Editor's Note: This series of posts became a book!
Stuffed Animals: From Concept to Construction was published by Lark Crafts in 2013.
Jointed soft toys are a lot of fun because they have moving parts. And moving parts imply play. I like the retro look of a simple jointed toy, too. And they are not difficult to construct so even beginning soft toy pattern makers can come up with something charming.
There is no undergusset or head gusset to fiddle with on this kind of toy. The body is fleshed out with one long 1/2" band of fabric that is sewn all the way around, joining the two side body pieces. And the legs are held on with button joints. The only special tool you'll need beyond those we've already discussed is a 4" doll needle.
For this project I decided to make a pig. I did some visual research and then I did some sketching. I focused on getting a solid profile of the pig's body, plus simplified outlines of its legs, ears and tail.
I transferred my sketch to freezer paper and cut out and labeled the pattern pieces. Here they are:
Next, I ironed the freezer paper to fabric and cut out the fabric 1/8" from the pattern pieces.
I stitched the ears together (with one lighter and one darker piece of felt) leaving an opening at the bottom for turning.I turned the ears right side out and inserted them into a slit cut into the side body pieces. Then I stitched over the slit, catching the ears in the seam.
I stitched all the way around each of the four legs. I decided not to leave an opening in the legs because they are small and an opening was bound to be rather obvious, even if I closed it up really neatly.
Instead, I chose to cut a small slit on the inside top of each leg. I used this slit for turning and stuffing and sewed it closed as neatly as a could, but in the end the slit side will be flush against the pig's body and will not show at all. This way the opening will be invisible.
Next, I cut a long strip of felt that was 1" wide. This strip will be a simple gusset. It will be sewn between the two body pieces, all the way around. To figure out about how long the strip needed to be, I used a measuring tape to measure around the body. I added a little extra, though, just to be on the safe side.
The opening for turning and stuffing is between the two ends of the strip (I trimmed off the extra length so that just a 1/8" seam allowance remained on both ends). This way the opening is on the underside of the animal and will not be obvious.
Here is the pig's body turned and stuffed.
Go back and forth a few times, tugging gently on the thread so that the legs are held firmly flush against the pig's body. Repeat for the front legs.
Draw an animal and give it a try. And if you have any ideas or questions or different ways of making a toy like this, please let us know in the comments. I am learning so much from you all! It is great to interact with a community of people who think making original soft toys is cool. Thank you, everyone!