I’ve always loved crafting, but was never one for sewing. Why? Because I suck at it. I sewed a pair of PJ pants in 7th grade Home Ec which are my claim to sewing fame, and I haven’t picked up a needle since. Until now.
The beauty of having a blog like this is that it forces me to try some things outside of my comfort zone, so I wanted to give sewing another go and see what I could do. I decided to start small and make a stuffed animal- specifically a whale, because they are cute and I like them.
I scoured Pinterest for an easy, hand-sewn whale tutorial. I don’t have a sewing machine or fancy pins or whatever else is probably necessary for making a nice stuffed creation. I spent a good 30 minutes going through tutorials, all of which required machines, fancy techniques, and something called basting that had nothing to do with turkey. So, as the old saying goes, when you can’t find a simple stuffed whale template, you make your own! (Let’s make this a mainstream saying).
So, first things first, I drew general whale shapes. I took the general shape from this tutorial, and I occasionally referenced it to figure out the best sequence in which to sew parts. Otherwise, I was totally winging it.
With my half-hearted stencil proudly in hand, I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics figuring I could quickly grab some fun fabric and leave. I was so wrong. I feel like I need to give you the explicit warning that you should never ever go to a fabric store expecting to just find something, with no ideas in mind. I spent two hours in the store. Yes, actually two hours. Time stopped in there, I began to lose sight of my mission, and became minorly delirious. Here’s an actual screenshot of how many fabrics I frantically sent my friend asking “THOUGHTS?!?”
Finally, when I was 20 minutes late for something actually important, I forced myself to make a decision. I decided to go with mixed prints in my favorite color combo- teal and coral. I also bought little black cardigan buttons for the whale’s eyes, and bought some standard stuffing. The stuffing was about $4, the buttons were $1, and all of the fabric (I bought waaaay too much for a whale thats only about 11 inches long) cost about $11.
I then traced my stencils onto the fabric and cut it out, making sure to leave about 1/4 inch extra fabric outside of the actual lines I drew. The beauty of drawing my own template is that I got to pick the size, so I made my whale small, so I could put him on display on my bookshelf.
Next, I began sewing the pieces together. First, I sewed the fins. They’re not stuffed, so that was just an easy sew and flip. You want to sew it inside out and then flip the fabric inside out so that seam is hidden- this holds true for pretty much the entire project. Once the fins were sew and flipped, I sewed the tail, and stuffed it just a bit. Once that was all done, I sewed the fins onto the upper part of the bottom piece of the whale (the orange polka dot part). I sewed them about midway between the whale’s nose and tail, about 1/4th of an inch down the fin.
Once the fins are attached, sew just the upper seam of the top piece, leaving the bottom un-sewn, because that part will have to be sewn to the bottom pieces, as seen below.
Turn your pieces like I did, and sew the bottom pieces to the top pieces, being sure that you sew in a way that covers the seam where the fins are sewn on. When you turn it over, it should look something like this.
At this point, you can sew your tail to the back end of the whale, and then sew the entire whale up, leaving about 2 inches open on the underside of the whale so that you can flip it right-side out and stuff it.
Here’s my whale flipped right-side out, unstuffed. At this point, cram as much stuffing as humanly possible into the whale. You want it to be nice and thick- no floppy whales here. Once you stuff it, sew up the hole through which you were stuffing it, and attach your eyes. Though I picked little black cardigan buttons for the eyes- you can do whatever you like! Felt, regular buttons, puffy paint- get creative! I made this whale totally me, and that’s why I like it so much.
Here’s the final product. I named him Whaley, and I’m pretty impressed with myself. Just goes to show, even if you have no idea what you’re doing, you can sometimes make something decent.
I have a bunch of leftover fabric so I may be making Whaley some friends in the future. Let me know if you try him out or know someone who wants a handmade stuffed whale.
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