Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Diaper Clutch Tutorial

Diaper Clutch Tutorial

First, have you seen my giveaway for this clutch?  Enter here!

Now, on to the tutorial!  This diaper clutch is just big enough to hold a disposable diaper or two, a travel wipes case, and a disposable changing pad.  It only requires one fat quarter of fabric, and some velcro as a closure.  Here's what it looks like when it is full:

It is very easy to make, as it is all straight line sewing.  It only requires a standard sewing machine, as all the seams will be enclosed.  It is a great project for a beginner sewist. 

1.  Cut two pieces of fabric that are 18" x 11".  You can use two different fabrics if you would like the lining to be different than the outside.

2.  Cut a small triangle off the top corners.  I did this by eye on the first corner, and then I used the scrap I had just cut off as a template to make the cuts on the other top corners.

3.  Now iron out all the wrinkles, and fold it in thirds and iron it to make creases to look like this:

4.  Place the two pieces right sides together and sew all around with a 1/4" seam allowance, leaving a small opening on the side through which you will turn it right side out.  Backstitch at the beginning and end.  In this picture, I have marked with pins so you can see where I left the opening:

Here I am sewing all around:

5.  Turn right side out, poking out the corners neatly, and press well. 

6.  Now sew on the hook (scratchy) side of the velcro across the inside top.

If you want to sew a decorative tag on the reverse side, now is the time to do it.

7.  Next, sew on the loop (soft) side of the velcro across the outside bottom:

8.  This is the only tricky part.  You need to fold it in thirds now, but it needs to be inside out -- i.e. lining fabric on the outside.  Pin it in place.  It should look like this:

9.  Now you are going to start sewing at one bottom corner (where I am pointing in the last picture).  Sew all the way up the side, along one diagonal corner, across the top, along the other diagonal corner, and back down the other side.  This will simultaneously stitch it into the clutch shape and topstitch the top edge.  You need to sew very close to the edge -- about 1/8" seam allowance.  Backstitch at the start and end.

Here is what it should look like when you are done:
  (Just a side note:  You can see looking at this picture that I did not actually fold it in perfect thirds but rather made the top flap a little longer.  This is just personal preference.)

10.  Now turn it right side out and iron again.  And you are done!

From one yard of fabric, you could make four -- enough for a bunch of friends! 

Please let me know if you use this tutorial.  I would love to see pictures!

Diaper Clutch Giveaway!!!

Diaper Clutch Giveaway!

When I had my third child, my sister-in-law was kind enough to give my a diaper clutch.  It was just big enough to hold 2 or 3 disposable diapers, a travel case of wipes, and a disposable changing pad.  Even though we normally cloth diaper, I still found this clutch to be SO useful, because I could keep it in the car, or stuff it in my (large) purse, just in case.  You know -- when you are only going into the store for a few minutes, so you shouldn't have to change the baby, but you want something just in case.  Or when you were running late and didn't have time to restock the cloth diaper bag, but it's ok because you have these two extra diapers just in case.  So when I realized that I have three pregnant friends, all having their third or fourth child, I figured that this might be the perfect gift.  I designed this to be a little different than the one I received as a gift all those years ago (4 years ago already!), and it was quick and fun to sew.  I will have a tutorial for you -- soon, I promise!  The best part is that it only requires ONE fat quarter of fabric and a bit of velcro!  And it is an easy sewing project for even the most beginner sewist. 

I made a total of four of these, so that I could give three away as gifts to my friends and still have one to give away here on the blog.  Here's an inside view so you can see how it fits just the bare necessities:
The giveaway is for the clutch (dipes and wipes not included), and here is how to enter:
  1. Become a follower of this blog, and leave a comment telling me that you became a follower or you already are!
  2. For a second entry, share this post on Facebook and come back here and leave me a comment telling me that you did.
This giveaway will close in one week on July 5.  Winner will be chosen by random drawing. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

DIY Fabric Rug

Yay!  I made an area rug!  I love sewing!  This is one of the few times where I can confidently say that I saved money by sewing.  Generally, I basically buy tons of fabric, oodles of patterns, lots of notions, and expensive machines.  But this time, I actually saved money! 

We are setting up a painting station in our kitchen.  "In your kitchen???" I imagine you saying, in disbelief.  But, yes, there is a train table in the master bedroom and a painting station in the kitchen.  This is what you get when you have a small house, no playroom, and a big homeschooling family.  My 4 year old absolutely loves painting.  And this is one of the things that I feel a little guilty about, because it tends to be neglected as we homeschool him.  In preschool, they paint daily, but at home -- ummmm.... not so much.  So we are setting up the easel, front and center, so painting cannot be ignored! 

