Your child’s first stuffed animal may very well be the most nostalgic possession he will ever own—from that first teddy bear gifted to him right out of the hospital to the stuffed bunny that he just can’t let go of even when he’s well into his toddler years. Make that beloved toy last far beyond bedtime and nap time with this simple repurposing technique to transform any stuffed animal into a custom bookend using sand and a needle and thread. Here’s how.
- Stuffed animal
- Nontoxic playground or craft sand
- Sewing kit
- Plastic bag
- Funnel (or make one using cardstock paper and Scotch tape)
Start by cutting into one of the more inconspicuous seams of your stuffed animal. I chose to start at the bottom since my stuffed animal would then sit right on the evidence, hiding the later re-sewn seam from view. Then remove all of the stuffing and set it aside (you’ll need it later). If the animal is on the larger side, you only need to remove the stuffing from the lower half of the toy.
Next, you’ll need a funnel. If you don’t happen to have a funnel on hand, it’s easy to make your own. Grab a sheet of paper or cardstock and, while pinching one corner between your thumb and pointer finger, bring it up and around to the back of the paper to form a funnel shape. Secure the corner in place with tape and then trim the excess paper away using scissors. You should then be left with something similar to what’s pictured below.
Lay the stuffed animal on top of a plastic bag to capture sand spillage. Then, slip the pointed end of the funnel into the cut seam that you made earlier, and slowly fill the empty sections of the toy with sand. I found that it was easiest to pour a small amount of sand (about 1 cup) into the funnel and then shake the animal’s legs and tail one at a time to allow the sand to fill up each part.
After you’ve filled all of the parts of the animal that you removed stuffing from earlier, backfill the remaining area with the stuffing you set aside before. By filling the remaining area with stuffing, you help to avoid sand coming through any cracks in the re-sewn seam in the end.
As for the seam, I used a Ladder Stitch (as seen in this video, beginning at minute 2:00). Essentially, you’ll thread your needle and knot the end, then insert it into the furthest end of the seam. Push the needle parallel to the seam, in one side and out without going across the open hole in the fabric, and then repeat the same seam on the opposite side of the hole. Keep making repeated threaded seams, moving across the hole in a parallel manner until you reach the end. Knot the thread and trim off the excess.
When finished, your stuffed animal should feel both heavy and sturdy, and should have no problem sitting up on its own. Place him right up against your child’s favorite collection of books to keep them firmly in place on the shelf—this new repurposed use allows you and your child to enjoy him (practically!) for years and years to come.
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