“Scrap“ is defined in the dictionary as “junk, to discard as worthless, or a small piece, bit or fragment”. I’m sure many of you would agree with that definition, however saving those “scraps” lets me do a little recycling but more importantly provides me with fabric that can be used for small projects which in turn preserves that nice, big piece of fabric you’ve been hoarding. We all do it, you can’t wait to get that choice hunk of fabric home from the store so it can be turned into some marvelous creation but as the scissors draw near you stop, fold it up and add it to the stash to be saved for “later”. That is how stashes are born!
So I’ve been doing some thinking about how to relieve myself of some of these “scraps” and have come up with the idea of putting together an activity bag for new mothers that includes some interactive toys, quilts, etc for babies up to 6 months plus. Babies at this stage love to hold, manipulate and put things in their mouths, many are learning to roll over and sit up. They like different sounds, bright colors and the feel of soft and silky things (satin blanket binding and ribbons are favorites).
First thing for the bag is a “scrap quilt”, which will provide a place for baby to play and exercise with mom (few cribs and playpens on the Rez), and provide warmth and security. Reading should be introduced at an early age so decided to make a cloth book using some “scraps” for appliques while a recycled pair of jeans provides the pages and cover. Already have some changes in mind for the next book, will use a zigzag or satin stitch around the appliques if using a woven fabric or use a knit, felt or fleece fabric so finishing can be done with a regular straight stitch. Those of you lucky enough to have an embroidery machine could use it to make designs for your pages instead of appliques. Another example of a cloth book is here.
Also have some books I purchased from clearance racks at bookstores that include “board” books which are especially good for babies because they can be wiped clean and little hands can’t tear the pages. Story books and those including songs would help encourage mom to read and sing to baby which helps develop language and vocabulary skills.
Looking through our free pattern links I found some soft blocks and balls to make. I used “scraps” of fleece, interlock, and t-shirt fabric for these and found it much easier to work with than wovens. You can embellish with ribbons or even add a bell (enclose in small plastic container) or add a “door” to one side of your block that opens to reveal an image of an animal, etc.
Babies love different sounds and the feel of textured fabrics so I made a crinkle toy by sandwiching a piece from a chip bag (washed and dried of course) between two pieces of “scrap” fabric and embellished with ribbons on the side. Babies also love faces so made some softies from a few more “scraps” embroidering on the features. A ring toy was my final project made from some brightly colored “scraps”. Are you beginning to appreciate your “scraps” a little more?
Now that my goodies were made all I needed was a bag to hold them. My very talented friend, Beulah Lindberg, came to the rescue with one of her drawstring bags made from, you guessed it, “scraps” left over from her job of making dental uniforms. Here is the completed bag and contents.
All of the items in the activity bag are washable, safe, easy to make, and can be made from “scraps”, in other words cheap, and would provide a child on the rez with some much needed educational items to aid in their development and also encourage interaction from other other members of the family. The brain is developing at a rapid rate in the first 2 years of life and needs to be exposed to many activities that help the child to develop to his/her potential, however nothing can replace the love and bonding that needs to take place between mom and baby as they explore their new world. More on that in a future blog. Parents, grandparents, teachers, etc. please share your ideas about things to include in these activity bags. Help us make this project a success!