Educational Toys January 17, 2024

Tips and Tricks of How to Attached Head and Tails to Box Turtles

Early intervention in young lives with educational-themed educational toys is a smart way to begin to introduce basic letter and number concepts to toddlers. I recently custom-designed two sets of hand-sewn turtle families for two little girls. One set was sea turtles, as shown in this image, with numbers. The box turtles were completed with letters, as shown here.

Deciding on the Handmade Educational Toy Pattern

Every project begins with a pattern. For a little girl whose mother was from the Caribbean, I chose a set of sea turtles. The sea turtle a pattern included the head and tail with the outline of the turtle, so those were very easy to trace onto the material, cut, and sew into turtle forms.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

For a little girl in Pennsylvania, I chose to design a set of box turtles since they are native to her area. When compared to the sea turtles, the box turtles were very difficult. The first challenge with a box turtle is to remember the head, feet, and tail are attached separately. The second thing to remember is the shell is much more concave than a sea turtle. The shell for the larger mother box turtle was made out of six triangles. The triangles were fitted together and then stitched to the bottom along with the feet. The feet are attached along the bottom of the shell and underside.

When working with the head, feet, and tail, be sure that each piece has a long enough space to attach to the main body of the turtle. The best location to attach the head is between two triangles of the shell. The head can be inserted, pinned, and stitched with the shell seam. The feet along with the shell line with the base are positioned where you make marks that show where each foot goes.

For the tail, I cut out a half triangle and situated the tail opposite the head. The bottom of the shell and base is an opening to insert the stuffing. I cut a small slit in the shell to make the opening bigger and also easier to insert the tail, making the opening part invisible. The tail is the last appendage attached to the main body of the toy, after the the turtle is stuffed and the opening is hand-sewn shut.

Of the hand-sewn animal patterns that I have experimented with, the sea turtles were by far the easiest. The box turtle (which was the first one I tried) was a lot more work and required a lot more time. The hardest hand-sewn stuffed animals that I have attempted are the horse patterns (the Carousel Horse).

Easy Hand Sewn Stuffed Animals

When starting out, it is best to begin with easy hand-sewn stuffed animal patterns like the sea turtles. With the head, tail, and feet all within the pattern, it is much easier to work with. The best place to leave an opening for a stuffing hole is in the center of the back. After you stuff and stitch it shut, then you make the second piece of material and cut out two ovals for the shell. Before stitching the shell together, I hand embroidered a flower or shell on the shell top. For the babies, I embroidered a letter or number with decoration around the letter or number. Then I turn the shell wrong side out, stitch it shut – leaving a small gap at the center of the shell for stuffing, insert the stuffing, and then hand stitch the hole shut.

My best tips and tricks, that I learned from making the turtle families, is to start with a simple pattern. Dress a pattern up by choosing materials with fun patterns. You can see that every turtle is different and a variety of bright colors were used. It is much better to have a simple pattern that you are able to work with and complete than it is to have something really intricate that is beyond your ability.

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