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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Sasha Secret Santa 2016 - what we sent

Having written about what our Sasha babies were lucky enough to receive from Mary R for the Secret Santa swap, I will describe what we sent.

The following letter arrived (via Lorraine) for us to be Secret Santa to Ursula:

Dear Santa,
we, Mikey and Baby, the babies at NeverUschi, write to you! Well we cannot write of course so we have one of the big ones write for us. Mummy so seldom makes things for us we lack almost everything! So, we ask you, if we can have some of the following:
  • A blanket or play mat, so we don't have to play on the floor in winter
  • A book with pictures in it we can look at, or with stories the bigger kids can read to us
  • A baby cardigan or a play suit for winter
  • A baby toy, like a ball or building bricks
  • Some pretty small buttons, so Mummy can at last make the baby dungarees she promised weeks ago. She has nice fabric in light blue, but she only has ugly or too big buttons!
Santa if you can bring us some of these, we'll be the happiest babies in the world! We promise we'll be good until Christmas!

Mikey and Baby (who doesn't even have a proper name...)

The playmat request caught my eye. I recalled the playmat which Fran had shown on her Sasha, Sasha, Sasha blog a couple of years ago from a seller on Etsy. I wanted to make something similar and needed to work out how to make the arches for the toys to hang from - they needed a flexible but strong core which would stand being curved under tension. I searched around in my husband's small workshop in our back garden and found some thin fibreglass rods about 4mm diameter - it was able to stand a gentle curve without snapping. However because it was quite thin it needed padding a bit so I used long strips of wadding inside the fabric covers for the rods.  I had some 9 inch picture squares of fabric showing various scenes young children would enjoy, I had a few squares which showed a rocking horse and toys.  I decided to make two identical playmats - one for the swap and one to keep for ourselves.

I set the picture square in a wide border of purple fabric (mitred), added wadding and the same fabric was used for the backing of the enlarged square, with the edges folded over to the picture side to tidy the edges. At the corners I used the surplus folded over edges of the backing piece to create the corner supports for the curved rod arches, these were fixed in place using large press studs, pulling the mat out taut. I enclosed illustrated instructions on how to assemble the playmat arches and hang the toys.

The tricky part is getting the arches properly into their corners and clipping the press studs then curving over the arch to fit in the diagonally opposite corner. The rods inside the fabric need to fit right into the mat corners otherwise they pop out. The fabric cover has a bit of slack to allow for the flexible rods, therefore sometimes the fabric bunches up at the ends of the rods which prevents them from fitting into the mat corners properly. The two arches clip together at the top with another press stud.

To make the toys which hang from the arches I found some thick pink boot lace in my basket of ribbons and cords onto which I threaded some colourful pony beads. Various larger beads or children's hair tie decorations provided the toys for the end of each hanging bead rope. Small brass rings were stitched to the cords and to the underside of the arches, and I used flexible coloured thick  jewellery wire to make the looped hooks to attach the hanging toys to the rings under the arches.

The completed playmat for Mikey and Baby in Germany
Close up of a corner showing the arch rod fixed into the corner with a press stud
The second gift was a set of felt twelve alphabet blocks - the complete alphabet was repeated in two different colours on each block, with the other sides of the blocks plain colours. I chose the felt colours from my felt box to match the colour theme of the playmat, the letters were stitched by machine and the squares all stitched together by hand, turned right side out and stuffed.

The felt blocks on the playmat
The third gift was a miniature book of the classic by Beatrix Potter 'The Tale of Two Bad Mice' which features a dolls house and two naughty mice who invade it and cause some havoc. It is one of my favourite Beatrix Potter stories.

Our little gift for Ursula was a packet of tiny blue buttons of two different sizes to add to her button collection and enable her to complete the dungarees for Mikey and Baby.

Baby Leo was allowed to play with the playmat and blocks before I sent it to Germany
Baby Leo liked the playmat
I was pleased to see that Mikey and Baby made full use of their new playmat, blocks and book on Christmas Day - Ursula sent Lorraine photos and the full story.

Mikey and Baby somehow managed to arrange their blocks to say 'Danke' (thank you) (photo by Ursula, published on Lorraine's blog)
The hanging toys for the playmat we kept were mostly the same as those we sent, though because we didn't have a second heart shaped bead, I used a different hair tie as a hanging toy on our playmat, which the babies were given on Christmas day after their Christmas dresses.

The playmat I made for our Sasha babies, on Christmas Day
I had a lot of fun designing and making the playmat and accessories. Thank you Lorraine for organising the swap again.


Serenata said...

You really are quite incredible DollMum! I am sure yours and Ursula's babies will now be the even of all Sasha and Gregor babies around the world. To come up with this idea and actually construct such an amazing item is awe inspiring - well at least it is to me!

Well done on a very original and thoughtful Secret Santa swap!

Dee said...

What a fabulous playmat you made for Mikey and Baby, I'm sure they were over the moon to receive such a wonderful gift from 'Santa'.
And what a good idea to make a second for your babies so they did not miss out :)

NeverUschi said...

Baby and Mikey are still over the moon! They say they'll never leave their new play mat, and the older kids have to take turns reading the story book for them, as they want to hear it over and over. Thank you so much DollMum - this was much more than they had asked for.

Sharon said...

What a great gift you made for Ursula, I've seen her babies enjoying it. Very clever and will keep them amused for hours I'm sure!

Kendal said...

What a great idea for the asked for baby play mat. It was lovely to see just how much thought, love and detail was put into the making of this gift... and the sweet little felt blocks/cubes etc. I too loved the Two Little Mice story.
Well done and I'm sure that it was wonderfully received and a super success.
(Pleased to hear that your little babies had one too!)