Thursday, January 29, 2009

Critter Caps: A Momma + Baby Tutorial

Will wasn't feeling well, and basically napped the morning away, leaving me as Syd's only playmate. Then, just after Will had rallied and gone happily to school (no snow day today!), Syd decided that a half-hour nap was quite sufficient, thank you, and wandered into the study to find me, just having wolfed down a veggie burger and another half-cup of coffee, setting out to grade my second student paper in a stack of probably 93.

You absolutely cannot grade papers with a small child around, but fortunately, as I discovered years ago, they do incorporate well into any manner of the home arts.

It's a funny throwback to my early parenting years, this collaborating with Sydney. Willow has always been the child I've collaborated with the most, from her babyhood when it was the only way to both work and parent, to Sydney's babyhood when it represented the special time Will and I would spend together during Syd's naps, to more lately when Will has turned into a kid who is able to do so much stuff--hot glue, handle a hole punch, work a cordless drill.

But as Syd gradually gives up her afternoon naps and I lose that very last bastion of time to myself in the day, I imagine that she and I will do much more inventing and working together.

Here's what we invented and worked on today: I call them Critter Caps.

You will need: some recycled or stash fabric that has a little horizontal stretch to it--cotton jersey, lightly felted wool sweaters, faux fur, etc.; a sewing machine with a wide zig-zag stitch or a serger; embroidery thread or yarn in a color matching or complementing your fabric.

1. Measure the circumference of your lucky hat-wearer's head and the distance from the crown of her head to the bottom of her ear. Fold your fabric in half and cut through both to make two rectangles whose length is twice the distance from crown to ear (plus a seam allowance) and whose width is half the circumference (plust two seam allowances). Remember--the circumference should have a little stretch to it.2. Stitch the hat, right-sides together, around both sides and the top, and finish the bottom brim however you'd like (zig-zag, serged, bias tape, or having taken care to cut the bottom brim from the finished bottom of a sweater).
3. You now have a big rectangular rectangle hat. Fold up the brim a couple of times (tack it into place if you want) and try it on your lucky hat-wearer. You can either pinch out where you'd like to gather your critter ears while your hat-wearer is wearing her hat, or you can use that crown-to-ear measurement.
4. Gather each top corner into a critter ear shape and tie some tight knots around it with embroidery thread or yarn. Get it really tight!
5. Try it on your critter. Does she like it?
6. Repeat until you have a critter for every member of the family. Don't forget to document important occasions:
P.S. I wrongly assumed that Matt would find faux fur too girly, and instead made him a critter cap out of a much more sedate felted grey wool. This, however, is the kind of man who orders mixed drinks that come with colored sugar and big skewers of fruit and fancy straws, so he totally wants a faux fur critter cap, too.


Abby said...

oh, julie these are so cute. number one family picture. ever.

i'm jealous of your crafty inventions. you have some lucky little girlies!

kirsten said...

you guys look like a totoro family. very cool.

and your star wars comment totally got me thinking. and now i just might have to write a paper, too.

cake said...

god, that is an adorable family portrait! syd's dress cracks me up, is that what ya call a pinafore? and i think the answer to "does she like it?" is all in the eyes! very cute hats.


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