Oh boy, I’ve had the idea for this one for months now. When I first dreamt it up, I had no workshop/tools, but little did I know how much trouble this little beauty was going to cause me!!! For those of you just joining in, this is week 3 in my 52 Create where I create 52 projects over 52 weeks.
First, let me tell you, wheels are not easy to come by. When I was a kid, my dad and I built a soap box car. We went to our local Canadian Tire and picked up some cheap wheels and by the end of the day I was ripping down the hill behind the Parliament buildings. Fast forward 20 years and things are no longer so simple. After visiting several stores, the best I could do were some snow blower wheels which were too heavy, and $10/wheel!!!! You can buy a toy stroller in Paris for $7. I should have bought one before we left and just ripped the wheels off… Anyways, after some ebay searching I ended up ordering 4 scooter wheels from the states. Total cost was $25 including shipping which still seems like a lot for what they are being used for, but in the end I’m happy how they turned out. My daughter loves strollers and at playgroup always finds one to tear around the room with.
The stroller is made out of Baltic Birch plywood, the dowels are from an old laundry hamper that a roomate broke/left behind. I had my wife sew up the seat from some corduroy fabric (she also made the doll in the picture below). In search of a safe kid friendly finish, I ended up using shellac. It was a bit of a pain as the Lee Valley sells the flakes, but not the alcohol. They also failed to tell me that although it recommends using Ethanol, that isn’t available in Alberta and so you need to use Methyl Hydrate instead. If I had known this at the beginning, I might have saved myself a lot of driving around. Shellac is of course food safe (used to coat M&M’s) and so is a great finish for kids objects. It’s also nice that it has no real smell to it, so I could apply the finish indoors.
After our day (more like hour) at the Sweat shop, this is what we came home with…
That’s right, a baby! No not really, we already had the baby. It’s been getting colder in Paris, and since we hadn’t planned on staying so long, we didn’t really have anything warm for the stroller. We do have blankets but somebody likes to kick her feet all the time and they just wouldn’t stay on.
I drew up a quick pattern and headed off to buy some fleece. The pieces were cut out on our bed (the wonders of small apartments) and C sewed it up like a pro at the Sweat Shop. It’s sort of a “kimono” style sleeping bag with two front flaps that fold over each other, the outer flap tying up on the side. We then cut 5 holes in the back for the safety harness and we were done.
The bag works like a charm. It’s a little difficult to get her in and out and to hook up the harness as it tends to shift around, but we’ve got the hang of it now and so far it’s kept her warm on many chilly mornings. In the end we only spent $12 on fabric and sewing machine use, could have been under $10 but I overestimated the fabric we needed. It felt so good to get crafty again, can’t wait to be home where we have all our stuff to make things with.
I headed out the door this morning in search of some new shoes for my 1 year old daughter. Somehow one got tossed over board from the stroller and so a new pair was needed. In my 5km wander through the streets of Paris, I got to thinking about stroller design. We have a generic “umbrella” style stroller that folds up fairly small, doesn’t weigh too much, and handles like combine with no wheels… And herein lies the problem, you can’t have everything when it comes to strollers, so it can be light-weight, but not durable, sturdy, but not able to be folded compactly, small, but not able to handle anything but an airport runway…
Looking at strollers online, there isn’t exactly a ton of innovation going on here. They generally have 3 or 4 sets of wheels, 1-2 wheels per set. Ours has 8 which seems excessive as my daughter only weighs 20 lbs. I mean cars don’t need double wheels, so why should a stroller? Most collapse in some way (some more than others), and most have a sun shade on them. Really, a stroller is simply a folding chair with wheels, maybe it doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that?
But I think it could be so much better! Most strollers have small wheels (so they can fold up smaller) but these are terrible on bumps (COBBLESTONES!!!!). It’s true, 12″ inflatable tires would smooth out the ride significantly, but you’d have a mini lunar lander on your hands.
Strollers also never seem to turn when you want them to, but do so quite willingly when you’re trying to keep it in a straight line. The three wheeled ones would obviously help in this aspect, but they always seem to have their third wheel shooting out the front where it’s liable to take out some granny’s ankles (I guess that could be a good thing…).
And then there are the stairs… Carrying a stroller up a flight of stairs with two people is tough work, awkward, and back breaking. Trying to manage stairs on your own is nearly impossible (Paris Metro – I hate you!).
So do I have a new and wonderful design in my head? Maybe, but I couldn’t draw it while pushing, lifting, carrying our old stroller halfway across Paris in search of shoes…. Will have to save it for another day.