Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hanky babies in blankets

Q. My aunt used to entertain us little girls by folding her hanky to make it into a baby wrapped in a blanket. Very small of course. I have a granddaughter now and would love to have the directions to create this little gem. My aunt is gone now. Any knowlege of these little hanky babies in blankets?

Esther - The following was sent to me by one of our wonderful readers:

Do you know what a "church baby" is? Of course, you probably have infants and
toddlers in your church nursery, but they are the real-live crying and diaper-wetting kind!
However, in Elsie's time, "church babies" were tiny, old-fashioned dolls that a very
young child would carry to church. Unlike a rattle or some noisy toy, these were
perfectly acceptable for even the strictest parents because they were . . . well, silent!
Made simply from things they had at home, mothers showed their ingenuity by creating
these tiny dolls that would amuse their wriggling children. And so, church babies were
born! And like all handmade items, no two are exactly alike - which is what makes it that
much more fun. If you had been born in Elsie's day, it is likely that you would have had
a "church baby" in your carriage as your parents pushed it to church. Oh, what a sweet
scene! But we have work to do!

One of the ministries that would benefit from these sweet and easy-to-make dolls is your
own church nursery. Perhaps, if you and your friends made enough "church babies," then
they could be given as a special token to each infant that is dedicated or baptized in your
church. You could always make some for the nursery workers to keep on hand for that
little one who just needs a special plaything while at church.

Or maybe you could see to it that there were always several of these dolls in a pretty
basket for guests who visit with small children. Think of it! A new couple attends your
worship services with their very young boy. He is fidgety, he is fussy, and because his
parents are strangers and probably a little nervous, too, they keep him with them in the
pew. What if someone were to hand the baby (or toddler) a "church baby" -- with a blue
ribbon, of course! -- as a welcome gift? His parents would be grateful for the
thoughtfulness and hospitality of your church and the small boy would be . . . well, silent!
It's just the sort of gracious, little gesture that goes a long way toward making strangers
into friends.

There are so many other uses for these soft, sweet dolls. How about the nursery of a local
hospital, or a day care center, or pre-school, or any place that has small children that need
to be reassured and loved. And there is hardly a sweeter baby gift than a handcrafted
"church baby" for a new sister or brother or cousin or other newborn!

As always, use your wonderful creativity, and be generous and sweet in your giving.
"The Lord loves a cheerful giver," the Bible says! So enjoy this next activity and spread
good cheer. You are sure to be rewarded in smiles and thanks beyond what you can

Materials needed: Handkerchiefs (large men's handkerchiefs are good for the boys and
lacy, embroidered or pretty ones are sweet for the girls); cotton balls or polyester batting,
fine point fabric markers or paint pens, rubber bands, satin ribbon (blue, pink, green,
yellow, peach and white), and scissors.

This craft is very, very easy! Why not have a "church baby" get-together and make lots
of these dolls? First, all you do is take the handkerchief and pull it up in the center. Stuff
the "head" with cotton until it feels soft but firm enough to draw a face on. Then wrap a
rubber band to secure the "head" in place. What you should have at this point is a round
ball, a fairly tight neck and a flowing gown. You may need to adjust and play with it
yourself to get it to look just the way you want it.

Next, you'll design and draw a very simple face. Remember these are for young children
and it's often better to let them use their active imaginations than to fill in too much
detail. Besides, these are very tiny dolls and it might be overpowering or look more like
a clown than an angel! A simple dot for each eye, maybe eyebrows, a tiny nose and a
sweet mouth and you are done with the face. If you want you may draw or paint hair, but
it usually looks really fine without it. It's up to you. However, don't add any buttons or
glued on items or yarn hair that a child could swallow!

Now, the final step of the craft is as easy as the rest. Take some ribbon - blue for boys
and pink for girls (use other colors when you don't know the gender of the child and for
variety's sake!) and wrap that around the neck covering the rubber band. Tie it in a firm
knot, then make a pretty bow and let the rest of the ribbon stream down onto the
handkerchief. Important: after you have secured the ribbon, snip the rubber band away
and remove all traces of it. We don't want anybody choking! Babies and young children
love to stroke the satiny edges of blankets and dolls -- for some reason it is a comfort to
them. So, don't scrimp on the ribbon! Be lavish with it. It's part of the old-fashioned
charm and it's the only colorful part of the church baby. In fact, if you choose to, you
may make an all-white "angel church baby" using white ribbon on a pure white hankie.
Then you can add tiny dots for eyes and a smile using a gold or silver paint pen. Simply

So there you have it -- easy as pie. (Well, maybe easy as eating a pie is more like it!)
Have a great time and feel free to experiment with different sizes and face designs and
ribbon colors, but remember -- absolutely nothing that would choke a child, okay? Okay!
God bless you as your hands do the work of the Lord. Be Creative and Have fun!


Me said...

I think what she is asking about is simply a folded hanky that appears to be 2 babies in a cradle.
1. Lay hanky in lap with corner of cloth facing you.

2.Fold hanky in half corner to corner, folding the corner facing you to match the corner that faces away from you.
3. Carefully roll the side corners toward the center until they meet.
(The hanky now looks like 2 side by side tubes with a corner between them.)
4. Carefully take top layer of the corner which now faces away from you, and fold it toward you, covering the "tubes."
5.Hold it in place and take hold of the bottom layer "corner" that faced away from you and bring it under the "tubes", toward you so the "tubes" are now sandwiched between the 2 layers or "corners".
6. Pick up by the 2 corners and swing back and forth like a cradle.
The 2 "tubes" are 2 "babies" in a cradle.

I wish I could show you a video, but hopefully this explains it.
Does anyone know any other folding "tricks" for kids?

Anonymous said...

Thank You! My mom, who died 30 years ago, used to make these for me as I sat in church when I was a little girl! I didn't think I'd ever find out how to do them again! Your directions were great!

katharine said...

I think the first commenter is right. I found a video on youtube:

My Oma did this with us all the time.

Deb said...

Such warm memories! My grandparent used to make these for us when we were children. Thanks for the directions! My grandparents were of German heritage from the colonies of Southern Russia.