The best thing about making stuffies and soft dolls is how eco-friendly the craft can be. You can make stuffed toys and animals and dolls from recycled materials, such as felted wool or the fleece that is made from plastic bottles; from natural materials, such as hemp or organic cotton or peace silk; from any of your stash fabrics or the tiniest bits of pieces leftover from other projects. You can stuff them with buckwheat hulls, cotton, eco-friendly fiberfill, crystalline silica-free play sand–anything!
Even if you’re an experienced sewer, however, three-dimensional design can be hard. I sew well, for instance, but when my daughter asks me to sew her a stuffed dinosaur toy or I want to sew a stuffed turtle for the child of my partner in a Craftster swap, it’s many (silent) swear-words later before I can come up with something half-decent.
So unless I’m trying to create something really weird, I often check out from the library the crafting books that have the best patterns for stuffies, and I’ll make or modify those. Here are five of my favorites:
- Making Waldorf Dolls: Moving from the extremely simple to the extremely complex, this book is the BEST that I’ve found for sewing dolls. You know those beautiful soft dolls with sweet expressions and cute outfits and awesome hair? Here’s how to make them.
- Patchwork Puzzle Balls: This book is the best for using up those tiny little fabric scraps you get when you sew another project. These are mostly hand-sewn, but the clear instructions make it something quite possible to learn, even if you’re addicted to the sewing machine (like I am).
- Fleecie Dolls: The nice thing about fleece is that it’s soft and malleable, but doesn’t fray, so it’s possible to do some really creative things with it that would be much more difficult if you were having to worry about all your seams. Choose the fleece made from recycling plastic bottles.
- Stitched in Time: Paulson includes a huge variety of projects in her book, including a soft doll, but the best one for our purposes is her tutorial for creating a stuffed toy based on a child’s own drawing–it’s a good intro to the type of 3D design that you use in creating a stuffed toy pattern.
- Sock Doll Workshop: Here’s how to sew dolls from the ultimate scrap–the mate-less sock.
How do you make your stuffies?