Make It: Penguin Pyjama Case

After the success of the monkey pyjama case I made for my niece, I made a penguin shaped one for my nephew and it was not as simple as the monkey!

I made the penguin out of some black and some white twill I had in my stash (well it’s earmarked for a specific thing but I figured I could spare a bit for the penguin!).

First I cut out 2 bowling pin shapes for the fronts (you need 2 so you can sandwich the wadding in between the 2 layers), and a sort of white splodge for the tummy.

I pinned and sewed it onto just one of the front layers, sewing with a zig-zag stitch to prevent the tummy piece fraying.

Close-up of the zig-zag stitching!

I also cut out 4 wing pieces – 2 for each side, and 2 out of wadding. Layer these with the wadding on the top and the 2 wing pieces on the top, right sides together (if your fabric has a right side and a wrong side). Sew all the way around – I used a 1cm seam allowance.

Trim the wadding from the seam allowance, to reduce the bulk and turn the wings the right side around. Leave these to one side.

I had a little bit of yellow fabric left over from one of the first things I made (a yellow skirt that I wore about twice!), so I used that for the feet and the beak. The principle is the same for the feet as it is for the wings – cut 2 feet for each foot and pile them on top of the wadding, right sides together (again, if your fabric has a right side). Sew all the way around (again I used a 1cm seam allowance), trim the wadding from the seam allowance and turn the right way around. Leave to one side.

Now, the thing that was really hard about this make was the beak. I thought about how to do it for literally weeks. I asked people at the dressmaker’s ball for their advice, and I still couldn’t really figure it out. I had a sort of an idea so I thought the best thing would be to just try it.

So I cut out 2 triangles. I pretty much just guessed on the size – and as you’ll see at the bottom of this post, I probably guessed a bit big, but it was meant to look a bit cartoony so it was totally on purpose! I then sewed one side of a zip onto 2 sides of one triangle. Then I sewed the other side of the zip to another, matching, triangle of fabric, making sure that they sat one on top of the other when the zip is closed. These triangles are the inside of the mouth, if that helps to visualise it?!

Next I cut 4 more triangles of a similar size, but a little thinner than the ones above (2 for each beak). Sew 2 together along one of the long sides – the other long side will be joined to the zip, making little pyramids.

You can see below that where I’m holding is the seam of the 2 smaller triangles, and the other edges (one from each triangle) are pinned – and then sewn – to the other size of the zip. The teeth of the zip should be on the inside as the pyramid will be turned the right way round once sewn, to hide all the stitching inside the beaks, where they will be stuffed. Sorry of this isn’t making much sense, by the way, my brain was definitely hurting by the time I’d figured any of this out!

Once you’ve done the above couple of steps for both beaks, you should end up with something that looks a bit like below – quite creepy! I used a zip that was way too long so I would definitely have one long enough. I shortened it by zig-zag stitching over the teeth first, then trimming off the excess. I’m not going to pretend that this beak works perfectly, unfortunately. The zip is quite tricky to use as it keeps getting caught in the inside of the mouth – I guess if I’d have done some actual triangle calculations, I could have made the inside of the beak a bit more taut so it wouldn’t get caught as much. Oops!

This is the side view, with half the zip undone. I stuffed the beak at this point, too.

The next thing I did was to sew on the eyes. I waited until the beak was finished to do this so I could work out the best placement for them. Again I used a small zig-zag stitch to make sure they don’t fray.

The next step is to assemble the penguin front and back, but sandwiching the 2 fronts (one of which has the tummy sewn on it) with the wadding in the middle. You need to put the fabric with right sides out – this isn’t a seam, the layers are topstitched together.

For the back of the penguin, I decided I wanted him to have a little tail because cute! So I traced half of the penguin front pattern piece, having drawn a line down the middle. I then added a triangle shape onto the centre line and added a 1cm seam allowance, as below. You have to cut 4 of these because there are 2 halves of the back. Sandwich each pair of back pieces with wadding in the middle and topstitch around the edge as for the front.

You’ll then want to sew the seam to attach the 2 back pieces together. I then overlocked the seam to neaten and finish it.

You’ll also want to sew a small seam along the bottom of the tail, as below. Otherwise he’ll have a hole in his bottom and we don’t want that! You just want to sew until roughly in line with the seam to attach both pieces together.

The next thing is to attach the beak. This bit was a bit scary because you just have to cut a hole in the penguin front. I sewed the whole beak on by hand – I sewed around the edge of one half, then cut the hole and stitched the beak to the opening, then stitched around the edge of the other half. Hope that makes sense!

This is the view from the inside – the beak ended up being slightly off centre, but there wasn’t much I could do about it by that point!

And this is what he looks like from the front, with his beak open. The opening is quite narrow for getting the pyjamas in and out of, so if you make this it might be worth putting another zip or some velcro into the side seam.

Apparently I stopped taking photos at this point. The last step is to sew the front to the back, with right sides (the eyes/beak and the tail) together. I found it easiest to open the beak and push it half to the inside, to be able to get the penguin under my machine. You, of course, need to put the wings and the feet in to the seam before you stitch it. You’ll need to place them with the unsewn edges facing out towards the edge of the front/back, sandwiching them between the 2 layers. I overlocked the seam to neaten it. Then all you need to do is to turn it the right way around.

Here’s how he eats the pyjamas 🙂

I’m sort of pleased with how this turned out, but I feel like it could have been better. I just don’t know how, though! Usually I enjoy thinking up how to make things without a pattern, but this time it just wasn’t quite right unfortunately.

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