Drygoods Design Whale Tutorial

on February 26 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 7 Comments

Today’s tutorial for a Blue Whale and a Sperm Whale comes from Drygoods Design, a beautiful fabric and goods shop in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood and online everywhere at www.drygoodsdesignonline.com. Drygoods Design curates fabric and goods, offers classes in their Seattle shop. They also have a blog which is where we first saw their recent, super-fun window display featuring these whales! (Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a quick peek!) Take a look at Drygoods Design (where they have both excellent inventory and shipping prices), and have fun with today’s whales. We can’t wait to see what you do with the tutorial!


Thank you to Sew Mama Sew for having us here today! Today we’re sharing two fun projects for stuffed whales. Located in the Scandinavian fishing village of Seattle, we just had to capture the spirit of the sea for our most recent window display.

Here you’ll find the instructions for making a stuffed blue whale and a stuffed sperm whale. These are general inspirations and not a true replica of each anatomical detail but with touches like zippers and selvedge edges, they take nature to a fun and whimsical level. The whales can be fun projects for and with kids.

Here’s a snapshot of what you’ll need for both whales:

These patterns both have a 3/8” seam allowance included and are for your optional use. Whales have a general shape and you can feel free to embellish where you wish. We decided to go bigger here for our window but you can adapt the size as you see fit.

Blue Whale

(Finished dimensions end up being about seven inches by 27” long.)
What you’ll need…

Materials:

  • 1/2 yard fabric (We chose woven grays and blues to reflect a maritime aesthetic.)
  • Thread
  • Two zippers (We chose metal for the fun contrast of gold teeth.)
  • Scrap of striped fabric
  • One skein Perle cotton/embroidery floss
  • Five to eight ounces of fiber fill or similar (not pictured)

Tools:

  • Printed PDF Blue Whale pattern template
  • Paper scissors
  • Fabric scissors
  • Rotary cutter
  • Ruler
  • Hand sewing needle/embroidery needle
  • Fabric marker(s) (At least one is erasable.)
  • Point turner (not pictured)

Using the included PDF, print out and attach by tape the template for the blue whale. In addition to the body of the whale (two pieces), you’ll want to also cut four flipper pieces and two pieces of striped fabric, cut to the length of your zipper.

Cut out two whale bodies from your fabric (be sure that you make note of right sides of the fabric and how you will attach the zipper). Cut out two pieces of striped fabric, one inch wide by the length of your zipper. Cut out four flipper pieces.

Measuring down between 3 to 3 1/2 inches from the top of the whale, line up your zipper per the template and have the end of the zipper tape line up with the edge of what would be the “nose” of the whale. (You’ll want to do this so that any metal parts are clear of your seam allowance.) Once you know where you want it to go, use fabric adhesive to attach the striped fabric to the zipper and then the striped fabric to the whale body.

Once temporarily adhered, stitch along all edge of the zipper (no need to use a zipper foot here) on all sides, and backstitch at the beginning and end. In order to miss the zipper teeth and not have your presser foot out of balance, use your needle position to easily maneuver around.

Facing the two whale bodies towards each other as mirrors, line up the next zipper and striped fabric and repeat these steps.

Now that both zippers are installed, use a ruler or a hem gauge to measure out past the end of the zipper (dumb end) approximately six inches plus some more. Working from a quarter inch from the bottom, make a small dot with a removable marker and then go up and over 1/4″ to 3/8″ until you have about 11 to 12 dots. These will be your starting points for the lines that create the underbelly of the whale.

Stitching the Lines:
Variegated thread created a unique stitch quality. If you don’t use cotton, you may want to do a couple of the lines twice so that they’re more pronounced. Starting at the first dot at the bottom, backstitch and then sew in a questionable straight line, following the contour of the whale body outline. Backstitch once you reach a quarter inch of the zipper. Continue until you’ve started from each dot. The picture shows what about 11 lines look like (you’ll more than likely lose the first one after you stitch the whale together).

Repeat on the other whale body piece. Trim threads.

You’re now ready to make the whale. Line up the two pieces, making sure to align the zippers as close as possible. Pin and mark an opening about 6″ – 8″ long, just 1″ to 2″ towards the center from the tail (this will make it easier to turn the tail). Backstitch and start from the mark on the right using a 3/8” seam allowance. To make the tail turning easier, make the seam allowance skinnier at the narrow portion of the tail. Once you reach the other mark, backstitch and cut threads.

Cut the corners of the tail (without cutting into the stitches) and clip the curved portions of the seam allowance and then turn. Take care when turning the tail and use a point turner/chopstick to push out the points. Once it’s turned right sides out, be sure to press and shape the opening well. Strong creases will make a hidden closure much easier.

Time to stuff! Start with the tail; it will be a little hard so start with small increments of fill and then fill the rest. Given the length, you’ll want to make sure there’s enough fill in the tail and small part of the body so that it doesn’t flop. Once you’re happy with the shape, you can sew the opening closed. We love a hidden stitch here so a ladder or fell stitch is ideal.

The Flippers:
Now sew, right sides together, two of your flipper pieces with about a quarter-inch seam allowance leaving the top 3/8” open without stitches so you can easily press the raw edges in. Turning them will be a little tough so gentle here. Press raw edges inside of the flipper, right sides together. You can now attach this to the body of the whale, much like you closed it. Repeat for other side.

