Most children have a favourite doll or teddy bear, and this simple sewing activity is a great way for your youngsters to make some bedding for their special friend.
Ask your child which toy they want to sew for and help them measure a suitable size of fabric for the sheets and pillow case. As a guide, the best size sheets for a 20 centimetre doll would be approximately 35cm by 30cm. I personally find that simple cotton material is best as it’s cheap to buy and easy for little fingers to work with.
Using these measurements, mark the pattern onto your chosen fabric. Remember you’ll need two sheets – one for the bottom of the bed and the other for the top. In addition, don’t forget to cut out two identical pieces of fabric for the two sides of the pillow. Cut out a piece of stuffing in a slightly smaller size. Be sure to allow for enough room for the hems and seams.
If you have any thicker material such as felt, they might want to make a blanket as well. Alternatively, older children who know how to knit or crochet might enjoy creating a special handmade quilt.
As this activity uses sharp scissors and needles, as well as some rather detailed work, it’s definitely best for older children, eight years old and above. However, with plenty of adult assistance and supervision, parts of the activity can definitely be attempted by littler ones.
Time: 90 minutes
Age: Over 10's
Cotton fabric – recycled fabrics such as old sheets, pillows or skirts are perfect for this kind of activity
Sewing cotton in a matching colour (very young children might find it easier to work with thicker thread such as embroidery cotton)
Child-friendly scissors to cut thread
Sharp fabric scissors to cut the material
Needles (as needles have the potential to be dangerous, choose a suitable size for the children you’re working with – larger, blunter ones will be better for very young children)
Stuffing for the pillows (we bought cheap synthetic stuffing from a craft shop)
Measure the doll’s bed, and / or the toy that you’re making the bedding for. Keeping in mind that you’ll be sewing a hem on each side of the sheets and pillows, add at least three centimetres of fabric to the size you decide on.
Using the tape measure, mark the measurements directly onto the cotton fabric that you’ll be sewing on.
Cut the fabric into four pieces – two larger identical pieces for the sheets, and two smaller ones for the pillow. If you’re using shop-bought synthetic stuffing, as I did, cut this to size as well. We cut ours a couple of centimetres smaller than the fabric pieces.
Starting with the two larger pieces of fabric, fold the edges over and carefully pin them to form a hem. An ideal hem size for little fingers to work on would be about 1cm or even more.
When you’ve finished pinning the hem, sew long but firm stiches around the edge of the sheets to secure the fabric. This is called tacking. The pins can then be removed.
Next, sew carefully around the hem again in a thread that matches the colour of the fabric you’ve used. Use fairly small stiches, as this will strongly secure the sheet’s hems. The tacking stiches can now be carefully removed. Your doll’s sheets are now complete.
Taking the two smaller pieces of fabric that you cut earlier, follow the above steps – pinning a hem, tacking it, removing the pins, sewing carefully around the edges and removing the tacking.
Fold over these two smaller pieces of fabric, as shown in the photo below, and sew three of the edges carefully together. If necessary, pins and / or tacking can be used to hold them together while you sew. Don’t sew the last side together as you need this to be open, so the stuffing can be placed inside.
If you’re using synthetic stuffing, check that the piece you cut earlier is a suitable size for the pillow. If not, you can cut it down further so it will fit into the pillow. Gently push the stuffing into the pillow.
Once you have enough stuffing in the pillow, the last side can be sewn together. If you like, you could hadd some lace or colourful braid as well to provide an extra special touch.
The pillows are now complete, and your toys have a beautiful new set of bedding. If your dolls would like a lovely new bed as well, take a look at this craft activity which will show you exactly what to do.