Have you seen those annoying Pillow Pet commercials depicting fuzzy pillows that can fold into pets? Have you got that song stuck in your head? An even better question: Has a child in your life been constantly pestering you for this twenty dollar pillow? I have seen these commercials about fifteen times a day at home for the past couple of weeks. I just can't see myself spending twenty dollars on something I can make at home. I searched online and was surprised that no one has tried to create one of these. I found forums of people who wanted to make one and just didn't know how to get started. I have a much cheaper solution that is customizable. You can make the "pet" whatever creature you are capable of rendering. I now present to you my Instructable for Whahneesha the horse. (Named by my sister in law)
Step 1: Step One: Gathering Materials
- Fleece, Chanille, or some other fuzzy or nice textured material. The amount will be determined by how big you want your "Pillow Pet" to be. ( I used fleece and felt scraps for accents.)
- Colored felt for accents
- Yarn for maine or hair
- Hand Needles
- Thread in coordinating colors or just white or black
- Buttons for the closure, you can also use velcro or a zipper ( I found buttons easier and cheaper)
- A sewing Machine (Optional, but I wouldn't have wanted to sew this project by hand.)
- Any extras you need to make your animal look either realistic, or to customize it for a specific child. (Examples: ribbon, little flower accents ,lace, mock fur, buttons for eyes, beads for eyes, googely eyes.)
- Scissors (A really sharp pair will make things so much easier)
- An image or sketched out idea of what you want to make, I did several sketches of the horse before I started. I also looked at googled images of horses. (My two year old has become obsessed with "Spirit" the cartoon horse movie. So my choice was a no brainer)
- Pins for sewing
- Fabric Markers or pencils are optional but handy. (I mostly used an ink pen; if the marks are on the inside it won't show.)
- Lots of cotton (if you want the pillow super comfortable for a kid or for yourself to lay on, you will need quite a bit of cotton or stuffing) If you want to be more "green" with this project use recycled fabric and you can stuff the creature with wadded up plastic grocery bags.) I've used these for stuffing sock monkeys. You will need way more plastic bags than you think, to stuff it properly. You might want to call on friends and neighbors for help with these.
Step 2: Step Two: Drawing Out Your Creature and Cutting Out Your Design
Look at images of the animal, creature, or alien you want to create your "Pillow Pet" from. (It is best to choose something easy and then just make it awesome with the details you add) I chose a horse. You want to think about what the animal will look like splayed out as a pillow and which parts will fit either on the top or the bottom half of the pillow. Also do you want this animal's head/bust to be 2-d or 3-d? Determine what the creature's profile will look like. (How it will look from the side view) Determine what features you want your creature's head to have. I wanted eyes, nose holes, ears, and hair (mane). I wanted the horse to have a saddle, stirrups, and little hoof shapes on his feet so that when you folded him into the "pet position" you could see the hooves. Also at this step think of how you want to make the strap and where it will incorporate with the rest of the accents you add when the pet is in the "pet position".
Step 3: Step Three: Make the Head
Using the sketches for the profile of your creatures head that you have drawn out or images you have picked, lay two pieces of matching fabric "right sides together" and draw your image onto the wrong side of the fabric. (Or the side you won't see when the head is sewn) (This is for a 2-D head like I made) Once you have the head drawn, pin the fabric together all the way around and in the very middle of the design so that the fabric won't slide around. At this point if you are adding ears that are more 3-d looking like I did on this horse, you will need to draw them out and then cut them out now. If you want the ears to have an inner and outter layer, cut both layers from different colored fabrics and pin and sew them one on top of the other refer to my photos of this step. Now is the tricky part. Think about where these will be positioned when the head is turned right side out. I wanted mine similar to a real horse. So I pinned the ears with the longer parts on the inside of the horse, and made sure they were facing in the right direction when turned right side out. Allow enough of the bottom part of the ears to poke through the wrong side so that when you sew around the perimeter of the head it catches the ends of this piece and anchors the ears in place. (If you mess up, and sew the ears on the outside it's not a huge deal. You can use a seam ripper or scissors to cut the seams that hold the ears into place, take them out, reposition them properly and then re-sew them. ( I had to do this when I was sewing on my horse's ears) Now cut out your image, be sure to leave extra fabric all the way around for seam allowances. If you don't allow enough extra material for seam allowances your creature will have a weird misshapen head or the head could be too skinnny. Once you sew your creature's