I am not someone who has ever been called “crafty.” I have no patience for crafty projects, and my skill level is… shall we say, LOW. But with Cooper’s allergies, we’ve had to take away all plastic and rubber toys, he is bored of ropes, and the organic cotton toys cost a fortune since he tears through them in about five minutes.
To save money and to be more eco-friendly than buying and tossing tons of toys, I decided to sew him some. For those of you who are uncrafty like me, I thought I’d share my step-by-step in case you decide to tackle a similar project.
Step 1: Assemble your materials.
Step 2: Select your fabric. Because I wanted this to be a recycled project, I used an organic cotton tote from the Indianapolis opera and, for the stuffing, a selection of old socks with the elastic ankle parts cut out for safety.
Step 3: Fill your machine with a heavy-duty thread. The one that I selected was really strong because I know how hard Cooper is on his toys. Note:
Apparently, with a thick thread, you need a different needle or else it jams up your machine. Who knew.
Step 4: (a) Ditch the instructions because they require that you draw and cut out a fish. Realize you don’t know how to draw a fish nor do you know how to do the scallop (??) technique required for the tail. Draw and cut out a square instead. Pin the edges you need to sew leaving a small opening through which to stuff the socks. (b) Reference your sewing machine’s instruction manual to figure out what to select on all the little dials and levers. I went with a narrow zig-zag stitch.
Step 5: Sew! Two little tips here: First, pull the pins out BEFORE you get to them. I thought they should stay until you got past, just to keep it straight, when in fact you risk breaking your needle if it hits a pin. Rats. Second, don’t forget to stop sewing and leave a spot for the stuffing. If you accidentally sew over that spot
like I did, don’t worry. That’s what seam rippers are for!
Step 6: Here’s where things get tricky. You can either hand sew that opening closed. I didn’t do that, though, because I was convinced I couldn’t do a tight enough stitch to keep him from ripping it open. That, and I discovered that I don’t have a regular needle to sew with anyway. So I shoved all the stuffing to one end and used the machine to sew that side closed. I sewed two rows thinking it would be extra reinforcement.
Okay, so it’s not perfect. There was a HUGE learning curve on this project. The real test, though? Did Cooper like it?
Then, moments later – like, seriously, 45 seconds – he was through the fabric. Drat. It took me a little over an hour to make the stupid thing, and he destroyed it in under a minute. The good news is that he got through the fabric itself and not my seams, so I’m going to tackle this one again but with a stronger fabric. I think I’ll cut up a pair of John’s jeans next time.