Upcycling (without kids) – Tube Sock Totoro

If you have ever paid a visit to our travel blog over at Owl Fly Away, you will realise that our family LOVES travelling! As frequent flyers, we have amassed a huge collection of tube socks, given to us in little zippered pouches by smiling stewardesses as part of the airline’s complimentary customer care package.

I was staring at a pile of these tube socks, wondering what to do about them, and I decided to try my hand at turning them into homemade soft toys! After all, I had some tired old pillows that I could take apart for the kapok stuffing. Why not?

So with a little bit of planning, I made some Totoro dolls! They turned out much better than I expected, considering that I pretty poor at sewing.


So here’s How to Upcycle Airline Tube Socks into Cute Totoro Plushies


  1. 1 tube sock
  2. Scissors
  3. Needle
  4. Thread
  5. Stuffing from a old pillow, cotton wool, or cotton batting (we used some old cotton batting)
  6. Optional: hand lotion and cotton bud, embellishments like embroidery floss, beads, buttons felt, fabric scraps or another tube sock in a contrasting colour,


  1. Turn the sock inside out and press it flat.
  2. Mark out the ears of the Totoro on the toe of sock. Each ear should be about 5cm long. I used some hand lotion from a hotel and a cotton bud to draw out the ears on the black sock so that it would be easy to see where to sew. This should look roughly like a ‘U’.
  3. Using a needle and thread (double up the thread and knot the ends), sew along the ‘U’ using a backstitch.
  4. Using a scissors, cut the fabric out of the toe end of the sock to separate the ears of the doll, being careful not to cut through the sewn ‘U’.
  5. Turn the sock right-side out.


6. Stuff a palm-sized ball of stuffing into each ear and massage the ears into shape.

7. Stuff two large handfuls of stuffing into the body of the sock, massaging the stuffing into the shape that you want.


8. Using a scissors trim off the excess fabric from the sock, being careful to make sure none of the stuffing falls out of the sock.

9. Using your needle and thread, sew up the bottom of the sock using a running stitch with stitches about 1 cm apart. Pull gently on the thread as you sew to draw the bottom of the sock closed. The cloth of the sock will automatically form little wrinkles when this happens.

10. Without cutting the thread, sew through each wrinkle using a running stitch. Stuff the ends of the sock in as you continue to pull on the thread to tightly close up the bottom of the sock.

11. Finally, sew the hole shut by randomly stitching across it two or three times and knotting the thread tightly.

12. Pass the thread into the body of the plush and cut it to ‘hide’ the ends of the thread inside in the stuffed toy.


12. From the excess sock fabric leftover, cut out a circle about 5cm in diameter. As you can tell from the picture below, it doesn’t have to be an exact circle!

13. You can ball up some of the sock fabric or use another palm-sized lump of stuffing to stuff the tail. Follow steps 9 – 11 to sew up the tail.

14. Use a basket stitch to sew the tail onto the body of the Totoro. This means, put a 5mm stitch in the tail, then a 5mm stitch into the body of Totoro and follow that all around the tail until it is securely fastened. Knot the end of the thread several times before repeating step 12 to hide the ends of the thread.


15. Now we can add embellishments. Cut a semi-circle of cloth from a white tube sock/felt/fabric scraps. This is the Totoro’s tummy. Sew this onto the front using a backstitch.

16. Mark out Totoro’s eyes. They should roughly line up with the inner corners of the ears. I used hotel hand lotion and a cotton bud to draw out the eyes.

17. Using white thread or embroidery floss, embroider the eyes onto the Totoro using a backstitch. You can also use buttons, beads or felt to make eyes if you have those available.



18. If you want to be fancy, add a little triangle nose and some V-shaped tummy markings

19. Give it to the kids to enjoy! Woohoohoo!


20. Consider making several Totoros of different sizes and colours to make a whole family!




16 thoughts on “Upcycling (without kids) – Tube Sock Totoro

  1. OMG, So cute! I had never really think twice about those socks. Now I do! Thanks for the wonderful idea. Gonna get the kids work on something. And yes, those nails… too lovely!

  2. Woah I discover a new talent of yours through this post. I can’t sew for nuts (and don’t know what is a backstitch etc)…but I want one of those Totoro dolls! Too cute!

  3. Pingback: 12 Ideas for Last Minute Crafty Christmas Joy | Owls Well

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