My 7th grade daughter made him as her 4-H sewing project, using McCall’s pattern M6484.
The pattern was fairly easy for her to create, with a little help from mom (of course). Our county requires a 7th grade sewing project to use at least five skills from a checklist. This was a bit of a challenge with Mr. Hippo, because many of the skills are things that you’d expect on an outfit rather than an animal (when is the last time you made a stuffed hippo with cuffs or sleeves, for instance?).
The skills we used were: making darts (this pattern had many darts) — sewing on buttons (actually the buttons used for the eyes and nose were called “Safety Lock” and were positioned and popped into place rather than sewn; nevertheless, this was a new skill for her) — using fiberfill — applying trims (we counted the yarn tail as “trim”) — and hand applique (more on that later).
The pattern was easy to follow, and you can also use it to create an elephant in two sizes.
So we planned to make the big hippo, until we looked and discovered that big hippo is 33″ long. That’s a whole lot of hippo to put someplace. At 15″ long, small hippo seemed like a better choice. When patterns went on sale at .99 (please buy your patterns on sale, which happens frequently around here at JoAnn’s. The list price on this pattern is $18.95. I am not making this up), we purchased it and were ready to go.
A visit to an enchanting nearby fabric store resulted in a choice of two coordinating fabrics. It’s hard to see from the pattern, but Mr. Hippo is made from two fabrics: a main one, and another one that makes up his underneath/stomach.
The pattern was easy to cut, with just four pattern pieces (actually three if, like us, you use yarn rather than fabric for the tail). You’ll also need fusible fleece interfacing. We had never worked with that before, but it was not difficult (here’s a video we watched showing how to use it).
Directions were clear for making the darts and then sewing the hippo together. Dad helped with popping in the eyes, and then it was time to stuff.
Stuffing can be a challenge. You’d think you could just stuff in fiberfill and that’s that — but you would be wrong. It’s important to tear the fiberfill into small pieces, and to stuff extremities (like the little ears and feet) first and firmly, before moving on to the body.
Going back to our applique skill — we needed to decide on something to applique onto Mr. Hippo. What better than a heart? (remember the “I Love You” heart appliqued to all Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls?) So daughter looked online to find a heart shape she liked, cut it out double, adding a seam allowance so she could sew it and turn it (no easy feat there) before appliqueing it on with a primitive-look stitch suggested by Grandma.
Then, all that was left was to stitch him shut. This was one of the biggest challenges, since he was so full of fiberfill. I held him between my knees while my daughter took some stitches (and to tell the truth, I took some myself — it was hard!).
Voila! Mr. Hippo was completed.
I would recommend this pattern. It was easy to follow and make, and it turned out really cute. It would make a fun baby shower gift.