Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Toy Shelf Cozy

OK, stay with me on this one. It's hot and sticky here in Kentucky and most afternoons have found us inside, out of the heat. My son is just starting to walk, but he can rip apart his room in seconds flat. It's true...we've already taken his crib upstairs to our room (since he sleeps next to us or with us anyway) to give him more room to play, but when he starts pulling toys off of his shelf, the floor quickly disappears and playtime can get a little chaotic. When I worked in a toddler room years ago, my friend and co-teacher and I had the same problem times eight 1-3 year olds. When we agreed to have an outside assessment of our classroom, we learned that we had too many toys out within reach. We sorted and donated old toys and turned shelves around and soon, the classroom was much calmer. I decided recently to try the same trick in Ari's room--hence the toy shelf cozy.

I used fabric samples that I buy for about $4/each at my favorite local vintage shop called Street Sense. I had made a fabric toy block before, so I just did pretty much the same thing--I sewed the sides to the top and then sewed all of the sides together. Pretty easy.

In theory yes, easy, but let me tell you something about my sewing. I'm not really sure yet how to follow a pattern so I mostly rely on my visual sense for how much to cut, what to sew where. I also have a lead foot. When a seam starts to drift (as it did with that pretty but thinner striped material in the middle) I tend to hit the pedal as if getting through it faster will make up for my lack of skill. When I'm sewing, I daydream a lot about all of the wonderful things my mom sewed for us over the years--4th of July dresses, quilts, doll clothes, whatever we asked for. It's easy to daydream like this because I'm learning to sew on my mom's old Bernina, the first big purchase she made with her own money. I loved this sewing machine growing up because it came in a big red case. Sometimes I have to laugh to myself while I'm sewing because I'm pretty sure my mom never closed her eyes, held her breathe and pressed the pedal to the floor, and I'm also pretty sure she never drank a beer while sewing either.

So, the seams are wavy, the hem is crooked and the fit is a little loose, but it felt good to have an idea and see it through. No, no one would buy this crazy thing on Etsy and I'm not going to win an award for blogging about this project, but you should have seen my son's face light up when he saw it! He doesn't know it's meant to keep toys from his little grasping hands, he just likes the colors and the textures and that he has something new that's all his own. And really, that's the reason I'm learning to sew--so that I can whip up a curtain for an impromptu puppet theater or tablecloths for a special birthday party. I also want to teach my son that it doesn't really matter if what you do is great or perfect, just that you try. My mom has given me a lot over the years, but this lesson is the most important.

If you've made something that might be a little bit off but got great joy from creating it, please share with us!


  1. I must comment how proud I am of Kelly in taking on the initiative to create something. She has great, practical ideas and I see how far she's come from the first time she sewed before Ari was born. I love the idea the old machine is still cranking out projects and the look on Ari's face that something special was done for him. Because, after all, isn't that why we moms knock ourselves out...for that look!

  2. This is such a great idea and I love the story you wrote about it here too! I was laughing and crying at the same time!