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  • Writer's pictureBecca Norman

How to Attach Safety Eyes

Updated: Mar 19

If eyes are the window to the soul...

Then don’t you want your handmade toys to have the cutest eyes possible? Today I’m going to show you 4 ways to add cute shiny eyes to your handmade stuffed animals and dolls to give them a little extra personality and life. Watch the video below or read on.

*A word of caution: even though these are called “safety” eyes, they can still be a choking hazard for any ferocious chewers, and that can include both human and fur babies. See what my dog did to this guy down below? Luckily this one only had embroidered eyes.

Traditional Method

Step 1: Prep the pieces.

Sew any head pieces together, leaving an opening, but don’t stuff it yet. Check out this blog post for tips on sewing pieces together.

You may want to play around with different sizes and styles of eyes to see what will give the personality you’re looking for. I got all the safety eyes I own at garage sales and flea markets a really long time ago, but you can also get them at pretty much any craft store or on Amazon.

Step 2: Placement

Figure out where you want the eyes to be placed and gently wiggle the tip into a space between strands of yarn. Move them around until you’re satisfied. You won’t be able to move them once the backs are on, so make sure you like the placement before you do.

Step 3: Secure with a back

Flip the piece at least partially inside-out and push the back onto the post of the eye, flat side first. If it’s very tight, you may need to place the eyeball onto a hard surface and really use firm pressure. Just be careful not to scratch the cornea. Ouch!

The back of the safety eye

Bonus Style #1: Eyeliner

For an extra eye-popping effect, you can cut a circle of felt in a contrasting color, a little bigger than the eye, to place under it. You’ll just need to cut a small hole (as small as possible, just barely big enough to get the post through) in the middle of it. Then you can gradually trim around it until you have just the right amount peeking out past the edges of the eye. Even a very thin rim looks great, but for something like a panda or racoon, you may want a more dramatic patch.

Trimming black felt around a plastic eye

Bonus Style #2: Cat Eyes

To give a wonderful retro cat eye lined look, simply backstitch a horizontal straight line across where the lined eye will go. That’s it!

Bonus Style #3: Eyelashes

Another option is once you’ve decided where you want the eyes to be, take them out and embroider some little lashes with embroidery floss or a thinner yarn so that it peeks out from behind the eye. This can be done along with the eyeliner or on its own and would be really cute either way!

Don’t be afraid to play around with it and have a little fun. I prefer not to secure the ends until I’m sure I’m satisfied, because I usually decide to take out the stitches and start again at least once. Also don’t stitch through the eye insertion point too many times or you won’t be able to get it in.

See how cute it turned out? This is felt eyeliner plus embroidered eyelashes.

Which look is your favorite? Leave a comment below and let me know.

I love seeing your projects!

If you make something using techniques you learned from me, don’t forget to tag me in your posts so I can see. I’m @becca.j.norman on Instagram and Facebook.

If you’d like to make this fox, you can find the pattern here on my website.


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