DIY Sensory Stuffed Animal

Since I’d made my son a stuffed animal before Christmas (Stuffed Taggie Animals), I decided I should make a little something for my daughter too.  I had purchased some fabric for bumper pads for her room.  My mother-in-law graciously made the bumper pads and then she also surprised us with a gorgeous quilt for Christmas, using some of the same fabric.  I decided to use the leftovers of those fabrics to make a stuffed sensory elephant.

I ordered the florals from Hawthorne Threads - LOVE their selections!

I ordered the florals from Hawthorne Threads – LOVE their selections!

I free-handed my design on cardboard and cut out the shapes I’d need.

I free-handed the elephant shape and cut a diagonal where the ears would go.

I free-handed the elephant shape and cut a diagonal where the ears would go.

 

This is how it will look when put together.

This is how it will look when put together.

I then cut my fabric pieces using these stencils.

I decided to make the ears two colours - darker on the back, lighter on the front.

I decided to make the ears two colours – darker on the back, lighter on the front.

The first step was to sew the ears.  I pinned them wrong sides together (which was pretty easy since this fabric didn’t really have a “good” side), stitch along the rounded part, leaving the straight edge open.

The straight edge will be sewn onto the body pieces.

The straight edge will be sewn onto the body pieces.

Here comes the “sensory” part of this project.  I stuffed this ears with “crinkly” (don’t think that’s a real word) material.  I’d Googled this before-hand (because it’s important to do your research on these things! hehe), and it seems the most common material is good old celophane.  I experimented with various types of celophane from different packaging we had around the house (reuse, recycle!), and I found one that was the noisiest when between the fabric.

Finding the right celophane was just a matter of trial and error.

Finding the right celophane was just a matter of trial and error.

Next, I stuffed the ears with the celophane.  Enough to be crinkly but not so much that the ears were bulky.  Then came type to sew the ears onto the body pieces.  I pinned the ears along the straight edges between the head and body piece for each side of the elephant, right sides in.  Then it was a simple stitch along the straight edge. I didn’t bother backstitching since the edges were going to be sewn to the other side.  Repeat for the other side.

Make sure the celophane stays in the ear piece!

Make sure the celophane stays in the ear piece!

Here’s what it looks like once the ears are sewn on:

Already starting to look cute!

Already starting to look cute!

Next, I pinned the two sides, wrong sides together (so ears IN!).  I added a tail using small binding by pinning it in place, long side in.  I also decided at the last minute to add a loop of binding at the top for grabbing and for plastic rings (to hang off the car seat).  Again, pin the loop between the pieces, loop IN the body.  Then I stitched around, leaving an opening approximately 2 inches wide at the back to turn inside out and stuff.  Note that the seam allowance here is very small, maybe 1/8-1/4 of an inch, so some of the turns were tricky, I just had to go slowly and breathe!

Once stitched, still inside out.  Note the placement of the white binding for the tail and loop.

Once stitched, still inside out. Note the placement of the white binding for the tail and loop.

Here’s what it looks like once turned right side out:

Looks a little wrinkled now but a little stuffing will fix that right up!

Looks a little wrinkled now but a little stuffing will fix that right up!

Time to stuff! Use LOTS of stuffing – elephants are BIG! 🙂  I used polyester, hypoallergenic and washable batting. I used the eraser end of a pencil to get the batting all the way into the trunk. Then I hand-stitched the opening – I’m slowly getting better at that part.

Here’s the final product!

A huggable friend!

A huggable friend!

Here's that loop I was talking about - great for hanging off the car seat or play mat.  Also adds to the "sensory" part of this toy.

Here’s that loop I was talking about – great for hanging off the car seat or play mat. Also adds to the “sensory” part of this toy.

The crinkly ears are a big hit! The little one has already taken a liking to this little fella.

The crinkly ears are a big hit! The little one has already taken a liking to this little fella.

 

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