How to Sew Your Own Stuffed Toys & Animals
Softies are basically a sewn outer fabric shell with soft stuffing inside to help it keep its shape. They can be used as cuddly toys, cushions or decorations, and the possibilities for shape and design are endless. Plushies are the same idea, except they are mostly made of softer (plush) fabrics.
Softies will at least require a small amount of hand sewing, especially for intricate parts, but most parts can usually be machine sewn. There are a few different ways of making softies, from very simple ways such as sewing a simply shaped pillow and then adding felt details to that base, to harder ways such as creating detailed 3D designs with more lifelike features.
I have compiled a list of the best craft tutorials on the web, including tips and starter projects for beginners, plus a display of handmade plushies to show you the massively varied styles of softie that are possible with this creative and fun hobby.
I hope you find this page helpful :-)
Felt Doll Plushie
Top-Rated Softie Making Books
Ideas For Making Your Own Cuddly Toys
Making plush toys is an easy hobby to get into even if you have only basic sewing skills. If you are a beginner, I would suggest using felt fabric to make your first toy, as it doesn't fray at the edges and it is really easy to cut and sew. When you become more experienced you will be able to work with any fabric you like (although I would stay away from anything stretchy).
Here are some ideas for what to make when you become confident enough to design your own pattern:
- Make a toy replica of your pet or of your favorite animal
- Make a mythical creature such as a dragon or unicorn
- Make an extra large or tiny weeny size toy
- Make an extinct, ugly or weird animal like a dinosaurs, Dodo, or some weird thing that lives at the bottom of the sea!
- Monsters - which gives you lots of room for creativity
- Robots - perhaps using metallic fabrics
- Replica of your favorite book or movie character e.g. Jack Sparrow or Dumbledore
- Make a copy of an inanimate object e.g. a Rubik's cube, a TV, sailing boat or a boombox
- Make a stag head or the head of another animal to mount on the wall
- Make a globe softie and stitch markers on places you've been or places you want to go
- A classic Teddy bear
- A Halloween themed character e.g. a vampire, Frankenstein, zombie, skeleton, witch
- Make a softie as a gift for a family member or friend, in the theme of their favorite hobby/TV show/movie - or even make a doll that looks like them and is dressed like them!
There are so many fun things you can make that I think it's a craft you'll never get bored with.
I hope you find lots of inspiration on this page!
Beginner Tips & Easy Projects
- Softie Making Tips & How-Tos
A beginner's guide to many different aspects of softie construction.
- Whip vs. Blanket Stitch
What each stitch is for, plus other hand sewing options.
- Invisible Ladder Stitch
Perfect stitch for closing up softie seams.
- Baseball Stitch
Another method for seam closure.
- Turning Using a Straw
How to turn narrow shapes inside-out.
- Turning Using Forceps
Ideas for how to deal with fiddly parts of a stuffed toy.
- Lavender Scented Baby
Nice twist on a regular softie, and it's a very simple shape to sew.
- Bumblebee Tutorial
Sweet little felt bees to make.
- Sock Monkey
Clear step-by-step photos for making the classic monkey.
- Recycled Bunny
Very easy rabbit which you can make from scrap fabric in 1 hour.
- 1 Hour Softies
Simple technique for creating felt characters.
- Tips for Sewing Felt
Handy advice for using this popular material.
Animal & People How-Tos
- Bunny Softie
Adorable little rabbit toy.
- Cuddly Chewbacca
Adorable Star Wars softie.
- Steiner Doll
Small and simple doll made with quality materials.
- Charles Plushie
Charming mustache-sporting gentleman.
- Calico Kitty Pattern
Really easy cat pattern to download.
3 pages of instructions.
- Adorable Donkey
A particularly cute design of softie.
- Sweater Snail
Squishy snail made by recycling a sweater.
- Easter Chicks
With cute wire legs.
- Stuffed Owl Brooch
Mini DIY owl softie to be worn as a brooch or attached to your bag as a badge.
Gary the Tattooed Softie
Cute Characters & Fun Makes
- Printed Cloth Doll
Print out the free doll design on a special cloth, then sew around it.
- Bullseye Horse
Make Bullseye the horse - a character in the Toy Story movies!
- T-Rex Softie
Loveable dinosaur toy with free template.
- Stitched Felt Guitar
Fun stuffed guitar for budding rockstars.
Complete with gauze bandages.
Sweet little birds with buttoned wings.
- Argyle Pig
Tutorial for a little pig softie.
- Softie Mice
Free download for Jofus and Lally who are very cute mice.
- Felt Bunny
Cute little bunny pattern.
- Toy Truck
Fun truck character which would be perfect for any little kid.
- Raccoon Doll
With a cute button-on tail.
Girly Robot Softie
The above robot was designed by Audrey & Maude, and the pattern can be bought here.
Lessons in Softie Making & Fab Tutorials
- Sculpting Foam Softies
Taking a 2D drawing design and making it 3D.
- Softie in Progress Part 1
Drawing the design.
