Introduction: Werewolf DIY Throw Pillow
Third Prize in the
Halloween Decor Contest
Keep a werewolf in your living room this Halloween without the worries of potty training and damaged furniture! If this little guy looks familiar, then you may have seen the Halloween episode of the short-lived craft competition show "Craft Wars" on TLC back in 2012. I made a version of this werewolf pillow design for our first mini challenge (which required dismembering teddy bears and re-configuring them in under an hour) and have long been wanting to give the idea a proper re-do without the time constraint. Here's a tutorial for the simpler, slicker version that anyone with a sewing machine can do at home!
2nd image above is the show version, image property of TLC. My original werewolf pillow was, by contract, property of TLC after the taping and I heard this little guy got given away as a promotional prize when the show aired. I hope he's out there somewhere being adored by his owner, janky hot glue strings and all.
Step 1: Supplies
For the purposes of this tutorial I'll be making a 14 x 14 pillow, since that's a readily available pillow form size. You can scale up or down depending on your preference.
You will need:
-Faux fur: You want a little shag, but avoid anything super thick that will be troublesome for your sewing machine. I think grays, brown, and black and nice standard wolf colors, but if you wanna get nuts and make a pink wolf, DO IT!
-A medium/ light weight cotton fabric. This can be a fun Halloween print or a solid. This will be the "pants" and the back of the pillow.
-Craft felt in various colors. These will be for your face, ears, and chest. Choose colors that stand out against your fur. Again, a lot of this will be up to your preferences. I did green eyes, but you could do orange, blue, red, whatever!
-Thread: you can use one color for everything or have an assortment at the ready. I like using different colors in the face.
-A fabric friendly adhesive: I tend to use E-6000 for most things since it creates a string, reliable bond. You may prefer a different adhesive. I do NOT recommend hot glue because the application can be too lumpy, and I, personally, do not care for stuff like "Tacky" glue because I think it takes forever to dry and doesn't bond reliably.
-Your pillow form, or Poly-fll if you prefer a squishier, free form werewolf
Tools: Pen and paper, fabric scissors, needles, pins, and a sewing machine.
Step 2: Main Pillow Shapes
First, measure our your main pillow square shapes: 1 on your faux fur, one on your cotton. If you've chosen dark fabrics, you may need to use tailor's chalk or a white marking pen to drawing your lines. For a 14x14 pillow form, you'll actually cut 15x15 squares to allow approx. .5 inch seam allowance on all sides.
Some of you may be wondering, "Why can't I make both the front AND back of my pillow out of the faux fur?"
Well, you CAN, but I don't recommend it unless you have a beast of a sewing machine. A double thickness of fur can be too much for some machines to feed through, or may get clogged up in the teeth and presser foot. If you did happen to see my Craft Wars episode, then you saw one of the other contestants get in a bind because his machine kept jamming on all the fur.
Let's keep this simple and stress free with one layer of fur!
Step 3: Gimmie Face!
Grab your pen and paper -doesn't have to be anything fancy. Sketch out some ideas for your werewolf face and check shapes. While I admit that drawing for a living gives me an edge on design stuff, don't be discouraged if you don't draw often. Remember that some of the world's most beloved characters are VERY simple (Hello Kitty, Snoopy). Keep your shapes simple and you're bound to end up with something cute. Mix and match your pieces. Move the features around. Maybe the eyes look better lower or higher on the face. Turn the mouth upside down for a different expression.
Once you've decided what you like, make a "nicer" version of your chosen designs on a clean sheet of paper. Cut out the broad shapes first (whole face, whole chest, whole ear).
Step 4: Cut Out Felt Shapes
Traces your main shapes onto the appropriate colors of felt. Again, for darker felts you may need a a white pen (gel pens work well because it disappears easily when you're done).
When your main shapes are done, cut into your pattern to remove the eye, nose, mouth, inner ear, etc. Now trace these smaller shapes onto their felt colors.
Cut out all felt shapes and lay out your face. If you don't like something, now's the time to alter it. You can trim the ears shorter, change the nose color, or add additional pieces like eyebrows.
Step 5: Hand Stitching
If you want to speed up the process, you could use your fabric adhesive to put your face together now. I prefer a crafty, hand stitched look, so I used contracting colors of thread to sew my features to the main pieces. Just pin your pieces in place then use a simple running stitch. You'll end up with a really cute and polished look.
The 2nd photo here is me trying to choose between two chest options. Round bellies are pretty funny, but this time I felt like going with some muscle instead.
