I have to admit, the anti-conformist in me can be defeated by cute baby gear. I can still roll my eyes and scoff at some really random crap that some how seems to sell, but I do fall victim to a few trends until I realise they’re horribly, horribly wrong.
Like cot bumpers and liners. Here, have a google image search so you can see the joy of cot liners.
For the uninitiated into these death traps, they’re a cute little cloth wrapping you put around the lower half of the cot and they can have the most adorable little designs on them, make the nursery look more bright and colourful, and also kill babies in their sleep.
Yet they’re still being sold, you can’t find a shop cot display in the whole of Canberra that doesn’t incorporate them. But damn, they look cute, and don’t they brighten up the nursery? I was planning on making my own liner until my Ma pointed out I was an idiot and directed me to all the information on SIDS and we shelved that idea.
The next silly thing I fell in love with was a soft rabbit rattle which cost about $20 and was no bigger than my hand. I really wanted that rabbit, but the crafter in me knew there couldn’t be more than $5 of material on that whole rabbit. I also didn’t want to be fooled again, and was starting to become increasingly distrustful of baby stores and whether this seemingly simple rabbit rattle was actually going to come to life and set my house on fire when I was least suspecting it.
Apparently, rattles are a good starting toy for a midget who is only just becoming aware they have actual hands. Great for improving grip, motor control, and generally just distracting small minds.
The $20 thing was still disturbing me, so I started scrolling through the various image boards and image searches, mummy blogs and things that cannot be unseen, and came up with the idea I was going to try and convert an old sock (washed) into a rattle. I ended up making two of them. They did not turn out to be gorgeous fluffy bunnies because, well, monsters are a little more fun.
I haven’t got names for them yet, but I am open to suggestions.
In order to make your own sock monster, you’re going to need;
- a sock. You can make 4 from one sock, so find those odd socks you know you have lying around and go to town.
- sewing machine – you could get away with hand stitching the external, but if you’re hoping to give this to a bub, I would recommend doing anything you can to make sure the seam doesn’t bust open.
- embroidery thread – I used wool because that’s what I had on hand, but embroidery thread would give you a little more flexibility with design.
- embroidery needle.
- stuffing. I have a beloved cushion that my dog tore a hole in (by tore, I mean thought it was a great new toy), so it’s new life is stuffing random projects.
Extras for fun
- Felt if you want to make wings or other attachments.
- Crinkly foil, such as scraps from museli bar wrappers. I’ll explain this one later.
- Rattles or bells. If you want to make your own rattle cause you’re a cheapskate like me, you’ll need to identical bottle caps, left over beads, tiny buttons or chopped up bits of lollypop sticks or ear buds (I promise, I’ll explain.) and sticky tape.
The basic pattern is very, very simple. Take a sock. Find a section of the sock which is usable. So, cut of the heel and toe, giving you two tubes which you can halve and make 4 sock monsters from. (exciting, yes?) The below picture shows the left over pieces from the sock I used to make the blue monster.
I used the top section, as it would give me a nice section for the base which is already protected against fraying.
One thing to keep in mind when making things from socks is they are elastic, and working with stretchy fabric is an utter bitch. If you have a fancy sewing machine you can serge the outer area. If you have my machine, you do a wide zig-zag pattern and then add an extra straight stitch. Leave one side open, I recommend the section of the sock which has already been seamed up by an industrial machine. In this case, the top of the sock.
The other thing with using such stretchy fabric, is it will extend. I found this out with the brown monster, who just kept getting longer the more stuffing I put in him (the Boy found this so amusing I kept having to get up from my chair to collect the items I threw at him.) You really don’t need much. It is a rattle for tiny hands, after all.
The rattle I decided should be in the head for both monsters. You can just use a bell, but I didn’t find this made as good a noise as a handmade rattle. Mostly because the bell will be encased in stuffing and that can interrupt its capacity to make a good noise.
To make a rattle, I got two bottle caps, two ear buds (clean, let’s not go there.) I chopped the plastic part of the ear buds into tiny little pieces and then taped them together with epic amounts of tape. Simple and way more effective than the bell in terms of noise.
Sorry the second picture is blurry, but I hope you get the idea.
As to the rest of the monster, it’s really up to you how you want to go about it. For the brown monster, I gave him tiny ears because the head when the sock was stuffed had a boxy look I couldn’t shift. So I turned the corners into ears. I did that by tying black wool around the corners and knotting it very tightly before threading the wool back into the sock. I did the same for tying off the head. Just several times around where I wanted the head to be, and then thread the excess wool into the sock monster to secure any ends.
(If you want to get technical, I used predominately reef knots for tying. Very effective, very simple little knot to learn.)
I then went nuts embroidering his little face.
A couple of things I needed to do to this one. His body turned out to be way too long, and a bit funny looking. I decided to make his body a round one, by bringing his tail up behind him and securing it to his neck with a few stitches. I just did this with some wool I had to hand, you can be a little more delicate if you want. One thing I love about sock monsters is how chaotic and random they look, so I don’t mind stitches being visible, but it’s up to you how you want to proceed. The other problem was a little nick on the sock suddenly became visible on his chest, and I needed to darn it up. I took the opportunity of making the darn section look like a heart, cause that was a little better than a scar.
The other thing you might notice is there’s a lot of fluff poking out around him. I embroidered him after I had stuffed him, and because of the thickness of the needle I was using, it brought the fluff out with it. A bit of a clean up, and he’ll be fine. You can embroider the faces on the monster before you stuff, but I find it’s harder to work out what’s going to work for them until the stuffing is in.
I followed the same pattern with the blue monster, but I wanted to do something a little different. I had some left over bright yellow felt and thought I could make him a butterfly monster.
For the wings I tried a little experiment. I added bits of muesli wrappers between two pieces of felt before I used a blanket stitch to hold them all together.
When you move the wings, it gives them a crumpled noise. It’s a little lighter than I would have liked, next time I try this I would probably pack the wings a bit more with a few more bits of wrapper to amplify the noise.
For the antenna, I did a single layer of felt and blanket stitched around that. Then secured it onto the butterfly with single stitches.
So they’re my rattles. I think they’re a great project if you’re not the most confident in embroidering, but are horrified at the idea of spending $20 on a rattle. The whole point of a sock monster is they look handmade, ridiculous, and like they came from socks. And let’s be honest, if they’re soft, they can be gripped by hands, and they make a noise, you’ve hit all the markers for a good rattle, and all you’ve lost out on is another random sock in your sock drawer.
As always, I’m the worst for taking photos at critical points. If you have any questions, or want some further detail on how I made these, let me know and I’ll see if I can fill the gaps.
I have just finished one of two major projects, so next time I’m back I’ll hopefully have a post about them.