Intro: Handsewn, Homemade Penguin
For Christmas this year I wanted to get my friend something penguin related because we have this on going joke about these cute little birds. I went to so many shops but couldn't find something unique enough and so I thought I would try and make a penguin by hand!
I had so much leftover fabric but the only problem is I do not have a sewing machine. So I attempted to make my own pattern and hand sew a Christmas penguin for my friend and I think that he turned out rather cute.
I was lucky to have left over black, white, orange and red fabric but you can use any colours you have.
Hand sewing requires a bit more patients but I actually find it easier as you can take it around with you to work on rather than being weighed down by a machine (it may take a little bit longer though)
Step 1: Equipment
To make your little penguin friend you will need the following:
- Black felt/ material approx. 2x (35cmx 20cm) doubled over rectangle (enough to make 2 'body' cut outs and 2 wings)
- White felt/ material approx. approx. 1x (20cmx 15cm) rectangle (enough to make the 'belly, eyes and rim of the hat')
- Orange felt/ material approx. 1x (10cmx10cm) square (enough to make a beak and 2 feet of the penguin only )
- Red felt/material approx. 1x (15cmx15cm) square
The amounts depend on how big you want your penguin. My penguin ended up about 25cm long. I only guess these dimensions of fabric because I only used leftover pieces I had in my closet.
Other equipment that is needed
- Toy stuffing/ white fluff
- White paper (to draw your penguin pattern)
- Pencil for drawing pattern
- Sewing needle
- Pins (about 20 depending how much you like to use pins)
- white and black thread (you can also use red and orange for the beak and hat but I did not have any leftover thread in those colours.)
- Black permanent marker for drawing the eyes
Step 2: Drawing Your Pattern
With your pencil and white paper draw out a bowling ball shape for the penguins body. This should be the largest part of the pattern and will be made out of the black material. This will be the main determining factor of your penguins size. MY BODY WAS ABOUT 25CM
Then once the body patter has been drawn, draw patterns for the wings, feet, beak and eyes around the penguin to try and get the correct proportions. (little hint to make the penguin look animated make the eyes larger than expected it makes it look really cute.
If you are making the Santa hat
Draw out a triangle shape that is about the size of the top of the penguin's head and a small ball shape for the end of the hat.
Once your patterns are drawn and you are happy with them cut them out. Don't worry too much about the patterns being perfectly cut. This is hand made and it does not have to be perfect it is about the thought and effort put into it!!
Step 3: Cut the Fabric
The next stage, once your patterns are cut out is to pin them onto the different fabric pieces and cut them out. It is important to cut slightly more of the fabric around the edges of the pattern because once sewn the penguin will be turned inside out and will 'shrink' a little bit. *I will explain this when we get to it*
The black fabric will make the body and wings of the penguin. because we need 2 body and 2 wing cut outs you will need to double the fabric over (lay two sheets of it together) and put the side of the fabric you want to show on the penguin together inside the. (if you want the fluffy side on the finished penguin the opposite side would be on the outside being pinned).
Then but out the 2 bodies and 2 wings, keeping the bodies together (this is what we will sew together first) the wings can be unpinned and separated at this point.
The white fabric will make the 'belly' and eyes of the penguin (and if you are making the Santa hat, the rim and bauble of the hat). The belly only needs to be one piece, not doubled like the body or wings. The eyes should be roughly the same size so you can either double up the white fabric or cut two shapes and try and get them the same shape (that is what I did).
The orange fabric will make the beak and feet. You can follow the pattern but I found it easier to just cut out a triangle for the beak and then two little lumps for the feet. you will only need one beak and two feet.
Red Fabric *Optional*
The red fabric will make the Santa hat. You will need 2 triangles of the same size so it is best to pin the triangle pattern (about the size of the penguin's head) together on doubled fabric and cut them out together.
