Sunday, December 30, 2012

Felt campfire set

My littlest girl decided she wanted a "pop-up fire" for Christmas.  Once I deciphered that, I found out she meant a felt campfire, like she had seen on Pinterest.  Note to self: don't let daughter sit on your lap while you surf Pinterest. 

I discovered this great book by Jeannette Lim called "Big Little Felt Universe."  The pictures and patterns are truly fantastic, and the book has tons of projects.  I think I might make the felt tool set next.  One of the best parts about this project is that it is cheap!  I used regular ecofelt sheets from the craft store -- 34 cents each.  Also, the projects are entirely hand sewn, so I worked on it in bits and pieces in front of the TV, or in a waiting room during a kid's class or doctor appointment. 

I also made s'mores to go along with it.  The pattern is also from the same book.

And then I made marshmallows and hot dogs and buns, too.

All of the kids have been having fun roasting pretend food over the pretend fire (although I know he doesn't look like he is having fun now).

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A light table!

For Christmas this year, the big present for our family was a light table!  We (mostly my husband) converted our train table to a light table.  I saw this idea on another blog -- Play At Home Mom.  In order to make the conversion, you replace the top plywood with a sheet of plexiglass. 

It turns out that white plexiglass is not something you can buy at Home Depot.  But you can buy it at plastics supply shops.  There are different kinds of white plexiglass, and you need type that is meant for light boxes - color 2447.  And it needs to be fairly thick.  Our sheet is 0.22 inches thick.  For a sheet that was cut to size and was approximately 31" x 46", it cost us $75.  Luckily, I could get it locally and didn't have to pay shipping. 

Then you install a piece of plywood underneath and attach fluorescent lighting fixtures.  We used 4 2-ft fluorescent fixtures, which each cost about $20.  My husband kindly figured out all the electrical stuff to wire them together and to a cord which we can plug in. 

And then... you find lots of colored plastic junk at the dollar store to play with!

I can't wait to show the kids more ways to explore with the light table -- tissue paper pictures, dry erase markers, tracing, sensory play, water beads...

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Doll Tent

For Christmas this year, my four kiddies are getting a doll tent to share.  Now, the boys don't really have dolls anymore, but they do have some teddy bears that are pretty precious to them. 

My oldest, Hannah, fell in love with the doll tent in the American Girl catalog.  I fell in love with a picture on Pinterest from this doll tent tutorial:

And my youngest, Sarah, says she wants a "popup fire" for Christmas -- by which she apparently means a felt campfire set that she when sitting on my lap while I was trolling Pinterest.  So it seemed like a perfect intersection of gifts.  Sarah will get a campfire set for Christmas, and everyone will get a tent to share and (hopefully, if I have time) a doll-sized sleeping bag for their favorite little doll or teddy or other lovey.

I used the free pattern from the link above, but I enlarged it to 200% to make it American Girl sized.  The poles are a broken hulahoop, cut in half.  It wasn't quite long enough, so I had to make extenders from pieces of a milk jug (yay for recylcling!).  I hope to cover the poles in some pretty duct tape, maybe, before Christmas.  If I get around to it.

I modified tha pattern so that there would be a tent door flap that would close:

And I also added a screened window in the back panel:

I used a scrap of tulle for the screen.

(It's important to protect those stuffed animals from mosquitoes, right?  No malaria or West Nile virus allowed!)
And the best part is that it cost me NOTHING!  I used fabric from some old curtains, plus a few other scraps I had lying around.  And I already had the ribbon and velcro I needed.  Plus a free pattern and a broken hulahoop.  Now that's the kind of project I like! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sew-along: Leggings!

If you are a beginner at sewing, leggings are a great project to start with.  For this pair of leggings, we are using a pattern from Ottobre 4/2012 #15, view B.  But any legging pattern works very much the same.  This particular pattern has a cute gathered cuff detail.

First, you need to trace your pattern on to pattern tracing material.  Then cut it out, with seam allowance added, and use it to cut your fabric out.  The most important thing is to remember to cut your fabric so that the stretch is widthwise (around the legs).  Also, make sure you have a ballpoint needle in your machine, as we will be sewing knits.

I took these pictures when I had a sewing playdate with a friend.  We are both making brown leggings -- hers in a toddler size, mine in a tween size, so the pictures are a mix of both pairs of leggings.

Sew-Along Instructions

1.  Cut out your fabric.  You should have two main leg pieces as shown.  Place them right sides together.

2.  Sew the front crotch seam.  I am pointing to it in the picture.  It has a smaller, less dramatic curve than the back crotch seam because the back has room to go over a booty.

3. Then sew the back crotch seam in the same way.  I used my serger to sew these seams.  If you are working on a regular sewing machine, just use a narrow long zigzag stitch when you are sewing stretchy knit fabrics.

4.  Now that the two crotch seams are sewn, you need to refold your leggings by bringing the crotch seams together in the middle.  Here you see my friend Kelly matching the two crotch seams and straightening out the legs.  Note that your waistband will NOT be lined up now.  This is because the front of a pair of pants is lower than the back of a pair of pants -- again because of room for a booty.  The leggings are still right sides together.

5.  Now sew the inseam of the pants in one continuous seam, starting at one ankle, sewing all the way up one leg, and down the other leg to the second ankle.

6.  Now we need to work on the cuffs.  Fold each cuff piece in half by matching the curved edges.  Press to make a clear line.

7.  Unfold your cuffs.  With a long straight stitch, sew a line of gathering stitches along the line you just pressed.  Pull the needle thread tail to gather up the fabric.  Gather it as tight as you can for this particular pattern.

