How to Repair Stuffed Animals in an EMERGENCY

May 12, 2021

Our children love their stuffed animals, stuffies, lovies, toys or whatever you call them where you live. Sometimes they love them so much, the critters start losing body parts! Or they were caught in the car door and lost a limb… ouch. No matter what happened to their stuffed animal, we want to fix them up right! Our goal is to repair their stuffed animals to the best of our ability, all while keeping in mind that it is a soft and moveable creature. Their fluffy fur is very forgiving, usually hiding the repairs. This is also helpful for dog owners who want to try and save their dogs toys.

**Disclaimer – Do not attempt to repair antique or vintage stuffed animals without consenting with a professional restorer. The instructions here are only intended for parental use on emergency cases for more recently born stuffed animals…

No stuffed animals were hurt in the process of making this post. I thought there must be a few stuffies who needed mending but no luck! I thought I could fake some issues, but I could NOT cut into the animals on purpose. I’m a softie. So I am making use of some fake fur pieces I have to show you all the techniques. So, don’t mind that the ‘stuffed animal’ I’m sometimes working on doesn’t have a head! Or a body for that matter. 😂

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fabric to mimic how to repair stuffed animals

The best tips I can give you before getting started are these two:

1) Take a lot of photos from every angle if it is a major repair. You’ll forget what direction things went or what color the eyes were, especially if you have to stop to do something else.

2) It’s a stuffed animal, not a real person. I know kids are soooo attached to them and feel like it’s the end of the world, but remember to make this a fun experience! Keep your calm and smile on!

Involve the “Parent” in the Repair Process:

I have repaired so many stuffed animals, for my kids and for friend’s kids. The kind of repair I do is very dependent on the mood of the stuffed animal’s ‘parent’ at the time of the accident or repair. Ask the ‘parent’ what they would like done. Sometimes my daughter wanted to fix her stuffed animal with an invisible repair, other times she wanted to show off her stuffed animal’s scars…

Talk to them about what you are going to attempt. Not everything is able to be repaired invisibly, or at all, especially if this is your first time wielding a sewing needle and thread! Stuffed animals can be fragile, and just like humans, they might have some scars. Some repairs might involve a complete change of fabric or body parts – eyes for example, if one goes missing, you might need to replace both. If you choose, this can be turned into a great life lesson about being flexible! You obviously need to do what is right for your family.

● Talk about scars/stitches – ask them if they want the repair to be more invisible or visible. Maybe if it is a large repair, you can connect the resulting scar to a personal experience.

● Invisible repair – Match all-purpose thread color to color of fur. Try to hide the stitches as much as possible.

● Visible Repair – Use all-purpose thread to make a strong repair but then go over it with thicker thread/embroidery floss to create “stitches”.  Or hold their repaired bear’s arm up with a makeshift sling? There are so many ways to do this…

Gather your supplies: Each type of repair listed below will have related supplies listed. Unless you are replacing something, the supplies needed will be minimal.

Click here for your thread bunching solution guide

What Techniques/Stitches do I Need to Know to Repair Stuffed Animals?

Threading a Needle

Not a stitch, but here is a resource for making knots and threading needles if you need to start there. Remember, this is website includes information for the ABSOLUTE BEGINNER, if you need to read up on threading a needle, please do!!!

Running Stitch

Just like a dolphin jumping in and out of the water. Follow the edge of the fabric at an equal distance. The side the thread is coming out is the side you dive back down into.

For photo tutorial, see about the running stitch here.

Ladder Stitch

A nearly invisible stitch that connects appendages and closes up seams rather nicely.

For photo tutorial, see about the ladder stitch here.

Baseball Stitch

Super secure stitch for bringing two straight, clean edges together. You figure if it strong enough for a baseball, it’s strong enough for a stuffie!

Photo tutorial in the works, stay tuned.

Whip Stitch

Decorative stitch that holds fabric patches on very well.

For photo tutorial, see about the whip stitch here.

Securing Stitch

Something to make sure the thread does not come out, this is usually where the stitching failed causing the issue in the first place.

For photo tutorial, see about the securing stitch here.

What Kinds of Repairs can be Done on Stuffed Animals?

Reattach arm, leg, wing, ear, tail etc.

