This blog post is to accompany my Edgar the Elephant sewing pattern. The Edgar the Elephant sewing pattern is available from my Etsy shop, CLICK HERE to buy
Info before you start
Pin your pattern pieces onto your interfacing and cut out, and then iron your interfacing onto your fabric and cut the fabric out. The interfacing will stop your fabric stretching when you stuff your elephant.
Or, if you intend to make this pattern more than once it will save you time in the long run to glue your pattern pieces on to thin cardboard to create templates. Then use your templates to draw round onto your interfacing. Then iron your interfacing onto your fabric – as in the photo below – and cut the 2 layers out together.
Fabric: 1/2 m will make the whole elephant.
To make the hands and feet a different colour you will need a piece of fabric 15cm across x 15cm tall
To make the ears in a different fabric you will need a piece 30cm across x 20cm tall
Ears: If you would like stiffer slightly plumper ears use iron on fleece 30cm across x 20cm tall
Interfacing: I have used a medium weight iron on woven cotton interfacing
Eyes: 18mm craft eyes
Buttons: 4 buttons. The ones I have used are 22mm wide
Dental tape or strong upholstery thread to attach the arms and legs and create the gathered section at the bottom of the elephant’s trunk
Doll needle to attach the arms and legs
Toy stuffing and a plastic chopstick, or something similar that is long with a blunt end, to insert the stuffing
Plus: pins, cotton thread that matches your fabric, hand sewing needles, scissors, plus pinking shears if you have them
Sewing the body
1 – Start by sewing the 2 tummy pieces together, right sides together, from point A to point B. Snip the excess fabric away from the seam allowance at point A
2 – Stitch each of the 2 back pieces (separately) from point C to Z. This line of stitches needs to be 5mm away from the raw edge. This is not sewing the 2 pieces together, it is a row of guide stitches for when you sew the back of the elephant closed after stuffing.
3 – Next stitch the 2 back pieces together, right sides together, from C to D as shown by the dotted line
4 –Stitch the stomach and back pieces together, right sides together, at the side seams. To get a nice neat join where the stomach and back central seams meet nest the seams. For an explanation of how to nest seams click here
Sewing the Arms and Legs
1 – Stitch a row of guide stitches where the stuffing gap is marked on each of the 4 arm pieces.
Then lay the arms out in pairs, right sides of fabric together. On your first arm sew from E to F, except for the stuffing gap, as shown by the dotted line. Cut the excess fabric away from the seam allowances at points E and F, and snip all the curves of the arm being careful not to snip through your stitching line and don’t cut the fabric away from the stuffing gap
2 – Attach one of the hands to the arm. Pin one center point of the hand to the end of the seam at point E – attach it with the right sides of the fabric together, and with the hand fabric edge exactly lined up with the arm fabric edge. Then aligning the fabric again, pin the other center point of the same hand to the end of the seam at point F
Working out from those 2 pins gradually pin the hand to the arm pinning from the hand through to the arm all the way round. If you have any leftover fabric remove a few pins and gently shape it to fit.
3 – Sew the hand and arm together by putting the fabric of the hand downwards onto your machine.
Then sew round really carefully, you need to make sure you have a good neat curve so sew a few stitches, pivot your fabric with the needle down, sew some more pivot again. If the hand is not sewed as true to the curve as possible it will pull the arm into the wrong shape and ruin the finished appearance of your elephant.
4 – Take out all the pins and clip the curves, or use your pinking shears, all the way round the hand. Do not snip through your stitching line. Photo below is before sewing and after sewing and clipping the curves. Repeat all the steps for the other arm and hand
5 – Sew the legs and the feet using exactly the same principles as the arms and hands. So, lay the legs out in pairs, right sides of fabric together. On your first leg sew from G to H, except for the stuffing gap, as shown by the dotted line. Cut the excess fabric away from the seam allowances at points G and H, and snip all the curves of the leg.
6 – Attach one of the feet to the leg. Attach it with the right sides of the fabric together. Align one of the center points of the feet to G and pin, and one of the center points to H and pin.
7 – Pin the foot fabric to the leg fabric all the way round, making sure the edges of the fabric are lined up then sew.
8 – Take out all the pins and clip the curves, all the way round the foot. Repeat for the other leg and foot
Sewing the Ears
1 – Lay the ears out in pairs, right sides of fabric together. One inner and one outer piece together if you are using contrasting fabrics. Sew from K to L as shown by the dotted line. Snip the curves.
