Saturday, December 31, 2011

Free Printable Sewing Tags + Giveaway!

Look what I have been making today -- personalized sewing tags!  I love tags, because they instantly make your garments look so much more professional.  I made neck tags (i.e. tags that go into a shirt at the back neckline, or into pants at the waistband) and double-sided side tags (that go into a side seam on pants).

To create the design, I followed the tutorial here.  Then I saved the design as a .jpg, and inserted it into a Word file.  I actually used the label function of Word and just created a custom sized label that was the perfect size for my tags.  And then to actually print the tags, I used the directions in this tutorial

Now here is the best part.  I made some cute tag designs that you can download and print!  There are neck tag designs and side tag designs.  Here's what they look like:

The side tags each have two sides -- one with words, and one with a design.  These are perfect for incorporating into the outseam of a pair of pants, or as a tag on the back pocket of jeans.

 If you want to make your own, just download the .pdf files at the links below, and print your tags following the tutorial I linked above.  (I cannot stress enough that you should definitely read the excellent tutorial on how to print your own tags.)
And can you believe that I used only 3 sheets of printable fabric (for a total of about $5) to make all these labels????

And now for the giveaway.  I will be giving away an assortment of 25 tags (some neck tags, some side tags, in both designs) to the winner.  Here's how to enter:
  1. Become a follower of this blog and leave a comment below letting me know.  If you already are a follower, then leave a comment telling me that.
  2. Link to this post on Facebook, and leave a comment letting me know.
  3. Tweet about this giveaway and the free printables, and leave a comment below.
  4. Pin (or re-pin) this post on Pinterest, and leave a comment below telling me that you did.
Make sure you leave a separate comment for each entry.  Also, please leave your email address, or I won't be able to contact you if you win.  This giveaway will end on 1/7/12.  Thanks for entering!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Child's Christmas Garland

I love to have a craft or two to do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  This year, we made a garland out of felt, stickers, and yarn.

This was inspired by a Christmas ornament I saw in Women's Day, I think.  I lost the magazine in which I first saw it, so I don't know for sure! 

This is so easy, you don't even need a tutorial.  Here are the steps:
1.  Cut a simple shape out of stiffened felt.
2.  Let the kids stick felt or foam snowflake stickers all over.
3.  Punch a hole in the top with a standard paper hole punch.
4.  String them along a piece of yarn, knotting each ornament in place.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fun and easy hats for sloppy hair days...

I have been looking at these hats on the I Am Momma Hear Me Roar blog for ages now.  I finally accumulated enough outgrown tee-shirts to make one for each of the kids.  I love them.  They are not warm winter hats.  They are more like "wear around the house" hats.  I think I might make one for me, too.  I secretly wish to dress really crazy and funky, but I am not quite confident enough to pull it off, so I dress my kids that way instead. 

I love these little faces!  What cutie-pies I have!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Knitted Owl Hat Pattern!

For some reason, my toddler is obsessed with owls!  She just loves them, which is fine with me, because there are tons of cute owl fabrics available in the last two years.  Recently, I saw a little boy in the grocery store wearing the cutest little crocheted owl hat.  I prefer knitting, so I went looking for a knitted owl hat pattern.  I couldn't find a free one that was exactly what I wanted, so I made up my own pattern.  I looked at tons of different pictures, so this is inspired by lots of beautiful hats seen on Etsy and Ravelry. 

You can find it as a google doc here.  It fits all the entire family, circumference wise, but it is too short for older siblings and adults.  If making it for older kids, I would make it 9" tall instead of 7".  Hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tutorial: Funky Upcycle Accessories

Funky Upcycle Set: Armwarmers, Hat, and Necklace Plus a Bolero

1.  Find a great shirt at the thrift store -- I like them to be stripy!  This is a women's size small.

2.  Cut the sleeves off at your desired length for the arm warmers.

3.  Turn the sleeves inside out and serge a new side seam so that the sleeve gets narrower as it approaches the cut end.  In this picture, the sleeve on the right has already been narrowed in this way, but the left sleeve has not.

4.  Cut out a triangle shape to make the thumb shaping.

5. Serge around where you just cut out the triangle.  Then turn right side out.  The cut edge will be unfinished so it curls over time, which means you are all done with the  armwarmers!

6.  Now, for the hat.  I wanted to re-use the hem of the shirt as the bottom hemmed edge of the hat.  My daughter was not around to measure her head circumference, so I just traced around a winter hat that I knew fits her well. 
This shirt has a curved hem, so I cut the hat so that the longer edge would be in the back of the hat, and the front of the hat is the side seam of this shirt.  This shirt has decorative contrast stitching, which will now run right down the front of the hat. 

7.  Turn the hat inside out and serge the cut curved seam.  Make sure to secure the serging at the ends of your seam, of course.

Here it is turned right side out -- all done!  The front of the hat is on the right in this picture.

