Toys by Tao Presents: Leo the Lemur Plush Night Light

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night, needing to pee?

Or maybe you’re sleepless in bed, and want to sit up and read for a little while.

Or maybe, you’re staying somewhere unfamiliar, and you’re worried that if you *do* wake up in the middle of the night, you won’t remember where the light switch is, and then you’ll bonk your knee into a table or bang your head into a wall. Yowza! That’ll be one big bruise.

Leo the Lemur lighting the lamp’s light switch

Leo the Lemur is a plushie night light for kids of all ages who either (A) love lemurs (B) need a little help turning on the lamp in the middle of the night or (C) all of the above.

Last week, when looking through some of the other plushie designs, I was really impressed by lights that served a clear purpose. It popped in my head that one of the most frustrating things I experience in the darkness is the inability to find the light switch. And thus, Leo.

Leo the Lemur reading a book by tail-light

This project was a major challenge, in a very satisfying way—I definitely learned a lot in the process. I’ve never made a stuffed animal before (unless you count my original prototype, which was a very simple anglerfish), and I’ve never made any sort of lighting or electronics.

The experience tapped into my doggedness and obsessiveness: once I had the idea of the lemur, I had to pursue it, and I was going to do whatever I needed to make it work. And I knew the outcome wasn’t going to perfect—I just wanted. to execute as well as I could.

Key supplies!

In terms of materials, I used four types of cloth (oops, I accidentally overspent at Mood Fabrics—learned that lesson the hard way), and two colors of thread. Additionally, I used clay (plus paint and gloss) for the eyeballs and nose, as well as armature wire, yarn, and stuffing for the plush’s innards. The sewing was a combination of sewing machine and hand sewing.

The final putting-together of the plush was much more time-consuming than I anticipated—order of operations was important, and I didn’t have an optimal way to cover the wire such that it didn’t get bunched up when I tried to push it into the arms and legs. That was definitely the most challenging part, and something I’d approach differently the next time around. However, when there’s a will (and a chopstick), there’s a way.

Initial sketch
Lemur body pattern

If I had more time to work on this project, and create additional iterations, I would be interested in trying out a few things, including:

  • A larger lemur: This would be to fit the battery pack better, as well as test out on larger lamps and light fixtures
  • Maybe making the head more three-dimensional: Potentially adding the ears and snout as separate items attached via ladder stitch. I think it could be nice if the snout didn’t blend directly into the black nose area, too.
  • Proportions: While the tail is definitely the pièce de resistance, it is totally out of proportion with the lemur’s body. I’d like to try something more consistent. I also think that a striped tail just made of the same fabric as the body (that fuzzy white and black), could be just as effective in its own way.
  • Foot pads: Little black pads to go on the palms of the hands and feet
  • Tighter wire/grip: Currently, the lemur slides down the neck of a lamp unless it’s angled somewhat horizontally. Would tighter wire or some kind of grippy material prevent this?
The outer fabric
Hand-sewing the curvier parts on the subway
Tail with electric wires and armature
Sewing the tail onto the body
The LED circuit
Reversal in progress
The internal wire armature before insertion
There’s nothing like a good book

My hope is for Leo to make people feel safe and secure at night, knowing that if they need to get up when it’s pitch black outside, they won’t have to fumble to turn on a light. And hopefully they’re comforted by his derpy cuteness!