OPTIONAL STEP – If you would like stiffer elephant ears use iron on fleece one piece for each ear. Sew the ear from K to L and then cut the fleece so it sits inside the seam of the outer ear, and not to close to the open edge. The open edge is where the ear will be stitched onto the head and you don’t want to create thick layers of fabric that will be hard to sew through
2 – Turn the ears so they are right side out. Run your chopstick or stuffing tool around the inside of the ear to make sure the curve is neat. Hand stitch the open edge shut as in the photo below, or sew a 3mm seam with your machine along the open edge. This seam will be hidden in the main seam, it’s just to keep the ear from slipping during sewing and then looking less than perfect on your finished ellie
Sewing the head
1 – Fold the fabric of the dart section on one of the back of head pieces right side to right side so the edges of the fabric are together. Sew. Snip off the excess fabric. Repeat for the dart on the other piece
2 – Sew the 2 back of head pieces together from I to J, cut the excess fabric away from the seam allowance at point I
3 – Pin the 2 trunk pieces together, right side to right side and sew from point S to T as shown by the dotted line. Cut the excess fabric away from all of the seam from point S to T
4 – Pin and sew the 2 trunk pieces from point R to Q as shown by the dotted line. Cut the excess fabric away from the seam allowance at point Q
5 – Lay one of the ears flat on your table, with the inner ear fabric against the table.Then lay the forehead piece on top of it, so the end of the forehead at point N is on top of the ear at the angle of point M. The edge of the ear fabric at point K needs to butt up against point U of the forehead. Pin in to place, check the photo below. Don’t worry about the 2nd ear for now.
6- Pin the trunk onto the ear that you have just pinned to the forehead so that O is on top of M and the inner ear fabric faces the right side of the trunk fabric. Holding your trunk, ear, forehead sandwich so the forehead is facing you, pin the pieces together from N to P. Sew from N until 5mm from the edge of the fabric at point P.
7 – Pin the other ear onto the forehead so that N is on top of M. And the edge of the ear fabric butts up against point U. Pin the 2nd piece of trunk onto the ear so that O is on M. Don’t sew yet, we want to double check everything lines up so you don’t have a wonky trunk.
8 – Fold the forehead from the center point to point P (wrong sides of the fabric together) so that the 2 Ns are together.
9 – Then smooth your trunk pieces and see where the end of the forehead at point P meets the second piece of trunk. Put one pin into the seam midway between points P and R. Put another pin into the forehead / trunk at point P to hold it in place. See pic below.
Unfold the forehead and put in the remaining pins from N to P. Sew from N to 5mm from the edge of the fabric at point P. This line of stitches should meet up exactly with your first line of stitches. If there is a little gap put in a couple of extra stitches one side or the other so they meet up evenly.
10 – Now fold the forehead again as you did before. Pin and sew the remainder of the top line of the trunk from point R to where the stitches stopped at point P. Make sure your stitches meet up perfectly or you will have a hole
11 – Fold the open end of the trunk so the seams at Q and T are together. Sew from one side round to the other. Clip the curves
12 – Insert the eyes
13 – Cut a tiny little snip into the ear fabric where it 1st protrudes from the trunk forehead sandwich. The snip should not go deeper into the ear fabric than the seam line. See photo below.
Cut the excess fabric away from the seam allowance at point O/N, as in the photo above. These two steps will allow the ear to bend more easily and the sewing machine should glide over more easily as there will be less bulk of fabric. Bend the ears and pin them – with the edge of the ear fabric against the edge of the trunk fabric – down the sides of the trunk to point V
14 – Pin the back of head pieces onto the forehead and trunk pieces. With the right sides of the fabric together pin the center point of the forehead to the back of head seam at letter I. Pin the back of head at point W to the trunk at point X. Then pin all the way round, make sure your ears are not going to get caught in the seam. Sew from point I to W one side then from I to W the other side. You will get a smoother forehead line by sewing this seam in 2 parts
Putting your ellie together
1 – Turn the head so the right side faces out. With the body still right side facing in, tuck the head inside the body, so you can pin the neck seam together. Point Y of the back of the head needs to be against point Z at the back of the body.
Nest the seams where the side seams of the body meet the sides of the head at W/X this way your finished ellie will be neater. Put in lots of pins all the way round the neck seam and sew. Lastly sew the back of the head closed from J to Y. Leave Z to C open as your stuffing hole.
