bell cuffs (or audio child detection device)

It's been a slightly longer blogging hiatus than I originally intended. I've missed you guys! Being without internet this past little bit (what, a couple of weeks, really?) has been like a long dark winter in a cold cave. Or having a limb severed. There is probably a mental health issue in this, but I've decided not to worry about it. We're still not settled quite yet, but I thought I'd sneak in a quick tutorial. It's one way I've amused while keeping track of my kidlets while we've been travelling.

I made this noisey little bell cuff several years ago when Smootch was a toddler. It was actually one of my first projects ever, so it pleases me ever so much that we still use it often and it's proven to be so useful for both children.

This cuff is strapped onto my children whenever we go somewhere where I may lose visual contact with my babies but I still need to know where they are. Like the shops, particularly the fabric store, where my kids know I'm distracted and have figured out that all the have to do is make two quick turns among the maze-like fabric islands and I'll never be able to find the little buggers again. It's also been good on hikes, in playgrounds and parks.

To make a basic cuff:

Measure the area you wish to cuff, keeping the measuring tape as loose as you desire your cuff to be (I actually choose to make mine big enough to fit over the arms of jackets since it wasn't any good to have the bells muffled under heavy clothes). Also establish how wide you would like your cuff to be.

Add 1 1/2" to the cuff length. Double the desired width measurement and add an additional 1/2" for seam allowance. Use these altered measurements to cut a rectangle of desired fabric.

The cuff is created by folding the fabric lengthwise, right sides together. Sew closed the lengthwise raw edges, using a 1/4" seam allowance.

Use a safety pin to turn the cuff right side out (see illustration above). Tuck in an end about 1/2" and sew closed. Do so for other open end. Add a snap to the ends, assuming a 1/2" overlap. Viola, a cuff.

Handsew bells on cuff for your own low-tech audio child detection device. Attach to child. I suggest a test run in a fabric store :D

This is a free tutorial and I encourage you to use the information in any way you need to (check the disclaimer at the bottom of the page). If it works for you, please consider supporting my etsy shop by purchasing a Little Print Design pattern or toss a dollar or two in my paypal to show appreciation and to encourage me to offer up even more quality patterns and tutorials.

Thank you!
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  1. Brilliant idea! I love it!

    I've missed you too! Hope you guys are able to get settle soon!

  2. Great idea. Do other people in the store get annoyed? I suppose it depends on the sound of the bells. Some bells have a nice sound, others are not so sweet.

  3. That is a great idea. I usually end up putting mine in a cart so they can't run away. But I bet they would love a bit more freedom.

  4. This is brilliant!! You may very well be the smartest woman EVER. I wish I had seen this when my daughter was younger! I couldn't let her get outside of arm's reach, or she'd be off on her own.

    I posted a link to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:
    (link will go live at 9:42 pm CST)


  5. Thanks all!

    I bet the other people in the store are just happy that they don't have to listen to me calling my kids and then all the fallout when I find them tearing apart the displays.

  6. SMART!!! I need one of these for both of my SPEEDY twins!

  7. Awesome! I love it. I'm going to make one for my toddler TODAY.

  8. Very cool tute! I'll have to make some of those up for the holidays too, methinks. Hope you get settled soon - I keep kicking myself for not buying your jacket pattern while it was still up on etsy!

  9. Useful for you and fun for the kids, I love it! Thanks so much, I'll be linking.

  10. What an excellent idea! I have to make one for my granddaughter when I go do "childcare" for her. Thanks for the idea.