How to Make Stuffed Animals From Shirts

By Suhail Rafidi
Making your own stuffed animal can be very rewarding.

Stuffed animals are classic toys and craft projects. Both children and adults find stuffed animals comforting and endearing. With some planning, minor sewing skills and old shirts, you can make your own stuffed animals to give as gifts or entertain your children. Making a stuffed animal of your own is a very accessible project that gives you an opportunity to personalize the appearance of the new toy. It is also substantially cheaper than purchasing a stuffed animal, as well as a lot of fun.

Choose an animal pattern. Experienced sewers may want to draw their own animal pattern. For beginners, try a simple contour pattern like a pillow-style bear or bunny. There are many free animal patterns available online.

Trace the pattern onto paper and cut it out to make a template. Pin the paper template to the fabric and trace the pattern onto the old shirt. Create the pattern larger than you want the finished animal to be, because sewing a seam on the animal later will make it smaller.

Cut two fabric layers of the pattern out of the shirt, one for the front and one for the back of the stuffed animal. Position the two layers together and sew a seam along their edges. Be sure to leave a 1/4" allowance at the edge of the fabric for the seam. Do not yet sew the bottom of the animal shut. You will need to keep it open for stuffing. You now have a partially sewn unstuffed animal that is inside out.

Turn the animal right side out and thoroughly fill it with stuffing through its open bottom. Use a chopstick or an unsharpened pencil to help you deliver stuffing to the inner edges of the animal where your adult fingers may not reach.

Measure the opening at the bottom of the animal. Cut out a simple oval shape from the old shirt to cover the open bottom. This oval will serve as a base so the stuffed animal be able to will sit upright when it is finished.

Align the edge of the fabric oval along the open bottom of the animal and pin it into place. Fastening the fabric with pins before stitching is useful because the animal will be more challenging to finish sewing shut now that it is stuffed. Sew shut the bottom of the animal, fitting in a little extra stuffing as the opening gets smaller and smaller. Once finished sewing, give the animal a test hug and enjoy!

Tip

Decorate the animal's face with paint, embroidery or buttons before stuffing. After stuffing, you can also enhance the animal's appearance by tying a ribbon into a bow around its neck.

Warning

If your stuffed animal will be a plaything for small children, do not use buttons for the face as they can be easily pulled off and ingested.

About the Author

Suhail Rafidi is a novelist and educator who has been writing professionally since 2007. He has published hundreds of articles on scores of subjects at Web sites including, i-newswire, bloggervenue, prlog, and presentationsolutions. Rafidi possesses a Master of Arts in humanities from San Francisco State University.