Tapirus cutieus

a felt toy pattern


We had to choose one animal to focus on for our vertebrates class when I was getting my Natural Science Illustration certificate. Mine was the tapir. Specifically the Brazilian tapir, which its adorable little mohawk.


This pattern includes two embroidery options, as well as two the stripe tapir options (based on the Malayan tapir, who are the most famous).

Creator: Angela Boyle
Publication Date: April 2023
Format: 6 pages, letter

The pattern includes complete photo instructions in addition to the text instructions. Like this example showing how I transfer marks like where the ear should go.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to look at my gnarly fingers in too many pictures. At least the nails aren’t covered in chipped fingernail polish for a change!

I specifically chose the pale green felt with the orange floss to make them high contrast so you could easily see the stitches against the felt. My intent was that the felt be light and the floss dark, too, for anyone who has problems seeing these colors.


This was quite a process to make. It is my first toy design. Originally I was going to make it with cloth but found felt was more forgiving. And I just love how it feels! Below was the very first one, made for a crafting group’s Kramnus gift swap, December 2023. This is the fantastic picture the recipient took when I realized I hadn’t taken a picture!

These two floppy-legged fellas were the next round, when I was still trying cloth. But I couldn’t get them to stand up! The looked like a cross between a tapir and a manatee. Cute. But not what I was going for.

This is one of the very early pattern templates, back when I was still figuring it out free-hand. Eventually, I moved over to vector files but I still think I will be starting with pen and paper. I just think better with my hands, in the physical realm, when I am doing the creation part of a project.

Eventually, when I get to the more logical part, laying out the pattern and refining it, then I want the structure of the computer. I think better with it. (Have I ever mentioned I love spreadsheets?)

Once I gave up on the tedium of sewing cloth, I tried felt. These two cute fatties are among the first attempts at felt. I was still having a problem getting them to stand up. But I love how the embroidery on these two turned out. Especially the closed eye on the blue one.

Eventually I got the idea for darts in the armpits and groin from another pattern. And for a hot second, I felt like adding a gusset to make the head broader, but in the end it seemed an unnecessary step. I forgot it once and it looked fine.

As you can see, the ears basically never changed.