A new baby-gym.

I learnt a lesson on buying cheap. It is this; we bought a baby-gym, the cheapest. And, well, after a few lovely babies playing in it, I still don’t really like it. Now I made him a new one, at lot prettier! Yey for me! It should also work better for him now that he is bigger. Yey for him!

baby gym, mind the bow-ties!

So, the old baby gym has sides. I wont do that as this is what made the thing too small too soon. I will use the sides of this playing-pen instead so he has all the room he wants. I will first make the overhead-part of the gym, with different kind of loops that hold the toys. Than I will make two bow-ties to knot it too the pen in a novel way. I will explain this, and how I adjusted the bow-tie pattern, in the end of the blog.

not a nice view

What you need for a start, arguably the most important part, is a nice piece of fabric. I tried to match it with a quilt my grandma made from old pieces of fabric. This quilt is always in the bottom of the paying pen.

grandma-made quilt and blanket, sister in law made Amigurumi (mirror/pig/cow).


While I was doing this, I also kept an eye out for complementing and colourful scraps of fabric to use for the loops that, when finished, hold the toys. This is like with any other baby gym. I obviously made these beforehand so I could stitch them into the seam when finishing the entire thing.

Fabric in pieces…


Now this is were you can start to be creative, but only as far as safety allows. I do not want to make a list that is pretty much the same on any kids toy. Probably the two most important rules to follow are: do not create loops that can scoop up heads/legs/hands. The baby won’t be able to get out as the child doesn’t understand these things yet. Last but not least, make sure everything is fastened. If you can not guarantee it is really very sturdy, do not use it. I am talking about things like buttons/bells etc. This might make it look very pretty, but you never know when they can reach them and swallow them the wrong way. If it is anything I have learned, it is that kids can be unpredictable. Okay, I am going to stop here. Please know the safety of this baby-gym is entirely up to you, eveybody is responsible for their own creations!

Make sure the loops are attatched really well, if the baby pulls them from the fabric it is tedious to get them back in place.

As you can see from the pictures I also put in some elastic, these parts I like the best. It means a kid can reach for a toy, can drop it, but it will always stay close at hand, to drool over it again! But make sure the fabric surrounding the elastic is wide, so getting entangled in it is difficult. I also added two stings of fabric that are more like cord. These should not pose a risk when they are not knotted. And I need make sure when I add a toy to knot it tightly at the top of the baby gym and not lower, so it does not create a loop. Please note that these things are definetely not on a safe-for-babies list. But I took some liberty here.

While I am sure the main bar could work without anything in it, I had a piece of foam left from some packing we received. You could also try filling it with fabric, or rolled-up paper.

Now for the bow-ties! I took a quick look at http://www.tie-a-tie.net/bowtie/ in order to find how to tie a bow-tie. It has a nice clear description. Even better, it has a pattern! If the pictures I have here inspire you to also close you baby gym with a real (!) bowtie, head to this page: http://www.tie-a-tie.net/make-a-bow-tie/ and download it form them like I did.

back of bow-tie


Now the pattern has a part that speaks about inches. On a regular bow-tie this is the collar of the shirt you make the bow-tie for. Naturally I make the bow-tie for a wooden-bar rather than a neck. So this part should only be as long as the wooden-bar is thick. Now, make one pattern part like the tutorial on the aforementioned website, and one part you make in two, with seem-allowance. This way you can neatly stitch the fabric-bar into the bow-tie!

happy chappy

He seems to be happy with the product of today! I sure think his play-pen looks better than before and he can have fun with this one from now on, as he can crawl and turn himself over as much as he wants. I am sure, though that at one point also this new product will no longer be interesting to him!

Wrap Work

We have a Dutch tradition, Sinterklaas. It is on December 5th; a tradition of tossing things. Out. Of the window. And after that, for Christmas, another pile. I am talking about gift wrapping. With the help of fabric, I want to try and half that pile, this year, and possibly the next years too?

It is wat is inside that matters!

In order to halt that afore mentioned pile you could of course reuse the wrapping paper. Also there are plenty of wrappings available that you can arguably use again. But made of paper you will see wear on them. Also, this year our family needs to fly with our presents. So even if we do use new wrapping paper it will look second-hand by the time we unpack!

So I am going to use fabric bags to wrap the gifts in. And because of the important part of unwrapping, I need at least a 3 second delay between trying to open the gift and having the gift in your hand. Therefore I will be making the closures a little bit fiddly. Make a zipper, hiding a zipper. Use twenty different buttons. I am thinking about stuff like that. Lets see if I can use bags but keep the anticipation of unwrapping?

So, off I go in search of fun coloured fabric leftovers or used up clothing. As best I can I make a selection of bright colours and make sure I have enough meters. The sizes of gifts nowadays are notable, since there are more and more little kids in our family and the smaller the kids, the bigger the presents. Besides that, making teeny-weeny bags is no use, as the probability of fitting in next years gifts becomes smaller the smaller the bag is.

But there appears to be something missing. I need to make sure it is clear this gift wrapping is in the appropriate theme! There are plenty of X-massy fabrics, but we give our gifts for the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas… And gift giving for Sinterklaas but in Christmas paper is a no-go. So is there fabric with the Sinterklaas theme? Sure, at my (!) Spoonflower store. I didn’t really have any other choice…


Now, next up is your box of buttons, ribbons and other leftover things, make sure you keep it near. Yes, now you can reach out, find the colours on the bottom of your yarn box! Grab them patches of fabric you haven’t seen in years! Take them all out, baby!

