Did you know there is an international sew a softie day? Thought up by Trixi Symonds of Coloured Buttons, the 16th of July will be a day focused on sewing with kids and teaching kids the joys of sewing. There will be workshops and sewing events, and for the two weeks leading up to the day, bloggers all over the world are sharing tutorials for sewing softies (You can find the whole list of tutorials on Trixi’s blog). If you’re here specifically for finding a tutorial, welcome!
I love the idea of a day dedicated to sewing with children. I started sewing as a child, beginning with simple projects my mother thought up for me. I’m the type of person who loves a challenge though, and I remember in grade eight home economics class, where I sewed a dress while everyone else worked on a simple pair of shorts. For those of you who like a challenge, this tutorial is for you! My aim is to help make the process as simple as possible by providing very detailed photo instructions.
This project is geared toward an older child (or adult) who already has experience sewing. You will need to be able to use the sewing machine, but other than that, its mostly down to following instructions precisely and pinning carefully! If you can do those things, don’t be afraid to give this a try. You’ll learn lots of useful techniques for sewing softies, such as putting in a gusset, sewing curved seams to give a stuffed animal a round body, attaching ears and limbs by machine and by hand, as well as practice stuffing and embroidering. Most of all, enjoy the challenge and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you get stuck!
This tutorial is for a cut-and-sew softie. Before we begin, a few words about cut-and-sew patterns. These are patterns that come with all the pieces printed directly on the fabric, so that all you need to do is cut everything out and start sewing. The nice thing about this is that you don’t waste time and precious sewing energy on thinking about what to make and choosing fabric, but everything is all ready to go. I sell a range of cut-and-sew patterns in my shop, and if you want to try a simpler one, start with the polar bear pillow case.
- Step 1: When your fabric arrives, it will look like this, with all the pieces printed and ready to cut out. I sewed this one out of linen/cotton canvas, which is a sturdy but not too heavy fabric. You could decide to order the cut-and-sew softie on a different base fabric, that’s what’s nice about cut-and-sew softies on spoonflower, you can order a design printed on any of their fabrics. But be aware that some fabrics will be easier to sew than others.
- Step 2: Cut out all the pieces. The seam allowance (1/4 inch) is already included.
- Step 3: Here are all the pieces cut out and ready to sew together.
- Step 4: Start by sewing the legs together. This kit comes with a little tag, that you can attach to the leg. To do that, fold the tag in half, right sides together, sew around three sides, snip the corners and turn. Then lay it onto the back of the leg as shown, before you sew the two leg pieces together, right sides together.
- Step 5: Now sew together both legs, arms, ears and tail. These all follow the same principle: put the right sides together, pin them together so they don’t slip around while you’re sewing, then sew all the way around, leaving the top side open. make little snips right up to the seam around the curved bits (without cutting into the seam!) – this will make them look smoother when you turn them inside out.
- Step 6: Now turn all of these pieces inside out. This can be a bit fiddly, but there are some tools that can help with this, or just use a knitting needle or a pen or pencil (I’ve been known to use my teeth!)
- Step 7: After you’ve turned all these pieces inside out, give them a press, either with an iron, or just go along the seam with your thumbnail to flatten it out.
- Step 8: Now you can stuff all of these pieces. I used fabric scraps to stuff the bottom of the arms and legs. This makes them a bit heavier and harder. Then I used stuffing to fill the rest of them. A tip for stuffing your softie: go slowly, and put little bits of stuffing in at a time, pushing it down firmly so that the softie doesn’t get lumpy. That being said, I used less stuffing in the tail, so that it would hang better, and only a very tiny bit in the ears (or none at all if you prefer!)
- Step 9: Here are all the pieces stuffed and ready to be attached to the body.
- Step 10: Now its time to attach the ears. First make a little fold in the bottom of the ear and attach it with a few stitches. The final width should just fit between the top of the head (although don’t forget the seam allowance! see picture 11) and the start of the white part of the badger’s body.
- Step 11: Pin the ear in place, with the dark side against the badger’s body. Then sew it on.
