Introduction: Felt Bracelet for Car Squinkies
Squinkies are small, detailed, silicone choking hazards. My autistic son loves them, especially the Cars ones. They're great for detail oriented, visual kids who enjoy having small things to sort, organize, and fiddle with. They don't hurt to step on and don't take up too much space, so they can easily be shoved into a pocket.
They have little holes in the bottom so you can stick them onto accessories. Benjamin would love wearing his Cars Squinkies, but the only Squinkies bracelets they sold were pink and sparkly, and the attachment pegs let the little toys fall off pretty easily. I emailed the company to request some "masculine" bracelets, but Benjamin needed something in the meantime. It helps him to have something to play with if he's nervous or overstimulated at preschool or elsewhere. Toys are easier for him to keep track of if he can attach them to himself.
asphalt colored felt
green embroidery floss
strong black thread or cord (yet thin enough to poke through the beads)
a needle large enough for the black thread and green embroidery floss
4-5 mm beads
I originally started making molds of the Squinkies accessory pegs with Sugru, intending to make new pegs with polymer clay, but it was a pain getting the clay to hold its shape while removing it from the Sugru mold. Then I realized that some 4-5mm beads I had fit perfectly into the Squinkies and held them securely without stretching them out of shape.
You could use another type of fabric to make a similar bracelet, but I used cheap craft felt, considering how Benjamin treats his stuff sometimes.
I cut two long rectangles of gray felt, a couple inches wide and long enough to comfortably circle his wrist - I wanted the bracelet to have a double layer of felt to hide the stitching and add strength. I wanted the bracelet to resemble a road for the cars to drive on, so I cut some small rectangles out of yellow felt to look like the dotted yellow line on a road.
Sew yellow lines onto the road
After laying out the small yellow rectangles to decide where I wanted them, I blanket stitched them onto one gray strip of felt with yellow thread. I'll admit I do a sloppy blanket stitch. If you don't want to mess with tiny pieces of felt, you could embroider the lines using yellow embroidery floss.
In order to sew the black beads onto the felt, I found some heavy black upholstery thread, strong enough to resist a lot of pulling. I didn't want the beads to pop off even when repeatedly tugged on. I first sewed a single stitch in order to tie a secure knot to the back of the felt. Then I pushed the needle back through to the front of the bracelet on one side of the road where I wanted the first bead, threaded the bead onto the needle, and pushed the needle back through the felt close to (but not on top of) the first hole. I pushed the needle through the felt toward the front again close to those two holes, through the bead, and then through to the back of the felt, staying close to the other holes but not sewing directly through them. I figured the beads would be more secure if double stitched to the felt this way. It also kept the thread from pulling other beads tighter if one bead near them was being tugged at. I continued stitching beads along one side of the road, using two stitches through each bead, then sewed the beads on the other side of the road the same way.
I used a lot of beads to give Benjamin more options in placing his cars on the road; there's just enough space between the beads for the cars to be bumper to bumper if every bead is holding one car.
Sew bracelet layers together
I used green embroidery floss to sew the back piece of felt to the top layer. I used a blanket stitch with a few extra irregular stitches to resemble grass growing along the road. I tried to make sure that the loose ends of thread were knotted and pulled in between the two layers of felt. I know Benjamin would try to pull on them if he could see/reach them. I made sure the bracelet was still large enough to slip onto his wrist, but not so large that it would fall off on its own. Then, I sewed the ends together, poking the tail of the thread inside the layers of felt after knotting it.
It was tough getting a decent finished picture of the bracelet. Heck, it was tough to finish sewing it without little hands trying to grab it away. He saw what I was doing with the Squinkies and had a hard time waiting for his new bracelet.