Critter pillow slip cut-and-sew pattern tutorial

JAN 29, 2013

Back in the day, one might have used a hot water bottle covered in a washable knitted or sewn cover to keep warm on a cold night or to soothe tired muscles.  These days, little pillows filled with wheat, rice, or another grain that you can warm in a microwave are available for this purpose–and are presumably much less messy than a hot water bottle if they happen to spring a leak!

Stephen and I introduced our young daughters to the habit of snuggling with a warmed wheat critter pillow at bedtime this winter, and they’ve been absolutely thrilled with this extra bit of coziness at night.   So to spread the coziness around, we recently announced a critter pillow slip cut and sew pattern as a contest theme.  (The deadline for entry is Tuesday, February 19.)  Spoonflower staffer Kelsey designed her own tiny, snuggly critter and co-worker Becca stitched it up and wrote a how-to.  Read on below for the details of their adorable joint project!

[Note: While Kelsey’s design included both a kitten pillow insert and its mitten pillow slip on a fat quarter of Kona cotton, the Spoonflower contest requires that only the critter pillow slip fit onto a fat quarter.  The insert can be made from unprinted muslin or scrap fabric.] 

I know we have it easier than some during our mild North Carolina winters, but this past week has been legitimately cold around these parts of Durham! What better time then to create a simple—and more importantly, cozy!—sewing pattern in preparation for Spoonflower’s critter pillow slip cut and sew contest?   My oh-so talented co-worker Kelsey has engineered what might just be the cuddliest fat quarter of fabric I’ve seen come through Spoonflower yet, a cute little “Kitten in a Mitten” (similar here).  As a beginning sewer, I’m so excited to report that completing the project really is as easy as cutting, sewing, filling, and warming!

Just a few supplies to get started with this project:

  • Kitten in a Mitten cut and sew kit (We had ours printed on Kona cotton.)
  • Scissors
  • Rice or other dried grain for filling (You could use cracked corn, flax seed, beans—whatever’s in your pantry. You can also mix a soothing essential oil like lavender into your rice before filling as well.)
  • Needle and thread
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine

First, cut out the kitten and mitten shapes.

Just a hint–cut loosely around your shapes to liberate them from the fat quarter first and trimming them down more precisely will be much quicker. (Yes, this is coming from a sometimes slow-on-the-uptake crafter!)

One of the great things about this project is that you have lots of options here! If you’d like to line your mitten, use your mitten pieces as a template to cut flannel, fleece, or any contrasting fabric that you’ll put inside your mitten. You can also finish the opening of your mitten with pretty bias tape whether or not you choose to line it.
I went with the simplest option and pressed a 1/4-inch hem at the bottom of my mitten.

Now, with right sides together, pin the kitten and mitten pieces together.

You’ll need to leave the bottom of the mitten free and open. On the kitten, leave about 2 inches open at the bottom for turning right-side out and filling.

(Delightfully, this is the only measuring you have to do!)

Before stitching the mitten together, it’s a good idea to sew the hem you pressed up earlier.  I sewed my mitten hem with a simple zig-zag stitch.  Now, sew the pinned mitten pieces together with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitch lines to anchor your stitches. Repeat with the kitten pieces.

Once you’ve sewn your pieces together, turn them right-side out and give them a good pressing.

Now your mitten is finished.

Time to stuff your kitten!  Use a funnel or a piece of rolled up paper to fill your kitten with rice through the 2-inch opening.

Knead the rice toward the seams of the kitten to ensure you’ve got her filled evenly—and be sure to fill that little ear!

Once your kitten is sufficiently stuffed, hold the opening taut, and hand-sew the seam closed.  (You can also use pins to close up the opening while you stitch if you need to.)

And voila, your kitten is ready to be heated in the microwave, placed in her mitten, and cuddled! Heating times will depend on your microwave’s strength but to be safe, start with 1-2 minutes and work from there to achieve your desired temperature.

A simple and rewarding project!

Becca McCoy spends her free time exploring Durham with her dog Clyde, planning craft projects and sometimes finishing them. Learning to quilt is her favorite new skill of 2013, which is really helping manage her ever-growing fabric stash.




Kelsey is a designer working in Spoonflower’s Print Room. She is an art lover, maker, and all around doer of things.


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