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Crafting With Kids: Adorable Stuffed Creatures

By Melissa Summers

Last week, as I mentioned, was midwinter break. The school break with no purpose (since spring break is just three weeks away) except to remind me that I need to start looking into summer day camps for my kids.

Since we were home I picked up the latest Good Things For Kids from Martha Stewart. It’s always full of very inspiring projects and I’ll be honest, there have been many times we buy the magazine, dog-ear a bunch of pages as a family and then somehow we never actually make the projects we’ve marked.

By Thursday afternoon, the kids were fighting about things like, “She’s thinking something mean about me.” “But he thought something mean about me first!” The perfect time to start a constructive project. You know, instead of starting the poke-my-eyeball-out-with-a-knitting-needle-project.

We decided to make our own stuffed animals using various fabric scraps. Of course, when we moved I got rid of all the fabric scraps I’d been storing in the basement for the last five years. I told myself the fabric scraps reminded me of the fact that I don’t make time for more creative outlets and since they made me feel bad it was time to let them go. This, according to my husband, is proof he should never, ever get rid of anything which belongs to him. Including the floppy discs from his years in design school….20+ years ago.

Our first step was to run to the fabric store, browsing the remnant bins, buying buttons, stuffing and felt. Total cost was under $10. Of course at the fabric store the kids began fighting as we checked out. (“He kicked me!” “She kicked me!” Pretty soon they were both kicking and I wanted to join in quite frankly.)

I tried to convince the kids this sketch & sew project would be loads of fun, simply drawing on canvas with fabric markers, sewing and stuffing to simple shapes together.

They weren’t buying it and wanted to make these cute softies made from their own drawings. I thought these were so adorable I decided to indulge them even though I knew the construction was quite likely over my sewing skill level.

First they drew their softies on paper. Max’s was a three headed dragon with scales and hopefully something like flames coming from its mouth.
Maddie came up with a bear with a large head and much smaller body. This seemed easy enough, though I wished we could stick with simple squares or rectangles.
Next I cut out the shapes and used my very basic sewing machine to sew up each part (ears, arms, legs, bodies, head(s)). You could hand sew all this if you don’t have a machine and if your kid is kind to you and chooses a simpler shape, it will take no time at all. The kids stuffed their shapes while I sewed the seams.
They even ((((GASP)))) helped each other.
In the end Max’s three-headed dragon was made into a two headed dragon which was inexplicably transformed into a fish of some sort. This is his final product.
Maddie’s is very ‘rustic’, but it’s cute. I like to think they’re similar enough to their drawings and that my very remedial sewing skills add to the charm.
Keep in mind I’m not an accomplished crafter and my sewing experience is limited to two jumpers I made (with a lot of help from my mother) for my daughter seven years ago. Considering all that, this project was pretty fun for the kids and me. Our final products weren’t as cute as the ones in the magazine but they were reasonably similar with not an overwhelming amount of steps or skills.

It’s nice that the charm of these softies is that they’re primitive like your kids drawings. This seemed to make my daughter more understanding of her bear’s imperfections. My son, at nearly seven, was far less understanding. When he complained about his dragon not looking as he’d imagined I said, “Well, it’s not like a toy you buy at the store. I can’t sew like that.” He replied, “Can’t you just get a machine? Or go to China.”

Clever boy. In the end he didn’t like his softie as a dragon and called it a fish which is another thing I liked about this project, the imagination involved. We burned over two hours of daylight doing it and it’s something I can see us trying again, encouraging the kids to maybe simplify their designs.

I’ll likely be doing it again…in three weeks when Spring Break crashes on my head.

About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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