A Behind the Scenes Look – How Are Stuffed Animals Made?

Photo by beauty_of_nature on Pixabay

It’s fair to say that most people have a soft spot for teddy bears, lions, dinosaurs, and other plush toys. You probably already know how much work goes into making stuffed animals. It’s not as simple as just cutting out a few shapes and sewing them together. There’s a lot more to it than that. Creating plush toys involves designing, sewing, cutting, dyeing, and many other things you might not expect. You probably wouldn’t guess that so much time and effort go into making these cute, cuddly plushies. From the selection of materials to the different processes used during assembly, there are a lot of hidden details about what goes into making plush toys. Let’s answer the question, how are stuffed animals made?

Designing the ideal plush toy

Toy designers and creative artists

The first step in answering how are stuffed animals made, is designing them. The designers and artists create sketches and prototypes to find the ideal design. This process is often very experimental, as getting the colors and proportions right can be challenging.

The stuffed animal must be the right size, with the right amount of stuffing and weight. The overall shape and design of the plush toy will depend on the type of toy it is. For example, stuffed animals will have different shapes and designs than stuffed toys based on TV shows or movies. And plush toys based on TV shows or movies will have different shapes and designs than those based on toys from a specific era.

Snuggie Buggies goes through multiple iterations before we land on the perfect design for our plush toys.

Materials Used to Make Stuffed Animals

Fabric - how stuffed animals are made

The materials used to make stuffed animals often set them apart from other toys. Several materials are used to create plush toys, but polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyester are the two most common. Polyethylene is a synthetic polymer that is durable, inexpensive, and easy to work with. It is how you make plastic bags, water bottles, and the most common material used to make stuffed animals. This material is sturdy enough to make the toy stand up to rough play but soft enough to make it comfortable for kids to cuddle with.

Polyester is common with plush toys based on nostalgic themes, such as toys from the 1980s or animals from the 1950s. Polyethylene is soft, polyester is much more durable, and you will see soft fabrics such as cotton and wool. Cotton and wool are typical in old-fashioned or traditional stuffed animals and for babies or young children.

At Snuggie Buggies, we tend to find that polyester fibers and organic PP cotton make the ideal soft and cuddly plush toys.

Sewing the Pieces Together

how stuffed animals are made - sewing

Once the designers have found the perfect design, it’s time to create the pattern for the plush toy. With this pattern, they can cut out the pieces sewn together to make the toy. They sew these fabric pieces together to create the shape of the plush animal. Each piece of the animal (head, body, arms, and legs) makes the entire plush toy.

Most manufacturers sew the seams together by hand. This gives the inside of the toy a clean and pleasant finish. It also prevents the seams from ripping and coming apart. This is very important, as the customer will not see the inner parts of the toy. The toy maker sews all materials together according to the design. Being precise is key to making a quality plush toy. Otherwise, the individual components of the toy may not fit together correctly.

Make sure whatever product you purchase is very durable and sewn together well, so it stands the test of time.

Dyeing and Coloring

how to make stuffed animals

Dyeing and coloring fabrics before sewing the parts is standard. Dying each piece before assembly allows for the stuffed toy to contain many different colors. This ensures consistent color throughout the entire toy. Manufacturers maximize efficiency by dyeing everything in large vats or barrels. This also maintains consistency across all products.

There are two types of dyes, synthetic and natural. Synthetic dyes are the most common and consistent. Natural dyes are unpredictable and can turn out differently. These are common in special edition toys giving them a unique and unplanned pattern. This can provide the toys with a one-of-a-kind look. Synthetic dyes can also create specific patterns and designs on the fabric.

Cutting Out Shapes and Details

Now it is time to cut out the pieces. They mark the pieces to optimize precision. Now cut and sew the pieces together to form the shape of the plush animal. Designers ensure that each piece fits together perfectly and forms the shape of the toy correctly. Toy makers often cut everything and sew it in order to optimize efficiency.

The shape and design of the toy will determine how the pieces are cut out and sewn together. For example, the ears of a teddy bear will be cut out and sewn together in a certain way, while the ears of a pig will be cut out and sewn together differently.

Adding Features and Trimming

The next step in making a stuffed animal is adding features and trimming. This includes eyes, ears, nose, buttons, or other details that make the toy unique.

Machine operators sew features manually. This ensures accuracy.

Trimming refers to cutting away parts of the toy that are not supposed to be there. This includes cutting away the excess fabric around the features and cutting away excess material around the seams. The maker trims the seams so that they are not visible outside the toy. This makes the toy look cleaner and more professional.

Adding accessories to the finished product

Making stuffed animals and giving accessories

Now makers add the accessories. This includes tags, tools, hearts, bags, etc. They print and glue labels and packaging onto the toy before stuffing to simplify packaging after assembly. Any other features or accessories can be sewn onto the toy. Many companies sell aftermarket accessories for your plush toys. You can also make your own.

Packaging and Shipping

packaging stuffed animals and plush toys

Packaging depends on where the product is sold. Many retail stores want a single vacuum-packed bag and display plush toys in basket displays. Others prefer having a decorative box they can place on a shelf. At Suniggie Buggies, we primarily sell online, so we tend to do single vacuum-packed bags so they can be sent in the smallest box possible to save money for the end customer. All options work great. It just comes down to where the plush toys are sold.

Conclusion – How are Stuffed Animals Made?

Stuffed animals are a classic toy that many people enjoy. You might have thought they are simple and easy to make, but a lot goes into creating them. From designing the perfect toy to dyeing the fabric and cutting out shapes, many different steps go into making stuffed animals. Makers use many different materials and methods when making stuffed toys. The type of materials used will depend on the toy type. The most popular materials are synthetic, but it is possible to make them with natural fabrics. There are a lot of different ways of making stuffed animals. Each method will produce a different result, from hand-sewing to machine-sewing to 3D printing. Collect all your favorite designs with the softest materials, and you will surely have a thrilled recipient.