Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home. Our huggable ladybug pillow is so cute, you won’t want her to fly away. Rather than traditional round wing spots, Louise the Ladybug sports ten appliquéd white hearts. We also amped up the color by switching out the standard ladybug red for a jazzy hot pink. And, there’s a hidden heart on her chest, so she’s filled with love through and through. Actually, she’s filled with a 12 oz bag of Poly-Fil® Ultra Plush Polyester Fiber Fill, making her squeezably soft.
You’ll love our trick for making cord-filled tubes to create her sweet pom-tipped antennae. Louise originally appeared on S4H in January 2014, and she continues to be one of our most popular stuffed toy patterns.
Proper stuffing with a quality filler leads to a better finished look. For tips and tools, take a look at our Pillow Stuffing Tutorial.
If you are new to working with napped fabric, like fleece, you might want to check out our Sewing with Plush Fabric tutorial.
Please note that this ladybug pillow has button eyes and sewn-on poms. They are very securely stitched in place (you’ll see below that we used our machine’s button foot to do the stitching for the button eyes). But, if you want to make this project for a very young child, you may want to consider using appliquéd fabric circles instead of buttons for the eyes. Just make sure to choose a fabric that will not bleed into the white when washed. If you don’t feel you can stitch the poms securely enough to withstand a toddler’s yank, you could leave them off.
Louise the Ladybug finishes at approximately 15″ x 17″, excluding her legs.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Zipper foot
- Open Toe Satin Stitch foot ; optional, but it is helpful to have a transparent foot with a guide for the appliqué stitching and decorative stitching – we also used a standard Satin Stitch foot for some steps
- Button Sewing foot ; also optional, you can sew the button eyes by hand
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Supplies shown below are for ONE ladybug
- ½ yard of solid 58″+ fleece fabric for the body, legs, and antennae; we used and recommend black fleece
- ½ yard of solid 58″+ fleece fabric for the wings and chest heart; we used and recommend bright pink fleece
- ⅛ yd of solid 58″+ fleece fabric for the eyes and wing hearts; we used and recommend white fleece
- ½ yard of 44″+ solid polyester lining fabric for the back of the wings; we used, and recommend, hot pink to match the fleece
- ONE 12 oz bag of Poly-Fil® 100% Premium Polyester FiberFill
- TWO 1″ black buttons or fabric to create 1″ black fabric circles; we used black buttons, purchased locally
- TWO 1½” single poms to match the antennae; we used black, purchased locally
NOTE: You can buy single poms or purchase pom trim and cut off two poms
- 1 yard of ¼” cotton piping cord
- All purpose thread to match fabrics
- Bobbin thread
- Decorative thread for the ladybug’s appliquéd smile and the appliquéd chest heart; we used 40wt polyester in hot pink
- Decorative thread for the appliquéd wing hearts and the ladybug’s eyes; we used 40wt polyester in white
- 1 yard of 20″+ wide tear away stabilizer – as recommended for your machine – for the appliqué process
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
- Transparent tape, optional for button sewing
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- DOWNLOAD AND PRINT: TWO COPIES of our SIX Ladybug Pattern sheets, which have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier.
NOTE: You don’t need two copies of everything, just the body bottom, body top, and head – in case you only want to print the required pages twice.
IMPORTANT: Each page in the PDF is ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Cut out each pattern piece along the solid line.
- Flip over one of the two Body Bottom pieces. Butt together the two pieces along the center line (do not overlap) and tape to complete one Body Bottom. Repeat to assemble the two Body Top pieces.
- Butt together (do not overlap) the Body Bottom and Body Top units, aligning the arrows printed on the patterns. Tape together to create one full Body pattern as shown in the photo below.
- Flip over one of the two Head pieces. Butt together the two pieces along the center line (do not overlap) and tape to complete one Head pattern.
- From the main fleece fabric (black in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 1″ x 6″ strips
Use the patterns to cut:
NOTE: Remember to transfer the pattern markings for the antennae and leg placement. ¼” snips into the edge of the fabric is the best marking option for fleece.
