Soft Toys From Scratch





Introduction: Soft Toys From Scratch

About: Making the most of things by making the most out of things.

A little while ago I bought a kit to make a giraffe toy which had all the pre-cut shapes I needed. I loved it, but every time someone asked 'Did you make that?' I felt uneasy about saying yes and would over-explain about how all I really did was stitch it together.

I decided I wanted to make a toy from design to finish, to be able to say 'yes I did make that' with no hesitation, but I had no idea where to start.

I was inspired by an instructable about making patterns from 3D objects, where the maker creates a giant inflatable skull from a clay model (link below).

Using the same principle, we can use these patterns to make toys!

All you need is clay, fabric, stuffing, scissors, card, paper mache and a needle and thread.

Step 1: Making the Model

First, decide what kind of toy you want to make.

Choose something simple without too many fiddly bits and don't worry about getting in any fine details as these will get lost in the furry fabric.

I used DAS White Air Drying Modelling Clay, but any modelling material will be fine as long as it can stand getting some PVA glue on it.

I chose a donkey because I love donkeys.

Step 2: Paper Maché

Cover your model in paper maché, making sure to get the underside of the feet as well.

Repeat this at least once more to make two layers, or three layers if you have the patience.

Once it's dry, use a pen to mark out areas that are either flat or only curve in one direction so that they can lay flat once you cut them out.

The instructable this is inspired by uses layers of masking tape, but i found it too difficult to peel away from the clay later on. Feel free to try both and see what works best for you.

Step 3: Creating the Template

Cut across all the lines using a craft knife or a sharp pair of scissors.

Very carefully work your way around the edges and peel away sections of the paper maché. With only two or three layers, it should be flexible enough to avoid splitting if you need to bend it through funny angles.

It is a good idea to mark edges that go together to help you remember how all the pieces match up later.

Lay out the sections flat on some card and draw around them.

Cut these shapes out and place them on your chosen fabric and draw around them again. Your drawn on design might be slightly larger than your templates by now (after drawing around the edges twice), but that helps to add a bit of space to sew the edges together.

Step 4: Sew Together

Cut out the pattern from the fabric and stitch it together, leaving a hole for stuffing.

Turn it inside out and fill with stuffing until its as firm as you want it be, then stitch the hole closed.

Step 5: Finished Donkey


From design to donkey, you've made a toy!

Add any details you like to your new friend. I gave my donkey a nice mane, tail and some amber eyes to finish him off.

Step 6: Perfect... to Me

Enjoy your new found skill.

Happy making!

From Beth and Wonky the Donkey

Soft Toys Challenge

Runner Up in the
Soft Toys Challenge

Sewn By Hand Challenge

Runner Up in the
Sewn By Hand Challenge



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    12 Discussions

    It look's egsactly like the ones in the stores. This on e it SUPERCUTE! But I don't understand still. Where did you get the fur. And the eye's. Please can you respond? I really want to make a cute plushie.

    1 reply

    The fur is the other side of the grey fabric. In earlier steps you are only seeing the side without fur, when you turn it inside out to stuff it you can see it. I got the eyes from my local fabric shop which is also where I got the material for the mane.

    Sorry for the late reply, I must have missed this comment first time around! Good luck with your plushie :)


    1 year ago

    I'm confused; in step four it appears to be stuffed with the seams outside and the fur inside.

    2 replies

    I've only just understood your question! In that picture, the reason you can see stuffing coming out of the top is because I filled the ears before stitching them on and that is the inside of an ear. The rest of the toy is empty and ready to be turned inside out. Sorry it took me a year to get back to you properly!

    The fabrics I was using was really furry. It was basically full of fur at that point which makes it look stuffed, but it's actually empty. The toy looked too much like a bunny so I trimmed the fur down to the height in the last photo.

    Nice work! I've looked at that same pattern-making i'ble many times, but you actually used it to make something super cool. Very inspiring!

    1 reply

    so cool! does the body still feel squishable with the clay form in there?

    2 replies

    It's stuffed with regular stuffing (not clay) The purpose of the clay is to be able to put paper mache on, cut it off, and thereby discovering the pattern.

    that makes much more sense-- sorry somehow I thought the form was still going in there >,< I think this is a super cool method of making a low tech 2d pattern & great overall project!!

    Excellent techniques! This is really well done, thank you for sharing :)

    This is amazing :D I think I'm going to try this for a friend's birthday gift... :)