Introduction: Soft Robot Friends - Good Beginner Sewing Project
These robots are your fabric pals who are fun to be with. Making one is a quick and easy sewing project that is ideal for beginners.
This is designed to be made out of felt and hand sewn, but of course you can change the materials and use a sewing machine if you like.
Here's what you need to make a robot:
- Felt sheets in various colors
- Pipe cleaner (optional)
- Needle & thread
- Stuffing: polyester fiberfill, cotton balls, or crumpled tissue paper
You can find all of these things at a craft store like Michael's, but a large dollar store should have most of them. If you can't find polyester fiberfill, you can substitute cotton balls or crumple some tissue paper.
You will also need to print and cut out the pattern in the attached image. I drew it on letter size paper, but you can scale it up or down if you want. (You don't need to cut out the eye and the heart.)
Step 1: Design Your Bot
The first step is to decide what colors your robot will be, and what kind of details you want to add. In the pictures, I chose a blue robot body with grey arms and legs, a red heart, and a single purple and green eye. But your robot doesn't have to look like that! The cover picture also shows a black robot with two eyes and a lightning bolt symbol. For the black robot, I also made the arms and legs shorter.
Once you've decided on your colors, cut the pieces out of felt. You will need two each of the body, arm, and leg. You can fold the felt in half and cut both pieces out at once.
For small attachments like eyes and hearts, you can cut them freehand, draw a pattern on a scrap of paper, or use an object to cut around. (I used a spool of thread for the outer eye circle.)
Step 2: Sew on the Details
Lay out the robot body and position the eyes and other attachments where you like them.
Thread your needle with doubled thread. Start at the back of the body, and bring your needle through the body and the first attachment. When you are done sewing, pull the needle through to the back of the body again and cut the thread leaving 2-3 inch tails. Then tie the two thread tails in a square knot. (Be careful not to pull too hard - if you do, the felt will crumple up.)
For the round eye, I layered two circles of felt on top of the body, and stitched a simple pair of crossed stitches through all three pieces. (See photos.)
For the heart, I used a running stitch around the edge of the heart.
On the black robot, I changed thread colors so that the thread matches the attachment and is harder to see.
You can stitch your robot however you like!
Step 3: Sew the Body
Start by laying out the arms and legs on top of the back piece of felt, and then put the top piece of felt on top, sandwiching the arms and legs in between the body pieces. (Picture 1.) Adjust the angles of the arms and legs until you like them. You can also pull the arms and legs further inside to make them shorter if you like. If you leave them long, make sure there's about 1/4 inch of the limb inside the body, so you have enough material to sew it in securely. Once you're happy with it, pin it together.
You're going to start at the top of the head, sew down the side, around the whole body, and stop at the other side of the head. The top of the head is left open for stuffing.
Thread a needle with doubled thread and tie a knot at the end. Put the needle in between the two layers of fabric at the top corner of the head, and bring the needle through the top layer so that the knot ends up in between the two layers of felt. (Picture 2.)
I used a simple running stitch for my robot. (Picture 3 & 4.) When you get to the arms and legs, you will need to sew through all three layers of fabric. If you run out of thread, or when you get to the end of the seam, bring your needle out in between the two layers of fabric. Cut the thread and tie the ends of the thread in a square knot, being careful not to ruffle the fabric. Trim the ends.
Some problems to watch out for:
It's easy to accidentally loop your thread around a pin, especially if the thread is long. (Picture 5.) If this happens, carefully unhook it.
Sometimes when you pull a stitch through, the thread tangles into an ugly looking knot. (Picture 6.) To fix it, gently pull on the knot until the thread forms back into a long loop. (Picture 7.) It may help to put your finger inside the loop while you tighten it most of the way, then take your finger out and pull the thread tight to complete the stitch.
Step 4: Stuff the Robot
If you're using cotton balls, you'll probably want to pull each ball apart and fluff it up.
If using tissue paper, I suggest pulling off small pieces and crumpling them.
If using polyester fiberfill, pull off a small piece of stuffing and I usually sort of wad it up before pushing it into the robot's head.
Use a pen or other similar blunt object to help push the pieces of stuffing down to the bottom of the body. Keep adding stuffing, until the whole body is filled. Push some extra pieces into the corners of the shoulders, then add some more for the head.
Don't pack the stuffing in hard, just stuff it lightly.
Step 5: Add Antennae (Optional) and Close Up the Head
If you want to add antennae, form your pipe cleaner now. The steps I followed, as shown in the picture:
- Place a pen near one end of the pipe cleaner. Wrap the pipe cleaner around the pen to form a loop with a short tail.
- Wind the tail tightly around the main length of pipe cleaner.
- An inch or two below the loop, bend the pipe cleaner at a right angle.
- Measure the pipe cleaner against the robot's head. The flat section in between the antennae needs to fit inside. Make another right angle bend for the second antennae.
- Form a loop in the second antennae, and wind the tail around the straight portion. Clip the end off. (Scissors will work for this, but if you have dedicated sewing scissors, don't use them on wire. Find a different pair.)
- Push the pipe cleaner inside the top of the head with the antennae sticking out.
I didn't take a picture of how I made the single antenna on the black robot, but basically I left a piece of pipe cleaner sticking out to each side at the bottom, to make it harder to pull the pipe cleaner out.
Now get out your needle and thread, and sew across the top of the head. As before, put the knot in between the layers of fabric. If you don't want antennae, this is just like all the other seams.
Otherwise, stitch across the antennae - that is, put your needle through both layers of fabric on one side of the antenna, then bring it back through just on the other side. Stitch normally in between the antennae - these stitches and the flat section of pipe cleaner will prevent the antennae from pulling out.
At the other side of the head, tie your thread off and trim the ends.
You're all done! Give your new friend a hug.
Participated in the