As a children’s nurse, I get the privilege of working with an a diverse population of children and their families. I see children at varying stages of illness and I’m passionate about improving the wellbeing and outlook of every child I care for. This project was inspired by a young boy I cared for, who lost almost all movement in his body to infection. Thankfully he has a good chance of recovery and the infection has left his mind and brain in tact.
The boy was initially very sad as he knew he was unable to move. I was determined to do what ever I could to make him smile and help his recovery. He loved dinosaurs and hated physiotherapy so I thought I’d combine the two to try and make him hate physio a little less!!
Children with poor muscle and nerve function often get something called foot drop. Whereby the feet droop away from the leg and get very stiff and painful. Orthotists and occupational therapists provide these children with AFOs aka splints (I don’t actually know what AFO stands for, they’re just splints to us nurses!!) to hold the ankle in its normal position. This particular young boy wasn’t too keen on his splints so I decided to try and make them more exciting...
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Step 1: Slipper Pattern
I started the project with a very open mind as to how it would finish.
I found this pattern online and decided to use it and adapt it to what I wanted.
I was too impatient to wait until I could print it off so sketched the pattern from my laptop screen. I didn’t know what size I needed because splints are so variable but knew it would be a children’s size. I used the small size (adult so 3-5) knowing I could easily make the slippers smaller when finished but wouldn’t struggle to make them bigger.
I traced and cut out each of the patterns.
Step 2: Cut Fabric
I choose the some green starry fleece as a suitable fabric for the slippers.
I find the easiest way of cutting out fabric from patterns is to prewash and iron the fabric. Lay it down flat on the ironing board. Then pin the pattern over the top of the fabric and into the ironing board. I then cut around the pattern, moving the whole ironing board to make cutting it easier.
I cut out the amount of fabric pieces the pattern said to although I only ended up using the main fabric pieces. I didn’t need the lining.
Step 3: Dinosaurisation!
Rather than make the pretty pink slippers as per the pattern, I needed to make the slippers more exciting and more dinosaur!!
I created some dinosaur toes by cutting out triangles of some funky coloured fabric. I made six toes in total. I sewed them right sides together. Trimmed the seams. Turned them inside out and ironed. I used either a rattle insert, squeaker or plain stuffing in each toe. I got the rattles and squeakers off amazon
To make eyes I sewed right sides together, some plain green fleece and white and green cotton. I freestyled the pattern. I aimed for a circle on a stick. The stick had to be wide enough to turn it inside out. After sewing, I trimmed, turned and pressed. They didn’t need to be neat or pretty. This is a dinosaur project. Not a princess project!!
To make some dino spikes I got some contrasting red fabric, hand drew some spikes. Sewed right sides together (although I only managed this for one set of spikes!) trimmed, turned and pressed. I put bells in the lowest spike.
The aim of using the bells, rattles and squeakers is to encourage the young boy to move. Sensory feedback has showed many benefits in rehab. Plus it makes it more fun. Who doesn’t love a squeaking dinosaur!?
Step 4: Putting It All Together - Foot to Leg
I HATE pinning things together. All they do is prick me and make me bleed, which really hurts when I alcohol gel my hands. Hence I use sewing clips.
I clipped together the bottom of each front leg piece and the ankle edge of the top foot bit. Remembering to include the eye in the middle. Put right sides together of leg and foot. And top of eye side facing leg. Make sure the eye is pointing upwards (with the bottom of it towards the toes/knee and the open top of the eye in the seam).
Then sewed with a straight stitch and about a 1cm seam allowance. I used the same stitch size and length for the whole project. I then trimmed the seam with pinking shears.
Step 5: Putting It All Together - Front and Back of Legs
This stage sews together the front and back of the legs with the dinosaur spikes in the middle. It doesn’t matter which side of the fabric you put the spikes on as the feet aren’t left or right. Just make sure they’re on opposite sides for full effect.
Clip together the three layers right sides together with the dino spikes pointing away from the clipped seam. Make sure to include the foot/ankle bit now attached to the front of the leg when clipping to the back of the leg.
At this stage I put a little jingle bell inside the bottom spike on both sides. Make sure the bell is well away from the needle when seeing.
Sew together then trim. Do for both feet.
Step 6: Putting It All Together - Complete the Legs
This is an easy step. Simply fold the legs back on themselves (right sides together). Clip and sew the other side of the legs together.
The should leave you with something resembling a slipper. I.e a completed leg and the top half of the foot.
Step 7: Putting It All Together - Attaching Soles on the Feet
This is a slightly tricky step which I completed in two steps.
Dig out your dinosaur toes from earlier. I put a rattle or a squeaker in each toe and then stuffed them with a little stuffing stuff each. I then clipped them on to the toe section of the newly formed slipper. Make sure to point the toes away from where your toes would be. I then stitched these in place which is quite fiddly with them being stuffed.
Next is to attach the sole of the foot which should be the last piece of fabric you have left. Lay out your slipper so you can visualise the whole sole of the feet and then clip the sole onto the slipper. Sew all the way around the edge. Take your time with this bit and make sure to use lots of clips.
Ta dah!! If you turn what seems like a ball of fabric inside out then you’ll have a slipper. Just some finishing off bits left.
Step 8: Finishing Off
To keep the slippers up I sewed some elastic in to each leg.
With the slipper inside out I folded down the top of the leg about 2cm and pressed. I then sewed around the leg starting from the back of the leg. Sew on the raw edge side of the fold in order to create a little tunnel to feed some elastic through. Sew around each leg leaving a 5cm gap. I guesstimated the size of some elastic and thread it through the new tunnel (using a safety pin in one end of the elastic to guide it along easier). I used a simple knot to tie both ends of the elastic together to create a ring of elastic around the leg. I didn’t sew the elastic together or in place so it can be tightened or loosened for different size splints.
As a very last step I hot glued a googley eye on to the eye piece and celebrated with a mini photo shoot!! They even fit my flippers in!!
I took these to work the next day and showed them to the little boy I had made them for. He gave me the biggest smile ever. It bought a little tear to my eye to see him so happy. His parents also loved them as my colleagues including the physios and OTs. He still didn’t want to have his splints on but with the dinosaur slippers on over the top, he wore the splints for longer than usual. Out of sight out of mind I’d say!
Although the slippers are on the large size (that’s my adult sz8 feet posing in them) it made them really easy to get on and off over his splints. Plus he’s not going to be walking in them so a slight bit of baggyness doesn’t matter.
I tweeted a picture of the splints in action, which was then photo of the week for the trust (hospital) I work for!! A nice little pat on the back for me.
This is my first instructable (it was a New Years resolution to wrote one after years of reading them) so please accept my apologies for lack of terminology and the use of made up words. Thank you for reading
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