When I told Aidan about my recent post about learning to sew, he said that he thought that my efforts to sew were turning out pretty well. And I think this monster-themed baby gift I made for one of my good friends is a testament to that “pretty good” rating. At some point with each of these projects, I was pretty sure that everything was going to turn out terrible. But in the end, I think everything turned out okay and, while these items aren’t going to be confused with professional-grade craftsmanship, I feel pretty good about what I was able to accomplish.
My planning for the gift started when I came across this free tutorial from Stubbornly Crafty for making monster-faced bibs. I have to say that I think these bibs are a pretty awesome project for people like me who are new to sewing. The tutorial was very clear and easy to follow, but the benefit of a baby project like this is that you can have some screw-ups and still end up with something that looks really cute. My biggest struggle was the step that involved stitching around the edge of the appliqued eyes. I did okay with the teeth, but the stitching around the eyes basically looks like it was done in the dark after I drank a box of wine. Anyone who examines it closely will be astounded by my talent. But like I said—these still turned out really cute. I’d make these again in a heartbeat.
I made these with four coordinating fat quarters for the faces, some white muslin and black cotton scraps for the eyes and teeth, and some white minky fabric for the back. If (or when?) I make these again, I’d probably skip the minky because it’s kind of a pain in the ass and is the worst fabric name in the world. I’d just use flannel as a backing on my next go.
Because I have a tendency towards overdoing things, I decided that I needed to make something in addition to the bibs so I used the fabric scraps from the bibs, plus a monster-print quilting cotton I found at JoAnn’s to make some fabric blocks. As I was looking around the internets for soft block tutorials, I came across this tutorial from Sew Can Do that featured blocks made from fabric printed with the ASL alphabet, cut strategically to spell the word “love.” And since my friend used to be an ASL translator and since I hadn’t yet proved that I have a tendency to overdo things, I decided my blocks also needed to spell “love” in ASL. I couldn’t find the fabric used in the original tutorial, so I decided to embroider the little hands onto some white muslin.
(As I was embroidering the hands, Aidan looked over and asked me what I was doing and I said, “I’m reluctant to tell you because you will think I’m crazy.” A portrait of life with the out-of-control crafter.)
The embroidery turned out really cute and the block tutorial was very easy to follow, but I have to be honest: I don’t think that these will be baby-approved. These strike me as the kind of item adults think is good but babies find boring. Because, really, they’re pretty boring as far as toys go. I get it. But these are going to live in California where I will likely never have to face how often they do or do not get used. And they are really cute. I regret nothing.
My money is on this puzzle ball thing being a bigger hit with baby. It’s shape is perfect for chubby little hands that are just learning to hold things and in high-contrast fabrics, it is visually interesting for really young infants. The process of making the ball is kind of tedious—you cut out 36 little oval-shaped pieces, sew them into 12 little pods which you have to stuff and then sew closed by hand, and then the entire process of forming the ball is all done with hand stitching. Still, I’d make one of these puzzle balls again—probably with a bell in the middle for optimal baby fun. I used this tutorial from Thimble. I’m surprised that I like this as much as I do since it was totally an afterthought and since I was convinced right up until the end that it would never turn out.
So there it is: my first sewn gift. If I look back at this in a year or two, I’ll probably be mortified that I foisted my super noob-ish sewing off on someone else. But today, I’m feeling pretty damn good about myself.