Skipping 5 Fandom Friday this week to bring you a tutorial! This year I have learned how to make felt plushes, and I’ve become a bit obsessed. They are super cute, and in my opinion, pretty darn easy. Especially with some of the mods I’ll tell you about further down in this post – seriously, even if you can’t sew, keep reading! I put in a no-sew mod. 🙂 So, for those who are interested, here’s how I make a plush from scratch!
*Full disclosure: I am NOT a seamstress by any stretch. This is just how I personally do things.*
Step 1: Find a reference pic, and make a sketch. If this is your first plush, I highly recommend buying a pattern, and making it, just to get the hang of things. I purchased 10th Doctor and 11th Doctor plush patterns from Deadly Sweet, and they were immensely helpful to me in learning how to put together a pattern on my own. For this tutorial, I’m using the kitty plush I made. I used the below image as a ref to go off, and sketched it out to the size I wanted the plush to be.
Step 2: Make your pattern, and cut it out. To do this, I use a lightbox. I lay a new piece of paper on top of my sketch, and trace out each individual piece I will need. In the case of the kitty, I traced a body piece, each stripe for both body and tail, and then the heart pieces. The little girl I made this for loves rainbows, so I made six pieces for the heart, one for each color of the rainbow.
If you don’t have a lightbox (my dad was getting rid of his and I snagged it!) you can just use a window and some sunlight. Tape your sketch to the window, and then trace with a piece over it. Once all your pieces are traced, I find it super helpful to go over the edges with a thick marker, to give yourself a really bold outline when cutting. Also, make sure to write info for the piece inside each section. For example, on the body piece I wrote x2 (front and back), lt. purple (color of felt I’m using), and for the little piece I also write ‘kitty’ so I know which plush it belongs to in case they get mixed up with another pattern.
I cut around the outside edge, to give myself a little wiggle room.
Step 3: Cut out your felt. Pin your paper pattern pieces directly the felt, and start cutting! I use a LOT of pins so there is no chance for wiggling, and the paper holds up fine. So go nuts.
Step 4: Being assembling! Now that all your pieces are cut out, you can start putting things together. You’ll need to assemble each side separately before you put your two body halves together. I started with attaching the tail.
When pinning pieces like this that stick out, make sure it’s not right on the edge – leave a little overlap on the back side, like above. Then just stitch it on!
Time for the no-sew mod. I have never made a plush that can’t also be assembled with hot glue. I personally like the stitched look, but if you’re pressed for time or just can’t sew, hot glue is a perfectly acceptable option. In terms of durability, the only thing I would question is how well they would wash as I haven’t attempted a hot glued one in the machine before. Also, when pinning things, you’ll need to put your pins farther away from the edges so you have room to glue right on the edge of the felt.
Now it’s time to sew (glue) on the back tail piece. When doing so, make sure you lay on the front so they two tails are lined up exactly. Otherwise, it will be all sorts of disasters when you get to sewing the final front and back together.
Once lined up, pin the back tail piece in place, and sew (glue) on to the back body piece.
Continue adding and sewing (gluing) on all detail pieces (in this case that meant all tail and body stripes for front and back, and the heart pieces on front). A quick note – when sewing piece on outer edges, leave a bit going past the edge instead of lining it up exactly (see above image) – it makes it easier when putting the whole thing together.
Once all the detail pieces are attached, I put on the eyes. For these, I used Safety Eyes (which when I started I had no clue what that meant. But luckily, the people at Joanns do, and clued me in!). If you’re using Safety Eyes, simply pop them in, and if you’re not you have two choices. You can cut out black felt circles and sew (glue) them on, or wait until the end and paint them on. I have done both, and they both work fine.
Step 5: Sew together front and back pieces. Getting to the end now! Line up your pieces and pin them together – again, feel free to go nuts on pins as you don’t want any wiggling.
Then start sewing (gluing) things together. I always start with small areas that will need stuffing; in this case, the tail.
When sewing the two pieces together, put your needle through only the top layer, not both, to start (see above). This will allow you to hide your knot at the end inside the plush (see below – no knot sticking out the back!). If you’re gluing, quite obviously this is irrelevant.
Step 6: Stuffing. After sewing (gluing) all around the tail, and a bit down on each side, stop and put stuffing in the tail. I use purchased polyester batting, but if I continue making them I’d like to come up with something more eco-friendly (like mixing scraps and using stuffing from discarded stuffies.)
Once the tail is stuffed, keep sewing (gluing) all around the body, leaving a gap to put the rest of the stuffing in.
The size hole you leave is entirely up to you. I’m used to stuffing now, so I only leave a 1.5″ – 2″ gap to stuff. Now fill it with stuffing!
I pack the stuffing in pretty tight. If left loose it can settle oddly, and end up lumpy. Just make sure you leave enough space to close that final edge. Once stuffed enough, sew (glue) the whole thing shut!
Step 7: Final Details. This step may or may not be relevant for yout. In some plushes, I add on the little details like mouth (or eyes if I’m not using Safety Eyes) with hot glue or paint, once the whole thing is put together. I like this since sometimes when you put things on ahead of time, pre-stuffed, the stuffing can warp the positions and things look off. This prevents that. In this case, I painted on the mouth, and darkened the purple part of the rainbow as I didn’t have any dark purple felt, and didn’t want it and the body to be the same color.
Ta-da! The finished product! Pardon the messy art desk…it is always in some form of disarray.
So there you have it! My method of making a felt plush, from scratch. Now I have a question for you, lovely readers! Would you like me to share some of my already made patterns here on the blog? If people are interested, I’d be happy to share some! Obviously, not the Doctor Who ones, as those are purchased and that’s just a rude thing to do. But the ones I made from scratch I’d be happy to share with you guys if anyone has a desire to get crafty!
And lastly, I’d love feedback on the tutorial. Is it easy to follow? I know it’s long, but I am one who loves every detail spelled out for me, so that’s was my diving off point. If it’s too much – let me know! Constructive criticism completely welcome. Thanks! 😀