Our tweens and teens group had the chance to make their own emoji pillows this week! Let me tell you, the hype that surrounded this program was crazy good! Anytime I was out on desk getting anything prepped for these pillows, I would have kids coming up and asking me tons of questions, which I loved! Since it was so popular in my library, I figured a quick lil’ tutorial to share the love would be helpful so here you go! The step-by-step with pictures is located below, but read on through for the details and what worked well for us.
Our awesome teen librarian and I started by looking at our audience. We are working with kids in grades four to eight, many of whom had never sewn before. We wanted to give them the chance to learn basic stitches and to use a sewing machine. Working with upper elementary and middle school kiddos meant we needed materials that were forgiving. We ended up choosing fleece for the heads because it has enough give that it could easily cover slight mishaps with cutting and stitching. The felt, however, was by far the easiest to cut since it is so sturdy and therefore was the best material for the facial pieces.
Speaking of those faces, we took advantage of some of the great free coloring sheet sites in order to create our patterns. We printed them out to fit an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, then had the kids cut the pieces, pin them down to the felt, and cut around. This was pretty much the most pattern cutting the kids did since we decided to pre-cut the yellow circles that everyone would be using for their pillows. Depending on how long your program is, you could let kids do this, but for our time frame, it made much more sense for us to get this out of the way ahead of time. They still got plenty of practice with patterns and cutting when it came to constructing their emojis though!
To be honest, we did cheat a bit in another area too. The kids stitched the fleece pieces together, but glued the felt pieces on. For the skill level our kiddos were at (and our librarians, but shhh… don’t tell), it just made the most sense so no one got frustrated. It also gave the kids a lot more freedom to create some of the faces with smaller pieces that would have been a real pain to sew. One important detail… do get fabric glue! It worked beautifully even when a little too much glue was used! Other glues also don’t hold as well over time and we didn’t want anyone’s face falling apart. The other plus? It dried quickly! While we were showing some great youtube tutorials on back-stitching, ladder stitching, and going over the sewing machines and letting them give those a whirl with some practice paper, the glue dried and we were able to move on to the sewing!
As I am sure you noticed if you did the Pinterest spin through looking at different tutorials like we did, a lot of folks use no sew for these pillows! We opted to sew for two reasons. First of all because sewing is an awesome skill that everyone should have a basic concept of. Second, because when we tried glue, we had a bit of a disaster. It puckered and left some gaps. You had to clothes pin it all over to get it to stay together. Granted, that was using fabric glue since hot glue isn’t an option with so many kids and so few of us grownups in the room. Still, sewing everything but the gap for stuffing and using glue to close said gap didn’t even work. On one of our test runs, we tried this theory and it literally looked like someone had taken a bite our of our emoji’s chin! So with all that said, we stuck with sewing.
Hover over or click on the steps pictured below to get the details and tips that helped us have success with this. The step-by-step below was done by hand using a double floss for thread. If you are new to sewing, I promise, it isn’t as hard as it may look. Tutorials make it very easy to watch as you sew to double check yourself. If you are comfortable with a machine, these zip through very quickly. Just be careful since fleece does have quite a bit of give.
The kids absolutely LOVED this project and we hope you do too! We would love to hear about how your pillows turn out or any suggestions you have for us! Drop us a comment below!
We used Bob the template. This template is about 10 inches in diameter.
By double-layering the fleece when we were cutting, we got our 2 pieces of fleece and ensured they were the correct size.
My salad bowl made the perfect circle for the stitching line. It was about 8 inches in diameter.
The stitching line was made with washable water color marker and makes it very easy to wash away when done, if you choose. Keep in mind this line will be on the inside though so it shouldn’t make or break the look.
We used some free coloring pages as our pattern.
After cutting each piece individually, we pinned them to felt and cut them out easily.
We made sure to get the pieces positioned just right before…
Gluing! Yes, we glued the face and it worked wonderfully. Just make sure you use actual fabric glue!
After the glue dried, we turned the face so it was on the inside. Pin carefully on the inside circle of the stitch line.
We back-stitched very carefully along the line. You can also use a sewing machine for this!
We stitched around the circle but left an opening big enough to get our hand in.
GENTLY, we turned the pillow right side out. The felt pieces will be rigid so go slowly!
It should look like this once turned right side out.
We took polyfil and stuffed the pillow. Feel free to make sure it is really full since the polyfil does flatten with time.
Once it was stuffed, we pinned up the opening. We used a ladder stitch or slip stitch to hide the stitch.
Ta-da! Our completed pillow!