Nov 7, 2013

A Whale of a Stuffed Toy

I tried my hand at sewing stuffed animals again. This time for my baby cousin (really cousin once removed), Piper. And this time it turned out better than the turtles I made before.

I've had this whale pattern saved for a while and truth be told, I made a couple that were not fit to take pictures of, let alone give as a gift. By the time this one was finished it was 2am so the pictures I do have are a bit hurried.

I used leftover material from the receiving blankets that I made for her in April. Don't you just love flannel? I don't think I'll ever get tired of the feel of it. Could be why I spend most of my off-hours in pyjamas.

The toy is made of four pieces for the body, plus four pieces for the flippers. I had problems getting the four pieces to line up and form the tail correctly, so instead I ended the top/side pieces halfway down the body and made the top of the tail section one solid piece. I don't know if it's my mediocre sewing skills, or a problem with the original pattern, but once I tweaked it a bit the finished product was much more acceptable.

Original pattern:
whale stuffed toy pattern

My changes:
whale stuffed toy pattern

Hopefully you can see what I've done. I cut off the tail on the side piece, shortened the top, and added a top tail piece. I also added letters so that you have a guide to where the pieces meet up. Note that my lines are approximate - you may have to adjust where you cut each piece off so that they match up. Also note when you have to cut two of the same piece to flip the second one so they are mirror images.

The order in which you sew the pieces together is up to you - though you'll want to do the flippers first. Take two of the flippers - if you're using this pattern you'll notice that the flippers aren't exactly the same so make sure you match up the right ones! - put them together right side in, and sew around the edge, leaving the bottom open. Turn them right side out - using a pencil end sometimes helps - and stuff them with Polyfil. Push the Polyfil in as tight as you can, pin the open edges together, and sew straight across the bottom to close it.

whale stuffed toy pattern

I'm going to leave out the "right side facing inwards" part from now on because I'm sure you get it.

Figure out how far back you'd like the flippers to be. I'd say 1/2 to 2/3 of the way back. Pin the raw edge of each flipper to the bottom body piece and sew right along that same line you used to close the flipper. Watch that you're attaching it to the good side of the material and that it is pointing inwards and towards the back while you're sewing it. That whale doesn't want a flipper in its belly! Repeat for the other flipper.

whale stuffed toy pattern

Pin the wide end of the triangle piece to the curved edge at the top of the belly piece and sew them together. Try to centre them both. Pin the straight edge of the "side" piece to the belly piece (along the side of course) and sew them together. Repeat on the other side. Make sure the flippers stay on the inside!

whale stuffed toy pattern

Pin the two tail pieces together and sew all around the edge (except for where it will meet the body). I think this is probably the easiest part  of the whole thing.

whale stuffed toy pattern

The last sewing step (with the machine anyway) is to attach the sides to the top. Line up the long side of the triangle with the curved side of the "side" and sew them together. Repeat on the other side. The two side pieces should meet at the tip of the triangle. I want to say side again. Side.

whale stuffed toy pattern

Now, I chose to leave the opening for stuffing at the point where the triangle meets the tail, but you could leave it open at the mouth if you wanted to. Just remember that you'll be hand sewing it closed. I'm not the greatest sewer so I like my handwork to be as hidden as possible.

Turn your whale right side out - yes, the tail is difficult. Stuff the body, including the tail, with Polyfil. Make sure it's firm. Not using enough stuffing is what gives you those lumps.

Once the whale is stuffed, hand sew the opening on the back closed with tiny stitches. Try to make them as invisible as possible. Again, I'm no expert so I'll just direct you here for a tutorial.

whale stuffed toy pattern

Once it was finished I added some eyes with black embroidery thread, but it was in the car on the way to my cousin's house (I'm so embarrassed) so I don't have any pictures. If you were planning ahead you could add the eyes before you pieced the body together. You could use felt, contrasting material, or just plain embroidery thread like I did.

whale stuffed toy pattern

When we got to my cousin's, she handed me the baby and a receiving blanket, and it just so happened that the blanket was made of the same two patterns that I'd used for the whale. How great was that? So now it kind of looks like they're a matched set.

I'm hoping I can find some other cute patterns that aren't too complicated - starfish? squirrel? penguin? - to make with with rest of the leftover material. And now my cousin is reading this and thinking, "Please, no."

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