My little girl always asks to “sew” when she sees me doing my embroidery. If she finds my hoop, she will often make a few giant stitches of her own. She’s a little too young to handle a real hoop and needle, so I wanted to make something she could work on, too.
I’ve seen those sewing cards, but since I don’t have access to power tools, little wooden things are not an option. My solution: make it out of fabric.
Would you like to make your own lacing softies for your little ones? It’s pretty simple and straight-forward, but it does require some specific tools and some time. The results are totally worth it, though.
- Eyelets/grommets (if you check the definitions, the distinction is rather fuzzy, but in the store the box I got said “eyelets”). I used 5/32″ eyelets.
- Fabric and whatever you need to put your design on it, (thread, ink, stamps, etc.)
- Hole punch (the kind you hold with one hand and hammer with the other hand)
- Sewing implement (yarn, blunt needle, shoelace, ribbon, etc.)
- Design your softie. You can use whatever means you want to get an image for your softie—a freezer-paper stencil, stamps, silk screening, large printed fabrics, etc; for this one I embroidered the image I wanted (a fox** in this case).
You can do a front and back image, like I did, or just a front image if you like. If you do a front and back image, you’ll need to make them mirror images so that they’re not backwards.
- Turn your image over. If you can’t see it on the back (i.e., the back of the stitches), then place your fabric over a light table, window, and trace the outline with a fabric marker or pencil.
- Set some 1/4 in grommets around the outside of of your image where you intend to have them, about 3/4 in apart.
- Trace an outline around the grommets with a fabric marker or pencil (I used a pen so you could see the line). This outline is the line you will sew on, so you do not need to include seam allowances.
- Layer the two pieces of fabric with your design on them together, right sides facing. Use a light table or window to see that your front and back design match up. Pin these two layers together, with a layer of batting behind them.
- Sew all the way along the line (I used a free motion foot, but a regular foot might work fine, depending on the design), leaving an opening for turning out.
(I wasn’t going to show you this, because my free-motion stitching is bad, but it worked okay, so don’t worry about it too much.)
- Cut your piece out, leaving 1/4 in seam allowance.
- Clip and curves/trim corners if your design has them, and then turn your piece right-side out.
- Tuck in the opening and slip stitch it closed. If you need help with slip-stitching, I’ve got some instructions on it in my fabric puzzle tutorial.
- Add the eyelets. (If you’ve used eyelets/grommets before, you can skip these instructions, but this was pretty much my first time, and I learned some things that might be good to know before you try it.)
- Use a punch to cut a small hole for each eyelet. You will want a cutting board, scrap piece of wood, or piece of thick cardboard underneath you fabric to make sure you don’t make holes in your work surface.(ahem.) I’m using a punch that was about half the diameter of my eyelet hole. Not ideal, but when I tried the punch that was the same size as the eyelet hole, I found that the fabric did not always get caught by the eyelet’s edge when it was pounded down, so it’s better to have to push and wiggle to get the eyelet to fit through a snug hole than to have too much room. I also tried punching a hole and then doing half another hole, overlapping the first one, to make the diameter a little bigger, and that seemed to work pretty well.
- I quickly learned that a tap tap tap tap approach worked much better than thud thud thud. I ended up with a few misshapen eyelets before I learned this lesson.
Also, be sure to tap directly perpendicular to your eyelet setting tool, or it will go on at an angle and not catch all of your fabric (I also learned this lesson the hard way).
- Try to push your eyelet through the hole without fabric overlapping the edge of the eyelet, this will help the back stay neater.
- Keep setting eyelets all the way around until you’ve done them all.
- Choose your sewing implement. I went with yarn and a large, dull needle, but you could use a thin ribbon on a needle, a shoelace, etc.With the yarn, I started with a pretty long piece, and sewed it all the way around to make sure it would be long enough before I cut it off.
Once you have your sewing implement, you’re done. I couldn’t wait to share this with my little sewer (yes, it’s a word).
I don’t know about you, but there is something about those chubbly little fingers holding an oversized needle that is just too adorable (and yes, my daughter is sporting a snow hat at the end of July).
I’m not going to lie, putting in all 26 eyelets was kind of a pain because of the aforementioned problems that I had to work through. But I really liked the result, so I think I’ll definitely have to make a couple more of these.
**If you would like to embroider you’re own fox, leave a comment with your email address, and I will send you the embroidery template.
Have a great weekend!