I like puffy toy bags
(and I cannot lie)! I have a brown bear backpack from the 90’s I still carry around regularly, but I’ve been wishing I had a toy bag that actually fit the piles of junk I insist on lugging around everywhere (wallet, sketchbook/pens, sneakers, apple, makeup bits).
(Some messy stitching above, sorry about that! This was my practice piece but I’ve ended up really adoring it so I may have to resew the straps etc)
When I saw this giant puffy heart pillow (and it’s matching velvet heart pillow friend) at a local thrift shop for $1.50 I snatched it up! And thus began my experiment.
Transforming my giant heart pillow into a big puffy backpack purse I could actually use! This tutorial/process was admittedly pretty sloppy but it’ll give you an idea of how to do this yourself should you want a custom toy bag to match your outfit! How cute would one of those stuffed Halloween pumpkins be as a bag? Or a giant pink bunny? 😀
I’m sure there are far easier or better ways to do this, this is more of an overview of how I did this in case you wanted to try it too. 🙂
-Pillow or plush toy. I recommend thrift shops for finding these.
-Scissors (sharp enough to cut fabric cleanly)
-Safety Pins/Straight pins
-Needle and thread (to match the color of your toy)
-Old backpack or tote bag (to get the straps from). You could also buy that woven cotton strap ribbon from a fabric shop, I did not do this as I am cheap.
-Zipper. I used one I salvaged from a dress that I am editing, it’s a dress zipper but one of those heavy duty bag or coat ones in plastic would have been better.
-Tote bag (to line the inside of your purse so pick one that isn’t bigger than your toy/pillow).
Cut it! Carefully use your scissors to cut a horizontal opening in the back of your pillow, if you’re using a toy decide where youd like the bag’s opening to be and cut there. Think of how you’ll position the straps (either as a backpack or handbag).
Gut it! Remove some of the stuffing from the pillow/toy, you want to keep the stuffing that fills out it’s shape in place. If the toy has limbs leave those full, leave head shapes full- basically I just removed a pile from the middle of the heart so it would keep it’s heart shape and not deflate.
Sew it! Time to add your straps! If you’re making a backpack you’ll need long enough straps to go over your shoulders comfortably. If you’re making a handbag/purse you need ones short enough to sling over your wrist or shoulder. I cut the straps off of a nylon carry-all I had laying around as they were very sturdy and perfectly long enough to use for a backpack! You could get backpack straps from an old backpack or use the straps from your tote bag used in this tutorial.
For a backpack add the straps to the top and bottom of your pillow as far apart as you like. Try pinning them in place with safety pins to make sure they hang comfortably when worn. For a purse also try pinning them before you begin sewing to see how the bag will hang when you use it.
Sew the straps down to the exterior fabric of the toy/pillow. Most tote bags you’ll see have a square of stitches used to attach straps and keep them from ripping the fabric they’re attached to. Basically sew around the bottom 1-2″ inches of the strap in a square shape, and then make an X of stitches in the center of that square to reinforce it. Make sure they are sewn on well and aren’t coming loose when worn.
Stuff it! Insert the tote bag into the opening in your pillow/toy and line the edges up with the edges of the opening you cut in the toy/pillow. This will be the bag portion of your item! Make sure you’ve taken out enough stuffing to accommodate the bag but not so much that it looses it’s cute shape when not totally full.
Now use your straight pins to pin the edge of the tote to the opening and keep it in place while you sew the parts together. Carefully use a sewing machine or a needle and thread (I used a needle and thread) to attach the parts. You’ll want to go over this several times to make sure it’s really well attached as you don’t want the bag to rip when you use it.
Zip it! Take your zipper and line it up with the opening of the bag. Use your straight pins to pin it into the opening, one side of the opening will sit on either fabric border of the zipper. Carefully hand sew or machine sew the zipper into place, make sure to go over this lots to make sure the zipper is secure.
VOILA! You now have your own one of a kind stuffed toy or pillow purse/backpack!!!!!!! Enjoy! 🙂