Shark attack! Check out Humphrey’s new DIY squeaky stuffed shark dog toy. When I found this grey fabric, I simply had to make a shark toy. Not only is it a fun shape for a toy, Sharkie (Baby Shark, Sharkle Fang…) has been Humphrey’s nickname since his nibbley puppy days. Today, I’m sharing at bit of what happens behind the scenes for an insight into how to create your own special DIY dog toy designs. And, of course, I’ll share all the DIY details on how to sew a shark dog toy with stuffing and squeakers.
Sewing DIY Dog Toys
Dog Toy Safety
Stuffed dog toys follow the same basic principles as you would use if sewing (or buying) for a small child – no loose parts to nibble free and everything securely stitched into a sturdy toy. It is particularly important to know your pet and how they play before making or buying toys. Not all toys are suitable to all pets. Check out our post on toy safety for helpful links and resources.
Creating Your Own Custom Dog Toy Designs
One of the great things about making your own toys is that’s is a fun opportunity to get a little creative. The dogs only care about the fun, so anything goes for your designs! We share DIY ideas, but you can easily take those inspirations and adapt them to your own unique crafts to suit your skills, pet, materials, and style preferences.
Behind the Scenes in Our Toy Creation Process
When I’m creating a toy for our boys, my objectives are that it be safe and suitable for their size and play styles first and foremost. Then comes fun, cute, and creative. Sometimes the design idea comes first. Sometimes the material inspires the design, like it did for this shark.
Most of our stuffed toys start with a base material, ideally a sturdy fabric. That gives the toy stability and shape. The shape of the cut base material is sometimes key to the toy design, like in the shark. Other times, it’s the embellishments that really create the toy, like our triangle toys.
I often use fleece to create the design features and embellishments on the base material of our toys. Because fleece is colourfast and doesn’t fray, it’s an easy option for sewn-on design features. I keep fleece off cuts from other sewing projects and tug toy ends for embellishment supplies. It’s also very forgiving to sewing technique, since the stitches of coordinating thread often seem to disappear into the fluff, but it’s important to make sure that any embellishments are very securely attached. No matter what the material or technique, security and safety trump looks for toys.
Designing the Shark Dog Toy
I experiment with many materials for toys, but the toughest fabric I’ve used thus far is the green fabric in toys like our DIY Frankenstein dog toy and our snake dog toy – which is still in play even now. The heavy fabric with a bonded black fleecy backing is thick work for sewing, but great for making tough stuff. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find and when I do, the colour options are rather limited. That’s why I was stoked to come across it in grey at my local shop. And I knew EXACTLY what I was going to make first.
The body of the shark was sketched freehand to fit to the edges of my material for maximum fun. Then I cut some simple embellishments for the body after looking at some real shark images for inspiration. Although my shark looks a little less menacing than the real deal. Haha!
How to Make a DIY Stuffed Squeaky Shark Dog Toy
Supplies and Materials
To make a similar DIY stuffed squeaky snake dog toy, you will need:
- Sturdy grey fabric
- Scraps of fleece for embellishments (optional)
- Stuffing for filling for the stuffed toy
- Squeakers (optional but so much fun!)
- Complimentary coloured thread
- Sewing machine and general cutting / sewing supplies
I try to salvage squeakers in our DIY dog toy hospital for reuse when possible, but I also have purchased packs of replacement squeakers in different shapes, sizes, and sounds. Squeakers can be tricky to find in shops. Try the toy section of large craft shops or look online at specialist suppliers or large retailers like AliExpress or Amazon. You can check out the replacement dog toy squeakers on Amazon (affiliate link) for product examples and ideas.
Making the DIY Stuffed Shark Toy
Cutting the materials:
- Cut two identical pieces of shark shaped sturdy base fabric. Don’t forget to include seam allowances. You can shape and scale your toy to best suit your fabric and your pet. I free-handed my outline for best-fit to the fabric, but there are tons of free shark and fish graphics that you can download and use as a template if you prefer.
- Cut scraps of fleece for eyes, mouth, teeth, and (optional) gills or other embellishments.
- Lay them out on your shark body and check the design before you sew. Adjust if/as needed. I initially cut two rows of teeth, but decided just to use the uppers. It was a little too toothy for my liking (although realistically shark-ish). I liked having more of the red mouth visible.
Attaching the embellishments:
- Sew the eyes, mouth, and other embellishment pieces securely to the base of your shark.
Sewing and stuffing to finish the toy:
- Fold (one piece) or layer (two piece) your shark so that it is right-side-in. Pin to secure.
- Sew together along the seam allowances, leaving an opening gap for inverting and stuffing.
- Trim any excess threads and/or material if/as needed.
There are lots of curves and points on our shark shape. These can be tricky for inverting. If your toy is small, the base fabric is very thick or stiff, and/or your shark has tight curves, you may find that cutting small slits and/or notches in the seam allowances (not all the way to the stitch line) at the heavy curves helps the curves invert more smoothly.
- Invert to right-side-out.
Add stuffing and (optional) squeaker(s).
- Sew to securely stitch closed the gap.
- Optional: Depending on your thickness and preferences, you can sew some additional external seams for style and/or strength along the tail and/or fins if you wish.
- Trim any threads if/as needed, and enjoy!
🚨 Safety first, furfriends! Remember, no matter what a toy is made of or how it’s made, toys are meant for supervised interactive play. Know your dog before giving him or her any new toy. Some dogs try to eat toys or parts (whether bought or handmade) and that’s dangerous. Toys are for playing, and playtime is always safer (and more fun!) with you involved. You can read more in our dog toy safety post, including tips and helpful links for safer playtime. Have fun and play safe!