This is Alan the meerkat. I have made him for Softies for Mirabel, which is a great cause where people (like you and me) make soft toys and send them off to Meet Me At Mike’s. They are then sorted and given to children who’s lives have been affected by parental drug abuse. You can read about Softies for Mirabel here and you can read more about the Mirabel Foundation here. If you do decide to make a softie for the Mirabel Foundation, here are the details of where to send it once it’s finished. This softie would also make a sweet Christmas gift for your own child, niece or nephew.
Alan is a funny little fellow who is quite easy to make. Because he is quite small you only need small pieces of fabric to make him – he is a great way to use up scraps from your other projects. You can download the pattern for free from my shop. You will need:
- A piece of fabric about 30 cm by 40 cm for the back, head, tail and limbs
- A piece of fabric about 16 cm by 13 cm for the belly
- A piece of fabric about 10 cm by 10 cm for the ears and tip of the tail
- A small scrap of light coloured felt for the muzzle
- A small scrap of dark coloured felt for the nose and eyes.
- Embroidery thread
- Toy stuffing
- A chopstick
- General sewing tools and supplies
Of course this is really just a guide and you can cut out your pieces from whatever combination of fabric you like. Once all your pieces are cut out you should have:
- 1 back
- 1 front of head
- 1 muzzle
- 1 belly
- 1 pair of felt eyes
- 1 felt nose
- 2 pairs of arms (4 pieces total)
- 2 pairs of legs (4 pieces total)
- 2 pairs of ears ( 4 pieces total)
- 1 pair of tail pieces
- 1 pair of tail tip pieces
Make your arms and legs
Pin each pair of arms and legs together with the rights sides of the fabric facing together. Sew around the curved edge, leaving the short edge open with 6 mm (1/4”) seam allowance.
Make the tail
Originally I was planning on using an olive green velveteen for the tip of the tail, but because it’s so thick it was nearly impossible to turn the tail through. I re-cut the tail pieces using linen for the tip which was much easier to work with, so I would recommend using a light weight fabric for the tail tip. Pin the tail tip pieces to the tail pieces and stitch them together. Press open the seam allowance with your fingers and top stitch on both sides of the seam.
Trim away a little bit of the seam allowance to reduce bulk and make it easier to turn through once it’s sewn together.
Pin the two tail pieces together with the right sides facing together and stitch around the tail, leaving the short edge open.
Clip the curves
Trim away some of the seam allowance around the arm, leg and tail pieces and then clip the curves by cutting out little triangles in the seam allowance. This makes it easier to turn the pieces through and will help the seams to sit nicely. Be very careful to not cut through the actual stitching of the seam.
Gently turn each of the arm, leg and tail pieces through to the right side. It can be helpful to use a chopstick to help poke them through.
Iron them to get rid of any wrinkles. Stuff the arms, legs and tail, using the chopstick to poke the stuffing in. For best results, poke in only one very small bit of stuffing at a time.
I like to embroider the claws at this point, before the arms and legs are sewn to the body, so I can hide my finishing off stitches up near the raw edges of the limbs. I’m not sure if this is the best method but it works for me. Do you have any tricks for hiding your knots and finishing stitches? You can put a pin across the top of the limb to stop the stuffing from popping out.
Iron the face, head and body pieces to get rid of any wrinkles. To attach the muzzle to the face, you can either just pin it on and then sew around the edges, or use fusible web to secure the muzzle to the head, then stitch around the edge. Do the same for the eyes and nose. I am using fusible web to hold everything in place as I find it makes stitching around the edges easier.
You can use whatever method you like to stitch around the felt pieces – machine, zig-zag, hand stitching, or my preferred method – buttonhole stitch. Use the photo as a guide for how to sew buttonhole stitch. Don’t forget to embroider a little mouth, too.
Place two of the ear pieces together with the right sides of fabric facing together and sew them together around the curved edge. Clip the seam allowance like you did for the limbs and turn it through to the right side. Repeat for the other ear.
Attaching the arms
Pin the arms to the head, as shown. Sew close to the edge.
Pin the top of the tummy edge to the lower edge of the head and sew with 6 mm (1/4”) seam allowance.
Press the seam allowance up towards the head and then top stitch close to the seam.
Attaching the ears
Pin the ears to the head, lining up the ears with the notches on the head. Stitch close to the edge.
Attaching the legs
Pin the legs between the notches at the base of the body, as shown. Stitch close to the edge.
Sewing up the body
With the legs and ears pointing inwards, pin the back of the body to the front with the right sides of the fabric facing together.
Sew around the edge with 6 mm (1/4”) seam allowance leaving a gap in the side to turn it through. Cut a couple of slits into the seam allowance around the neck area and then clip little triangles out of the seam allowance around the other curved areas.
Gently pull your meerkat through the gap you left open to turn him through to the right side.
Stuff your meerkat, again using a chopstick to poke it in the hard to reach places and only add a little tiny balls of stuffing at a time. Pin the opening closed and thread a hand sewing needle with a double thread so it’s nice and strong.
Sew the opening closed with a ladder stitch. When you come to the end of the seam, sew three tiny stitches on top of one another to secure your work before cutting the thread.
The grey lines indicate thread within the fold of the seam allowance.
Rethread your needle with a double thread to finish off the tail. Sew around the open edge of the tail close to the edge with a running stitch and then pull the thread tight to close the opening. Sew three tiny stitches to secure your work, but don’t cut the thread yet.
Use a couple of pins to secure the tail to the back of the meerkat. Sew the base of the tail in place by poking the needle through a tiny bit of the tail, then through the back of the softie, then a bit of the tail and so on, kind of like the ladder stitch you used to close the opening.
Now your meerkat is finished!
Check out other people’s creative spaces here.
© 2011, Angela. All rights reserved. On reposting any images contained herein you must provide link to original post. Please don’t repost entire posts without my permission.