2 Simple Sewing Projects for Your Handmade Dolls

AUG 3, 2019 updated May 14, 2021
Featured designs: Symmetrical Flower and Balmy Eucalyptus

For Melissa Lowry, a Spoonflower maker and designer, turning the little critters that lived in her sketchbook into handmade-felted animals seemed like the obvious answer to fulfill her creative drive. Inspired by her twin boys, the plush toys blend Melissa’s artful craftsmanship and a fresh sense of style. If you’ve wanted to learn how to make your own plushies, Melissa’s new book, Handmade Animal Dolls, is the book for you! Featuring step-by-step tutorials to make huggable, long-limmed animal friends wearing adorable outfits in designs from her Spoonflower shop, these dolls are sure to become a family favorite. Keep reading to see how you can make two of the adorable accessories Melissa has included in her book featuring Spoonflower’s Petal Signature Cotton™.

Melissa: Designed with my own kids in mind, the plush toys featured in Handmade Animal Dolls use easy-to-learn needle-felting techniques for cuddly animals without any sharp plastic components. Follow these easy-to-follow skirt and bonnet projects to add stylish accessories to your dolls.

How to Make a Gathered Skirt for Your Handmade Animal

Gathered Skirt Materials

Pro tip: When searching for fabric designs, include the term “ditsy” to find small-scaled designs. Shop ditsy designs.

Cut Out Your Fabric 

Cut your skirt fabric into a 20” x 6” rectangle. Cut your waistband fabric into an 8” x 2.5” rectangle. Take the skirt fabric rectangle and fold a ⅛” (3.2 mm) hem on the bottom edge and press. Fold again onto itself and press flat. Secure the hem using a straight stitch.

Gather the Skirt

Adjust the stitch length to the longest length your machines allows. Stitch a straight line along the top of your skirt.

Pull one of the threads, either the top or the bottom, on either side of the skirt and start sliding the fabric to the center. Make sure you’re pulling the same thread on either side, if you don’t, the thread will lock up and might break with force. This is where working with different colour threads makes it easier!

Pro Tip: Use two different colors of thread for the top and bottom (bobbin) threads. This will make the pulling easier!

Pro Tip: Knot one side so of the thread so it doesn’t slide out and only pull on one side.

Make the Waistband

Take the waistband fabric strip and fold in half, wrong sides touching. Press. Open it up and fold each side towards the centerfold you just made. Press.

For an added dose of style, create the waistband in a coordinating fabric design.

Attach the Waistband

Take the gathered skirt and sandwich it between the waistband you just pressed. Pin it in place.

Fold the skirt in half, right sides together, and sew the edge.

Pro tip: I like to use sewing clips for this. It makes it easier when I’m running it through the machine.

Finish the Seams

Fold the skirt in half, right sides together, and sew the edge.

Finish the seam with a zig zag stitch to prevent fraying. 

Melissa’s plushies are the perfect handmade baby shower gift.

Now that you’ve made a gathered skirt for your handmade animal, it’s time to make a reversible bonnet!

How to Make a Reversible Bonnet for Your Handmade Animal

Featured skirt design: Balmy Eucalyptus

Wool Bonnet Materials

  • 10.5” x 8.875” (26.7cm x 22.5cm) wool-blend felt for the outside of the bonnet
  • 10.5” x 8.875” (26.7cm x 22.5cm) wool-blend felt for the inside of the bonnet – I suggest using a coordinating color
  • 17” (43cm) coordinating ribbon
  • Bonnet template on page 183 of Handmade Animal Dolls

Pro tip: This bonnet can also be made with Spoonflower’s Fleece or quilt weight cottons like Petal Signature Cotton or Organic Cotton Sateen.

Cut Out Your Fabric

Cut out your bonnet pieces using the bonnet template. Pin the pink bonnet pieces together and the green pieces together, right sides facing. Stitch along the top and back sides. Clip the corner seam to reduce bulk when turning.

Attach the Bonnet Ribbon

Take the green bonnet piece and baste the ribbon to the bottom corners inside the seam allowance.

Stitch the Bonnet Pieces Together

Turn the pink bonnet piece right side out and tuck it inside the green piece, right sides facing. Be sure to also tuck in the ribbon away from any seams.

Sew around the perimeter of the bonnet leaving a bottom opening of approximately 1.5” (3.8cm) wide.

Clip the corner seams to reduce bulk. Turn your bonnet right side out.

Finish Your Bonnet

Tuck in the felt around the bottom opening mimicking the seam allowance you just created and press.

Top stitch around the whole perimeter of the bonnet, this will close the opening and give it some nice detailing.

For even more ditsy designs to use for your animal accessories, be sure to visit Melissa’s Spoonflower shop.

Melissa is a graphic designer, illustrator & author who is passionate about all things handmade. She is originally from Monterrey, Mexico and deeply influenced by its rich culture and history. She currently lives in Milton, Ontario with her husband, twin boys and two cats. 

Find Melissa on Instagram and Facebook

Recommended Posts

Spoonflower Marketing team member Kristina and her niece with matching tie dye bandanas

Make the Most Unique Tie-Dye Bandanas for the Whole Family


2 Ways to Make an Easy No-Sew Notebook Cover


A illustration in a sketchbook shows next to the final surface pattern design

Announcing Our First Surface Design Symposium



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *