Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Geekiest Baby: Totoro-Themed Bouncer

As Mr. Cation and I have been preparing for SHB's arrival, we've noticed a couple of things:


1) Cat-themed baby things are inevitably pink. It's like baby item designers/manufacturers all think cats = girls and dogs = boys. Even if SHB were a girl, I don't like pink that much, nor do I want to financially support the erroneous idea that only females can love cats.* So a cat-themed nursery is out. (While I could make quite a few cat-themed baby things myself, namely the textile-based items, I don't feel like making an entire baby arsenal.)

2) Since we're not going cat-themed, we decided to go with an "under the sea" theme instead, for no reason other than that it seemed gender-neutral and with geek-potential (I mean, how cool are hagfish, blobfish, and anglerfish!) without buying into lots of licensed merchandise (e.g. Star Wars or superheroes). Also, whale-themed baby bath things are both plentiful and ridiculously cute.

2) But unfortunately, baby things are expensive! If we thought wedding planning was bad, baby planning is even worse. Slap the word "wedding" or "baby" on anything and the price goes up. So buying everything new is out of the question, not to mention very consumeristic and unnecessary. I'm trying to make what I can (but I'm also giving myself permission to not feel like I have to make everything just because I can), but some things we are buying used.

Like this bouncer:

I got a great deal on a used one in good condition, but I was bothered for a really superficial reason: the "Snugabunny" theme. I have no sentimental attachment to bunnies or birds, but even if I could change up the textile portions of the bouncer, there's still that plastic leaf that is decidedly not marine in nature. I know, I know, SHB won't care and it certainly doesn't matter in the long run if all the baby things coordinate...but a tiny part of me still cares! As soon as I brought the bouncer back home, I started wracking my brain trying to think of how I could, if not marine-ify it, at least geek it up some so that it wasn't so...bland. As I thought more about that annoying leaf, though, I was reminded of all the times you see Totoro and his fellow forest spirits holding or wearing leaves.

A quick rummage through the stash, some frenzied measuring and sketching, and a couple of late night sewing sessions later, I had this:



Sometimes I impress even myself. I'm sorry, was that too self-congratulatory? It's the truth, though! I really am quite pleased with myself for figuring out how to make a unique cover that fits with the bouncer's green leaf elements. And the soot sprite dangly things are high-contrast black and white shapes to boot!



It was actually pretty easy to make this Totoro cover, since he's a fairly simple shape oval shape. The trickiest parts were probably trying to decide how I wanted to 1) make the holes for the straps, and 2) how to make the cover fit over the existing cushion.

The main shape is simple enough. I did manage to put the V's on slightly off-center though. Not so consummate after all, I guess. 
I decided on this arrangement on the back so that I could just slip the cover over the existing cushion. I underlined the front piece with some anti-pill fleece so that the lumps from the original cushion would show through the thinner gray fabric, and also to provide some stability for sewing on the facial features.  
Its face from the underside looks a little creepy, doesn't it? Like some weird Sith Lord wearing a hood.

The grosgrain ribbon strap helps it stay on the existing cushion. 
I ended up just making rectangles with a zig-zag stitch and then cutting a slit in the middle (like really huge buttonholes) for the straps to come through. 

The soot sprites seemed like the perfect way to complete the Totoro theme; they were just little circles of black fleece that I cut out with my pinking shears (for the fuzzy sooty outline, you know) and sewed and stuffed.

Ignore the creepy wide-eyed Totoro stare in the background...

I sewed a piece of twill tape to the back so that I could tie the sprites to the plastic arm of the leaf. 

Summary:
Fabric: Less than a quarter of a gray sheet, yellow fleece for underlining, and scraps of cream-colored rayon jersey knit, white fleece, and black fleece
Notions: Steam-A-Seam to fuse the gray V's to the Totoro's tummy, grosgrain ribbon and velcro for the strap in the back
Hours: About seven? I took my time handstitching the facial features, but everything else was quick to do on the machine.
Will you make it again? Not unless I have a really good reason to.
Total cost: Considering that this was all made with stash fabrics leftover from other projects, I'm going to say that this cost less than $5.
Final thoughts: I'm really pleased with how much more personalized this bouncer is now! Mr. Cation suggested that I make a Totoro outfit for SHB and a hoodie for him, then we can do family pictures with this bouncer and Walnut the Catbus (he certainly has the right coloring!).

