Monday, January 14, 2013

I made this up?

     There are times where I am still shocked when I come up with an idea and work out how to make it happen all on my own.  No blog inspiration.  No Pinterest picture to copy.  Just an idea in my head that becomes something I love.  That happened with this adorable little owl I made for my 6 month old niece, Addison, for Christmas.

     Unlike the nephews, Addison is still too little for the dress up, imaginative costume presents I made for them, but I wanted to make something special for her.  I knew I wanted it to be something soft and cuddly, and the ability to soak up drool while being sucked on probably wouldn't hurt either.  Luckily, with all the bibs I make, I always have terry cloth around here, and owls are always so cute.  Stroke of genius - my plushie teething owl was invented!  And lucky for you, its time for another tutorial!

Plushy Teething Owl Tutorial:

     1.  The first step in making this happen was picking out the fabrics to use for the wings, tail, eyes and feet.  This is the perfect project for looking through all those scraps you save just knowing they will come in many some day.  I chose two flannel fabrics because of how soft and fuzzy they are, but any fabric you love and have tiny pieces of will work.  If you have fleece or felt you want to use, you won't have to finish the edges and this owl will be even easier to make for the drooly little baby you love!

     2. The next, and most important step was making my pattern.  

To start working on my pattern, I just sketched out a simple little own on some lined binder paper.  I like using the lines, because it helps me to work out size ratios and making things more symmetrical.  Drawing is really not my most developed skill.  I am much better at embroidery and sewing, but without drawing the pattern first, there is no way that most of my projects would work out, so I use all the tools at my disposal to do my best with the sketches.  

If you want to make your own pattern for an owl or any other creature you are into right now, so remember that the simpler the shapes, the easier it will be to make into something squishy and cuddle-able.  The pieces have to be cut out, sewn and turned inside out, all out of thick terry cloth.  Small details will end up getting lost.  You just want the big picture/ main idea of the animal here.  

I drew the owl outline, then started adding the details on.  I drew the tail on the same original pattern piece as the face and wings to work out size and placement.  After sketching all the important body parts and deciding I was happy with their size and shape, I traced them all with a thick, black pen.  

After drawing the whole owl, I put another piece of paper on top, and traced the details pieces onto another piece of paper, again with the thick black pen.  

After doing that, I ended up with two pattern pieces that looked like this:
One of the whole owl, and one of just the pieces.
     3. Cut out all of the pattern pieces.

     4. Use the main pattern piece to trace your owl friend onto the terry cloth.  Cut the fabric bigger than what you traced.  The edges do not have to be perfect, you will cut them down and fix them after sewing, right now you are just cutting so that you have an easier piece to work with and do not have to drag a giant piece of terry cloth around from wherever you are cutting to your sewing machine. 
     5. Use the detail pattern pieces and your detail fabric to cut out the adorable accent body parts.  Again, trace the pattern and cut the fabric bigger than the area you traced.                      

***If you are using fleece or felt, cut it to the exact size of your detail pattern pieces because you will get to skip the edge finishing steps here.***                                                             

     6. Lay the detail pieces out on top of the terry cloth pieces and start getting excited about how cute it is going to be.  
     7.  Finish the detail piece edges.

This is probably the hardest step of this project, which is really saying something about the project, because this step is not that hard.  

First, cut some notches from the edge of where you cut to the blue line where you traced.  Do this especially around the curved edges.  The more notches you cut, the smoother your curve will be.

Next, fold the edges down along the blue traced line and use your iron to press  them in place. 

If you notice on this picture, you can still see some of the blue line I traced.
You can be more particular and careful and try to make sure this doesn't happen, but really,
 the lines will come out on the wash, so as long as you are happy with the shape of the
pieces, don't worry about the blue lines.  

8.  Using a needle and whatever color embroidery thread you like, simply stitch around the edges of the pieces onto the terry cloth.  Don't forget to put the tail on the back piece and the eyes and wings on the front piece!  Also, leave some room around the edge of the pieces, or else when you sew the whole thing together, these details you just worked so hard on will disappear into your seams.  

Big pregnant bellies make a really good shelf for your supplies!
      9. Choose a different color of thread and embroider the beak onto the terry cloth below the eyes.

     10.  As carefully as you can, line up the blue outlines on the two owl terry cloth pieces, right sides together.  Sew The pieces together along the blue line - BUT DO NOT sew along the bottom edge where the feet will go.  If you can't see the line through the terry cloth, go ahead and retrace the big piece onto the back of the fabric, it will make the sewing easier and less frustrating and will only take you a few seconds to do.  

Cut the extra fabric away around the line you just sewed.  

Turn the piece right side out.

Again, take a second to get excited about how cute it is going to be.  

     11.  Make the feet!

Trace the foot pattern onto the foot fabric.  You will need two pieces of this fabric for each foot, so I recommend doubling the fabric, then you only have to cut once.  Remember!  Cut bigger than you trace!

With the right sides together, sew the two sides and the bottom edge.  I tried to make adorable little toes here, but the details were so small, it did not end up working out.  Some frustrated ripping out and retrying 3 times later, I decided I liked them better without toes!

Turn them right side out.  

     11.  Stuff the owl body with cotton or polyester stuffing, whichever you have around or like to use.  More stuffer = a stiffer toy, less stuffing = a more flopsy toy.  Totally up to what you want.  Put some in, squish it and see how it feels, add more, take some out, make it just the way you want!

     12.  Fold in and press the open terry cloth edges along the bottom.

     13.  Stick the feet in between the pressed edges, pin in place.  

     14. Machine or hand sew the bottom edge together.  

     15. Either machine wash or rinse in the sink to get out the water soluble blue pen you used for all that tracing.  Machine dry or hang to dry (the stuffing will make this take awhile, but it is doable if you don't want to run your dryer just for one little stuffed animal and for some miraculous reason you have no other clothes to wash).  

     16. Ta Da!  You are done!  Give it to that teething baby you love to snuggle, squish, gnaw on and drool all over!

     I am having so much fun writing these tutorials on all the fun projects I made for Christmas.  A few more are in the works in the next few days.  In the meantime, working on lots of new fun projects every day to get ready for this little girl and two more little girls coming soon after: curtains, blankets, mittens, a diaper bag for me, projects for friends: valentines shirts and wedding bunting, and projects for me before I run out of time: The wedding napkin quilt!  

     We will see how they all go (especially that last one) and what I will really have time for.  So far still feeling great with this big old belly.  Just giving myself an excuse to be lazier than I probably need to be, and eating lots of snacks.  

     I will be spending the afternoon today simplifying the items for sale in my Etsy shop.  It was a hard decision.  I love and am proud of all the items I have for sale.  I have worked hard to get everything set up the way it is, and all of the made to order, customizable options I have for my customers. I love doing these custom orders, and the excitement that comes with a new order knowing I have to get to work to make something someone out there will love.  I decided though, that I really don't want orders coming in that I can't get done in a few days if this little girl comes early.  I do not want to be disappointing my customers and leaving people waiting.  So after today, I will only have items for sale that I actually have made, done, ready to go out the door.  When I actually go into labor, the whole shop will go on vacation for at least a few days, so if you check the shop and it is closed, you will know where we are!  

     I do not want to lose the momentum I have built up with my shop (and this blog).  Hopefully it will be back up and running quickly.  Thank you to everyone out there who has been supporting me in this crazy new life plan.  Please keep checking back and spreading the word!  


  1. So cute!

    I tried to make an owl for my nephew and it ended up being so crazy looking I added on weird feet and hands and pretended I was making a monster the whole time....

    1. Haha! Way to improvise! I know the feeling! I would love to see the monster!