Handmade Toys & Gifts

heads of 3 knitted teddies

Halloween is over so I’m feeling kinda safe about writing a Christmas article now. It may seem weeks off (7 and a bit to be exact) but if you’re hoping to make a few gifts this year you’ll need to get your skates on.  I don’t buy gifts for anyone outside of my immediate family and this frees up time to make at least one gift a year, so I’m always in search of some sustainable ideas. Here are some that I’ve bookmarked over the years, along with suggestions on where to source materials. If none of these float your boat check out my previous article on handmade gifts and Christmas Crafting.

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Quite a few of the ideas here are for crochet or knitting cause that’s one of my things. When I make toys I use organic ‘winter’ cotton from Sostrene Green and polyester filling recycled from old pillows, which I wash first of course! An alternative well-priced non-organic yarn is available from the yarn company Drops. Just google Drops suppliers and your location and you’ll find them. Alternatively join a knitting group and suggest starting a yarn collection. One of my knitting groups does this and we have a great collection of colourful cotton that saves us all a fortune when making colourful items.  For any other materials I’ve included links to sustainable options where i can.


circle of baby shoes

These felt baby shoes are the cutest I’ve seen and simple to make to boot (parden the pun). The tutorial for them even comes with a free printable template and size guide. Just to a right click on the image of the template and select save. I’ve also found European made organic plant-dyed wool felt that is OEKO-TEK certified as being free of toxic chemicals so you’ve no excuse not to make them.

baby mobile beside teddy

I love papercraft. It’s simple to use and renewable. Here is a gorgeous design for a homemade paper baby mobile  from Papercraft Inspirations Magazine. The actually tutorial was printed in one of their magazines but you can download a free template for the mobile and I’m sure given the cleverness of my readers you’ll be able to work out how to make it. Another sweet one with bunnies and hearts is available from Canon’s Creative Park website. The Canon designs need to be printed on white card, so that you get the patterns, the Papercraft one can just be cut out of card in colours of your choosing. You can get recycled card from Ecoland.

pregnant woman holding crocheted mobile

I made this Happy Day Mobile for a friends baby last year. The pattern is free and it was such a joy to make and not at all difficult. It’s a great introduction to amigurumi, which is the art of making toys in the round. Youtube is a great place to source video tips on how to crochet.

If you’d like to start with something simpler how about this cute crochet bunny ear teether or if sowing is more your thing he’s a tutorial for fabric bunny teething rings. You can get natural organic wooden rings off Etsy.

A bit more advance is this fab goldfish and bubble teether, and I just love the way it reuses an egg shaped plastic container for the rattle, particularly because i have one!


This Unicorn by One Dog Woof is another free pattern that I’ve made. Despite it’s appearance this was actually quite easy to make and looked stunning when finished.

kneeling cat toy

This Japanese Cat is adorable and very quick to make because of it’s diminutive size, although it was fiddly and tricky to do the narrow legs and arms so bear that in mind if you’re all thumbs!

Crocheted Yoshi Amigurumi Toy
Crocheted Yoshi Amigurumi Toy

Those not initiated into the world of video games are forgiven for not knowing that Nitendo’s Yoshi has his own yarn inspired game called Yoshi’s Woolly World. My son wanted his own lead character so I made this little crochet Yoshi from a free pattern by Kerstin Brunnler. By the way there’s also a yarn theme Kirby game called Kirby’s Epic Yarn!

If bunnies are more your thing how about these Miffy inspired bunnies and they only need one ball of woo and a bit of scrap or ribbon for the scarfl! This pattern costs €2.01 to download.

crocheted fox with glasses

Foxes seem to be trendy at the moment (God help them when they stop being so!) so what could be better than your own cuddly amigurumi fox? This is one of my favourite designs and it’s free!

These knitted teddy bears (see photo at the top) are just divine and come with patterns for pinafores and cardigans (sold separately) so you can customise them to suit. Both of these patterns are paid patterns.

I am complete Japanophile so this uber cute Japanese Kokeshi Girl is on my to-do list.

Think this chair cover play kitchen is such a great idea, ideal for taking on holidays or to grannies house.


When my daughter was 10 she loved dream catchers, which is why this free pattern for a crocheted dreamcatcher caught my eye. How pretty are they!

If your tweenie is anything like mine key rings are huge, particularly on school bags. I love these handmade watermelon keyrings by One Dog Woof. Now where are all those unused keyring attachments I’ve been hoarding saving?

Or how about something more useful like these knitted fox slippers. What’s not to love?


bunny beside craft kit

If you’re recipient is a bit older they might like to make their own special someone so how about these lovely cute animal crochet kits from UK based Wee Wolly Wonderful. They come complete with instructions and 100% natural yarn.

row of paper bracelets

Or if jewellery is more their thing I adore these stylish paper jewellery craft sets from Paperphine.

Happy making


Published by Elaine Butler

I am a circular design consultant helping manfacturers prepare for the circular economy

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