Thursday, September 27, 2007

Electric Eel Neckpillow Tutorial

My niece is turning 2 this weekend and I wanted to make her a special stuffed animal. She loves carrying around animals and with the shape of this guy, I can just picture her running around dragging him on the ground. Once he was finished I realized that he'd make a perfect neck pillow for adults! If you feel inspired to make your own, here are some simple instructions.

To make this electric eel neck pillow stuffed animal you will need two pieces of contrasting fabric. I chose a heavy duty felt for the belly and a soft cotton blanket material for the top. The body pieces should measure about 18 inches long, 6 inches wide at the top “face” section and taper to 3 inches wide at the bottom “tail” section. I also used the felt as a tongue, cut a rectangle with one side rounded that’s about 3 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. For the eyes, I used plastic doll eyes that are available at Joann’s Fabric. They come in two pieces, one that is the eye part and another that is a plastic "washer" which secures the eye. If you are giving this to a child, like I am, you need to make sure that they get a second piece of “reinforcement” fabric to place in-between the eyes and the “washer” pieces.

Once you have all your pieces cut, take the top piece of body fabric and mark with a pen where you want the eyes to go. Cut a teeny hole where each dot is and in the middle of the “reinforcement” fabric squares.

Poke the “male” piece through each of the holes and attach the “washer” on the back so it is pressed against the “reinforcement” square. The directions on the packet for the doll eyes should clarify if you have any questions, though I found them pretty intuitive to use.

Take the two body fabric pieces and lay them with the right, or “outside” sides together. Place the tongue fabric piece in between the two body pieces, in between the eyes.

Make sure a quarter of an inch of the square side is sticking out and pin it in place . Pin the rest of the body together around the edges, leaving the bottom “tail” section unpinned. I wanted the front of the face to be rounded so I took a pen and marked small dots in a half circle to follow when I sewed the body pieces together.

With a straight stitch and starting on the bottom right side of the body, sew all around the body. Make sure you follow the dots on the front of the face in a half circle and stop sewing once you reach the left bottom section of the body, so that you have the bottom “tail” section open for stuffing.

Flip the body inside out using the opening. With your iron on medium heat, press the edges around the body and face. With cotton stuffing, stuff the eel until it’s as full as you want it to be. (I like my stuffed animals a little floppy but if you want to use it as a neck pillow, you’ll want to fill it a bit more so it’ll support your head).
Tuck the seam of the tail in the inside of the body and pin it. Use a straight stitch to close the hole.
Voila! Electric eel neck pillow or stuffed animal gift!

Other Ideas: If you don’t want to use the plastic doll eyes that I got, You can cut felt circles and stitch them to the body instead! You can also get creative with antennae or adding a nose.
For the more earth conscience, use torn pieces of old cotton t-shirts or rice as stuffing.
Let me know if you have questions or if anything is confusing! The boy carried this around the apartment all nite last nite so it looks like I might have to make another one for my neice since he didn't seem to want to give it up!

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