Cuddly turtle tutorial

I'm a big believer in anyone can sew.  I'm trying to bring my girls up with the same attitude and encourage their creativity.
This week my youngest has Book Character Day at school - where they get to dress up as their favourite book character.  She has chosen Tess the Turtle fairy - who wears just regular clothes (easy), a pair of fairy wings (what little girl doesn't have a pair!) and has a turtle....oh...

So - when my daughter asked if I could make her a turtle - I suggested she make her own! So she did!

Here's how:

First she drew her turtle on a piece of paper :

Then I got her to draw the head, tail and a leg separately for the pattern pieces.

She then cut the pattern pieces out:

Then chose some fabric and pinned the pieces on:

Her 6 year old hands are still a bit little for using dressmakers scissors easily - so at her request I cut the pieces out.

She had to work out that we needed a top and bottom for each part - and then enough pieces for 4 legs (or fins)

Next came choosing 2 buttons for the eyes:

And stitching them onto the top part of the head:

Now onto the machine stitching!  The head , tail and 4 fins had to be  pinned then stitched around the edges - leaving a gap for turning out and stuffing!

Turning out and stuffing was lots of fun!

All stuffed and ready for assembly!

Each piece then had to be pinned and stitched to the main body - but facing inwards:

Then the other main body part placed over the top and it all stitched together - leaving the all important gap for turning out and stuffing!

Finally - she turned her turtle right sides out and stuffed him!

(sorry for the blurring stuffing photos!)

Final step was to hand-stitch the opening closed.

And there you have it - one cuddly turtle, designed and made by Maya - age 6!!

Now he may not be a very conventional turtle - but he is Maya's - the fact that she could draw and make the pattern herself makes him all the more special!

Aside from the fabric cutting, and the hand stitching it up at the end, Maya basically made this turtle herself.  The machine stitching she could do no problem - I just stepped in to help when she started getting tired (a 6 year old's attention span isn't too long!) .

What crafts have you done with your kids lately?  Do you let your kids loose on your sewing machine?

Just to update - I asked Maya - and she tells me the turtle's name is Pearl!

For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

If you are interesting in helping your kids learn to sew, I have produced an e-book that helps kids learn to sew using a pair of jeans as the base fabric!  Do take a look at my 


  1. That is a charming turtle! I think Maya did a great job!

  2. Well done Maya, that is fantastic!! I think he/she looks gorgeous. Love the fabric you chose too.

    Michelle :o)

  3. How cute! I love that she was so involved!

  4. That will be such a special toy for her, what a great idea to let your little one create right from the beginning of the process. And what a gorgeous result!

  5. I started blogging because I was doing a 365 project with the theme of (yup, you guessed it) turtles. I just love turtles and I think your little girl did an absolutely amazing job on this! Good for you, Mom for encouraging her. I have never heard of Tess The Turtle Fairy, does the turtle have a name?

  6. Wow what a great job by your little Maya. How empowering to have her do the whole thing herself. You are a wonderful mom Jill! Congrats to you both!

  7. Beautiful turtle and I bet she'll remember making that forever!

  8. Thanks everyone - Maya is really proud of her little turtle - she did give it a name, but I've forgotten it :( I'll ask her when she gets home from school!

  9. Love this Jill. I love that your daughter made it. What a great sense of accomplishment for her.

  10. that's amazing! i love that you guys did this together, she gets a real accomplishment out of it, and it's something no one else has. much better than whining for a new stuffed animal, which admittedly i did.

  11. Brilliant mom>>>> talented daughter>>> awesome team!


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