Project 4 ~ The Ram & Head Gussets: (Stuffed Animals; From Concept To Construction ~ Part 5)

The Project — RamRam-Head-gusset-3.1

In this project from “Stuffed Animals: from concept to construction” by Abby Glassenberg I leant how to make a head gusset.

Head gussets come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  They can be as simple as a rectangular strip or pointed oval, starting at the tip of the nose and end at the back of the head, or a more complex shape starting under the chin.   Made from one single strip of fabric or a mix a several.  It all depends on the look you wish to achieve.


As with every project, Abby takes you through several ‘lessons’ related to the project.  For the Ram, there are four lessons … as you can see, I am making lots of notes  😉

  • Head Gussets — how to create a head gusset plus the different things to consider when designing your head gusset, as an example,  here’s a small extract …

… Think about how wide you would like the oval to be: a narrow gusset may give the head a more adult, muscular look, while a wider gusset may give the softie a cuter, more babyish feel. …

  • Safety Eyes —  the advantages of using safety eyes, different styles as well as how to insert a safety eye.
  • Increasing Your Success With Long Narrow Parts —  the ram has a pair of outstanding horns, they’re long, narrow and curling right around.  In this lesson Abby gives you some invaluable tips on how to create these horns as well as tricks on turning out narrow pieces.
  • Embroidering a Nose and Mouth With Long Straight Stitches —  many soft toy patterns use some basic embroidery, usually on the face,  if your not very comfortable with embroidery, Abby shows you some very simple and easy to do stitches that will quickly give you not only an effective and recognisable face but a super cute one.

 Bronnie the Dinosaur gets a head gusset


Last time Bronnie was given an under-body gusset.  This meant she could finally stand on her own four feet.  It was amazing to see how adding a gusset changed the shape of things and I was curious to see what changes adding a head gusset would make.

I wasn’t disappointed  😉

First head gusset

This is the first head gusset I tried.  As you can see, I’m not one for doing things the easy way.  I have an image in my head of how I would like my little dinosaur to eventually look and an oval gusset just wasn’t going to give me that.  I want her whole snout to be shaped and the only way I can think to achieve this look is to extend the gusset to the under side of her chin.  It took a bit of fiddling and adjusting, but eventually I got something that seemed to fit.  So what was the result … ?

gusset 1 collage

Overall I was happy with the results, especially for a first attempt.  But it wasn’t quite right in some areas.

  • Top — the general shape is good, the head is flaring out at the top of the highest point and coming in at the beginning of the snout.  Despite the snout section being straight, at this angle it is bulging out giving the snout even more movement, which is great, but I wanted just a little more, just at the very end. 
  • Back — I’m happy with the general shape here, it’s tapering down to the neck and looking good.
  • Snout ~ front-on — although I am generally happy with the overall shape of the snout, I would like it to be a little wider at the highest point [where the arrow is marked], although I don’t want it as wide as the head.
  • Face — I’ve draw the facial features on to help get a better scene of how the face will work.  As you can see, I was having some trouble working out where the mouth should go,  no where seemed quite right and for a while I was considering not having a mouth at all.
  • Chin — this is the area I’m least happiest with.  I don’t like how the side face pieces are pleating, no amount of stuffing seems to be enough to push the pleats out.  This area needs re-designing.
  • Profile — finally, a faceless profile to help me see the overall shape.

Head Gusset – take 2!

2nd head gusset

I only made fairly minor adjustments here.  I added 3mm either side of the snout, blending it back to the general shape with a sweeping curve.  I squared off the under-chin section and decided to extend the under body gusset up the this point. [Because I am concentrating my efforts on the head I created a pattern of just the head.  The front neck gusset piece is a temporary piece created for the purpose of this exercise.] 


As you can see from this collage, the changes are subtle, but it’s starting to look more like the image in my head.  The biggest improvement is under the chin.  No more pleating on the side face pieces.  I have also finally worked out where the mouth should go.  Was it making those few changes that helped or just the fresh perspective of a new day that helped ??  What ever it was I’m glad I found a ‘happy place’ for her mouth 🙂


When I added the under-body gusset I was surprised by some of the changes that happened with some areas of the dinosaur.  I was curious to see what effect adding a head gusset would have on the head.  The biggest surprise was that it has made the head look bigger, especially the snout.  I was considering enlarging parts of the pattern but maybe I wont have too.

What’s next?

Head-Gusset-3But before I decide, I will do the next project in Abby’s book, where I get to make another adorable stuffed animal and will learn about making foot pads – something I want to add to my dinosaur – as well as how to design shoes – maybe not something I will make for Bronnie … maybe😉


If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy the others in this series.

Until next time …




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