But, even with our newly discovered devotion to painting, I am a little worried about the mess.  He is not too messy -- but our 2 year old is!  So here is a rug to catch the splatters, and I can throw it in the washing machine as needed.  I followed the tutorial at "High-Heeled Foot in the Door" here.  It honestly took only about a half hour, and I had all the materials on hand.  It is made of a layer of quilting cotton, a layer of denim, and a layer of the non-slip stuff meant to go under rugs.  I did not have spray glue, but I did have basting spray, which worked fine.  Here's what it looks like from the underside.

If I was doing it again, I would definitely have serged the fabric edges before sewing it in place.  I did not think that far ahead, so I used a zigzag stitch over the raw edge to sew the whole thing together. 

If you make a rug, too, I hope you will share a link to your pictures in the comments!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Tshirt -- Revised!

I decided that the tshirt I embellished the other day needed some color.  I was helped along to this decision by my 5 year old who said, "Mom, please, can it be colored in???"

So here is the finished product:

I tried a new type of paint that I found at my newly expanded JoAnn Fabrics.  It is a very thin paint, almost more like a dye than a paint.  The advantage to this is that it does not add any stiffness at all to the shirt.  It seems more like a screenprinting dye than a paint.  The disadvantage is that it bleeds a little bit beyond the bounds of the sections I was trying to paint.  But I liked it enough I will use it again in the future.  It is called Dye-na-Flow by Jacquard.  And it only took a few drops to do this tshirt.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Embellishing T-shirts With Coloring Sheets!

One of my favorite blogs is Made By Joel at  If you haven't checked out his blog, you should!  It is full of ideas for how to make toys, usually from easy to obtain household items like paper and cardboard boxes.  He also has some free coloring sheets, which are truly wonderful.  In a comment on his blog, someone recently mentioned that these designs would look great if they were stitched out, so I thought I would give it a try.  I think this t-shirt looks very unique and cool, and here is a quick tutorial to go along with it.  I do not have an embroidery machine, so this tutorial just requires a regular sewing machine.

1.  Print out the coloring sheet designs you would like to use.  Cut apart the different pictures and arrange them on your t-shirt, pinning them in place.

2.  In order to stitch properly on a stretchy knit like a t-shirt, you need to stabilize the fabric with interfacing.  The best type to use would be tear-away stabilizer meant for use with embroidery machines.  You can buy this at JoAnn Fabrics, among other places.

3.  Cut pieces of this interfacing slightly larger than each picture, and pin them in place on the wrong side of the fabric.  If you turn the shirt inside-out, it would look like this:

4.  Now, set your machine for a zigzag stitch that is about as wide as the lines on the pictures.  You should make this a very short stitch, too.  Then just stitch right on top of the paper.

5.  Whenever you need to turn to follow the lines of the drawing, you should leave the needle down in the fabric, raise the presser foot, and pivot the fabric until you are pointed in the right direction.

6.  Make sure to backstitch to secure the stitching at the beginning and end.

7.  When you are done stitching out the design, tear off the paper from the front.

8.  Then turn the shirt inside-out and gently tear off the stabilizer, being careful that you do not pull out the stitching.

You are done!  That's how easy it is! 

If you would like, you can use multiple colors.

If you would like the designs to be more bold and defined, you should use a true satin stitch.  In other words, make your zigzag stitch very wide and very short.  This will give a very polished look.  I wanted it to look more like a sketch, so I used a narrower, longer zigzag.

My t-shirt definitely would have looked better if I had enlarged the pictures first.  I keep forgetting how big my kids are getting!  This is a size 6 t-shirt, and it is a pretty big canvas.  I am also thinking that I might go back and add some details using fabric paint, just for fun.  What do you think?  Is this something you would try?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Another giveaway!

Montessori Print Shop is having ANOTHER giveaway!  This time it is for 4 Montessori Teaching Manuals.  This is an amazing giveaway, since it is the majority of what you would need for educating your young child.  Enter today at:

See my post yesterday about another one of their giveaways, too!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Montessori Printables

Have you heard of Montessori Print Shop?  They are a great source of inexpensive printables for teaching early learners.  One product I have been eyeing is their word wheels:

But right now they have a giveaway of their movable alphabet.

Follow this link to enter!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What *is* homeschooling curriculum???

Since so many of our friends and family members are not very familiar with homeschooling, we get asked lots of questions.  Often, people are curious as to what we need to homeschool.  Many people think that public schools would give us the textbooks they use, and we would teach from that.  Actually, that's not the way it works at all.  At least in our state, we do not receive any free materials, nor are we required to teach exactly what the public schools teach.  I think this is wonderful, because it means we are free to choose to use the educational methods and philosophies that we think best.  And, lucky for us, there are tons of options of curricula designed especially for homeschooling, ranging from free to very expensive.  We have just finished gathering the materials for our first and second graders for the next school year, and I thought I would show you what that looks like for our family.

