project // a critter to stitch & love
Today's project tutorial is brought to you by my little sister's birthday, and a random web search. Since that's a little confusing, let me explain.
We got into a discussion at my house about ermine. That's the kind of fur you often see around king's robes. It's also an animal in the weasel family, and if you do a Google image search, you'll see some photos that are the cutest thing you've ever seen, and some where the ermine looks like it wants to eat your face. I highly recommend taking a look.
Anyway, my little sister saw the photos and insisted that I make her a super cute stuffed ermine for her birthday. I couldn't resist, and as I was making it, I realized that the same pattern could look a lot like other animals too. An otter. A meerkat. A cat. And if you use your imagination, probably a lot more things too. Just a few small adjustments of color, size, and placement make the difference!
So once her ermine was done, I made my own otter, and now you can too! I'll admit, the ermine (which really does look like a cat, but I promise you, also looks like an ermine) is cuter. But I find that these things each have their own personalities, and I just have to see what shows up.
Ready to make a critter to stitch & love? Here's what you need:
Fleece - 1/3 yard
Felt - scraps
Optional: Safety eyes
You'll also need:
Needle and thread
Pencil or chopstick for turning pieces.
A Critter to Stitch & Love Template PDF
Following the stretch arrows, cut 2 bodies, 2 tails, 4 arms, and 4 ears from fleece. Be sure that you're cutting two layers, so you have a right- and wrong-facing piece. Cut a nose and two eyes from felt. (Skip the eyes if you'll be using safety eyes.)
IMPORTANT: One of the ways to adapt your animal friend is to alter the size of the tail, arms, and ears. For example, I added a generous seam allowance to the ermine's ears. You can also rotate the pattern piece for the body so the stretch goes the other way, that will give you a shorter, plumper animal.
Stitch the nose and eyes in place with three strands of matching embroidery floss. Stitch the mouth with six strands of embroidery floss and backstitch. For the highlight on the eyes, add a white french knot.
Otters have differently shaped noses, so I used the nose upside down. Or maybe it's right side up? The ermine has the nose the other way, and she also has large safety eyes.
Place the tail, arm, and ear pieces right sides together and pin them well. Note that on the tail, I've placed a pin across the side, because that's a good place to leave it open for turning. We'll come back to that later.
Sew around the arms and ears, leaving the straight edge open for turning. Turn the pieces right side out and add some stuffing to the arms. Leave the ears without stuffing.
Place the arms and ears on the right side of the critter body with the raw edges facing out. You can make the arms high or low, and the ears can be up on top, or off to the sides more. Just make sure that you have the edges overlapping the body piece enough so that they will get caught in the seam.
Lay the second body piece on top, right sides facing, and pin, pin, pin.
Sew around the outside, leaving an opening for turning. Before you turn it right side out, make sure that all of the seams are secure and that the ears and arms are caught in them. Also, clip those corners between the legs.
Stuff the critter really well. Go on, add a bit more stuffing. See how the stretch of the fleece made this get a lot taller than before? Now, stitch the opening closed with ladder stitch.
Let's go back to that tail. Sew around the sides, leaving an opening in the middle. Trim the corners at the top, then turn it right side out. Add a bit of stuffing in the lower part, then stitch it closed with ladder stitch.
Stitch the tail onto the back of the body with some ladder stitch.
I attached the top inch of the tail, and gave it a tug to make sure it's secure.
Give your new friend a hug, because it's all finished! And is it just me or does this otter look like he's ready for some disco fever?
What kind of critter will you stitch & love?