Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tutorial and Giveaway: The Ribbon-Adorned Lovey

What a fabulous day!  I launched the JustSewOlivia Facebook page and Twitter accounts and I'm ready to host my first giveaway...woo hoo!  You can find instructions for entering at the end of this posting.  Best wishes!

Today's project is the Ribbon-Adorned Lovey, commonly called a taggie.  Babies just love these little things.  Ever seen a baby fixate on the tag of a favorite stuff animal or chew on the tag of a store-bought blanket?  Mommas everywhere know that babies go through a tag phase, and this little mini-blanket feeds that obsession without exposing them to the plastics and weird coatings you sometimes find on the tags of commercially-bought products.  I didn't know about these when my babies were born, but the moms I know who've used them swear by them.  AND, it's like the easiest beginner project EVER.  :)

So let's do this'll need:

- 2 squares of fabric, 15 x 15 in for the top and bottom

- varying types/widths/colors of washable ribbon, 16 each of 4-in cuts (satin or grosgrain)

- matching thread and a sewing machine (unless you're all about handstitching)

Seam allowances: 1/2 in

First things first, cut a couple of squares of your preferred fabric.  One of the greatest things about this project is that it's very flexible.  You could use cotton, flannel, fleece, satin, or a combination thereof.  In this case, I have lots of small cuts of fleece left, so I used that.  My pieces were approximately 15 x 15 inches, but true to my previous statement, the exact size isn't a big deal either.  I've seen big blankets made into taggies and I've seen smaller pieces like this so tinier babies can get a grip, so to speak.  :)

The other major ingrediant is a variety of cuts of ribbon.  This is a great project to get together and do with friends, because while you don't need much ribbon, you need all different kinds of ribbon.  If you do this project with, say, 4 friends, each gal brings 4 types of ribbon and -- BOOM -- you have 16 different types.  It's a great way to keep costs down unless you're making a bunch of these at once.  If you don't have a bunch of friends who sew, you can use multiple cuts of the same ribbon, like 4 ea of 4 types.  I promise, baby will think it's just as cool!

Your cuts of ribbon need to be a length that will catch baby's attention but not be so long that baby can get little fingers tangled up or get choked on the loop.  With 1/2 seam allowances and given that the ribbons will be doubled over like a tag, 4 in cuts worked great for me.

If you have ribbons with pictures, like animals or flowers or hearts, you might want to fussy cut them.  (Fussy cutting is a term primarily used in quilting, but it refers to cutting a piece of fabric to perfectly place the motif, like if you wanted to frame a flower.)  In this case, I cut the duckie ribbon longer so I could fold it in-between two ducks.  I made sure I had a whole duck on top and a whole duck on bottom of my folded ribbon.  Likewise, I was able to cut the fish ribbon so that no fish were cut in half by the fold.

This project lends itself to grosgrain and satin ribbon.  (See photo below.)  Certain types of ribbon are absolutely NOT OKAY to use.  DO NOT USE wire-edged craft ribbon or sheer ribbons that come apart easily.  Remember, this is something baby will chew on.   The lovey also doesn't lend itself to ribbons less than 1/2 in or more than 1 1/4 in wide.
grosgrain (pronounced "grow-grain") on the left, satin on the right
After you select and cut your ribbon, fold it in half, holding it by the loose ends, and press it using the polyester setting on your iron.  Although they don't feel like the polyester you think of from '60s and '70s fashion, most fabrics and ribbons have a degree of polyester content in them unless they say otherwise.  If you press them on a cotton setting like you would for quilting, chances are, you'll melt the ribbon to your iron.  (Ask me how I know...) 

The pressing doesn't have to be perfect.  It just needs to have enough of a crease that you're not fighting to keep the ribbons in place when you pin and stitch them down.  

Pin your ribbons to the RIGHT SIDE of your TOP fabric square.   Be a tiny bit discerning about your placement.  I tried to evenly distribute like colors, characters and widths of ribbon to give it that "purposefully accidental" look. 

Baste the ribbons to the top of the fabric square as pinned, 1/4 in from the edge of the fabric.  (Basting is the process of loosely securing two fabrics by stitching with a very large machine stitch, or handstitching with large, irregular stitches.  Basting is not intended to be a structurally sound way of binding the fabrics together.  Basting stitches help hold fabrics in place for the final stitching.)  I used a 5.0 stitch length to baste the ribbons to the top.  In this case, we're basting because ribbons are slippery and like to wiggle around.  In the next step when we join the top and bottom of the lovey, the ribbons will be sandwiched in-between.  If they get misaligned, we won't be able to see it.  The basting ensures your ribbons stay put when you put the whole thing together. 

