Saturday, May 19, 2012

Craft Project: Will's Activity Bag

Will's getting to that great age where he wants to do things himself and loves figuring out how things work.  Snaps, buckles, zippers, buttons, twisting the lids onto his cups, everything!  After he finishes eating and we remove his high chair tray, he loves trying to unbuckle and buckle the snaps that hold him in.  He can't unbuckle them yet, but loves snapping them back into place.

Will buckles himself back into his high chair.

His interest in all things that buckle, snap and fasten reminded me of a toy we had growing up that my Mom recently pulled down from the attic.  It's a clown that has shoe-laces you can tie, a button with a flap, a zipper, and even a velcro shoe.  What better toy for a toddler who's learning to do things for themselves?

Since Mr. Clown should live at Mimi and Grampa's house for all their grandchildren to play with, I thought I'd make Will an activity bag with the same idea.

My inspiration! The clown I played with growing up.

I bought a mini tote bag from L.L. Bean for $15.95, and then went to Joann Fabrics and picked up a variety of fun things to sew on it! I used a combination of non-toxic fabric glue and hand stitching to attach everything to the bag.  The overall cost for everything was less than $25, even including the fabric glue.  The same idea could be used to embellish a doll or any other bag!  I plan to fill this one with paper, crayons, and other small entertainments for road trips and waiting in restaurants.

Here's what I ended up with:

Velcro closures
Velcro closures: I machine sewed strap material onto pieces of velcro, then fabric glued and hand stitched the velcro backing onto the bag.  I hand stitched one edge of the strap onto the bag so the pieces that velcro off can't be completely removed.

Zipper: I bought a five inch zipper, used non-toxic fabric glue to put it on the bag, then reinforced it by hand stitching each of the four corners so it'd stay on.

Buttons: I took a small piece of fabric and machine sewed a button hole.  I cut the edge with zig-zag scissors, then fabric glued the edge to prevent unraveling and let it dry.  Then I fabric glued just the top and reinforced the corners with hand stitching so the flap can be buttoned and unbuttoned.  I also sewed on two decorative buttons on the side of the bag with the buckle.  NOTE: Buttons are choking hazards for small children.  Think about getting really big buttons, sewing them on really well, checking them regularly to make sure they're well attached, and supervising your child when they're playing with the bag.  You can also skip the buttons.

Buckle: I bought a buckle and strap and followed the instructions on the belt buckle for machine sewing the strap together and assembling it with the buckle.  Then I hand stitched it to the bag.  (Did you know you can buy those plastic buckles for only a few dollars?  For some reason I find that really cool.)

The buckle is definitely his favorite!

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