My First Softie: What “Not” To Do

Initially, I wasn’t going to blog about making my first softie but as I was working on my last one, I decided others who haven’t ever made one before could learn from my mistakes and research. I hope it helps!

I know a lot of middle school Home Ec classes assign softie projects to students who are learning how to sew. I think the common pattern is a letter of the alphabet, something that has meaning to them and is customizable like this. Since, I taught high school Home Ec, I never had this experience. We always started with pajama pants or shorts.

I am traveling home to Arkansas tomorrow and wanted something to give to my great niece and nephews. I found this darling bunny softie/pillow tutorial over on Andrea’s Notebook that I thought would be perfect for them.

So, here goes my tips, mistakes, successes and failures of making my first softie/pillow.

  1. The tutorial I used suggests using freezer paper to make a pattern and just use it over and over again by pressing it onto the fabric. This was a big time saver and you can find instructions here for more details about that process.
  2. During the couple of days it took for me to work on these bunnies (4 total), I did some more research to see if there were some more tips out there.

I came across this blogger who does softies all the time and she suggests to leave the freezer paper on the fabric while you sew(trace using thread) around the pattern. I did this for the 4th one and it did go a little smoother around curves and took a little less time.

I then cut out the pattern about 1/4 inch away from the stitches using pinking shears. This also helped to keep my edges looking nice since I wasn’t handling the pinked fabric so much.

  1. Sewing tight curves! Ugh, I had not done this in a while so I watched this video (after I ripped out the first bunny’s stitches) on the best way to sew tight curves. The other thing I did was to slow the speed down A LOT on my sewing machine. It has a setting (basically a governor for the foot pedal) for this type of sewing.

I also used the same gloves I use while free motion quilting. They helped my hands and fingers from sliding around on the fabric while turning. You can buy quilting gloves but I just happened to have a pair of knit gloves with a rubbery substance painted on them. (Thanks DH!)

quilting gloves.jpg

4.Stuffing! This is the slow part. (Great time to clear the DVR!) The stuffing I used is called “buffalo snow” bought on clearance after Christmas at Big Lots. It’s 100% polyester (just like fiberfill)  and it’s flame retardant.

Stuffing Snow.jpg

I pulled small tufts at a time (about the size of my palm) and then pulled the fibers apart with both hands to eliminate lumps.

I started with the parts that were farthest from the opening I left for filling.  Since I left my opening in his chest area, the ears and tail were the farthest. These are small areas so I used about 1/4 of what I had in my hand. I used my fingers at first but quickly realized I needed some type of tool to assist.

I remembered reading here that she used a paintbrush for stuffing small parts and that works pretty well. I used the handle end to push the stuffing in the small areas and the brush helps in grabbing the stuffing and spreading it to get rid of bumps.

Stuffing Paint Brush Tool

Make sure you take your time and use small tufts and keep stuffing until you have no wrinkles in the fabric and it is firm to the touch. Pay close attention to areas that might tend to “flop” around such as the neck and appendages. Also, turn the project over periodically while stuffing to make sure both sides are smooth and firm with no gaps or lumps.

5. Finishing it off. My softie is sewn with wrong sides together. (no turning involved) I used a zipper foot with the needle in the far left position to close the opening. Sewing opening zipper foot.jpg

If you have a project that is turned, you will need to close by hand, probably using a ladder stitch.Check out this video for ladder stitch instructions. I also added a bow around the neck. I have decided to tack this down because I am giving my softies to young children.

Pink gingham bunny.jpg

I hope you decide to tackle a softie. They are quite fun and I hope the sharing of my experience makes yours even better!

bunnies in wood bowl.jpg

Oh, before I leave. Here is a pic of the travel rolls all packaged up and ready to be given as late late Christmas presents.

travel roll gift bags.jpg

The gift bags are made with wrapping paper and baker’s twine. You can find that tutorial here and my post here about the DIY Travel Rolls.

Until next time. . . my experience with foam and glue. Yeeesh! 🙂 Make sure you check it out – A freebie will be included!



2 thoughts on “My First Softie: What “Not” To Do

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