Stuffed Toy Repair

Beloved stuffed toys get a lot of use – and abuse. This Fix-It Guide on stuffed toy repair tells how a stuffed toy works, what often goes wrong, how to identify a stuffed animal problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives simple step-by-step instructions for how to repair an open seam on a stuffed animal, reattach a stuffed animal ear or limb, replace a stuffed animal stitched nose and mouth, replace a stuffed animal button eye, replace a stuffed animal lock-in eye, replace a stuffed animal  sound box, and restore plumpness to a stuffed animal.

How Does a Stuffed Toy Work?

A stuffed toy is a fabric caricature of a person, animal, or object. Modern stuffed toys are stuffed with poly-fill or foam. Older toys may be stuffed with toxic foams or plastics. In addition, stuffed toys may have fabric or plastic limbs, eyes, ears, or other features that require repair. (Also see the Doll Fix-It Guide .)

What Can Go Wrong with a Stuffed Toy?

Ears, noses, eyes and other pieces get torn off. Seams open. Sound boxes fail. Old stuffed toys lose their plumpness.

Caution!

Some older toys may be stuffed with toxic plastic foam or polystyrene pellets. Remove and replace this stuffing with poly-fill–or keep it somewhere away from children. You can buy bags of poly-fill at craft and fabric stores.

How Can I Identify a Stuffed Toy Problem?

  • If an ear, nose, eye, limb or other part becomes detached, you can reattach it (see below).
  • If a seam comes open, you can stitch it closed (see the sewing section in the Tools Fix-It Guide).
  • If a sound box fails, you can replace it (see below).
  • If the toy seems flat, you can restore its plumpness (see below).

Fix-It Tip

Does a valuable antique stuffed toy need new stuffing? Because it may be delicate and may lose value if damaged, consider hiring a professional who is skilled in doll restoration to do the job.

What Do I Need for Stuffed Toy Repair?

Replacement parts (eyes, noses, hands, sound boxes) for stuffed toys are available from crafts stores or sewing centers. In addition, sewing and craft shops can supply the tools you’ll need:

  • Needles
  • Thread
  • Soft brush

What Are the Steps to Stuffed Toy Repair?

Close an open stuffed toy seam:

  1. Use slip stitches to stitch along the seam (see the sewing section in the Tools Fix-It Guide), poking leaking stuffing back in as you sew.
  2. If the toy has fur, use a soft brush to fluff it up over the completed stitches.
 Stuffed Toy Repair

You can reattach a stuffed toy’s limb with overhand stitches.

Reattach a stuffed animal ear or limb:

  1. Pin the ear or limb to the head or body.
  2. Sew it into place with overhand stitches (see the sewing section in the Tools Fix-It Guide).
  3. For added security, stitch along both sides of the ear or limb.

Replace a stuffed animal stitched nose and mouth:

  1. Mark the outline of the nose.
  2. Fill in the area with tight satin stitches of embroidery thread (see the sewing section in the Tools Fix-It Guide).
  3. Finish a nose with one horizontal stitch across the top.
  4. Sew an inverted Y underneath the nose to create a mouth.

Replace a stuffed animal button eye:

  1. Stitch through the head, if it is soft.
  2. Pull the thread tightly and knot it securely at the back of the head.

Caution!

Don’t replace a button eye on a stuffed toy that a child will use; they can come off and be swallowed. Instead, install a lock-in eye (see below).

Replace a stuffed animal lock-in eye:

  1. Open the seam at the back or the side of the head and remove stuffing as needed.
  2. Push the eye through the material.
  3. Attach the washer from inside the head.
  4. Stitch up the seam using slip stitches (see the sewing section in the Tools Fix-It Guide).
  5. If it is a furred creature, use a soft brush to fluff up the fur over the seam.

Replace a stuffed animal sound box:

  1. Open the rear seam.
  2. Remove the old sound box.
  3. Insert a new sound box.
  4. Press stuffing securely around the new sound box.
  5. Stitch up the seam using slip stitches (see the sewing section in the Tools Fix-It Guide).
  6. If it is a furred creature, use a soft brush to fluff up the fur over the seam.

Restore plumpness to a stuffed animal:

  1. Open a side seam or other accessible seam.
  2. Insert fresh stuffing, making sure it is evenly distributed.
  3. Stitch up the seam, using slip stitches (see the sewing section in the Tools Fix-It Guide).

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