Hello! I'm a fabricator learning to sew, and in my humble opinion the best way to learn a new skill is to finish a project. I'd seen some small plushies online that were just adorable, and I intended to find one to send as a gift -- BUT -- in the time it might have taken to order and ship this wee calamari I was able to design, assemble, and send 'em out into the world!
I hope you'll enjoy making one as much as I did :D
Step 1: Gather the Materials!
9x12 Royal Blue Felt (I used acrylic felt)
9x12 Bright Blue Felt
9x12 Peacock Blue Felt
Black Felt, a 6x6" square will do
white acrylic ink or paint (or perhaps White-out, something not watery)
Needle and blue (or black) thread
Quick Dry Fabric Glue (I used "Fabric Fusion")
Battling, cotton balls, or shredded soft fabric for stuffing
Music because if you're anything like me (learning to sew) you're about to stab your thumb a few times and you don't want your roommates to hear a string of obscenities ;) Buckle up, it's about to get fun!
One small bandage
Googly Eyes (AKA Wiggle Eyes) instead of black felt eyes
Safety Eyes (the kind with a rivet backing so small children can't eat them)
Step 2: Make a Pattern!
If your design is symmetric here's a pro tip: only draw one half then fold it over for a perfect second half! I figured that out whilst teaching AutoCAD back in the day; if you're drawing on a computer to print your design, draw half and use the MIRROR command. Easy Peasy.
In this case I need one pattern for the squid's main body, one pattern for the 8 wiggly appendages, and one pattern for the long grabby tentacle.
Step 3: Cut the Squid Bodies Bits
You can do this with literally anything that cuts, including a laser cutter (if you chose acrylic felt). However I cut these by hand with a pair of sharp scissors because I've become spoiled by access to tech and I wanted to use hand-skills.
Plus it's made with love, etc.
Trace the pattern onto two colors of your choosing and grab sharp, clean scissors. It's worth it to sharpen a good pair or buy a sharp clean pair if all the crafty ones around your house have been abused by cardboard and paper.
Step 4: Cut and Apply the Eyes
I used a dime and a quarter as stencils, and for a squid roughly 6" long the dime-sized eye looked pretty good!
Apply the eyes. If you're sewing the eyes in place or using safety eyes that have a backing, it'll be easier to get them into a good position and secure them before sewing the body closed. I decided this squid should have two moods: unbearably cute and cutely angry. For the unbearably cute I painted two white dots onto each eye using Speedball white acrylic ink and clean, fine, round brush. The angry eye was simply a triangle with a smaller triangle cut out from the middle.
If you're working with the black felt eyes these can be sewn on in black thread or glued on using flexible fabric glue. Stay away from anything that dries stiff!
Step 5: Sew Up the Main Body But NOT the Apendages!
Have the two sides with eyes facing inward. You're sewing this guy inside-out to hide the seam.
The only stitch I really know at this moment looks like this: stitch forward about a centimeter, then bring the needle back and stitch over this spot on the other side. One centimeter forward, a half centimeter back (or thereabouts, tight but not so tiny you regret beginning the project ;)
Step 6: Flip It!
Flip it right side out! Using the
flexible fabric glue on the joint where the flat feature meets, or needle and thread, close up these sides.
Step 7: Making the Legs
Using your patterns, mark and cut the wiggly feets and long noodley appendages. I used Peacock Blue on the inside of each of the light blue and dark blue tentacle pieces so that when the time comes to sew the center piece closed you'll have one continuous color on the interior. Little details can make all the difference.
I found the felt very forgiving when it comes to making the long tentacle and the wiggly bits. Gluing the two colors (ie, peacock blue to royal blue) together before cutting will help keep things aligned. Once you have two sets of wiggly bits and two long noodley arms, we're going to make this into a cylinder of fabric.
FIRST test fit everything against the main squid body – I found I needed to trim the sides of the wiggly legs just a little, but not too much as you want it to fit very snugly and essentially push out against the body. I used the long appendages to cover the seam where the two wiggly leg pieces would meet.
Step 8: Stuff the Calamari!
Stuff the squiddie! I ordered recycled, non-allergenic batting from Amazon, but this project was a little more time sensitive than I'd first thought so... If you're anything like me you have clothes around that are stained & shredded from the shop, and that's exactly what I used to stuff this little guy. A well-worn and recently washed but torn shop pant leg worked perfectly.
If you're using scrap fabric like this, make sure it's really soft with no thick or stiff seams. You want it to conform to the inside of the body without poking or pushing against the soft felt. And make sure it's clean ;)
Step 9: Assembly
Now that the squid is full of stuffing and the cylinder of legs is all assembled (and all glue dried if you're using glue) it's time to finish it up.
Insert the legs and use the tip of your flexible fabric glue to guide a bead inside the seam between the body and legs.
Step 10: Details
At about this time I realized I wanted a little more detail on the long appendages. Gott ist in die Einzelheiten as we say!
Easy fix: cut a small drop shaped piece from the Peacock felt and glue it on, using the white ink to give the impression of suckers.
Step 11: LOOK AT THIS CUTIE