Since I'm making soft toys, I consider that idea. I ask my sister what kind of animals or creatures he likes. She asks him, and this is the sms response I get: "He likes rust monsters and dragons and trolls and panthers." Nothing too easy to make there. Anyway I wasn't sure if he'd even like a soft toy, so Rhiannon and I discuss that too. He'd probably like one, but maybe something more practical. Eventually we hit on pillowcase. They have a lot of pillows as cushions at their place.
So I made a fabric. I went with rust monsters. For those of you who aren't massive geeks who spent their youth reading and rereading "The Monstrous Manual", this is a monster from Dungeons and Dragons. (Oh crap, I outed myself again.) Thanks to a detailed wikipedia article I found a description of all the different animals that different illustrations of the rust monster were based on, and could go back to the source to make my own version. Consequently I think it is more insect-like than many others, but I'm happy enough with it.
I did quite a few sketches then tried to draw a "cute" version, which I liked and rolled with.
Then I copied and pasted and rotated a whole bunch of them. The fabric is available for sale at my Spoonflower shop if you have someone in your life that loves rust monsters. I agree it's a niche market, but you never know :)
Then I made it into a pillowcase. Every single set of instructions on the internet seem to be for making a pillowcase with 3 different fabrics including a contrast band or something so instead I just looked at my trusty Sesame Street pillowcase and copied that. I figure, it's lasted this long, it must have something going for it.
Wrapped and ready to go! Happy super-belated birthday!