Monday, March 14, 2011

Sewing Project #3: Travel Toy Blanket

The finished product: for my impatient readers.
Long, long ago, Prudent Baby led me to this tutorial for a travel toy blanket.  At the time, the Fidg was still very much enamored of tags. Couldn't chew enough of them. Of course, I figured something with chew-specific tags would probably not count since they wouldn't be the real thing, but it seemed like a fun project, relatively easy, and with many opportunities to get my-level creative (ie: find lots of cute ribbon. I can handle that.)

That was in November.

But now, finally, I've made one! She may not want to chew the tags anymore, but something to which I can attach toys still seems like a good idea.  Check out my own step-by-step commentary after the jump.
It took me awhile to pick a fabric for this. At first, it was going to be something owl-y.  But I am still hoarding my beloved yard of Alice Kennedy owl fabric - not sure why because it would probably be great for this project and longer lasting than a dress or something.

In the end, this Amy Butler seemed like a good choice. Pretty, brightly-colored, and coordinated well-enough with an on-hand flannel baby blanket I could use for the back.

Here's where the magic happens. Looks like I do this a lot, right?
So, first things, first, I re-read the tutorial for the millionth time. I had everything on hand except the soft velcro. I had some other velcro. But then I couldn't find it. So I thought I'd use some elastic. I measured one Sophie-neck-sized and one sippy-cup-sized piece.  And then I made up all my ribbon bits from stuff I had off gifts, from the Target dollar bin, and some other random spools.  I also pre-washed my fabric and blanket. I don't know if I needed to do that, but I did it anyway.  Then it was time to start the actual assembly.

Look, first time using pins!
First task, making the pocket for books and what not.  The tutorial version feature one two-compartment pocket with velcro closures and one single pocket.  Yeah, I did one pocket, undivided, with no velcro. You can call it lazy, I call it being creative and interpreting my own blanket.  It took a few minutes of double checking to make sure I was cutting the right scrap to match the pattern, but this pattern lent itself to the task pretty well.

I pinned it in place and started sewing.  I did a decent enough job, except I didn't sew evenly (a common theme in my projects) - so there is more flappage on one side than the other, if that makes sense.  Not a huge deal. No one will argue this wasn't a hand-made blanket!

Then it came time to pin on all of my ribbon tabs. No science to this, just some spacing concerns and purposeful randomizing of colors and textures and types. I did 8 tabs along the sides, 6 on the bottom, and none - maybe one - on top since I didn't want tabs in her face bugging her if she was every actually snuggled in the blanket. (Always hoping for sleep, right!)  I had the elastic bits on each side too.  Everything seemed like it was going to work out fine until I tried to sew it on.  Yeah, I think I needed a different foot or needle or something. Machine not happy about that attempt and got in a tizzy. I worked out the snarls and got it going again, though. Just less stretchy than initially planned. Good learning experience, though!

Calm before the thread storm.
Of course, I wouldn't be me if I didn't completely screw up some detail to the point of ridiculousness.  In this case, well, see if you can notice the problem.  Here's the tutorial picture of what my blanket should've looked like at this point:
From Merriment Design
Here's what mine looked like:

Can you see the problem? Look carefully. Look at the ribbons?  They are pointing out. They should've been pointing in ("The laces were in!") otherwise when you sew the front and back together and turn right-side out, you'll have no ribbon tabs.  Brillllllliant. Super brilliant. More than mildly annoyed with myself, the only solution I could sort through (because you KNOW I wasn't going to undo all that stitching) was to iron the tabs back so they pointed in.  Good enough!

If I'd have known how much ironing was involved in sewing, I might've skipped it as a hobby.
The blanket is probably knobbier on the edges than it would've otherwise been, but nothing was really ruined. So it's a win!

Next, it was time to attach the backing blanket. So wrong-side to wrong-side and more pins:

Then sew, sew, sew. Then flip and iron and pin the open sides and sew some more and - Presto! Done!

It would be better if I learned to sew straight lines.  And I think in the future, I'd try harder to include an elastic or velcro band, because I definitely see the utility so you can attach toys that won't attach to those little hook thingies.  There are endless cute possibilities, too, by coordinating ribbons and fabric, or maybe using more plush blanket backs.  I think this would make a great gift, too.  

So there you have it. #3 is complete. I'm hoping to tackle some simple dresses during my vacation.  We'll see how that goes. Otherwise, blankets for all!

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