2 – Turn the head/ body piece of your elephant through the right way. Very lightly stuff the first 10cm of the trunk. Then insert a needle with a doubled up length of your dental tape or strong upholstery thread into your elephant 7 cm above the seam at the bottom of the trunk. Leave the tail of your dental tape/ upholstery thread hanging free as you will tie this off in a minute. Do a running stitch along the under trunk seam from where you 1st inserted your needle to the seam at the end of the trunk. Each of these running stitches need to be about 3mm long.
When you get to the seam at the end of the trunk bring your needle out of the fabric. Hold both ends of the thread and pull them tightly together and knot them. Make the knot really tight to the fabric so that the knot is hidden, and cut the trailing ends of the tape/ thread. It may be easier if someone can help you hold the trunk in position whilst you tie the knot.
3 – Stuff the remainder of the elephant’s trunk. Once you have moved away from the gathered section you can stuff more firmly. Stuff the rest of the ellie’s head and body. Ladder stitch closed. For an explanation of ladder stitch click here
4 – Turn your ellie’s legs and arms through the right way and stuff them. Ladder stitch closed.
How to make button joints
1 – I have tried making button joints using upholstery thread and found it got tangled up. I know other people use embroidery floss. For me the least tangly and strongest thread to use isn’t thread at all. It is dental tape. Sounds strange I know but it is actually just a super strong plastic thread.
2 – Start by pinning the buttons in place on the external side of the arms, and put pins on the inside side of the arms directly opposite the button holes. Check the buttons are the same height on each arm, and the pins are the same height on the insides too. This will avoid your finished ellie looking unbalanced.
Then do the same for the legs and their buttons.
3 – Next plan where the tape will enter and leave the elephant’s body. On the side seams, measure down 3cm from the neck seam on either side and put in a pin. Do not put the pin straight into the seam but a couple of millimeters back from it on the back piece. See photo below.
4 – Then measure up from the crossover seam at the base of your elephant 8cm on each side seam and again put in a pin a couple of millimeters back on the back piece to mark the spot.
5 – Cut a 250cm length of dental tape.
Thread it through the doll needle and tie the ends together. Pin the tied end near one of the elephant’s feet to anchor it. So you are working with doubled up tape throughout.
TOP TIP – Throughout the process of attaching the limbs to the body try to keep your tape even, So pull on both the pieces of the doubled up tape evenly and check they are both staying even at every stage of the process. If you don’t do this you could have a big length of bulging tape at the end and not know which piece to pull on to tidy it up!
6 – On the limb you have anchored your tape to, push the needle into the inside side of the leg where the pin is,
and bring your needle out through one of the button holes on the external side of the leg, then go back in through the other hole of the button, and back in through the leg. Make sure your needle comes out of the inside of the leg at the exact same point where it entered.
7 – Next push the needle through the elephant’s body going in by your marker pin and coming out by the marker pin the other side. Pull almost all your excess tape through. Check yout tape is still even.
8 – Push the needle into the second leg. Again go in through the inside side of the leg at the point marked by your pin and come out through one of the button holes on the external side of the leg, then go back in through the other hole of the button. Check your needle comes out of the inside of the leg at the exact same point where it entered.
9 – Push your needle back through the body again entering at exactly the point you exited, and direct the needle so it leaves the body where it first entered. This is one full circumference.
10 – Repeat the circumference again so – through the 1st leg -through the button holes – through the leg – through the body – in and out the other leg and button – and back through the body…
11 – Then unpin your tied end and pull on both ends of your dental tape until the legs are nice and close to the body. They will loosen up with time so make them nice and tight to begin with. Tie the tape neatly under the elephant’s leg and cut off the loose ends. Dental tape will leave a bit of residue behind. Just dust this off with a dry cloth
12 – Repeat all these steps to attach the arms to the body. Here is a diagram of one circumference.
13 – Your elephant is now complete.
Some other sewing patterns for you to try
If you have some fabric left over and you really want something easy and pretty to sew with it have a look at my heart shaped cushion / pillow here.
And if you would like to try some of my other animal sewing patterns, here are the links for some of my other tutorials
Copyright / Use of this pattern
I ask that you please respect the amount of work that has gone into making this pattern. This pattern can be used to make keepsake elephants and soft toy elephants to sell through your own shop or at craft fairs. However, within any written description of the item for sale please credit Rachel Leggett at The Messy Stork with the pattern design. You do not have permission to make a copy of this pattern to sell, or to offer it for free distribution.
Thankyou, and I hope you enjoy!