Rhino Trophy Head




I am a propmaker in Canada, with a penchant for the geek. I play ukulele, I have a Scotty Dog and...

I began this adventure by being involved with a craft swap on craftster.org. My partner had wanted a stuffed rhino head, so I decided I would give it a go. I also made one for my husband for Christmas in the process! I had seen on websites and in stores these amazing leather rhinos, often used as stools and I thought I could approach my rhino in the same way.

I used a fantastic technique to take a shape off of a toy to create a 3 dimensional plushie. I will attempt to show you how I did this. This technique works really well, is really inexpensive and turns out so neat!

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Step 1: Supplies

This is what you will need to this:
- A toy to build off of preferably one you don't mind wrecking.
- cellophane
- masking tape cut into thin strips
- fine tip marker
- sharp exacto blade
- dark or not white paper
- use of a scanner/ photocopier with ability to blow things up ( Hahaha.. Wouldn't that be crazy!) bigger
- Scissors
- Quilting ruler (clear ruler) or just a ruler.
- 2 yards of fabric ( I used a grey velour and I also did this with a faux black leather)
- Thread to match fabric colour
- Glue Gun
- Cardboard, or cardstock, or even a piece of wood. ( to close the back up with)
- a wooden plaque from the dollar store, or (if you are more savvy and have access, cut a shape out of wood and router the edge cause that's really all the dollar store plaque is.)
- Paint ( to paint the plaque)  - I used black for the rhino of faux leather and brown for the rhino with grey velour
- a screw eye

Step 2: Steal the Shape From Your Toy Rhino!

To start - Take your toy and figure out what part you want to "steal the shape" of. I was only doing the head, so I began by covering it all in a thin layer of cellophane, making sure to get all of the crevices, and trying not to bulk it up to much. I found it easier by cutting it into smaller pieces.  You put this on so that the next step, the tape, does not get stuck to your toy.

Then I took my exacto blade and cut into some masking tape, creating thin strips of masking tape.

I then covered the rhino head in these making sure to get all angles and all spots, also making sure that there were no creases in the tape. This part is fun - Because once you have all the tape on you can really see the shape of the toy.

Step 3: Create Your Pattern

Lay down the lines:
Now comes the part where you really have to think.  Place lines on your rhino to create your pattern pieces. What you are looking for are curves and high and low points.  For those of you who don't know much about fabric, If you want there to be a curve in your pattern, then you need to create either a pleat, a dart, or a seam. In this case, by making each curve a pattern piece you are making a seam to encompass that curve. That way the shape of what you are making will come out exactly like your original.  It might just be easier to look at the pictures in this case.

Labels and Registration:
I then labelled each piece so that when I took it apart I would be able to figure out what each piece was. I also added registration marks. Those are the ticks, circles and triangles I used on the lines, which I will then transfer to my fabric allowing me to match up the pieces precisely.

Cut it out:
Now take a sharp blade and cut along each one of these lines making sure not to go over. Remember the sharp blade part! Dull knives are the cause of most injuries with an exacto blade.

Once you have them all cut out, Lay them down flat on several pieces of dark paper leaving a bit of space in between each piece of your pattern.  Either scan them into your computer, or take them to a photocopier and increase the size of the shapes. I increased them by 300 percent to get the size I wanted ( he still is a tiny rhino).

Create Seam Allowance:
Next you need to add a seam allowance so using a clear quilting ruler, measure out 1/4 inch around all edges

Step 4: Transfer Your Pattern to Fabric and Cut 'em Out!

Before you lay down your fabric, if applicable, give it a bit of an iron to flatten out any creases.  I didn't need to do that as I was working with a velveteen and a leather ( I did this twice).

Pin Down and Cut out of fabric:
This part's pretty easy! Just lay down your pieces onto your fabric, pin them down and then cut them out.  The only time this would get more complicated is by what fabric you choose to do this, if I really cared I may have wanted the pile of the velveteen to all sit the same way, then I would have to think about which way is up on each of my pattern pieces. Also if you chose a fabric that had stripes or a very disincentive repetitive pattern, I might want to orient my pieces in such a way that they would all look good together.

