Introduction: DIY Fabric Sewing Machine! | Fun Stuffed Toy Sewing Project

About: Multi-crafter, jewellery maker, card designer and frequent procrastinator.

Years ago I remember seeing a collection of 'soft sculptures' in an art gallery, and included in the display was a fabric sewing machine. I thought it was an awesome project idea and it went into the massive idea pile in my brain. And then more recently I was reminded of this interesting idea by Sue Trevor, who makes amazing textile items including a textile food mixer! I just think recreating everyday objects in textiles is such a fun concept....and I'm finally giving it a go :)

I hope you like my version!


- Paper & pencil

- Disappearing or 'magic' fabric pen

- Fabrics for the main body, plus extras; I used white cotton calico, pink woven cotton & floral polycotton.

- Scissors

- Sewing needle & thread; I used white polyester thread.

- Sewing machine

- Embroidery floss; I used pink and black.

- Ruler

- Silver faux leather/leatherette

- Glue; this must be clear-drying and suitable to use with fabrics. I used UHU all-purpose glue.

- Yarn; I used super chunky chenille yarn in red.

- A scrap of brown leather & an awl

- White felt & a small piece of pink felt

- 4 Buttons

- Toy stuffing

- Sewing pins

- Iron & ironing board

- Compass

- Something to weight down the base

Step 1: Design Your Plushie

The first thing I did was draw the basic outline and details of my sewing machine (in actual size or thereabouts).

You don't have to add as many details as I did; just the ones you want to represent.

You will then likely want to make a list of the parts you want to replicate, as there are quite a few individual parts so it can get confusing.

Then cut along the outline you've drawn to give you the basic shape for the body.

Step 2: Cut Out the Front

Place the paper template onto the fabric you are using for the front of the plushie, and draw around it with your 'disappearing' fabric pen.

Then use a ruler to add a seam allowance of 1/2" all of the way around.

Cut along this outer line.

Step 3: Pink Cotton Section

To add a differently coloured section, place the fabric over your paper template and trace the shape you would like.

Add 1/2" around the outside and cut along this outer line.

Cut notches in the corners to reduce bulk, then iron all 4 sides to the back - folding along the lines you have drawn.

Then use 3 strands of pink embroidery floss to blanket stitch around the outside of this panel to attach it to the main body.

Step 4: Make the 2 Dials

For each dial, I cut out 2 circles of white calico, 2.5" in diameter, plus a strip of the same fabric measuring 8.5" x 1".

I used sewing pins to attach the strip to one of the circles, as shown.

Then, using 1/4" seam allowance, I backstitched around the edge of the circle (as well as along the seam where the ends of the strip meet).

I then pinned the second circle to the top of this same strip, and again backstitched around the edge. This time though I left a gap at least 1.5" long.

Turn the resulting disc right-sides-out, fill with stuffing, and then close up the gap using the invisible/ladder stitch.

Repeat the same again so you'll end up with 2 discs/dials.

Step 5: Presser Foot

This was my favourite part!

Take a piece of silver leatherette, measuring 3" x 5", and roll it up so that it ends up being 3" high. Secure in place with glue.

Then cut out 2 rectangles for the 'foot' - each measuring 1.5" x 1" - then place them together (back-to-back) and cut out a notch.

On one of the pieces, trace around the rolled-up leatherette end and cut this section out.

Glue the 2 'foot' pieces together, back-to-back, and glue the end of the rolled-up section into place on the foot.

For the needle, cut out a couple of thin strips about 2.5" long. Glue them together back-to-back. When the glue is dry, cut out a needle shape.

Also, cut out a rectangle measuring 1.5" x 2.25", roll it up and glue to secure. Make sure there is a gap in the centre of this tube to fit the needle - then glue the needle inside it.

Glue this needle section to the front of the presser foot section.

And finally, cut a little 'tab' 2" x 0.5" in size, glue into a loop, then attach the loop a little above the needle.

Note: I ended up cutting about 1" off the top of this foot and moving the tab down later on, as I underestimated how much the stuffing would decrease the gap between the top and bottom of the machine.

Step 6: More Body Layers

Because I was worried about my main body fabric being a little too thin to be durable enough in the finished toy, I cut out another layer of the front piece, pinned it to the back of my current design, then sewed just outside of the seam allowance line all of the way around.

You likely won't have to do this, but it's an option if you think you need it!

Then place your front piece onto your back fabric, so that the back fabric is face-down, and trace around the outside. Cut along this line.

