Think of this post as less of a how-to and more of a descriptive narrative. If you are looking to make your own Appa pillow friend, I hope that sharing my experience will help you in your quest. So here's what I did.
First, I decided that I needed to use some sort of pattern. There is a fair amount of improvisation in my crafting m.o., but completely winging things usually ends poorly for me. I didn't want to destroy any of the pillow pets that Isaac got for Christmas, so I had to think of something else. Luckily for me, my local grocery store was selling a knock-off version of the famous soft friends for only $7.99. I went and found the one with the roundest head. It just happened to be a panda:
Don't get attached. This does not end well for the panda.
(It might ease the grief if you notice the panda looks slightly evil.)
Next, I grabbed my handy-dandy seam ripper and started, well, ripping the seams.
This went pretty fast, since it was a really cheap pillow thing and I wasn't very concerned with keeping the pieces super intact. Here I am about halfway through:
After getting him mostly taken apart, I put all his stuffing into a bag to save for later. No, I wasn't planning to put the panda back together at the end, sorry. I told you not to get attached. I harvested his head last, carefully taking apart all the seams so I could see how it was done. I also removed the eyes. I had plans for them. Those crazy, crazy eyes. Viewers beware, this next image is disturbing.
Once I had the pelt in its constituent pieces, I laid them out on poster board to trace them in order to make my pattern.
I modified as I went to give my pillow pet the necessary Appa characteristics. Six legs instead of four, a wide flat tail, etc. Here are all my pattern pieces:
From there, I pretty much stopped taking pictures, as I was struggling with just getting the thing together. Sorry. I started with the head, cutting out my pattern pieces and making the horns and ears - I did just wing those, just making the general shapes and adjusting as needed. I also improvised for the markings on Appa's head - a triangle and a rectangle, not too difficult. I got the head sewn together with the horns and ears, added the panda's eyes (I know, it's awful for the panda), stuffed it, and sewed the opening shut to keep the stuffing in place. Then I took a little break. Only to come back and find this:
Apparently, Isaac had taken a liking to the disembodied head. He carried it around all afternoon. It was so cute, I just let him keep cuddling it while I worked on the body.
The body was much easier than the head, I just had to cut out my pattern pieces, then figure out the markings - again, I didn't use a pattern, but it turned out all right. Here are all the pieces (once I got the head away from Isaac):
Then it was just a matter of sewing him all together. I decided to use buttons instead of velcro, so I sewed buttons between the three leg bumps on one side. On the other side, I placed the straps (with button holes cut). I stuffed the tail, then placed that in between the two body pieces, markings facing markings, tail facing inward. Then I just sewed all around, leaving an opening to turn it inside out. Here it is all stuffed and ready for heat attachment:
Finally, I handsewed the head onto the body. And voila! We have our awesome Appa Pillow Pet!! James loves it, Isaac loves it (his love for it has not diminished now that the head is actually attached to the body), and I love it. What could be better?
Let's just have a brief moment of silence for the crazy panda.
I know this wasn't a super-detailed explanation, so if you are attempting to make your own Appa pillow pet and have questions for me, I'd be happy to answer them.
As always, thanks for reading.