Step 4: Thread the Needle
Threading will be the same for each colour of thread used. The longest thread you will need will be for the body (black thread) and the least will be for the feet and beak (white). Be careful not to use too long of thread as it can tangle easily.
First cut out a long piece of thread then carefully thread it through the end of your sewing needle. Once it is through 'fold' the thread on itself (this is so it is stringer when you hand sew it). Then at the end of the thread without the needle tie 2-3 knots at the end to prevent the thread going through the fabric when sewing.
Repeat this when you need more thread or changing the thread colour
Step 5: Sew the Body of the Penguin
Now take the pinned and doubled up black fabric and insert the needle to the bottom edge of the fabric. Do not worry if the stitching is the neatest as when finished the fabric will be turned inside out. when you first start, sew the needle through the starting point of the fabric a few times to have a stable fixed point for the thread.
Then insert the needle all the way through the fabric (sewing both sheets of fabric together) ensuring all the thread goes through to the other side. Then move the needle 2-3mm along the body and reinsert the needle back into the fabric, the opposite way. Repeat this sewing motion around the whole body, stopping at the bottom of the body leaving a hole at his 'feet'. Remember to remove the paper pattern and pins in the process.
To close off the stitching in the same spot sew over it 2-3 times and cut the thread off to ensure a stable stitch.
LEAVE A HOLE AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR PENGUIN!!! As this is how we turn the fabric inside out, resulting in neat edges for the finished penguin.
Step 6: Turn the Body Inside Out and Stuff the Penguin
Now that the body is sewn together (except for the hole at the bottom) we need to flip the material inside out by pushing the head through the hole at the bottom of the penguin. Once it is inside out go along the edges and rub the fabric out as far as possible between your fingers. This ensures the fabric maintains it's original design shape and gives the toy a clean edge.
Once the fabric is ready then fill it with the toy stuffing through the same hole that the fabric used to turn inside out. Then re-thread your needle and sew up the bottom hole, remembering to do a few extra stitches at the first and last point on the line of your stitching.
The amount of filling needed depends on how hard you want the toy I used about 2 1/2 cups of stuffing and packed it pretty hard so that the toy was stiff rather than soft.
Step 7: Sew on the Cut Outs
First keeping the black thread on the needle I attached the wings onto either side of the body of the penguin. Again this uses a straight line of stitches and do 2-3 stitches at the beginning and end of the wing attachments to ensure a secure attachment.
Now when attaching the lighter accessories change the thread in the needle to white thread. Firstly pin the white oval like belly onto the front belly side of your penguin body then sew it onto the body. But this time you need to dip the needle into and out of the fabric close to each other as you only need to go through one sheet of fabric. once the belly is attached do 2-3 stitches at the end to make sure it is secure.
Next on your eyes draw black or any eye coloured pupils (or you could sew different coloured fabric onto it). Then with the white thread sew them onto the face of the penguin like the belly onto the body.
With the white thread sew the orange triangle beak onto the face just below the eyes and the orange feet onto the bottom of the penguin (where you sewed up the hole from stuffing the penguin).
Step 8: Make the Santa Hat
This is an optional step for the holidays but I really wanted to make a Santa hat for the penguin which could be removable so that the penguin can be used year round as decoration.
Take the two red triangles of fabric and sew them together with the white thread leaving the widest edge of the triangle un-sewn. Then turn it inside out and rub the fabric edges to make sure they are even. Then take two white rectangles of fabric, the length of the opening of the hat and pin it on the hat. Then with white fabric securely sew it onto the hat, removing the pins and making sure that the edges are even.
Then cut out a small white circle for the top of the hat and sew it on with the white thread.
Step 9: Give Your Penguin to Your Friend
You can either choose to attach your hat to your penguin but I chose to keep it detachable so that it can be displayed all year then you can bring out the little hat for Christmas decoration. I find that this is an awesome gift to make and give because it is completely unique and you put so much love and effort into making something for someone else and best of all you can make it over with leftover fabric!!