Will you be my buddy? These adorable blankets are simply begging for hugs. Made with a double layer of super soft Cuddle luxury fleece from Shannon Fabrics, and sporting a lightly stuffed animal head and ears in one corner, who could resist giving them a loving squeeze?! Our little model wasn’t going to let go of our samples until we promised her they’d both come back soon for visit and more hugs. At just 15” square when finished, they are the perfect “Goldilocks size” – not too small and not too big, just right for a young child to carry about.
There are free downloadable templates below for the face shape, both styles of ears, and the Kitty Face and the Bunny Face. Our patterns are PDFs; please read carefully through the instructions for downloading and printing. If you have trouble, you may also want to reference our article: How to Successfully Print and Assemble PDF Patterns.
The very cute faces are done with hand embroidery stitches, using a thicker pearl cotton style of twisted floss. The step-by-step instructions below reveal our solution to “tracing” the face design onto the napped surface of the Cuddle… simple yet very clever (if we must say so ourselves!).
Our Kitty Buddy and Bunny Buddy designs are packed with personality, and their sweet smiling faces are meant to be just lightly stuffed front and back with polyester filler. Don’t over-stuff or it will make it too hard for little hands to grasp.
There are lots of great “grab points” on the blankies. Kids can hold on to any of the four corners as well as the ears. And, since the finished size is smaller, the blanket is less likely to drag along the ground.
Shannon Cuddle is simply the softest! And the selection of colors and prints: fabulous! Links are included below in the Supplies list for the darling combinations we used. But there are so many other options to choose from to create your perfect pair. You can find Shannon Cuddle in prints as well as classic and embossed solids at fine in-store and online retailers everywhere. We discovered wonderful selections at Fabric Depot, Fabric.com, Fat Quarter Shop, and Missouri Star Quilt Co.
As mentioned, each blanket is made from two coordinated print layers plus a solid for the head. A special inner lining of flannel helps keep the layers from shifting, working in tandem with the edgestitching around the perimeter. It's a blanket that can be laundered frequently without losing its shape or its softness. Because they’ll likely be in the wash quite a bit, do be sure to pre-wash all the elements prior to starting your project – this is especially important for the flannel.
Our thanks to Shannon Fabrics for sponsoring today’s project. They are our good friends, and better even than that… they are an industry leader in all things soft. Not only do they bring us super soft Cuddle, they also have beautiful Embrace Double Gauze, fabulous faux furs, terry cloth, and silky satin. Check out all of softness online, including their fun Cuddle Kits.
As mentioned above, each Buddy Blanket finishes at approximately 15” x 15”, excluding the ears.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but helpful for the thickness of the multiple layers of Cuddle – you could also engage your machine's built-in fabric feeding system
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Supplies shown are for ONE Animal Buddy Blanket. Because the Cuddle is wonderfully wide, you can cut up to three blankets from the Cuddle yardage shown and two from the flannel yardage shown.
- ½ - ¾ yard EACH of TWO coordinating Cuddle luxury fleece prints for the front and back of the blanket and the ears; see our perfect pairs below
NOTE: If your Cuddle has a random motif and can be cut on the square, you need just ½ yard. If your Cuddle has a directional motif, you'll need ¾ yard in order to use the pattern to cut on the diagonal.
