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Molly's Sketchbook: The Purl Bee Penguin

Winter in New York City can be hard to love with its frozen sidewalks, dirty snowbanks, and bare trees. But this winter I'm counting on my new cold weather friend, the Purl Bee Penguin, to help me through! Its happy ovoid shape and graphic palette are sure to remind me that joy really does exist in January. Just ask an Emperor Penguin!

I used our new Penguin Fat Quarter Bundle, a lively mix of black and white dots, stripes, and prints, to sew up this quirky little trio of penguins. I loved seeing how each one developed its own personality as I sewed, becoming more and more alive with each stitch!  They are also real crowd pleasers. Even my non-sewing thirty-something friends all oohed and aahed when they saw my penguins lined up on my ironing board.

The Purl Bee Penguins are pretty addictive to make, and I don’t think that I’ll be able to stop with just these three. Check back in a few weeks; I may have amassed a penguin colony!


To make three 9-inch tall stuffed penguins:

It will also be helpful to have a size 3- 7 straight knitting needle or a similar pointy object for stuffing.


Cut out the fabric according to the directions on the template. You can mix and match the patterns however you like. When cutting the side body and wing pieces make sure that you are cutting two opposite facing pieces. Do this by cutting one piece with the right side of fabric facing and the next one with the wrong side of the fabric facing. Make all of the marks with an erasable marker or a pencil on the wrong side of the fabric.

You will have:

  • 2 side body pieces
  • 1 front body piece
  • 2 light colored wing pieces
  • 2 dark colored wing pieces
  • 4 felt feet piece
  • 2 felt beak pieces


With the right sides of both the body pieces facing up pin the beak pieces to the flat area directly above mark A so that the point of the beak is facing inward as shown above.

Note: For all of the sewing in this section you will be using the ecru colored thread and your machine.

Sew the beak along the pinned area with an 1/8-inch seam allowance. Press it flat with the seam allowance facing towards the side body piece and the point of the beak facing out as shown above.

Pin the two side body pieces right sides together just from mark A to mark B. Sew them together with a scant 1/4-inch seam allowance. Start at mark A an sew up along the outside of the beak to its point, then down the opposite side of the beak and along the top of the head to mark B. Back stitch at the beginning and end of the seam. Trim the seam allowance around the beak so that it's very close to the seam.

Turn the sewn portion right sides out and push the beak out. This is the most tricky part of the whole sewing process. The beak is very thin so it takes a bit of patience to get it totally tured right sides out. Use a knitting needle and or tweezers to help with this step.

Turn both pieces so that their wrongs sides are facing out but keep the beak portion inside with its right sides out. The beak will not be visible as in the picture above.

Pin the two pieces together from mark C to mark D. Sew along this edge with a scant 1/4-inch seam allowance and backstitching at each end. This sewn side is the back of the penguin. There should be an unsewn gap between mark B and mark C.

Open the front, unsewn side of the penguin side pieces as shown above. You will be pinning the front body piece (which is shaped like a surfboard) along both sides of this opening right sides together.

Pin either side of the front body piece to either side of the side body pieces right sides together as shown above. Start pinning at mark A and pin all the way down the curve of each side until you reach mark D. If the front body shape is a bit longer than the sides you can trim it once it's been pinned onto both sides. Since you're pinning along a curve it's a good idea to use a lot of pins and go carefully and slowly.

Sew both pinned sides with a scant 1/4-inch seam allowance backstitching at the beginning and end of each seam. Pay special attention to not sew into the opposite side where the two seams will meet at mark A.

Turn the body right side out through the gap between mark B and C. It's beginning to look like a penguin!

Pay special attention to the area under the chin where the front body piece starts. It should look like a neat upside-down "V" shape. If you accidentally sewed over into the opposite side on this section do not despair. You can just rip out the offending section of the seam and re-sew that section making sure to back stitch at both ends of the new seam.

Sew each dark wing piece to a light wing piece right sides together with a scant 1/4-inch seam allowance leaving an unsewn gap in-between the two marks. Turn the wings right sides out through the gap.

Sew two of the foot pieces together with an 1/8-inch seam allowance just along the webbed foot shape, leaving the top curve, in-between the two marks, unsewn.  Turn the foot right sides out through the unsewn section. Press the points of the foot out with your knitting needle. Repeat this for the second foot.


Stuff the feet tightly so they are puffy. Push all of the stuffing towards the sewn part of the foot and away from the open curved area.

To close the feet sew a line across the bottom of the open curved section from one mark to the opposite one, backstitching at each end and thus encasing the stuffing. Use your sewing machine and the ecru thread for this seam.

