; Tin Can Canoe: Funky Baby Tag Toy Tutorial

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Funky Baby Tag Toy Tutorial

I just found out a friend is expecting! Which is wonderful, but since I don't know how many people she's told - I don't wanna pull a "Jack Black" and OUT her to the world. So Mum's the Word. I figured the first idea for her is so simple and fun it'd make a great tutorial for those who'd like to follow along :) This is my first online tutorial & I'll try to be less chatty than I am in the classes and workshops I teach. It should all make sense in the end and like all directions - Always read them all the way through a few times before you begin. If you have questions just raise yer hand.

The prep work:

My little guy loved chewing on the tags of everything when he was a Babe...so that was as good a place as any to start and it helps to know the wee bun is femme.

A few good rules of thumb: Tie knots in long dangle tags, it gives little ones something to grab a hold of and they really love to gnaw on the knots. Also make sure that several of your Tags are actually loops - so folks can run a clip through them and attach them to car seats, strollers and the like. Try out different sorts of fabric textures... corduroy, minkie, felt, etcetera to keep baby engaged. I did patchwork and chenille but you could easily do it out of just two solid pieces of material - make it as easy or as difficult as you'd like. A few words on copyright -- this original design is my own so be kind, be respectful and be Cool like The Fonz...."Heeeey". If you want to use a photo please provide a link back or if you're not sure just ask, I'm friendly. It's easy to play nice...you know the whole "do unto others..." concept.

[History: I keep all the scraps from everything I do (yes All - even the shockingly teeny ones) - sick as it is, it's true, true, true - so what are you gonna do. I color coordinate the scraps & keep them all stored in ziplocks. This proves to be an ingenious way to organize them and helps a lot when it's time to use them up. Think recycle, upcycle or unicycle... whatever floats yer boat. ]

I dug out a few of my pre-coordinated scrap bags and Got Busy on some random little patchworks. Then found a complimentary scrap of chenille for the back. Note: You don't need a pattern honestly...just free yourself to sew all Willy Nilly like - I promise you'll love it. Still in doubt - then look on the internet for a free Crazy Patch Block Pattern. My Patchwork block is 8" square and my Chenille back is 6.5" square. I used 3 long knotted tags (8", 6" and 4"), 1 ear folded loop (5" long before folding), 2 tags (2.5" long) and 1 loop (3" long before folding). I always use a 1/4 inch seam unless other wise noted.

1) Sew your patchwork (aka: The Front) roughly an inch or so - don't be fussy - larger than your chenille (aka: The Back). Then decide on a shape...you could leave it square or make it round or triangular...I chose to just round the corners of the chenille piece ONLY. Cool Trick: No matter what shape you choose Leave your Front Patchwork piece larger & uncut. You'll see why in a few steps down...

2) Next start construction on all your taggie bits. You decide how many you'd like and then make them all different sizes and lengths - this is more Willy Nilly...set yourself Free sewing. Basically for Loops all you're doing is making tubes by sewing right sides together and turning them inside out. It's a pain but buck up unless you're gonna make like 20 of these, then get yourself a set of Tube Turners (type "tube turners" in their site search box). They're a cool investment if you want to pony up the cash. (Here's a great Link that shows you how they work)

Still on 2) To make tags use a Loop tube and sew one end shut. Trim the corners off before you turn them inside out.

3) Still with me? Once you've got all your Taggie bits done go make a sandwich. (Okay, if you really need a PB&J I'll wait... did you wash your hands?) Pin all your Loops and Tags to the Right side (ie: the fuzzy side of the chenille) of your BACK piece and make sure their ends hang over the edge a bit (to ensure they get caught in the seam correctly), they're all pinned towards the inside, and that none of them sneak off the opposite edge (example: in the photo below the long yellow knotted tag on the bottom is dangerously close to the Opposite edge and will most likely be sewn into both edges - not a good idea, trust me) if you need to keep them safe pin 'em down in the middle.

4) Once everything is pinned in place - lay it face down (think right sides together) on Top of your Patchwork piece. Leave all the pins in there but add some more and pin everything together - making a sandwich.

5) Sew the sandwich together. Remember to leave a gap roughly 1.5 inches to turn it inside out. Now this is where that Cool Trick comes in. Bulky sandwiches sometimes shift with the feed dogs even if they're pinned. If you leave one side of your sandwich larger than the other you don't have to worry about your edges being spot on even while you sew them together. You can clearly see what's going on, thus know everything is being caught in the seam. Before turning it inside out, trim the excess off the larger piece. Cool no?

6) Stuff it! Any sort of poly fiber fill will do just fine. Note about stuffing: If you want to avoid the cellulite look on your new softie use one huge wad of stuffing. Meaning grab insanely more than you think you'll need - instead of using a little and then a little more and a still a little more...we're talking one enormous hunk of filling. You can always pull off the extra but this makes the stuffing nice and smooth and alleviates the lumpy bumpy appearance. Then before you stitch up your opening with a nice hidden stitch add a squeaker and/or small rattle object in the center. Voila!

See what I mean ...easy peasy lemon squeazy! Go knock yourself out and make a few. Remember to not be so fussy about every little detail and have some fun :) Thanks for visiting and sticking through such an insanely loooong post - enjoy!


susie said...

I'm starting one of these today. Thanks for sharing such a great tutorial.

Jenn said...

This does seem very easy and so much fun to make! Now, I don't know anyone I can give it to, but maybe I'll make one anyway and keep it myself. Or put some catnip in it so the cats will have a cool original toy. Thank you for this tutorial!

Anonymous said...

I think Jenn is on to something! A smaller version with longer tags and loaded up with kitty snuff would be a total hit with my cat. Thanks -- andie