- Softie in Progress Part 2
Cutting out the pieces.
- Softie in Progress Part 3
Hand stitching the details.
- Softie in Progress Part 4
Sewing everything together.
- Recycled Monsters
Monster made from recycled materials like towels and socks.
- Plush Sticky Bombs
Perfect for gaming geeks.
- Party Turtles
Free download for funny turtle softies with hats.
- Cone Trees
These look great, especially when a few different sizes are made.
Plush Bull Terrier
How To Sew a Curved Seam
When joining together the curved edges of two different pieces of fabric, it can be quite awkward to get them to join up perfectly and smoothly. This diagram shows you how to go about the task of making a neat curved seam:
1) The aim is to sew the curves together so that the A points join together, the B points join together and the C points join together (see first picture). The length from A to C on both curves is equal.
2) Place the fabric pieces right sides together, and line up the center points (B). If the pieces are symmetrical, you can fold them in half to find the centers, or you could use string (cut to the same length as the curve) and a ruler. Place a pin here to join the fabrics temporarily at point B.
3) Now use a pin to keep the A corners together, and another pin to join the C corners together.
4) Put several pins in between the A, B and C points so that the curved edges join up perfectly all of the way round.
5) Slowly sew around the curve, making sure to remove the pins as you go so that you don't sew over them.
6) Cut triangular notches out of the fabric so that the points of the triangles don't get too close to the sewn line. Then you can turn the fabric pieces the right way out and the seam should be nice and smooth. If you don't cut these notches out, there will be too much bulk on the inside of your softie and the seams will look messy.
Megan Whitmarsh makes and exhibits 'soft sculptures' which include softies in so many different shapes - from replica sewing machine to TVs, pens, radios, vinyl records, plant pots, record players and much more.
This photo shows sculptures displayed at PULSE Art Fair 2010, New York.
Plushie Making Videos
A Variety of Plushie Projects
- Lunch Bag Food
Instructions for a brown bag, a sandwich, crisps and more.
- Waldorf Inspired Doll
A beautiful doll based on the costly Waldorf dolls.
- Fluffy Stuffy Bunny
Super cute bunny made with cuddly fleece.
- Pointy Kitty
Kitten softie with attitude.
4-panel Alpaca toy which can stand up.
- Winter Carolers
Cosy carol singers softies made by recycling materials.
- Guy Plush Tutorial
With wire inside the body for strength.
- Elephant Friend
Elephant shape in funky fabrics.
- Toadstool Cottages
Sweet little toadstool houses with embroidered details.
- Puffy Cloud Mobile
Dreamy hearts and cloud hanging ornament.
- Scrappy Pumpkins
Squishy pumpkins which you can use as cushions or decorations.
Sven the Viking
From Teddy Bears to Darth Vader!
- How Joyful Bear
Really lovely soft bear toy.
- Silly Girl Doll
With fun pink yarn hair.
- Ice Cream Sundae
Yummy looking food made using felt.
- The Dish & The Spoon
Plush characters from the famous nursery rhyme.
- Plush Action Figures
Making Darth Vader and Mutant Teenage Ninja Turtle plushies.
- Humpty Dumpty
Cute pattern idea with detachable arms and legs.
- Rocket Ship
With a little egg-shaped rocket man.
- Musical Toy Elephant
Soft toy with a music box inserted.
- Teddy Bear
Mini teddy bear pattern to download.
- Hobbes Tiger Doll
Stuffed tiger character from a cartoon.
- DIY Deer Head
Stuffed animal taxidermy to mount on your wall.
How to Sew Neat Curved Seams & Corner Seams - Creating 3D Shapes Requires Smooth Seams
1) Corner Seams: To get a sharp (not rounded) corner in a plush toy, you need to remove the corners of the seam whilst it's inside-out. As show in the diagram, this step is after the fabric pieces have been sewn with right sides together. Be careful not to cut too close to the sewn stitches.
When the seam is turned the right-way-out, the corner won't have the extra fabric bulk in it and will therefore look more pointy than if you hadn't cut off the fabric corners.
2) Convex/Hill Seams: After sewing along the seam (with the fabric pieces right sides together), you simply cut notches along the curved edge to remove fabric bulk. This will help you achieve a smooth seam.
3) Concave/Valley Seams: After sewing along the seam, just clip the curved edge i.e. cut slits from the edge to just before the stitched line. Do this at regular intervals, as shown in the diagram. This is to allow movement and stop the fabric edge bunching up on the inside of your stuffed toy.
Gary the Felt Plushie Snail
More Cute Things to Make
- Little Red Riding Hood
Childhood nursery rhyme character.
- Button Jointed Doll
Girl softie with button jointed limbs.
- How to make Yarn Hair
A tutorial on adding yarn for a doll's hair.
- Clothed Rabbits
Make a rabbit body first then make clothes for it.
- Stuffed Toadstool
Whimsical toadstool softie.
- Chibi Kitty and Rabbit
Patterns for animals with really sweet faces.
