Children love stuffed animals and soft toys. Polar fleece is an ideal medium for crafting some toys of your own design, or using bought or found patterns. Polar fleece, like most cloth, can be cut and sewn into most any shape. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and creative ability. If you have access to a sewing machine, your creations can come together faster and with a more polished look.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Chalk or marking pencil
- Sewing needles
- Straight pins
- Sewing machine (optional)
Pick out the polar fleece you like at a fabric store, and have it cut to the size you need. Polar fleece is available in many solid colours and patterns. Fleece varieties can vary in thickness, quality and cost. Also, fleeces often pill (ball up in small spots), an undesirable quality that eventually ruins the look of the fabric. To prevent this, some manufacturers apply a special finish to one side of the fabric. Ask the fabric section employee about this when purchasing the material.
Find patterns online, at fabric stores, or create your own. To make almost any animal or doll, you start with a basic shape. Here's one suggestion to make your own pattern : Draw a thicker-at-the-middle, hourglass shape for the body, tube shapes for limbs, and rounded shape for a head. With this basic shape, adding long ears make it a rabbit or small, pointy ears make it a cat. A pointed cap can make it a wizard (add a felt beard, fabric cloak and pipe-cleaner staff, and you're all set). Additionally, soft toys and balls, hand puppets and bean bags can be created with fleece.
Pin and cut your project's pieces. It is often difficult to discern the right from the wrong side of fleece fabrics. If patterned, the wrong side often looks lighter than the right side. For solid colours, the wrong side sometimes feels and looks more like felt than fleece. To avoid mistakes, mark the wrong side of the material with chalk or marking pencil as you cut each piece.
Sew the pattern together using a universal size needle and synthetic threads. Because fleece is so thick, be sure the bottom piece extends out slightly to alert you to slippage if sewing with a machine. Also be sure to adjust your pressure foot to accommodate for thickness of the fabric, so it can glide through without problems.
Hand-sewing will be needed for at least a portion of any of these projects, and you can certainly choose to do the entire project by hand. Use a regular-sized needle for sewing fleece. Mark and sew the pattern as you would if using a machine.
Stuff the toy using poly-fibre filling, scrap material, or even recycled dryer lint. (Hypoallergenic fibre for stuffing is also available at craft and sewing stores.) When stuffing narrow areas like arms and legs, use the blunt end of a wooden skewer to insert the filling. For a toy that will keep its form, insert as much filling as possible before you sew the seam closed.
Apply knitted or crocheted scarves, hats and sweaters to doll or animal figures. Sew facial features with decorative stitches using colourful crewel or embroidery threads. Add interest with fabric shapes or letters.
Tips and warnings
- Doll-making kits are available at most craft and hobby or sewing stores. After you've made one, you'll probably be able to design your own patterns for any future projects.
- If you need to iron fleece, use a cool and dry setting.
- Don't glue buttons, eyes or other features--sew them instead. Gluing these items might produce a choking hazard for very young children and pets.
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