Friday, February 6, 2009

Tactile Toy Heart Tutorial

Do you see this face? Look at it - the round cheeks, the slightly upturned little pixie nose, those eyes; brilliant and blue and larger than life. This is Avery, my nephew. Well, he's not really my biological nephew but in my heart he is since his Momma is like a sister to me. And speaking of hearts, I've just finished his Valentine's Day gift and I thought I'd share it with you in case you would want to make one for any sweet faced cherubs in your life.

It's constructed simply out of cotton fabric and fiberfill and makes a great soft toy for children of any age. Its shape makes it intriguing both to the eyes and to the touch and it's great for throwing, squeezing and even chewing on.

Here's what you'll need:

-Cotton fabric (I just used scraps but I'd estimate less than 1/2 yard total )
stuffing (polyester fiberfil or cotton or bamboo whatever you prefer)
-sewing machine
-basic sewing supplies (scissor, needle, threade etc.)
The first thing you'll need to do is make your template. Through trial and error I found that you really want a nice fat juicy heart. Mine ended up being 7 1/2 inches wide and 7 inches tall. No matter what size you make you'll want to make sure that your height and width measurements are almost equal. If you make it too tall and narrow then it ends up looking so pointed after it's stuffed that it resembles more of a weapon than a cuddly heart.
Once you have your heart template on paper place your fabric right sides together. Here I'm using 2 contrasting fabrics. Take your heart template and place it on the fabric and trace around it. Repeat for the 2nd heart.
You'll need to have 2 openings in the heart for turning and stuffing. I marked them on my heart with my marker so that I wouldn't get carried away and sew the whole thing shut (I've been known to do that).
Sew the 2 pieces together directly on the marked line. When sewing shapes I find that this method is the best for preserving the shape. It's a lot easier to follow the marked line with your needle than it is to cut out the shape and then try to line up the edge of it with your presser foot or a mark on your sewing machine. Shorten your stitch length so that the seams will be tight and very durable.
Once you've sewn the heart cut off your excess fabric. I used my pinking shears but if you don't have any then regular scissors will do but you might want to clip the seam allowance around the curved parts of the heart. I left a little extra seam allowance at my openings to make turning the edges in and sewing the openings closed a little easier.
Turn your hearts right side out and stack them on top of each other. You can experiment with placement if you like. Here I alternated the fabrics but you'll get a different look if you place the same fabric patterns together in the middle.
With a straight edge and a chalk marker(or whatever marking tool you prefer) mark a straight line from the center top of the heart down to the tip. Sew along this line making sure to reinforce the top and bottom with some backstitching.

Now it's time to stuff. In this picture you can see my favorite stuffing tool of all time. I'm not even sure what they're called but I got them in the sporting goods section of Wal-Mart. They're used for fishing - to pull the hooks out of the mouths of those poor bass and bluegills who were unlucky enough to find a hook in their afternoon snack. They also resemble those things that nurses use to clamp off IV tubes and stuff. Anyway, they're great for stuffing, especially small intricate shapes because they allow you to grab and hold small pieces of stuffing and place them where you want them. I could not live without them!
Stuff each section of the heart very firmly. Then just sew the openings closed by hand and you're done!
This would be sweet with some little bells placed inside or maybe a squeaker or two. If you're not into the heart you could do this with other shapes as well and I think they'd turn out just as cute - a circle/diamond shape etc. would be great. They'd probably make pretty good dog chew toys as well.
More pictures of the finished product below:

4 comments: said...

Aww that is so sweet and perfect for this time of year, I love it! I'll be linking.

casserole said...

What a fun project!! I blogged your tutorial at Craft Gossip Sewing Blog:

Laura said...

i love this. Simple to make,but really interesting looking!

michellejohnnie said...

Great idea! I'm linking!