One woman's crazy quest to take on everything and become the ultimate jack-of-all-trades.
Continuing on my quest to get good at sewing, I wanted to pick some projects that were simple but highly rewarding. After digging around on Pinterest, I decided to make some toys for my kids. Toys are loveable, fun, there is great variety in difficulty level, but most toys I have seen are pretty quick projects.
It doesn’t hurt that kids are pretty forgiving when it comes to handmade stuff. It does not matter if it looks like total crap, they will love it because it was made by you (go ahead and go brush your teeth now, that was pretty sappy. I’ll wait. Done? OK.) Anyway, this is the advantage over, say, clothing, which someone has to actually wear- possibly in public where it can be judged by discerning adults.
I figured I would feel a great sense of accomplishment if I could make something my kids would love for years to come, or for a few minutes every time you threaten to give it away to someone else. If I am really lucky, something for my daughter to name “Bella.” She names all of her favorite things Bella: Many of her toys, her brother when he was a fetus, our car, her future little sister I don’t have the heart to tell her she probably won’t be getting…
To find my projects, I searched pinterest. There are a ton of great stuffed toy projects there and a couple of these projects belong to bloggers who post lots and lots of very cool, very free patterns.
I really didn’t want to make anything too cliche like a duck or a teddy bear, so I started with this hedgehog project. Hedgehogs are nice and obscure. This project in particular was perfect because the hedgehogs would look great made out of old clothing- the only fabric I had at the time. So I made one for each kiddo and they turned out pretty cute.
What I learned- with my son’s hedgehog (which matches his pants) I followed the pattern to the letter. But all that hand sewing got tedious, so with my daughter’s I thought I would make the ruffles and sew them on to each side of the hedgehog first before sewing the pieces together. This was a PATENTLY bad idea. The thing becomes so thick and bulky that you can’t really sew it together. SO, what I learned is that no matter how clever I think I am, I should not attempt to do anything except what the far more skilled and experienced person who made the pattern says I should do. I learned that I need to stop being cocky and follow directions because I have no idea what I am doing. Incidentally, all that time I saved not handsewing the ruffles on I made up for having to repair the parts of the hedgehog I could not properly stitch with the machine. And she isn’t holding up nearly as well as the first hedgehog. Follow the pattern people.
While I was pattern-hunting I came across these priceless little thingies. This project looked simple AND fast! It just so happens that I have a baby and a husband that hates jellyfish*. Then I thought… I have a bunch of pregnant friends, many of whom know my husband hates jellyfish. Clearly this means I should make SIX of these little guys so all the babies can have one! Way to turn a simple project into a huge undertaking… As it happened, we had a pretty big snowstorm one weekend and it was a good excuse to churn these guys out. I got the fleece from Joanne’s during a big sale and used one of their online coupons, so these baby gifts will be not only adorable and handmade, but economical!
So, I did follow the pattern, but I could not quite get the little tentacles to sit properly. They sort of stick out in all directions. Not sure how to fix this. Never-the-less they are still cute enough to meet the baby gift cuteness quota.
My only problem is- I can’t find anything crunchy enough for the inside. Has anyone every made anything like this? My army of jellyfish sits in my closet unfinished because they are not yet crunchy (that is why they look lopsided, they are not sewn shut yet). The babies are going to start popping out any minute, so not much time to lose. Ideas?
*When my husband was in high school he spent a summer salmon fishing in Alaska. Which is, I think you’ll agree, one of the manliest summer jobs imagineable. Anyway, his position on the boat was right under the net and he was responsible for coiling a line made of lead as the net was pulled aboard the boat. This position is called the leadman. Also manly (and from what I understand they give it to the greenhorns because it sucks). Well, when you fish you never JUST catch what you are fishing for in your net. In my husband’s case, jellyfish often came up with the net, and since he was just below it- they fell on him. He has had nice, stingy jellyfish tentacle in his face, his eyes, even his mouth. He once saw another crew member get slapped in the face by a whole bunch of jellyfish that had been tangled in the net like a little ball of agony. He had to be life-flighted to the hospital. These experiences have given my husband a life-long hatred of jellyfish. So, like any loving and dutiful wife, whenever an opportunity arises for me to buy and/or make a jellyfish, I take it. They’ve sort of become his very despised totem. We have one with a large loop at the top that I periodically place around random doorhandles throughout the condo, just so I can giggle gleefully when he goes to open the door and shoots me a dirty look. I love my husband very much.