These are probably the most common repairs – the stitching on an appendage that is coming loose over time. Reasonable to expect this on stuffed animals that are well loved and well-travelled.

Supplies:

● Needle – one that goes through the fabric easily

● Thread – all-purpose to match fur color or thicker for special circumstances

● Scissors – only needed to trim thread

● Body Part – appendage/eye that fell off

I’ll use the term ‘arm’ for simplicity’s sake for this part.

1) If the appendage is still attached, don’t pull it off until you have marked its location. If it has already fallen off, take a look at where you think it was to see evidence of the previous location. If you can’t find the original location, try to match it up to the other matching appendage. Let’s hope that only one fell off! You can of course always go by gut feeling too, you know where most things go, right??

2) Once you have determined where you want the appendage to go, grab your thread and needle. I suggest using a double threaded needle, it’s sturdier for these types of repairs. If you don’t know how to double your thread and want directions, check out this post *How to Thread a Needle and Keep it Threaded*.

TIP – For normal sewing repairs, I use an 18 inch single length at a time (36 inches for doubled). You can always use longer lengths but when you are going through the fabric so many times with the same piece of thread, it can weaken the thread significantly. Longer lengths are good for embroidery since the stitches are decorative. Using smaller lengths and securing them properly each time time will be stronger for movable parts.

3) Make sure your knot is BIG enough to catch and stay on the inside of the fabric. You can test it by giving a gentle tug after it is in the fabric. If it is (k)not big enough, you can make another, larger one. I’m sorry, I can’t help throwing in some fun. 3

TIP – Keep in mind that on a plush critter with thick fur, we want the stitches to land and secure to the fabric that the fur is coming out of. We don’t want to connect fur to fur. You might need to do some small grooming before sewing. I have even done a little trimming with small scissors around a repair if I think it will help and not be visible when finished.

Lining up the seams to repair stuffed animals
It helps to line up the seams, they are usually designed this way when the critter was orignally sewn.

4) Start by attaching the appendage securely on the back side/ bottom / least visible side. For an arm or wing, that would be the underarm area. For ears, this is likely the back side. Legs would likely be the crotch/groin area. (I’m not so fond of either of those words, but I can’t seem to find any suitable substitute.) We don’t want the edge of the appendages fabric to show, unless it is that way on the rest of the creature. To hide the edges and the knot, line up the fabric cut edges on the location where you want the first stitch.

* Keep reading here for a large stuffy, with arms that are stuffed and open ended like the image below. See ** further below for an animal with small arms that aren’t big enough for stuffing.

Stuffed animal appendage ready to be sewn
We’re going to pretend that the piece on the left is the arm and the piece on the right is the body, where its arm is supposed to be located.

5) Starting on the inside of the critter – you know, where the fluffy stuffing is – put the needle through both edges of the fabrics – body and then the appendage. This stitch should be in far enough on the fabric to secure the fabrics together, sometimes the edges will fray, making it necessary to sew a little further away from the edge.

Seams lined up on stuffed animal repair

6) Once you have it secured with at least one good stitch, start stitching around the appendage with a running stitch (refer to the running stitch illustration above). Check that you are staying on course by lining the appendage up with the hole on the body a few times as you go. Stitch as far as you can with the running stitch, you want this to be easy and gentle on the critter.

A word of caution. Doubled thread likes to misbehave. You will need to check regularly and often to make sure both strands of a double stranded thread settle into place. You might need to gently pull on each strand separately to get them to settle down. This is more likely to happen because of the thickness of the fabric and fur, the thread wants to sit on top of the fabric instead of dive down where it belongs.

Showing how doubled thread sometimes misbehaves, one of the thread lengths refuses to go down with the other.
This is bad thread that is misbehaving. Pull down on both strands so that the loop disappears.

Now you can proceed.

Using a large knot to repair stuffed animals
Sewing the running stitch to repair a stuffed amimal

If you keep sewing and realize that the appendage isn’t going to cover the hole or going to be too bumpy/lumpy/crooked, you can take out a few stitches and correct it. If you used a single thread, just pull your needle off and pull out the number of stitches you need to. If your thread is doubled, you can cut the thread where it folds, pull out the necessary stitches and then thread your needle with both loose ends. You’ll need to be more careful about the ends slipping out of the needle, just like when sewing with a single thread.

