Pin the tail on the donkey

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Pink the tail on the donkey
This fabric version of the classic game features in Nguyen Le’s new book 500 Toys to Make (tutorial below). The perfect companion for crafters, the book features a bumper collection of miniature toys to crochet, knit, felt and sew. It comes complete with patterns, templates, step-by-step instructions, clear diagrams and photographs, and variations for customising your creations.

Toys include a knitted mermaid, a superhero cape, a felt magician’s hat, a crocheted brontosaurus and a sewn ukelele, among other traditional and contemporary crafts.

We’re thrilled to feature one of Nguyen Le’s cute craft project’s, below.

Extracted with permission from 500 Toys to Make by Nguyen Le, published by New Holland, RRP $24.99.

Pin the tail on the donkey


  • pin the tail on the donkeyYarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (80% cotton, 20% merino wool, 100g (31⁄2 oz), 196m (215 yds)), 1 skein each of (A) Provincial Rose, (B) Limelight, (C) Truffle
  • Fabric: Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton (100% cotton), 45cm (45cm (1⁄2 yd)) Ivory; Floral Calico (100% cotton), 45cm (45cm (1⁄2 yd))
  • Wool felt in cream
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing
  • Tailor’s chalk
  • Fabric weights
  • Sewing thread in pink and ivory
  • Stabiliser

Finished board dimensions: 62.5cm (25 in) wide, 60cm (24 in) high
Finished tail measurements: 12cm (5 in) tall, 3cm (11⁄4 in.) wide at the top



With the right sides together, fold the Ivory fabric in half. Use a measuring tape and chalk to mark 68.5-cm (27-in) height, and 34-cm (131⁄2-in) width from the fold line. Cut along the chalk lines for a 68.5-cm (27-in) square. On the wrong side, mark 2.5cm (1 in) along three edges with chalk and connect the lines. For the top edge pocket, mark 7.5cm (3 in) along the edge and connect the chalk lines. Press the edges to the wrong side to the 2.5-cm (1-in) line. Flip the fabric to the right side and topstitch 1cm (3⁄8 in) from the edge on three sides with Ivory thead. Flip the fabric to the wrong side and fold and press the top edge to the wrong side to the 7.5-cm (3-in) line. Turn the fabric to the right side and sew 2.5cm (1 in) from the edge, making a pocket for the dowel.


The donkey pattern shown is the reverse of the end piece to make it easier to trace. Trace the donkey onto the liner paper that stays with the web of the fusible interfacing. Cut the excess interfacing around your tracing, but not the traced line. Set your iron to high, and iron onto the wrong side of the Calico fabric for a few seconds to hold in place. Cut the fused interfacing and fabric along the traced line. Peel off the paper backing, leaving the web stuck to your donkey. Make sure any wrinkles are pressed out of the Ivory backing and centre the donkey on the backing. With your hot iron, press for 10–20 seconds. Cut a piece of stabiliser bigger than your donkey and place behind the donkey on the wrong side of the fabric. Use pink thread and a sewing machine to sew a zigzag stitch about 0.25cm (1⁄8 in) wide, keeping stitch length as short as possible. Sew around the donkey, making sure your zigzag sits in far enough so the fabric won’t easily come out.


Cut six 65-cm (26-in) lengths of A and fold in half. Make a knot about 2cm (3⁄4 in) below the fold. Tape the knotted end to a table or board to anchor it down, and divide the yarn into three sections of four strands each.

Braid the yarn until you have 9.5cm (33⁄4 in), and make a knot at the end of the braid. Trim off the excess, leaving a 5-cm (2-in) fringe. Cut a 2.5-cm (1-in) square out of cream felt. Place the felt behind the top knot and stitch the felt to the knot in the centre.

Repeat steps 1-4 to make two tails of each colour using A, B, and C yarns. Make more tails for a bigger party.

Use double-sided sticky tape to pin the tails on your donkey.

Download Donkey Template here

* Download the template above, print it then enlarge all template pieces to 1225% to make to actual size.


Pin the nose on the clown
Using the same dimensions for the fabric board, appliqué a clown without a nose in the centre. Cut red circles from felt for the clown’s nose and use double-sided sticky tape to play the game. Make as many noses as you need for your partygoers!

Pin the horn on the unicorn
Follow the pin the tail on the donkey instructions but shorten the ears to make a horse. Cut yellow felt triangles to make unicorn horns, and use double-sided sticky tape to play the game. Make as many horns as you need for the players.

Hobby horse
Enlarge the donkey’s head by 100 percent and add a neck to make a hobby horse. Cut two layers of fabric for the horse’s head and neck only, with the right sides facing. Make the ears slightly smaller and cut them out of felt. Sew the head together, stuff, and add a thick dowel in the bottom before closing off. Sew the ears on and stitch eyes onto the face. Add yarn for the mane.

Baby blanket appliqué
Use the donkey as a central appliqué for a baby’s blanket. Make it a playful spin on pin the tail on the donkey by sewing fabric tails in different places around the blanket.

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