Friday, May 6, 2011

At Last...The Pillow Animal Tutorial

Awhile ago I showed you all the pillow animals I made for my kids and I promised a tutorial on how to make them. I finally got around to writing a tutorial on how to make them. I hope that my directions make sense, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. I originally made a ladybug, a turtle and a penguin, for this tutorial I made a dog. The steps on constructing each animal are the same, the only thing that will differ is what color fabric you use and the different decorations that make up each animal.

First off you are going to make the cover for the pillow, to do this lay your pillow out on your main color of fabric, in this case tan, (this will vary depending on the animal) and cut out a rectangle that is slightly bigger than the pillow to allow for seam allowances. I used a standard size pillow for a twin bed so my rectangle measured 27 x 20 1/2, this will be the top of your animal. Next cut another rectangle that is slightly longer mine measured 30 x 20 1/2, this will be the underside of the animal and is slightly larger because we are going to cut this in half so that we have an opening in which to insert our pillow or remove or pillow to allow for washing.

As I said, you are going to cut the larger rectangle in half so that you now have two rectangles that measure 15 x 20 1/2. Then you will hem one 20 1/2 inch side on each of the small rectangles about 1/2 an inch. Then put these aside for later.

Next we will work on adding details to the top of the animal, the dog is fairly simple, I added a contrasting brown to the four corners to act as the feet and added a spot to the back which will eventually have a tail. To make the feet, I cut out 2 squares of brown that were an appropriate size for the corners of my rectangle and then folded these diagonally and cut across thus making 4 triangles for the feet. For the spot near the back, I just free formed a spot that I thought fit the size of the pillow, just make a spot you like.

You then are going to pin the feet to the four corners of you animal top and your spot near the back of the animal, approximately where a tail would be. Then you are going to sew these onto the animal top, I did more of an applique stitch to attach my pieces using a zig zag stitch with both the stitch length and width being very small (I think on my machine the width is set to 2 and the length at 1), if you are using fleece like I did, you could just use a straight stitch also since fleece doesn't fray. When attaching the feet I also only stitched along the diagonal part of the triangle, there is no need to stitch the other sides of the triangle because when we finish the pillow cover, they will be captured with the seam thus locking them in place.  For other animals the details may be more but may be less depending on the animal and your preference on how you want the animal to look, the penguin for instance is a solid black, no other detail really. The ladybug I added some black dots and the turtle which was the most labor intensive had a hexagon and triangle pattern on the back.

Once you have your details sewn to the top of the animal, we need to make the straps that will keep the animal folded when not being used as a pillow. For the straps, you need to cut out two rectangles that measure 3 1/2 x 4 1/2 of the main color of your animal, for this dog it is tan, but may differ depending on the animal you are creating. Fold and pin each of your rectangles in half so that you now have 2 rectangles that measure 1 3/4 x 4 1/2 and sew around two of your sides leaving one of the 1 3/4 sides of the rectangle open for turning.

With your straps done, we are going to assemble the pillow cover for you animal. Take your animal top (the one with details) and lay it on your work surface right side up. Next take your straps you just made and place them in the middle each of the 20 1/2 inch sides so that the raw edge of the straps meets the raw edge of the pillow top. Then lay your two smaller rectangles right side facing down on top of the pillow top and straps, overlapping the finished so that the unfinished edges are equal. Then using a straight stitch, sew around all four sides of the pillow cover. Then clip the corners making sure not to cut the seam, this will make for nice square corners. Turn your cover so that the right sides are now facing out and admire your work.

zig zag stitch with a small length and width setting and free formed the mouth, you could also make the mouth with some chalk or something if you want more of a guide on where to stitch.

Once all of your facial details are in sewn in place take your other circle and cut it in half, then pin these halves to your face, right sides together and sew around the entire circle. You could skip the cutting of the circle in half and just sew the two circles together if you wanted but I prefer to cut them in half because it makes it easier to stuff and allows me more flexibility to shape the face rather than having a perfect circle. Then turn your head right side out and stuff it really tightly with some fiberfill. When it is really firm, close up the back of the head with a whip stitch using a needle and thread.

For the dog, we now need to make the ears and tail. Again I just free formed what I thought looked like ears, using an elongated egg shape and cut out two, these egg shapes probably measured 3 x 4 (4 inches being the widest part of the oval). I then cut off the smaller edge of the egg shape and folded it in half, right sides together and sewed around the oval, leaving the top straight edge open so that I could turn right sides out. Then you need to fold the raw edges at the top, down so that they sit inside of the ear. At this point you can pin them to the head where ever you think they look good, then whip stitch them into place using a need and thread.

For the tail I cut out tow rectangular shapes with a curve at the end, or maybe it could be described as a half of a "C". Just as you did with the ears, you are going to pin right sides together and sew around the edges leaving and edge open for turning. When right sides are turned stuff the tail with a little fiberfill and then sew the opening closed using a needle and thread.

We are almost done, yeah!! Now we need to attach the head and tail to the pillow cover or body. I have found that the best way to do this is to hand stitch them into place. Essentially what I do place the head about and inch or two above the seam created when sewing the top and bottom of the pillow cover together and then whip stitch it into place using a very small stitch so that you don't see it. Making sure to stitch from one side of the head to the other. this will also help to cover that seam along the back of the head. If you find that your head is to heavy and it is hanging down rather than looking out, you can tack the head back a little higher onto the pillow cover. For the tail, you will do the same thing, hand stitch it into place using a small whip stitch.

Lastly we need to attach Velcro to our straps, this will hold the animal in place when not being used as a pillow. This is pretty straight forward, you are going to cut a piece of Velcro slightly shorter than your straps and sew then onto your straps. The only tricky part is you want to place one side of your Velcro on the underside of one of your straps and take the other side of your Velcro and place it on the topside of your other strap, so that when you fold your pillow in half, the two sides of Velcro will meet. Get it? Got it? Good!!

Yeah you are done, insert your pillow form into your pillow cover and you have created your very own pillow animal. Again if you have any questions, please ask, I would be happy to help. If you see anything missing from this tute, let me know, I wrote it very late at night so you now how that goes. If you make one, send me a pick or a link, I would love to see it.


  1. great job! grandma got my kids pillowpets for their birthdays - they LOVE them!

  2. This is adorable! What a cute idea!

  3. Great tutorial and very cute pillow dog!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a great week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  4. Aww! I need to try this! I hope you'll stop over and link up on Momspiration Monday:

  5. Great job! My youngest loves her pillow pet so much but it is on its last leg so I may have to try my hand at making one!

  6. You were featured at Today's Top 20! Hooray!!


  7. Thank you! Love this - and so will my kids! Will definitely give it a go!

  8. This is a great tutorial! This would make a great gift! Thanks for sharing! I featured this on my friday favorites!

  9. Hi Emily, great tutorial thanks. Approximately how much fabric should I get for the dog pillow?
    Thank you, Maria