Sewing the arm back onto a stuffed animal

7) When you can no longer use the running stitch because your hands are too big or the opening is too small, we will switch over to the ladder stitch. You can do this whole thing with a ladder stitch, but it is kind of fiddly to work if not using straight pins and the running stitch is easier. Reposition the animal so the arm and body are lined up how they are supposed to look.

There is a quick video of the ladder stitch at the top of the post. It is really hard to explain with words… Here are a few photos to help. The white lines represent the needle/thread path. We are taking a ‘bite’ out of the top piece of fabric and then a ‘bite’ of the bottom fabric, keeping the distance we ‘bite’ the same so that we are creating a seam inside the body. Usually we create a seam visibly, we are making on happen on the inside but we can’t see it from the outside.

Repairing stuffed animal with a ladder stitch

We are making the stitches the same length and the same distance apart. When we pull the thread taut, it will become slightly zig-zagged but the seam will tighten up and be straight.

Checking the seam as we do the ladder stitch
Look Ma, no visible stitches!

8) After stitching the arm on all the way around, until you meet the knot you started with, use a few securing stitches to make sure it stays put! Take a very small ‘bite’ of the fabric, remembering to actually get the fabric and not just the fur. You can check for fur by gently pulling the needle up towards you after putting it where you think it should go. If it is caught in fur, it should just come up and out. If it is in the fabric, it will resist when you tug on it. Pull needle until just a small loop of the thread remains, not all the way so it disappears.

Adding in a securing stitch to make sure our repair stays put.
Tiny, tiny bite.

After taking that tiny ‘bite’, leave a loop. We want that loop!

Take your needle and dive into the loop.

Diving the needle through the loop made by the first tiny stitch
Dive through the loop, but again don’t pull all the way taut… YET…

Now that you have gone through the first loop, tighten that first loop down to the fabric but keep the loop you just created. To figure out how, just tug on the second loop you created and one side of it should tighten down onto the fabric.

Next, dive through the second loop with your needle. Make sure the first loop is tight and down by the fabric, under the fur, before you pull down tightly on the second stitch. Do not trim yet!

Second loop to dive thread through to secure stitch

This double procedure of diving through two loops then tightening is considered one securing stitch. I like to take two securing stitches at a minimum. I would rather do overkill on the securing than have to do all of this over again.

9) Something I like to do with stuffed animals to help secure your repair… Take your needle down very close to your last securing stitch and pop out an inch or two away from the repair site. Pull gently and trim close to the fur. The thread will pop back into the body of the stuffed animal. It will have a better chance of staying tucked in all that fluff and less chance of coming undone than if you trimmed it close to the final securing stitch.

Before trimming the thread, bury it in the stuffing of the body.
Bring the needle up a few inches away from the secured stitch site.
Trimming the thread
After trimming, the thread will pop down under and disappear.

Done!

Click here for your thread bunching solution guide

**For a smaller stuffy with a closed arm:

Meet Rosie. A recent gift to my daughter, bought off Etsy (if you know this rat, please let me know and I will give you credit!) Even though she wasnt played with roughly, her right arm decided it wanted to fall off. YIKES. No big deal though, I’m going to walk you through a repair on a smaller stuffed animal like Rosie.

A cute little rat stuffed animal in need of repair

To start, do steps 1-3 the same as above.

5) Since the arm is small, you will likely not be able to hide the knot as well so we aren’t going to use a knot to start. Insert needle in the arm where it should be attached to the body, taking a small bite of fabric and pull it out just a few thread widths away from where you entered. We want to catch enough fabric to make the repair secure, but not sew the arm on too well that it doesn’t look or behave like the other one.

Leave a tail about 3 inches long, do not pull the thread all the way out. Remember there is no knot to stop it from falling out completely, you’ll have to keep this in mind the whole time. Don’t go all the way through the arm, keep the thread on the ‘inside’ of the arm.

Upclose view of the first stitches into the arm and body of the stuffed animal

Now, holding the arm that has the needle and thread sticking out of it, place it where you want the arm to end up, with the loose end of the thread next to the body where it need to go. Take the needle and make a small stitch into the body right where the arm is resting next to the body. You want to ‘grab’ enough of the body fabric to make the stitch sturdy. Generally speaking, the smaller the animal, the smaller the stitches have to be. Try to keep the stitches close together in a small configuration so they will be hidden by the arm.

