Monday, January 20, 2014

Manatee Plushie Sewing Pattern

My best friend from college had a baby shower this past weekend, and while I opted for stocking the baby's bookshelf, I still wanted to be able to give her something handmade. I mean, what's the point of knowing how to sew if you can't sew love into every stitch, or some such nonsense, right? Anyway, since manatees are one of her favorite animals, I decided to make her one. Only problem is, I couldn't find any patterns I liked. Obvious solution? Make my own!

Dawww, that face. 

He's quite plump, as befits a manatee. 

I chose to make him in this "pose" because it looks a little bit more like Barbara Manatee.

Want to make your own manatee? I've put my pattern up for download here. Please note that it is meant for personal use only, and not for commercial purposes (i.e. don't make them to sell!), and it goes without saying that you should not put up the pattern on your own site and/or claim it as your own. 

I've added an alternate snout option on the pattern, which is more biologically correct but 1) more difficult, and 2) IMHO, less cute. Then again, that might just be the fact that I sewed it on off-center...

So sad and derpy. 

Anyway, if you've never sewed a plushie before, I actually remembered to take pictures of the process!

Sew the flippers and tail pieces together, right sides together. 
Flip them right side out, then fill the tail with beans or poly beads.
I used a leftover PVC fitting from my Loki staff as a funnel.  
If you use rice or beans, it'll be cheaper, but the poly beads are waterproof.
Sew the center back seam. You should leave a gap in the middle for turning it all right side out at the end, but I forgot to do so here. I had to go back and use my seam ripper. 
I used a narrow zigzag stitch with a very short stitch length to embroider the eyes on the front piece, then I cut a hole for the snout. 
The alternative snout piece was a little tricky to join since it was so small.
After it's stitched, turned, and nostrils are embroidered.
Hand-stitch the snout piece to the front piece, right sides together. I started by just matching up one edge, and slowly bringing the sides together as I worked my way around. 
Here's what it looks like inside. 
At this point I may or may not have screamed a bit because it was off-center. 
Baste the tail and flippers onto the front piece. 
Sew the front to the back pieces, right sides together. 
Flip the manatee right side out! Laugh at how flat he is.
Stuff him up with poly-fil.
I also added some poly beads to the butt area so that he could sit up properly.
Stitch up his butt and you're done! I like using the ladder stitch.

I didn't use stash fabric for this manatee (it being for a friend and all), but I think this pattern would still work well for scrapbusting. I only used a 10"x24" piece of fabric to make each one. If you do use this pattern, let me know how it works for you!

Manatee and Sewasaurus are friends: sounds like a more interesting book than Frog and Toad Are Friends. I know, I was supposed to give away the dinosaur, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. 


  1. So cute. Thanks for the pattern and tutorial! These days I'm pretty excited about most things geared towards little kids. It's weird, but fun all the same!

  2. Ooh, thanks so much for the pattern!

  3. Your plushies are the best!

  4. love it! No buttons or anything dangerous for a child!!!!! Thank you!

  5. Oh, so cute! I like how the 1st version looks a bit suprised while the 2nd looks grumpy. Great pattern.

  6. Adorable! I immediately thought of Barbara Manatee (and may have busted into song a little)...

  7. Very Very cute! I don't know how you get the faces done so well.

  8. "Barrrrrbara Manateeeeee!! You are the one for me...." Great now I have to get to bed with that earworm!

    Such a cute plushie! I love it. =)

    ~ Brooke

    1. Oh, that's a new one! When I left the above comment it asked me if I wanted to send my info to this "site". Maybe WP and Blogger are getting along better? And it looks like I don't have to sign my name anymore. Coolness.

    2. hmm or not. It didn't ask that time.

  9. Love the Barbara Manatee reference - now it will be running through my head all night.

  10. Very cute, and I love the tip about a funnel for stuffing, mine always run all over the place. Good thing I don't use beads for stuffing much!

  11. I love the plushies you make! I'm going to try and make a rat/mouse version of the generic plushy base.

  12. This is so sweet! I love it!

  13. I made a dugong version! :-)

  14. Hello! I've just discovered your blog and LOVE your manatee. I think this would make a lovely present for my niece - I don't know if she likes manatees, and frankly, I don't care.

    Also, thank you for introducing me to Barbara Manatee :)

  15. I just included a link to your blog in a comment on Facebook; this is what it said: "A blog about sewing unique clothing from thrifted sheets, geeky crafts, and cats." Which makes it sound like you sew unique clothing from cats.... you might want to re-think your phrasing! :-)


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