- From the accent fleece fabric (hot pink in our sample), use the patterns to cut the following:
ONE large chest heart
- From the highlight fleece fabric (white in our sample), use the patterns to cut the following:
TEN small wing hearts
TWO eyes (the eye pattern is on the same page with the head pattern)
- From the lining fabric (hot pink in our sample), use the pattern to cut TWO wings.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Appliqué wing hearts and eyes
- Following the placement shown on the original paper pattern pieces, position five white hearts on each pink fleece wing, and position two white eyes on one black fleece head. Pin in place.
- Cut a piece of tear away stabilizer to fit beneath each wing (similar to the wind beneath your wings… ha! couldn’t resist) and the head. Place each fleece piece on top of a piece of stabilizer.
- Thread the machine with bobbin thread in the bobbin and decorative thread to match the hearts/eyes in the top (white in our sample). Attach a decorative stitch presser foot or appliqué presser foot. We used the clear Janome Open Toe Satin Stitch foot with its wide open front.
- Select a small zig zag stitch (we used 3.0 width and 1.5 length).
- Zig zag around one heart, using the edge of the heart as the center guide for your zig zag stitch. The fleece fabric may curl as you stitch. You can use your seam ripper or a stylus to hold the edges down as you sew.
NOTE: This first round of stitching allows you to “pre-position” the appliqués, securing them in place and creating a smooth edge for the decorative stitches that follow.
- Without removing your fabric from under the needle, re-set the machine for a satin stitch (4.0 width and 0.4 length). Stitch around heart again, covering the original zig zag placement stitch with the pretty satin stitch.
- Repeat to appliqué the remaining nine hearts. When all are complete, remove the excess stabilizer.
- Then repeat to appliqué the two eyes.
NOTE: If you are new to appliqué, check out our full tutorial.
- Find the two 1″ black buttons.
- Following the positioning on the pattern, place one black button within each white eye circle. The button should sit towards the bottom of each white circle as shown in the photo below. Tape in place.
- We used a Button Sewing foot and the button sewing option on our Janome machine. To do this, thread the machine with black thread in the top and bobbin, attach the Button foot to the machine and lower the feed dogs. Select the “Sew on button” option, or select a zig zag set to a width of approximately 4.0 mm (this will be determined by your machine’s instruction manual).
- Place the button under the foot. Turn the wheel by hand to lower the needle into the first hole of the button. Continue to turn the wheel by hand until the needle approaches the second hole of the button. Adjust the stitch width if necessary so the needle drops into each hole – you don’t want the needle point to strike the button. Sew on the button. Remove the tape. Remove the excess stabilizer.
NOTE: For more information, check out our tutorial on Sewing Buttons by Machine. You can, of course, sew on the buttons by hand. Make sure you double or triple your thread and stitch numerous loops so you can completely fill the buttonholes with thread. You don’t want any white showing through the holes of the buttons.
Create the smiling mouth
- Find the head pattern piece. Fold it in half along the taped center line. Trim away the ladybug’s mouth, following the pattern’s drawn smile.
- Find the head piece with the eyes stitched in place. Place the paper pattern over the fleece, matching all the outer edges, and pin in place.
- Cut a piece of tear away stabilizer to fit beneath the head. Place the fleece on top of the stabilizer.
- Thread the machine with decorative thread in the top and bobbin thread in the bobbin (we used hot pink rayon thread in the top), and attach a decorative stitch foot (we used the Janome standard Satin Stitch foot).
- Using a straight stitch, first sew around the cut out smile, staying just inside the paper.
- Remove the head from under the machine and remove the paper. This stitch marks the shape and position of the mouth.
- Re-set the machine to a satin stitch with a 0.4 stitch length. Stopping to adjust the width of the zig zag from narrow (2.0 mm) to wide (4.0 mm) as you sew, fill in the outline for the mouth.
- Sew along the upper edge, then the lower edge, then fill in the center. Ahhhh – she’s looking cute already! Remove the excess stabilizer.
NOTE: Several of Janome’s top-of-the-line models feature a variable zig zag feature, which allows you to control the width of a zig zag stitch as you sew using the knee lifter. Start with a straight stitch and widen out all the way to a 9mm zag zag – all without ever taking your hands off the fabric. Cool!