- Mohair Bears
Lovely and soft bear plushies.
- Pippa and Rascal Raccoons & Foxes
A couple of very cute patterns for animal lovers.
- Simple Sailboats
Only take about an hour to make, so you could create a whole fleet!
Book & Movie Characters
DIY Stuffed Toys
- Personalized Doll
How to make a doll with a photographed head.
- Felt Pirate Hook
Fun hook props for kids who want to be pirates!
- Pajama Eaters
Cute monsters with a practical use.
- Felt Deer
Template to make a sweet little Bambi lookalike.
- Baby Penguin
Adorable little penguin character made from felt.
- Black Apple Doll
Sweet doll template, perfect for little girls.
- Elephant Doll
Stuffed animal made from a pillowcase.
- Stuffed Sea Turtle
Free template for a cute turtle with a stitched shell.
- Owl Stuffies
Good sized owl softies, perfect for cushions.
- Retro Fawn Softie
Cute fawn toy with a fluffy collar and Bambi eyes.
- Denim Whale
Grown-up whale softie with personality.
- Colorful Tree Plush
Beginner project with lots of possibilities - you could make a forest!
Creative Creatures & More Projects
- Ellie the Elephant
Adorable pink elephant toy, perfect for babies.
- Classic Kite
A multicolor stuffed kite tutorial, presented in an adorable way.
- Plush Elsie the Bat
Faux fur and lace trim can make bats rather huggable!
- Candy Corn Baby Toy
Complete with baby ring toys as the feet!
Giant Kawaii Tiger
Softie Making Blogs & Websites
- While She Naps
Fantastic softie toy and sculpture website with lots of tutorials.
- Handmade Romance
Lovely inspiration from a pro softie maker.
- Plush Team
Created by a group of plush toy artists who sell on Etsy.
- Flickr Softie Gallery
Lots of softie examples for inspiration.
- Flickr Plushie Gallery
Lots of plush toy photos to give you ideas.
- Holly Levell
Really cool soft sculptures of food and drink.
Handmade Plush Birdies
Photo and birds by Viviana Agostinho.
CLICK HERE for the pattern.
Please Leave a Comment!
anonymous on September 03, 2013:
Thanks so much for featuring my Very Hungry Caterpillar!
anonymous on May 29, 2013:
This is a great resource for wonderful softies. I am making dollys for charity and I will refer my gals/guys to this site so they too can make softies for our charitys and theirs. Thank you!
belinhafernandes on April 08, 2013:
So many resources! Lots of cute ideas to try! Awesome lens!
Pinasheart on December 25, 2012:
thank you for this! I love it!
anonymous on November 29, 2012:
there are awesome!! :)
rooshoo on November 14, 2012:
This is a really fun lens. I love plushies.
wellingtonboot (author) from U.K. on November 05, 2012:
@anonymous: ~Sorry there's no pattern available for that one :(
anonymous on November 04, 2012:
where is the bull terrior pattern? I would love it
MintySea on October 12, 2012:
this so cool. I am sending it on to my more crafty sister.
SomethingInteresting on September 25, 2012:
MatterWarp LM on September 03, 2012:
Where'd you find all these patterns? It must have taken a while.
LoveToClean on August 29, 2012:
I LOVE the little elephant--- SO CUTE!! :)
SewingMama on July 14, 2012:
These are amazing and this is just the resource I was looking for. Thank you!
anonymous on April 14, 2012:
I have made a bambi!
Loulie LM on March 04, 2012:
What a fun lens!! Adorable!!! My daughter and I have made a few softies, and we look forward to making many more. We will definitely refer to this page! Many thanks! :)
alexaa7x on February 06, 2012:
Very cute idea!
jimmyworldstar on February 02, 2012:
That plush of Gary the Snail from Spongebob must be such a hit. I know plenty of people who sew clothes but not toys.
howtosewadress on December 30, 2011:
If you want to venture into business with your sewing skills, it will be an advantage if you take classes. You should learn more about the terminologies used in sewing, equipment to be used, techniques, as well as how the business runs. You donât want to go to a battlefield unprepared.
ktluvsice on December 16, 2011:
I want to make all of these! Too cute.
AngelDey on July 25, 2011:
These are absolutely adorable! Thanks for sharing. I definitely want to get my son to try some of these.
JoeReview on June 16, 2011:
OMG soooo cuteeee Ô(Ëâ¿ËÔ)
Marina K on May 21, 2011:
Ooh, these are extremely pretty! Totally awesome!
lilyofthevalley1 on May 19, 2011:
These are soooooo adorable! Wonderful lens :)
FunkyJewelleryUK on May 17, 2011:
Such a cute lens! Adding to my favourites so I can make myself some squishy friends :)
anonymous on April 15, 2011:
One of my favorite softie patterns is from hazelnutgirl.blogspot.com. It's the most adorable rabbit!
Lemming13 on March 19, 2011:
Great resource here, and some lovely cute softies.