Tutorial - Finishing Stuffed Toys

>> Monday, December 31, 2007

It seems like I’ve tried a hundred different stitches for closing up stuffed toys, but for me the ladder stitch is the clear winner. I get nearly invisible results every time. Here’s how you do it.

  1. Place whatever pieces you’re sewing together, right sides facing each other. Choose the seam that will have the stuffing opening and sew it first, leaving a gap of about 2” for small projects, larger for larger projects. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of all stitching.
  2. Press this seam open. This will give you nice crisp fold lines to follow when you do your hand sewing.
  3. Fold your pieces back together and finish sewing the rest of the way around. Clip any excess fabric at the corners.
  4. Turn your piece right side out. Use a chopstick to help push the corners out.
  5. Stuff it.
  6. Now comes the fun part. Thread a needle and knot the end. I used contrasting thread here so you can see it, but I usually match to the darkest color (if the front and back of the piece are different colors). Take your needle in through the stuffing hole and then out at the seam. I usually start my hand sewing so that it overlaps the last ¼” or so of the machine stitching.
  7. Pinch the opening closed. Your pressed folds will be a great guide.
  8. Time to take your first stitch. Needle-in directly across the stuffing opening from your last needle-out. Needle-out about 1/8” away, on the same side of the opening as your needle-in. I took a slightly larger stitch here because it was harder to show what was happening with smaller stitches. The thread should jump straight across the opening and then run – hidden - inside your pressed seam allowance fold. Your needle in and out (while the needle is still in the fabric) should look like this.
  9. Repeat for your next stitch. Stitch two should look like this.
  10. And stitch three should look like this.
  11. For each stitch the visible part is the thread’s quick, straight dash across the opening. The part where the thread travels the length of the opening is the part that’s hidden in the fold of the seam allowance. I took several loose stitches here so you could see. See why it’s called a ladder stitch?
  12. And here are the same stitches pulled tight. The seam would be less wavy if I took the smaller stitches I usually take, but it's still not bad.
  13. When you get to the end of the opening, continue for a stitch or two, overlapping the machine stitching, then knot it off and you’re done. Ta daaa! The small knot is usually the only part of the stitching that you see. Even with contrasting thread here it’s nearly invisible.
  14. Enjoy your work and show it off proudly to as many people as possible.
I'm really excited about a stuffed toy project I've been working on but I don't have good pictures yet. Today is going to be sunny and warm - so we'll be working on the new house until the sun goes away or our bodies give out. More lifting heavy siding into place. Yay! But tomorrow is supposed to be overcast. Perfect for resting weary bones and taking pictures - so hopefully I'll post them tomorrow night.

Update: Triangle Toys are here! I'm so happy with how they turned out!


Anonymous,  July 17, 2008 at 5:55 AM  

Hey! Thanks for this tutorial, I practised it on a seam I needed closed on a blouse with an ascot bow I chopped off.

The instructions were pretty clear once I actually had the stuff needed in hand.


Oh, and I got linked to your tutorial by this post from Turn and Press.

- FJ

Anonymous,  April 18, 2011 at 9:03 AM  

Thanks this really helps!

liss January 14, 2012 at 5:52 PM  

This is fantastic! I just tried it on an infinity scarf for my sister and after leaving and coming back to it, I could barely tell where it was sewn! Thank you so much - this is going to save so many future sewing projects!

Anonymous,  February 8, 2013 at 9:43 PM  

I have been using this same technique for years. Your tutorial was excellent. Thanks for passing this on.

RandomThoughtGenerator February 15, 2013 at 1:53 PM  


this is a great tutorial and it has helped me a lot. I'm wondering if you have a similar tutorial up that explains how to add a ribbon to the design so that it can be pulled out onto the outside of the piece? Or if you know anywhere that does?

Thanks in advance. :)

Hi! I'm Wendi! February 16, 2013 at 10:11 AM  

I'm glad it was helpful! I'm not sure what you're referring to with the ribbon question. Is it to help you turn the piece right side out?

Alexis,  November 30, 2013 at 9:33 PM  

I was just sitting here, browsing Pintrest, avoiding sewing closed my project because I was not positive how. This is so helpful and has motivated me to finish them tonight. Thanks!

noonoo,  August 22, 2014 at 7:44 AM  

thank you so much i,ve been struggling with closing a project,this is gonna be my go to,

Anonymous,  July 6, 2015 at 4:25 PM  

I have used this stitch, and also a 'baseball lacing' stitch to close up items, which is nearly invisible.

Anonymous,  January 18, 2017 at 10:04 AM  

We called this a blind stitch in home making class in the 40's. I don't believe the class exists these days.

Z,  March 15, 2017 at 9:03 PM  

I actually learned this in home ec class in the early '00s! And yes, I've used it in real life! It seems like these skills are disappearing, but they haven't completely, yet :)

Unknown March 15, 2017 at 9:42 PM  

Great stitch. I've been using it for a while with a curved needle...it is actually called a "subcutaneous stitch". Surgeons use it to close wounds.

Anonymous,  August 14, 2018 at 12:24 PM  

I used to do upholstery repair and used this stitch often, although we called it a blind stitch in the industry. Teflon thread works well as it grabs the thread and keeps each stitch closed. The key to this stitch is making sure the thread is sewn straight across the fabric. that will eliminate "bunching".

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