for Smudge Yarns, judging fiction for Ink & Insights 2015 and creating patterns for I Like Knitting magazine. Harr holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a CELTA.