Here’s the perfect storm that led to me posting a stuffed animal pattern on the site.
1. In January, I promised myself that I would start making more things with my hands. I love it all: making jewelry, drawing, painting, crocheting, sculpting, sewing… and the past few years, my creative efforts have gone mainly to recipe development. Which I obviously adore, but I want to strike more of a creative balance again.
2. Along those lines, I started to play around with natural dyes for fabrics. I’ve been saving a bag of onion skins in my freezer for about 2 years now with the best of intentions to use them—I finally did and wow the results!
3. One of my dearest pals from high school had a baby boy in January and I wanted to make something special for him.
So, I started sketching a whale with a proud underbite which became this stuffie pattern. This isn’t a craft site I know, but a lot of you asked me to share the pattern when I posted a quick pic on Facebook and Instagram. And since it’s made with naturally dyed fabric made from beets, turmeric, onions skins and other plant-powerful dyes, I think it fits within the YumUniverse theme, yes?
So here we go.
Some things to keep in mind: I am not a pattern maker, but I’ve given it my best shot. In one of my past lives, I had a handbag company with my dear friend Kathy Beymer of Merriment Design, and she taught me everything I know about sewing, and the basics of pattern making (she has incredible sewing skills). I haven’t done anything like this in so so long, so keep that in mind. I think I covered all bases, but please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions with a comment below.
I hand-stitched this little guy because I love the look of hand-stitched and because my sewing machine is out of commission right now. Know that this pattern can easily be made on a machine. Also, I used multiple colors for the belly because I had a variety of swatches from my food dye experiments.
This is an opportunity for you to play around with different colors and patterns—there are no hard and fast rules here. I can easily see the belly being strips of the same color or a variety of wacky patterns.
I also used a loose weave 100% cotton that I cut from dishtowels for the dye experiments. This fabric is great for dishtowels, but I felt more comfortable reinforcing it with iron-on interfacing to make sure that with love and snuggling, the fabric won’t fall apart. If you want to use interfacing, just cut a piece for each piece of fabric you cut out. Make sure you cut so the adhesive matches the backside of the fabric pieces.
The final stuffie ends up being 8.5″–9″ long from mouth to tail. If you want a bigger whale, just scale up the pattern to your liking and print on tabloid 11″ x 17″ paper.
One more thing: I didn’t plan on posting, so I don’t have pics of every single step, but I have a lot to help below. I’ll do my best to explain.
If you make this whale, I hope you’ll share pics/links with us in the comments below, on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (use #YumUniverse #YUWhaleStuffie #WhaleStuffie).
I would lovelovelove to see his cousins out in the world!
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1. Download the free pattern.
2. Print out your pattern sheets on 8.5″ x 11″ letter paper. Trim out pieces along the solid line and lay on the top side of your fabric, use pins to hold in place and trim out your pieces.
3. Take “Belly Left” pieces A1 and B1 and stack them so the top side of fabric for each, is touching. The edges won’t line up the same, so align the bottom U-shaped edges and pin them in place. Sew together. Then take C1 and pin it the same way to B1 and sew. Repeat with D1 sewn to C1.
4. Open and press with an iron so the Belly Left looks like the image below. You can topstitch if you want to add detail, but it’s not necessary.
5. Take “Belly Right” pieces A2 and B2 and stack them so the top side of fabric for each, is touching. The edges won’t line up the same, so align the bottom U-shaped edges and pin them in place. Sew together. Then take C2 and pin it the same way to B2 and sew. Repeat with D2 sewn to C2.
4. Open and press with an iron. You can topstitch if you want to add detail, but it’s not necessary.
5. If you want to reinforce with iron-on interfacing, take pressed belly halves and pin to interfacing so adhesive side is touching the backside of belly pieces. Trim, leaving a tiny bit (1/16″) of extra interfacing beyond edge of sewn fabric—interfacing can shrink when heated with iron). Press according to interfacing instructions.
6. Repeat with all other pieces of cut fabric.
Remember to make sure you adhere interfacing to the backside, not the front side of fabric.
7. Stack, facing the top side of fabric for E1 and E2 together and sew all sides except the vertical straight edge (the edge in the center of paper pattern pieces).
Do the same with F1 and F2.
8. Stack, facing the top side of H1 and H2 together and sew top line only—see image below for reference, follow yellow highlighted area one top sides are pinned together.
9. Face the top side of both pieces of G together and sew all sides except the straight edge (back, see image below where my thumb is).
10. Stack, facing top side of Belly Left and Belly Right together and sew along the bottom only at this time, stopping when you reach the sharp edges running vertical/diagonal.
11. Flip E, F, H and G right side out and press with iron…
Flip out Belly, press and top stitch H if you like.
12. Now, I used a flat batting to stuff my whale so I wouldn’t have to buy two different types—the flat batting can be pulled apart to stuff the body just fine, but we need to cut flat pieces for flippers and tale. Cut a piece of flat batting 1/16″ shorter than the final sewn size (see below). Use tweezers, a skewer, tiny dowel or an unsharpened pencil to work the batting into each flipper, and the whale tail.
13. Now we are going to place the flippers and sew top and bottom of the whale together. There is no right or wrong here, but you have to eyeball it a bit.
Place the flipper so the rounded side is facing down and away from front of whale and pin into place. Like this:
14. Now align bottom edge of H (see highlight below)…
… to unsewn edge of Belly and stitch together. If in doubt about placement, just pin and flip right-side out to check if it the shape is right.
Repeat Steps 13 and 14 and then flip your whale right-side out (like below) and start to stuff with batting.
Carefully stuff until his body is full as you like. I made mine more on the packed side to accentuate his shape, but you can stuff less for a more squishy friend.
To close, simply place the tail into the open part of the whale body. Fold 1/4″ worth of the whale body opening (where tail goes) under. Slip stitch the tail into place.
Choose a thread for your eye color and embroider a circular eye in plae. Now, I started one eye and didn’t cut the thread before I sewed the other so I could pull a bit to inset the eyes. This isn’t necessary.
It was hard to let go, but I carefully wrapped him…
… packed him up and sent him off to my friend.
They love him. Yay!
Now, I want to hear from you. What do you think of this little friend? Will you give this pattern a try? Tell us with a comment below.
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