Holding the arm in place while taking the small stitches

Hold the arm in place to bring the arm closer to the body with the stitch you just placed. We are doing this all in a very small amount of space.

6) Stitch back into the arm with the needle to repeat the process, taking small ‘bites’ in both the arm and the body each time around. We are making small circles, going into the arm and then into the body.

Pull the thread pretty tight each stitch, but not so hard that you make the arm look funny or risk breaking the thread. You’ll need to keep the arm in place the whole time so it will stay where you want it. Keep the stitches very close to the arm so they’re not visible or pulling out away from the arm. Keep checking your work.

Small stitches into arm to keep it in place

By gently rolling the arm back or forward to get the stitches in, you’ll have better control over where the thread lands. Take as many stitches as you think feels secure. I’d do no less than three. If you put too many stitches on a small arm, you might risk ruining it by putting too much stress on the fabric.

Moving the stuffed animals arm to get better access to the stitch site.

8) Now for a trick… We are going to secure the arm by tying knots with the ends of the thread. Take boths ends of the thread and make an overhand knot. (Crossing them over and tucking one under, then pull, just like the beginning of tying a shoe.) Make sure the knot sits on the fabric and does not get caught in the fur. Do a few knots in the same place, I like to do 2 or 3.

Secure the arm by pulling tight on the threads
Gently pull threads tight to keep arm in place.
Tying the knot close to the fur of the animal

9) Trim thread close but not right next to the knot or else it will fall out.

Thread trimmed close to the knot
Thread trimmed close to the knot.

TIP – If you want to make it a little more secure, you can use clear nail polish to soak the knot. It will keep the end tucked in the knot, If the end is tucked and secure, the whole thread will stay secure.

DONE!

Stuffed animal has her arm back on securely!
Click here for your thread bunching solution guide

Replace hand stitched nose/mouth/eye

I’m going to call it a nose from here on out to make it easier.

Many stuffed animals meant for smaller children often have a nose, mouth or eyes sewn on with thick thread. This is a safety precaution, meaning there are no hard plastic parts to fall off and choke the child. We are going to learn a little bit of hand embroidery to make this happen.

Take a good look at the nose. Where does it start, where does it end? What color is the thread? Is it a thick thread or thin? Take a picture or two if you can. These photos are like gold!

Supplies:

● Pearl cotton or similar thicker thread like embroidery floss – Does the ‘parent’ want it to match the old nose color? To contrast with the animal’s fur? You’ll want to use a longer length if thread, we are filling in the nose with thread, just like a coloring book shape. We don’t want to have to use two pieces of thread.

● Needle – Needs a larger eye (hole where thread goes) if you are going to use thicker thread. We do still want the needle to go in and out easily, so finding a smaller needle with a larger eye would be ideal.

● Needle nose pliers (optional) – If the needle is difficult to move through the fabric, you can use it to pull it or push it through

● Scissors – To cut the thread when finished sewing, trim off some old thread or trim fur that’s out of place.

1) Figure out where you want the nose to go by utilizing the photos taken earlier. (With these directions I am assuming that the animal is still stuffed and you do not have access to the inside area.) You can mark its placement or one edge with a pin or even air soluble marker (assuming you can see it on the fur). I made it very exaggerated here so you can see how to ‘mark’ it with pins.

Mark the location you want to sew on the nose
Mark the location with pins for really thick fur.

Using a needle that is already threaded with thick thread (single if it is a really thick thread, double if it isn’t super think), go into the center of the nose shape (small circle) and bring the needle up at the bottom edge of where you want the nose.

Starting the sew the nose on with a stitch in the center of the nose with embroidery floss or other thick thread
The center is hidden by all that fur, so I marked it on the image.

Starting one side and creating the stitches from the bottom to top looks nice, the thread is laid vertically. The first stitch into the nose. I brought it from the center up through to the top line of the nose mark.

