DIY Toys: Frame Lacers

DIY Toys are a hot item this time of year, and with my expanding list of giftees, I’m always trying to dream up easy-to-make DIY toys that are both fun and affordable. I made these Frame Lacing Toys in about 30 minutes for about $4 each. I think they are perfect for a budding sewist or weaver or a simple little fine motor activity for younger children.

DIY toys you can make in 30 minutes for about $4 each. Perfect for a budding sewist and a simple fine motor activity for younger children.
I originally intended to make lacers out of pegboard but since I no longer have access to a wood shop (one of the perks of working in an industrial design office a few years back) trimming down pieces of pegboard into manageable sizes didn’t make sense. I thought readers like you might feel the same way too! I was about to shelve this project when I remembered the very inexpensive wood frames we used for making paper and realized they would be a great alterative! In fact I like this idea even more!

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DIY TOYS: Frame Lacers

Materials

DIY toys you can make in 30 minutes for about $4 each. Perfect for a budding sewist and a simple fine motor activity for younger children.

  • Unfinished wood frame – no glass I bought ours for $2.50 each at Jo-Ann Fabric
  • Shoe Laces- I purchased mine on eBay but Amazon has a good selection. Try these awesome Neon Shoe Laces!
  • Pliers
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Drill & 3/16” Drill Bit
  • Sand paper

Instructions

DIY Toys

  • Step One If you will not be using this as picture fame use pliers to remove the metal tabs in the center of the frame.
  • Step Two Mark equidistant holes around your frame. Start in the corners and then mark equally spaced holes in between. Our frame had a hole at the center of the back so I tried to avoid that. When using a wide frame mark two sets of holes. I suggest a minimum of 3/4” apart.
  • Step Three Drill your holes using a larger bit.  I used a 3/16″ bit.
  • Step Four Sand it!* Sand both sids of the frame and the edges of the holes to prevent against splinters. Since this is made from an inexpensive piece of wood you will probably encounter a bit of splintering around the holes. Roll up a piece of sandpaper and push it through each hole to smooth out the hole interior.
  • Step Five Select the laces you are using for each frame. Tie a knot in one end of one lace and feed it through a corner hole from the back. Repeat with additional laces in each corner.

*Sanding tips: Start with a rough grit, 100, for a first sand, and then switch to a finer grit, 150+ for a final sand. I used a sanding block, which is always great when sanding flat surfaces. I didn’t get too crazy with the sanding; that’s probably why I never did so well in my art school shop classes, I just don’t have much patience for fine finishing work!

You’re done! You may want to start a lace or two before handing it off to your child. I think a prompt of how to use something goes a long way.

Here’s what my son did with his turn at the lacing frame, in between bites of candy cane that is!

DIY ToysAnd here is my daughter hard at work:

DIY toys you can make in 30 minutes for about $4 each. Perfect for a budding sewist and a simple fine motor activity for younger children.

Variations

  • Set this up like a loom: Weave a long shoelace in one direction across the frame, then weave the other shoelaces through it like a mini loom!

DIY toys you can make in 30 minutes for about $4 each.

  • Decorate it! Continue to use this as a photo frame with the laces decorating the edges of the frame. When the design is complete, tie off the end of the lace, trim it and use a dab of glue on the end to hold the laces in place and prevent the end from unraveling. This would be a fun holiday present kids can make for family members.DIY Toys
  • Paint the frame: For an extra color punch paint that frame! Simply prime and paint it with your favorite color!

Looks Like

Gunta Stolzl. Gunta Stolzl was the director of the weaving department of the Bauhaus from 1926-31. She was the only female master at the Bauhaus and elevated weaving from crafty “women’s” work to high design. Her tapestries are full of color and patterns that still look modern today. These lacing frames brought to mind the vivid interaction of color that happens through weaving and lacing projects.

More Projects Like This….

If you like colorful weaving projects be sure to do some paper weaving with your kids: Paper Weaving. If you are looking for more DIY Toy ideas check out a few of our favorites here on Babble Dabble Do: Tin Can Christmas Trees, Constellation Geoboards, and Tin Can Stilts. If you love lacing toys but don’t have time to make your own be sure to check out these sweet ones on Amazon: Lacing Shapes.

Simple DIY toys are right up my alley and I was happy at how easily these Frame Lacers came together. Lacing toys are wonderful tools for developing children’s fine motor skills and are a great way to introduce the concept of patterns to kids. Endless weaving and lacing variations can be created from them; make one for your budding textile designer today!

DIY toys you can make in 30 minutes for about $4 each.

More DIY TOYS:

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DIY toys you can make in 30 minutes for about $4 each. Perfect for a budding sewist and a simple fine motor activity for younger children.

 

Comments

  1. says

    I love your blog. Every post inspires me. We have had many teachers using your activities. I love this one because it is an excellent bridge into weaving. Thank you for sharing this.

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