I got a new Christmas throw this year for my couch (covered in adorable Christmas animals), and I realized that my current Christmas pillows just won’t do. Thus began the quest for a suitably whimsical pillow to put on my couch. After stumbling on the idea of a polar bear one but finding that they are all expensive I decided, Fine, I’ll make my own pillow…
I started with a 16"x16" pillow. The front is white faux fur and back is off-white velour. I got this one at Walmart for $5 and they also had pink and turquoise ones. You could easily get some crazy colored pillow and make a non-polar bear
I opened the pillow along the turning/stuffing seam and un-stuffed it (you’ll need a container to hold all the stuffing, I filled an entire under-bed storage box with it), then turned it wrong side out. I sketched the ears out on the back of the velour side (the backside of the faux fur was rough and kinda fuzzy, not really good to work on) and then pinned for sewing. I did not unseam the whole pillow. You could do that if you’d like but I just didn’t want the hassle of resewing all the seams that weren’t being altered.
Before sewing, I turned it right side out and drafted the patterns for the face.
As you can see, there were several iterations of the face before I picked my final design. These are my final patterns (ruler for scale, the eye is 1 1/4" diameter). The mouth is longer than it needs to be but more on that later.
After I cut out all my pieces from felt I pinned everything to the pillow and restuffed it for a test fit before sewing anything. I highly recommend this step! I had to adjust up the placement of my features by about an inch from when it was all pinned flat as they looked different on the stuffed pillow. I also tested a few different ear colors and sizes. I went with grey for my ears because I thought it looked best of all the color options I tried (I also tried pink, white, and peach as well as different sizes).
The mouth/muzzle is made up of multiple pieces. I made the mouth longer than it needs to be so you can make small adjustments to the expression by having the vertical part of the mouth be longer or shorter. Once you have the nose and mouth arranged how you’d like on the muzzle (the nose overlaps the vertical part of the mouth) you can trim off any excess that sticks out the top of the nose. I appliquéd the nose and mouth down using a whipstich. I also made my muzzle out of two layers of white felt because the felt I had on hand was pretty thin. I sewed the two layers together before the whole muzzle was sewn to the pillow.
Once I was satisfied where everything was pinned, I turned it back inside out to sew the ear shape. I didn’t think my machine would do well with the faux fur, so I sewed the ear seam by hand using a back stitch. Once sewed, I clipped around the ears to give them the same seam allowance as the rest of the pillow had. I made sure to tie off the threads for the two side seams of the pillow that I clipped into so the side seams wouldn’t come unsewn.
Then I turned the pillow right side out and sewed on the felt details using a whipstitch. You need to make your stitches so you sew down through the felt. If you pull the thread up through the felt it will pull bits of the faux fur with it (see picture).
I stuffed and unstuffed the pillow several times while sewing the face on. Basically every time I added a new piece I restuffed the pillow to make sure I was happy with the placement. The faux fur is kinda slick/slippery and things shift around a bit regardless of how many pins you use.
After stuffing it for the final time I sewed up the seam with an invisible ladder stitch. The original hole was top stitched shut using clear thread. It wasn’t really visible on the faux fur side but you could see it on the back, so I used the ladder stitch for a cleaner finish.
And now he’s happily sitting on my couch
If anyone makes one for themselves, I’d love to see it!