Stuff the body of the penguin tightly. Use your knitting needle to get the stuffing into the smaller areas like the beak and the point of the tail. One of the tricks to making a nice stuffed animal is to stuff it really  tightly, just keep on adding stuffing until you can't anymore.

Pin the back gap closed with the raw seams tucked to the inside. Using the black sewing thread stitch up the gap using a slip stitch. Tie a small knot at the end of the seam.

Then pass your needle through a section of the stuffed body and pull it out. Cut the thread just at the exit point thus hiding it.

Stuff the wings tightly and hand sew the gaps shut with the black sewing thread using a slip stitch in the same manner as you did for the body.

Sewing Together


You will now have the following pieces:

  • 2 opposite facing wings. The penguin's right wing is pictured on the top and the left wing is pictured at the bottom.
  • 2 feet
  • 1 body

Pin the left and right wings to the opposite sides of the body about 2 1/2-inches below the top of the front body panel just behind where the front panel and the side panels meet. They should be parallel to one another and be curving towards the back of the bird.

Using a length of the black embroidery thread sew them on at the same time by passing the needle through the middle of the body to the opposite wing. Use a long needle and squish the penguin as much as you have to to get the needle to come through to the opposite side. You can always re-fluff the body later, stuffing is pretty forgiving. Keep going back and forth through the body like this and attach the wings with a doubled cross stitch. Tie a knot on the inside of one of the wing joints and hide the thread end by passing it through the stuffing as illustrated in the stuffing section.

Pin the feet onto the flat section of the bottom of the body so they are a bit splayed.

Stand the penguin up. If it doesn't stay standing on its own re-pin the feet in different positions until it does.

Using the black embroidery thread whip stitch the curves of the feet onto the bottom on the body.

Arrange two of the buttons on the opposite sides of the penguin's head. Using the black embroidery thread stitch them on at the same time passing through the center of the head with your needle.

Your first penguin is all done... repeat all these steps to make him some friends!

Reader Comments (51)

I just love it! It will be a wonderful addition to our grandson's room. Thanks so much for the pattern and tutorial.
January 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwoolyknitsnbits
The penguins are adorable. I only wish there was a long winter in Texas (we've been stationed here for about 4 years and winter isn't much here).
January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaneilia
oh I love these little guys! I've been searching for the perfect baby shower gift and this is it! Thank you Purl :)
January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica Consunji

You've done it again! I love this pattern. So cute!!!

Thanks for all your wonderful patterns, books, and inspiration.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi
Love this! Just might have to try it.
January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda
it's so cute
January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTipparat
ohhh, im in love, they are sooo cute. I have to make them
January 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercodruta
Question: I've got as far as sewing the beak on and I'm confused by that section.
It looks like I sew each side of the beak on to the body, but if I do that, how will I stuff the beak later?
January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca
I saw this project and knew I had to make one immediately for my son, who is 3.5 and a huge fan of the zany penguins from the Madagascar movie. Your template and tutorial were super easy to use and my son is thrilled with his penguin. Many thanks!
January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMommy en France
love the choice of fabrics! thanks for sharing.
January 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermarina
great sewing lesson!
January 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
Super cute! I'm definitely gonna make these! I just loooove penguins and these are adorable!
January 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHaas
Where can I find the pattern? I can't find it... I hope you can tell me, because I want to make a penguin..!
January 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarieke
Hi Marieke-

The pattern is under the "Materials" section. You can download it by clicking on the "Purl Bee Penguin Pattern Template". If you have any problems downloading it please let us know.

Thanks! - Molly
January 12, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Thank you so so much for sharing this wonderful pattern and such an easy instructions. Im self learner of how to sew and it was very easy for me to make these cute guys for my baby's room.
Here's the final product :D
January 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarina
Hi Marina-

They look great! Thanks so much for sharing.

- Molly
January 17, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
These are darling. The pictures of the fabrics remind me that I've been searching for grey polka dot cotton flannel - does anyone know if it exists and where I can find some? The only grey flannel I've found is a solid color. Thanks.
January 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatti
thank for this diy!!
January 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterombre
Fabulous!!! What an adorable idea and so well done. When I get some extra time, I will have to try this pattern out. Love it and Thank you for sharing! Christine ♥
January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDollyknickers
lindo e fácil com estes moldes e a expçicação. paraqbéns.
January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRosilene Poffo
I fell in love with these little penguins and just made 5 of them for each of my five little grandchildren. I will try to post a picture.
January 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJudy
Wonderful pattern! I made one with recycled wool felt from old sweaters, and it worked beautifully. I would recommend you sew one side of the center panel to one side of the back before you sew the head seam--Then you can sew the second side of the center panel and the head seam all at once. That avoids the tricky part where the point of the center panel meets under the "chin" of the bird. Maybe my technique only works with the stretchy wool felt.

