28 Feb 2010

Rattle Cubes

I made these after making my tag cloths and thought this was something else to use up my scraps of material. I made mine on the small size, but they could be made any size.

Cut out 6 squares from different materials, or just different colours. I used black cotton; white cotton; yellow cotton; blue denim; blue linen; red satin. Mine were about 3" which included enough for the seam allowance.

Squares cut out to size

For this cube I used a 1/4" seam allowance. With this size seam allowance you have to start the seam 1/4" away from the edge so that the piece that fits along the next edge can be sewn in. This takes a bit of precision to get all of the corners to work, which was great for me as a perfectionist. To make it easier you could draw a square on the material 1/4" in with a fabric pencil and follow the line.

This is one of the sides all sewn up with the seams following the square I drew.

When sewing the pieces together make sure to keep the pieces underneath well away from the seam, especially in the corners. I find it works to fold the underneath pieces in a triangle so that the corner is nice and clean.

Sew them together in a cross pattern, and then just fold it up into a cube, and sew as you go.

I added a loop of ribbon (with the loop towards the middle of the cube) when sewing up one edge. This way I can attach the cube to something if I want to save it being thrown on the ground. Make sure to leave a gap when sewing the last seam so that you can turn it right-way-out. Trim the corners to make them less bulky.

I stuffed it using teddy bear stuffing and for the rattle I pushed a small bell into the middle of the stuffing. Make sure it is a reasonably loud bell as the sound will be muffled when in the stuffing.

The finished cubes.

The next ones I make may have a letter or something appliqued to the outside for a bit of interest and contrast.


I was sick of having all my stuff lying around and Chloe was getting to the age where she was pulling anything down that was at floor level, which for us was pretty much everything. The trouble was that we were going to be moving in the next year and I didn't want to buy a large piece of furniture that might not fit in a different space. I decided that the solution for me was to make a number of cubes that I could rearrange as our needs changed.

I started with 9mm MDF which my wonderful dad helped me to cut into lots of pieces. Each cube was going to be 350mm x 350mm and 400mm deep. I also wanted to put backs on some of them so that when they were stacked it would give a checkerboard effect, and also give some stability. I also wanted to have 2 boxes with a shelf in the middle for all our CDs. This meant that for each box there were 2 pieces that measured 350mm x 400mm for the top and bottom and 2 pieces that measured 332mm x 400mm for the sides. These had to be a bit smaller as, by the time they were butted against the top and bottom, the thickness of those pieces would add up to 350mm. The back pieces were 350 x 350. The shelves were cut to the same size as the sides.

Next step was putting the boxes together. My dad showed me how to make a template so that all of the pieces would have holes drilled in the same place. We drilled first and then nailed them together using panel pins.

I'm not going to lie, the next bit took ages. I had to sand, undercoat and then 2 topcoats for each box. My original plan was to end up with a 'unit' 3 boxes wide and 5 boxes high. We got all the boxes made up but so far I have only finished 9 boxes in total. The others will get done sometime. I just need to get DH to take Chloe for a day so I can put in a solid effort.

This is just 6 of the boxes, including the 2 with shelves. You can see the red backs behind them, which matches the colour we have on one wall in our living area. The next 3 got added to the bottom and house Chloe's toys, perfect height for grabbing them.

Tag cloth

You know how babies always go for the tag on any toy.... well I saw these in a few places and knew my daughter would love them and I thought I could make them myself.
My first attempt, well chewed by Chloe.

Cut 2 different types of fabric into any shape you like, as long as they are the same. I used flannelette and microfleece and cut them into rectangles.

Next cut multiple pieces of ribbon. You can either cut them different lengths or all the same. I cut mine about 3cm/1.5" long, but I didn't measure so they were all slightly different. I also sealed the ends by holding them close to a lighter flame. Just make sure you don't put the ribbon in the flame. If you hold it very close the ends melt a bit and it stops them fraying.

Pin the ribbon to the right side of one of the pieces of material so that they are pointing toward the middle. This way they will point out when you turn the finished product right-side out. Sew the ribbon to this one piece of material about 1/4" from edge.

Pin the second piece on top of the first with the ribbon between the two. At this stage you could also lay a piece of plastic bag on the material to give it a crinkle sound when scrunched. On this one I have put some in one corner. Sew the material pieces together leaving an opening of 2".

Turn right-side out. Top stitch around the edge 1/8" to sew up the opening, and also to add an extra row of stitching to capture the ribbon. This means that the ribbon has now been sewed in 3 times - very safe for baby to pull on.

This was very popular with my little girl. She loved chewing on the bits of ribbon, and I found it useful as a dribble cloth too.

ABC border

We moved house a few weeks before Chloe was born (NOT recommended) and I wanted to add something to the room that I had made. I decided to make an alphabet border to go on the one blank wall.

I started by printing out the alphabet from the computer using a font I liked. These got traced onto 4 different coloured cards, then came the cutting out. I did this during the numerous naps a newborn has.

One of the cut out letters

I liked the idea of putting them on velum, and it was handy that I had a few sheets already. I used a white and a cream/gold colour and cut out squares a bit bigger than the letters.

Letters on alternating velum colours

From there I used a velum spray glue to attach the letters. This was so much easier then using a craft glue and I had them done in no time.

I found some cute, clear pegs which I used to attach the letters to a piece of string I had strung across the wall. I had to put an extra hook in the middle to prevent the whole lot sagging.

I would probably use a darker yellow if I did something like this again, but I am quite happy with how it turned out.

Finished product

25 Feb 2010

Baby mat

The First Project -

The madness all started when I was asked, while still pregnant, if I had made anything for my baby. I got a case of the guilts and decided that I could make a floor mat and started working on designs. I had thought about doing block colours in a pattern but finally settled on doing a picture with different textured fabrics.

I started with a lot of newspaper and drew out the items I wanted:
sun - yellow cotton
cloud - white fur
pond - blue linenboat - black cotton and red satin for the sail
sheep - white fur
grassy area - green flannelette
butterfly - orange felt

I admit I used some images from the net... I'm not that good at drawing sheep.
After cutting each of these out from the fabrics I laid them out on a large piece of calico (pre-washed of course), about 1metre x 1metre. I also placed a piece of batting under the calico to make it soft for the baby to lie on. I sewed each of the items on to the calico through the batting as well to keep it all in place.

This is the mat before sewing it all together

For the back I used a piece of dark blue calico with another piece of batting (my baby would be lying on a cloud). Sewed up both pieces, right sides together, turned in the right way (no easy task) and hand sewed the hole shut.

It turned out quite well, wasn't too big and got used a lot in the early days. If I made another one I would finish the edges of the items better before sewing them down, or maybe iron on some interface to reinforce the edges. The flannelette edges have come away a bit where they they were pushed on by baby feet.

The mat showing the blue backing

The finished mat