Making the Eye:
With your embroidery needle and either Perle cotton or embroidery floss, stitch about a 3/8” stitch, repeating over and over until it’s at least four or five stitches visible, looking like a small oval. Tie off and knot.

You’re done! Unzip the teeth of the zipper if you wish to show off its grill! We hung these in our window but they also be great bed decorations too.

Sperm Whale

(Finished dimension are approximately six inches tall by 20” long.)
What you’ll need…

Materials:

  • 1/3 or 1/4 yard neutral fabric (We chose woven grays and blues to reflect a maritime aesthetic.)
  • At least 25” of selvedge but ribbon or other trim work too (Here we used a different fabric for the selvedge.)
  • Scrap contrasting fabric
  • Thread
  • Embroidery floss or Perle cotton
  • 1/2 pound of fiber fill or similar (not pictured)

For the Blow Hole (optional):

  • Hot glue gun
  • Two pipe cleaners
  • Scrap sheer or metallic fabric
  • Heat n’ Bond Lite or similar

Tools:

  • Printed PDF Sperm Whale pattern template
  • Tape
  • Paper scissors
  • Fabric scissors
  • Rotary cutter and ruler
  • Chalk marker
  • Embroidery needle
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Fabric adhesive

Make the Mouth of the Sperm Whale:
If you’re taking the selvedge edge off a fabric (we used this since it looked most like teeth), trim it down now and you’ll want approximately 25” of selvedge or ribbon. Lining up in a “V” to start from the top and bottom of the dip in the mouth (should be about 6.5” for the top piece and 6” for the bottom); cut your selvedge edges. Lay the contrasting fabric underneath the two and trace around the selvedge edges to know where to cut your contrasting fabric. Cut your contrasting fabric and then use fabric adhesive or a glue stick to first secure the contrasting fabric and then each of the selvedge edges with adhesive too. This will make topstitching easier.

Line up the other whale body (right side up) to face the prepared body so you can easily match up the other side.

Topstitch around the selvedge edges, lining up to the outer edge and then stitching back up closer to the selvedge edge. You can use needle position to get closer without running over the fray of the edge (or the teeth). Increasing your stitch length by a few measures will make a nice topstitch and decorative touch. Repeat on the other piece.

Make the Whale:
Once your whale mouth has been made, you can now put right sides together, pinning along the edges. Mark an opening about 5″ – 6″ long, close to where the tail starts; if you’re making the blow hole, mark an opening directly above the end of the mouth about a 1/2″ long. It will make inserting your “spray” much easier and reinforce the hole. Starting at the mark on the right, backstitch and sew a 3/8” seam until you reach the first blow hole mark. Backstitch and lift both your needle and presser foot, moving your fabric so that you put the needle and the presser foot down above the second blow hole mark. Backstitch and continue with the 3/8” seam until you reach the last chalk mark.

Clip your curves, the tail joints and the points of the tail. Turn right side out and smooth out using a point turner. Press the opening well so you can sew shut easier later.

The Blow Hole:
Cut your pipe cleaners to be about four inches long, which will make four to six. Take your sheer or white fabric and follow the fuse instructions to adhere the fabric to the fuse. Peel off the backing once it’s fused and then center the pipe cleaner on one half of the fabric and then fold the remaining half over the top of the pipe cleaner. With a pressing cloth fuse the fabric to the pipe cleaner. Trim and repeat to the other three.

Bend the pipe cleaners and arrange into what looks like a spout of water and gently insert into the blow hole. Either sew or adhere with hot glue. Be careful not to use too much if using glue.

Stuff the whale with careful attention to the tail.

Now the Flippers and the Eyes:
Use the same process with the flippers and the eyes as the blue whale.

Time to sew shut! Same as the blue whale, make sure the tail is properly stuffed so it doesn’t flop before you sew it all the way closed. Use a ladder or fell stitch to create as close to an invisible closure as possible or don’t worry about it and do whatever stitch you enjoy most!

Now you’re done!

This is what our window looked like with some friendly narwhals along for the ride.

Resources:
All fabrics were sourced from our store and site: www.drygoodsdesignonline.com. You can also find us on our Drygoods Design Online blog, and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for more fun inspirations.

Fabrics used: Andover Chambray in Navy, Pickering International Lightweight Organic Duck in Grey, Essex Linen in Steel, Pickering International Organic Hemp Stripe, Pickering International Organic Reversible Double Gauze Dots in Blue, all available at www.drygoodsdesignonline.com.

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7 Responses to Drygoods Design Whale Tutorial

  1. Vanessa says:

    Eep so cute! I love the zipper mouths :)

    http://cafecraftea.blogspot.com

  2. Blair says:

    I loved these in your window display!!! So happy to see a tutorial, I’ll let you know how it works for a novice sewer. Have a wonderfully, sunny day!!! See you soon.

  3. Keli says:

    Sarah, that’s awesome and love the idea for the cotton batting! Thanks so much – Keli at DD

  4. Sarah M says:

    I had some free time, so made both whales. I lined the pieces with cotton batting, which seems to make them even sturdier. Now I want to make smaller versions of each for mama-baby sets. My daughter requested a beluga, which I think I can pull off. This was a super fun project, and the tutorials were very, very well done. Thanks!

  5. Shannon says:

    Love these! So adorable and fun! Great project from one of my fave online shops!

  6. Carly says:

    Oh my goodness, these guys are lovely! The tutorials are so well done–thank you SO much for sharing!

  7. Amorette says:

    So wonderful, cannot wait to make one!

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