How to make a baby's block
Updated: Feb 28, 2019
At the end of last year my fab son and daughter-in-law gave me the best early Christmas present ever - a granddaughter. I admit that I'm probably biased but little F really is the most beautiful and cutest little girl ever born (along with her two aunties of course). So, with a new baby in the family, what is better than making baby toys for her?
I decided to make her a soft play block complete with a crinkly side, a teether and little tags for her to be able to pick it up and no doubt batter Daddy with.
What you need:
A selection of fabric scraps or fat quarters
With all toys intended for babies and children you need to make sure that they are safe. I bought my crinkle film and teether from a fab UK site called Tactile Treasures (no endorsement - I bought from them as a customer and found their service fantastic and simply want to support a family company that has all you need for making safe baby toys) that has a fantastic range of EN71 certified fillings. squeakers, safe crinkle film (please don't use a plastic bag - plastic bags and babies don't play nicely together), and teethers.
Start by cutting out 7 squares of fabric - you choose what size you'd like your block to be - don't forget to include the seam allowances - in my case I cut 6 inch (15 cm) squares allowing for a 3/8" (1 cm) seam allowance, it seemed a good size for a 3 month old little girl. The cut out a square of crinkle film the same size as your fabric squares.
Next you need to sort out your crinkle side - (of course you can make all sides crinkly, but then you'll need 12 squares) I did try initially simply attaching the film to a single square but found that didn't work so well, so place your film between two squares, pin it in place and sew around the edge on all 4 sides making sure you secure the film in place close to the edge of the fabric well within your seam allowance.
Now to begin constructing your block! Decide which square is to be your central piece, and place it and another square right side together. before sewing take a 2" length of ribbon, fold it in half wrong side together and pin in place as shown in the photo to the right - sew along this edge making sure you keep to your seam allowance. Then, attach another square on the opposite edge in the same way making sure you include your ribbon. I decided to place each ribbon tag 2/3 of the way along the seam, alternating which end of the square I placed it - feel free to place it wherever you fancy - you'll then have 3 squares sewn together in a row. Take your next square and attach it to one of the sides of your central square, right sides together and sew in place being careful to start your stitching at the seams of your two added squares so that when you turn it the right way you have a perfect corner, and repeat on the opposite side - you now have a cross shape.
Attach your 6th square to one of the edges of your cross as shown so you have two squares at one side of the central piece and one at each of the others (you're making a box). Before sewing this one in place you need to get your teether ready. Cut another length of ribbon (I chose 4" long) - thread it wrong side together through the loop on the teether and place it where you feel it would look best - I placed it centrally - then stitch in place.
Now comes the slightly fiddly bit - we're going to make the block pieces into a cube. First you want to sew the sides together. With wrong side together and your central block as the base sew each of the 4 sides of the cross section to the adjacent piece. You'll now have a box shape. Finally pin the 'lid' in place as shown in the photo. I found it easier to sew each side separately rather than just sewing all the way around the top - it meant I could start at each seam and preserve my corners. On the final side you want to leave the middle third open - sew up to your pin as shown. Stop, then sew the final third. Very carefully pull the block through the gap you've left so its all the right way around.
Now stuff the block making sure that you use child friendly stuffing - it should be marked with the EN71 stamp on the bag and be washable and able to be tumble dried - this is going to get covered in a lot of drool, end up goodness knows where and it'll need washing to keep it safe for little one. You always need more stuffing that you think, make sure that you stuff it well, building the stuff gradually and making sure you get the corners filled at the bottom first, then the middle and finally pushing it well into the upper corners. Next you'll need to hand stitch the opening you left closed - always use pins - if its stuffed properly it'll be a nightmare to sew shut without them. Use small stitches and sew it well so the stuffing doesn't escape and the seam then will be close to invisible. Give it a good squeeze to make sure the stuff is even and there you have it - a lovely baby block.
Why not make a selection of sizes and colours to give hours of fun play time?