The Barkmas Bonanza begins! We have a Christmas post for your ever weekday between now and the start of our offline holidays, with toys, decorations, treats, and more. We're kicking off with a squeaky Santa Clause dog toy DIY. I love working with fleece and it's great for woven toys (stay tuned for some awesome DIY Christmas tugs later in our Barkmas shares) and easy for sewing softies, but I wanted to make a few extra tough toys for our Christmas playtime. Santa combines a sturdy material base with decorative fleece embellishments for a tough but cute softie.
To make your own, you will need sturdy red and beige fabric, mixed fleece scraps for embellishments (a great use for offcuts!), complementary coloured thread, stuffing, squeakers (optional), non-toxic pink blush/tint (optional), and scissors/sewing tools. The toy can be hand sewn, but will be much easier if machine sewn. Softie dog toys follow the same basic principles as you would use if sewing (or buying) for a small child - no loose parts to nibble free and everything securely stitched into a sturdy toy.
I free handed Santa's embellishments so that I could work with my available materials and off cuts, but since he is a little more complicated than most of our toys, I created a little sketch (see above) to help clarify what's being cut and used where. It isn't a pattern (you'll notice a few differences between the sketch and my toy, which I'll note below), and you should create your own customised Santa embellishments to suit your circle base.
- Cut two identical circles of red fabric for your Santa, in the desired size of your finished toy plus an all-around seam allowance. A large plate or bowl makes a great template for tracing your circles. :)
- Cut an identical partial circle (roughly 2/3 to 3/4) of beige fabric for the skin of Santa's face. The top of the circle is not included so that the red of your base material show through to form Santa's hat. I was using a beige scrap that wasn't big enough for the full width of my circle, so you can see the edges (covered later by the beard) on my Santa face above.
- Cut an identical partial circle (roughly 2/3 to 3/4) of white fleece as above, then trim out the middle to create a U-shape for Santa's beard. I used my offcut from the beard when making the mustache, eyes, and eyebrows.
- Cut a mustache out of white fleece that is wide enough to span across your face and over the beard on both sides, but not too far - you don't want the tips to get lost in tour seams when you close up the toy.
- Cut a scrap of red fleece that will go under the beard and mustache to create a red mouth.
- Cut scraps of fleece to create eyes and eyebrows.
- Cut long narrow strip of white fleece that is wide enough to span your full circle where the top of your face/beard end. This will form the trim on Santa's hat and cover your top edges of the beard and face pieces. If you have pinking shears, this creates a nice decorative edge. The pom-pom for the top of Santa's hat is optional, but you can cut a fleece circle for this with pinking shears as well, if you wish.
- Once you have all of the pieces, lay out your Santa head and double check that all of your shapes/sizes work and adjust if/as needed.
- Sew the beige part circle to your red backing, both right-side-up. As noted above, my beige scrap wasn't big enough for the full width of my circle.
- Check placement, and then sew the red mouth backing into place.
- Sew the white beard into position.
- Position your facial features and carefully sew into place. Optional: If you wish, add a few extra seams in the "hair" of Santa's mustache for extra style and strength and/or sew a small seam to create the appearance of a dimple (...his dimples, how merry...) or a nose.
Tip: Sewing small pieces of fleece can be tricky for pinning, positioning and stitching. If you wish, you can tack them into position with a non-toxic glue (this will be chewed on, so make sure its non-toxic/edible, whether bought or homemade) or a few quick hand basting stitches.
- Position your white fleece trim for the hat edge, taking care to ensure that the top edge of your face and beard elements are covered, and sew into place. You do not need to sew the outer edges, as these will be sewn together hen you join the toy. If you wish, double sew each edge for extra style and strength.
- Optional: If you wish, dust the nose and cheeks of your Santa (...his nose like a cherry...) with a little bit of blush, mica, or other non-toxic tint to create a slightly rosy glow.
- Layer your face and backing right-side-in and sew together along the seam allowances, leaving a gap at the top (or bottom if you prefer) for inversing and stuffing.
- Remove off any excess threads and inverse to right-side-out.
- Add stuffing and (optional) squeaker(s). Don't over-stuff or it will be difficult to close the toy.
- Fold the gap seam allowance into the toy and sew the toy closed.
- Optional: If you hate hand-closing or want to reinforce the closure seam, you can cheat a little and carefully machine sew an external seam along the edge.
- If adding a pom-pom, securely hand-sew on to the top of your hat so that it is sewn all the way around and the top edge just barely extends over the the outside of your toy.
- Trim any threads if/as needed and enjoy!
Remember, toys are for supervised interactive play. Know your dog before giving him or her any new toy. Some dogs would rather eat their toys (whether store bought or handmade), and that's dangerous. Toys are for playing and playtime is safer (and more fun!) with you involved. You can read more about dog toy safety here.