If you've stumbled across this post, you may not be aware of the Sew a Softie Day movement. There's a wee post about it here but in a nutshell, it's the brain child of Trixi Symonds who authors the Coloured Buttons blog and she's also the author of the book Sew Together, Grow Together.
Because kids generally love sewing and to stop it from becoming a lost art, Trixi decided to create Sew a Softie Day (the inaugural day is officially on July 16th 2016) and in the run up, for a host of bloggers to post tutorials and inspirational projects to help get people started.
I decided to get my kids involved as they both love sewing, they've both grown up seeing me sew almost every day and from a very young age, have been shown the basics.
I asked Seren (7.5 yrs) to draw an outline of her chosen animal (a cat) and we decided we could use it for Patrick's (big 5 yrs - that's how he puts it as he's almost 6!) dog too.
Based on what Seren drew, I created a pattern for them, with pointy ears for her cat and floppy ears for his dog.
To make a similar animal you will need:
- fleece or felt
- embroidery thread to mach your material (we used pearl cotton as it's not stranded so gets less tangled than the 6 stranded embroidery thread)
- 2 buttons for the eyes
- black thread for the mouth and nose
- pins, scissors and a pencil
How we did it:
1. The kids pinned their paper pattern pieces to two layers of fleece.
2. Then they drew around the animal shape (minus the ears) with a pencil onto the fleece.
3. Next they pinned around their drawn shape (we pinned on the outside of the shape so that they would have a seam allowance and wouldn't cut too near to the line they'd drawn)
4. Then they both cut out their body shapes.
6. Then we carefully clipped nearer to the lines, so that the seams weren't too bulky and turned them right side out, through the gap we'd left.
7. We lightly stuffed each limb and firmly stuffed the head. Then I drew a line across each limb and showed the kids how to do back stitch. Seren and back stitch really hit it off and she was going great with it. Patrick had a go and got the feel for it and then wanted to watch me sew the rest up.
8. Then we stuffed the body, not too firmly as we didn't want a fat cat or dog and I showed Seren how to do a ladder stitch to close up the hole. If you want to see a video of how to ladder stitch, there's one on my You Tube channel here.
9. Then we drew a nose and mouth onto our animals using the pencil and with some black thread we stitched these details on.
10. The kids then had fun rummaging through my extensive button collection and chose the buttons they wanted to use for the eyes, which I then sewed on for both animals as this was a bit tricky once they were sewn up.
11. The last step, which somehow I didn't get a photo of, was choosing the material for the ears (Seren used the same and Patrick used part of an old Christmas onsie that didn't fit him anymore!) and we used the pattern based on Seren's drawing to cut out 4 ear pieces. We repeated the same process as for the body - draw around them, then pin 2 layers together, outside your lines so that they didn't cut too close to the line. Then we running stitched the ears up, leaving them open at the bottom and turned them the right side out and ladder stitched them to the top of the head.
And voila!! We have two very happy children with their handmade cat and dog!
They were so pleased with themselves, especially Seren who did almost the entire thing on her own! (Although she did say afterwards that she thought her cat looked slightly like a pig!!)
I haven't done a pattern as half the fun was getting them to draw the animal they wanted.
The whole process took us about 3 hours from start to finish with a break for lunch, so if you were teaching a group it would probably take 2-3 sessions depending on what age the children were and how long each session runs for.
I loved doing this with my kids... I even managed to control my urge to get everything looking perfect... the whole idea is for them to be in control - gulp!
I've loved reading everyone else's posts for Sew a Softie Day and I hope you get some inspiration from them.
Here's the list again, so you can discover some other ideas: