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Stuffed Cat, Stuffed Dog, and Stenciled Pillow…inspired by “Diva and Flea” (plus a GIVEAWAY!)

I am a sucker for children’s books.  We have our favorites that we read at our house over and OVER again….but we always love finding new favorites.  I absolutely adore books that have fun characters, silly expressions, captivating illustrations……but even more, a good message.  I think sitting down with a quick book is a GREAT way to teach kids about history, social skills, or even introduce a controversial topic. Maybe it’s my degree in Elementary Ed that gets me all nerdy about children’s books…..but I adore them.

So, when I was asked to read and review a brand new book released by Disney Publishing, I jumped all over it — mostly out of curiosity.  I really wanted to see what it was about.  The author Mo Willems and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi, have an impressive library of past work, including Knuffle Bunny, Spiderwick Chronicles, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, and many more… I knew it had to be good!

Together, Mo and Tony wrote and illustrated the 80 page children’s book “The Story of Diva and Flea”.  The story takes place in Paris and is about Diva, a small yet brave dog, and Flea, a curious streetwise cat, and the unexpected friendship that develops for them while learning to discover and try new things.

I was asked to create something inspired by the book and was given the freedom to choose whatever I wanted.  Hmmm, that was easy.  Reading is cozy time here at our house, so I couldn’t resist making a comfy Eiffel Tower stenciled pillow and very simple stuffed replicas of Diva and Flea.



The story line is one about adventure and trying new things.  And having courage to step out of your comfort zone a little bit.  I loved chatting about this theme with my kiddos, especially Elli, who sometimes holds back a bit.  She immediately identified with Diva (the little white terrier) and asked if she could keep her.  I told her we’ll have to take turns, but I know she secretly has claim on her. ;)



The illustrations are absolutely precious and some are colored and shaded…



…..while others are these rougher sketches.  The kids thought these were so cool.  And asked if someone drew them right into my copy of the book.  Not quite… :)



My heart kind of tripled in size when Elli and Chloe “adopted” Diva and Flea the minute I finished making them, and they plopped right down together while Elli started reading the story (again!) about their new friends.



Then they decided to reenact the whole story, including some slight variations! ;)



Such a sweet and inspiring story that will be treasured around here.  Especially while snuggling their new little reading buddies and dreaming of walking the streets of Paris, speaking new french words (that are sprinkled throughout the book), and deciding which adventures to try………just like Diva and Flea!!


And guess what??  “The Story of Diva and Flea” was just released yesterday, October 13th….so go HERE to read a little more about it and to find a copy of your own!  (By the way, my book was an advanced copy, so it was a paperback…but the released copies are hardcover.)


PLUS……Disney Publishing is giving away a free copy to one of YOU!!!  Scroll all the way to the bottom of this post, for more info on entering the giveaway!


. . . . .


Okay, if you’d like to make your own stuffed cat, stuffed dog, or stenciled Eiffel Tower pillow, let’s get started —



  • cotton fabric of any kind or thickness (3/4 yard for the pillow, about 1/3 yard for each animal)
  • lining fabric (if you choose a thin fabric as your main color, you’ll need a lining fabric to help thicken it up and keep it from being see-through…..or you can use fusible interfacing.  Either way.)
  • ribbon for neck bow
  • polyester stuffing
  • gold metallic acrylic paint
  • 18 pillow insert (or recover an existing pillow)
  • freezer paper
  • Sewing Supplies (here’s a list of my favorite sewing supplies, in case you need a few ideas) 

***Check out my Sewing Terms 101 post, for additional help.


First of all, decide on what shape animal you want to create.  It doesn’t have to be a cat or dog… can be anything at all.  You don’t want a ton of detail, just shoot for the main shape.  I also think it helps to curve the corners when you can, to help with the shape when you turn it right side out.  (If you actually want a template for these, let me know. I can trace around my imperfect sketches.Just be sure to add an extra 1/4 inch around all edges of your desired shape, to account for a seam allowance.


Now, cut out two mirror image pieces from your main fabric and if your fabric is thin and slightly transparent like my white fabric, cut another 2 pieces from your lining fabric.  (Or you can iron on some fusible interfacing to the WRONG side of the fabric to thicken it up.  I just didn’t have any….so this is another option.)


Place the 2 main fabric pieces together with right sides together, then sandwich each of the lining pieces on the outside of each of those.  Pin in place.


Then sew around the entire shape using a 1/4 inch seam allowance…..but be sure to leave about a 3-4 inch opening along one of the straight edges (if you have one).


Now, trim down all of the “mountains” and cut slits into all of the “valleys”.  This will help everything lay a whole lot smoother when you turn it right side out. (Read my Clipping Corners and Curves tutorial for more info.)


Turn right side out through the opening you left, poke out all of the corners, tails, body parts, etc…..and then press flat with an iron.  Be sure to tuck the opening in towards the inside a 1/4 inch and iron that flat too.


Stuff with batting….


Then hand sew the opening closed, using the ladder stitch (more hand-stitching info HERE).


The same steps are repeated for whatever shape stuffed animal you make!


Now, as for the pillow…..I have made so many pillow covers here on this blog, so there’s no use in repeating.  So, use this Envelope Closure Pillow Cover tutorial here as a guide.

Once you have your front fabric piece cut out, draw your Eiffel Towel silhouette out, trace it onto some freezer paper then cut it out, preserving the negative space….and then place the “negative” paper down onto the fabric.  Iron in place. (More on Freezer Paper here.)


Use a sponge brush to dab your paint onto your fabric.  Add more layers of paint as needed.


Once your paint is dry (I use a hairdryer to speed it up), peel off your freezer paper.


Now you should have your 3 pillow pieces….ready to go.  Then hem the two edges of the smaller pieces that will be overlapping.  Reference this pillow cover tutorial if you need more help.


And just like the tutorial linked above, layer your pieces together, with right sides together, pin in place…..


…..then sew around all of the edges, turn right side out, and iron flat.


Then, hooray, it’s done!!  A sweet little stenciled pillow cover, with an envelop closure in the back!


And there you have it…….a cute little combo you can now make to gift to every little one you know! :)



But don’t forget about “The Story of Diva and Flea” book giveaway!! 


TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY (for the book only), leave a comment below, telling me who you’d like to win this book for (and it’s okay if it’s for you…..I love children’s books too!)  Just be sure to leave your email in the comment form before submitting your comment, so that I can contact you if you win (I’ll be the only one who can see it)!

*****Giveaway is open to US addresses only.  Giveaway closes October 18th, 11:59 p.m.


Good luck!!



This post is sponsored by Disney Publishing……however, all opinions are mine and mine alone.


Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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