December 7, 2013

DIY Stuffed Hobbes: The Rebirth of A Childhood Friend

DIY Stuffed Hobbes tutorial and tips | Tried and Twisted

How ever were children of the 80's and 90's to learn a good dose of fantasy, sarcasm, and an impressive vocabulary without the stories of Calvin and Hobbes?

Great quotes from Calvin and Hobbes
Hobbes was a part of so many of our lives growing up, and that homocidal psycho jungle cat is just as cool now as he ever was.

As children, my brother collected all of the books, and together we mourned the tragedy of the comic's discontinuation from the local funny papers.

Now that my brother has little sons of his own, I felt the time had come for them to have their own adventures with dinosaur-flying spaceships and suicidal snowman while accompanied by their new best friend Hobbes.

However Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, chose not to license his characters for distribution, so you won't find a Hobbes doll sitting on the shelf at your local toy store. So the best option is to make your own*.

The "Seamster" over on Instructables created a thorough tutorial here. I highly recommend using his tutorial as it's easy to follow, complete with patterns, and makes an adorable Hobbes.

The only minor deviation I made from the pattern was to cut felt eyes instead of using buttons, to avoid a choking hazard for my little nephews. 

DIY Stuffed Hobbes

However, as great as his tutorial was, I am a beginner/rusty sewer, so I still found myself on the phone a lot asking my Mom for sewing tips and advice. So for today's tutorial, I'll be focusing on the different types of stitching techniques the Seamster uses in making Hobbes.

Think of this as supplemental instructions so those of us who couldn't sew our way into a paper bag can still make our very own Hobbes doll.

DIY Sewn Hobbes | Tried and Twisted

*In respect of Watterson's wishes, please only use the Hobbes tutorial for personal use. No starting a mass production in your basement now!

Running Stitch

When instructions tell you to hand stitch something, chances are that they are just referring to the simple hand stitch method that you probably learned in middle school home ec class. For Hobbes, you can use a running stitch to close the openings in the neck, arms, ears, and legs. The running stitch can also be used to attach the white belly, muzzle, and black stripes if you'd rather not try the whip stitch.

The Seamster has excellent pictures showing how to sew the openings closed, but for newbies to sewing like myself, here is a refresher on how to do a simple running stitch. This stitch will probably sound familiar once you get started with it.
How to Sew a Running Stitch

1. To start the running stitch, make a knot at the end of your thread and push your needle through the fabric from the underside up to the top or visible side. This way the knot will hold the thread in place and will not be visible from view to the top side.

In my illustrations, the underside is shown with dotted lines.

2. Decide the direction you want the sewn seam to go and insert your needle into the fabric about 1/4 inch or so away from your starting point. Your needle will come out on the underside.

3. Now bring the needle back up to the top side again. Try to space your needle the same distance as the first stitch and in a straight line.

4. Repeat the second and third steps until you have a nice straight line. When you are done, knot off the end of the thread on the underside of the fabric.

In the illustration for step four, I showed two examples of the stitch. The top figure is exaggerated and loose so you can see between the pieces of fabric more easily. The bottom figure is more like what you'll actually see when you pull the thread tight and pull the fabric pieces together. You'll see the same thing in the examples below.

Slip Stitch

The slip stitch was a trickier method for a newbie sewer, like myself, but it gives a great finish for attaching Hobbes' head to his neck.

How to Sew a Slip Stitch

Slip stitches for Hobbes are done on corners of two pieces of fabric. So in the illustration above, just imagine that each single layer of fabric is actually folded over and the thread is going in and out of the corner. Can you picture it? Ok. Good. You may proceed.

1. Start by knotting the end of your thread and pulling through from inside the fold to the outside. This will hide the knot.

So, for Hobbes, you would start the thread inside his head or neck next to the stuffing, and then pull the thread out toward the stripe side of the fabric.

2. Next, cross to the other piece of fabric and insert your needle parallel to your start point on the first piece of fabric. Sew your needle from the outside of the fabric in toward the stuffing.

3. Move the needle on the stuffing side along the direction of the intended seam and poke the needle through the fabric outward about a 1/4 inch or so away from the starting point.

4. Cross over to the other fabric and repeat steps 2 and 3. Continue stitching straight across the two fabrics between two parallel points on the visible outside of the fabric and stitching horizontally along the seam on the underside of the fabric to make a slip stitch.

When you're done, make a knot on the underside of the fabric.

Whip Stitch

The whipstitch is a decorative stitch, which gives Hobbes' his characteristic mouth in this tutorial. It can also be used to attach all of the stripes, muzzle, and white belly for a nicer finish. Otherwise, you can use a basic running stitch and it will still look nice.

How to Sew a Whip Stitch

1. Push your needle from the underside to the topside of the fabric at your starting point and knot the end of your fabric. 

2. Send your thread around the edge of your top fabric and push your needle through the bottom fabric at a spot where the two fabrics will align. The starting point in the top fabric should be parallel to the stitch point in the bottom fabric. 

Bring the needle up through the bottom fabric and straight up to the top fabric as close to the starting spot as you can. By bringing the needle up to the original starting spot, the visible thread along the seam will be doubled up for the first stitch for added structural support. You won't need to do that for every stitch though. 

3. To finish the double stitch at the beginning, loop around the edge of the top fabric again to the bottom fabric and try to push the needle through the same hole as before. 

Next, push your needle from the bottom fabric and up through the top fabric at a sideways angle to follow the line of the seam. Your needle should come up through the top fabric layer about a 1/4 inch or so away from the starting point.

4. To continue the stitch, loop around the edge of the top fabric down through the bottom fabric. Then push the needle sideways up through the underside to the top fabric.

When you're ready to finish your stitch line, double up the stitch like you did in steps 2 and 3. Then tie a knot on the underside of the top fabric.

Calvin and Hobbes

Now that you know the basic stitches, you're ready to make your very own Hobbes doll!

"It's a magical world..." - Great quotes from Calvin and Hobbes Rating 2 out of 5. To sum up, the DIY Hobbes is a great tutorial, even for someone who hasn't sewn in a long while. You'll need access to a sewing machine and a few basic sewing tools and an hour or two to cut and assemble, but otherwise, it's a straight forward craft to try.

The doll looks just like the Hobbes doll featured in many of the comics and will be just the right size for a toddler or young child to carry with them everywhere they go.

Plus, it's made of fleece, which is affordable (just in case you make mistakes) and the material is so snugly.

And leftover material can easily be used for fleece ear warmers like I made last year.

What memories do you have of Calvin and Hobbes from when you were growing up? Do you still read the comics now?

I used some special fonts for this post. Thanks to dafont and fontsquirrel for the Calvin & Hobbes font, Marcelle Script, Little Bird font, Black Jack font, and Journal font. 

Linking at:
Flaunt if Friday Frugal Crafty Home, Inspiration Monday Party, Nifty Thrifty, DIY Sunday Showcase, Pin It Monday Hop, Monday Funday


  1. This is so adorable! I love it! Pinning for future inspiration :)
    I'm visiting from the Monday Funday link party.

    1. I'm glad that you liked it, Brynne! Hope you have as much fun making your Hobbes doll as I did. -Sara


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