While we are still kind of a long way out in having our nursery ready to go (picture nervous emoji face here), it’s been fun getting to start on some DIY projects that I can add into the space once we get all the big things in place (like this cute unicorn photo holder). Another idea that I was on the lookout for was a fabric lion bust to add into the space since lions are one of the animals I’ve been decorating with, but I couldn’t find one for the price I wanted in the color scheme I was looking for. So I decided to tackle the problem head on and make my own!
-1/2 yard of tan felt or fleece fabric*
-1/8 yard of white felt or fleece fabric
-small piece of pink felt or fleece fabric
-1/2 yard of furry felt or fur fabric in mane choice color (you want this fabric a little stiffer so the pieces stand up when folded)
–rotary cutter, cutting mat, and ruler
–black buttons for eyes
–black embroidery thread
–hot glue gun
–lion bust template (right click to download)
*I got my fabric at JoAnn’s, but this is a good online option for fleece.
Use your embroidery thread (I doubled mine over to make it thicker) to add some dots and whiskers to the mouth panels like you see above. For the dots, I would basically come up from the bottom, make a knot, and tie it off on the underside, and for the whiskers I would come up from the bottom, make a knot and then cut the strand as long as I wanted the whisker to be.
There is a right side and underside to most fleece fabric (one side has a better looking nap that’s a little furrier), so make sure to keep in mind which is the right and wrong side as you cut and sew pieces together.
The template for the mouth panels will have two triangle darts where the fabric is to be pinched and sewn together on the back of each panel. As you can see above, once you pinch and sew them, the mouth panels will start to have a bit more of a 3D shape.
Once your darts are sewn, join and pin the seam where your dots are sewn in, and sew them together with 1/4″ seam allowance. Pin in your nose, and sew your nose into the mouth so all three pieces are now the muzzle of the lion (the second picture shows you what it should look like while inside out).
Sew your side head pieces together onto your middle face section with a 1/4″ seam allowance (as shown above), and then join the bottom seams together as well so it creates what will look like a funnel shape.
Line up the middle opening of your “face funnel” with your muzzle piece (you want your nose to be centered within that middle face panel), and pin in place. The opening and muzzle circumference need to be the same size to fit together properly, so if you find that your funnel opening is too small, you can cut off some fabric around the opening to make the opening larger (do a little bit at a time, checking the fit as you go), and if the opening is too big, you can increase the seam allowance on the bottom face seam as it gets closer to the opening to make it smaller. Sew your muzzle and face together with a 1/4″ seam allowance and turn right side out.
Fill your lion head with stuffing until it is overflowing a bit. Then place your chipboard circle at the back of the head and wrap the fabric around the back edge of the circle and use sewing clamps to keep the fabric tight and in place. Check the front of your face to see if you need to add more stuffing in any area or if you need to pull one section tighter or loosen it so that the lion muzzle sits in a good spot (I noticed if it sits up too high on the face, he starts to look more like a mouse than a lion). Once your placement and fill amount is good, use a hot glue gun to secure the edges of the fabric in place around the back.
Use your ear template to cut out a tan and white ear piece for each ear (so four pieces total), and sew them together, right sides facing in, leaving the bottom part open. Turn your ears right side out, pinch slightly at the bottom and glue in place onto the chipboard backing (I put them about where the middle piece seams hit the back of the head).
Take your furry mane fabric and use your cutter, mat, and ruler to cut out 25 strips that are 7 x 1.25″ and 25 strips that are 9 x 1.25″.
Take your 7″ strips, fold each one in half (furry side out), and use a bit of glue to glue the cut sides together. Start to glue them to the back of your lion all the way around the edge so they fan out and create the first layer of your mane (just use as many as you need to fill in your circle). Repeat the process with your 9″ strips but place them staggered between your 7″ strips so they fill in the gaps between them.
Once your mane is looking fine, it’s time to add your eyes! Take your embroidery thread, make a knot on one of your center face seams (about 2 1/2″ up from the muzzle), thread on your eye button, and then squeeze your lion face together so you can have your needle come out at the opposite seam at the same spot. Pull your thread through and that will secure your first button in place, and then keep pulling a bit so that it will sink in your eye holes and give your face a bit more of a lion shape. Once you like how tight it’s pulled, knot the thread to keep it that tight. Add your other button, and knot and trim the thread beneath that button.
To make a hanger for your animal, you can use a picture hanger centered at the back top of your chipboard backing, and use a generous amount of hot glue to keep the hanger in place. Thicker chipboard may also allow you to screw into it if you want that extra security, but the lion head is pretty light so you should be OK with just the hot glue. Now your lion is ready to display!
What a sweetie!! I realized at one point that if you tweaked the colors, left off the mane and whiskers, and moved the ears down a bit, this could also be a really cute bear bust for a bear nursery. I love how this guy came out, and I can’t wait to finish up some projects and start to put our baby room area together (I especially love that little pastel rainbow toy!). We are a big “cat” family, so that means we also love “big cats” like lions and tigers and whatnot, and we hope that Baby feels the same way! If you’ve been looking for a special project to add to a baby or kid’s room, this might be just the thing! xo. Laura
Credits//Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with the New A Beautiful Mess Actions.