Bonsai Baby Plush Doll from Upcycled Tee
Years ago, when we first moved into our current home, I was given the task to buy our first co-owned item.
I was thrilled, while my +1 might have been worried for his pocket.
It wasn’t a designer sofa, or an heirloom candelabra, or a make-up surrounded by lightbulbs.
That is how much I spent on our first item in the place we now call home.
It was a plant. A hardworking plant that cleaned the air and made our apartment home.
I loved it. I loved it so much I feared it wasn’t drinking enough. I was attentive, I was constantly watering. I loved it until it died.
That was the end of my plant journey. Since +1 has taken over the caring for all the plants that is now brimming in our home.
This softie bonsai is made for remembering that first baby we both loved.
Make Bonsai Baby Plush Doll
Layout & Cut
Using old recycled tee shirts, I cut out 2 pieces according to the bonsai baby plush doll sewing pattern.
Yes, you read me right, it is old, and already recycled once. From a tee shirt, it became a furoshiki (Japanese style wrapping cloth), and now soon-to-be a soft toy baby.
You will notice in some of the instructional photos below features a blue checkered fabric instead. I made 2 dolls with the same pattern. I will update this post when the related post is done.
Anyway, rest assure the yellow and blue pieces were cut from the same sewing pattern.
Fold the piece diagonally, aligning the sides of the little square cut out.
One side at a time. Flip to the other side to do the same.
Now that you have two identical pieces, align front and back.
It is going to be a little hard because the tee shirt fabric is floppy and stretchy.
To further complicate things, the 4 short stitches you just made is called darts.
Darts make a flat shape more three dimensional. In other words, it is going to be fiddly to line them up but just try okay.
Sew around the parameter with 1/4″ allowance, leaving a small gap of approx. 1″ for stuffing (as indicated by the free downloadable sewing pattern).
The gap is on top.
Sorry for the blurry photo, the sky turned and I must have over estimated my hand stability.
The point is, look at the little cut outs, they are notches.
Cutting notches helps smooth out the curves after the doll is turned inside out. This step reduces angular doll faces (unless that’s your intention), and puckered necks.
Then, turn it inside out.
Apologies: the following photos are of the blue doll again. f
The 2 plushies were sewn and closed in different positions. As indicated in the sewing pattern you can find on this post, the blue is stuffed at the bottom, yellow from the top.
If you are very confused please leave me a comment, I will try to explain to you step by step.
Turn it inside out.
If you have chunky fingers or for whatever reason you do not want to, use a chopstick, a pencil, anything that is pointy but not sharp.
Push slowly along the seams.
There you go, a doll waiting to be stuffed.
Stuffing the Bonsai Plush
Out comes my favourite chopstick again, this time to push in the stuffing.
I’m using a polyester fill here. Where I am, it is difficult to get my hands on anything else.
Squeeze the doll as you stuff, to check for fullness.
At about 3/4 of the desired size, bring out your remnants from cutting the pattern.
Now, you have a reason to have a separate craft room bin.
Stuff remnants into the body, right underneath the polyfill.
Sequence in the yellow doll
- Push remnants into bottom
- Then, fill up with polyfill.
Fabric remnants make a much denser filling. In this project, the weight stabilises the doll when it stands.
Hand-Stitch Doll Face Using Sewing Thread
- Pilot Frixon Highlighter Marker (in Blue)
- Self-Threading Needle
- Common Sewing Thread, 4 pieces (Polyester, Colour Chocolate Brown)
Start with a french knot at the tail end of the thread.
Insert from the gap on the top of the head, into the eye.
Complete 1 eye with backstitches.
Move on to the nose.
Then, the mouth.
On to the other eye.
To close, make a french knot on the surface of the fabric.
Insert needle into the doll head, making sure it goes through completely.
Yank the thread tail quick and hard, until you feel the knot popped into the head.
To be honest, I really enjoy doing it, almost as much as opening champagne.
While, maintaining the tension, cut the tail off as close to the fabric as possible.
Leafy Hair from Felt Remnants
Cut out pieces of felt, random leaf-like shapes will do.
I have tried cutting out rounded realistic leaf shapes. After an hour and calluses on my fingers, I t didn’t look any more plant like.
Using a sewing machine with a long stitch length, sew the leaf-shapes, through the centre, roughly.
Take care to reinforce with a back stitch at the beginning and end of each leaf.
Snip the thread in between, gather the ends with your fingers.
Arrange them in any way you like.
My aim to look natural. Not too symmetrical.
Flatten the felt-bouquet. What an anti-climax, I know.
Arrange it and make sure it is no wider than 3/4″ or the size of the gap you left opened on the doll earlier.
Stitch across the bottom with 1/8 – 1/4″ allowance.
It is sad looking now, but it makes your life happier. This stay stitch keeps the many pieces from shifting when you attach it to your doll later.
Attach Hair to Baby Softie
Place the hair into the gap.
Using 2 threads, whip stitch the hair into place, at the back only. Tie a knot to secure, but do not cut the thread.
Stuff in a little more stuffing at this point.
With all the facial feature hand stitches, the squeezing while attaching the hair, the head would have flattened a lot by now.
Additional stuffing ensures that we maintain the roundness of the head while slightly altering the expression.
With the same needle and thread still hanging at the back, whip stitch the remaining gap.
He or she it is happy with the leafy hair do. As am I.
Bonsai baby doll requires no water to grow.
It feeds on your heart for the environment, and of course, your old clothes.