Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Hungry Caterpillar Lacing Toy

I always fall down on my resolution to hand make more of the boys' presents, so, even thought it meant pulling a couple late nights and being okay with some flaws, I was pretty pleased to be able to pull this project off for Peanut's birthday. (With apologies for the unintentional alliterations!)

It helped that the initial investment was super low (twelve pieces of 25-cent felt, a quarter-yard of cotton batting, plus odds and ends that I already owned). I find it a lot easier to get the planning phases of a project rolling if I've already got the materials in hand.

To make the pattern, I found the images from the book online, pulled them into Illustrator and created outlines of each. I made a mock-up of the pattern layout so I wouldn't get everything printed out only to find I'd scaled it too big for my sheets of felt, and then squeezed the pattern onto a few pages and printed.
The pieces are three layers quilted together; a layer of batting, (optional, but gives it a nicer feel in your hand) trimmed about ¼" smaller so the edges don't show and sandwiched between two of the felt pieces. I learned along the way that it's much better to cut the holes in all three pieces before assembly. They're a little less stable on the sewing machine, but it's almost impossible to get that hole cut nicely through all three layers otherwise.

Some of the pieces, like the caterpillar and the cherry pie, got details appliqued on before assembly, and some, like the watermelon and the lollipop, got details hand-embroidered in with embroidery floss. I did this after assembly because I had lots of road-trip time to work on it, but beforehand would probably make more sense.

The caterpillar has a piece of pipe cleaner (with the ends folded over so they won't poke through) to make him stiff enough to thread through the holes. A round shoelace connects him to his egg, which keeps the pieces from falling off the other end.
And here it is all together! One is still a little young to actually lace the pieces together, but he loves hearing the story while his brother and I send the caterpillar through the food with lots of giggle-inducing munching noises. As a bonus, the food pieces do double duty as kitchen toys!


  1. Hi there! new reader from 7QT and while browsing your history came upon this tutorial! so creative. would you be willing to share the pattern to print? thanks for the inspiration :)

    1. Sarah, if you send an email to the address in my profile (bottom of the sidebar), I'll try to get my notes cleaned up a little and send them to you!