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Today we have a free project from the new Flip Dolls & Other Toys That Zip, Stack, Hide, Grab & Go by Laura Wilson. (Visit Laura’s blog, We Wilsons.)

From the publisher:

    Why make an ordinary stuffed toy when you can sew irresistibly playful creations that flip, zip, snap, stack, move and more! Stitch a caterpillar that changes into a butterfly, a vampire who becomes a bat, ordinary dolls that turn into superheroes, a car with spinning wheels, a pretty bird that perches on your shoulder and other fun things.


You can make this Smiling Crocodile with his playful, zippered mouth in this project excerpt below! You can also enter to win a copy of the book. Tell us about your favorite stuffed toy when you were a kid… Enjoy the project and add Flip Dolls & Other Toys That Zip, Stack, Hide, Grab & Go to your holiday wish list!

Smiling Crocodile

Project excerpt from: Flip Dolls & Other Toys That Zip, Stack, Hide, Grab & Go

Watch out for this toothy grin— he bites! Smiling Crocodiles make fun toys for little hands learning to zip and unzip. Enlarge the pattern and make a quirky throw pillow. Use a chunky brass zipper for gold teeth or a dainty pink zipper for a pleasant smile. Once you get the hang of this pattern, try drawing your own toothy animal: a shark, dinosaur or wolf!


Special Skills:
Adding Trims, Embroidery Details, Zippers, Optional: Buttons, Beads and Buttonholes

Tools + Materials:

  • Basic Sewing Tool Kit
  • Smiling Crocodile template
  • 14 x 12-inch (35.6 x 30.5 cm) piece of green fabric*
  • 10-inch (25.4 cm) length of medium rickrack*
  • Threads to match fabric
  • Scrap of fusible interfacing (optional)
  • 7-inch (17.8 cm) zipper*
  • Zipper foot
  • Stuffing
  • Embroidery floss for the eyes

* For larger crocodiles (25 inches [63.5 cm] long), you will use these instead:

  • 28 x 24-inch (71 x 60.1 cm) piece of green fabric
  • 20-inch (50.8 cm) length of jumbo rickrack
  • 10-inch (25.4 cm) zipper
  • 2 large buttons for the eyes (optional)

Note: A fabric with a little stretch, like fleece or flannel, will make sewing the zipper mouth easier, but you can use any medium-to heavyweight fabric.

Note: Your zipper should be a little bit longer than the sewn mouth area. If you have a zipper that is too long, you can easily shorten it to fit. With the zipper zipped, make a few whipstitches around the teeth of the zipper at the correct length. Then trim the zipper behind the stitches.

1. Copy the template and cut it out.

2. Cut out two Bodies, one in reverse.

3. Pin the bodies together with the rickrack sandwiched between, from the back of the head to the tip of the tail. Pin the centerline of the rickrack where the seam will be sewn, so that half of the rickrack is on the outside and half is unseen inside. (To make sure your rickrack doesn’t shift, you can sew it to one side before sewing all three layers together.) Sew the bodies together, leaving a 2-inch (5.1 cm) opening in the tail.

4. Clip slits in the seam allowance, especially in the corners and around curves. Be sure not to cut into the seam! Turn right side out to make sure everything is sewn neatly.

5. Turn wrong side out again and cut the mouth opening as indicated on the template, cutting a tiny Y on the end. If you are using a thin fabric or one that frays easily, you may want to stabilize the fabric around the mouth with fusible interfacing before cutting the mouth open.

6. To sew in the zipper, first unzip the zipper and lay it on top of the opening. Next, flip the teeth on the top half of the zipper toward the top of the crocodile and pin the zipper between the two layers of the mouth (see above). Then flip the teeth on the bottom half of the zipper toward the bottom of the crocodile and pin the bottom of the zipper in place. The zipper should be twisting outward in both directions (see second image above). Now, tuck the twisted end of the zipper inside the crocodile at the Y so that the fabric will lie flat.

7. Use a zipper foot to sew the zipper into the mouth on the top first, then the bottom. Sew all the way to the points of the Y, but do not sew around the end.

8. Turn the crocodile right side out, pulling gently on the zipper to push the nose out. Use a chopstick or other turning tool to help push out all the points. Tuck the end of the zipper inside the body— the corner of the mouth is still unfinished for now.

9. Stuff the crocodile. Use small bits to first stuff the mouth, pushing it all the way to the end with a chopstick or other tool. Be sure to put stuffing all around the end of the zipper so it isn’t pressed against either side. Stuff the body firmly and hand-sew the opening in the tail closed using a ladder stitch.

10. Now tuck in the point of the Y at the end of the mouth and sew that small opening closed. Use a ladder stitch to sew the opening closed on one side of the face. Then sew the other side, making your stitches line up with the stitches from the other side so that they don’t show (see above).

11. Embroider an eye on each side using a satin stitch. For larger crocodiles you may want to use button eyes.

Love that smile, Crocodile!