Embroidering the nose on a stuffed animal for a repair

2) Make a long stitch over to the bottom of the nose edge and go down into the fabric. This process can take many tries for each stitch to make sure they are placed correctly, give yourself some grace! Place the needle at the mark directly below where the thread came out on the top edge. In this case it is on the left side of the triangle, if you are doing another shape, you’ll just go down to your previous mark.

Bringing the thread down through the nose to come out on the bottom where we want the nose to land

3) Bring the needle up right next to the spot on the edge where you came out the first time. With your thread as close to the first stitch as possible but not overlapping it and make it as straight up and down as possible (not easy on a curved, lumpy, fuzzy surface, but try anyway…), do a stitch right next to it, going into the fabric right next to the previous stitch. Let’s imagine we are going to ‘color’ in the nose with our vertical lines of thread. If you are right handed, it will be easier to go from the left side of the nose to the right side and vice versa for left-handed sewers.

I got carried away. I stitched all the way across without stopping and taking photos. You are going to repeat the stitches, making sure the thread covers and lays down smoothly next to the previous stitch. Stitches should be parallel to each other, the best you can. I am not a practiced hand embroiderer. (Keep in mind my day job is machine embroidery.) No judging please!

Keep stitching until you reach the other side of the nose and you are happy with your nose job. 😂 Keep thread tension consistent the entire way across. The thread should lie down nicely without bumps.

After the nose is stitched, it needs to be secured. We will create some securing stitches as close to the edge of the nose as possible. You can refer to the securing stitch illustration at the beginning of the post. Right under the last long stitch, take a small, teeny tiny stitch with your needle but do not pull it all the way tight, keep a small loop. Dive the needle through the loop created by the stitch to create another loop. Dive down again into the loop, this time tightening everything so that it sits near the fabric, not stuck in the fur.

Do not cut the thread yet. Repeat the securing stitch. I usually recommend two securing stitches, but if the thread is too thick, see below for another option. After the nose is secure, take the needle under the stitches of the nose to the other side.

Securing stitches placed under one end.
This photo has a few things going on: the securing stitches and taking the thread over to the opposite side of the nose, under the embroidery stitches.

6) Normally I suggest two knots, but if the thread is super thick we’ll do another little trick instead. After going under the nose, you can do a litte knot on the other side. After doing two stitches wherever you can, take your still threaded needle and dive down under where the thread is attached and come out in some random spot next to the nose. I know it sounds weird but trust me. Pull very tight on the needle/thread and snip the thread. Since you were pulling super tight, the thread will pop back into the nose. That thread will have an incredibly hard time getting out now that it is far away from the nose and stuck in all that stuffing.

Taking the final stitch of the embroidered nose
Trimming the thread after doing the nose.
Dive into the stuffing to bury the thread, then trim close to the fur. Stitch should pop inside.
No threads popping out!

Done!

Replace button eye/nose

Supplies:

Button(s) – Original or whatever you find that will make the ‘parent’ happy!

Thread – You can use thin or thick thread here. Thinner will be easier to work with and secure but a bright thick thread may look super fun.

Needle – Match needle eye to thread size. The needle is going to have to do some small tricky motions, so something that goes through the fabric easily is a must. Make sure the needle fits through the holes of the button.

Scissors – Something that can cut the thread – that’s all!

I’m going to refer to the button as an eye, but the same instructions can be used for a nose.

Losing your button eye is no fun. But what could be fun is to make an eye patch instead. If you want to do this instead of sewing on a new eye button, follow the directions for “Patch Hole not Located on Seam” below.

1) If the button is just dangling off, don’t move it or anything until you take a photo. You can cut off the button BUT LEAVE THE THREAD IN PLACE, this will tell you where to put the new eye. If the button and thread are missing completely, look at where you think it should go to see if you can find any remaining thread.

Missing the button? If you cannot find a good substitute button to match the other, consider going with something really different for a different look or you might want to replace both eyes so they match. Up to the ‘parent’!

Mark where your original/replacement button needs to go. You can use a pin, a tiny piece of masking tape that can be pulled out later, or just ‘eyeball’ it. Hahahahaha. I couldn’t help myself!

2) Thread needle with doubled thread if it’s thin, or single thread if it is thick.

3) Enter the needle into the fabric just off center of where you want the button to go and bring it back up and out a tiny distance away, leaving a 2-3 inch tail, without a knot. Don’t let the tail get pulled out. You want the thread to grab some of the fabric to secure the knot.