I've linked to your pattern from my blog!
February 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLora
So great, love it !
I'll make them for my little girl and share the pattern on my blog (just born).
February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterYoupicmercredi
Hallo Molly,

Ik kan de Purl Bee Penguin het patroon niet downloaden.
Zou je deze per mail aan mij kunnen sturen?
Wil deze zo graag maken!!!
Heb al stof in huis gehaald en krijg het niet gedownload.
Hopelijk kan ik snel aan de gang:-)
Alvast bedankt voor je moeite.

February 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterManda
March 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTout Chocolat
Enlarge de pattern by 50%, fil it with sand and its a great door stopper! Mine looks so handsome, holding the door open for me LOL.
April 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarmen
I just made one of these little guys this morning. SO CUTE! The pattern is perfect and the instructions are so easy to follow. Thanks for another great project!
May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRenee
Love these little penguins. I made one as a pincushion for The Fabulous Little Pincushion Swap on Flicka . I call him Billy Bob Bubba PINguin ~ a good ole southern boy! Ouch...he may not like pins being stuck in his whatever! 8-)
Thanks so much for the wonderful instructions! I'll be making more.
May 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenteredyB
This penguin is sooooo cute, I will defenitely make one for my ittle ones. Thank you for sharring!
August 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaya
Thanks for a great tutoorial- cute pinguine :-)
October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSally
How darling. Thank you for sharing.
December 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterserita
Thank you so much for the pattern, the penguins are wonderful! A perfect Christmas present for my brother who's been to the South Pole and seen them in real life. :)
December 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHannah
estupendo tutorial. Me gustan estos pinguinos. Son divertidos. Gracias.
December 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJacquelin B.
Good afternon Molly,
I have just published a post with a Penguin make thank your great tutorial.
I invite you to visit my blog and I hope my post likes you.
Thank you!
January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMercedes
This was so much fun to sew. I made the body out of felted black sweater, the beak and feet from a felted orange sweater, the insides of the wings pink material and the belly yellow and pink patterned fabric for my daughters friend who is all about Penguins...oh and vintage flower shaped w/ rhinestone center button eyes.
Because I used thicker fabric I really had to push up the stuffing to adjust the bottom -
it stands beautifully!
thank you I love sewing from your site and dream of the day I get to walk in the shop!
February 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
Hi, I love this penguin, just wondering where I can get the pattern please?
February 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlison
Hi Alison-

The pattern is available for free download by clicking on the red text in the "Materials" section that says "Purl Bee Penguin Pattern Template" or by going here:

Thank you!

February 25, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I just finished my first penguin from your wonderful tutorial! I love it, and my son loves it even more!!!

Thanks for putting together such a great project.
March 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLiz
Hi, these are just lovely, i'm making one for my oldest friends' daughters' birthday, I was just wondering, when cutting the pieces from fabric, do you add seam allowance? Or just cut them out as they are, and sew it as it is? Thank you for sharing This lovely pattern!
March 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKajsa
Hi Kajsa-

No need to add a seam allowance. The pattern pieces work as is.

Thank you so much for your question and good luck with the project!

March 25, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I love penguins, this tutorial is great! I'm excited to try it. I'm planning on making a little penguin family. I'm going to shrink the pattern down to make some cute baby penguins :)
April 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlyssa
The tutorial that you made seems very simple, inspires me a lot ... especially in the subject group! Thank you very much, I'll try to do it for my baby! Good afternoon
April 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLela
I enlarged the template slightly, weighted him down and made a penguin doorstop! Thanks so much for the tutorial- it was so easy to follow!
June 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkristi
So cute! My first stuffed animal project for a friend's baby. I used a darker orange colored felt for the bottoms of the feet. Really cute :-)
August 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterClaire
Made the 1st one for my 40 year old daughter who has been a penguin fanatic since she was little. My 15 year old grandson saw it, and wanted one, then my 55 year old daughter asked for one. So now we have a family of penguins.
October 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commentershirley
Thank you very much. They are so cute. Here are my penguins, for my children and for their friends we give them as birthday presents:
November 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterime roze
What a brilliant pattern and tutorial - thank you! I made a purple penguin earlier today. I'm pleased with it and so are my DDs!
November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPlum Cox
Here is a photo of your penguin pattern set in Canada during a weather alert!

This was a very cute pattern, and I made these with scraps from a quilt I made my grandson, Asher.

Thanks so much!
December 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna
I'm 12
I love sewing! These penguins were easy and fun!!!! :)
December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC
These penguins are too darn cute! I made seven this winter as Christmas presents for my friends at college in their favorite colors. Whew -- !

January 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

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