Introduction: Hippo Pillow - Sewing Project for Beginners

This is a great gift for toddlers or even older ones. They can enjoy an impromptu nap on their hippo anywhere !

This project is perfect for a beginner.

A friend of mine had a similar one when we were kids and I loved it. But now I can't find the pattern anywhere. So, I'm happy to share here the pattern I have made out, trying to replicate the hippo of my childhood.

Step 1:

Supplies :

  • 2 pieces of fabric, at least 75cmx60cm (30’’x24’’).
    Preferably cotton : easy to sew and available in so many different colors and patterns that you can play with.
    One fabric will be the back of our hippo. I will call it Back Fabric. I chose the yellow flowers as my Back Fabric. And one will be the belly, and I will call it Belly Fabric. Mine is plain yellow.
  • Matching thread
  • Fleece (or recycled fabric) to fill the cushion
  • 2 big buttons for the eyes
  • 1 small button to fold the cushion

Tools :

  • Sewing machine + sewing kit
  • Iron + ironing board
  • Sewing pattern on paper or cardboard (print or copy from image)

Step 2: Cutting the Pieces

For the body :

  • Cut 2 rectangulars of 48cm x 38cm (19''x15''), one in the Back Fabric, one in the Belly Fabric.

For the head :

  • Print or copy the pattern on paper or cardboard. The pattern enclosed is on letter size, so ready to be printed full size.
  • Draw the pieces on the wrong side (WS) of the fabric.
    Make sure to leave 1cm seam allowance all around all the pieces !!
    Don't cut the markings but draw them on the fabric
  • Cut all the pieces : 2 times in the back fabric for the EAR BACK and TAIL&LINK, 2 times in the belly fabric for the EAR FRONT, 1 time in the back fabric for the rest.

You're ready !

Step 3: Let's Start With the Darts

All those triangular shapes on the pattern are darts. They're here to give voume to the fabric, and that's where we start with the sewing machine.
Fold the fabric in the middle of the small triangle, fix the two layers of fabric together with needles and sew along the triangle side. Iron the sewing to flatten the dart and make the fabric look at its best.

Do that for all the pieces that need it : MUZZLE BACK, MUZZLE FRONT and EAR FRONT

Step 4: Assemble the Head

We'll start with the ears : overlay the FRONT and BACK pieces of the ear, the right sides of the fabric facing each other.
Sew together, following the arched line. Flip the ears inside out and iron to flatten the seam.
I then did put a piece of fleece inside of each ear to give a little fluffiness, but not too much to keep them still a bit flat.

Then we'll fix the ears on to the head.
Lay the HEAD FRONT piece on the table, wrong side down, right side up, and position the middle of the ears on the marking, Belly Fabric down and Back Fabric up. The ears are aiming towards the middle of the HEAD FRONT piece. Fix them with needles always starting with the middles (this is the best way to check everything is aligned).

Then lay over the HEAD BACK piece, right side down, wrong side up. Fix all the pieces together with needles.
Sew the along the arched line, and flip inside out. The ears should now be hold in between the 2 head pieces.

Step 5: Assemble the Muzzle

Overlay the FRONT and BACK pieces of the muzzle, the right sides of the fabric facing each other. Fix with pins the curvy side of the BACK with the waves of the FRONT. Sew together and flip inside out.

You now have the muzzle piece and the head piece ready.

The two curves (facing us on the picture) are to be sewed together. (The flat sides are to be sewed on the cushion later). Fix them together with pins and sew together.

You now have a finished head ! Congratulations !

Step 6: Prepare the Body

Before assembling the body to the head, and sewing the sides of the cushion, we have to fix the tail and the link that will hold the cushion closed.

I am using the 2 little rectangles cut in the back fabric. Fold them in 2 on the long side (use the iron to mark the line), then fold the long sides towards the middle. You will have 2 skinny rectangles now, made out of 4 layers of fabric.
Insert a little piece of fleece inside those skinny rectanges, and sew along the long side to close them. Now they're kind of ribbons ready to be positionned on the back of our hippo.

Get the big rectangle of Back Fabric, and mark the middle of each side, the right side of the fabric facing you.
On the middle of one of the short sides, you will position the ribbon as forming a loop (towards the inside of the rectangle). You need to make a loop big enough to let the small button go throught. On the picture, the pink pin shows where the seam will be, and therfore the loop is big enough for the button.

On the middle of one of the long sides, position the ribbon, folded in 2, so it will look like a cute little tail.

Ok your body is ready to be assembled !

Step 7: Assemble Body and Head

We are going to assemble the head to our cushion. On the Belly Rectangle, position the head, the right sides facing each other : pin together the piece of MUZZLE BACK with the Belly Rectangle, starting by fixing the middle of the rectangle side with the middle of the muzzle. Sew together.

Now position the Back Rectangle with the head, the right sides facing each other : pin the HEAD BACK with the Back Rectangle, starting by matching the middles. Sew together.

Now is the easy part : Sew the sides of the cushions but careful!

  • Make sure the right sides are facing each other
  • Dont sew over the head, and leave an opening to be able to flip your work inside out
  • Make sure you sew the tail and the link in

Flip the inside out and give it a bit of ironing : Congrats! You have a flat hippo !

Fill the hippopotamus head first and then the body with fleece or anything you think would make a nice fluffy pillow.

Step 8: Finishing Touch

Now you are done with the sewing machine! It's time to take a needle and close that pillow!

We close it with hand stitch because it makes it way more discrete than with the sewing machine. Just simply sew in loops, getting through both fabrics, few millimeters away from the edge, following the line of our previous seam.

Now with the same needle, position your hippo eyes, on the HEAD FRONT piece, aligned with the darts.

You are just missing the little button : on the last side of our big rectangles, facing our link, place and sew the button in.

And this is it !

Step 9: The End

Hope you'll enjoy your hippo !

Thank you for reading my tutorial

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