Monday, January 31, 2011

An outfit to match Kit!

For Christmas, my daughter received an American Girl doll.  The doll's name is Kit Kittredge, and her novels are set during the Great Depression.  Kit has gone everywhere with us, and my daughter says she is really part of our family.  Of course, she wanted an outfit to match the one in which Kit arrived.  Of course, I am too cheap to purchase one from American Girl at upwards of $100.  So here's how to make a Kit Kittredge outfit for a girl.

The hardest part is finding a sweater or sweater set in the right color.  I could not find one anywhere, and I could not find sweater knit fabric or even interlock in this color, either.  In the end, we were lucky enough to find a sweater just the right shade at Goodwill in adult XS.  I hemmed the sleeves and left the rest of the sweater untouched. If you are not lucky enough to find the right shade in a ready-to-wear sweater or matching fabric, I would suggest you find a color you like  and then use match the skirt fabric to the sweater.

Now, the skirt is probably the most critical part.  There are actually many lines of 1930's reproduction prints in quilting stores.  We took Kit and walked up and down the aisles of our local quilting store until we found a similar print.  This is the fabric I used.  The line of fabric is called Storybook VIII.

For the pattern, I adapted an Ottobre pleated skirt pattern from the 6/2009 issue.  As you can see, it came out a little large, and I think I need to go back and add elastic to the waist.  The only change I made to the pattern was to change the placement and number of pleats to match Kit's skirt.

Now, the hat is what I am proud of!  I don't generally crochet at all because I just don't get it.  I love knitting, but crochet has always escaped me.  For this hat, I followed the pattern found here (but I made it a little smaller to fit a child's head), and I kept a learn to crochet book open on my lap the whole time!  And I re-tied that lovely bow at least 20 times until I got it looking pretty enough.  The yarn was Sugar and Cream cotton yarn.

This outfit was her birthday present, along with a few other dolly and me items.  Here's a coat for Kit to match her winter coat.
And a pettiskirt for each of them:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Overnight undies


Last night I completed six pairs of our family calls "Overnight Undies."  None of my children really wet the bed anymore (except the baby, but we keep her in diapers :) ), but somehow even though the bed is never wet, it sometimes smells a little like pee after a day or two.  One of my dear children, in particular, apparently leaks a little.  I definitely did NOT want to go back to using Pull-ups, so this is our solution instead.

This pattern for boxer briefs comes from the Finnish children's pattern magazine Ottobre.  Ottobre is my favorite source of children's patterns.  They always fit!  However, please be advised that Ottobre patterns are really meant for fairly experienced seamstresses.  The directions assume you know a fair amount about sewing, and actually tracing the patterns out is fairly difficulty.

This pattern is from the 2/2004 issue.  (If you want to buy it, they are on sale at Sewzanne's Fabrics until Valentine's Day!)  I have modified it only slightly.  The flame colored fabric in the center panel of the briefs is PUL.  PUL stands for "polyurethane laminated" fabric.  It is a waterproof fabric commonly used in diaper making.  JoAnn's recently started carrying it. 


So, the center front and back panels are made of waterproof PUL, and then there is a single layer of absorbant cotton sherpa inside the center panels, facing the body.  This would NOT be enough absorption for a true bedwetter, but it works for us and is not bulky enough to feel like a diaper.
If you follow the tutorial found here at SewingMamas, you can have all the seam allowances on the outside of the undies, which would be more comfortable.  Note that in the above picture, I messed up on one seam, and the serged seam is inside.  It is so counterintuitive to sew wrong sides together after years and years of sewing right sides together!

The fabric for the legs can be whatever cute prints you happen to have on hand.  All cotton would be the most comfy. 

I hope this is helpful for someone.  I have not seen tutorials for exactly this need before.  These could also be used as trainers, but you would probably want to bulk up the absorbent layers.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Castle Birthday Cake

My firstborn turns 7 tomorrow, and she wanted a cake that looks like a castle.  After searching through all the cakes here,  we decided on a white cake with ice cream cones for towers.  Here it is all finished:






Please excuse the messy frosting.  I am really terrible at getting the frosting to look smooth.

Here's how we did it.  First, we mixed up two batches of cake batter.  We made 2 9-inch square cakes and 2 round cakes -- maybe 5 inches in diameter.  While they were baking, we mixed up some very thick icing with confectioner's sugar and water.  It needs to be the consistency of toothpaste:




Then we stuck two kiddie cones end to end with a dab of icing:


 

 Then we stuck a sugar cone to the top.


We let this sit for a few hours to get hard, but it wasn't long enough.  I suggest you let it sit overnight, if you can.

Also while you are waiting for the cakes to cool, you can cover a piece of cardboard or a cutting board, maybe, with blue paper and saran wrap, to look like a moat.

Then, I made up buttercream frosting.  I made a double batch.  It was not enough!  I had to make a third batch.  I stacked and frosted the two square cakes, and then stacked and frosted the two round cakes on top.  The trickiest part by far is frosting the towers and pushing them into place at the corners.

Decorating was, of course, the fun part, and the kids helped.  We used spice drops, fruit by the foot, cookies, and Twizzlers.  It was lots of fun!  It came out kind of messy, but the kids are over the moon!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dry Erase Activity Binder

This project is a super easy one, and it made my kids SO happy on Christmas.  My 5 year old uses his constantly.  I was inspired by this Crayola Dry Erase Activity Center, but I didn't want to spend the money.  Also, I didn't want something so large and clunky cluttering up my house.  I did, however, like the idea of being able to slide different pages behind a clear plastic sheet and practice writing skills, and then just be able to erase when done.  So here's my version:




(I am so sorry that my pictures are apparently horrible in this post -- blurry and with shadows!  I am such a bad photographer -- sorry!)

It is just a white "view" 3-ring binder -- the kind that has a clear plastic sheet on the cover.  The child just slips a sheet into the cover and then uses dry erase markers to practice handwriting, math, memory verses, or play games.  The best part is that the binder is stiff enough that it acts like a little desk on the child's lap, so it is great for them when they are sitting in the car, or in a waiting room, or in a church pew.

Inside the front cover, there is a zipper baggie with dry erase markers and a scrap of fabric to use as an eraser.  The hardest part of the whole project is punching holes in the ziploc, but it worked all right when I used a handheld single hole punch.  I folded the baggie over so that it would be less likely to rip out.


Now is the FUN part!  Fill the binder with whatever you wish!  It is infinitely customizable, and this is the part I like.  As the kids get bored or master certain skills, I can just add in new sheets.  I printed all the worksheets on cardstock, as that is easier for little hands to slide in the binder.  I also used sticky reinforcements on each hole because I thought they might tear through them fairly quickly.  Here are some examples of the contents of the binders:










Here are the sources for the worksheets:
     1.  Handwriting worksheets:  http://www.handwritingworksheets.com/index.htm
          This is an amazing worksheet generator.  Tons of possibilities!  You can do individual words (like names) or whole paragraphs (for Bible verses or the alphabet or your address and phone number or whatever you would like). The individual word worksheets even have arrows and start dots to show how to correctly form the letters.
     2.  Math worksheets:  www.themathworksheetsite.com
     3.  For mazes, connect the dots, shape sudoku, and other fun and games:  http://www.crayola.com/free-coloring-pages/

One final hint:  Dry erase markers are NOT very easy to remove from clothing or even skin, sometimes.  For my 3 year old, I do not trust him with dry erase markers yet, so instead I got him washable crayons.  I got the triangular type to encourage proper grip.  Fair warning -- the writing is not nearly as dark with crayons as markers, so it is not as much fun.

I hope this is helpful.
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