I may have mentioned once or twice that I have a proper aversion to giving babies and children anything with polyester content, and if you think I’m being a bit precious, google it for yourself, or at least read this article, which doesn’t delve too deeply but does give a reasonable overview.
Anyway, I’m slightly obsessed so I’ve been making for new grandchildren – have I mentioned that we are expecting another grandchild in April? This time it’s Mark’s daughter who is expecting, and she lives in London with no access to the family hand-me-downs, so I wanted to make a few things for her that are safe.
I enjoy putting squeakers and rattles in my toys, so I went to the op shop to buy some dreaded polyester toys that I could disembowel and retrieve said squeakers and rattles. It’s by far the cheapest way of buying them. I got quite a haul, a lot of soft toys are donated and people buy them for their dogs, I understand. I still wouldn’t give my dog a polyester toy though…
Here are the toys (and a children’s coat hanger) and all the components I got from them.
Unfortunately they are all plastic and I’ve been down that rabbit hole and discovered that plastic can give off toxins for its whole life. I steam cleaned all the components and wrapped them in a tightly woven cotton, but I am rethinking this.
Whilst I was checking out the innards on these toys, I found one that had been stuffed with fibreglass. Fibreglass!
I didn’t touch it, wrapped it up and disposed of it properly. It did freak me out though. Imagine giving this to your child?
Anyway, all the toys I’ve been making are from natural fibres and stuffed with sewing scraps from my overlocker or with eucalyptus fibre, which I think is much safer than polyfill, which is, of course, polyester. This is what Ecofilling Australia say about the eucalyptus fibre:
“Eucalyptus fibre is a 100% plant-based fibre and fully biodegradable and is sold as loose, carded fill. It is created through the fementation of the wood pulp and the fibre extracted. It has exceptional natural characteristics for absorbency, hygiene and temperature regulation. Eucalyptus fibre is a highly efficient insulator, helping to keep you warm in cool weather and cool in warm weather. It is naturally hypoallergenic, thanks to its natural moisture management characteristics.
Because it releases moisture so quickly, it is very difficult for dust mites, bacteria, mildew and other common allergens to breed. Eucalyptus fibre also has a remarkable environmental profile. It is extracted from fast-growing, sustainably forested eucalyptus trees. Unlike cotton, eucalyptus requires little water to grow and thrives on marginal land unsuitable for agriculture.” (source linked)
I made a couple of scottie dogs – the one on the left is made from two different cotton fabrics and the ribbon round its neck is cotton. The dog on the right is made from scraps of corduroy from trousers I made Tom when he was about two. The giraffe on the right is made from wool felt, with wool felt spots and the ears are silk, so safe for sucking on. The giraffe on the left is made from one of Mark’s old silk ties and the ears are scraps from another silk tie.
The ball in the middle is made from wool felt. It’s an Amish puzzle ball and I’ve made a few of these.
The ball is hand sewn. The pieces remind me of fortune cookies. They are then assembled in a particular way and joined together to make the ball. I was playing around with the French glove stitch to join the pieces, and have decided that, whilst it’s nice, I’m better at blanket stitch. I’m sending this one disassembled to my step daughter. I hope she can put it together!
I put a ribbon on it so it can be hung up, until the baby is old enough to play with it as a ball.
These balls are terrific for quite small babies as they can be easily grasped, and as the child grows, it can play with pulling it apart and eventually reconnecting the three pieces, so it’s quite educational and also very tactile.
I’ve made these out of cotton too; this one was seamed on the machine and stuffed with all the cotton scraps that come from my overlocker. It’s a bit heavier and quite sturdy. I keep this one at home and Archie and I often throw it to each other. Fabric came from Materialise in Perth.
Bridgette asked me to make Miss G a Christmas stocking. Such fun! I made it from an old red silk dress of mine, and made the white felt myself. I wanted more texture than you get with the bought stuff. The inside is lined with starry cotton I’ve had in the stash for a few years, and I embroidered her name across the top. The ribbon is cotton.
I used the French glove stitch to sew all the elements on. I am still not an expert at this stitch. The gold thread is nice but tricky to use.
I wanted to put something on the back, so added a big Christmas tree.
I added glass beads as I figured she wouldn’t be playing with it, so they’d be safe.
In the meantime Archie asked me to make him a stocking. I made one for Tom when he was born but Archie had to make do with a bought one as I didn’t have time to make him one. Twenty nine years later he got one. He designed it. It’s made from a remnant of red linen, lined with the white sheet I made the Molly skirt from. He wanted it bigger than the silk one and only a Father Christmas on it.
I didn’t have any red beads for his nose so painted a white one with red nail varnish. Out of focus photo, but you get the idea.
Once again I used my own felt for texture and padded behind the beard and hat with scraps to give a 3D effect. “Birthing” the stocking was fun, I really need to leave bigger gaps!
I embroidered his name on with a very simple backstitch. It looks a bit rough here, but when I ironed off the frixion pen it looked ok. I used Japanese thread I bought at the Fibres West garage sale.
We all fell a bit in love with this Christmas stocking and I decided to make another one for Miss G so that Bridgette could choose which one she wanted.
Three stockings in and I did the construction for this one a little differently and much more cleanly.
Another glass bead painted with nail polish, and eyes embroidered with the Japanese thread
Archie suggested I put a bend in at the top of his hat, which I duly did and he was right, it did add a certain panache.
Can you see the difference in the hats?
I have plans to make more of these for next Christmas; new grand baby will need one!
The last thing I made was this little romper thing. I bought the pattern from Purl Soho when I was in New York, in anticipation!
The fabric came from Mark’s mother (baby’s great grandmother) and it’s a lovely spotted cotton lawn that began life as a pillow case. It was new and I couldn’t send it to the op shop so brought it home.
I used vintage cotton bias binding in grey, which I think gives it a modern look. I also used a Kylie and the Machine in seam label at the front. It says “you are loved”. I’m not sure whether I can recommend this pattern as I have not yet seen it on a baby, but it makes up nicely.
What is really nice is that nothing new was bought for any of these makes, I managed to find everything in my stash, which is so gratifying.