Homemade games and toys were common place in the 1800s. While this may have been out of necessity at the time, children still find homemade games as irresistible as they do commercially made ones. If you doubt this is true, just give your kids a large refrigerator box and some crayons and watch what happens.
My kids are now adults, so now I create games for my five Sugar Babies (grandchildren). I saw an adorable fishing game online and decided to make something similar — but with a learning twist. Instead of fishing for, well, fish, they can fish for numbers.
The timing couldn’t have been better. Andover Fabrics recently launched their new Little House on the Prairie© fabric line and sent a fat quarter bundle to me for review. I love the vintage fabric colors (not to mention the theme). But what truly stands out for me is the fabric quality. Andover Fabrics were a pleasure for this seasoned quilter’s hands.
Materials for Fabric Numbers and Hook:
- Assortment of fabrics ~ How much you’ll need will depend on the size of your numbers. I had an assortment of five fat quarters (fat quarter = 18″ x 22″).
- Thin batting ~ I like using natural cotton batting, but you could use a synthetic, as well. For simplicity’s sake, cut the batting into the same sizes as each of the fat quarters.
- Large printed numbers ~ I found tons of free printable numbers online.
- Button magnets ~ You can find these at a craft store or Walmart.
- sewing pins ~ *optional
Materials for Fishing Pole:
- Long dowel ~ The length and thickness is up to you. I used what I had at my house.
- Soft “rope” or cording ~ I purchased my rope in the sewing section so that I knew it would be soft on small hands.
- Glue gun
- Hot glue stick
Sewing Tools Needed:
- Sewing machine
- Coordinating thread (although it’s not imperative that the thread match the fabric)
- Seam ripper (just in case)
How to Make the Fabric Letters
The following steps should be repeated for each number you make. My fishing game uses numbers 0-9.
- Trace around the numbers with the pencil. Don’t worry that this is on the good side of the fabric; you’ll be sewing on that line and it will disappear).
- Place the cut-out paper number on top of the four layers of fabric.
- Place the folded batting in between the two pieces of fabric creating a 4 layer sandwich.
- Take a piece of batting (should be the same size as the fabric fat quarter as stated above) and fold it in half.
- Fold one of the fabric quarters in half with the wrong sides pressed together so that you’re looking at the right side of the fabric.
- Cut out a printed number.
- Remove the paper number, and if you’re uncomfortable sewing the number without some support, pin all of the layers together by using a couple of sewing pins on the outside edges of the sandwich. I usually let the sewing machine foot hold onto the square while I’m sewing, but the pins do stabilize it.
- Don’t cut the numbers out of the fabric sandwich. Just sew along the line that you traced to create the number. Leave a small opening at the top of each number so that you can slide a magnet in between the batting layers and then sew that opening shut. Important Tip: Depending on the size of the numbers you printed out, you may need to the numbers a bit farther out than the actual printed line. You’ll know of you need to do that by placing a magnet on top of the number and making sure that you have room for the magnets, but also that you have enough room for the machine food to run by the magnet.
- After the numbers are finished (and the magnets are sewn inside), cut them out by cutting about 1/4″ away from the stitching.
- Repeat all steps for each number.
Make the Fishing Hook
I made the fishing hook the same way that I did the numbers (with a couple of additions), but I drew it freehand. I’m betting that you guys do a better job. I actually used the number 6 and modified it.
What you need to remember about making the hook is to sew your rope (make it a few inches longer than the dowel/pole) into the top of it while you’re sewing along the traced lines.
I also found that the magnets didn’t want to grab the numbers when it had to go through four layers of fabric (two on the hook and two on the numbers. So, I modified it by cutting the batting away at the bottom of the hook before tucking the magnet(s) in there and sewing it up. The magnets worked great after that. I also added two magnets side-by-side inside the hook.
How to Make the Fishing Pole
- The fishing pole was the easiest part. To make the fishing line, as I mentioned above, use a piece of rope/cording that was a little longer than the fishing pole.
- Next, tie the rope to the end of the pole in a bow.
- Using the glue gun, stick a dab of hot glue under the bow so that it won’t come undone while the kids play.
- To make the “handle” I placed a dab of hot glue amount 1 1/2″ from the bottom of the pole.
- Wrap the rope around the pole (pushing the wraps against each other).
- When you’re happy with how much of the handle was created, add another dab of hot glue to secure it into place.
What I love about this fishing fabric game is that you can add more themes whenever the mood strikes you or as your kids are learning different subjects. You’ve already got fabric numbers; how about adding letters, shapes, and colorful fish?
Safety Note: Children should be supervised while playing with this fishing game. The magnet could become a hazard should a child or a pet rip the numbers or hook open.
If you love the Little House on the Prairie Collection by Andover Fabrics© that I’ve used here, we’ve got a little fabric contest for you!