Introduction: A Little Zoo for Kids
sometimes you just need the perfect excuse to finally start something that you wanted to do for a long time...
i really love animals, especially little cute ones and therefore wanted to do stuffed animals for ages, but, let's face it, although still being a kid at heart, the times of playing with stuffed animals are over for me. so now my niece just turned three, making her the perfect age to give a gift like this to for christmas.
this is why i finally gathered all my leftover fabric and ventured in the (for me) almost unknown territory of animal making.
and since one little animal is too lonely, i made a whole little zoo, complete with a cute drawstring bag as a house for the animals.
and here is how:
Step 1: What You Need
for the animals you need:
- different kinds of scrap fabric, if you are a person who sews on a regular basis, you will surely have a large supply and don't need to buy anything. just work with what you have, it dosn't matter if you'll end up making pink or grey elephants, just see that the fabric is not to thin and stretchy fabric won't work either.
- thread in matching colors
- filling material, i just bought really cheap pillows (the kind that is not even made from real fabric, they're supposed to be used with a pillow slip), i payed 3 euros for 2 pillows. the filling of these pillows is great for projects like this and it would be more expensive to buy just the filling. for all the animals, i used maybe half of one pillow.
- embroidery thread and needles and small pearls or buttons for the eyes.
for the bag for the animals you need:
- rests of fabric, you will need 2 pieces of about 30 cm x 90 cm
- about 1 m of rope (thickness of the rope and diameter of the eyelets should match!)
- eyelets and tools for the eyelets
tools: sewing machine, scissors, paper, pens...
this is not the best project for people with no sewing experience at all, some of the animals are a bit tricky to make because of tiny parts. also, if you don't have a sewing machine, you could do all the sewing by hand, which i hate, but for some of the smaller parts it might be easier.
Step 2: Octopus
for the octopus, i will give you the complete process, the other animals are all made the same way.
most of the patterns for the animals i made myself or altered some i found online, i've included these in the instructable, if you print them out an A4-paper you will end up with animals the same size as me (around 10-15 cm long), but you could also increase the size before you print them out to make larger animals.
for the octopus, i chose a violet body fabric and a sliver one for the underside. you will need 4 times the body and one tentacle part, but note that the tentacle pattern is only one quarter of that, you have to repeat it four times next to each other to form one big circular part (see picture). add seam allowance on all parts.
first sew the 4 body parts together: sew 2 pieces together on one side from the marking to the tip on top, then sew the third one to the second one on one side, then the third to the fourth. then you have to sew the fourth to the first but now you have to leave an openning of about 4 cm (see picture) through which the octopus will be stuffed. you will have to sew that opening shut by hand in the end.
now put the body part on the tentacle part (right side on right side) and sew them together, this works best if you work in steps (pin and sew 2 tentacles together, then the next 2). when all the tentacles are sewn together trim the seam allowance on all seams (except where the opening in the body part is) very close to the seam. on the tips of the tentacles you have to caut away almost all the seam allowance (see picture).
reverse the body through the opening so that the right side is outside and then, with the help of a pen or something similar reverse the tentacles one by one.
now you have to stuff the octopus, start with the tentacles, and, again with the help of pen stuff each tentacle until they are frim enough to your liking. then fill the rest of the body. you might need much for filling than you might expect. once the stuffing is done sew the opening shut by hand.
almost done now, all it needs is a face. with violet embroidery thread i sewed to bigger eye-outlines to one of the sides of the octopus and topped them of with blue pearls as pupils.
voila! the octopus is done.
on to the next animal!
Step 3: Seal
the seal turned out a little small in comparison to the other animals, so maybe increase the size of the pattern by 10-20 percent before printing it out. you will find the seal pattern with the octopus pattern (step two). seam allowance is not included in the pattern, so include some when you cut ot the pieces.
i used a silver-grey fabric for the whole seal and emerald embroidery thread for the eyes and snout and green pearls for the eyes.
you will need the body twice, the head and belly once, the back flapper four times and the front flapper twice the upper and twice the lower part. keep in mind (for all the other animals as well) to mirror the parts that you need twice (like the body) when you cut out the pieces, so you will end up with a left and a right side of the body.
Step 4: Giraffe
for the giraffe i used a kind of giraffy scrap of fur fabric that i still had left over from a bigger stuffed animal project. if you don't have that kind of fur, just use another patternd brown or yellowish fabric, or just make a pink giraffe! whatever you like best.
You will also need a tiny piece of another fabric for the inside of the ears. I used a golden one.
And for the mane and the tail you'll need a bit of wool in a color harmonizing with the body fabric.
