You want a fabric like denim or poplin, a bottom-weight fabric in a “horse” color, whatever pleases. Pieced is just fine.
You need a couple of beads or buttons for eyes, plus button or upholstery weight thread for them.
You also need a small scrap of black fabric for ears and a ball of yarn for mane (other possibilities listed at the end*).
The “body” is a piece of broom handle, 1 inch dowel or closet rod (too heavy for the very small). It also helps to buy 2 wooden head beads** or finials (one for each end) for the stick to make it less likely to tear through the head fabric or do someone damage by being poked with a stick end.
- Cut out your fabric: Two heads, two ears of your main fabric, two ears of black (the small ear shape)
- Stitch up the ears, wrong sides together, easing the larger piece into the seam of the smaller. This “rolls” the edge of the ear more realistically. Turn rightside out and blindstitch the bottom closed. (Black fabric to the inside)
- Pinch or pleat the bottom of the ear and stitch down to horse head as in the pictures below. Blindstitch seems to work the best for me.
- Stitch all the way around the head leaving the smallest hole possible at the bottom.
- Using button thread stitch on the eyes from the inside***.
- Do a gathering stitch with your button thread around the inside of the stick opening.
- Stuff the head partway. (nose and top of head)
- Cut your “stick” and install the head beads, one on each end.
- Put on end into the head and finish stuffing the head.
- Push the raw ends of the “neck” opening to the inside**** and gather the neck to the stick. Tie off tightly. It often helps to slather a fair amount of slow-drying glue on the stick, fabrics and stuffing right at that hole.
- Add your “mane”. Thread a needle with the yarn and stitch back and forth through the back neck seam, leaving long loops of the yarn on either side. When you’ve reached the other end, start cutting the loops, knotting each piece over the seam to make it hold.
- Add the “bridle” and “reins”, cutting to fit as you go, gluing or stitching to hold them in place.
- Decorate further if you wish.
- * Upholstery fringe stitched into the seam or a two inch wide by 14 inch chunk of felt stitched into the seam and snipped into strips after the horse is done are a couple more possibilities.
- ** Head beads have a hole that only goes 1/2-way through the wood of the bead. You need one with a hole that fits your stick.
- *** If you know how to stitch buttons on the inside to reinforce the eyes, that will make the eyes hold longer.
- **** Alternate neck finish – Slather on the glue. Gather the neck opening to the stick with the raw ends pointing *out*. Use a small section of the trim wrapped over the raw ends and both stitched together (raw ends of trim underneath and blind-stitch) and to the head to hold that area together.
DIY Felt Stick Horses – https://liagriffith.com/diy-felt-stick-horses/