Step 1: Material:
- Fabric for the main body of the cell -I used flannel
- Toy stuffing
- Embroidery thread
- Pins and needles
- Template for organelles (see celltemplate.pdf below)
You can use a sewing machine to attach the larger organelles, but the smaller ones may need to be hand stitched. I mostly used hemming stitches and in some cases running stitches along the edge of the felt. Click here for examples of these stitches
Step 2: Cell Body
Step 3: Nucleus, Nucleoli and Chromatin
The nucleus is a membrane bound organelle that holds the cells DNA.
The nucleolus is the site of ribosomal RNA synthesis.
Chromatin consists of DNA and its associated proteins.
- Cut out a large circle of felt, this will be the largest component of the cell; the nucleus.
- Cut out a circle of felt in a different colour with roughly 1/4 the diameter of the nucleus, this will be the nucleolus.
- Cut out several little 'X' and 'V' shaped felt pieces of a third colour. These are the chromosomes(chromatin).
- First sew the nucleoli to the nucleus.
- Then sew the chromosomes onto the nucleus.
- Then sew the whole thing to the the cell (that blue piece of fabric from step 2).
Step 4: Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum
- Placing the template on the felt, cut out the rough endoplasmic reticulum.
- Make sure part of the rough endoplasmic reticulum is touching the nucleus, sew it onto the main body of the cell.
Step 5: Smooth Endoplastic Reticulum
- Placing the template on the felt, cut out the smooth endoplasmic reticulum.
- Arrange the parts of the smooth endoplasmic reticulum on the main body of the cell and sew it in place.
Step 6: Mitochondria
- Placing the template on the felt, cut out the outer edge of the mitochondria
- On a similar coloured piece of felt cut out the cristae of the mitochondria (you may need to cut out this part of the template first).
- Sew the cristae onto the mitochondria first then sew the combined piece onto the main body of the cell.
Step 7: Golgi Apparatus
- Placing the template on the felt, cut out the Golgi apparatus.
- Arrange the parts of the Golgi apparatus on the main body of the cell and sew it in place.
Step 8: Centrioles
- Placing the templates on the felt, cut out the two centrioles.
- Stitch lines along each centriole with a darker piece of thread to create striations (microtubules).
- Arrange the two centrioles perpendicular to one another on the main body of the cell (close to the nucleus) and sew it in place.
Step 9: Vesicles/Lysosomes
-Lysosomes are little sacs containing digestive enzymes used for cleaning up worn-out organelles as well as phagocytosis of bacteria and viruses.
- Cut out several little circles, they can be different sizes and different colour.
- Scatter these little circles around the cell and sew in place.
Step 10: Ribosomes
- Using a embroidery thread make french knots along the outer edge of the rough endoplasmic reticulum.
- From the underside of the fabric pull the threaded needle through.
- Loop the thread around the needle twice.
- Poke the needle down through the fabric (not through the same hole).
Step 11: Outer Cell Surface
- I found a car wash mitt at a dollar store that had little chenille bits that looked to me like cilia or micro villi. So I cut several off and sewed them to the outer surface of the cell.
- I also used short strands of yarn on the cell surface. I just pulled one end of the strand through the fabric, knotted it on the back side and trimmed it to the right length.
Step 12: Putting It Together
- Place both sides of the cell together facing each other and sew together leaving a small opening.
- Turn the fabric right side out and stuff with toy stuffing.
- When it is plump enough sew it shut.
Step 13: Other Ideas
I did not add any microtubules to my cell because I thought it would look too cluttered but you can by simply sewing several strands of yarn in between the other organelles. Likewise you can add a few french knot ribosomes throughout the cytoplasm.
You can add labels to your cell if you'd like. Tape or glue the organelle names on to small Velcro strips and they stick them onto the felt.
You can also just use push pins with the labels taped on.
Other cell types
Plant cells, bacteria, neurons, white, or red blood cells are a few examples of other cells you can make. Make sure you read up on the structure and functions of these cells. Plant cells have a cell wall and have chloroplasts and large vacuoles. Bacteria are more simple and lack membrane bound organelles.