Here's how to make a heated pillow with a panda cover: perfect as a hand warmer for a grown-up, or a cozy cot toy for the little ones.
These are the items you'll need:
Light coloured fleece
Dark coloured fleece (this doesn't have to be in trad Panda colours)
Pure cotton/calico - patterned material is fine as long as it is 100% cotton
Polyester fibre filling (or a pillow you're willing to destroy)
Dry 'meal' filling such as flaxseed, uncooked rice, cherry stones
Dressmaker's pencil or Tailor's chalk
Matching cotton thread
Hand sewing needles
Air erasable pen or light pencil
Embroidery thread (optional)
First you'll need to download the pattern I've created here:http://www.scribd.com/doc/115250856/Panda-Pattern?secret_password=3rdifrd8oa4q6461maw
The pattern I've provided is merely a guide, and it creates a Panda that's about twelve inches tall from top to toe.
Cut out the two pieces for the head from the light coloured fabric. Set aside for now.
Cut out the front body piece and the two back pieces ensuring that the top back body is cut from the dark/contrasting fabric. Set these aside, for now, as well.
For the limbs and ears we're going to make our lives as easy as possible! Fold the dark/contrasting fabric in half and pin into place: now pin the pattern piece/pieces on top of the folded fabric. Take a dressmaker's pencil or some tailor's chalk and draw around the pattern piece(s) - this chalk mark will be your sewing line. Sew over the chalk line, making sure to leave an opening as indicated on the pattern piece.
Decide how much seam allowance you want around the pieces and cut out (I think 3 or 4mm is about enough for a medium weight fleece.)
Turn the ears right side out and set to one side.
Turn the limbs right side out and stuff with polyester fibre, leaving approximately 1cm un-stuffed at the opening.
Now for the construction :-)
Firstly, we need to bring the pieces we cut out earlier back to the table.
We need to start by sewing the head pieces to the front body and upper back body pieces.
Turn the raw edge on the upper body piece inside and sew down.
Now lay the front head and body down, right side up, and position the ears. Then lay the head and upper back piece on top. Place the back bottom on top of the ensemble, lining the bottom edge with the bottom edge of the front piece. Basically the back will have an envelope opening for the heated pillow.
Pin everything into place, but remember to leave spaces for the limbs: essentially one at each corner.
Sew around the entire panda remembering to lock the stitches at either side of each of the limb openings.
Now we can start to give the little panda a little life.... Let's turn the little fella right side out :-)
Take more polyester filling and stuff the head until it reaches a suitable level of fullness.
Pin along the neck line then hand sew shut to keep the stuffing in place. (You will find that you can use the light thread to perform this task without it showing up on the darker fabric if you sew along the line created when the head and body were joined.)
Now we can hand sew in the limbs. Using a whip stitch or ladder stitch (http://www.sew-it-love-it.com/ladder-stitch.html) will, again, ensure that that light thread doesn't bleed into the dark fabric.
"It's beginning to look a lot like Panda!"
It's now time to put the panda aside and work on the pillow...
Measure the dimensions of your panda's torso and add half an inch, all around, for seam allowance.
We now need our piece of cotton/calico.
You can either do this the regular way and cut out two rectangles and sew them together, leaving a gap of approximately 2" for turning. Or you could fold the cotton in half, chalk your dimensions on the fabric (as we did with the limbs and ears) and sew on the drawn line, also leaving a 2" gap for turning. Either way will work fine - just pick the one you're most comfortable with.
Turn the cotton pouch right side out and fill with your dried 'meal' of choice. Sew the pouch closed and it's ready for the microwave.
(Cook for between one and three minutes but always make sure that you place a cup of water in the microwave next to the pillow to stop the cotton from catching alight.)
Now, back to panda.
This is where the (optional) embroidery thread comes in. If you don't have any, you can use regular thread doubled up (this is what I did, as my embroidery thread has gone walkies!) I wanted to keep the face fairly simple, as the panda's head isn't particularly large, but feel free to decorate the face as you see fit (felt is always great for creating eyes for cuddly toys.) I marked, with pins, where I wanted the features to go and used an air erasable pen to draw the face on before sewing his eyes and mouth. However, if you're a whiz at embroidery (unlike me) you can do the whole thing freehand!
And there he is. All ready for snuggling!