Purging clutter from my children’s room feels like a full time job. But as time consuming as it is, the benefits far outweigh the negatives, especially when my children rush back in and rediscover old toys and happily begin playing again with that favorite doll I rescued from the AC vent. There’s always one pile, however, that they don’t rush to—that big pile of fluffy, furry stuffed animals.
I admit it, I’m the one that can’t bear to part with these mementos of my children’s formative years. Each furry creature represents a different stage of childhood to me, and the ones that were given as shower or baby gifts are the hardest to part with. I’ve tried different ways of displaying them in the playroom to showcase their cuteness, but as fluffy turtles and cuddly koala’s jostle with Transformers and Monster High Dolls, space is at more and more of a premium, and I have to face the fact that some of these animals need to find new homes… or new uses.
Yes, you can “upcycle” your stuffed animals! This article on how to make your own DIY bear rug for the playroom inspired me to take one of my favorite baby shower gifts—a gorgeous polar bear named Uhlenhopp (top tip—name all your stuffed animals after the person who gave them to you—it’s an excellent way to keep the memories alive, not to mention avoiding a playroom full of critters named teddy) and turn him into a rug for our reading nook.
HERE’S HOW I DID IT:
• 1 stuffed animal—the bigger the better
• A can of spray adhesive
• A sheet of matching color felt
• Needle and thread
Step 1: Cut open the stuffed animal, slice right through the belly and remove all the stuffing. Keep to one side. Do NOT do this within eyesight of any children. Trust me, it’s traumatic enough doing it on your own. If your stuffed animal is a little short in the body, you may need to cut it in two and sew in a piece of similar material to the midsection—this will help elongate it enough to make a rug shape.
Step 2: Run the now un-stuffed animal through the wash on a gentle cycle with no or low spin. Allow to dry.
Step 3: Re-stuff just the head of the toy animal and sew it closed, so no stuffing will escape.
Step 4: Lay the toy on the felt and cut a rough outline into the felt.
Step 5: Spray the glue adhesive on one side of the felt and then lay the toy on the felt, pressing down to secure it to the felt. Leave to dry overnight.
Step 6: Put your new bear rug into use in the playroom or nursery!
Since we recently had hardwood floors installed in our home, I’ve been in a constant search for area rugs for each room. This has been a rare thing in my home renovation—a joy to shop for. Area rugs are so versatile and fun, with the ability to transform a space from an insignificant corner of a room into a showpiece of interior design. And best of all, it’s not a decision I have to live with for decades, as switching out an area rug can give a room a whole new look in seconds. What’s not to love?
This new passion for floor covering led me to the idea of turning Uhlenhopp (who, after seven years of playtime was quite literally getting the stuffing knocked out of him) into a DIY bear rug. My kids love this playful addition to the room, and I love that we gave new life to a neglected toy.
Jennifer Tuohy writes about her upcycling DIY projects, which include bear rugs, for The Home Depot. Jennifer resides with her family in Charleston, South Carolina. Home Depot’s Home Decorators selection of area and room rugs can be viewed online here.