Introduction: Fidget Plushie


We are a group of MIT students taking Principles and Practices of Assistive Technology. This semester, we worked closely with Violette, a 12 year old with high-functioning autism, and her mother, Renee, to make products that would help Violette when she feels overwhelmed or has meltdowns - times when she tends to lose control and rip up her surroundings.

To help with this, we created the calming blanket and squishable and fidget plushie that you will learn how to make in this Instructable.

NOTE: Violette is very particular about textures and materials, so we went shopping with her to purchase materials that she likes or knows to be calming. You should tailor materials and the fidget modules you will be creating for this project to your own needs or likes.


  • Disc Magnets RAM-PRO 25-Piece Powerful Magnetic Round Ferrite Magnet Discs

  • Mega Marbles 3 Pack - Zebra, Lion, & Bengal Tiger Game Nets

  • Chenille Kraft Big Bag of Plastic Buttons

  • EZSound Box - 10 inch Extension Play Button

  • Faux Fox Fur Fluffy Pompom Ball

  • Fluffy Plushie Stuffing

Purchased at Sewfisticated Fabric Store @ Puritan Mall in Southern Boston

  • 1 yard Light Pink Crushed Velvet Fabric *

Purchased at Sewfisticated Fabric Store @ Puritan Mall in Southern Boston

  • 1 yard Light Pink Shaggy Fabric *

Purchased at Sewfisticated Fabric Store @ Puritan Mall in Southern Boston

  • Zipper (~6” in length)
  • Thread to match fabrics (we used light pink and white)

Note: Items marked with an asterisk (*) are customizable and should be chosen to the specific preference of the user.

Tools and Machines Needed:

  • Sewing Machine (recommended)
  • Alternatively, can be hand sewn
  • Basic sewing supplies (needles, thread…)
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Fabric Marker/ Sharpie
  • Measuring Tape

Step 1: Selecting Fabrics

  1. Choose two fabrics. Violette chose two differently textured fabrics, a light pink crushed velvet fabric and a light pink shaggy fabric. We will be using about 1 yd of crushed velvet fabric and less than 1 sq ft. of the shaggy fabric.

Step 2: Cut Fabric

  1. Measure a 8”x32” piece of one fabric. Mark with a fabric marker and cut out with fabric scissors.
  2. Measure two 8” square pieces of the other fabric. Mark with a fabric marker and cut out with fabric scissors.
  3. Laying the 8”x32” rectangular piece of fabric flat lengthwise, mark the fabric every 8” across. This will form four square panels.

Step 3: Making Modules: Buttons

  1. Pick out an assortment of buttons of different materials and sizes. For Violette, we discussed the liking of different shapes and extra smooth materials and chose buttons accordingly.
  2. Using embroidery yarn, string buttons together, making one pass through one hole of each button and another pass through another hole of each button.
  3. Tie a button at the end and make a knot to tie the chain off.
  4. Sew the button you used to tie the chain off to one panel of the rectangular piece of fabric, near the top left corner. The chain should fit completely on the panel, even when stretched.
  5. Pulling the loose end of the button chain diagonally, mark the fabric. Pick out a thicker, smaller button to sew here. You should be able to loop the loop end of the button chain around this button, tightly enough to hold the chain in place, but loose enough so that the chain can be unhooked from its holding place.
  6. Pick and sew other buttons onto the panel to your liking.

Step 4: Making Modules: Balls and Marbles

  1. Cut a 5”x7” rectangle out of the crushed velvet fabric.
  2. Place the square on top of another panel on the 8”x32” rectangular fabric piece. We oriented this rectangle so that the other side of the fabric (not the velvet side) faced outward. This way, the pocket lining would be consistently velvet throughout.
  3. Take your zipper and confirm that it is the correct size for your pocket.
  4. Sew in the zipper so that the pocket can be opened.
  5. Cut a 6” by 8” rectangle out of the crushed velvet fabric.
  6. This time, with the velvet side facing outward, sew on top of the pocket by hand to minimize visible edges. This cleans up the appearance and ensures that the outside of the pocket is the same velvet material.
  7. Obtain a variety of marbles and wooden or plastic balls. Dispense into pocket and zip pocket shut.

Step 5: Making Modules: Pom Poms

  1. Obtain pom poms desired size and texture.
  2. Sew a pom pom onto the last panel of the 8” x 32” rectangular fabric piece.
  3. String together pom poms with yarn.
  4. Tie ends off with buttons. Now you have a pom pom garland that can be wrapped around the pom pom on the fidget plushie, secured by the buttons.

Step 6: Making Modules: Magnets

  1. Cut 7” x 7” square of fabric used for the 8”x32” rectangular fabric piece.
  2. Lay 4 disc magnets on the fabric, near each of the corners.
  3. Cover each magnet with a rectangle of fabric slightly larger than the magnet itself. Sew this fabric to the base square, enclosing each magnet in its own “pocket."
  4. Sew the 7” x 7” square to the back of one panel of the crushed velvet fabric.
  5. Slice a 1” slit in the middle of the panel.
  6. Now, cut a 1” x 6” rectangle out of the crushed velvet fabric.
  7. Place a magnet 2” from one end of the rectangle and cover with stuffing tightly, just so that the magnet cannot be seen through. Fold the shorter end of the rectangle over to cover the magnet, and sew shut so that neither the stuffing nor magnet can escape.
  8. Insert the end opposite of the magnet into the slit previously sliced in the panel. Sew the slit shut so that the magnetic strip is sealed onto the panel.

Step 7: Sewing the Cube Together

  1. Attach one side of one of the 8” square shaggy fabric to one marked 8” panel on the rectangular piece of crushed velvet fabric. Sew the sides together.
  2. Repeat step 1 for next two sides of the shaggy fabric square and the next two marked panels of the crushed velvet fabric. On the last side of the shaggy fabric square, leave an opening of about 2”. You will hand sew this hole shut later.
  3. On the last side of the shaggy fabric square, leave an opening of about 2”. You will hand sew this hole shut later.

Step 8: Stuffing the Cube

  1. Using stuffing of your choice, stuff the cube through the hole you left to a desired amount.
  2. Hand-sew shut the small hole left in the cube.

Step 9: Adding the Soundbox (optional)

  1. On a blank area of the velvet fabric, cut a 4” slit on the side of the cube. In this slit we will be adding a magnetic pocket that fits inside the cube. This pocket is going to hold the sound box and allow you to easily access the box itself and change its batteries.

  2. Cut a 4” x 6” piece of out of the crushed velvet fabric.

  3. Lay magnets on the fabric along the 4” ends. Each 4” end of the fabric should have 2 magnets, one with the North pole facing upward and the other with the South pole facing upward. The other edge of the 4”x6” piece should have corresponding magnets so that they can later magnetize together to close the pocket.

  4. Cut and lay 1.5” x 4” strips of crushed velvet fabric over the magnets. The dotted lines are where you will be sewing. Make sure that you sew twice between the magnets to keep them separated along the 4” edge.

  5. Now that the magnets are secured, fold the strip in half (along the 6” side). The magnets should close the outside edge of the pocket.

  6. Sew along the other 3 edges of the pocket.

  7. Cut any excess fabric. You now have a finished pocket!

  8. Finally, sew this pocket into the slit we made in the fidget plushie earlier. Ensure that there are no gaps in sewing, and place the sound box inside of this pocket. The wire can be contained inside of the pocket while leaving the button trigger exposed. And you're done~

Step 10: All Done!

Enjoy your fidget plushie!