Now for some play-time behind my machine! I am making two almost identical bags at the same time, “on the go” withouth much planning. Identical bags, in order to see how the bags work for different sizes of gifts. “On the go” because I like to give room to the unexpected side of this creative process.

Identical bags
Identical patchworked bags, the Sinterklaas-pattern working together with the other fabrics nicely.

As you can see, I patch worked together some fabrics, to create a fun feeling. Than four fabric ribbons. Now some clever wrapping…

Two very different size gifts in idential bags.
Can you see the shirt I reused?

Next up are two big bags, for big gifts. I want to make a kind of a corset-closure by stitching a two ribbons “zig-zag” on a piece of cloth, after which I stich it unto the bag. If you are also giving it a go, make sure the “entrance” of your bags are finished. I have put in an extra piece of fabric so you can not see inside before you have completely opened the bag.

Lace it up!
Lace it up! With these two I particular like the bow.

For some smaller items, I am making two enveloppe-style bags. They are very long, when I want them smaller I just roll over the opening of the bags and voila, a smaller bag!

The row of buttons make that the bag can be made smaller.
The row of buttons make that the bag can be made smaller.

So, there will be a big pile of gifts, together with the paper wrapped gifts.  I will hear in a week’s time what the unwrappers think of the presents like this. I’ll get back to you on that!

Top view of the pile of fabric gifts.

This was a lovely project! If you are going to make “bags for Christmas” than you might find yourself adding some juice to the sacks by using the stitches of your machine that you have never used before. If your audience is a little older than mine, use colours that are more sensitive, for a sleeker look. Maybe use velour or glittery fabric, to make it look contemporary or fancy. It is a lot of fun to make. And hopefully a small success at the Christmas table, this year or next. In any way, I will be wrapping up. (Whoeps)

Crocodile wear ‘n tear

This week I turned old green towels into a crocodile. I’d say it worked well, because this croc is scaring my 2 year old when it is in the hands of my 4 year old. So if you, like me, have things in the house that go into the category of “might come in handy sometime” keep on reading for some inspiration of what that handy might be.

Finished crocodile cq washing mitten

So, meet the model! This is the alligator we brought from our holiday in Florida. For you animal lovers out there, I know this is an alligator, but changing it into a washing mitten makes these features unrecognisable, so I will use crocodile and alligator as I please.

Croc matching towel colours.

My starting point was looking through my stuff, and see which colours I had. I found a lovely match with the dark green one, combined with the light green one. I could have gone for a snake, but since I know crocodiles are a hit in this house, I decided to go with that. If you are lucky to find an old yellow one you might go with a giraffe? This would work really well if you make the mitten extra long, like the neck of this particular animal! Or a lion?

When you go though your old towels, keep in mind this is only for the big surfaces,. For the smaller add-ons (like teeth) you will have to go for a single layer fabric that can be cut without fraying, like fleece for example. Towelling is quite thick, you need them to dry as fast as possible.

Croc tongue and one layer fleece tongue.

Before starting, try and get a clear image in your head of the shape of the animal. The model I had worked really well, so make sure you have a model or even pictures from the web might work. Than draw the features of the animal, what you would think works. Just on a piece of paper, very simple shapes.

Apart form the general shape, think about the following; what kind of animal do you want it to be? A funny one, with extra large ears or eyes? Making eyes bigger has the effect of making an animal look cute, or baby like, which is what I went for. Making it realistic is also an option, but a very difficult one as you are working with said thick fabrics. Much detail will be lost.

Espresso cup assisted round shaped baby eyes.

Just after that you will need to draw again, on pattern paper this time. I will try and explain more detailed how I did the mouth, because that is what is setting this beast apart from other animal type of washing-mitten!

I started by using a mitten I already had. One side will be the top of the head, the other side the mouth & bottom. You need to draw the bottom with a seam, horizontally, a little below the centre which will be the mouth. Than make a shape in 2 layers that will be the bottom jaw. This might be easier to understand through the pictures.

Bottom jaw and mouth stitched together. It helps to stich the crocs cutlery unto the surface before you add the final layer.

Now, as you are cutting and redrawing the flat patterns anyway, you might want to add a few more features of the animal. For example adding a bit of room where the shape of an animals head is thicker or higher. I added a little room where the eyes of the animal are. At the same time trying to shape the side of the crocs head. The nose is a lose part, but I needed this seam to attach it. The nose is a round shape with a flat bottom. After I folded it double I stitched it half a centimetre from the centre until a little over half. That makes it standing up after I sew the seams of the head together. How I did the nose might also be a good way to do an ear on your animal?

Alligator top head, along this seam will be the eyes and the nostrill.

Take care in what order you close all the pieces, as you need to make sure your thumb can get into the bottom of the mouth. The eyes I attached manually, whilst shaping the black of the pupil. Depending on your animal, you can go crazy on the eyes, think of a cat eye for example. Or the teeth for example, maybe you should make one gold!

The tongue was supposed to be the funniest part of this particular alligator. But the teeth turned out to be much more ridiculous than I expected as you can see on the pictures.

Anybody looking for a croc with baby eyes and ridiculus teeth? Also, find the orange-blue fabric at my spoonflower store: http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/1052779-submission-urban-sightings-by-lijlijlijntje

It was much fun doing this, please let me know if you are going to give it a try. I would love to think with you on what to make and how to give it the best shape!

Soap-water crocodile alert!