Ever since my daughter went to the Memphis Zoo with her grandmother back in September, she has mentioned– off and on– wanting an elephant toy. It wasn’t the first time she visited a zoo or saw elephants, but for some reason the idea has really stuck with her. In November, when I had to travel for work, she told my husband that she hoped I would bring her “an elephant toy to color” (fwiw, although I was near the National Zoo on my trip, the trip itself had nothing to do with animals or zoos!).
Several weeks went by without a mention of an elephant, so we gave up our half-hearted search on Amazon for a suitable gift. But then, of course, on Christmas Eve, she tearfully told us that she really really wanted Santa to bring her a stuffed elephant. This was after expressing extreme trepidation that Santa would actually *enter our house* (stranger danger!) and telling us that she didn’t WANT Santa to come AT ALL if he was going to come inside. Oh, boy.
(IMHO, smart kid. I don’t want strangers in our house, either, no matter how many toys they’re bringing us!)
So what did I do? What any sane person (ahem) would do in such a situation. Pull out the fabric stash and get to work!
Okay, first I went on Pinterest and Google and did a little research. It turns out, there are a TON of hits for “free elephant stuffie pattern” out there. Go figure. I settled on the Fat Quarter Elephant project on The Sewing Directory (pattern by The Make It Room). I thought it was a nice combination of cute but not-anthropomorphic, and judging by the amount of fabric it called for (a fat quarter) it would make a toy roughly the size I was looking for.
I had some fuzzy gray knit (I guess technically it’s fake fur? plush?) as well as this sparkly pink fleece in my stash that I snapped up at a sale several years ago. I had intended to make a hat and pants for my daughter out of it, but when fabric is on sale I tend to purchase in bulk. Like… really bulk. I had enough to make a whole herd of these elephants. And a whole fleecey wardrobe for my kid.
I started sewing at around 9pm… and finished at roughly 2am. Worth it?
TOTALLY worth it.
The cutting and machine sewing went very quickly… I’m just a slow-as-molasses hand-sewer, so attaching the ears, stuffing the elephant, and sewing the pads of the feet on to close it up (you stuff through the legs) took me for.ev.er. It might have gone slightly faster if I hadn’t been watching some late-night TV with my husband at the same time (he stayed up with me in solidarity 🙂 ). It might also have gone faster if I hadn’t re-sewn the ears and rounded back. Twice. (Perfectionist, much?!).
So, how did the lucky recipient react?
She was underwhelmed. As I should expect an almost-3-year-old to be when faced with a pile of other brightly-colored, noise-making new toys from her favorite TV show (wrapped in crinkly plastic boxes, no less) and a house full of grandparents on Christmas morning. Alas.
I am still inordinately thrilled with the results of my last-minute project, and the elephant has now taken up residence on my daughter’s bed (where he gets about the same amount of love as the other non-favorite stuffies do… which is still quite a bit).
As an aside, my husband very sweetly posted a photo of the elephant on his Facebook page and a little note about how impressed he was <3
One of his friends commented, “Wait, so your wife just happened to have a sewing machine, some plush fabric lying around the house, and the ability to sew this up at the last minute?!”
Why yes, yes I did. +1 for sewing skills and a “healthy” fabric stash!
If you want to make an elephant stuffie of your own, the free PDF pattern is available at The Sewing Directory.