Place one hole of the button onto the needle and bring the button down so it is resting where you want it to land. The thread should be going from the fabric through the hole in a line perpendicular to the fur’s surface.

Sewing a button on to repair stuffed animal
That small black dot next to the thread is where I want my button to end up. The needle comes out close to the mark, but you can’t see it well because of the fur.

4) Holding the button where it needs to end up, take the needle back down through another hole but don’t go too deep, just dip into and out of the fabric up through another hole in the button. Keep the stitches close and under the button. Since the button is rigid, going in and out of the fabric with a rigid needle can be cumbersome. So we will do the best we can since we do not have access to the back of the fabric. If you have access to the back of the fabric, sew the button on like a regular button. Go see the How to Sew on a Button post.

Holding the button where you want it to be sewn

TIP You can make buttons even more interesting with the way you sew them on and with the thread choice. If it is a two hole button, you really only have one choice of where to go. For a four hole button there are more options, just be consistent and this will become part of the final look of the button.

Different ways to sew on a button
Plan ahead if you would like to try any of these other thread patterns.
The button is set where it needs to go.
Right side thread is the tail, left side thread is connected to the needle.

Bring the needle down under the button and take a small ‘bite’ of fabric so that you come out where the tail is coming out of the fabric. We are doing a small circle that is catching the fabric on one side of the circle and the button on the other. Pull the thread out until it tightens up and you can’t pull any more. We want it taut, not super tight, yet…

Pop the needle up through the hole you started in. For each set of two holes I would do at least three stitches so that it looks nice as well as holds securely.

sewing a button on to repair stuffed animal
Keep the stitches small so they don’t stick out beyond the button.

**Here I have twisted the view so that you can see how close I am keeping the stitches to the center of the button.

Head on view of the last stitch.

Still with the view twisted, see how I’m pinching the fabric? You may be able to do this to make it easier than going down then up through the holes in the needle. Using a rigid needle under a rigid button is not easy! If your stuffed animal is firm or too stuffed, you’ll have to just do the best you can by wiggling the needle in and out of the fabric. You can do it, it just might not be so easy!

CAUTION: this is a favorite place for the double threaded needle to cause trouble! Keep an eye on it for every stitch… otherwise you’ll get a ‘narsty’ knot forming like these loops under the button below.

Switch holes and use them all for a really secure repair. Do a few more stitches in the same manner.

5) Continue securing the button to the fabric by diving down and taking a small bite of fabric on your way up through another hole. Since this isn’t a functional button that will be holding pants up or a jacket closed, it doesn’t have to be soooo secured that you can’t stitch anymore. Try 4 stitches for a two hole button, 6 – 8 for a four hole (3-4 per direction if you want to use all four holes). Tug it gently to see if it is strong enough.

Until… Until you are happy with the way the button is attached.

button sewn onto stuffed animal

6) When you have done enough stitches to fasten the button, it is time to secure the button. Take the loose ends of your thread and tie some simple knots under the button. Make sure it does not catch the fur and the knots lay next to the actual fabric.

Tying knots to secure button on stuffed animal

The knot should be hidden under the button. Do two or three overhand knots.

To secure it a little bit more, you can dive the needle down into the fabric and come up an inch/a few inches away. Pull the thread taut and trim close to the fabric. The thread will ‘boing’ back into the animal and the thread end will have a harder time getting out. Repeat this with whatever is left of the tail.

TIP: If you don’t have much length on the thread and want to use it, just insert your needle into the fabric first, then thread it. You’ll need less thread. I do this all the time! One of my favorite tricks!

Burying the end of the thread into the stuffing in the stuffed animals body
Burying the thread.

Done!

Click here for your thread bunching solution guide

Close Open Seam

Seams are another place where stuffed animals like to come undone. This is probably the simplest fix of all on this list. If the animal lost any stuffing, now is a good time to replace some. Older stuffed animals likely have older fashioned stuffing like pure cotton; newer animals likely have a polyester based filling. You can try partially restuffing with a fiber filling that feels just like the original.