We chose to use Sonlight curriculum for next year, which is a literature based curriculum.  We are excited about this, especially now that all the books have arrived from all our orders!  We even had to buy a new bookshelf to hold all the wonderful books!  Here are all the books we will use for Science, Reading for our 1st grader, Reading for our 2nd grader, History, Geography, and Literature (read-aloud books):
Following Sonlight's suggestions, they are color-coded with stickers on the spine.  That's a whole lot of books for our little kids to read in one school year! If you look close, you can see the green dot books at the left for science, the yellow dot books which are readers for our 1st grader, the white dot books for our 2nd grader, and the pink dot books for history, geography, and read-alouds.

While this is primarily a literature based program, of course there is more than just great books.  On another shelf, we keep the instructor's manual (the lesson plans), and an organizer for each child with all their work pages.

Want a closer look at the lesson plans?

Yeah, there's a lot of lesson plans!  The binder is organized by week -- 36 weeks in a school year.  For each week, there are daily plans for Bible, History, Geography, and Literature (Read-Alouds) on one page.  Then there is a page per week for each child's Language Arts, Reading, Spelling, and Handwriting, and another page per week for Science.  And then there are pages and pages of notes and explanations.

Each child has their own organizer.  When I was a kid, we called these "Trapper Keepers," and we thought they were so cool!  It turns out my kids think they are cool, too!  In their binder, there are Language Arts worksheets, followed by Science worksheets.  What I  really like about this program is that it does have worksheets to reinforce concepts, but they are kept to a bare minimum -- one worksheet per week for Language Arts and one for science.  On the left side, you can see a math workbook and a handwriting workbook poking out, too.  Due to the inherent nature of those two subjects, they require daily workbook pages, of course. 

All of this wonderfully rich, literature-based curriculum does not come cheap.  Not including the music lessons, gymnastics, sports, co-op classes, science museum classes, etc., we will have spent nearly $1000 for curriculum for our preschoolers plus our 1st and 2nd graders for next year.  Of course, this is not nearly as expensive as private school, but it is a lot if you are comparing it to free public school.  (I know -- public school isn't free.  We pay for it in taxes, but we still have to pay those school taxes, too.)  Is it worth it?  We think so.  We see the close knit family that results from homeschooling, and we have the opportunity to nurture a love of learning, so that we have kids who learn through reading and thinking, not just completing workbook pages.  We think it is working so far.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Planning for Homeschool Preschool

I have been working hard on creating 36 weekly plans for our 4 year old's homeschool preschool year.  I want to make sure that he gets all the attention he needs even when we are busy homeschooling the older kids.  Plus, I want to make it easy for my husband, who is the one who actually stays home and teaches the children.  Our family's philosophy on early education is that it should have lots of unstructured free play time, lots of reading out loud, listening to music, and time outdoors.  But with all that unstructured time, I also want to make sure he is getting the early literacy skills he will need to become a successful reader.

So we have decided to do a Letter of the Week.  There are lots of free Letter of the Week ideas available if you do a quick google search, but none of them were quite what I wanted.  So I am writing my own plan.  I want to introduce you to a few resources that I am using and think are really great:

  • Art Across the Alphabet by Kelly Justus Campbell
    This is great for ideas about decorating a cutout of each letter.
  • Letter of the Week! by Christine Clement Stack
    This has ideas for activities, craft projects, even some songs and books for each letter.

  • Handwriting Without Tears
    This is an entire line of handwriting products, but the preschool books are fantastic.  They cover capital letters, shapes, colors, and numbers.  This is a developmentally appropriate curriculum that only has preschoolers using crayons, rather than pencils or pens.  What I love is that this program uses manipulatives to teach the letters.  First the students use wooden letter pieces to build the letter, then they use playdoh to make the letter, then they use a slate, and finally they move on to using a crayon.  I can't find a package that puts together everything I am using.  I bought mine used at a curriculum fair.  I would suggest buying the Get Set for School workbook, the Pre-K teacher manual, the Wooden Letters with laminated letter sheets, the music CD, a slate and chalk, and the Roll-A-Dough letter manipulative (if you have a playdoh obsessed boy like me!), which you can get at Rainbow Resource.
I am planning on making my weekly lesson plans available using google docs.  I hope they will be helpful!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Something for geeky science sewers!

Are you familiar with the Scientific Seamstress?  Her name is Carla, and she writes wonderfully clear e-patterns.  But she has a new free printable on her site, and I am so excited about it!  She created a Periodic Table of Sewing Elements.  Wouldn't this look great on the wall of your sewing room???  I hope you'll follow the link and check it out!
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