What's this? Who are you?

I'm not too sure about this guy and his unblinking stare...

Me and my buddy the soot sprite are just gonna hang out on your face, if that's okay with you, Mr. Totoro. I guess you're alright.


This is just the start of what I hope will be the geekiest set of baby things ever. I've been nesting like crazy, so I've got some other cool crafts to show off (if you follow me on Instagram, you've already seen some previews!) in the coming week(s).

A more pinnable image, in case anyone else needs geeky nursery inspiration!


*Apparently, as early as 2008, it was becoming more okay for men to love cats! I'm so glad that Mr. Cation loves Walnut as much as I do. I think men who love cats really are better, and I certainly hope SHB becomes one!

63 comments:

  1. that is so clever, can't wait to see what else you have up your sleeve. And yes, buying stuff at garage sales etc. is great.

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    1. There are some things I feel okay about getting secondhand, but not everything...this cover was partly to avoid putting baby directly on someone else's old cover, even if it is washed!

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  2. I am super impressed by this! I don't think you sounded impressed enough! :-P

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    1. Haha okay, with your permission I can be more impressed with myself ;)

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  3. This is definitely an improvement on how the bouncer looks! Can't wait to see what else you come up with, it's bound to be good and totally unique!

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    1. Hmm, maybe now I've built up too much hype...

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  4. I love it! I have a hard time trusting people who don't like cats

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    1. Same here! And if someone loves cats, they are instantly my friend and there is always a convenient conversation topic!

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  5. I am so impressed! That looks fantastic!

    My son's nursery is woodland/Totoro-themed: http://heathermamainprogress.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-nursery.html Check it out if you'd like. :)

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    1. Your nursery is super cute! I love how you did the trees. If I wasn't already going underwater-themed, this would be my next choice!

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  6. Oh this is just the best! I absolutely can't stand the whole pink and blue gendercide thing. Ugh. Should hubby and I ever decide to procreate, I will go to hell and back to ensure not a spot of pink and blue enters the nursery! Absolutely love what you've done with the bouncer... so much personality :) I'm taking notes!

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    1. I'm not a fan of pink particularly, but I also don't object to it as a color as long as it's not just for girls! SHB is getting a lot of blue stuff, but only because I love blue myself. Also whales are blue(ish).

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  7. Fantastic job! Trying to find baby stuff that doesn't make your eyes bleed is a challenge.

    We went with a garden theme for our daughter. ( http://bit.ly/1pvr2c6 ) It has worked pretty well, but all that Fisher Price junk is so themey. However, it is easy to find second hand. I never got around to recovering the FP bouncer/swing/bassinet. (Which was fine. DD hated the swing and the rock and play sleeper.)

    If you want to make a baby gym, let me know. Mine is slightly unfinshed , but I can take some pictures and send you measurements and a materials list.

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    1. Cute garden theme! I especially love the little owl humidifier...unfortunately, I didn't realize there was a penguin one and we already bought the elephant. Oh well!

      I'm holding off on making a baby gym until after our baby shower and we see what we still need. So cool that you made one though!

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    2. Go ahead and buy the penguin. Room humidifiers have about a four to six month life span. We are on our second owl. They will last a bit longer if you use distilled water, but that adds up quickly. Although, you might have access to a water distiller in your lab. If so, take advantage of that.

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  8. I had never heard of Totoro before your blog, but I certainly do like how Mr. Totoro has been showing up on your blog. How fun! Question, Ms. Cation, for what do the letters S H B stand?

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    1. Totoro is a Japanese animated film that features these adorable forest spirits...if you can get your hands on a copy it's a totally delightful, whimsical movie! And SHB stands for "Small Human Being," which is what I'm calling my baby for now.

