When I was a teenager I was always sewing little creatures from felt and fur. Nowadays I don’t sew very often, but when I saw this beautiful book I was inspired to create a whole new family of little critters.
“How to Sew Little Felt Animals” is from Search Press and is their usual high quality paperback. It measures 19 cm wide by 23.5 cm high (7.5” x 9.5”) and has 128 full colour pages.
The book contains patterns and detailed instructions for making 5 types of woodland animals and a wide range of clothing that will fit on any of them.
I own the physical version but it is also available for Kindle (links to both at the bottom).
The Patterns – Potential Issue?
When buying this book from Amazon I saw there were quite a few customer reviews complaining about the patterns in the book, so I want to say a bit about that first.
All the patterns are in the book at a reduced size with the instruction that you need to photocopy (or scan) them at 133% – in other words the printed patterns are 75% of full size required.
Some people were upset because this meant they needed to photocopy or scan the book, whereas they usually manually trace patterns to use.
The full size patterns are available from a link in the book, so if you have a printer you can just download them from this.
One can also just make the animal using the patterns at the size in the book… you will of course get a resulting creature who is 75% the size of the samples shown. I have made a couple of them at this 75% size and actually prefer it to the full size.
Lots of Basic Information
The book starts with a detailed section on the materials used to make the little animals. As the book title suggest, this is mainly felt. Sue recommends using wool felts, and I very much agree with her that this will give a nice “heirloom” quality to the finished item, as well as allowing you to choose from a massive range of colours. In particular, it is much easier to get “natural” colours in wool felt, by which I mean tweedy browns and other colours that looks like animal fur.
Having said this, I often use synthetic felts too and as have found that as long as I use quality felt, avoiding thin or plasticy feeling ones, they can give great results too.
There is a LOT of scope for customisation and adapting the patterns to create your own unique clothing for the animals.
There is then a similar section detailing the various threads, tools and accessories used to create the projects.
Next is a nice section explaining some of the basic sewing techniques used, including how to thread a needle. This makes the projects very accessible for even a total beginner to sewing – though I would recommend that a real beginner practices the stitches etc on some scrap fabric first.
There are clearly illustrated instructions for stitches such as whip stitch, satin stitch as well as how to fit joints and embroider the faces.
There is also a section on how to transfer the patterns to the felt.
The instructions show many parts being sewn on a sewing machine (there are tips for this included) but you can also hand sew everything. This is what I have done as I love sewing felt by hand, very relaxing.
The Felt Animals
The animals themselves are quite simple in construction but very charming indeed. They have a lovely old fashioned quality and would be great both as toys or as ornaments.
They are made from felt with cotter pin joints. I used to be a teddy bear artist and am very familiar with cotter pin joints, but some crafters may find them a bit fiddly and prefer to use plastic safety joints instead. Obviously, if you intend to make the animals for a child then the safety joints may well be preferable.
Sue uses 6mm black glass eyes on her animals, as have I. You could also use beads or plastic safety eyes if you prefer. Adding felt or embroidered eyes would really change the look of the animals and might be something to experiment with.
The instructions for assembling each animal are very clear with lots of photos. Again, this is great for beginners although more experienced crafters may also learn some new tricks too.
The included animals are:
Rabbits – shown in “natural” brown but they would look just as cute in white, tan and other “pet rabbit” colours too
Squirrels – with faux fur tails, these are particularly cute. I found some perfect russet coloured felt for making red squirrels and speckly grey felts make great grey squirrels.
Bear – the samples in the book are in a tan brown but one could make all sorts of colours. Baby blue or soft pink bears would be adorable as decorations for a baby’s room (though please note that these animals are not suitable for very young children, so must be out of reach).
Moles – Cute little moles, shown in chocolate felt but they would also look great in blacks and dark greys
Mice – another animals that can be made in natural browns and greys, or “fancy mouse” colouring
Experimental crafters could create other creature variations. For example, short, triangular ears and a long tail on the squirrel would turn it into a cat. Or floppy ears for a dog. Mice could be converted into hamsters (or shrews!) and so on.
All the animals have the same basic body and can share clothes.
The Clothing for the Animals
Each animals has some suggested clothing but it would be very easy to mix and match the various patterns to make a large number of other outfits. Just changing the fabric would transform many of them.
The included patterns are:
Schoolboy uniform – trousers, blazer, sweater, collar and tie – these could easily be used to make a business suit, bride groom outfit etc The little V-necked sweater is SO cute. The trousers and shirt, in soft cotton, would make cute pyjamas.
Schoolgirl uniform – dress and cardigan – a traditional gingham dress with a cute little knitted cardigan
Summer Clothes – sailor dress and collar – This dress would look very different in floral fabric and could be made with a longer skirt for a party frock
Gardening Clothes – dungarees and scarf – very cute little dungarees with pocket details etc with a jaunty neckerchief
Sleepwear – nightcap, blanket and teddy bear – a cute night cap that could be converted into a santa hat, and a teddy bear for your little animals to cuddle
Working Clothes – flat cap, neckerchief, waistcoat and trousers – again, there are lots of useful components here for making more outfits. The sample has the waistcoat and flat cap in tweed and they look very cute and rustic.
Winter Clothes – skirt, coat and headscarf – The little coat is particularly cute with lots of details
Boy’s Outdoor Clothes – trousers, hooded coat and scarf – a cute little duffle coat – perfect if you want to make a Paddington Bear!
Girls Outdoor Clothes – skirt, jacket, satchel and bow – the satchel would go well with the school boy/girl outfits too, or could be a briefcase or overnight bag
Summary of “How To Sew Little Animals”
This is a very attractive book and the animals are really adorable.
A new sewer would be able to recreate many of the patterns, and get an enjoyable challenge from the others. More experienced crafters will enjoy customising and tweaking the patterns to create their own little characters.
If you don’t have access to a printer or photocopier then you may have problems with the reduced patterns – unless you choose to just make the critters at ¾ size. Otherwise the patterns are clear and easy to use.
Links to How to Sew Little Animals by Sue Quinn on Amazon
Here are links to the book on Amazon.com (left) and Amazon.co.uk. If you buy from these links, I may receive a small commission from the shop for sending custom their way. This is at no cost to yourself. Thank you.