This little guy has been sitting in my project basket for a long time, waiting for some eyeballs 😂 Anyone else a procrastinate-the-last-step kind of person? 🙋 Now that he’s all finished, I’m so in love with him! He’s not that hard to make either so if you’re a beginner sewist – never fear! This will be the perfect amount of challenging for you. And I’ll walk you through every step!
I’m a beginner myself so this pattern won’t be a standard sewing pattern… Those are much more complicated. I’ll have to figure out how to follow a real pattern (let alone write one!) before I share any patterns with y’all 😅 So just keep that in mind… This is a tutorial for making this whale, not for following a pattern 😂
Let’s get started!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- one fat quarter in main color (referred to henceforth as Color 1)
- one fat quarter in secondary color (referred to henceforth as Color 2)
- a sewing machine (this could also be done entirely by hand if desired)
- needle and thread
- desired material for eyes (I embroidered mine. You could use buttons, beads, etc.)
- pins (optional)
- seam ripper
- this pattern, printed and cut out
You’ll want to start off by printing out the pattern, taping it together in the indicated spots, and cutting out the pieces.
You’ll need to cut most of the pieces out twice and they will need to mirror each other. Lay your fabric out like this with right sides facing each other. Then trace your pattern piece onto the fabric (or pin it down like I did) and cut through both layers at once. This will give you two mirroring pieces with one go! Easy peasy!
Just a note: you might want to take some time making sure that you lay out your pattern pieces in a way that leaves as much fabric as possible left over. Just a reminder as I tend to forget to be careful about this. More fabric = more whales! This is the second whale that I have been able to get out of this fat quarter.
Below is a list of what pieces to cut out of what fabric. Here they are all laid out in case you needed a visual.
- two top halves in Color 1 (mirroring each other)
- two bottom halves in Color 2 (mirroring each other)
- four side fins in Color 1 (two sets of two pieces mirroring each other)
- two tail fins in Color 1 (mirroring each other)
- two tail fins in Color 2 (mirroring each other)
Let’s start with the side fins. Find two pieces that are mirroring each other.
Lay them right sides facing, like this.
Now sew around the edge of the fin, leaving the flat bottom edge unsewn.
Cut some slits in the raw edge. Make sure to only cut the part that will be hidden when you turn it right side out – and stop at the seam! This will help the seam to move better when you turn the piece inside out. If you did not do this, the seam would be too stiff and you would get more puckers in the seam. You also might not get the shape that you’re looking for.
Here’s a closer look at what that looks like.
Turn it right side out and it should look like this! You might need something sharp (but not too sharp!) to help you get that corner turned right side out nicely. Try a knitting needle or a closed pair of scissors.
Here’s a tip: it can be hard sometimes when using a sewing machine to get corners nice and neatly sewn. The sewing machine just moves so quickly! Try this…
Stop where you feel like you can’t go anymore. Make sure your needle is down (sticking through the fabric).
Lift your presser foot and turn your fabric until it is at the correct angle to continue sewing. Because your needle is down, it will hold your place in the fabric while you pivot the piece!
Put your presser foot down and continue sewing! As you can see, I used this method on the dorsal fin. You’ll also want to use it a few other times throughout the project.
Now, sew the other two side fin pieces together in the same way. Lay them next to each other and make sure they match to your liking.
Now we’ll start on the tail fins. Find two pieces, one of each color, and make sure they mirror each other.
Lay them together, right sides facing, and sew. You’ll want to leave the flat bottom edge open just like with the side fins.
Cut slits on the corners just like with the side fins.
Make the other tail fin in the same way. Then stuff both tail fins and both side fins.
Now, sew the open side closed to keep the stuffing in. Leave the edges raw, like this. They’ll be hidden inside the whale later. Do this to all four fins.
This might be my favorite part… Make some decorative stitching on the tail fin. You can make simple lines like I made, or you can get creative with it! Use your sewing machine or do it by hand with a thread and needle. I went back and forth a few times on my sewing machine to make sure they stand out nicely.
Now let’s get going on the body! Find one piece of each color and lay them out like this, right sides facing. Use the stars on the pattern pieces to help you line the pieces up correctly.
These pieces are a little tricky since the curves don’t mirror each other. Just take it an inch (or even half of an inch!) at a time and pull the fabric to fit.
Another tip: when it comes to sewing together pieces that are tricky to line up, it can be helpful to use something sharp (or just something that is smaller than your fingers) to help hold an inch or so of your fabric in place while you stitch it. Then pause, line up another inch, hold it in place with your tool (I use my seam ripper), and continue sewing.
At some point in this seam, you’ll want to insert the side fin and include it when sewing up the side of the whale. I like to sew the whole piece together and then rip the seam open just where I need the fin to go. That way you’re not juggling lining up those tricky pieces while also making sure the fin goes on straight. Your pattern piece will indicate where the fin should go.
Pay attention to the direction of the fin when placing it… You want it to curve away from the face. Also make sure that once you turn everything right side out, the fin will be on the OUTSIDE of the piece! It’s not hard to mess that one up 😅 You’ll want to sandwich it in between your two body pieces. The edges of the top and bottom body piece and of the fin should all line up.
When you’re done it should look like this! I forgot to do this before taking a pic but you’ll want to stitch your tail fin in place in the same way that you did the side fin. Again, your pattern will indicate exactly where to place it.
Sometimes the seam that you made to keep the stuffing in will show through after you’ve stitched all the pieces together. If that’s the case, you can now take a seam ripper and remove that seam. The stuffing will now be kept in by the seam that is holding all the pieces together.
Follow all the same steps for the other half and you’ll have two pieces that look like this!
Now flip one side over so right sides are facing and sew around the edges. These ones should be easier because they line up.
You’ll want to make sure the seams of each piece line up with each other.
Start at the belly and stitch all the way around, but stop about five or six inches away from the beginning of your seam. You’ll need this opening to turn it right side out and to stuff it.
Don’t forget to cut some slits in each corner of the dorsal fin to help the seam take the shape that you want.
Almost there! Turn the entire whale right side out and stuff him. You’ll want to stuff it pretty firmly to help him keep his shape.
Now we’ll hand stitch the remaining hole closed. Make a knot in some thread and hide the knot inside the whale, with your needle and thread coming up on the outside. Now take a stitch on the opposite side from where your thread is coming up.
Continue doing this, alternating back…
… and forth…
… until you have something that looks like this. You’ll want to pull these tight about every half inch or so. On the left is what your stitching will look like before you pull tight and on the right is what it looks like after.
Continue doing this until your whale is all stitched up! You may want to extend this hand sewn seam an inch or so beyond each side of the opening so that they overlap the seams from the sewing machine just a bit. This will help lock everything tight.
Embroider some eyes (preferably sooner than I did…) or sew on buttons. And your whale is complete!
Ready for all the snuggles you could ever want! ❤️
A few more pictures of these details because I just can’t stand it…
I have to say, I’m not sure if I could have chosen a more perfect fabric. And that tail texture! 😍
Pleeeeease tag your whales with #createdmakers so that I can see! I’m a little obsessed.