Creative articles about sewing

DIY stuffed toys for gifting

This Christmas season I took part in a wonderful initiative called the Kind Craft Club started by Andie Reeves of the Cape Town Craft Club.

The goal of the Kind Craft Club is to bring together the local community of crafters and give back with our respective skills. For the holiday season the club hosts a Toy Drive for chosen Children’s Homes. These are institutions that “provide a nurturing, safe and loving environment for vulnerable children who are no longer able to live with their families.”

The children are asked to name their favourite animal and the crafters knit, crochet or sew a bespoke animal for a specific child ensuring they receive a special gift for Christmas.


I offered to make a dog and a tiger and had fun designing and creating them.

The patterns were self-drafted but I’ve compiled a list of some very sweet patterns that you can use: Free Plush Toy Patterns


I used felt for my toys but a variety of fabrics such as fleece, cotton or wool would be great too.

For the stuffing I used a soft, fluffy type that creates an even stuff and a nice weight.


I decided to play around with printing on the fabric and make use of my sublimation printer. With my CAD software, I created the pattern shapes and animal designs.


Sublimation printing requires special ink and paper. I have a regular inkjet printer that has been converted for sublimation printing by using the special ink. The design is printed like one would print a regular document except the image must be reversed/mirrored.

When the ink is heated, it turns into a gas and is permanently transferred to the fabric it is placed on. Sublimation ink bonds best to polyester fibres.

This is what my prints looked like. I only had A4 paper so I needed to tape the prints together using a tape that won’t melt under high heat. Then I trimmed the paper closer to the image so that it would be easier to work out placement later on.

The fabric is placed in my heat press which is heated to 180’C and the print is laid face down on the fabric.

I then close the heat press and leave it for 90 seconds. It is important that the fabric can withstand high temperatures but to be safe, I put a piece of baking paper on top to prevent the heat plate directly touching the fabric.

Once the time is up, I remove the fabric and let it cool before cutting out my designs.


The felt fabric was super easy to sew with my BERNINA 735. I used a good weight felt that firmed up more in the heat press which is perfect as I can’t have the toy to pull apart at the seams.

Another positive about felt is that the edges don’t fray so I could just edge-stitch the faces of the animals in place.

I zigzag stitched the tails to the back before joining the front and back with a regular straight stitch.

Once the toys were stuffed, I hand stitched the openings closed.

I also hand stitched the bandanas in place as the toys don’t have much of a neck.

If you belong to a craft community, perhaps you could create a similar initiative and give back with your crafts.

Now I just need to take these toys to the drop off place where they will be packaged and delivered along with all the others to the respective children.

I would love to see what you make, please feel free to share with me!


Free sewing instructions: Stuffed toy

Difficulty level: Beginner
Time to Complete: Weekend
Used Material: Felt, stuffing
Used Products:
Reverse Pattern Foot #1
Reverse Pattern Foot #1

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