- ¼ yard of a coordinating Cuddle luxury fleece solid for the animal face (front and back); we used Cuddle 3 by Shannon Fabrics in Ivory
- ½ yard of 44"+ wide cotton flannel for the interior layer; we used a solid white 100% cotton flannel
- We used the following pairs of fabric from Shannon Fabrics:
Bunny Buddy Blanket
- Front: Shannon Classic Cuddle Swiss Dot in Paris Pink/White
- Back: Shannon Classic Cuddle Damask in Charcoal/White
Kitty Buddy Blanket
- Front: Shannon Classic Cuddle Swiss Dot in Sunshine/White
- Back: Shannon Classic Cuddle Mod Dot in Lemon
- ¼ yard of 20”+ flexible, lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon ShapeFlex
- ⅛ yard or scrap of low loft batting for the ears
- TWO handfuls of polyester fiber fill to lightly stuff the animal faces (front and back); we used Poly-Fil by Fairfield
- ONE skein each of TWO colors of heavyweight twisted pearl cotton embroidery floss: we used DMC Pearl Cotton in pink for the top of the nose and black for the eyes, bottom of the nose, mouth, and whiskers
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Small, sharp scissors for trimming
- Measuring tape
- Iron and ironing board
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Hand embroidery needle
- Download and print out the Bunny Ears pattern, Kitty Ears pattern, Bunny Face template and Kitty Face template. These four sheets have been bundled into one Ears & Faces PDF file to make the download easier. Also download and print FOUR COPIES of the Body Pattern
NOTE: As mentioned above, you don't have to use the pattern if you have a random motif on your Cuddle; you can simply cut a 16" square, but if you have a directional motif, use the pattern to align on the diagonal.
IMPORTANT: Each pattern/template page is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printouts are to scale.
- Cut out the ear patterns along the solid lines.
- Cut out the face template along the solid line.
- Butt together the four copies of the Body Pattern, aligning the grain lines as shown on the diagram printed on the pattern itself to create a complete 16” x 16” square pattern. Do NOT overlap. Tape together, then trim the completed pattern along the solid line.
- Using the assembled Body Pattern, place the pattern on the main Cuddle print panels, aligning the grain line with the fabric’s motif if working with a directional motif, such as the Damask Cuddle we chose.
- Pin in place to cut ONE from the front fabric and ONE from the back fabric.
NOTE: This precise placement allows the pattern to be correctly oriented when complete with the cute animal face in one corner. Not all the Cuddle prints have a distinct vertical motif, but many do. If yours does, take the time to correctly place and cut so you don’t inadvertently end up with your design at an odd angle when finished and looking at it on the diagonal.
- Using the ear patterns, cut ONE EACH (A and B) from the front fabric and ONE EACH (A and B) from the back fabric.
- From the Cuddle Solid, cut TWO approximately 9” x 9” squares; they need to be just a bit larger than the face template. You’ll trim them to the pattern shape later in the construction steps.
- From the flannel, cut ONE using the assembled pattern or simply cut ONE 16” x 16” square.
- From the batting, cut TWO using the ear patterns.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Find the flexible fusible interfacing. Place it plain side up (non-fusible side up) and flat on your work surface.
- Slip the face template under the interfacing and trace both the main cut outline as well as all the face details. Cut around your traced face outside of the cut lines by about 1".
- Remember, the nose is made up of two colors so make sure you trace both sections.
- We’re showing the Bunny Buddy Blanket throughout our instructions, but the Kitty is created in exactly the same manner.
- Find one of the two Cuddle solid squares. Place it wrong side up on your ironing surface. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the template in place.
- Thread your machine with dark thread in the bobbin (we used black) and thread to match the fabric in the top (we used ivory).
- Place the Cuddle in the machine interfacing side up.
- Lengthen the stitch and baste/trace along all the face elements.
- We engaged the AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system on our Janome Skyline S7. You could also use a Walking or Even Feed foot or similar. You could also carefully hand baste with a dark thread.
- When complete, flip over to the right side to reveal a traced outline you will follow to fill in with the hand embroidery.
- Using small, sharp scissors, trim back the nap inside the basted shapes.
- Thread a hand embroidery needle with the black floss.
- For all the single lines, such as the mouths as well as the kitty’s whiskers, we used a standard split stitch.
- There are lots of hand-embroidery tutorials out there to describe various stitches. This is one good option from Craftsy that shows the split stitch.
- To fill in the larger areas, the eyes and the two parts of the nose, we recommend a Roumanian Couching Stitch. Again, use your favorite source for hand embroidery stitches; here is one we felt did a good job of explaining this stitch.
- Remember you’ll need to switch to the pink floss to fill in the main nose section.
- When done embroidering, trim along the outer cut lines so you have the finished face shape.
Stitch the embroidered face to the blanket front
- Find the front Cuddle print panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface. Make sure the pattern is running vertically with the panel set on the diagonal.