8.  Now fold in half as shown WRONG sides together and press the bottom edge.  This will be the bottom edge of your leggings eventually, and you want a nice crisp edge.

9.  Unfold the cuff piece again.  Fold it in half as shown RIGHT sides together so that the raw edges are lined up on the side.  Sew this seam.

10.  Turn right side out now and fold in half wrong sides together.  Your cuff is almost finished.

11.  Now we will make the little tabs that cover the gathered stitches.  Fold them in half lengthwise (right sides together) and press.

12.  Sew the long seam. 

13.  Turn right side out and press so that the seam is in the middle of the strip.

14.  Pin on the cuff so that the tab covers the gathering stitches.  The tab is being folded over the cuff, so that both raw end are at the top of the cuff aligned with the raw edges of the cuff.  Pin in place, and then baste in place at the top of the tabs.

15.  Now place the cuffs INSIDE the leggings, right sides together.  The cuffs are upside down so that the raw edges of the cuffs are aligned with the raw edges of the leggings.  Make sure the gathered side will be at the outside of the leg.  Pin in place.

16. Sew around this circular seam, attaching the cuff to the legging.  Make sure you catch all three layers (leggings and two layers of cuff) as you sew.  Backstitch at the beginning and end if using a sewing machine.

17.  It should now look like this:

18.  Cut a piece of elastic about 1 - 2 inches smaller than your child's waist.  Sew the elastic in a loop as shown.

19.  Pin the elastic to the wrong side of leggings waist, dividing in quarters and pinning at each quarter.  Make sure that your ends of the elastic are are the back middle of the waist band, aligned with the back crotch seam.  (Remember, you can tell the back from the front because the back is a little bit higher than the front.)

20.  Sew the top edge of the elastic to the waist using either a serger or a medium length wide zigzag stitch.  Stretch the elastic as you go to match the length of the fabric.  If you are using a serger, trim just a little fabric off as you go, but do NOT nick the elastic with your serger knife.

 21.  Fold the waistband over, and press well.  (In the picture below, you can see a bit of ribbon poking out.  This is optional.  We have added a little fold of ribbon to the back middle to make it easier for the child to tell which is the back.)

22.  Using a sewing machine with a long, narrow zigzag, stitch the elastic down, close to the bottom edge.  Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.

You are all done!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tasty Tuesday -- Week 2!

I have been making 5 - 6 bento boxes every school day for the last month.  I like that my kids are getting more varied lunches.  The hard part is coming up with enough variety to keep going day after day! 

This is what the kids and I are eating for lunch today:
Most days I can't come up with anything "cute" for lunch.  But what I try to do is put a variety of foods in the bento box.  Today we are having sliced cucumber and carrot, a slice of cheese cut into teddy bears, mini crackers, a slice and a half of ham cut into roll-ups, and diced apple.  With a cute pick to eat the apple.  My Noah boy says it is a "pitty lunch."  That means pretty.  I guess it can't get any better than that! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tasty Tuesday

Today I am starting a new blog feature on Mama Hen Jenn called Tasty Tuesdays where I will share a food related post.  I am hopeful that many of them will feature bento box style lunches.  I have been making bento lunches for my children this school year.  I know -- it seems silly since 3 out of the 4 children are homeschooled.  Why would I pack them a lunch?  Well, if I don't plan a lunch for them, they eat yogurt or PB&J every. single. day.  No variety ever.  Ever.  Also, they really REALLY like it when I make them a lunch.  I think it makes them feel special. 

So here is a lunch from last week.
This little guy is made from a ham and cheese sandwich made on a hamburger bun.  It just fits in our bento box.  Then a clementine for a head, with triscuit hair, candy eyes, and fruit flat smile.  I used a dab of leftover caramel sauce to hold the eyes in place.  Usually I wouldn't have that on hand, so I would probably use cream cheese as the glue.  It took only a couple of minutes longer than if I had just made a sandwich and peeled an orange, but the kids were really excited.   

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

This is why I've been so quiet...

If you are wondering why I haven't been blogging much lately, it's because of this little boy.  He broke his elbow on only the 5th day of kindergarten.  Can you believe it?  The worst part is that I didn't know it was broken, didn't know it was even hurt, for more than 24 hours!  He broke it in a fall on recess on a Tuesday, and I didn't know he was hurt until Wednesday evening.  In the meantime, he had been to school, had gym class, played soccer in recess, played SPUD with neighborhood friends, jumped on the trampoline, roughhoused/wrestled with his friends, rode his bike all around the neighborhood -- all with a broken elbow!  It turns out even a simple break means you need to have about a million doctor appointments, and it has just thrown our household all out of whack.  But he is absolutely fine and has not had a problem yet.  Little kids are so adaptable.  I am glad he has been still smiling.  It just made me realize how little and fragile he still is.  My little Noah.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Adult shirt refashioned to child pants

So... I think I am not normal.  Not a surprise to those who know me, I am sure.  But I cannot turn off the sewing part of my brain ever.  At Goodwill recently, I saw a adult shirt on the clearance rack.  (That's another way I am not normal.  I am so cheap I shop the clearance section at thrift stores.)  And I thought how cute the buttons at the cuff on the long-sleeved button down shirt would look -- if only they were at the ankle on a little girl's pair of pants.

So I bought the shirt, cut off the sleeves...

Added a stretchy yoga-style waistband...

And made pants...

Sarah was really excited about the pants -- just not excited enough to put down her cheesestick.

A matching tunic is in progress.  With such a bright, busy, stripey set of pants, she needs a solid tunic to tone it down, I think.
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