DIY Fabric Letters: A Sewing Tutorial for Puffy Letters
Creating stuffed fabric letters is not only a delightful way to repurpose fabric scraps but also a fantastic way to add a touch of handmade charm to your home decor. Make these cloth letter pillows as a baby gift or for a toddler’s birthday. This project is not only eco-friendly because we are using scraps to stuff the letters, but it’s also a great way to showcase your creativity and sewing skills. Mix and match different fabrics and create names or slogans that you can hang on the wall. You can even make the whole alphabet as an educational toy!
My godchild Aiko has his birthday this month, so I’m planning to make his name as a gift.. Hope he will like it.
This project is good for a confident beginner to and intermediate sewist, depending on what letters you are making. Some letters are easy but the ones with curves and openings in the middle can be hard. The bigger you make them the easier, I would say.
I'll guide you through the process of making fabric letters stuffed with fabric scraps. And I will start with the letter A, a difficult one, and I definitely made it too small. 😀 You can learn from my struggle!
Step 1: Choose Your Fabric and Design
Select fabric scraps that complement each other in color and pattern. Consider the theme or color scheme of the room where you plan to display your fabric letters.
Step 2: Make the Letters Templates
Once you've chosen your fabrics, you can create the letter templates. Sketch the letters you need by hand on paper or cardboard. Simplify the letters as much as possible. You can also choose a font if you don’t want to draw, enlarge the letter you need so one letter fits one page and print the page from your computer. Choose letters with rounded edges and avoid fussy fonts. Cut out the letters to make the templates. I decided to cut my letters a little bigger than what I printed, as you can see in the images below.
Step 3: Cut the Fabrics for the Letters
Trace the template on your fabric - on the wrong side - of your piece of fabric. The fabric piece needs to be 1 inch bigger than the letter shape because you need to add the seam allowances. I’m using ⅜ of an inch seam allowance. I wouldn’t use less seam allowance to be sure. It is easier to work with a larger one. With my little seam gauge I mark all around the letter shape and in the middle and then connect the dots. I’m using a heat erasable fabric marker, if you wonder.
Flip the letter template over and trace the same letter shape on the fabric you will use for the other side of the pillow. If the fabric is plain and can be used on both sides or if the letter is the same mirrored, this isn’t important. But if you are drawing a K and you have fabric with a print, be careful! Always draw on the wrong side of the fabric. Just make sure you end up with two mirrored versions of the same letter. Don’t forget to add the same seam allowance on the second letter shape.
Cut your letter shapes out.
We’ll be adding a fabric strip in between the two letter shapes. I’m cutting a 2 inch wide strip. This means each fabric letter will be 1½ inch thick. If you want your stuffed letters to be more voluminous, cut this strip a little wider.
Measure the circumference of your letter, without the seam allowance, with a flexible measuring tape. Measuring the curves is a little tricky so maybe add two extra inches. Your strip needs to be long enough to go all around your letter, and add another two inches for the overlap. You can sew different fabric pieces together if you don’t have a long enough piece available. For my letter “A” I cut a strip of 24 inches. I need a second little strip for the opening inside the “A” letter
Step 4: Sew the Three Fabric Pieces Together
To ensure a smooth and neat finish, iron the fabric pieces. Ironing is crucial for achieving a professional-looking result. Press a fold of half an inch on one short end of the strip.
Place the strip right sides together with one fabric letter shape, pin down. Make sure the folded edge is pinned down first. This way there are no raw edges showing.
Stitch together the strip and letter shape at ⅜ inch all the way around. Go slowly and stitch carefully. The curves and corners might be a little tricky if you are a beginner. When you get to where you started sewing, make sure the two ends overlap by half an inch. This is where you will stuff your letter later.
If you want to hand stitch, use a running backstitch to make the seams secure enough.
Make some snips and notches in the seam allowance at the curves and press the seam a little with a mini iron.
Pin the other letter shape to the other long edge of the strip. Pin it right sides together to the strip (gusset). It is important that the letter matches with the other side so your strip doesn’t get twisted and your pillow ends up all wonky. Sew together at ⅜ inch seam allowance. Start just after the overlap so you have some room to move the strip, if you didn’t pin correctly. When sewn all around, finish, add notches for the curved edges and press.
If you plan to hang your fabric letters, attach a double folded ribbon in one of the seams before you stitch them down.
If you have a letter with an opening in the middle like A, P, R or O, you will need to add a strip in the middle too. The bigger you make that opening, the easier it is to do that. My opening was tiny at the beginning, so I decided to cut it a little bigger and I added snips. This way I was able to pin the strip in a loop to one side of the letter shape, again right sides together. I then decided to hand stitch this tiny hole with a running back stitch. But if the opening is big enough, you can put it under your machine.
The second part you need to hand stitch from the right side. There is a way to sew it from the inside and turn it but I just can’t get my head around it. If anyone can explain, feel free to add it in the comments :-). My workaround for this task: I stuffed the letter first and closed the seam with a ladder stitch. If you have a letter without an opening in the middle, you won’t need to do this and you can use the overlap of the strip as a turning hole and to stuff the letter.
Step 5: Stuff the Letters
Turn your letter right side out through the hole at the short end of the strip. Iron the seams some more if necessary. Now comes the satisfying part! Fill each letter with fabric scraps. I don’t know why but repurposing fabric scraps always makes me happy. I keep little scraps in a box and from time to time I cut them up in even smaller pieces with my 60mm rotary cutter in put them in a bag for later use. The smaller the better to get a soft pillow.
You can of course use fibrefill if you don’t want to use scraps. Use a pencil, the back of a paintbrush or a sewing stiletto to push the stuffing into the corners and edges, ensuring a plump and even appearance.
You can stuff the letter through the turning hole in the strip, where the two parts overlap. Or if you have a letter with an opening in the middle, like my A, you can do it through there.
Step 6: Close the Opening
Once your letters are adequately stuffed, sew the open side closed with a hand stith. I use a ladder stitch, which is explained in this blog.
Your first letter pillow is ready! Find the perfect spot to showcase your unique fabric letters. Arrange them on a wall, hang them from a string, or display them on a shelf to add a personalized touch to your space.
Creating fabric letters stuffed with fabric scraps is a delightful and eco-friendly DIY project that allows you to express your creativity while making use of leftover materials. This personalized decor adds a touch of warmth to any space and serves as a testament to the beauty of handmade crafts. Enjoy the process, and let your imagination run wild as you bring your fabric letters to life!
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