Intro: Foam Baby Blocks
Eight years ago, an interior decorator gave me several books of outdated fabric samples. I teach elementary school and have used these small pieces of fabric with the kids to make pot holders every year. But I still have lots and lots of fabric.
So I made pieced tote bags. But I still have lots and lots of fabric.
And now I make blocks for babies.
The blocks are washable, stackable and if thrown, they don't hurt anyone.
I've made them for my grandsons: Ripley was a stacker, Tate was a thrower. I've made them for every baby born to colleagues and my daughter's friends. They make a great shower gift.
Step 1: Materials
You will need:
Foam blocks: I had to find a source for two inch thick foam slabs. This was easy to find with the yellow pages. For a little extra, they cut the slab into two inch cubes. A one foot square will give you 36 blocks. I bought a 4 foot square which makes a lot of blocks! However, after 5 years, I’m almost out.
Fabric.- This is a good way to use up small scraps. Fabric should not be delicate – it will be thrown and chewed. Fabric should be washable. You could use just one type of fabric but I think part of the interest and learning for the baby will be from a variety of colours and textures.
Sewing machine- although you could do the whole thing by hand.
Small quilter’s ruler, rotary cutter and cutting mat – although it could be done with a regular ruler and scissors.
Dressmaker’s pins with bead heads, sewing needles, thread, scissors.
Step 2: Cut the Fabric
You cut the fabric into 2.5 inch squares, leaving ¼ inch on each side as a seam allowance.
Step 3: Sort Your Squares
Divide your various squares into groups of 6 different fabrics for each block.
Step 4: Sew the Pieces on the Machine.
Using the ¼ inch seam allowance, sew pieces together. Remember to place right sides together. Sew four pieces in a row and then add the last two pieces to the side of the last piece in the row.
Step 5: Pin the Fabric to the Block.
Pinning the fabric is so easy since you’re dealing with a foam block. Just push the pins straight into the foam.
I start by pulling and fitting the fabric around the block, putting one pin in the middle of each side. I never press the fabric first, although I suppose you could. You’ll be pulling it tight enough while sewing that it isn’t really necessary. Folding the seam allowances toward one side of the block means that pressing them open is also not necessary. People who sew a lot will understand about pressing seams open, but don’t worry about it now.
After you’ve pinned the fabric on all 6 sides of the cube, go around and fold in the unfinished edges, pinning as much as you need to hold the sides in – after all, pinning is very easy, right?
Step 6: Hand Sew All Unfinished Edges.
Using a sharp needle and fine thread sew all the unfinished edges. Use small tight stitches, pulling the edges together. If you start in one corner against a machine sewn edge and continue sewing all around, you should be able to sew the entire block in one continuous seam. If you’ve started in the wrong place, don’t panic. It can be done in two steps just fine. I just like the idea of sewing all around.
The beginning knot can be hidden inside the fabric, I just sew several stitches in place at the end rather than tying a knot before cutting the thread. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. Babies aren’t critical.
Step 7: For Sensory Stimulation
Babies start learning about the world through their senses. By choosing fabrics that have different textures for each side, the blocks become a sensory treasure: soft, nubbly, fluffy. The velvet has two textures depending on which direction it is stroked.