SEW Hip! 2010 Challenge - Henrietta the Hippo

Before Christmas I decided that I needed to stop dilly dallying, daydreaming and drinking (tea).

A fairly tall order I know so I devised a cunning way to keep on track – the 2010 SEW Hip! Challenge!!

This wonderful challenge requires that I complete two sewing projects per month from the UK magazine SEW Hip!!

To kick start January I chose to make the easy & cheerful SEW Hip! projects; Henrietta the Hippo and the Joli Cube bag (issue 3 of Sew Hip!).

Henrietta the Hippo - first project

Guess what?….

I have actually completed my first project of the year – Henrietta the Hippo!! It wasn’t easy but I did it.

It wasn’t easy?…  No it wasn’t. Don’t be fooled by Henrietta the Hippo’s adorable mug grinning up at you off page 48, she is one formidable hippo.

formidable hippo

Hippo facts;

The hippopotamus is recognizable by its barrel-shaped torso, enormous mouth and teeth, stubby legs and tremendous size.

Hippopotamuses are ill-tempered animals.

Hippos are very aggressive towards humans and are often considered one of the most dangerous large animals in Africa.

Hippos attack humans and boats.

Henrietta the Hippo grief

As I was saying Henrietta the Hippo gave me some grief. It is probably not all of her fault but when she weighed in, it was tough.

In truth, I think part of the problem lies with the quality of Henrietta the Hippo’s instructions. They are not always clear… or daydream proof.

e.g. You only need to cut one Head/Neck/Nose piece not two.

This doesn’t mean you can’t complete the cute Hippo, it just means you have to wing it a little.

fabric cutting - cute hippo

Fabric Cutting – Henrietta the Hippo instructions doesn’t actually mention how to cut the fabric so it is worth pointing out that if you are planning to cut every piece from one large single sheet of fabric; You will have to remember to turn the template on itself for the second cut.

E.g. cut the head facing one direction fabric ‘right side’ up, and then turn the template over the oppposite way ‘right side’ up so their noses face each other..

Unfortunately I was in a middle of one of my daydreams when I was cutting the head pieces so I had to go back and cut another piece…correctly.

Alternatively fold your fabric ‘right side’ together and cut each body part once. This is the easier and non daydreaming option.

This option is highly recommended if you are short on fabric and patience.


Henrietta the Hippo

fusible wadding


Fusible Wadding – Henrietta the Hippo project suggests adding some light fusible wadding to the fabric. I thought about getting some of that but as the lady at the Spotlight cutting counter didn’t appear to be in the mood to humour me I decided against it.

Luckily I found some leftover (non sticky) wadding at the back of my cupboard. I attached that to my fabric with temporary stitches which I removed when I pieced the Hippo together permanently.


fusible wadding - henrietta the hippoHenrietta the Hippo - attach ears

SEW Hip! provides instructions for all of the major steps in Henrietta the Hippo’s project but I personally think the ear instructions need a bit of padding so here is my advice;

Ears – First fold the ear so the inside ear fabric touches together. Place one of the head pieces infront of you with the ‘right side’ fabric facing you. Place your folded ear (inside ear fabric facing the nose) onto the marked ear position and pin on.

The ear must be pinned to the ‘right side’ of the fabric. If you don’t you will end up with the ears inside the Hippo when you finally assemble it.

Unusually I wasn’t daydreaming at this stage, so when I pinned on Henrietta’s ears they worked first time.

Henrietta the Hippo - tail

I wasn’t daydreaming either when I attached the tail but somehow I failed miserably. I have no idea why. Henrietta the Hippo’s instructions are perfectly clear on this matter.

Somehow her tail was positioned way off center. As there was no way of getting around it or disguising it, I had to unstitch the back section and reposition it.

Tail– if you don’t want to risk an off center tail I recommend you attach it to one of the underbody pieces about 1.5.” below the top of the curve. The tail may not sit as high as it should but it will be in the center. Again attach it to the ‘right side’ of the fabric.

sewing waddingHenrietta assembled

I was going to explain to you how I assembled Henrietta the Hippo but I am too tired. It was an ordeal. Never have four tiny little feet caused so much frustration over and over and over and over again.

Unfortunately because of my poor machine skills, Henrietta now has one foot (considerably) smaller than the others.

Moving on…..embellishing!!


Henrietta the Hippo - embellishmen - eyes - nose - smile


I enjoyed this part, hand sewing I can do. On went the eyes, eye lashes, nostrils, a smile and to finish a lovely ribbon!!

and the result is…….MY Henrietta the Hippo!!


Click SEW Hip! Henrietta the Hippo for fabric info.


Henrietta the Hippo - fabric


Henrietta the Hippo - fabric


10 Comments on SEW Hip! Henrietta the Hippo…..

  1. She’s really lovely….I dont think I have the magazine with this pattern in but I’ll check out my backlist of sew hip magazines.
    I recently made a dolphin from Australian Homespun and it was a bit of challenge getting everything right, mainly because I misread the instructions…the finished animal was passable though.

  2. Hi Vicky,
    Thank you for commenting on Henrietta; she turned out really well considering all the trouble she caused.
    If you don’t have the instructions let me know and I will see if I can get them to you.

  3. I’m attempting to make Henri with no instructions or patterns, just using your pictures and advise. One thing I don’t understand is where does the pattern piece shown at the very top of your pattern piece layouts go on Henri? I understand the head, body, middle, ears and tail, just can’t imagine where that last piece goes? Please help!! Thanks!!

  4. WOW! I am so impressed you are tackling Henrietta without the pattern & instructions. I can’t to her/him when you have finished. If you need any other help please let me know 🙂

    • Hi I have just come across this gorgeous hippo. Is there any way I can get hold of the hippo pattern and instructions? Regards

  5. is there a pattern for this? What magazine is it from? I would really love to make this. We had a version of this in high school we called Janice. She eventually was lost but I would love to make one to replace her!

    • Hi Madeleine,

      The magazine is called Sew Hip, but unfortunately they are no longer publishing. I will have look through my old files for more details and will email you.

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