November 22, 2013

Magnetic Fishing Game

This is a great game for chubby little hands, which is small enough to take in the nappy bag whenever you need to keep little people busy. 
Several months ago I quickly whipped up this magnetic fishing game for a good friend's little girl. 

Well actually, when I say quickly, it wasn't really quick at all. One of those projects you think will take an hour and 3 hours later you're only half way through. It is such a cute game though and easy to throw in the nappy bag so I thought, one day when I've got absolutely nothing else to do and I find myself with my feet up sipping a refreshing cool drink infused with lemon, mint and ginger, I will try it again. Of course that day never came but nevertheless, I went to work trying to make it a more efficient project. I have come to the conclusion that making 10 little fishies is going to take you a little while but if it's for a pair of chubby little hands whose arms you love to feel around your neck, it's time well spent.
I went into a production line so that I could make it more worthwhile and I've collected quite a pile of fish, some which still need finishing around the edges and some just waiting for a permanent home......poor little sewing table refugees. In my effort to make this a more efficient project, I sewed the fish differently from the first picture in this post.

Anyway, before I commence instructions for your fish this is what you need:

For the fish:
-scraps of different fabrics (lots of different colours and patterns are best). You need enough of each fabric to do each side of one fish.
-contrasting thread.
-pellon (enough to go on the inside of both sides of the fabric for the fish). Pellon is a type of thin fusible batting. Go on, ask for it at Spotlight or whatever fabric place you shop at. I promise you they will know what you mean.
-zinc plated washers (from a hardware store- not too big,about the size of an average button). Not all washers are magnetic. Stainless steel ones are not. I advise that you have your phone with you when you're in the hardware shop and then ask google if the particular washers you are planning on purchasing are magnetic. Such a nice guy, Google. Always so helpful.

For the fishing rod:
-8"/20cm length of dowel, thick enough for toddler hands to grab.
-Good quality twine

Before you get cracking on the fish a word about the magnet. I had real trouble finding a decent magnet in a hardware shop. I ended up dismembering some cabinet magnets like this:

Because of the blur you can't really see that it has a 4kg pull strength. That is the strongest I could find. Weaker magnets won't have the strength to connect with the washer once inside the fabric, so make sure you get a magnet with 4kg of pull strength.
I just pulled the plastic and the metal off from the outside 

Until I was left with this:

The magnet is the dark rectangle on the right with a hole in the middle. Everything else I threw into the tinker tin for the kids to build things with. Anyway, you drill a small hole in the end of your piece of dowel and then thread the string through. Tie a knot in the end which won't allow the string to slip through the hole you drilled. Then you tie the other end of the piece of string to the magnet. You can see how I made the rod in the photo below, not exactly rocket science.

Now onto the fish:

The first thing to do is to make yourself a pattern.... 
 I can hear some of you saying , "I can't draw a pattern. I'm hopeless at drawing." Of course you can do it. Just fold a piece of paper over and draw half a fish along the fold.

Keep it folded and cut along the line you just drew. Unfold it and you will have a nice symmetrical fish. If it looks like it's still got Jonah in the belly, or if it is looking a little anorexic, try again, making it a little fatter or thinner if needed.
Next, you need 2 scraps of the same fabric (for the back and front of the fish). Iron a piece of pellon onto both pieces of fabric and then sandwich them together, right sides facing out.
Put your fish pattern on top and trace around it.

Next, start sewing along the line that you traced, beginning at the point on the head of the fish.

Use a small stitch length and stitch nearly all the way around the outside, stopping when you get to an inch away from where you started.
Leave the needle in the fabric and slip in your washer.

After you've put the washer into the fish continue stitching back to where you started and then go around the fish one more time so that that washer has no chance of escaping. 
Once you get back around to the point of the fish, stitch another inch around. Make sure your washer is up in the nose of the fish and then stitch a line across the fish to the other side, so that your washer is tucked safely up in the head of the fish.

Stitch along this line 2 or 3 times.

Now if you are wise, it is at this point that you will get some pinking shears and cut around the edges, about the distance of the green line from the stitching. Pinking shears will stop the fabric from fraying. I however, was not in my right mind. I cut them out with straight scissors and then zig-zagged the edges…

Which has and is taking me AGES to finish them (and it's boring). That's why there are so many homeless fish on my sewing table. So be wiser than me..... Use your pinking shears.
Repeat that process as many times as you want with lots of different fabrics so that you can discuss colours, patterns and textures. Whip up a simple drawstring bag and you've got a great little game for toddlers and preschoolers.


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