8.  For the necklace, cut wide strips from your shirt -- 2 or 3 inches wide.

9.  Then cut the strips at one side seam to make 3 long pieces of fabric.  In this picture, only 2 of them were cut open so far.

10. Lay all 3 strips on top of each other and sew them together along one short end.

11.  Now braid them loosely. 

12.  Form it into a loop, and sew or serge both ends together.  Finished!

13.  Your hat, necklace, and arm warmers set is done, but you have enough of the shirt leftover to make a cut little bolero style cardigan.
14.  Just cut directly up the middle.

15.  Then add a snap or button to close it.  Leave all the edges raw to curl.  This will look so cute over a white t-shirt!

So, out of one women's small size shirt, you have made a hat, arm warmers, necklace, and short sleeve bolero.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Funky Upcycle!

I just LOVE when kids are dressed in funky, colorful, unique clothes!  Of course, I think I am the only one in this particular suburban community who feels that way, so sometimes my kids stand out.  Is that bad?  I hope not!  So, I have been thinking that my 7 year old needs some arm warmers (fingerless gloves), and I was thinking they should be stripy.  Oh, also, cheap and easy.  And, as long as I was going to make arm warmers, I figured I should make a hat and a braided knit scarf/necklace, too.

I headed to my local thrift store in search of a stripy long sleeve t-shirt, and this is what I found:
Perfect!  You should have seen how excited I was!  Here's the finished product:

Plus, there was enough of the shirt leftover to make a bolero!

Look for the tutorial on Tuesday!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Exploring Shapes

Don't you just love natural learning opportunities? I do!  Today, while I was making dinner, my son was playing with a plastic beaded necklace on the kitchen floor.  He was all excited about the funky shapes he was creating.  He was creating some really unusual ones for which I am pretty sure we do not have names.

So, I asked him to make a triangle.  It took him a few seconds to figure out how to pull the necklace to make a triangle.  I know you are thinking that it sounds pretty simple, but it requires you to figure out how many sides and how many "corners" the shape has. 

Next, I asked him to make a square.  Even though he has known all of his basic shapes for at least a year (or maybe 2), he couldn't figure it out!  We had to look at other squares and count the corners before he could create one on his own with the necklace.  For some reason, creating the shape with the necklace forced him to think about the number of sides and the number of corners in a much more concrete way than just drawing a shape with a crayon or pencil.

I think maybe it is time to pull out the Geoboards!  They are a fun way for kids to explore shapes, all while playing. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lazy Cook's Black Bean Soup

Today is a cold, dreary fall day, which always makes me feel a desperate need for soup.

Here's my own recipe for black bean soup -- the lazy way.

2 cans black beans
2 cans diced tomatoes (you can substitute Rotel tomatoes if you want a little spicyness.)
1 can beef broth

Mix all ingredients (undrained) in a large pot, and heat over medium until warm.  Garnish with a little shredded cheese or a teaspoon of sour cream.

If you are feeling ambitious, make a batch of homemade bread to go with it.  You could try my favorite recipe here.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Free Scrappy Doll Pattern

As promised, here is a free pattern to make a scrappy doll.  This was a fun project for me, because all the fabrics used remind me of well-loved dresses and hats and shirts that the kids have mostly already outgrown.  This doll was inspired by and modeled after the illustrations in The Ticky-Tacky Doll, a children's story book written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Harvey Stevenson.

The pattern and the instructions (with pictures) are .pdf files.  You can download them here:

Scrappy Doll Pattern

Scrappy Doll Instructions

I hope you make some dolls that are cherished and loved.  I know my 2 year old has barely put her "tiddy-taddy" down since I made it last week.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Preschool Plans Available!

Lesson plans are now available for pre-K weeks 4, 5, and 6!

Week 4 - Letter F

Week 5 - Letter E

Week 6 - Letter H

In our house, we are completing Week 1 right now.  Today we used bread dough to make letters.  It was a really fun activity, and we ate our letters for snacks and also with dinner.  :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

First day of school 2011!

Today was our first homeschool day for the 2011 - 2012 school year.  We did our first day of Sonlight curriculum with the older kids, and our two little ones did their first day of preschool using the lesson plans I posted here on the blog (see the tab on top for the link). 

Every day I have planned a craft or activity for the preschoolers, and I expect that the older kids will participate in these projects most days, too.  Here's some pictures from today.

Here's my 5 year old working on his spelling words.

In this picture, our preschoolers are playing with the wooden pieces from Handwriting Without Tears.  They will eventually use these to build letters, but today they were just getting familiar with the names (big line, little line, big curve, little curve).  The 4 year old LOVED the song on the Handwriting Without Tears CD.  It had him using the wooden pieces to tap, or play drums, etc.

Our 4 year old was using foam letters and paint to stamp his name.  It got a little messy.
(See the foam puzzle on the ground?  It's from the Dollar Tree.  That's what they used as their stamps.)