Chest heart appliqué
- Following the positioning on the main body pattern, mark the placement for the larger chest heart on one of the fleece body pieces.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to match the chest heart. We used hot pink.
- Following the same method as above for the wing hearts and eyes, placement-stitch the heart.
- Then appliqué in place.
Assemble the wings
- Find the two appliquéd fleece wings and the two lining wings. Place a lining wing right sides together with each fleece wing, aligning all the raw edges. Pin in place around the outer edges, leaving the straight upper edge of each wing open.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around each wing, remembering to leave that upper edge open.
- Clip the corners, trim the seam allowance back to ¼”, and clip the curves.
- Turn each wing right side out through the open upper edge. Using a long blunt-end tool, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner, round out the curves of each wing. Neither the fleece nor the lining fabric like direct heat from an iron, so to press, place the wing on a padded surface and shoot a small burst of steam from slightly above without actually touching the fabric. Use your fingers to help press the seam smooth.
- Find the plain fleece body (the one without the appliquéd heart). Place it right side up on your work surface. Place the wings, also right side on, on the body, aligning the top raw edges of the wings with the top raw edge of the body. The two wings should touch in the center, which will leave just over ½” of body fabric showing to either outer side edge. Pin in place.
Create and attach the antennae
- Find the two 1″ x 6″ strips of fleece, the cording, and the two single poms.
- Cut the cording in half into two 18″ lengths.
- Place the two fleece strips right right up on your work surface. Place a length of cording across the center of each.
- Wrap the fleece around the cording and pin in place. There should be 6″ of cording exposed on either end of the wrapped fleece.
- Make sure the machine is threaded with thread to match the fleece in the top and bobbin.
- Attach a Zipper foot. Stitch along the fleece, staying as close to the cording as possible.
- Pivot and stitch across one end through all the layers – fleece and cording.
- Now here’s the cool part. Pull the free end of the cording (the end that is not stitched across), turning the fleece tube right side out. This will pull the stitched end through the tube along with the cording.
- You’re turning it right side out on itself, making a filled tube.
- Trim away the excess cording from the stitched end. Leave the excess cording on the free end.
- Hand stitch a single pom to the stitched end of the tube. Make sure you firmly secure the pom in place.
- Repeat for the second antenna.
- Position the antennae over the wings. Each antenna should be approximately 1″ from the inside edge of each wing. From the raw top edge of the body/wing, the length down to each antenna pom should be about 5″. Pin in place.
- Find the fleece head with the button eyes and smile. Place it right sides together with the body/wings/antennae. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across through all the layers.
- Trim the excess cording even with the seam.
Body back and legs
- Find the body back (with its appliquéd heart) and the remaining plain fleece head.
- Pin the two pieces right sides together, leaving a 4″ opening at the center.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the layers together, remembering to lock your seam at either side of the center 4″ opening.
- Find all twelve leg pieces.
- Match them up into six pairs and place each pair right sides together. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around the curved outer edges of each pair. The inner straight edges remain open.
- Trim the seam allowance back to ¼” all around.
- Turn right side out and get a small handful of fiber fill. Fluff up the fiber fill.
- Stuff each leg, working the filler down into the curve.
NOTE: Don’t forget to review our Pillow Stuffing Tutorial for stuffing tools and tricks.
- Following the pattern markings, as well as the little clips you made when initially cutting out the body pieces, pin the legs in place on the body back.
- Machine baste each leg in place, staying within the seam allowance or about ¼” from the raw edge.
- Place the ladybug front and back right sides together, sandwiching the legs, wings and antennae between the layers. Align the outer perimeter raw edges of both pieces. Pin in place all around.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch all around the ladybug body. Go slowly and carefully around all the curves to maintain a smooth seam allowance. Remember, you left an opening in the back head/body seam for turning and stuffing, so this outer seam is uninterrupted.
- Turn the finished ladybug right side out through the opening in the back head/body seam.
- Stuff with the remaining fiber fill. This is designed as a cuddly pillow rather than a firm toy, so we suggest a light touch with the filling for a soft, cushy… huggable feel.
- Thread a hand sewing needle and slip stitch the opening closed. Keep your stitches tiny and close to prevent any filler from poking out through the seam.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler