Upcycle old or ill-fitting jeans into a cozy craft for your little one.

July 06, 2018
whale made of denim fabric with felt splash

Grab those jeans you (or your family) aren't wearing and upcycle them into a snuggle buddy for your little one. This whale will make a cute addition to any child's room or nursery, or as a companion on their under-the-sea imaginary adventure.

  • Working time 30 mins
  • Start to finish 30 mins
  • Difficulty Kind of Easy
  • Involves Sewing

What you need


How to do it

Part 1

use pencil to trace outline onto fabric
Step 1

Place and Trace the Free Printable Template

Download, print, and cut out the free template for this adorable stuffed whale. Then grab your old jeans and cut off one of the legs. You can always make your whale a friend with the second leg. 

Flip the cut leg inside out. Now the right sides are facing each other, and the wrong sides are facing out. For those new to sewing, the wrong sides refer to what used to be the inside of the pant leg.

You should be looking at the wrong sides, and that's where you want to trace your template using a fabric marker. The pattern also marks the placement of the whale's eyes. Poke a hole through that spot on the template and through both layers of denim to mark where the eyes will be embroidered.

We'll do that next, so move the template out of the way.

Get the free template!
stitch eye of whale with needle
Step 2

Embroider and Sew

Before you start sewing, let's give the whale its eyes. Using two strands of thread, embroider an eye on each side of the whale using small, straight stitches. Be careful to embroider only one layer of fabric at a time.

Now you're ready to sit down at the sewing machine. With the wrong sides still facing out, sew carefully along the traced line of the template. Don't go too fast! Be sure to leave a 3-inch unstitched opening at the bottom of the whale. You'll need the gap to stuff the pillow.

Once the whale is sewn and you have your gap, take the whale off the machine and trim around the outline, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Cut little notches into the border in various places around the curves of the whale. 

stuffing denim whale through opened hole
Step 3

Fill the Whale

Flip the fabric inside-out, using the 3-inch unstitched gap you left in the sewn shape. You now should see the right sides of the fabric, or what used to be the outside of the jeans. Use a chopstick or pencil to poke out the corners of the whale's tail that you can't reach.

All that's left is to do is fill the whale with fiber filling and stitch it up! Be sure to leave enough space to sew the gap closed. You'll do this by hand, using a whipstitch or ladder stitch. And ta-da, you have the sweetest pillow you'll ever sea.


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