Supplies:

● Thread – all-purpose (typically 40 weight) to match fur color

● Needle – slides into fabric easily, eye is the right size for the thread thickness

● Scissors – to trim thread

1) Determine how large the opening really is, sometimes fur and the remaining thread can get tangled at the ends of the opening, giving an inaccurate size upon first glance.

A hole on the stuffed animals seam

2) Thread needle with doubled thread. The length of the thread can be about twice the size opening. If the hole is 6 inches long, you’ll need about 12 inches of thread to close it up, but doubled thread would equal 24 inches. Use more than you think you need, it’s easier. Make a BIG BIG knot so it does not slip through the fabric easily.

3) The edges of the fabric may be a little frayed, likely part of the reason why it came undone in the first place. Determine how far in you need to place the stitches to get the thread into solid fabric. Stitching into the frayed fabric threads will not work in the long run, you’re going to have to stitch it up again relatively soon. Hold the edges together with the raw edges facing into the body of the animal.

4) Take the threaded needle and insert it into the animal from the inside at one end of the opening, but we are going to move away from the opening about ½ an inch. Secure the beginning of the stitching at a place where the fabric and seam are already strong. Enter the needle into the fabric from the inside so that the knot is hidden on the inside.

B.A.K – Big A$$ Knot!

5) Gently pull on the ends of the hole and try to flatten it out the best you can. This gentle tugging causes the edges of the fabric to line up and fold themselves under, it acts like how the rest of the seam is sewn. Using the ladder stitch, we are going to carefully and evenly sew up the hole. Take a small bite from each side of the opening, at the part where the fabric naturally folds back. The thread that lays on the inside of the fabric will rest in that fold.

The photos above show how I put the knot it and the photo below shows how I hold it to stitch. I have switched the direction, the knot is on the right side oh the hole in the photo below. I like to move my needle towards the left since I’m right handed. Otherwise it would be crazy awkward.

The needle enters the top edge directly across from where the thread exits the bottom edge.
using the ladder stitch to close a hole on the seam of a stuffed animal

Repeat the same technique on the bottom edge. Enter the needle into the bottom edge directly across from where the thread comes out of the top edge. Keep taking these bites, checking to avoid any ripples or wavy fabric along the seam.

6) See the illustration and video above for the ladder stitch if you are having trouble with the photos.

7) When I reach the end of the hole, I like to go a few more stitches past it into the fabric that was not pulling apart. Do two securing stitches (see above) then dive the needle down into the stuffed animal by the seam you just fixed and come out a few inches away. Pull thread taut, trim and let the thread pop back into the stuffing.

Done!

Patch Hole not Located on Seam

Holes that happen away from seams are a little trickier. Was the fabric cut and is there enough fabric to close the hole? Or did some living creature chew it out or did it get caught in a door and the fabric is missing???

Cut/Straight Slit in the Fabric

We are closing up the ‘wound’ with some stitches. These will be just like the real stitches kids get when they have a large cut. This repair will be less sturdy than a fabric patch, but this might be what the ‘parent’ wants.

Materials:

● Thread – Can either match fur color or be contrasting.

● Needle -Oone that easily glides through the fabric and the thread fits through the eye of the needle.

● Scissors – To trim thread(s).

Look at the wound, is it a clean wound? Pull the fabric edges together to see what you have to work with. If it is a nice straight line, you’ll just start at one end and go to the other. If it is jagged, you’ll likely need to sew it closed using more than one thread. Each straight section of the ‘wound’ will be sewn as shown below.

This repair utilizes the Baseball Stitch. See at the top of the post an illustration and short video to learn the Baseball Stitch.

An open wound on the stuffed animal, ready to sew

1) Prepare needle, single or double threaded. Use a HUGE knot. Tuck needle inside the animal and come out about a 1/4 inch from one end of the hole so the knot is caught on the inside, but away from the frayed edges. We need it to be secure for this to work.

Using a big knot to start sewing the hole closed
Another B.A.K.!

2) Pull fabric edges together. Trim any stray threads for a clean repair. This next photo I have turned the stuffed animal, so it might a little different. With needle in hand and knot in place, dive down into the cut and come up a very short distance from the knot on one side of the cut. Pull taut.

Baseball stitch to close hole in stuffed animal.

