For some reason my son’s cot only has plastic teething guards along the sides. He was trying to chew his way out the front end of the cot, something needed to be done before he escaped.
For the teething guard I used two layers of fabric with woollen batting between them. I chose wool for the batting because I thought it would be healthier for him to be chewing on a natural fibre but I have no idea if that matters or is just one of those things you do as a scared first time parent. The top layer of fabric (the one with the print on it) is a thick cotton, I figured he’d just chew straight through it if it was that thin stuff quilters use. I wanted the print of the fabric to be something my son could recognise and like. The annoying thing about choosing the pattern was that only about 6cms of it is visible to the inside of the cot, so it has to be quite a small print and there wasn’t much choice in the thicker fabric. The other thing that is annoying is that unless I put a seam across the top the pattern can’t be the right way up inside and outside the cot. I made it the right way up inside so that my son could see it properly. And it he does really like it, he points at the dogs and I have to make the noises for him.
A not very detailed how to:
You will need to do the measuring yourself since cots are all different. The length is just the same as the edge you are doing and the height is enough that it folds over the wooden rail to cover both sides. To make it I first sewed the batting to the back piece of fabric.
I made the ties (but that was just because I didn’t have any ribbon and didn’t want to buy any). I put ties so they would go through each gap in the rails and used an extra long one at each end. The long one went around the corner post to help hold it in place well (see the photo at the top of this post). I had the ties sandwiched between the fabric layers (right sides together) and sewed around the edge (leaving a gap). Then turned it right way out and closed up the gap.
I only had to do one for the front end of the cot, he never chewed on the other end because it was against the wall.
When we would read Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy my little boy would always smile when we got to the page with Scarface Claw. The toughest tom in town was the obvious choice for a cake theme when it came to my son’s first birthday. I really wanted him to recognise Scarface Claw so I went for copying the illustration as much as was possible. The illustrations in the book are watercolour so they were in a style that was quite easy to replicate with food colouring on fondant.
The top is a piece of thinly rolled out fondant that’s been painted on with food colouring. When I’d looked up how to do it everyone had recommended using gel food colouring, my supermarket didn’t have any in black so I did a little test run with normal liquid food colouring and it worked fine so I just did that instead. I used vanilla essence to thin it when I needed it to be lighter/more watery. I think it can make the colours a little muddy but that was fine for me because that was how the colours were meant to be. I’ve read you can use vodka, the alcohol is meant to evaporate. Turns out vanilla essence has lots of alcohol in it too, which I’d never realised before. For the painting I did all the watery background colours first, let it dry overnight and then did all the black outlines the next night.
The thing that was a bit tricky about this was that I did the fondant painting at home and then had to take it on the plane to my parents place to be assembled with the cake for the birthday party. I was a bit worried about how it would travel but it ended up being fine. I did some internet searching about how long you can keep fondant but I couldn’t find anyone who had transported painted fondant to see what they had done. It turns out fondant can be kept for ages, but from the little test piece I did I could see the the colours in the painting bled after a while and it didn’t stay as crisp as when I had first done it – but that could just be because I live in a humid climate. What I did was paint it a couple of nights before we left, I had it on a piece of baking paper in an airtight container. Then right before we got on the plane I put a towel over it to stop it from shaking around in the container. I took it as hand luggage and kept it upright the whole time. Then as soon as we arrived I took the towel out.
My mum was kind enough to bake the cake (I’m not much of a baker). It was two layers. We used a bread knife to cut some of the top off each of them to level them out. We put a thin layer of icing on the top of the cake, then carefully put the fondant on top of that. Then I piped buttercream icing around the sides of the cake and around the top to hide the edge of the fondant.
Once it was made I was a little worried that the green icing might be mistaken for a vegetable but my son was happy when he saw the cake, he definitely recognised who it was and grabbed at it as soon as he could.
I’m just going to start this with how I set the embossing powder because I had trouble finding anywhere on the internet that said how to do it without a heatgun tool. If anyone else out there is like me and doesn’t want to spend $60 for a heat gun, I used an iron and it worked pretty well. I made sure it wasn’t on steam and didn’t have any water in it then held it about a centimetre above the paper until I saw the powder had melted.
Some time ago I did a baby foot print cast and I learnt that you can’t do hand prints from newborns (they don’t want to open their tiny little fists). My little boy is 7 months now so hand prints are possible, still not the easiest things in the world. The foot prints were really easy though, he has become much more co-operative than he was as a newborn.
To do the embossed hand and foot prints I first spent ages stressing and googling for safe ink pads to do it with. I couldn’t really find any answers so finally bought Ranger clear ink embossing pad, which the website had said was non-toxic. When it arrived it didn’t say that on the label so I spent another wee while googling whether it definitely was non-toxic.
After I had finished doing my first-time mother stressing I got set up to do some printing. It’s good to have a helper to hold the wriggly baby and stop him from putting his ink covered hands and feet into his mouth before we could wash them off. I’m sure there’s heaps of embossing tutorials out there, so the quick version is:
put hand or foot onto stamp pad
press onto paper
sprinkle paper with embossing powder
then set powder with a heat tool (as I said earlier I used an iron)
They worked really well and I was very happy with them. I like the effect of the embossing quite a lot so might get some more colours and even splash out for a real heat gun.
This came printed out on a piece of fabric. It had all the pages with the illustrations and text, along with instructions on how to assemble it. My mother in law gave it to me to make, I was quite excited to do it. It thought it would be easier.
I ran into issues at every step, I don’t really know why. I wanted it to be puffy so used thin batting, it came out way too thick so I had to remove some. Trying to sew precisely with batting is impossible, I couldn’t see where I was trying to sew. I know I’m not a professional cloth book maker but the end result looked like something that had been done as a first ever sewing project. I was not very happy. But then I gave it to my little boy and he liked it so it was all worthwhile. He was even nice enough not to comment on the wonky topstitching. It’s even become a favourite book, he likes the sound effects all the emergency vehicles make. They didn’t come with it, you have to make those too.
There are tons of xmas costumes and clothing out there for babies now but the crafter part of me really wanted something home made. I did some googling and found some Christmas pudding hats. They were cute but I decided the roundness would echo the roundness of a little tummy well. The pudding design is painted on with textile ink which you iron over to set. It was super quick to do. My new design and crafting challenge is time so I was really happy with how this turned out.