My Bertoia Totoro

Note: this is sort of a combo-post of the original (posted in 2015) and now (2021). For various reasons it made more sense to do it this way than stay 100% faithful to the original. Now onto the fun!

A few months back I stumbled upon an Apartment Therapy post where the writer had covered a Bertoia chair with stuffed pandas. Apparently it was an April Fool’s joke, but to me? It. Was. BRILLIANT!

The “after” photos were all taken down (except for one with a cat enjoying the chair’s makeover). But I found that someone had saved a picture of it on Pinterest yay!!!

I was incredibly inspired.

Relatively quickly I found the perfect stuffed animal for this project: Totoro! And if you haven’t seen My Neighbor Totoro, you really should – it’s gorgeously animated, and is a very sweet story. But at one point, the little girl named Mei falls asleep on Totoro’s belly. I’m like “if I can’t snuggle up to a giant Totoro, then dozens of smaller Totoros will have to do.” Obviously.

I used a smaller curved mattress needle for this project, though I’ve seen a variation of this that used zip ties. The only other thing needed was some dark grey embroidery thread. Oh yes! And the Totoros! I had to order them from two different ebay sellers – both used the same picture/description, but one shop sent slightly smaller versions, which I wasn’t bothered by since everything went together really well and added a wee bit of variety.

Yes – the Totoros look a little alarmed at their fate: getting their tiny ‘tocks sewn down.

When sewing them on it was a game of Where’s the Needle Going to Come Out? which I generally lost. But the many random finger stabs were worth it since the process went very fast.

I arranged the stuffed Totoros before I started sewing and discovered that their nubby little tails made the perfect “anchors” by pulling them through the wires.

Overall it was a fast process, and I am beyond thrilled with the results.

The chair is super-comfy, and the best part? When you get up from the chair it’s like the Totoros have seen things…terrible things that cannot be unseen. It amuses me to no end.

Okay, enough of my yammering – I know y’all want to see the finished product:

What the chair looks like when you’re standing above it: a nest of cuddles.
Wookit deir widdle tocks! SQUEEEEE!!!!! Ahem.

 Please let me know if you have any questions about this project, and I’ll happily answer. It really was easy, and the results so incredibly satisfying.

Update: after we moved to a much smaller home, there was no room for this fabulous chair. It’s beauty was wasted in our somewhat finished basement.


I plan on sharing that project here in the very near future (I’ll include a link once it’s available), because every time I share a picture of my cats near the Totoros, people are like, “OMG AM I SEEING WHAT I THINK I’M SEEING?!” and I’m like, “yes.”

I can hardly wait.

But until then, check out the below photo to see my Kitty Momo enjoying the Totoro chair – it had been one of his favorite spots. 😻

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