This sturdy stuffed toy has squeaker all through the body and sewn in compartments to make a wiggly stuffed snake that's tricky to eviscerate (and toy hospital friendly for repairs). Although stuffed toys are strictly for indoor play, I couldn't resist putting snakey in the shrubbery for a few blog photos...of course, that was a short lived failed plan, as Humphrey's toy homing beacon was active. I really love living somewhere without any real snakes in the wild!!! On the subject of snake-free islands (hehe) our St. Patrick's Day posts start next Friday so stay tuned! Both Humphrey and Oli both LOVE this toy, although Humphrey has laid claim and has been known to wear himself out playing then fall asleep on top of snakey, lest Oli make a move while he snoozes. Ha! It's jam-packed with squeaky goodness, wiggles wonderfully when vigorously shaken, and yet it's crazy tough. Definitely a design I'll revisit in the future.
To make your own, you will need pre-shrunk/washed sturdy fabric, mixed fleece scraps for embellishments (a great use for offcuts!), complementary coloured thread, stuffing, squeakers (optional), and scissors/sewing tools. A dowel or other long thin object is also highly recommended for helping to invert and position stuffing. 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. My snake used the same green upholstery fabric as Frankenstein and the Christmas Trees. The heavy upholstery fabric with a bonded black fleecy backing - thick work for sewing but it is really great for tough stuff!
- Cut a long narrow piece of snake-sized sturdy base fabric. The fabric needs to go from tail to head, with a fold over at the head. You can cut double length to fold at the tail or two halves to join at the tail, depending on your available fabric and preferred toy size. My fabric is very long, so I folded at the tail.
- Cut a long piece of fleece (I used black) and trim to create a long diamond accent strip for the back. It should stop short of the tail area and end before the head area, just covering the snake's back.
- Cut scraps of fleece for eyes, to line the mouth, and (optional) a tongue. Position on the head of the snake, so that mouth is folded back into the body and trim the edges slightly to gently taper the edges of the snake's head.
- Cut a scrap of black fleece to cover the tail. Position on the tail of the snake and trim the edges slightly to gently taper the edges of the snake's tail.
- With the snake open (unfolded at the tail, or in two pieces), sew the tail into place. For extra snake style points, sew multiple horizontal lines to rib the tail into a few rattle-like segments.
- Sew the back diamond into place down the midline then around the edges to secure.
- Sew the eyes and mouth pieces on the the base. For added security, I also sewed the (optional) tongue securely onto the mouth lining with just a bit sticking out.
- Fold (or layer) your snake at the tail so that it is right/embellishmed side in, then carefully fold back the mouth lining flaps. Pin to secure.
Tip: The snake body is long and narrow, so it can be tricky to inverse through the gap (which will be at the mouth. If you like using a pull method, you can attach a pin/pull tool, such as a sturdy string, at the right-side of the tail before you start to sew. I'm using a dowel as a push tool to assist with "shoving" the inside of the snake downwards, as shown. You can combine both methods as well.
- Sew together along the seam allowances except at the front/opening of the mouth, which we will use for inversing and stuffing.
- Trim any excess threads/material and inverse to right-side-out. My fat layers of fabric definitely didn't need any extra stuffing at the head, but if you feel yours does, it's easiest added under the inside edges of the mouth pieces before inverting.
- Add stuffing and (optional) squeaker(s) incrementally from the tail forwards, sewing each compartment closed as you go. Compartmenting is optional, if you prefer to just stuff the whole snake. Stop stuffing when you reach the head at the back of the mouth opening. Ensure the back edges are caught in the final seam as you sew the final compartment line at the back of the head.
- 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.
P.S. To Humphrey's credit, he's a caring and sharing little soul. Check out his efforts to entice his very disinterested cat brother Tig into playing snakey tug-of-war. Dejected, he settled for a basket-side snuggle instead. Sweet little darling doggy. :)