Claudia has been writing about crafts online for many years. She is an avid crafter who has been creating for most of her life.
Turning a Doodle Into a Stuffed Animal or Plush Toy
My daughter is a doodler. She loves to draw little characters and give them to me as mementos. Over the years, I have accumulated quite a few and they are quite special to me.
As a quilter and I've often thought it would be fun to turn one of her doodles into a stuffed toy, so I decided to give it a try. It turned out to be a fun and simple project that anyone with some basic sewing skills can do.
Follow these step by step instructions, and you too can turn a drawing into a stuffed toy. You'll be amazed at the results.
Step 1 - Pick out a drawing
Whether it is large or small, black and white or full of color, choose the drawing you want for your stuffed toy. Use care as some drawings are going to be more difficult to put together than others. For example, "Pricles" on the bottom left of the photo, with all of his sharp points, would be difficult to do.
- Choose a drawing that is relatively simple.
- Unless you are an expert seamstress, do not choose a doodle with lots of sharp edges and/or curves.
- Unless you like adding lots of embellishments, do not choose a doodle with lots of eyeballs, arms, hair and other things.
Step 2 - Enlarge and trace the doodle
Chances are high that the original doodle is too small to make into a toy. That means you will have to enlarge the drawing.
- Use a copier and make the drawing as large as you would like it to be.
- Trace the large version of the drawing onto tracing paper. If you want the toy to be larger than the copier version, and as shown in the second photo above, make the tracing larger than the copier version. This takes a little time to get right, but it is worth it.
Step 3 - Create the pattern pieces and pin them to the fabric
- Using tracing paper, trace the individual pieces that will be made out of fabric. Do not cut out the pieces from the original tracing. You never know if you will need to retrace a piece.
- If needed, add some simple guidelines to help match up the body with other pieces. In the photo, the guidelines show where the felt hair will be placed.
- Label the pattern pieces.
- Pin all of the pattern pieces on the fabric(s) of your choice.
Step 4 - Cut out the pattern pieces and pin them in place
- Cut all fabric pattern pieces out, using the tracings as your guide. Do not remove the paper pattern until you are ready to sew.
- With the exception of any legs, arms or other items that will be sticking out from the body, pin the pieces into place on the main body of the toy. Any pieces that will be sticking out of the body will be placed on later.
- Use your markings to help position items in the right place.
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Step 5 - Sew pieces onto body of toy
Fabric embellishments, like a nose or eyes, can be added by hand sewing them or by sewing them on with a machine. Sewing them on by machine will ensure that the toy is more durable and there is less of a chance that they will get torn or fall off.
With very few exceptions, remove the tracing paper pattern pieces before sewing. If you need guidelines, like the teeth in the photos above, sew through the pattern and then remove it.
Tracing paper can be removed fairly easily. Use care so the stitching does not pull out. If small paper pieces remain, use tweezers to remove them.
- Use a different color thread to add definition or other interest to the toy.
- Always begin and end with 2 - 3 backstitches. This will help ensure that the sewing does not pull out.
Step 6 - Add external parts
Adding parts, like arms and legs, that will be sticking out of the body of the toy is handled differently than adding embellishments to the toy body.
For any part of the toy that is sticking out, it needs to pinned facing the inside of the body so that when the pieces are sewn together, they stick out when the toy is flipped inside out.
Using the hash marks you drew earlier, pin the pieces to the inside of the body as shown.
Tip: To make sure that they will be in the correct position when the sewing is done, test them by flipping them up.
Pin the pieces in place.
Step 7 - Sew the front of the toy body to the back
- With right sides together, pin the front to the back, using your markings as guides.
- Wherever there is a piece that will be sticking out, like a leg or hair, use mini pins to mark where it is.
- Determine where the opening for the stuffing will be.
- Sew the pattern together, using at least a 1/4" seam. Begin and end with back stitching. Whenever you come to a place where there is an extremity, back stitch for extra security.
Step 8 - Turn the toy inside out and then stuff
- Flip the toy inside out and lay flat.
- Using the stuffing of your choice, stuff the toy.
- Fill until you are happy with the look.
- Before stuffing, run your finger around the inside seam to make sure it has been smoothed out.
- Use an adequate amount of stuffing. Too little and the toy will be floppy and lay flat. Too much and it will be extremely difficult to sew closed.
- Use the eraser end of a pencil to get stuffing into small nooks and crannies.
Step 9 - Finish sewing the seam closed
To finish the seam follow these steps:
- Fold in the edges and pin, using small pins.
- Join the two sides together and pin, using larger pins. Don't use the pins sparingly. The more you use, the smoother the seam will be.
- Using a whip stitch and thread that blends with the fabric, sew together the two sides. Use a tight whip stitch so that no stuffing can come out.
Step 10 - Here's Rockie!
Turn your child's drawing into a stuffed animal
There is something really special about making a stuffed toy out of a drawing. The result is a toy that no one else in the world has.
It is a lovely way to remember a favorite doodle that has been tucked away for years. It also makes a special, one-of-a-kind gift for friends or family.
Try making one of these wonderful toys. Your child or grandchild will be so happy and proud when they see one of their unique sketches turned into a stuffed toy.
From the original doodle to the stuffed toy
© 2013 Claudia Mitchell
Claudia Mitchell (author) on February 23, 2014:
Thanks Leki - I'll try that stitch next time.
Leki on February 21, 2014:
Can I just suggest one thing? Use a ladder stitch rather than a whip stitch for a cleaner edge that holds great. Almost all plush makers that I know use this stitch (myself included) :)
mariamvs714 on July 24, 2013:
This is an amazing tutorial. Excellent photos and explanations. Thank you so very much for sharing it.