- Step 12: When you fold it back out it should look like this. Now, when you sew the two body pieces together, make sure the ear is folded in, onto the body, and it will get caught in the seam, so that the ear is attached to the body (see picture 15).
- Step 13: You will now need to do the same for the arms. Lay them on the front body piece (the same piece that has the ear attached) about two inches below the ear. Attach them to the body with a few stitches, and when you attach the front body piece, again make sure they are caught in the seam as shown in the photo.
- Step 14: With the ear and arm tacked on, you can now attach the two body pieces together for both sides of the badger. Here you will be attaching two curved pieces together, which will make the stomach nice and round. Its important, when sewing curved pieces together, to use lots of pins, to make sure the fabric doesn’t slip around while you’re sewing. Another tip is to keep the dark fabric on top, since it is easier to move this to fit the curve. Remember to take your seam allowance into account when starting this seam, as shown on photo 14, the tip of the top fabric will stick out a bit, so that the seam starts exactly at the right place. If it helps, first put a pin through the place where the seam should start (1/4 inch in from the edge of the fabric) on both the top and bottom fabric, then secure them in place with another pin.
- Step 15: After you have sewed your seam, make little snips right up to the seam (not through it!) along the curve, so that it will lie flat. Fold open the seam and the arm and ear should be securely fastened onto the body. Now do the same for the other side.
- Step 16: Lay your two body pieces next to each other, and fasten the tail to one side of the body with a few stitches. Do the same with the two legs. Make sure the legs are pointing forward, and attach them 1/4 inch in from the front of the badger’s stomach.
- Step 17: Now it is time to sew on the gusset. A gusset is a piece of fabric that is added between the two body pieces in order to give the head more volume. The gusset piece is attached from the tip of the nose to the back of the head, making a round head shape. Starting exactly at the tip of the nose (again, put a pin 1/4 inch in on both pieces of fabric to find where to start) sew along the gusset. Important: on the nose side, start the seam 1/4 inch in, don’t start at the edge of the fabric! Make sure you back up a few stitches to this point, so the seam won’t unravel. Do the same in the following steps.
- Step 18: Once the gusset is attached, make little snips to ensure the curve will be smooth.
- Step 19: Now attach the other side of the body to the gusset. the red pin on the picture at the tip of the nose shows where to start the seam, again make sure you don’t start right at the edge. Pin the two pieces of fabric together, and this time sew all the way from the point of the nose down to the bottom of the badger. Before you sew the seam, pin it all the way, to make sure the bottom edges will line up when you get there!
- Step 20: This picture shows the seam, starting 1/4 inch in from the nose and going around the top of the head and down the back. Now snip the curve.
- Step 21: The next seam will close the front of the badger. Start your seam right where the top seam finished: 1/4 inch in from the top of the fabric. (When you start the seam there will be a lot of fabric from the top of the head in your way. Make sure to fold it away from you and don’t catch it in the needle as you sew.) Then sew down the front of the badger. Again snip the fabric where the seam is curved.
- Step 22: Turn the badger the right way around, this is the exciting moment where she starts to come alive! with your finger, smooth out all the head seams and check that they look all right. If your nose doesn’t quite line up, don’t worry, you’ll be embroidering a nose over it, and can cover up some small mistakes. If everything looks okay, then stuff the head and the body.
- Step 23: Using a needle and thread, close the back seam using a mattress stitch. I started at the beginning, secured the thread inside the body, and then stitched first along one leg, pulled my stitches tight, then stitched back over that leg and along the other leg, before stitching back to the middle. This will make sure the seam is secure.
- Step 24: Your badger is almost done! with some embroidery floss, stitch the eyes, nose and mouth as shown in the picture. I also added a few whiskers, by making little knots and snipping off the thread.
Thanks for reading, enjoy sewing and don’t forget to share photos with the hashtag #sasday2016.
If you’ve gotten this far and want to give it a go, from now until July 14th you can buy two fat quarters for the price of one on any type of fabric in my shop. I’ve designed a matching trench coat for Honey badger (shown in the picture above), and there are also other animals in the collection.
Ps. you can read more about how I designed the honey badger prototype here. There will be a tutorial for the trench coat coming very soon, and a pattern for the little cardigan is also in the works.