If you’re looking for ways to cut down on buying stuff and move to making your own, then sewing toys is a great option – it’s sustainable as you can use supplies from your sewing stash and it allows you to easily personalise the toys you make with a child’s favourite colours.
Top tips for sewing toys
The key to giving a handmade toy personality and a cute expression often relies on internal stitches within the head that manipulate the features into position, which are made by hand after the toy is assembled. These face-shaping stitches are usually worked between the eyes to bring them inwards. They can also be worked between the corners of the mouth up to the eye above to pull the mouth into more of a smile and give the cheek more definition. Face-shaping stitches really can transform the finished look of the toy.
So much of a toy’s appeal depends on its eyes, so more often than not there will be internal shaping between them. The two main options for toy eyes are plastic safety eyes or embroidered eyes, and, whichever option you prefer, face-shaping stitches can be used to perfect their position.
Plastic safety eyes
Plastic safety eyes are available in various sizes, give a good finish and are easy to use. They must be fitted following manufacturer’s instructions. With plastic eyes, it is important to mark on the fabric pattern pieces the position of the eyes prior to sewing as it is difficult to position them both correctly once the toy is sewn together.
These are not limited by size, style and availability like plastic eyes and can be stitched to the exact requirements. They are the safest option for a toy intended for children under the age of three. Embroidered eyes can be made by backstitching the outline of the eye and then filling it in with satin stitches or by using an embroidered knot such as a French knot or a colonial knot. Stranded cotton is ideal for stitching eyes as you can vary the number of strands and it lies flat on the fabric.
Working the shaping stitches
If enough thread is left over after embroidering the eyes and it hasn’t been cut off, then the same thread can be used for the internal shaping stitches. If you’ve used plastic eyes then the stitches can be made using thread that coordinates with the fabric around the eye.
6 Free Toy Sewing Patterns to Try
Try these easy toy sewing patterns to test your skills…
Toy bunny sewing pattern
Hop to it and sew sweet bunnies with our free rabbit sewing pattern by Jo Carter and Simply Sewing magazine.
Make your own toy robots
Curious kids will love these softie robot toys – find out how to make them here in our how to make toy robots tutorial.
Make a sweet baby comforter
Sew a few small pieces of soft fabric into this soft baby snuggly that tiny tots will cuddle up to for months and months. How to make a baby comforter.
DIY penguin softies
We love these wintry makes – whip up your own penguin toys with our DIY penguin softie toy pattern.
How to make a giraffe rattle toy
These scrap-busting giraffe softies are the perfect way to use up odds and ends of fabric from previous projects that you can’t bear to throw away. How to make giraffe rattles.
How to make unicorn toys
Make magical softies with Jo Carter’s free unicorn sewing pattern.