Sewing sustainable stuffed animal dolls - Studio Seren

Sewing sustainable stuffed animal dolls

Today is Earth Day, a day to celebrate and appreciate our beautiful planet. Making stuffed animal dolls at home is not only a fun and creative activity but also a sustainable choice. By sewing dolls by hand, you're already taking a step towards reducing your carbon footprint compared to mass-produced, plastic-based toys. Let's explore some additional ways that could make your stuffed animal dolls even more environmentally friendly

Buy second-hand

You don’t need a brand-new, fancy sewing machine to make stuffed animal dolls. Many second-hand sewing machines are available in good condition, often at a fraction of the cost. Basic sewing machines that offer straight and zigzag stitches, along with the option to sew with the needle in a downward position, are more than sufficient for doll-making

Cut back on printing

When you use digital sewing patterns like those from Studio Seren, you can opt to read the instructions on a screen, saving paper and ink. If you prefer to read printed instructions, why not print them on recycled paper?

Bunny's skirt is made from an upcycled children's skirt

Use organic and natural fabrics

Opting for organic fabrics, such as those certified by GOTS, can reduce the environmental impact of your stuffed animals. These fabrics are produced without harmful chemicals and are made from organic, natural fibres. GOTS certification considers the entire production chain. So you know for sure that the fabric has been produced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner

Linen is considered one of the most sustainable fabrics for the following reasons...

  • Biodegradable: Linen is biodegradable, meaning it will break down naturally at the end of its life cycle
  • Low Environmental Impact: Linen requires less water and fewer pesticides to grow compared to other natural fibers like cotton
  • Durable and Long-Lasting: Linen is known for its durability, making it a long-lasting choice for stuffed animal dolls

Upcycle clothes 

If your budget can’t stretch to organic fabrics, another fantastic way to make your dolls more sustainable is by upcycling old clothes and textiles. Not only does this reduce textile waste, but it also adds a unique touch to your creations. Check out your local thrift/second-hand store, browse through online platforms such as Ebay, Vinted, or Facebook Marketplace, or even delve into your own closet to find clothing you no longer wear!

Here are some tips for upcycling clothes for doll-making...

  • Choose the right fabrics: Look for clothes made from natural materials like cotton or linen
  • Disassemble carefully: Carefully cut and remove seams to get flat pieces of fabric
  • Check the grainline: Before cutting the fabric, make sure to check the grainline to ensure that the fabric pieces are cut on the straight grain. This will help your doll clothes to retail their shape and stability

mouse's dress is made from an upcycled bed sheet whilst lamb is wearing a pinafore made from an old dress that belonged to my daughter

Look for recycled polyester thread

When it comes to sewing the body of your doll, polyester thread is the best choice due to its strength. As an eco-friendly alternative consider using recycled polyester thread, such as the rPet range offered by Gutermann which is made from recycled plastic drinks bottles and uses the same technology as their sew-all thread. Its manufacture requires less energy and generates less CO2. Amazingly, one plastic bottle makes 1000 m of thread!

Source sustainable stuffing

Experimenting with different stuffing materials can be both fun and eco-friendly. Here are some sustainable stuffing options to consider...

  • Recycled Stuffing: Made from recycled materials, this stuffing reduces waste and environmental impact. You can buy polyester stuffing made from recycled bottles or cotton stuffing made from textile waste from the fashion industries
  • Natural Materials: Stuffing made from natural materials like wool, cotton, or bamboo are biodegradable and eco-friendly

cat is wearing a dress made from an upcycled children's dress from Little Cotton Clothes who make children's clothes out of the cutest fabrics! 

Natural and recycled embellishments

If you are adding embellishments like buttons, ribbons, or beads to your stuffed animal dolls, consider using natural materials or repurposing items from old clothing or jewellery. This adds a unique and personal touch to your dolls while reducing the need for new materials

Natural dyes

If you enjoy experimenting with colour, consider using natural dyes made from plants, fruits, or vegetables to dye organic cotton fabric. Natural dyes are non-toxic and biodegradable, making them a more eco-friendly alternative to synthetic dyes

Reduce and reuse packaging

When packaging your handmade dolls, consider using eco-friendly packaging materials. Opt for recycled or biodegradable packaging materials and avoid excessive packaging. You can also encourage recipients to reuse or recycle the packaging to further reduce waste 


Thinking about how to make sustainable stuffed animal dolls is a thoughtful way to celebrate Earth Day and make a positive impact on our planet. Whether you choose to buy a second-hand sewing machine, cut back on printing, or experiment with eco-friendly materials, every small change contributes to a greener future. Happy Earth Day!

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I love your patterns but I can’t print them out and I have no idea how to do a pdf can you send printed patterns out

Janet Miles

This is a really interesting article with lots a great ideas.

Lorna Jackson

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