If you're having fun embellishing your werewolf, you might also consider some touches of humor like nipples or a belly button. You could even stitch a 6-pack on, if you're so inclined. I used simple pink seed beads to give my werewolf nipples, just because it struck me as funny.
Step 6: Layout
Now that your features are done, lay them out on your fur square. Keep in mind that you'll be losing at least .5 inch all the way around when you sew the pillow together.
Avoid putting the face in the dead center of the pillow, as it will push the chest too low. I suggest making the gap between the bottom of the face and top of the chest your center. This should leave a nice lower third area for your "pants".
Once you're happy, you can pin your pieces in place if you wish.
Step 7: Stick It On
One piece at a time, turn over your felt bits and apply your fabric friendly adhesive. A toothpick or other tool may help you apply the glue smoothly and evenly. You don't want to leave any big lumps or have any one area get super saturated and wet, to ensure the front side looks good.
For larger pieces like the face, you may find it helpful to apply adhesive to one half, place the piece on your fur, then roll back the other half to continue applying glue. This is shown in the 2nd photo. Depending on what you use, some glues may start to dry too quickly if you attempt to cover a large are all at once.
When you stick your pieces to the fur, press firmly straight down. Allow some time to dry before moving to the next step. When applying your felt pieces, do NOT wipe your hands across the felt in a sweeping motion. Doing so may cause your pieces to move where you don't want them and get adhesive goo in part os the fur you did not intend.
Step 8: Pants!
Now it's time to use your solid or print cotton to make the wolf's pants. On craft wars, my wolf has little legs with jean cut offs. To keep things simple here, we're just going to use a lower third of fabric to represent the idea that he's wearing some bottoms. He's got to be decent in case you have guests come over!
Place your fabric on top of your wolf to eyeball how much you'll need to cut. You can overlap the top of the pants with his belly, or keep them clear of each other, depending on your taste. I decided to keep my shapes separate here and marked off 4.5 inches x 15 inches. Keep in mind this is actually a little more than you will actually see, as some will be lost to seam allowance.
For the top edge of your pants, turn under about .5 inch and iron for a crisp edge. SAFETY NOTE: Never leave a hot iron unattended. Kids can be stupid, pets can be stupid, you can be stupid. Just avoid any chance of disaster by unplugging your iron when you're done and putting it safely out of reach until cool.
Step 9: Geez, Put Some Pants On!
Pin your pants fabric in place, crisp top edge closest to the belly. You'll run this through your sewing machine for a quick and easy attachment.
NOTE: Since you will be sewing through your fur, you may need to adjust your machine's tension to accommodate the thickness. This shag of fur actually went through very easily when i set my machine to a "2".
Step 10: Attach the Back
Almost done! Sandwich your pillow halves together, "good" sides facing in. Pin your fabrics together. You will run 3 sides through the machine. I suggest leaving the top open as your stuffing hole because when you hand stitch it closed the faux fur will actually hide your work quite nicely.
Remember to cut your bottom two corners for a nice crisp point.
Insert your pillow form or stuff with chosen filling.
Step 11: Close It Up
Once your pillow is stuffed, you will close the final side.
Roll the edges of the fur and cotton inward and pin together. if you don't work with fur often it may take you a few tries to get the hang of it. Hand stitch to close using a mating thread. Pinch your fabrics together as you go to ensure you're actually grabbing the base fabric of the fur with your needle, not just weaving the thread back and forth through the hairs.
Step 12: "Pick" the Fur
You may notice that there are bubbles of hair between your stitches, but we're going to fix that.
Take your needle and lightly pick at the fur, taking care not to strain your stitches. Loosen the hairs that are trapped beneath your stitching and fluff them out. In the photo above, the hairs above my hand have been picked, the ones below have not. You may also wish to do a quick picking pass on the sides of your pillow if there are any unsightly trapped bits of hair. It may sound silly, but you'll be glad you took a minute to give him this extra fluff.
Whether you're making costumes, puppets, or decor items, knowing when to "pick" out the fur really separates the noobs from the pros.
Step 13: The Howl of Victory!
You're finished! Now you have a totally unique DIY decorative buddy to watch movies with on the couch. Have a werewolf pillow party and make a whole pack!
I like the way my little guy turned out and want to leave him as is, but if you find your wolf still needs a little something (unibrow, chest hair, rhinestone eye sparkles, etc) you can add these using your fabric adhesive. Use sparingly so as not to soak through to the pillow form.
Follow surface wash instructions for your chosen fabrics. Keep in mind this guy is best used as a decorative throw pillow, not for sleeping. Faux fur + lots of skin oils + time =GROSS. If you decide to take a nap together, just flip him over and use the easier to spot clean back side :)
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