I’m really bad at sewing. Every time I speak to a friend or family member who has crafted their own perfect-looking clothes from scratch, made a pair of curtains, or hemmed a pair of trousers, I’m in awe. I’ve tried many, many times to learn to use a sewing machine, but I just don’t think sewing machines and I are compatible. Oh how I wish we were!
But, what I lack in seamstress skill, I make up for (I hope) in patience. That’s why whenever a project requires sewing, I pull out a needle and thread. Yes, hand sewing takes forever, but there’s something satisfying about creating each stitch individually, watching the project come together slowly but surely.
As a result of my painfully slow sewing technique, I’m always looking for shortcuts. This week, I used a needle and thread, some felt and stuffing to give life to a sock! The result? Squashy Sock Slug!
I hunted all over the house for an appropriate sock to upcycle, but all my socks looked a little old and worn out, so I headed down to the $2 shop on Paisley Street, Footscray, and found a lovely stripey pink pair for $1.50!
Here’s how to do it:
1. If your sock is one of those high-necked ones, trim the neck of the sock by a couple of inches and cut a rectangle shape out of the front and back of the sock neck, leaving a rectangular tag on either side of the sock. (It’s really had to explain, so here’s a photo!)
2. Next, turn the sock inside-out, pin the tags at the top, and begin to sew the sides of the rectangular tags, so that you have two tubes (as pictured).
3. Make sure the stitches are strong and close together to prevent any stuffing escaping, especially if you’re making Squashy Sock Slug for a baby. Remove the pins and turn the sock back the right way, including the two new tubes you’ve created.
4. Cut a slit at the other end of the sock (where the toe is), and start filling the sock with toy stuffing. I used Hobby Fill (available from Lincraft, Spotlight, and other craft stores).
5. Push the stuffing right into the ends of those two tubes you stitched (use a chopstick if your finger doesn’t fit), and make sure the body of the sock is nice and full. Then stitch the toe slit back together. Squashy Sock Slug is nearly complete!
6. Now is the fun part: decorating your slug! I cut the slug’s facial features out of felt, stitching the eyes and cheeks on very thoroughly by hand (make sure they can’t be pulled or chewed off by sharp little fingernails and teeth!). I used black thread to stitch on the mouth.
7. Tie the threads off firmly and trim all your thread ends to a few centimetres long, then ‘massage’ the Squashy Sock Slug so that the thread ends disappear back into the toy – and you’re done!
Squashy Sock Slug is a surprisingly cuddly toy. You could even add a rattle insert (available from craft stores). It’s fun to make, and pretty quick, too, so you can make a whole family using different sock sizes and colours. And, at $1.50 a pair, it’s affordable to make the slugs out of brand new materials.
I made this toy with a little trial and error, so to save you the same errors, here are some tips for best results:
* If possible, choose a good-quality sock made of fabric that isn’t too elasticated. The more stretchy the fabric, the more ‘squashy’ the toy will be, but it will also be less durable.
* Make doubly sure you turn the sock inside out before stitchin up the two tubes – I always forget to do this, and then have to unpick and redo!
* Put more stuffing in than you think you need. It tends to compact after a while, and mine is already looking a little deflated.
* Double-stitch the two tubes at the top, especially if you’re making the toy for a baby. My daughter loves to suck and chew on these bits, and they’re sure to wear out fast!
* Use good-quality, strong thread for this project, because if the thread breaks and the stuffing escapes, it could pose a choking hazard. Similarly, stitch the facial features on very well.