head you will be turning it right side out to stuff it with cotton and this is when you will notice that your creature looks weird if you didn't allow for a big enough seem allowance. Now once you have securely pinnned the head design together, sew around the perimeter of the head either by hand or machine. If using the machine make sure you leave the needle in the fabric when you raise the preasure foot to turn corners. It will keep your curves flowing and be less likely to cause gaps that the cotton can pop out of. You can remove the pins as you go. Be sure to cut off all hanging end threads once you are finished sewing the head, this will save you time later. Once you have the head sewn and the threads cut, turn your creature's head right side out. You can do this in the same way you turn a sock that is wrong side out , to the right side. Kind of roll the material. If there are stuborn areas that wont pop out properly such as curves in the head or horn like shapes, you can gently use a pencil, knitting needle, paintbrush, or some other long skinny object to push the curves out. Just be very gentle and don't use the sharp end of the object as it could punch through the material or seams. At this point you can add some of the details such as eyes, nose, ears (that are sewn directly onto the head v.s. the way discribed above.) You can hand sew them or machine sew, whichever is easiest for you. I machine sewed the eyes, and hand sewed the nose holes and hair at this point. If I had thought about it at the time I would added the hair in the same fashion as the 3 -d ears that I sewed into the inside of the head in the way listed above. I machine sewed the eyes using two different colored felt scraps onto the "right sides" of the head one on the left and one on the right. I cut two nose shaped peices out of blue felt and hand sewed the nose holes onto either side of the fabric, one for the right and one for the left. For the mane I wrapped yarn around my hand in loops and then cut all the loops on one end making them roughly all the same lengths. I then draped them across the seam that runs down the back of the horses head and a few hairs at a time hand sewed them on. I anchored them down with many sturdy stitches, so my daughter couldn't easily pull out the horse's hair. I tried machine sewing these first but the neck and head were too narrow to allow for this. When you have sewn on all the details you want for the head, you can then stuff the head with cotton. I stuffed the head now to make it easier to attach to the body later. The head of my daughter's horse measures about 10" from snout to the back of the head and about 9" from the top of the head to the neck. Those are just to give you some general measurements yours may not be anywhere near mine.
Step 4: Step Four: Make the Body
This pet is basically a pillow with a stuffed head, sewn on and details that make it fun. Determine the size fo the pillow you want to make. The size is determined by whom it is for and whether you want them to lie on it like a mat or use it like a pillow? Also take into account how large you made the head, you'll probably want the head to be proportional to the body. Totally stuffed and finished my daughter's horse is 18" X 17" for the body/pillow. So draw out a general pillow shape onto a folded up piece of fleece, right sides together, again you are drawing on the wrong side of the fabric. I wanted the body to be more animal shaped when it was folded into the "pet position", so I curved the two lines that will connect the front legs to the back legs on the right and left side of the pet. Please refer to the pictures if this part is confusing. You don't have to do this step I just think it makes the pillow look more like an animal. Pin all around the pillow leaving extra fabric around the perimeter again for seam allowance. I also added the hooves at this time.I cut little half circles shapes and placed them on the bottom of each foot piece. You'll need to sew these onto the right side of the fabric, make sure they are sewn onto the top part of the pillow where the head will attach. Otherwise when you fold the creature into the "pet position" the hooves won't show. Be sure to sew these BEFORE you sew the rest of the pillow. If you want to add anymore details to the body now is the time. At this point I sewed the saddle pieces onto the top of the body. (The same piece the head will attach to later) I arranged the saddles and strirrups onto the body so that when it was folded into the "pet position" you could see a sadle on either side. (Refer to pictures) Be sure your details are only sewn onto the Top part of the pillow, make sure you don't sew through both the top and bottom piece. Once you have added all your details and are happy with them, you can pin your pillow/body back together right sides together. (You are again sewing on the wrong side) Using your seam allowance sew around the perimeter of the body leaving a gap open at the bottom of the pillow where the creature's "butt" would be. This is where you will turn your creature right side out and also stuff it. Cut off the ends of the thread from machine sewing and then "turn" your creature's body right side out using the same method as for the head. Be sure to push all the properly such as the hooves or you'll lose these nice shapes.
