Most soft toys are very easy to sew, by machine or by hand, encouraging skills for beginning sewers, or even delighting novice sewers. Besides a few pieces of washable fabric odds and ends, some fusible or iron-on interfacing, poly stuffing that is softly squishable, washable and hypo-allergenic, and of course some ribbon and trims are all that would be needed to make a charming, whimsical treasure to stand up to lots of wear, tear and a child’s love.
A note on eyes for soft dolls and animal toys - snap together plastic safety toy eyes are available in a variety of sizes and should be used in place of sewn on buttons. An alternative is to embroider the eyes. A cluster of French knots or satin stitches makes for suitable eyes as well.
Soft toys should be firmly stuffed so the shape wont droop after a time, yet not so firm as to lose the cuddle quality. Tearing poly stuffing into small pieces and pushing it to the farthest corners of the sewn toy then work toward the largest segments seems to work best. Most poly stuffing comes with a very useful stuffing stick to maneuver the stuffing into hard-to-get places.
Most cottons, or wool fabric, whether prints, plaids or solid colors that do not fray much, muslins or velveteen make for charming soft toys. Sturdy fleece or faux fur fabric can be used as well to make soft toys like bears, but do require an adjustment to lower the machine tension, lengthen the stitch length, and slower machine speed for best results. Using fur fabric can be a challenge. If the pattern piece is placed on the wrong side of the fur fabric then only using the tips of a sharp scissor to cut the cloth through the knit backing will ensure that the right side of the fur will blend well when connected to each seam.
Heavy buttonhole thread or 6-strand embroidery floss are very strong threads and useful to attach limbs to dolls or animals or contour faces.
Sewing clothing for the soft toys really gives them endearing character. Whether a pinafore and bloomers, mini baby rompers or frilly dresses or even denim overalls, all can be made from fabric remnants. Little hands love to dress up soft baby dolls and whimsical animal friends, just be sure the clothing outfit is easy to come on and off.
Clothing ideas can come from children’s nursery stories, like The Three Bears, Little Boy Blue or Little Miss Muffet. Sometimes, just a simple vest, a tiny tulle skirt or a just a ribbon bow are all that is needed to dress the soft toy and watch a child’s captivating smile. For a gift giving idea add a small-sized children’s book of nursery rhymes to accompany the newly sewn toy to delight parents and caregivers as well!
Sew happy, sew inspired.