The green bits on my pattern pieces are where I had to add seam allowance as I made a mistake when making the pattern by putting my pattern pieces to close together on the dark paper. Forcing me to use tape to create the seam allowance.

Step 5: Sewing It All Together!

Sewing this was soooo easy. There are a lot of pieces but each section was really only 2 inches long or so. It took me about 2 hours to sew this whole thing together. The only tricky parts are the ears and the horns.

I began by sewing all the sides together, then the section under the chin. I sewed the horns and ears separately and attached them by hand because with all the layers of fabric my wuss of sewing machine said "heck no" and wouldn't sew through them. I did a quick stitch of that, then clipped any corners that were going to bulge once I turned it out.

I may have over simplified the sewing of this but it really was very straight forward. As long as you follow the registration marks it should work out fine. And the beauty of fabric is you can just unpick something that doesn't work out, can't do that with glue!

Step 6: Stuffing and Finishing Off Your Head!

To Stuff!

Starting with the sticky outy bits - like the horns and the ears push stuffing up into them so that they push on the seam. I like my rhinos to be stuffed to the hilt with polyfill. ( I use the eco friendly reused popbottle stuffing). 

The backing:
I then cut out a cardboard oval that I approximated the size for the hole at the back. I checked it against the head several times, trimming where I felt it would make the most sense. I then glued it with hot glue to the rhino bringing the fabric over the edge of the cardboard by about 3/4 of an inch all the way around.  I did leave one spot to shove a bit more stuffing through, as I wanted it to be stuffed tightly. 

Step 7: Painting the Plaquard and Finishing the Whole Thing!

For the black rhino I painted my dollar store plaque black and for the grey rhino I painted it brown. 
I let that dry.

Screw eye:
I screwed in a screw-eye at the top of the plaque to hang it on.

Rhino onto Plaque:
I then Glued the cardboard backing of the rhino head to the plaque making sure it was centered and then VOILA! You have your stuffie, plushie, not cruel to animals rhino head!

Hope you enjoyed this!

I am a newbie to Instructables so Criticism and comments are welcome!
Thanks for reading the whole thing!

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    23 Discussions


    Reply 3 years ago

    I have never tried a unicorn, but I am currently working on a dragon using the same technique. I see no reason why it wouldn't work with a unicorn though.


    Reply 3 years ago

    so, what about the dragon ? we want a picture !! :)


    Reply 3 years ago

    cool!!! please post a pic of the dragon when your done...


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Fantastic project. Wished I had one; can't sew - don't want to learn.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    LOVE this project! Very well done! Easy to follow as well. I will HAVE to do this! Thanks for sharing.


    7 years ago on Step 7

    Very well done. I've wanted to translate 3D papercraft to plushies for a very long time, and now you have ignited the want even more! Imagine a giraffe head! OMG!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, Please add the patterns for your Rhino! Thanks in advance.

    Add my name to the list of pattern requests: you did a fantastic job on this! Thank you for sharing the technique...


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Looks great and so fun! Don't forget to enter it into the sew challenge contest if not done so yet!

    This is awesome!!!
    I bought a similar moose head at a craft fair several years back and have wanted a rhino and elephant ever since!!!

    I think my boss is not overly happy with the moose head hanging in my cube, I bet he'd FLIP if I put up a rhino!!

    Retro Correct

    7 years ago on Step 4

    Would it be possible for you to scan and upload the templates that you made here?

    -I really like this particular design that you have done!

    2 replies
    mezcraftRetro Correct

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I will have to think about that. When I made this, I used a photocopier because my scanner is on the fritz so I have to actually find the time to scan all of them in.


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 4

    I too would love for you to be able to share the template in some way.

    You've done a great job and it looks brilliant!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Wonderful work!!! I hope that u scan the patterns please please.... Thank you for share!!!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Oh i love this! I have always wanted to make one of these through cardboard or buy one of those paper mache'd ones.... this one is super unique and I know if I had this in my house, no one would be able to say "oh, i saw that on ____ catalog online!"

    .... super good number one!