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  9. admittedly i'm clueless on this whole Totoro business, but this is just the cutest! you have every right to pat your self on the back for your creativity! :)

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    1. I think your kids would enjoy the movie! It should be pretty easy to find these days.

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  10. Totally brilliant. I'm in awe!

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  11. Replies
    1. Rest assured, this is the last Totoro project for a while ;)

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  12. Oh my goodness, that is so adorable! (And very impressive too) :) your child is gonna grow up in the awesomest, geekiest environment :D

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    1. I really want SHB to be a geek, so I'm doing everything in my power to provide early influences ;)

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  13. OHMYGODILOVETHISSOMUCH. It's so freakin cute I can't handle it. Can you make an adult-sized one for me to sleep in?

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    1. At one point I seriously considered make a large floor cushion for myself, but decided that that would take up too much space...

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  14. It's ok to buy used stuff for babies, only check for any recalls. And yes, this is soooo cute!!!!

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    1. This is the first real used item that I've gotten; everything else has been clothes and more innocuous things...but thanks for the reminder!

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  15. Where was this when my kids were little!! By the by, My Neighbor Totoro pretty much played non-stop in my house for over a year.

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    1. Awww so glad to hear of other families who love Totoro!

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  16. You are adorable!!! Love your geeky baby projects and can't wait to see the many that will come in the future!!

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    1. Let's just hope I don't overdo it on the baby things!

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  17. I want one! (And I don't even have a baby.) So cute!

    ~ Brooke

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    1. I think Totoro could make a really nice grown-up chair cushion!

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  18. Ahhh, so clever, so cool, so perfect! You are amazing and I love this!

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  19. Replies
    1. I'm glad you do! Now let's hope SHB does too!

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  20. I am completely in love with this! I almost want to have my own SHB so I can make it too! Maybe for the nephew...

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    1. Do it! My sister is taking SHB's arrival as her chance to go crazy with nautical art.

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  21. I love how you're personalizing the generically bland baby stuff to fit your family! I'll definitely be saving this one-- my best friend and I have a secret Pinterest board for geeky baby stuff. It's mostly to save ideas for a fellow geek girl friend of ours who is trying to get pregnant so we can bombard her future offspring with introductions to all of our favorite fandoms, but I'm sure I'll be borrowing from it heavily whenever my husband and I decide to enter into the parental arena ourselves.

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    1. Ooh I love the idea of indoctrinating your friend's baby early!

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  22. OMG!! It got cat approved!! :D

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    1. Everything in this household must be cat-approved!

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  23. That turned out awesome!!
    Also...the bouncer is my cat's FAVORITE sleeping spot. I think she uses it more than the baby.

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    1. So far Walnut hasn't shown any interest in getting into the bouncer itself, although he's certainly had a nap or two under it...

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  24. AUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHHH TOTORO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    LITTLEBABYSAFEINFORESTWITHTROLLANDCATBUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    =LOVE=

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    1. Let's hope SHB stays safe with Totoro and Walnut/Catbus around!

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  25. I love this. No idea who Totoro is, but he is cute, and so unique.

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    1. If you get a chance, check out the movie, especially if you love whimsical Japanese animation ;)

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  26. Love this! Just discovered your blog via a search for Jane Austen dress patterns. I loved your blogs on those. So much fun to read. You are so creative!

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    1. Thanks! Sorry I don't have much to offer by way of Jane Austen patterns, but there are plenty of historical sewing blogs out there that do!

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  27. *pop*
    Head just exploded with cuteness.

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    1. Oh dear. I didn't mean to cause any head explosions :)

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  28. I am giving you a pass on any past and future being pleased with your own cleverness. I am so incredibly impressed (on all your recent posts in face, I'm catching up late). They, and you, are seriously impressive. That is one lucky nerd-baby.

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  29. Have you considered selling these? I would totally buy one...

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  30. Wow!! Was going through some Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny articles and found ur site. Love the creativity!

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