3) Dive into the cut again, this time aiming for the other side of the cut, the needle coming up from the bottom to the top of the fabric and through nearly parallel to that first stitch. Pull taut.

repair stuffed animal using the baseball stitchc

4) Keep diving into the open cut and coming up on the side opposite of where the thread was coming out. Keep the stitches close to each other. When pulling taut, the edges are brought together.

Keep repeating this until the hole is completely closed. Do a few small securing knots. Bury the thread end in the stuffing by diving down into the animal very close to the last securing stitch. Come up and out an inch or so away. Pull gently then trim, the thread will pop back down into the stuffing.

Done!

Fabric Missing

If some of the fabric is missing, you can patch the hole with another fabric or even a fun patch! For example, if the child’s favorite thing is butterflies, you can use butterfly fabric or a large butterfly patch to cover the hole.

If using a piece of fabric, cut a piece larger than the hole. You can turn this into a design choice as well as a repair. Choose a bright contrasting fabric for fun or match the fur color as closely as possible for a less visible repair. If using a pre-made, decorative patch, make sure it covers the entire hole.

Materials:

● Fabric/Patch – Large enough to cover the hole about 1/8 – 1/4 inch. It can be as big as you want. Be creative, the fabric/patch can match the animal, contrast with the animal, be a cute shape like a heart or star…

● Thread – All-purpose thread or thicker (embroidery floss, perl cotton, thin but sturdy yarn) for a more decorative look

● Needle – Goes through fabrics involved easily.

● Scissors – Necessary to cut fabric and trim thread.

● Straight Pins – To hold fabric/patch in place while sewing

1) Thread needle with single or double thread. Make a HUGE knot.

Hole in the stuffed animal
The fake stuffed ‘animal’ is losing its fluff…

2) Place previously prepared fabric over hole and hold fabric in place using a few straight pins. Don’t poke yourself, especially if it is a light colored critter. Blood stains.

Placing fabric/patch over hole on stufffed animal
Fabric/patch pinned in place over hole in stuffed animals fur.

3) Pull back a corner of the patch and bring the needle up from the inside of the animal, through the stuffed animal fabric and the edge of the patch fabric.

IMAGE – Needle through fabrics

Hiding the knot under the fabric
Hide the knot under the fabric .

4) Starting where you come up through the patch fabric, do a whip stitch along the edge of the fabric, making sure to catch both the patch fabric and stuffed animal fabric to make sure the repair is going to cover the hole all the way around. Don’t let stitches miss either piece of fabric, it will leave the hole that we want to close still open!

With the whip stitch, bring the needle up and out of the fabric a small distance away from the edge of the fabric. If you want to keep it super neat, keep stitching that same distance into the fabric. Also, keep the stitches the same distance apart.

Stitching around the edge of fabric to secure it to fur

After bringing the thread to the top, take the needle and go down into the fur, going straight out to the edge with the thread. Bring the needle up again into the fabric that short distance to the left (I’m right handed, so I’m stitching towards the left to make it easier.) Keep repeating until you have gone all the way around the fabric/patch.

5) Once the fabric/patch is sewn all the way around, the last stitch you will dive under just the patch fabric so your needle and the thread are between the stuffed animals fabric and the patch fabric. Do a few small securing stitches. Dive the needle down into the animal, close to the securing stitches, and come up an inch or so away. Pull thread a little and trim near fur. The thread will pop back down into the stuffed animal.

securing the patch with a few stitches

Done!

More Tips

Having trouble pulling a needle out of the package? I had a hard time pulling this thick needle out of a new package. It was stuck in there pretty well. So, I just threaded it with the embroidery floss I planned on using and gave it a tug. Came out easily!

pulling out a needle that is stuck in the package by threading it and pulling on the thread.

Restuffing Check material content, stuff a little fuller than you think, make basting stitch to see if you like the fullness. Do the small little appendages first, then fill until you reach the hole.

Lose an eye and can’t match the original? Get two new eyes.

Get creative if the problem you have isn’t included here, use the stitches shown at the top to close holes or make repairs to the stuffed animal using logic. If the stitches will hold it together or make a hole close, you’ll be able to fix anything.

If you don’t like a stitch, take it out and try again!

Questions? Let’s chat or leave a comment below.

Click here for your thread bunching solution guide

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