How to Safely Sew Children's Dolls, Toys, and Stuffed Animals

Handmade crocheted teddy bear with a striped shirt
Click&Boo / Getty Images

Imagine how terrible you would feel if a child got hurt on something you made. Government standards provide guidelines for manufacturers to sew toys and dolls in factory settings. What can you do while sewing a child's toy at home? Plenty! Most pointers are common sense or a ​workaround to possible dangerous choking hazards.

  • 01 of 09

    Strong Quality Thread

    Eyebrow being sewn on face of knitted toy monkey

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    Always sew a toy with a strong quality thread. Not only will the toy possibly last for generations, but the risk of stuffing and small parts becoming loose is also mitigated.

  • 02 of 09


    Mixed race baby girl sleeping next to teddy bear

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    Consider hand embroidering eyes rather than using buttons or toy eyes. Just one button or toy eye can create a major choking hazard for a child.

  • 03 of 09

    Age Appropriate

    Stuffed rabbit, close-up
    ZenShui/Michele Constantini / Getty Images

    A   newborn baby doesn't need a doll decked out in fancy clothing. A very simple small bunny or sock monkey is a far better choice. Once the child is older sew a fancy doll and outfits for the child to learn dressing skills.​

  • 04 of 09

    Choking Hazards

    Crocheted teddy bears
    Isabel Pavia / Getty Images

    We've all heard a recall because of a choking hazard. Pay close attention to every part you add to an item you are sewing. Small items can usually be replaced with something that is safe if you put your mind to it. For example, buttons can be replaced with hook and loop tape, or an embroidered eye.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    More Than Fusible

    teddy bear repairs
     Westemd61 / Getty Images

    It may seem easy to create a doll face by just using fusible web to put felt, eyes, nose, and mouth in place. As someone who found her daughter gagging on a felt mouth which had come off a stuffed toy, use a satin stitch on the edge of the pieces which have also been fused in place.

  • 06 of 09


    Small Teddy Bear Toy
    Jasmin Merdan / Getty Images

    Even when a pattern has you use a shoelace on a doll, stop and think about the age of the child the doll is being made for. The lace may be anchored in many spots and not seem long enough to be a strangulation danger when it's new, but what about after 6 months of the doll being dragged around by that shoelace?

    Are you adding a necktie to a teddy bear? Is the child apt to try the necktie on themselves and end up strangling? Eliminate the necktie or sew it in place so it can not be removed.

  • 07 of 09


    High angle view of torn teddy bear on wooden floor

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    A quality polyester filling will give you the smoothest un-lumpy results. Stuffing with scraps of fabric, serger trimmings, and other items can lead to increased lint which can be a problem for a child with breathing issues or asthma.

    To obtain the smoothest results, stuff from the center out, allowing the stuffing to work out to the fabric while you fill in the middle.

  • 08 of 09

    Additions Inside

    High Angle View Of Damaged Teddy Bear On Table
    Clare Jackson / EyeEm / Getty Images

    If you've ever sewn a doll that the neck wanted to be floppy no matter how much stuffing you used, you know the desire to add something inside the doll to keep the neck stiff. Your first inclination may be a dowel or stick but what happens when that dowel breaks and sticks through the doll? It's much safer to keep stuffing until you achieve the stiff neck that you desire.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Doll Clothing

    Teddy bear crocheted with clothing

    Click&Boo/Getty Images 

    Clothing should be large enough that it is not a choking hazard. Something like a tiny sock may seem cute but it won't be if a child is turning blue (or worse) while choking on it. If a sock or something tiny is a part of your plans, plan on sewing it securely in place or waiting until the child is older to provide that kind of clothing.