Introduction: How-To-Sew Cute Plushie Animals

About: Hi, we're Dara and Nash. Industrial designers, tinkers, and mayhem builders. Follow our travels.

                   Plushie animals are a great beginner crafter for you to learn to sew with. They don't require a lot of material, time, or effort to learn. And the result is a wonderful keepsake. We made these this past week for Animazement, you can see one of the classes of 20 below. Thanks everyone who came out!

                   To get started on your own plushie animal, you will need the following:

Pen or Washable Marker
Optional: Buttons or Other Trim

Step 1: Pattern Time

          Find or make your pattern for the plushie you want. There's some great websites that have hundreds of free patterns you can print off your computer.

          I love Deviant Art, Sewing SupportAll Crafts, or your local sewing or fabric store. This is a classic 1950s Teddy Bear Pattern that I adapted for asian style clothing. Since I was doing this for a party, I copied all the pattern pieces onto hard manila paper to stand-up to more abuse/greater accuracy. Also, if your pattern has notes for "on the fold" redo your pattern laying flat to prevent distortion. It's not good to use on the fold on small pattern pieces since this can be up to 1/4-1/2" variations which will kill the cuteness factor on small plushie animals to take them from something cute to something out of Tim Burton movie.

Step 2: Cut Out the Pattern Pieces

Take a pair of scissors and cut out the pattern pieces. Some people use an exacto knife.

Step 3: Trace Out the Pattern Pieces on Fabric

Lay your pattern pieces down flat and trace them. Remember to flip pieces if necessary (for right or left). I used washable Crayola markers for this! They're great.

Step 4: Cut Out Your Fabric Pieces

Cut out all the pieces you just traced. This is pretty simple and should take you 5-20 minutes per plushie depending on how adapt you are with scissors. I can generally cut out 2 teddy bear patterns per 25 minutes. This is a great thing to recruit a friend/relative for and a couple beers or glass of wine if you are doing multiple sets. My wife and I did 40 kits for Animazement for Charity and it was a fun evening with a lot of laughter.

Step 5: Lay Out All Your Pieces (Double-check)

                        This part is pretty self-explanatory, channel the whole measure twice, cut one mentality, and check that everything is there before you go to town sewing. Here is our entire pattern cut out.  We have a bear (2 fronts, 1 back), kimono robe (left, right, and facing), jacket (left, right, and facing), vest (front and back), and pants (left and right). Plus glass eyes, needle, and thread. Your pattern pieces may be different (more or less) depending on which version you are making.

Step 6: Thread Your Needle

Thread your needle and tie a knot at the end. You want to sew the teddy bear together with a backstitch. For anyone who is not familar with this basic stitch, see the diagram below from the theater stage union. I have also included a 2 minute video below. Handsewing is something that is I think easier to do when you actually see someone do it vs. just taking pictures.

Step 7: Sew the Front of Your Bear Together

         Fold the two fronts of your teddy bear together (the good sides should be on the inside, the bad sides should be on the outside). Starting at the crotch, sew up to the forehead. I marked the master pattern piece here for easy reading in black with arrows. After you finish, you can open the bear up on the good side to check your stitches and make sure that you made your stitches small enough. In general, you need 5-8 stitches per inch to realistically hold the bear together.

Step 8: Sew the Front of the Bear to the Back

Open up the bear fronts and pin the front to the back of the bear. Using the same back stitch you just used, you want to sew all the way around the bear leaving the side open to turn the bear inside out. I have marked the pattern piece master to make this easier to see in black ink with arrows with the armpit and hip. In general, plushie animal patterns have a 1/4 inch seam allowance for hand-sewing, but a little variation is never bad. If you have a different animal (rabbit, ghost, etc.), just do this the same way.

Step 9: Turn the Teddy Bear Inside Out

Using a pen or pencil, turn the plushie inside out.

Step 10: Stuff It

Take stuffing a fill your animal. I used a cotton filling for mine.

Step 11: Close the Hole

Using your back-stitch, close the hole in your teddy bear. You can also use a blind-stitch.

Step 12: Add Eyes and Fine Details.

Using a contrasting thread, add details like a mouth, paws, ears, eyes...etc. I like to use a basic straight stitch for this, but you can pick your poison. Any embroidery stitch will do.

Step 13: Sew the Pants.

                Alright, your bear is done. If you're good at this point, you can quit. The following directions are for adding clothing to your bear. To make the pants:

1. Sew the bottom of each pair with a basic running stitch to hem them. Here's a short video on a running stitch I like in case you've never done it before. This is the most basic of beginner stitches.

2. Then fold each leg in half wrong side out and sew them together so you have two pant legs.
3. Turn on pant leg right side out and put it inside the first pant leg.
4. Sew the seat of your pants together.
5. Sew the top of your pants to finish them.
6. Sew the pants to the teddy bear to add pant pleats.

Step 14: Sew the Top

Take your 3 top pieces (these directions are the same for a kimono or short jacket). All the clothes are sewn with a basic running stitch.

1. Sew the sleeve hems.
2. Sew the back right and left halves of the jacket together.
3. Sew the jacket facing to the jacket itself.
4. Flip the facing inside out and stitch it down to top of the jacket.
5. Hem the front of the jacket.
6. Sew the sleeve arms together.
7. Flip inside out.
8. Sew the jacket to the plushie animal.

Step 15: Add a Ribbon for a Sash

Cut off a small ribbon (6-8 inches) and tie it around the waist to finish your bear's outfit.

Step 16: Voila, You're Done.

Now go forth and make plushies.

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