Print out the pattern on a A4-paper and cut out the pieces: you will need the body twice, the doubled inner leg part once and the ears twice from the body fabric and twice from the ear fabric.
for the mane, i formed a zig-zag line with the wool as long as the mane should be and sew close to one edge to hold it in place (see my crappiely drawn picture). when you sew the body together include that strip of mane in your seam, the tail is made out of a few strands of the same wool, don't forget it either!
the ears have to be sewn on by hand after the rest of the giraffe (including the stuffing) is done. for positioning see pattern.
for the eyes i used white pearls and golden thread.
Step 5: Pig
for the cute little pig you need a body fabric of your choice - i went with piggy pink - and a small piece of another fabric for the inside of the ears. to make the tail curly you need a piece of wire, or you can use a paperclip like i did.
print out the pattern on a A4-paper. cut out the body twice, the underside once, the tail once, the snout once (all from the body fabric) and the ears twice from the body fabric and twice from the ear fabric. add seam allowance!
as eyes, i used two dark brown pearls and brown embroidery thread to make the cute pig snout.
Step 6: Snake
I didn't really have a snakeskin like fabric so i went with a multicolor patternd one that i really liked. for the underside i went with lavender satin for that smooth snake feeling. for the tongue you need a tiny piece of a fabric that doesn't fray, i used a rest of red leather that i had lying around.
Unlike the other patterns, the snake pattern already includes a seam allowance of 0,7 cm, the width of the foot of the sewing machine. cut the body once from the fabric you want for the top, and once from the fabric for the bottom. if you like, you could also use the same fabric for top and bottom. Cut a tongue from the non-fraying fabric, i just did it whitout a pattern, it should be around 3 cm long. the snake was by far the most difficult to stuff being so long an narrow, take your time with this one!
Step 7: Llama!
if available, use a furry kind of fabric for the body and a smooth fabric for legs, ears, tail and snout. that way you will get the perfect llama look. you could even go for a brown body and white legs.
print out the pattern, you will need the body twice from furry fabric, the snout twice, the inside legs twice, the outside legs 4 times, the tail once and the ears twice. note: i lost the original pattern part for the ears, but it is basically the same as the tail just a bit longer.
when sewing, don't forget the tail when you sew the parts of the body together. the ears have to be sewn on be hand once you finished the rest of the llama (after stuffing it!).
my boyfriend is obsessed with googely eyes so he put some on the llama, which looks nice in a ridiculuos kind of way, but is unfortunately not sturdy enough for a three-year old to play with. so off the came and were replaced with violet pearls. to sew them on and for the rest of the face i used black embroidery thread.
Step 8: Panda
for the panda, i used this pattern in it's original size. you have to add seam allowance on all the parts!
for the black parts i used black velvet, for the underside balck parts and the inside of the ears i used a plain and thinner black fabric to make sewing easier and for the white a simple sturdy white cotton fabric. this was the most complicated of the animals, but the work is worth it, since it is really super cute in the end. the instructions on the website are quite detailed and you can also find many more nice patterns there.
to give the panda a face i used black embroidery thread and darkr pearls for the eyes.
Step 9: The Bag
because the animals should have a home where they can snuggle together at night i made a bag for them to be stored and carried around.
you can make the bag out of two different fabrics like i did, or use just one fabric. it will be reversible, so it is nice to use two different ones. i used a red and white striped one for one side and a plain dark violet one for the other, although i used the striped fabric for the inner and outer circular bottom part.
it is really easy to make (if you don't understand some part of the explanation just look at the pictures and it will become clear):
make a circle template out of paper with a diameter of 21 cm. use it to cut out two circles of fabric, add 1 cm of seam allowance. cut out two rectangles as well, with a hight of 30 cm and a lenght of 66 cm.
sew each of the rectangles together along the 30 cm long side, then sew one circle to each of the now tubular rectangle parts. you will now have two already like a round bag shapes pieces.
pin and sew those two pieces together along the 66 cm long round open side, leaving a 5 cm long opening.
through that opening, turn the bag so that the right side of the fabric is outside and that the two circular parts lie on top of each other - you should have a round bag now (see picture).
to close the opening sew once around the opening of the bag close to the edge. then sew another seam 3 cm from the edge.
now mark where the eyelets will go on that 3 cm broad strip between the seams: we want 10 eyelets, that is one every 6,6 cm.
make holes for the eyelets with a hole-puncher or little scissors and with the help of your eyelet tools put the eyelets in.
when all the eyelets are in place, thread the rope through them. make a knot in each end of the rope so that the rope can't slip through the eyelets.
and the bag is finnished!
Step 10: Have Fun With the Zoo!
and now all that is left to do is have a good time playing with your little zoo - or, like in my case, let others have fun with it by giving it away as a (christmas) present!
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