Chinese New Year cat toy

On the 5th of February 2019 (just two days away) it will become the Chinese year of the pig. I love Chinese New Year and I was born in the year of the pig, but I have been told that it isn’t actually a good thing – according to my Chinese friend it means I need to ‘be cautious’. She suggested warding off the predicted misfortune with something red, so I decided to use up my scraps to make a cute red new year cat toy! Here’s what I did.

The fabric:

Ages ago, on impulse, I bought a short length of upholstery fabric which was in an odds&ends bin, I had no particular reason to buy it but I really liked it.  Last year I used some of it to make a thread catcher with a handy pin cushion (see below – I followed a great YouTube video tutorial from Masquerade ). As the material was red, I decided to use the scraps left over to make my pig.

I needed a contrasting fabric so I used a bit of black cotton I also had in my scrap drawer. I decided to stuff the pig with the scrap threads and small bits of material in my thread catcher left over from making the Heron top. Lastly, I have been collecting those thin bits of ribbon they put in clothes to help them stay on the hanger (they annoy me so I always cut them off) , and I decided to use them to make the eyes, tastle, cord.

The pattern:

I had no pattern so I had to make it up as I went along. I used a Chinese Mascot sold on AliExpress as inspiration.  Here’s what I did:

  1. Main body: Cut two pieces of red material and one piece of black material into rectangles 3 by 2 inches,. Round off the corners.
  2. Feet: Cut rectangles 1 by 3/4 inches rounded at one of the short ends (make 4 red, 4 black). Sew red-black pairs right sides together, leaving non-rounded end open. Turn right way out.
  3. Ears and Tail: Same as for Feet (make 3) but with an additional step. Once turned right way out, fold non-rounded end of each ear lengthwise, with black fabric inside the fold, then sew closed at the non-rounded end.
  4. Where you want the ears in the red pieces for the main body, create a fold in the material. Enclose the ears inside the fold. Sew right sides together along fold to secure ears in place.
  5. Pin red main body pieces right sides together with tail positioned wherever you want it. Sew together top and just over half of sides, leaving base and rest of sides open.
  6. On black main body base, sew feet into the corners, with the rounded ends of the feet pointing into the centre of the fabric and the black sides together. Stitch together.
  7. Pin and sew black main body fabric into base in red main body (right sides together), leaving a gap at the back to enable it to be turned right side out.
  8. Stuff pig and hand sew closed.
  9. Hand sew on button for nose.
  10. I knotted black ribbon together and used the knot for eyes, hand stitched on.
  11. Hand sew tastle for cat to play with to the underside, and cord for holding to top.


The challenges:

I cut the feet too small at first and I couldn’t turn them inside out. After getting very frustrated, I cut them bigger and it worked fine. That is why the ears ended up being a bit large, making my pig look a bit like Dumbo…

Another challenge was the fabric frayed quite easily which was a bit frustrating. I’m worried that this toy will not be very robust!

The final result:

I haven’t yet done the cat-test (Momo is asleep) but hopefully it’ll make a good toy. I’m really pleased by the stuffing – used up loads of bits of leftover thread and material, and it feels nice and solid.

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