Fabric blocks are a great gift to sew for any young child. They are soft and can be used for safe throwing. A jingling bell inside makes throwing even more fun. They can also be stacked into towers that are fun when they fall down. You can make them in any size, from tremendous and useful for climbing or seating, down to miniature sets perfect for tiny hands.
I knew I wanted to make some of these for my baby last year, but I didn’t want the blocks to have boring or plainly patterned faces. My applique skills were not developed at all, and I didn’t want to try making my own applique at that time. I found my perfect solution when I was putting away baby clothes. This is a task that is always bittersweet for me; I am glad my baby is growing but I just love sweet baby clothes and hate putting them away! We had been gifted with loads of hand me downs, and I noticed that after my baby had worn them, some things were too worn or ragged to save or give away. But many had such adorable appliques and embroideries. So here was what to do for decorating baby’s blocks!
Just cut out and remove the appliques from the baby clothes, and hand stitch them to felt squares for making the blocks. You can also use squares from the baby clothes for the other block faces, to match and coordinate. I even used knit onesie fabric in making some of our blocks. I just stabilized the knit with nonwoven interfacing, or in one case, handstitched the knit square on top of a felt square. If you have baby scraps too small for the size block that you want, you can do what I often have and make up a four or nine square patchwork to size.
To make these, determine what size block you want to make. A really nice set of these for stacking could be 8, 7, 6, and 5 inches. Or you can just choose a size, say 6″ and make only one. For each block, you cut 6 squares to the same size. Sew on the appliques for those squares that will have them. Sew the squares together. Refer to my photograph above of the duck block for assembly order.
After you have all six squares sewn together, you will sew the sides to make the cube. Leave one side partially open, for turning. I double sew the seams, to make certain they are sturdy. Carefully clip corners and turn. Then you will stuff them. I add a plastic capsule with a jingle bell in the middle. You can use the kind of capsule that encases toys in the vending machine, or even a plastic Easter egg taped shut. I like to encase the jingle bell like this, so that the sound does not get muffled by the stuffing. You can use whatever you prefer for stuffing. Poly-fil makes a light block, perfect for tossing about. I have also stuffed larger blocks with scraps to make them heavier and more sturdy for stacking and climbing upon. Once your block is well stuffed (but not overfull), hand sew the opening closed carefully. Then make a whole stack!
Besides being used as toys, these look sweet in the nursery as decorations, and even piled on a bed. They can be played with a long time and then be saved as sweet keepsakes of baby’s favorite outfits. And they make great gifts. No one should throw away ruined baby clothes- instead reuse them and make them cute and useful again!