Project: Personalized Baby Blocks

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My first article was published on GeekMom.com September 13, 2010. It also happened to be my 7th wedding anniversary. I wish I could give an update on how often these blocks are played with, but we don’t spend much time with the parents anymore, so it is hard to know.

Photo: Cathe Post

Our friends just had their first child a week or so ago (six weeks premature). When I first learned of the baby boy that was supposed to be gracing our presence in early October, I asked the mom what colors she would prefer in a quilt or afghan. She sighed as she told me of her huge family asking her the same question more times than she could count. This got my husband and I to thinking: what else could we make besides a quilt? We would really like to come up with something personalized that reflected the parents’ (geeky) personalities and would teach the child, A-to-Z, all the interests his parents have to offer. So, naturally, we made geeky alphabet blocks!

First a geek alphabet was built: the dad is a gamer, the mom spins her own yarn and is a high school physics teacher, and both play Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games. It wasn’t hard to come up with an alphabet of geekiness for their offspring.

A – Atom
B – Badger, Badger, Badger
C – Cthulhu
D – Dragon
E – Elder Sign
F – Friction
G – Gravity
H – Hydro Dynamics
I – Infinity
J – Joss Whedon
K – Kepler’s Third Law
L – LOLCat
M – Monkey
N – Nucleotides
O – Owlbear
P – Pi
Q – Quasar
R – Rock Band
S – Schrödinger’s Cat
T – Terrabyte
U – Universe
V – Virus
W – Where’s Waldo
X –XKCD
Y – Yoda
Z – Zombie

These blocks have tags, texture, and color! Photo: Cathe Post

The next step was to find a cute picture that corresponded to each word. Though not perhaps 100% in alignment of copyright law, the images that were used were unchanged, including any signatures.

Next, the images corresponding with the letters of baby’s name were lined up and paired up with other images that had similar colors in them. Then, I went through my rather large fabric stash and matched up two pieces of textured or patterned fabric with each set of pictures. Thirteen blocks were planned with two letters (iron-on letters on simple black fabric), the two matching pictures (on printable fabric), and two ‘blank’ sides (with an interesting print or texture) per block.

When I knew what supplies were still needed, I headed over to my local craft store and used all of my coupons to get printable fabric, iron on letters, ribbon (to make taggies on some of the blocks), shrink gift wrap (for crinkle-y blocks), and bells (for jingle blocks). I also hit the dollar store for tennis-ball dog toys (for squeaky blocks).

My husband willingly cut the fabric into 6-inch squares. He ironed on the letters, cropped and printed the pictures, and set everything up for me to sew. I made a spreadsheet to figure out which blocks would crinkle, jingle, squeak, or have taggies.

When the blocks were sewn together, a vertical panel of letter-picture-letter-picture was formed then attached to make a loop. Then the sides were attached leaving a two inch opening on one side using the darkest fabric (so the outside stitches wouldn’t show as badly when the block was closed). The blocks then got their crinkles, jingles, or squeaks (the taggies were of course put into the seams as the blocks were sewn together), got a healthy stuffing of poly-fill, and had the opening sewn shut.

When all was said and done, we had thirteen fun, nerdy, and unique baby blocks that mom and dad would enjoy, too.

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