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How-Tuesday: Robot Legs

Oct 18, 2011

by madebyjoel handmade and vintage goods

Between dress-up time and experimental, self-directed school outfits, a kid’s life can feel like an around-the-clock costume party. As a dad and an artist, Joel Henrique of Made by Joel has devoted himself to making art and craft an accessible and meaningful way to engage with the world and one another. (Perhaps you recall the bird mobile how-to video we made with him?) For this week’s How-Tuesday post, Joel shares a project perfect to make for a kid’s (or grown-up’s) Halloween costume, straight from the pages of his new book, Made to Play! These colorful modular leg bands will have your child doing the robot in no time!

My kids love pulling on their leg warmers and wearing them around the house. So after making modular headbands, I thought it would be great to make leg bands that would give a child that same sense of creative control. When I showed these to my kids, they immediately started arranging the pieces to create their own leg band designs. The little Velcro pocket is their favorite part. They love having a secret pouch for their small treasures.

Pick up a copy of Made to Play from Amazon or an independent bookseller near you.

Materials Needed:
Fabric, for the leg bands: four pieces 4″ x 9″
Fabric, for the pocket: 4″ x 9″
Fabric scraps, for the patches
Scissors and/or rotary cutter
Sewing machine
Velcro: 1/2″ wide x about 22″ long
Elastic: 1″ wide x about 26″ long
Double-sided fusible interfacing (optional)
Snap or Velcro
Fabric pen, for drawing on the patches



Leg Bands
1. Take your four 4″ by 9″ pieces of fabric. Cut out two 4″ by 9″ pieces of double-sided fusible interfacing.

2. Put each fusible sheet between two pieces of fabric (you’ll have two sandwiches), and press them with a hot iron until the interfacing adheres to the fabric. (Follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results.) The interfacing makes the leg bands stiffer so they hold their shape while being worn. But you could make them without it, too.

3. Trim the edges of the rectangles with scissors or rotary cutter. I chose to round the top corners. The interfacing keeps the edges from fraying too much, but I sewed a zigzag stitch around the edges as well.

4. Take a 9″ strip of Velcro, and sew it down the middle of one leg band. Do the same for the other one.

5. Cut two 7″ strips of elastic and two 6″ strips of elastic. Sew the ends of the 7″ strip on the back of one leg band, about 5″ from the bottom on each side. Then sew the 6″ strip on the back right along the bottom edge on each side. Do the same for the other leg band.

Attachment Pieces
Here are some attachments I made. (You can customize yours any way that you’d like.)

Snap Pocket
1. Take the 4″ x 9″ piece of fabric.

2. Fold over the short ends 1/2″ and sew.

3. Sew a 2″-long piece of Velcro in the middle, just above center, on the right side of the fabric. Make sure it’s the kind of Velcro that will stick to the strip on the leg band.

4. Fold the bottom of the fabric, right sides together, leaving about 2″ of fabric at the top for the lid flap. Then sew the sides.

5. Turn the pocket right side out. Fold under the two rough edges of the lid flap, and sew.

6. Hammer on a snap or sew on Velcro to the lid flap.

Drawing Patches
1. Cut out two pieces of material in whatever size you would like for your patch.

2. Sew a piece of Velcro on the back of one piece.

3. Using fabric pens, draw your design on the other piece of fabric. (For this part, if your child is old enough, you could let them do the drawing. The pens I use are non-toxic, but they are still very hard to wash off of clothes, so beware. The other option would be to let the child make a drawing on a piece of paper with regular pens or crayons, and then use that drawing as a template for the fabric drawing you make.)

4. When the drawing is finished, blow the pen ink with a hot hair dryer to set the ink. Once this is done, the ink is permanent and will withstand the washing machine.

5. Layer the two fabric pieces, wrong sides together, and sew around the edges using a zigzag stitch.

Thank you to Joel Henriques and Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, for sharing this how-to with us! For more handmade toys and crafts to make with your kids, check out Made to Play!

If you make this project, share a photo with us in the Etsy Labs Flickr group.

More Things to Make | Etsy Kids


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