Step 7: Screen, Buttons & Embroidery

For the screen, I cut out a piece of pink felt measuring 1.25" x 2.5", and a piece of the silver leatherette measuring 0.75" x 2".

You can sew these on, but I just glued them in place.

Then seek out buttons for your design - I just used 4 plastic ones in different colours. Sew them onto your front piece of fabric.

Note that if you use buttons, this toy won't be suitable for very young children because they would be a choking hazard if they came off. Instead, you could embroider these details on.

I then used 3 strands of black embroidery floss to add a 4 different 'stitch options' to the pink panel on the front.

Step 8: The Spool

For the spool, first cut out 2 circles from white felt, each measuring 2" in diameter.

Then cut out a rectangle 2.5" x 3" in size, and roll this up to give you a stick that is 3" high. Use glue to secure.

Cut out another rectangle, this time 2" x 2.5", and form this into a tube with a slight overlap. This tube should fit loosely over the felt stick you have just made. Glue to secure.

Glue 2 strips over the top of one end of this tube, so they are perpendicular to each other. This is just to block off this end of the tube. These strips measure 1.75" x 0.5" each.

Cut a cross into one of the circle shapes you have, and push through the blocked end of the tube. Glue this circle in place. Then glue the other circle to the other end of the tube to complete your spool.

Lastly, glue the end of your chunky yarn to the spool at the top, wrap it around the centre, and then glue it again at the bottom.

Once dry, you can continue wrapping the yarn around the spool as much as you like.

Step 9: The Sides

I measured around the circumference of my front piece of fabric, then made a strip of fabric this long (plus a few inches extra for the seam allowance and to ensure I have enough fabric.)

My strip ended up being about 74" long. As you can see in the photos, I had to sew together 2 strips together to get a strip long enough.

The width I chose for this strip was 5.5". Because I'm using 1/2" seam allowance, the plushie ended up 4.5" wide in the end. If you want a sturdier shape you may want to go wider.

Take this opportunity to iron the front & back pieces and the side strip - also press open any seams you have created on the side strip.

You then need to pin this side strip all around the circumference of the front piece, right-sides-together. Use more pins on the sharper curves.

Step 10: Tabs & Dials

In order to hold the yarn onto the plushie, you will need a couple of tabs. These are just rectangles of fabric, around 2" long, folded into thin strips and sewn lengthwise.

You need to position these at the top of the front piece, between the front and the side, and pin them in place.

Sew (with straight stitch on the sewing machine) along the pinned edge, using a 1/2" seam allowance. Take it slow around the curves, removing the pins as you go. Also, keep checking that your fabric is out of the way so you don't sew over anything you shouldn't by accident :)

Once you have sewn the side piece on, hand sew the 2 dials into place by just making a few stitches in the centre of each.

Step 11: Leather Strap

Cut out a rounded strip of leather for the handle. Mine was around 5" x 1".

Take an awl and make 2 holes at each end of the leather.

Sew this strap onto the top of the plushie (on the side piece). I used pink embroidery floss to do so.

Step 12: Add the Back

Next, pin the back piece of fabric to the side piece, making sure the right sides of the fabrics are still all facing each other.

Leave a good size gap along the bottom edge, as we'll need this gap for adding stuffing later.

Sew along this pinned edge as you did before (remembering to leave the gap).

Turn the fabric right-sides-out.

Before you turn the plushie right-sides-out, you will probably want to remove any excess bulk along the seams (particularly at the corners), as well as snip the seams on a concave curve, and cut out notches from the seam on the convex curves. This isn't vital, but the seams will likely be smoother if you do this.

Add plenty of stuffing to the inside of the plushie until it is firm enough to stand on its own.

Step 13: The Base

At this point I just quickly made a couple of pouches and filled them with plastic pellets to weigh down each side of the base, however there are many options for this step depending on the end result you want.

To get a more stable toy, you will want to add something flat and stiff in the base - such as a piece of wood. This will keep it flat against a table. You may also want more weight than that - perhaps filling the base with beanbag beans or rice.

Once you have added the weight of your choice, pin the gap you have left and sew it up using the invisible stitch.

Step 14: Attach the Spool

Clip a small hole where you want to attach the spool, then push the felt 'stick' you made into this hole. Sew this in place around the outside using the invisible stitch.

Then just push the spool onto this stick, and feed the yarn through the 3 tabs on your plushie.

Step 15: Attach the Foot

Clip another hole in the fabric - this time big enough for the presser foot section.

Push the rolled-up sections into the hole and secure with invisible stitch.

Step 16: Finished!

And that's it! You can now enjoy your squishy sewing machine :D

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