Why baste at 1/4 in, when I told you we would sew with 1/2 in seam allowances?  Because that ensures that when we put the top and bottom together, the ugly basting stitches will be delightfully encased inside the finished lovey.  Otherwise, we'd have to pick them all out.  (YUCK. Picking stitches out of any stretchy knit is dang near impossible.)

After you baste all the ribbons down, place the BOTTOM square of the lovey on top of the TOP square, RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER.  Pin.  Lift the edges as you pin to make sure the ribbons are all laying flat against the TOP square, just as you basted them.  It will totally not make your day if you find that a ribbon has doubled over itself and gotten sewn into the seam.   (Did I mention how hard it is to pick stitches out of fleece?)

Pin the two pieces, right sides together, leaving a 5-in gap.

We're about to sew this puppy together, but when we do, we'll need to leave about a 5-in gap in the stitching to give us a place to turn the lovey right side out.  When I stitch a seamline, I always place my pins perpendicular to the direction of the line of stitching, because it makes it easy to stitch almost all the way up to the pin and then pull it out right before crossing under the needle.  When I need to leave a gap, however, I pin across that portion directly on the seamline.  That signals to me that this is the point where I need to leave a hole.  Otherwise, I might just keep going and sew the whole thing up, forgetting the gap altogether. Then comes the part about picking stitches.  Did I mention...?  Yes? Okay, moving on. 

The two pins that are placed directly along the seamline serve as a signal that this is where I'll leave the hole for turning.
With your sewing machine set again on a normal stitch length (2.2 on my machine), stitch the top and bottom squares together with a 1/2-in seam allowance and leaving a 5-in gap for turning.  

If you start at the lower end of the gap, you can turn the corners and sew all the way around in a single pass, finishing at the top edge of the gap.  (To turn a corner, stop stitching at the turning point, lower your needle into the fabric so it won't shift, lift the presser foot, turn the fabric to align the needle with the new edge, lower the presser foot and start stitching again.)  After you finish stitching the top and bottom together, remove the lovey from the machine and turn it over. 

In this photo: 

Left - How the lovey will look from the side where you stitched the seamline.

Right - If you flip the lovey over, you should see your seamline just inside the line of basting stitches.  If the lines cross, you'll want to remove any basting stitches now that ended up to the inside of the seamline. 

A closer view of the basting vs seamline. 

Clip the corners and turn the lovey through the gap in the seamline.  Use some kind of pointy object -- I like to use a crochet hook or a chopstick -- to push out the points and make them nice and square. 

With the lovey turned right side out and the points pushed out, it should look almost finished, with the ribbons pushing nicely out from the sides just like a rainbow of tags.  If you're using cotton flannel or satin, you should lightly press the lovey now.  If you're using fleece, don't try pressing.  Seriously, you're almost done.  Don't melt it to your iron now or you'll be inspired to take a golf club to your sewing machine. 

Pin the lovey all the way around, including across the opening.  Topstitch all the way around, 1/4 in from the edge.  This will allow the lovey to lay flat, look nicer, and close the gap in the process. 

All done!  Now for the good (free) stuff!


So how about a GIVEAWAY!?  Help JustSewOlivia reach the goal of 25 blog followers and 50 facebook page "Likes" in one week!  The winner will receive this cute gender-neutral lovey in fishy fabric.  (I'll cover shipping within the continental U.S. including APO addresses.)

In a 1-2 sentence snippet, share your funniest/goofiest/sweetest/messiest baby high jinks in either of the following ways:

1.  Follow this blog by clicking the "Join this site" button on the top left and leave a comment here.

2.  Like the JustSewOlivia facebook page and leave a comment on the link to this post. 

Do both, tell two stories and that's twice the chance to win!  The prize will go to whichever comment elicits the biggest giggles from me and the panel of Stinkin' Boys at this house.  The contest will go through Monday night at 6 p.m. and I'll contact the winner on Tuesday, July 31.  Don't forget to tell your friends!  Best wishes! 

And as always, I sincerely appreciate when you share the love by pinning my tutorials on Pinterest!


  1. When my sister and I were little, we always put powder on our bodies after baths. One night my parents had company, so my sister took her bath on her own. After she put powder on, she realized that she was white like a ghost. Since ghosts are invisible, she thought that she was invisible, and walked right out into the middle of our guests, stark naked, covered in powder.

  2. Katie McReynolds7/26/2012 1:37 PM

    Walking through the grocery store and repeatedly slipping on puddles of juice someone's buggy has dribbled down the aisles while bemoaning the apparent slack janitorial service in this store. Getting to the checkout lane and discovering that it hasn't been 'juice' at all; it's been your baby boy's leaky diaper.


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