Things You'll Need
- Leather gloves
- Armature wire
- Measuring tape
- Wire cutters
- Dowel or rod
- Table clamp
- Pattern paper
- Short faux fur material
- Sewing machine
- Long tweezers
- Fabric paint
- Paint brush
- Button nose
Homemade stuffed animals make great gifts, are less expensive than store-bought toys, and can be customized to suit any recipient. But, making an elephant for your aunt, a cat for your sister and a dog for your dad can add up to a lot of wasted material and time. Instead, make personalized versions of a single animal such as a meerkat. You can reuse the same pattern, cut pattern pieces in bulk, buy one kind of material and memorize one process instead of a dozen. Just remember to make each meerkat individual with different coloring or accessories such as a hat, glasses, gloves or cape.
Put on leather gloves.
Cut a 10 3/4-foot length of armature wire.
Fold the wire in half. Use pliers to make the bend as flat as possible.
Insert the dowel into the folded side of the wire loop.
Attach the loose end of the wire to a table clamp or secure it to the table with a heavy weight so it will not move.
Rotate the dowel so the wire twists. Continue until the wire is securely twisted and about 5 feet long.
Cut two 14-inch lengths of wire and fold them in half to form two Vs.
Straighten the remaining 30 to 36 inches of wire.
Mark the wire 7 inches, 10 inches and 15 inches from one tip.
Bend the end of the wire until it touches the 7-inch mark. Twist the end around the mark to make a loop; this forms the head of the wire body.
Drape the V-shaped pieces over the 10-inch and 15-inch marks.
Twist the loose ends of the V-shaped wires so they loop around the body and form a secure connection.
Trim the remaining length of wire opposite the head to make a tail 8 to 10 inches long.
Flatten the armature body so the legs are spread out horizontally and the tail is vertical.
Place the wire form on pattern paper.
Trace around the wire body 1 inch from the wire. Exclude the head.
Add rounded paw-shaped extensions to the legs if desired; excluding this step makes the stuffed animal easier to sew.
Cut out the pattern.
Pin the pattern paper to the material and cut two identical body pieces.
Trim the tail of one body piece so it is 4 inches long and tapers sharply to a point.
Cut two D-shaped ears out of thick felt.
Draw the meerkat's head and neck in profile. Cut out two head pieces.
Measure the perimeter of the head piece in three sections from front to back; from the base of the neck to the tip of the nose, the tip of the nose to the top of the head, and the head to the nape of the neck.
Draw a straight line to represent the combined lengths of the three sections. Frame each section with two horizontal lines for a total of four lines. Make the horizontal lines the following lengths 2 1/2 inches, 1 1/2 inches, 4 inches and 3 inches.
Connect the tips of the vertical lines with straight lines to form a rectangular shape. Add 1/4 inch on all sides of the shape and then cut it out.
Ensure you have two body pieces, two ears, two head pieces and one rectangular strip.
Stack the body pieces, right side in. Line up the pattern pieces using the legs and neck, not the tail.
Sew along the perimeter of the legs and torso 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the edge. Do not sew around the tail.
Pin the tail together from the torso towards the tip. Pin the longer tail piece to itself when the shorter tail piece no longer reaches; this will create a thick, round tail that tapers to a fine point.
Hand sew along the tail. Remove pins as you go.
Pin the edge of the rectangle to the perimeter of one head piece. Pin the other head piece to the opposite side of the rectangle to form a round, hollow head. Ensure the raw edges of the material are visible on the exterior of the form and that the right-side of the fabric is on the interior.
Sew along the two head seams and remove the pins.
Invert the head and body. Insert the wire armature into the body and manipulate the wires so that there is a wire in each of the legs and the tail cavity. Pull the head of the armature figure so it sticks out of the neck opening.
Stuff the body and head. Use tweezers to push stuffing around the wire.
Fit the stuffed head onto the body so the meerkat faces the side of the body with the narrow tail.
Hand sew along the perimeter of the neck to attach the head.
Sew or glue the ears to the sides of the head.
Use fabric paint to color the tip of the tail, ears and eyes black or dark brown.
Sew a fake button nose to the tip of the muzzle, if desired.
Trim faux fur with scissors and a razor to make a toy with short hair.
- "Meerkats"; Robyn Weaver; 2006
- "Finishing the Figure: Doll Costuming, Embellishments, Accessories"; Susanna Oroyan; 2001
Sylvia Cini has written informative articles for parents and educators since 2009. Her articles appear on various websites. Cini has worked as a mentor, grief counselor, tutor, recreational leader and school volunteer coordinator. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Clark University of Worcester, Massachusetts.