- Place the embroidered face right side up in the upper corner. The raw straight edges of the face should be flush with the corner raw edges of the blanket panel. Pin in place along the sides and around the bottom curve.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the solid fabric in the top and bobbin (we used ivory).
- With the machine still set for a lengthened stitch, baste along the straight sides of the face. On one side, leave a 3” - 4” opening to use to insert the filler.
- Re-set the machine for an appliqué stitch. We used a right needle position wide zig zag (4.0 stitch width and just .35 stitch length).
- Appliqué along the bottom curve.
- Using the opening left along one side, stuff with a handful of filler. You don’t want the face to be overly stuffed to the point of being taut. It should be just lightly stuffed and raised so it’s still easy for a little one to grab with one hand.
- Pin the opening closed.
Layer the back with the flannel and stitch the blank face in place
- Slip the face template under the interfacing and trace just the main cut outline.
- Find the remaining Cuddle solid square. Place it wrong side up on your ironing surface. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the template in place.
- Trim along the cut line so you have the finished face shape. In this case, we are just using the interfacing to give the Cuddle a bit more body so it holds its shape when stuffed.
- Find the flannel square. Lay it flat on your work surface.
- Find the back Cuddle print panel. Place it right side up and flat on top of the flannel square. All edges of both layers should be flush. Make sure the Cuddle's pattern is running vertically with the panel set on the diagonal.
- Find the plain face in the solid Cuddle. Pin it to the top corner of the back panel.
- Just as above with the front panel, baste the “blank face” along both sides, leaving a small opening for stuffing, then appliqué along the bottom curve. And yes, you are stitching through the Cuddle panel as well as the flannel panel.
- Also as above, get a handful of stuffing — remember, not too much.
- Gently insert through the opening. You can use a long blunt tool, such as a chopstick or knitting needle to help push the filler into place so its distributed evenly. Pin the opening closed.
Make and place the ears
- Find the two layers of Cuddle for the ears as well as the single layer of batting.
- Place the batting ears flat on your work surface.
- Place each pair of front and back ear pieces right sides together and then place a pair on top of each batting ear. Pin through all the layers along the curved edges. The straight bottom of the ears will remain unstitched.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along each curved side of each ear, pivoting at the top point. Remember, the straight bottom of the ears remains unstitched.
- Grade the batting back to ⅛” and cut a few triangles out along the tip of each ear to help ease that turn.
- Turn each ear right side out through the open bottom end.
- Make a small finger pleat along the bottom end of each ear, placing a pin in the pleat to hold it in place. This pleat doesn’t have to be huge, you are simply adding a little dimension so the ears will have a slight natural curve to them.
- Using the original paper template as a guide, mark the position for the two ears on the FRONT panel.
- Remember, there is an Ear A and an Ear B. When looking from the right side at the panel, Ear A on the left overlaid by Ear B on the right. You want the ears pointing out and away from one another when finished.
- Pin the ears in place on the FRONT panel, right sides together. Make sure your keep your finger pleat intact. "Layer, pin, flip, and peek" -- in other words, pin everything in place, then flip up the ears and make sure everything looks as it should prior to basting.
- Baste each ear in place.
Layer and edgestitch to finish
- Place the front and back Cuddle panels right sides together, sandwiching the face and the ears between the layers. All raw edges should be flush and make sure the appliqué stitching lines match up front to back.
- Pin in place, leaving a 4” - 5” opening along one bottom corner for turning.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around all four sides. Remember to pivot at each corner and to lock the seam at either side of the opening. We continued to use our AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system on our Janome Skyline S7. Slow down to keep your seam allowance consistent as your stitch past the slight bulk of the stuffing.
- Clip the corners.
- Turn right side out through the opening. Use a long blunt tool to gently push out each corner. Fold in the raw edges at the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam, then pin all around to help prevent any shifting of the layers during the final edgestitching.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the Cuddle solid (we used ivory thread throughout our construction process). Edgestitch around the entire perimeter of the blanket, pivoting at each corner.
- Again, we recommend using a feeding system or a Walking foot for this step to make it the easiest to stitch with precision, especially in the upper corner as you go around the face.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild