How to Patch a Well Loved Stuffed Animal

Dotty

Love can tear us apart and wear us thin and leak out our stuffing. This is what happened to my son’s girlfriend and Dotty, her knitted, stuffed cat from her childhood. However, love can fix us too and with the desire to make Dotty’s owner happy, my son suggested to her to let me fix Dotty’s six holes.

I don’t consider fixing a special friend as mending or a chore but as a privilege. Just six holes? Sure, my afternoon just opened up. I’m honored someone trust me to fix their loved one. To those who are deeply attached to a special toy, fixing that toy, in any way, makes them feel better. After all they know they were the one who loved their special friend to, literally, pieces.

I’ve patched before. I’ve seen the appreciation. My daughter’s pink dog, Sniffy, who followed her to college, has patches on his patches. He still keeps the honored position on her bed. I’m glad I could help make that happen.

Dotty 1

Fixing a stuffed toy is pretty easy. Patches can be of matching or contrasting fabric. Dotty is knitted, and I don’t knit but her owner didn’t mind if I sewed patches on. I let Dotty’s owner choose which fabric to use from my scrap pile and she choose five different fabrics.

Dotty patch a stuffed animal 1

Dotty had six holes like this. My son had used Fray Check on the edges of the holes before I ever saw Dotty.

Dotty had become a little flattened over the years so I was asked if we could plump her up a little. The holes allow you to add more stuffing if needed. However, do be careful about how you add it. You want a smooth look, not a lumpy look.

Dotty patch a stuffed animal 2

To patch, cut out a piece of fabric larger than the hole. Lay the fabric over the hole so it extends beyond the hole on all sides.

Dotty patch a stuffed animal 3

Feeling where the hole is underneath I pin the patch to the stuffed toy around the edges of the hole. My pins go through the toy’s “skin” around the edge of the hole and not just into the stuffing. The outline in pins is just larger than the hole.

Dotty patch a stuffed animal 4

Trim the patch with it still pinned to the toy. The pins are a guide for shape and size. Leave enough fabric to turn under, about 1/4 inch is good. You could run a tight zig zag stitch around the patch (after unpinning it from the toy) and not turn under your fabric.

Dotty patch a stuffed animal 5

Turn under the edges of the patch. Pin down as you go.

Dotty patch a stuffed animal 6

Around tight curves I notched the fabric slightly. On the front of Dotty, where I used lighter weight fabric on the larger holes, notching wasn’t necessary. On a small circular patch, made of light weight cotton, I had to notch because the curve was so tight.

Dotty patch a stuffed animal 7

When it’s pinned down all around just check that the entire hole is covered.

Dotty patch a stuffed animal 8

Sew the patch in place.

Dotty patch a stuffed animal 9

Finished. (with this patch)

Dotty patch a stuffed animal 10

I had to take off the twill tape tag to patch but I reattached it when I was done because I noticed this tag is Dotty’s handle. A finger easily and lovingly slipped though this tag to carry Dotty around. Keep in mind that ittle details like these are special to the owners. My daughter’s dog had a large, loose, loop of thread that once was part of his factory made, sewn down smile. I left the loop loose because it had become part of his special smile.

Dotty patch a stuffed animal 11

Here she is; patched and plumped and ready for more love.

8 Comments on How to Patch a Well Loved Stuffed Animal

  1. Catherine Earle
    September 3, 2015 at 10:56 am (2 years ago)

    Now Dotty can be called a “rescue Cat”. Great tutorial.

    Reply
    • Mary Earle-Sigler
      September 3, 2015 at 5:56 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks. My favorite companion was a plastic doll that I gave a crew cut to. I wish I knew how to fix that.

      Reply
  2. wendi zimmerman
    November 26, 2016 at 9:06 pm (1 year ago)

    Oh my goodness, I just about cried reading this. My almost 8 year old has “mr kitty” from before she was born, also a blabla kitty, just with stripes instead. He is relegated to be stuffed in a little bag because he is falling apart so badly and my daughter loves him so so much! I can not see to save my life (or poor mr kitties). I tried to see a patch but it pulled he thread and made a new hole. And then I ironed on a few patches but they haven’t held up. You don’t by chance take in any strays? Lol! I would love to somehow repair her very best friend!!

    Reply
    • Mary Earle-Sigler
      November 27, 2016 at 2:33 pm (1 year ago)

      Oh, poor Mr Kitty. Is Mr. Kitty knitted? You’ll have to send me a picture (mary@thedailysew.com) so I can help with a solution.

      Reply
  3. Elena
    November 15, 2017 at 7:49 pm (4 weeks ago)

    I just purchased a vintage Blue Ribbon monkey (1958), who is very furry except for face hands and feet. He has a hole in his lower chest. Being so furry I hesitate to use a patch. Suggestions? The hole is not huge but not tiny. An inch square? I think if I cinched it close with needle and thread it might pull surrounding material too much. Also the head is loose. It appears someone tried to repair using long threads but it’s wobbly and may be trouble later. Any tips would be very appreciated.

    Reply
    • Mary Earle-Sigler
      November 16, 2017 at 11:52 am (3 weeks ago)

      What about darning the hole, like a sweater. You could even use a thin yarn to give the repair a fuzzy quality. Darn by anchoring stitches across the hole in one direction, then weave your thread or yarn across those first stitches. Or have the first stitches cross the hole and each other diagonally like a web or like slicing pizza. Then weave filler thread around the spokes. I haven’t darned much so you may want to look that up 😉 I think you’re right though, about pulling the material too tight if you were to cinch the hole shut. The fabric is already old so you don’t want to put much strain on it.

      You could also place a piece of fabric over the hole but with the edges of the patch under the edges of the hole. A sort of reverse applique patch.

      The head is tricky. Do you have a long doll making needle? I would use one and attach the head, close to the base as possible, through the body stuffing and out the other side. If you can work through the fur, maybe take small stitches all around the base of the head (regular needle and thread) to attach it to the body. That’s how I remember attaching the head when I made a cloth doll.

      Repairs or not, I’m glad you’re new monkey has found a loving home.

      Reply
      • Elena
        November 16, 2017 at 12:19 pm (3 weeks ago)

        Good advice. I don’t have the needle you mentioned but I do have longish needles used for yarn (Have some crochet experience. Sewing not so much). Your advice of patching sounds good. It will mess with his fur ( it’s long!) but better than falling apart. He is fairly “moth eaten” on his left side of torso. And all around his neck which might make stabilizing head difficult. Didn’t realize it when I purchased him. I would guess he needs his entire torso replaced which would make him not as original but better than wasting away! But that would need a professional, not me. I can try patching him up in the meantime. Thank you so much for your advice! I really appreciate your time and advice. It’s encouraging.

        Reply

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