The older kids had fun with foam letters and paint, too!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ticky-Tacky Doll

Last week, we read a book by Cynthia Rylant called The Ticky-Tacky Doll. 

It was the sweetest story of a little girl who loves the rag doll made by her grandmother.  When the little girl goes to school, she has to leave the ticky-tacky doll behind, even though it "was as much a part of her as eyes or ears or a nose."  Of course, the story has a happy ending, but I won't ruin it for you.  You can buy it or check it out of the library and see if it delights your family as much as it did ours. 

Well, of course, my children all wanted a ticky-tacky doll RIGHT AWAY!  And, being a sewing mama, I do seem to have plenty of fabric scraps laying around.  So this is my version of the ticky-tacky doll.

I can tell she is going to be well loved in our family, because she was being played with before I even gave her any hair!

Our two year old was saying, "I yuv my tiddy-taddy daw!"

I have a pattern and tutorial coming soon.  And maybe I will sew some doll clothes if I get inspired!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Secret Messages

Tonight something magical happened as I was putting the kids to bed.  We had finished reading a sweet book, and I was just tucking them in, giving them their good night hugs and kisses.  I leaned in close to my 5 year old, and I whispered in his ear about how proud I was of the way he acted today while playing with his cousin.  I told him how big he was getting, and how happy I was to see him being a gracious loser when they played chess today.  And the smile on his face got bigger and bigger.  He just seemed to glow from within.

Now, it's not like I don't praise my kids and love them all the time.  But somehow whispering this secret message to him, so only he could hear, transformed this praise into something extraordinary.  He is my little one who does not like snuggles, does not like joking around, and can be a little sullen and unhappy with almost everything I say.  (Is he a teenager in disguise?)  But he loved this!

So then my 7 year old says, "What did you say?  What did you say?"  I said, "It was just a little message for only his ears.  Don't you worry about it."  Of course, she begged and begged for a message, too!  And then the toddler started chanting, "Message!  Message!" 

As I kissed each one, I leaned in and whispered about what I noticed them doing right today.  They were so thrilled that I had noticed, and it was a special moment for us.  (And the disciplinarian in me thinks it is a great way to re-inforce good behavior.)  I think these "secret messages" might become a nightly tradition!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Travel Math Game

Here's an educational boredom-buster for car trips this summer!  And it only takes a few supplies and a few minutes to make.  Depending on your child's age and skill level, you can make this an addition, subtraction, or multiplication game.

Metal tin with clear acrylic top (I found mine at Michael's for $2.99.)
Craft foam
2 10-sided dice
Small round magnets
A few marbles or plastic pieces of some sort to use as playing pieces
Tacky glue

1.  Choose a really fun looking tin!  It has to be metal (so it is magnetic), and it needs a clear top, so you can see the dice.
Here is the label on the back of mine, so you can see the brand and size (6.75" diameter).

2.  Cut craft foam to line the bottom and sides of the tin.  This is really, really important!  If you don't line the container, it will be SO noisy when it is shaken!  You could use felt instead, but craft foam is super cheap and deadens the sound better.  If you don't know what craft foam is, this is the label from mine:

3.  Glue it in place with tacky glue.  Here my daughter is helping me.

I only had scraps of foam laying around from previous projects, so I had to piece it together.  That's ok -- it is all about sound insulation, so it doesn't matter if it takes multiple pieces.

4.  Next you need to attach a game board to the outside of the tin.  If you are using the same size tin, you can download a game board here
Print it out on paper, cut it out, and tape it on with clear packing tape.  I don't have a picture of myself taping this in place, because I can't tape and take pictures at the same time!  But here it is with the game board already taped on the outside.

Put the dice inside, and, if desired, use the packing tape to seal the tin so it can't be opened.  That way, the dice cannot escape during use.  However, then the playing pieces can't be stored in the tin.  So, it is up to you.

5.  The only thing left is to make the playing pieces.  Use some more tacky glue to attach your glass beads or marbles to the magnets.

All done!  Ok, here's how to play (but you can always make up your own rules, of course!):

Awesome Addition!
Shake the tin five times.  Add up the two numbers on the dice.  If you get the answer right, you get to move your piece that many spaces.  If you get the answer wrong, you don't move on this turn.  Play passes to the next player.  Win the game by reaching the finish square first.

Super Subtraction!
Shake the tin five times.  Subtract the smaller number from the larger number.  If you get the answer right, you get to move your piece that many spaces.  If you get the answer wrong, you don't move on this turn.  Play passes to the next player.  Win the game by reaching the finish square first.

Marvelous Multiplication!
Shake the tin five times.  Multiply the two numbers.  If you get the answer right on the first try, you get to move your piece 3 spaces.  If you get the answer right on the second try, you get to move your piece 1 space.  If you get the answer wrong both times, you don't move on this turn.  Play passes to the next player.  Win the game by reaching the finish square first.
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