Monday, September 29, 2014

Handmade Baby Toys

My niece will be giving birth to her first child any day now. It seems like no time at all ago that my brother's phone call woke me up one morning to spread the good news of his own child's arrival, and now that girl is going to be a mom. Time has wings! With the due date quickly approaching, I recently set out to make her a blanket, and thought, "While I'm at it, maybe a soft toy, too." Then-how about some sweet little felt booties? Ooh, and a rattle! The baby needs one of those. And finally, a little tag edged blanket toy with some crinkly plastic inside, for some sensory thrills. Apart from the large blanket, which turned out to be a bit of white whale, and the bunny, which took a couple of hours to finish, these toys can be whipped up in fairly short order. Links to any patterns or tutorials I used are indicated in the captions below each of the photos that follow.
I've made many a bunny for babies, both for my own kids and for friends. The pattern and instructions for this bunny came from Martha Stewart. Her project calls for using men's suiting fabric, but I always use felted cashmere. 
I made this egg from a pattern in last year's easter issue of Making Magazine, which is published here in the UK. But patterns for stuffed sewn eggs abound online, so just google it. I hacked the instructions by placing four little bells inside a piece of muslin, which I sewed securely shut. Then I stuffed the bell pouch in between layers of egg stuffing, as in the middle of the egg as I could get. Because of the stuffing the bells make a shaky rather than tinkly sound.
These adorbs and easy to assemble felt booties are from the fab folks at The Purl Bee. This blog is hands down one of the best sewing and knitting sites I know of. And whenever I go back to New York, I always, always make a trip to Purl Soho to stock up on fabrics and notions, and take in the general air of handmade gorgeousness that permeates the entire space.
This little tag blanket/toy was something I whipped up on a whim. I sandwiched some bias tape and ribbon loops around the perimeter and in between two pieces of fabric (each about 6"x8", right sides facing), added a layer of crinkly plastic to the top, and sewed all the way around with a half inch seam allowance. I left a four inch opening for turning right side out, then ladder stitched the opening closed.
I'd started the blanket quite a while ago (not knowing who it'd be for), so had a beginning with some rectangles of felted cashmere for the top. Browsing through a recently purchased copy of a Merchant and Mills sewing book, I saw instructions for making a double sided blanked with mitred corners and went for that to finish it. Unfortunately, the instructions weren't so clear to me, and I made a mess of the whole thing. After a grumbling hour or so with a seam ripper, I started again. There are many online tutorials for this technique, but the one I found most useful in terms of visual instruction came from Simple Simon and Co. In the end my border was a little wonky, since I'd already cut the corners off in my first attempt at this. And because I used a bulkyish, pieced, top layer instead of a single piece of fabric, the blanket will probably be put to better use as a playmat.

If you have a favorite baby gift you either given or received, please feel free to share in the comments below.

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