Step 5: Step Five: Add Head to the Body
There are many ways to attach the head to the body. I used the method that comes more easily to me. Find the front of the pet where you want to attach the head, about midway. I laid the stuffed head on top of this general area and drew a really light sketch around where the neck met the body of the pillow. (You don't want this really dark, because it will look crappy when you are finished sewing on the head. Remember we are now sewing on the "right sides" of the fabric.) I then carefully cut a tiny slit along this line. Make sure you are only cutting on the top half of the pillow and not through to the bottom. Now VERY carefully cut a very small oblong shaped hole where the neck will fit into the body. (Make the hole A LOT smaller than you think you will need) Start small, you can always enlarge the hole. If your hole is too large you will have to make patches and/or start all over and you don't want that kind of head ache. Now that you have your hole place the neck of the creature into the hole. At this point I turned the fabric inside out again, with the neck still poking through the hole. It should fit a little snuggly. I made tiny little slits/tabs into the bottom of the neck of the creature. (Make sure the slits are on the actual neck and not the hole of the body) This will look like fringe. Now Carefully take each tab and pin it to the body of the creature all around the neck hole, will look kind of like a sun when all pinned. Please refer to the photos. Make sure there are no gaps in between the fabrics or else once sewn the cotton will pop out through the holes or the head will fall off, and no one wants to scar a kid for life. You can now sew around the neck of the creature using the tabs for anchoring. (I sewed around and then along the tabs for added strength.You only have to use one of the methods or one of your own) Make sure that your stitches are attaching the head to the body. This part might sound stupid, but sometimes you fabric doesn't attach in places it should and you have holes or gaps. I had to resew mine a couple of times because I didn't pay as much attention as I should have. Once your creature's head is attached and you are happy with the results go on to the next step.
Step 6: Step Six: Stuffing Your Creature and Sewing Yarn Tails
Once the head is attached you can turn the creature back to right sides out. Now start to add the cotton a little at a time. You want to make sure to stuff the cotton into all the little crevices and curves. Make sure all ears, heads, necks, feet, are properly stuffed. You can do the "squeeze test" in between stuffing. Wrap your arms around the creature and it give a good squeeze. Keep stuffing until you like the feel of the squeeze. Also take into account that this animal is supposed to fold in half when in the "pet position". Make sure you use enough cotton that the creature is comfortable to lay on but not so much that it will no longer fold in half. Unless you don't want the pet to fold in half. If you just want a pillow with a head on it , stuff until your heart is content. I wanted my daughter's horse to have a tail. So again I wrapped yarn loops around my hand, but instead of cutting the loops I left them. I took another strand of yarn and starting at the top tied a knot, then wrapped the remaining yarn lower and made another knot then worked my way about 3/4's of the way down the tail. I then just left the last 1/4 with the loops showing. I just liked the way it looked and it make the tail sturdier than just loose ends. Now after your pet is fully stuffed you can place the tail towards the middle of the "butt gap" that you left open for stuffing. Make sure the looped end of the tail is hanging down. Place the other end of the tail into the gap. Fold over the raw edges of the "butt gap" and pin. I sewed the pillow closed. Sew over the tail many times to strengthen the hold. I didn't want my daughter to be able to tug the tail off when she was presumably dragging the poor creature around by its tail, and you can bet your kid will too.
Step 7: Step Seven: the Strap
I made this part the easiest way I could think of. I just hand sewed a button on either side of the Pillow Pet's body so that when you fold it, the button will be toward the bottom. I placed mine about midway along the seam so that when the creature was folded into "pet position" the stirrups hid the buttons and strap. Next with the creature in "pet position" I took a general measurement by just eye balling it. I wanted the strap to go from one side to the other but I also wanted to be able to remove it when my daughter was using the pillow part of the pet. Make sure the strap is short enough that it will keep the creature in "pet position" once you've anchored it onto the creature. I then sewed two pieces of matching fabric for one strap. Since I made the strap out of fleece I need it to be two-ply to keep it from getting easily worn out. I think cut a tiny slit into either end of the strap, this is where the button will attach. Again start small you can always enlarge the slit. If the slit is too large the button will simply slide off. After making sure the slits fit correctly I then sewed around the perimeter of each slit so that constant use wouldnt enlarge the button hole. You have now finished your Pillow Pet Knock Off. Now you can either leave the pet as is or add minor details you forgot or thought about later. I realized after finishing Wahneesha the horse that her eyes were creepy, I didn't like her blank expression. I added two blue plastic beads as pupils. One for each eye, this effectively made her more approachable. I also added the white flowers to the sadle with a small yellow bead in the middle. I decided I didn't like the stitches showing through from sewing the horse's neck to her body so I added a little collar that I hand sewed on. I thought about adding little jewels to the collar but figured my daughter would just pull them off. I wanted to limit chocking hazards for my two year old. Please message me with any questions and I will do my best to answer them.