download free sewing pattern of a bilby
Free pattern - Easter Bilby

A Calico Easter Bilby: sewing tutorial

With Easter just around the corner I thought it would be fun to make an Easter Bilby. 

Here in Australia the Bilby (Macrotis lagotis) was given Easter Bunny status by a certain chocolate company in 1999, to help raise money for the endangered marsupial and raise awareness of the damage caused by feral rabbits to  the environment.
Now that you know a bit about the Easter Bilby you can start by gathering your materials!

Gather your tools

You will need:
plain fabric, calico or linen - for the main body of the Bilby
contrasting fabric - for inner ears
tweezers or hemostats - to help turn your work rightside out
dowel or a chopstick - to stuff in hard to get at places
spray bottle with water
embroidery thread - mixed colours
embroidery needle
sewing needle
for the eye - small black or brown button, (I like to use a micro button, a small black bead or even small black press stud)
wool roving or fibre fill - for stuffing
scissors - I'll sometimes use pinking shears
pins
optional - red colour pencil, acrylic paint
strips of fabric or lace

A note on colour

When deciding what to use for the main fabric, keep to neutral and plain fabrics. Your embroidery and embelishments will not get lost against a busy printed background.
As this is an Easter Bilby, choose your  contrasting fabrics, embroidery threads and embellishments, reminiscent of the colours of Easter. Think pastel pinks, lemon yellow, sap green, robins egg blue and turquoise.

Step One:

Please read through all the instructions before you begin. Pattern is easy peasy, take time to sew pieces together. Be as inventive as you like when decorating!

Download and print your free Easter Bilby pattern onto A4 paper or card stock. Cut your pattern out and, using your pencil or marker, trace pattern onto doubled calico or desired fabric. If you are using a printed fabric, make sure the right sides are facing one another.

* For the body of the Bilby, I used a vintage linen napkin, doubled over and for the inner ears, I chose a shell pink wool felt.

Step Two:

Take your time and sew together, either by hand using small running stitches or with a sewing machine.
Sew on tracing line, leaving open where indicated.

The beauty of being handmade is that each time you make one it will look different!

Step Three:

Trim off any excess fabric from around your pattern, snip around the edge of curves.
This gives a smoother form when stuffing.
HINT: Clip the points from the tail, ears and snout. This makes for a nicer point when turning rightside out.
HINT: Use pinking shears instead of scissors - this prevents fraying around your edges.

Step four

Using your tweezers or hemostats, turn work rightside out, taking care with the tail.
HINT: use a sharp needle to pull out points.

Step five:

Using your spray bottle, dampen your work.
HINT: this provides a little more give to the fabric and helps reduce wrinkles when stuffing.

Step SIX:

Don't over stuff your Bilby, you want a pillow like feel. Sew opening closed.
Pin your inner ear pieces to right and left ear.
Stitch in place with small running stitches, hem stitch or blanket stitch. Whatever takes your fancy!

Step sEVEN:

Now for the fun part!
Gather your bits and bobs to decorate your Bilby. You can embroider, stitch, applique...there are no rules...apart from having fun!
HINT: Use a black pearl pin to decide where to place the eye. Depending on where you position it will change the personality...give it a try and see!
HINT: Use a white thread to sew on your "eye" button. This works like a highlight in the eye, adding a little life to your Bilby.

Step EIGHT:

Here is where you can get to be arty crafty...dig out your old embroidery stitching books or go online and watch a couple of embroidery techniques, practice on your Bilby!
I used chain stitch, French knots and stars to fill the body.

step NINE:

Add a little embroidered face.
Using a light pink for the nose, embroider several long stitches close together.
Add some eyelashes and whiskers in brown.
With red embroidery thread, using either running or backstitch, embroider a smile.
Make an embroidered star in bright pink for cheeks.
Other embellishments, add a threadbare piece of fabric or lace as a scarf.
I hope you give this pattern ago.  If you have any questions please contact me here.
I would love to see your finished work, add #gracegartonbilbypattern on instagram and I will find you!
HINT: Here is a link to oodles of embroidery youtube videos to watch...click

What to do next?

Why not try your hand at making a little illustration of your bilby!
Draw a little pencil sketch and colour in with a little watercolour.