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Use your imagination and make your own creative critters

Stuffed animals and dolls don't all have to be sweet, pink confections of fur. They can also have unique personalities, edgy ones even. My daughter, and many of her friends, have embraced a line of stuffed animals that are funky, almost the antithesis of cuteness, which makes them even more adorable.

We thought we'd offer our own take on strange, cuddly creatures. And, instead of hitting the fabric store, we ran to the thrift store, challenged with using recycled sweaters and shirts. Twenty dollars later, we were armed with plenty of inspiration. We also rummaged through the button box and other extra sewing notions we already had to give our guys their faces and quirky personalities.


Clothing from the thrift store (This is also a great project for outgrown or otherwise damaged clothing.)


Needle and thread in colors matching the clothing

Sewing machine

Fabric marker

Polyester fiberfill

Darning needle

Embroidery floss


Stiffened felt from the craft store

Little gray cat

This cat was sketched by my daughter. We used a girl's striped sweater for the construction. The body is formed by one of the sleeves, and the head was cut from the front of the sweater.

1. Cut off a sweater sleeve, trimming the ends so they are straight.

2. To form the bottom of the body, with the needle and thread, sew a straight stitch around the entire edge of the sleeve, making a dotted-line pattern. Stitch about ¼ to 1/2 inch from the raw edge.

Once the stitching is done, pull the thread, drawing the sleeve closed. Before pulling the edges in all of the way, push the raw edge of the material through the closing hole. Once the end is closed, make a final stitch across the opening, then knot and trim the thread.

3. Stuff the cat's body with fiberfill, keeping the shape of the sleeve smooth and tubular.

4. Close the other end of the sleeve using the same straight stitch.

5. Cut two 4-inch-by-5-inch rectangles from the body of the sweater. One of the short edges will form the top of the cat's head.

6. Pin the right sides together and sew the right edge of the rectangle with a sewing machine, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Repeat for the left side.

7. With a fabric marker, draw the ears and top of the head across the top edge of the rectangle.

8. Sew the top of the cat's head with the sewing machine.

9. Trim excess fabric and turn form inside-out, so right side of fabric is facing out. Stuff head with fiberfill, including the ears. Close the bottom of the cat's head with the same straight stitch used on the body.

10. To join the head to the body, hold the two parts together. Using a needle and thread, start with a small stitch in the top of the body, then push a small stitch through the base of the head, and pull the thread taut. (I began about a 1/2 inch from the stitched closure of each element.) (See photo.)

Continue around the top of the body and the bottom of the head. Once head and body are joined, knot and trim the thread.