The best part about this project is it uses all scrap materials or recycled blue jeans. Personally, I like using recycled jeans because the cats can’t tear them up nearly as fast as other weaker fabrics. We have a few in perfect condition floating around the house, and some with just normal kitty ware-and-tear. Out of all the cat toys we’ve made over the years, I’m pretty sure only one or two became subject to total destruction.
This summer, my daughter and I are planning to create a Kindle book together. I figured this would be a fabulous “bonding” activity for us to do, plus help her earn some money while she’s away at camp. One of the projects to be included is the blue jean cat toys we have made for our cats in the past.
Please note that I really dislike sewing machines, so this tutorial involves all hand sewing. If you prefer to use a machine, I’m sure it is possible. However, with the tiny stitches and pieces involved, I do recommend it be hand stitched, at least in some places.
You will need:
Recycled Blue Jeans
Assorted Craft Pom Poms (optional)
Small bells (optional)
What I love most about this craft is all the different ways you can assemble the mouse. If you are are trying to recycle a number of extra materials, you can use spare ribbon, craft pom poms, or bells to add detail (and interest!) to the cat toy.
Step 1 – Cut out pieces
The type of blue jeans for your cat toy really does not matter. They can be old or new, but I don’t recommend the pieces be cut on top of holes or extremely worn fabric. The mouse will be stuffed, so pick areas of the blue jeans that are in decent shape. You can print the cat toy pattern here. Do note there are two sides to the mouse that need to be cut, plus one piece for the tail. Alternatively, you can use two different types of fabric for the tail. For simplicity purposes, I cut one piece.
Step 2 – Assemble the Tail
The tail is the hardest part of the mouse, I think. It requires tiny 1/4 inch stitches and has to be turned inside out. If you have a tool for this purpose, awesome! If not, there is a fun trick I will show you to use in a pinch. But first, you’ll want to take the long rectangle piece and fold it in half, with the right sides (or “outside” of the jeans) facing each other.
If you decided to use decorations, now is the time for a few of them. Large pom poms can be placed on the tips, but make sure you have most of it not showing before you sew. It should look something like this:
Ribbon is another material you can use. Just like the pom pom, it goes in the seem and should not be seen. The mouse in the very first picture, way up top, has a ribbon sewn into his tail, although I believe his pom pom is sewn on the outside after the tail was finished (which you CAN do, but I recommend it sewn INTO the whole tail, so that the cats can’t easily tear it off).
Once you have all of your pins and decorations in place, you can sew the long side and end, making sure you’ve got all decorations sewn in tight. Leave one end of the tail open, because the next step is turning it inside out. When you are done sewing, you can use a pencil to push the pom pom (or sewn edge) inside of itself. Getting it started is the hard part.
Get it started by using the pencil to push in the pom pom (or sewn end, if you didn’t use a pom pom). Use the eraser end to continue pushing it inward. Use your hands to roll the top fabric down over the pencil. It should start to look like this:
Keep rolling it down until the entire tail is turned right-side out. You will then need a Chenille stem to go inside the tail. This makes it bendable. You can also use any kind of twisty tie that’s long enough, as long as it isn’t a sharp metal that cold hurt your cat. The stem or tie will need to be long enough so it can be folded at the top, so pick something about a half inch longer than the tail.
Mine is a bit too long, and will need to be cut down a tad. No worries, just as long as there is enough for it to fold. I think it helps to hold the tail on the mouse no matter how rough the cats play.
Step 3: Assembling the Mouse
Whew! The tail takes awhile, but luckily this step is a LOT faster. I like to do all the sewing in one swoop, so the tail will be attached as we are sewing the body together. If you want to add embellishments to the body part of the cat toy mouse, now is the time to plan it. You could use ribbon or yarn to add “fur” to the mouse, or sew it as-is. I like to add a little nose sometimes to mine:
When you have your extras planned (if any – again, these can be completely “naked” and the cats will still love them!), lay out the mouse like this:
Make sure your tail is facing the opposite direction as the mouse. We will need the tail sticking out, so to pull the mouse right-side out. In the picture above, I used a yard bag twine on the inside. Make sure your stem or twine is on the outside. We don’t want it to poke the cats! Sew around where the tail exits, and sew over the unfinished end of the tail and stems folded over. Make sure your tail is secured. When you are done, tug on the tail and turn the mouse right-side out. It should look something like this:
Then you will want to stuff the mouse, adding a pinch of catnip if you’d like. Again, this is optional! Our cats have long ago lost the scent of catnip on their toys, yet still play with them. You can also roll the finished mouse in catnip at any time.
Step 4 – Stuffing
The last step is to stuff the mouse, then sew up the small opening. Pack in the stuffing so the features of the mouse come out a bit. Not that your kitty cares, but hey. I think it makes a better stuffed toy and not a flat piece of fabric to play with.
Sew the hole, and you are done! YAY!
The cats love to bat this around, even before we get it finished. Sometimes, they try to help with the process…..
I hope you enjoyed this idea!