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pillow pet tutorial

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Due to popular demand (ok, ok, one person requested this, but as Robin says this person is way cool it seems she counts for many) I am presenting you, good readers, with my first ever tutorial. Yes, yes, I could have saved my debut for something grand, like a robot that cleans and organizes your house and then morphs into an ottoman when not at work, but instead it is for a pillow pet. And this isn’t even a tutorial based on what a pillow pet actually looks like as I still have yet to see a real pillow pet in the flesh, er, faux fur. So this is more just a tutorial for the pillow pet that lurks in my mind. And off we go!!

Supplies:

  • 1 yard of cozy, cuddly fabric for the body, head, feet and straps (i have used velvet, velour, and terry cloth… i would imagine fleece or faux fur would work also)
  • 1 20 x 32 piece of contrasting fabric for the belly
  • stuffing
  • buttons or scraps of felt for eyes
  • embroidery floss
  • sew-on velcro

Time:

  • 2 hours. add 1 hour if done with a small apprentice.

Other Notes:

  • 1/2 inch seam allowance unless otherwise noted

Step 1

Cut out body pieces as follows:

  • 1 20 x 32 piece of the cuddly fabric
  • 1 20 x 32 piece of the contrasting fabric
  • 8 approx. 6 x 6 inch shapes out of the cuddly fabric, for the feet (i cut out wonky frog feet, you can cut whatever shape you want based on the animal you are creating)
  • 4 3 x 8 inch strips out of the cuddly fabric for the straps

Step 2

Design and cut out the head. I made the frog pattern by cutting out a chubby cheeked oval out of a 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper and then laying a masking tape roll above that for eyes. Very precise and scientific, I know. Go crazy and design an equally awesome head for your pillow pet.

Cut two heads out of the cuddly fabric.

Step 3

Sew the feet. Take two feet pieces, place ’em right sides together and sew around the edges, leaving a 2 inch gap where the heel would be for turning right side out. Repeat with the other three feet. Turn all the feet right side out.

Step 4

Sew the straps. Again, take two strap pieces, put ’em right sides together and sew around three edges, leaving one side open for turning. Repeat for other strap. Turn straps right side out.

Step 5

Attach velcro to straps. Sew the fuzzy velcro bit to the skinny end of of one strap (the end that is sewn shut). Likewise, sew the scratchy velcro bit to the other strap. I actually stitched two strips of velcro to each strap, just to make sure the pillow pet didn’t come busting out of its ‘pet’ state at inopportune times, but this may have been overkill.

You should now have feet and strap pieces like this:

Step 6

Lay out the feet and straps on the belly of the animal. Place the belly rectangle right side up. In each corner place a foot with the open end (the heel) snuggly in the corner and the rest of the foot pointing towards the middle. This seems backwards, but it works, like magic. Place one velcro strap on one short end of the rectangle, the other on the opposing end. Have the scratchy velcro bit facing up, the fuzzy velcro bit facing down. Make sure both velcro ends are about 2-3 inches within the perimeter of the belly. It should look like this:

Step 7

Sandwich the body and stitch. Lay the cuddly fabric rectangle on top of the layout above, like so:

You will then stitch around the perimeter, leaving an 8 inch gap in the middle of one of the long ends of the rectangle for turning right side out. When stitching around be sure to grab only the heel of the foot in your seam. You may need to scoot the feet one way or the other as you are stitching to avoid catching the sides of the feet in the seam. You may want to stitch over the straps a couple of times as they will be pulled a lot when converting from pillow to pet. After stitching you will have something like this:

Turn the body right side out (magic!), to look like this:

Step 8

Stuff! This is the perfect time to bring in a young apprentice as stuffing is much, much fun. Stuff lightly, enough so that it is pillow-like, but not so much that you can’t fold it in half to make the ‘pet’. Stitch up the opening, either on the machine or by hand.  You won’t see this seam as it will eventually be covered by the head, so I recommend just doing it by machine so that it goes quick.

Step 9

Now, the fun part. Making a cute head. If making a frog, you will want to add white eyes before stitching the front and back of the head together. I used the inside of the masking tape roll as a template for the whites of the eyes. I cut them out of scrap white fabric, pinned them in the eye circles at the top of the head and then zig-zagged around the perimeters.

Stitch the front and back of the head together, leaving a 4-5 inch opening for turning right side out. Turn right side out and you end up with this:

Step 10

Stuff and embellish the head. Stuff the head to a decent firmness. You can stuff it a bit more densely than you did the body. Stitch the opening closed by hand. Sew on two big buttons for the eyes. Embroider a big smile and two nostrils. Or if you are creating a different animal go crazy with those features. When I made a dog/donkey I added a tongue, muzzle, button nose, ears, and felt eyes. The sky is the limit.

 

Step 11

Attach the head to the body. (There must be an easier way to do this, but I can’t figure it out. Let me know if you think of a way.) Find the center of the back of the head about one inch down from the top. Find the center of the long side of the body where the opening used to be and go in about 4 inches from there, towards the middle of the back. Kiss these two points together and start stitching however you can. Create at least a 5 inch seam between body and head. This won’t be pretty. But as long as you get enough stitches to hold the head on securely and avoid a future accidental beheading you will be okay. The key is to attach the head to the body at such a point that the head will still stay up when in ‘pet’ mode, and not dangle down like it has no neck muscles. Is this making any sense?

Step 11

You are done! Just velcro the straps together under the belly to make your ‘pet’ or undo them to make your ‘pillow’. Now go present it to a little one and make their day 🙂

If you try this tutorial and notice any mistakes, please let me know! Or if you figure out an easier way to do any of the steps let me know that as well!  Thanks!!

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9 responses »

  1. So creative. “The government thinks you need another child!”

    Reply
  2. Woooooooooow. You are so brilliant!!!! I am going to give it the old college try. You should sell these on etsy cuz they’re WAY cuter than the mass produced version. Thanks for the tutorial!

    Reply
  3. Gee, Courtney, just how many of these homemade pillow pets have you made and in how short of a time? I’m incredibly impressed and severely cowed by your expertise in such matters…

    Reply
  4. Courtney, I was at East Towne Mall, Madison, & actually saw a pillow pet kiosk. Yours are much better! You could be doing business summer craft fairs soon. . .!

    Reply
  5. Hello!

    I work with Kristin on the Sew,Mama,Sew! blog. I’m preparing for our next tutorial round-up on the blog which will focus on pillows!

    We’d like to use a photo from this great tutorial.

    We will not include your actual tutorial. It’ll just be your photo with the link to your site giving you all of the credit, of course! Would this be OK? We respect the copyright of all crafters so all links and photos from blogs for our themed posts are used with permission.

    We look forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks,
    ~ Irene

    Reply
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