Narwhal Softie: Hand Sewing for Beginners

I’m so excited to participate in this year’s Sew A Softie Blog Hop! Trixie is the Australian based sewing instructor and blogger who created the Sew a Softie virtual event back in 2015, when it was just a day to celebrate fun, beginner friendly hand sewing projects to entice kids and adults to get sewing. It has since morphed into an entire month and Trixie invites countless other sewing instructors, crafters and General Creative Folks to share tutorials and help spread the word.

The event takes place on both Facebook and Instagram so anyone can sew along with us! Find all those links on Trixie’s website, through here!

Obviously, I love this idea! Hand Sewing projects, especially with felt, are the perfect introduction to hand sewing for someone at any age. I was extra honored when Trixie found me on Instagram and reached out to ask if I’d like to participate in the Global Sewing Party happening this July.

So, for Sew a Softie 2020, I introduce you to my Narwhal Softie, !

a Narwhal at the beach in NJ, whodathunk?

So let’s go over the few things you’ll need in order to stitch up your very own Narwhal softie: The Materials you’ll need for this project are:

Let’s Get Sewing!

First off, download and print out the sewing pattern which you can find through the Download button above. Print out at 100% to make it the same scale as mine- but feel free to make it bigger or (only slightly) smaller if you want to experiment with size.

Make sure to gather all your materials and various colors of felt. I’ve used dark blue for the body, a lighter blue for the belly, purple and pink for the horn and a darker purple for the fin. You’ll also want a little bit of black and white fo rthe eye. You can absolutely change up the colors to match the personality of your narwhal!

You’ll want to then grab your paper scissors and cut out each of the pattern pieces on the lines.

After you’ve cut each piece out, match it with it’s coordinating felt and pin in place. Make sure no pins are hanging over the edge where youll be cutting! Alternatively, you can grab a writing utensil and trace your pattern pieces onto the felt (which is sometimes easier for smaller hands) and then cut the shapes out. Make sure to note how many pieces of each you need, it’s written on each pattern piece.

The first pieces to go to together will be the belly to the body. Were going to attach that piece with a running stitch! Its one of the most basic hand sewing stitches and an excellent stitch to know, you can put anything back together once you know how to do a running stitch.

Thread your needle with whatever color embroidery floss/thread youd like to use and make sure to tie a knot in the end. Click through here my quick how to video on the best way to tie a knot for hand sewing.

Starting from the back so the knot is hidden, begin stitching near the edge of the belly piece, around the upper part. We’re going to leave the bottom edge of the belly unsewn because we’re going to sew that later with a more decorative stitch.

When you reach the end of that edge, bring your thread to the back and tie a knot before you cut your threads. Repeat with the other side, making sure you are sewing that belly piece opposite that piece you just finished.

Tying a knot

Next, let’s make some cute decorative embroidery stitches to mimic the spotted back of a real narwhal. This step is totally optional, but I love adding different textures through stitching on my felt projects. Here, I’ve used a combination of long and short running stitches and french knots. French knots are a more intermediate level embroidery technique, but I have seen many of my 9 year old students totally nail it with some practice!

To make a French knot, come up from the back where you’d like to make your spot. Pull all the way through, and bring your needle down to the surface of the felt. Using your other hand, wrap the thread 3-4 times around the needle. Keeping tension on the working thread, put the needle back through the felt in the same spot you came up. Pull tightly, and a small round knot should form on the surface.

Once your stripes and dots are complete on both sides, grab the fins! I put a spot of glue on the back to help keep it in place while I stitched a few running stitches.

Looking a lot like a narwhal, isn’t she? Next up is the most magical and interesting part of these mysterious Arctic animals- the tusk! Did you know a narwhal’s tusk is actually a tooth, growing up and outwards? Amazing!

First, you’ll take the wide triangular piece and fold it in half. Using a matching color thread (or not, it’s your world!) sew the long edge together with a whip stitch.

Now let’s sew together the 2 halves of our narwhal! Up until this point, we’ve used the most friendly of beginner hand sewing stitches- a whip stitch and running stitch. I challenge you to try the blanket stitch if you haven’t yet, it adds a bit more visual interest along the edges of your hand sewing projects. It’s also truly not too tricky once you get into the groove!

I’ve created another quick How to do a Blanket stitch video on my YouTube channel, if you’d like to see how it’s done!

Or, if you’re working with a younger sewist, a running or whip stitch will work just as well for this step.

Place the two body pieces Wrong Sides Together and place a pin or two through them to hold them in place. Starting at the top of the head if you’re right handed and under the head if you’re left handed, begin stitching through all the layers. Especially when you get to the belly, make sure you’re catching all the layers! Once you get just above where the mouth would be (remember, the tusk is actually a tooth!) take the horn and place it in between the body layers. Switching temporarily to a running stitch, sew through the body and horn layers all at once. Once you get to the other side of the horn you may switch back to a blanket stitch.

Stop with about 1’’-1 1/2’’ left of space in order to stuff your narwhal. I actually thought it would be quite fun to glue mine onto a hair clip when I’m finished so the whole world can see me wear my love of narwhals, so I skipped stuffing her. Make sure to gently push stuffing into the tail part, but don’t push too hard!

Finish sewing the hole closed and finish off with a knot!

Then, take the long, skinny strip you cut of contrasting felt and dab a bit of glue on one end. Beginning at the base of the triangular horn, stick the long strip down and begin dabbing a bit of glue on the backside and then wrapping it up the horn. Make sure to put enough glue at either end and making sure it’s good and stuck! Trim whatever excess contrasting felt you have after wrapping the horn.

The last step is to snip a little black circle out for the eye, glue it on and add a small white piece of felt too. And voila! Here’s your very own pocket sized narwhal stuffie. Well done!

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