I love home-crafted gifts, particularly toys. There’s just something wonderfully humane in a plaything that shows the work of individual hands. And the best games and toys are often the simplest.
My Spicy child has a dear little friend, and that dear little friend has a birthday in mid-November. Is there anything quite so joyous as a five-year-old calling to accept an invitation to her dear friend’s birthday party? Once the social order has been observed, it’s time to turn our thoughts to a pleasant gift. With a “Princess” themed party, frogs can’t be too far off the mark. Luckily, the little friend’s family culture is similar enough to our own that I am comfortable a hand-made, simple gift will be welcomed and enjoyed.
I like small things, so these frogs are quite petite; palm-sized for the average small child, and easily tuck-able into pockets. Mini-frogs, plus a good-sized lilypad mat that doubles as a storage pouch, or a Portable Frog Purse. The mat could also be a play ground for the frogs, or a tossing target, or a tea-party placemat, or possibly even a hat on occasion; that’s the wonderful thing about open-ended play toys! They can be anything the child wishes.
Please respect my copyright and licensing rights, and use the pattern only for personal and free gifts.
These frogs could be done as a coordinated set in specific colorways (at which suggestion my little OCD self hollers “YES PLEASE!”), or done up in scrappy combinations. You’ll need two 4×4″ squares of fabric per frog; this is a fantastic project for using scraps! Pairing a solid and a print is a great option. Use firmly-woven cottons.
I find it easiest to trace the frog template onto cardstock, or else a plastic lid, cutting it out with an exacto. You’ll be tracing the template for each frog, so having a sturdy template material makes that a lot easier.
Working with small, complex shapes, it is easiest to make a stack of fabric, right sides together, and trace the stitching lines. Stitch along those lines, then trim the frog from the fabric square. Be sure to clip curves, trim points, and snip down into crevices as best you can leaving at least 1/8″ of fabric as a seam allowance, for stability.
Turn the frogs right side out, using a chopstick, skewer, or slender needle to get the phalanges poked out properly. Be gentle!
At this point, you could sew on button eyes, or embroider eyes if you like. I chose to leave the frogs feature-less, as that means whatever side lands upward is “the top”.
Use a tiny bit of fiberfill to stuff the arms and legs. Stitch across the base of each limb to keep the stuffing in place. A quick hand-stitch in mostly-matching thread is all you need.
Use a small funnel to fill the body cavity with about a tablespoon of poly pellets, rice, or other small grain. Only the poly-pellets will be washable. Frogs stuffed with grains should not be dampened. One small bag of poly pellets will fill dozens of frogs or other mini-beanbag toys, so the expenditure becomes quite reasonable over time, especially if you have a coupon.
The frog should have some mass to it, but still be quite floppy.
Whipstitch the opening by hand, again using mostly-matching thread.
I didn’t do step-by-step with the lilypad, but I’m betting that you, Dear Reader, are reasonably clever, and can get the gist of it from the photos.
You’ll need a 15″ x 30″ piece of blue-toned fabric for the water, and an 8×8 piece of green fabric for the lilypad, plus about 2 yards of 1/4″ or 1/2″ ribbon to make the closing mechanism.
Draw a 14″ diameter circle (or any size you like, really!) and cut two of the wavy 14″ circles in any blue fabric you like for the “water”.
Cut a lily-pad shape (about 7″ to 8″ diameter) from a green fabric, or even a scrappy-pieced “pie” shape of various green prints. Pin the lilypad to the center of one blue water shape, and machine applique in place. Add any stitched details you like.
Cut 8 pieces of ribbon, 1.5″ long. Press one short end under 1/4″, and place on the “loop placement lines” of the outer water piece. Stitch firmly near the fold of the ribbon. The free end of the ribbon will extend just a bit beyond the edge of the water piece.
Lay the lilypad/water piece and outer water piece right sides together. Stitch around the outside edge, catching the ribbons in the seam, and leaving a 2″ section open for turning. Press well, and trim the seam allowances slightly to reduce bulk.
Turn the play mat right sides out. Press the edges firmly, making sure each undulation is pressed to the very edge. Topstitch if desired. Close the turning opening with machined topstitching very close to the edge, or hand whipstitching.
Thread the remaining ribbon through the carrier loops. It can be helpful to tie knots in the free ends, and to stitch through the ribbon at the point opposite their “exit”, to keep the ribbon from pulling out entirely.
Add any wavy water marks you might like, stitching through all the layers. Stack the frogs in the play mat, and draw up the ribbons to create a carrying pouch.
If you’d prefer, you can also tuck the mat and frogs into a small lidded tote, storage box, or lidded pail, whatever tidy storage option works best in your home.
And that’s it! The frogs are quite a lot of fun to make, and seem to be attractive to children of all ages (including my Eldest, who has requester her own pocket-frog in a particular fabric combination.)