Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Very Colorful Caterpillar

After two rough and tumble boys, my friend Melissa just had herself a baby girl!   Ordinarily, I'd take this opportunity to make some kind of over-the-top frilly girl accessory, because after having a couple boys, nothing's more fun than challenging the accepted head-size-to-hair-embellishment ratio.

But Melissa's shower was a "time-of-day" shower, where each attendee is assigned to bring a gift suited for a specific time of day.  My assignment was "play time," and while I suppose girls can still wear giant flowers on their heads while they play, such shrubbery is generally not designed to be played with.

Photo credit:  Green Valley Crafts
So I dug through my bookmarks for handcrafted toys, and found this  little post from  Green Valley Crafts, a site you should not visit unless you have plenty of time to browse.    It's too lovely to leave.    Clever Clare created this sweet set of fabric & velcro balls for baby to toss, chew, connect, and dismember.  Cause that's what babies do.
Those cheery little blobs all lined up reminded me of a caterpillar, so I added eyes, antennae, and a crooked grin, and had myself a lepidoptera* larvae that, with any luck, will have a life cycle of more than three days.

I told Melissa that because of small parts (i.e. button eyes and felt antennae) this toy was not suitable for children under 3.  But unofficially, Miles (who is just one) really likes it.  I know because he kept stealing the little puff balls from my sewing table.

I chose rainbow colored fabrics from the stash in both solids and patterns, and included some with interesting textures.  So it's educational and all that.  Cause a baby might as well be getting smart while she's choking on a button.  Right?

Also, because I'm getting ready to move I'm kind of preoccupied with containing toys.  So I stitched up a pouch to keep the whole lot safe and warm when it's not "playtime."

Should I tell you where the fabric came from?  The old lady stash, of course.  But there's also a thrifted sheet, scraps from Halloween costumes, and random remnants.  Best of all, the exterior of the bag came from a little nightie I bought of the clearance rack at K-Mart.  It was cute, but not what you'd call "boudoir ready," and when Sweetie asked if I'd made it myself, I knew it was safe to cut up and add to the stash.  It looks like a Liberty of London print, doesn't it?

I was able to use most of the existing seams, and the straps became the tie that cinches the whole thing shut.  I love those kinds of time-saving shortcuts.

Speaking of shortcuts, I used this little butterfly clip to fancy up my lame index-card card.  I didn't make it.  It came from a friend who was de-cluttering her own craft stash.   But if you like it I bet you could make one for yourself, cause you're crafty like that.  Here, let me give you a closer look.

This whole project was easy enough that my 4-year-old, Grace, could help me with it.  I started by tracing a circle (I used a CD) on to each of my chosen fabrics, then cut out two of each color.  Then sew (or glue) velcro in place. (Mark the center circle of the CD on your fabric when you trace it to help with placing the velcro.)  Sew the around the edge of the discs, right sides together, leaving a 2-3 inch gap for turning.  Then turn the whole thing right side out, stuff with fiberfill  (this was Grace's favorite part), and hand stitch the opening closed.   

This project was quick, but not quick enough for the busy week of Melissa's baby shower.  As soon as Melissa opened the (unfinished) gift I took it back so I could stitch up the last few segments.  I sat there at the shower with a needle and thread, hand stitching as I chatted.  Cause that's how I roll.  

Seconds after snipping the last threads, I coerced my friend Kandis to take photos right there at the shower.  (Thanks Kandis!)  

And then, finally, I let Melissa load up her caterpillar and take it home.


*Butterflies and moths are members of the insect order Lepidoptera.  This is the only fact I still recall from the AP Biology class I took 18 years ago.  Why this fact, and not something more interesting and/or useful?  I don't know.  But it's a testament to the power of mnemonics, because my brain somehow made a permanent association between butterflies, moths, and leprosy.   This mental association also forces me to say "Lepidoptera" in an appalled and disgusted voice, as if the mere thought of colorful winged creatures is enough to make contract the disease.  All things considered, it's remarkable that I still like butterflies as much as I do.