Sunday, May 20, 2012

Handmade Baby Goods II: Cloth Stacker

Who doesn't love a stacker toy? I recently endeavored to create one out of cloth.

Here's how I did it, if you want to give it a try...
While shopping at the fabric store, in a bit of a hurry, I picked out this pre-coordinated stack of fabric. *sigh* Convenience purchase.
To make the stacker, I started by making drawing patterns on paper with a compass. Five circles total with a difference of 1" diameter each: 7"-11" with a 1 1/2" diameter circle for the middle of each. This makes a pretty large stacker, it's about 20" high finished, so scaling things down some could definately be in order. I am fairly new to sewing three dimensional objects, and things with curved lines so I wanted to give myself plenty of space.
I cut these out, pinned them to the fabric, which was folded with the right sides together. Around the center circle, I made eight small snips 1/4" in toward the outer ring of the circle. This will be important later for turning the rings inside out and sewing the inner circle together.
With the wrong sides of the fabric facing out, sew the outer edge of the circle, leaving about an inch and a half for turning the circle inside out. DO NOT SEW THE INNER CIRCLE.
Turn the circles right side out by pulling the opposite edge of the circle through the small opening left from sewing the outer circle. Now, using the tabs created by the eight slits in the fabric, fold each one in and pin to create the seam for the inner circle. Sew the inner circle with the right sides of the fabric facing out.
Stuff the rings. Use baseball stitch to close the stuffed rings.

To make the center pole and base for the stacker, use another sturdy fabric (felt, canvas, denim...) I used felt. To make the pattern for the pole, I used a piece of posterboard retrieved from the recycling bin. Something like a cereal box would work nicely too. I rolled it up and stuck it down inside the the stack of stacked rings, then marked where I wanted the top to be and what the diameter should be (with some extra to allow for a seam allowance), then unrolled and trimmed the board and used it for my pattern for the felt. It turns out looking like a rectangle. Then I cut a small circle out of fabric about 1/2" wider than the diameter of the top of the pole of rolled fabric to use for the top. It's wider to allow for seams. At the bottom of the rectangle, I cut about 6 1/4" slits, which will be used like the tabs on the inner circles of the rings, but this time to attach the pole to the base.
I re-used the biggest circle pattern for the top and bottom of the base to the stacker, minus the inner cutting of the circle on one circle. The inner circle is cut on the other circle, but WITHOUT the eight slits.
I cut a 2 1/2" wide strip of fabric long enough to wrap around the circumference of the base circle with some extra length. I was lazy and just kind of marked a spot on the base circle then rolled it along the fabric until I got back to the spot I marked then added a few inches and marked it on the fabric I was cutting from. I could have used math. Either way.
So the finished pieces of the base are two large circles, a rectangle, a small circle, a long strip. I also decided to make a a cardboard/posterboard support to sit in the bottom of the base. I made it the diameter of the bottom circle minus the seam allowance.
Sew the long side of the rectangle together folded hotdog style with right sides of fabric facing in. Open the end of this tube to make a circle and pin the small circle evenly around the one end (the one without the slits) then sew in place. Turn right side out and stuff firmly.

For the base, pin the long strip around the outer edge of one of your large circles and sew into place, leaving about 2 1/2" for turning right side out. When finished sewing, pin to the other circle and sew around the edge. You can sew all the way around the edge this time, or leave another gap for more space when turning it right side out and inserting the cardboard support.

So after sewing the two circles and the strip together, turn right side out through the gap in the side. Insert cardboard base into the gap by rolling it up to fit through then allowing it to pop open. Adjust the position. Stuff firmly and use baseball stitch to sew closed.
Last, hand sew the tabs on the bottom of the pole into the open circle on the top of the base.
Stack rings on pole.

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