Felt Koala sewing pattern - a free sewing tutorial
Sew a sleepy koala
Helping anyone to sew, adult or child, is a theme I'm on board with! You can check out the Stitch Club shop for my range of sewing kits, but right now I'm going to share with you how to sew this adorable Sleepy Koala.
This design was inspired by my son, who absolutely adores Koalas. He told me recently that Koalas sleep for up to 20 hours a day! Hence the Sleepy disposition of this little character!
Here's a list of the supplies you'll need:
- 10inch / 25cm square of darker grey felt
- 4inch / 10cm square of lighter grey or white felt
- 1.5inch / 3cm square of black felt
- Sewing threads to match your felt
- Around 15-20g toy filling
- Sharp scissors, pins and a hand sewing needle
- A sharp pencil, or a disappearing fabric marking pen
- Optional: fabric glue
- And of course, the pattern download:
Use the layout guide to ensure that everything fits onto your felt:
Begin by making a single straight stitch in the felt. Next, bring the needle up a stitch length away (1) and then go back to meet the first stitch, filling the gap (2).
Running Stitch is simply a series of stitches, with a gap between each. You can use the 'stab' method, bringing the needle all the way through the felt each time, or you can 'rock' the needle tip to go from front to back, and then back through to the front before pulling through.
Whipstitch is an applique stitch, used to sew a smaller piece of felt or fabric, to another piece. You can choose to bring the needle up through the smaller shape (a few millimetres in) and down at the edge, or come up at the edge and down into the shaped piece.
A note on using glue: If you're helping a child to sew the Sleepy Koala, don't be afraid to use glue! Not all kids have the patience for all that sewing. Introduce things slowly, and if they don't want to sew the smaller pieces on, just use some fabric glue to attach the nose/tummy/ears!
Begin by cutting out all of the felt pieces. When sewing with young children I prefer to do the preparation for them as the more accurate the cutting, the easier a pattern will sew together.
There are different techniques for cutting felt:
- Pin and cut (as shown here)
- Draw around with a disappearing pen, and cut: you can buy pens with ink that fades, irons away, or washes out
- Trace onto freezer paper, which irons temporarily to the felt, and cut out through both the paper and the felt
Step Two: Marking and sewing the eyes
Use a pin or a needle to pierce a series of holes along the eye-lines of the paper template. Enlarge these holes with a sharp pencil, so that the tip of a pen or pencil will fit through for marking.
Place the template on one of the body pieces. With a pencil, or removable ink pen, make dots through the holes. Remove the paper, and join the dots into a line that can be seen well enough to stitch onto.
Use black thread to stitch the eyes, on your marked lines: Backstitch is ideal. I use six-strand cotton embroidery thread, and separate out 2 or 3 strands to sew with.
Using pins to hold them in place, sew on the nose and then the tummy. Check the positioning before you sew (use the grey lines on the pattern) as you need to ensure the nose is high enough to clear the tummy. The tummy aligns with the angled cut-outs, where the felt will later fold to make the base.
You can use your preferred stitch to sew these elements on. For children, the simplest is running stitch. You can help them try the 'stab' method, bringing the needle all the way through the felt each time, or the 'rocking' method, where you push the needle tip just a short way through the felt (from front to back), before 'rocking' or 'tilting' the needle tip back into the felt a stitch length away before pulling through. Let them work whichever way they prefer. Personally I usually use the 'stab' method as I can keep my stitches a little smaller.
Step Four: Creating the ears
An important point before you begin: make sure you create two opposite ears! Sew the inner ear pieces onto two of your four outer ears. The stitching doesn't show clearly in the photograph so I've indicated it in pink. Next, layer the outer/inner constructions onto the corresponding plain grey ears - in the image above I'm just about to layer these pieces together.
Then, with your grey thread, stitch the layers together just next to the inner ear. If you're sewing this with older kids, or working on one yourself, you might like to get really close to that inner piece, even hiding the stitching just underneath! This construction is designed to give a bit of weight to the ears, but also hides the white inner ear stitching that would otherwise show on the back .
Step Five: Attaching front and back
With your ears complete, it's time to begin assembling your Sleepy Koala. Pin the front to the back, aligning the edges. Tuck the ears between the layers and pin them in place. Sew the main curve, ensuring you catch the ears as you go. Then sew the bottom straight edge. Make sure you begin and end your lines of stitching securely - you can tie a knot, or make a few small stitches on top of each other.
Leave the corners unsewn.
Be sure to catch the ears as you sew around.
The main curve and the straight base are stitched separately. Don't sew the cutout corners.
Step Six: Creating the base
Open out the first corner.
Pinch the edges together so that the side seam meets the base seam.
Align the edges, pin and sew across.
Step Seven: Stuffing and closing
Use the other corner opening to fill your Koala with stuffing. You can fit quite a lot in there if the stitching is secure, but don't force too much in if it's putting a strain on fragile child-sewn seams!
When you've finished stuffing, pin the the opening closed as you did for the first corner. You may want to push the stuffing further inside to make the seam easier to sew comfortably.
Finally, give your Sleepy Koala a good squish to distribute the stuffing evenly. If you pushed stuffing away from the corner to access the seam better in the previous step, make sure to work some back in there.
You can push on the base seam to work the stuffing away from it. This will make the base flatter and should enable your Koala to sit freely.
Whether you've sewn this little fella yourself, or helped a child to sew a Sleepy Koala, well done!
I've made these in a couple of different sizes - if you can resize the pattern on your printer, or maybe scan and resize before printing, you could make a whole family of cute Koalas.
Discover the Stitch Club sewing kits
If you've enjoyed sewing the Sleepy Koala, why not hop on over to the Stitch Club shop. You'll find a range of beautiful, complete sewing kits suitable for children and adults.
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