St. Patrick’s Day!

So much for the Valentine’s post I had planned. The pictures are somewhere and hopefully I will get around posting it this week. Though I may wait until April 14th, then I will be an even two months late.

This St. Patrick’s day was ridiculous. I don’t know what came over me! I might as well have thrown all of my standards off the side of a cliff.

First off, I finally made another tutorial I found on pinterest! The instructions for the adorable little shirt we made came from The Life of a Cheap Chickadee.

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We obviously went for the greens and golds, being St. Patrick’s day and I only stayed up until 12:30am the night before finishing it. (This was mainly due to the fact that I refused to get up to start the project until after 10:30pm.) With that said, it is a great little project and perfect if you need a green shirt at the last-minute, since you daughter’s closet is stocked with every hue of pink, but not a speck of green.

This is also a wonderful up-cycling project, if you have a shirt that is too short in the tummy or has spots on the lower parts. You can use old t-shirts to make the ruffles.

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Some tips I found out while sewing; cut the strips whatever width, but make them at least three times longer than the width of your shirt (I did this by just measuring across the front of the shirt three times with one of the strips, then cutting off the excess). Make a plan of where you want your tie band to be and then work up from the bottom to that point. Last, the shirt we used was very light and thin, it might have been better to use a slightly heavier jersey, that will better hold the weight of the ruffles.

IMG_7749This year has been busy and the house looked nice, so I did not want a “visit” from any sort of “leprechaun” messing everything up. However, silly me, has done this in the past. Made a pile of books in the middles of the floor, spread shamrocks, dressed up stuffed animals, something to that effect. (Maybe it is something about St. Patrick’s day that causes my morals to slip). I had remembered doing it and the snug had too. While she wasn’t really wondering why the leprechaun hadn’t come, she definitely had a lot of questions and hypothesizes about it.

Therefore, I felt a range of conflict (starting at my mom claiming that every child needs to have some sort of magic in their life – to – my dislike of creating implicit lies to my child [we don't 'do' santa or the tooth fairy or the easter bunny, why would we do leprechauns]), so of course, my mom won out. I lied. I said that I had caught the leprechaun the night before, since I had been up late sewing. I had shooed him away since the house had looked nice and I was too tired to clean after him. (upon recollection, this wasn’t necessarily a lie).

Later that day, I picked up a puzzle, put it together, and then took it apart in 10 piece chunks. I wrapped the chunks in tissue paper and hid them around the house.

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At least the cat enjoyed it. The snug did too, though she had voiced speculations.

I am losing all of my moral standards. I lied to my child about a mischievous fantastical creature. I bought a gift for St. Patrick’s day, not a well known gift giving holiday. Then I wrapped it, in tissue paper, 2 for each package, that is 20 quarter sheets of tissue paper! What got into me??

P.S. While I talk about the shirt being a great candidate for up-cycling, ours was not. Not even close! The shirt we had bought long ago, but hadn’t worn. The jersey and lace we bought that weekend, since I didn’t have any green jersey. Or at least I didn’t have any that was readily accessible.

Happy Week After St. Patrick’s Day!

P.P.S. I don’t even have a category to put this wasteful account of a holiday in. Tsk, tsk. Oh well. Better luck next year.

Groundhog Day!

Since winter is in full swing where we are (and all over the U.S. for that matter) I figured I could be a little late in posting our ground-hog day activities.

This was a really fun mini-theme because the snug was able to do almost everything by herself. Obviously I helped, but you could see how fulfilling it was for her to be able to do most everything alone.

Here are the books we read.

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Groundhog Weather School by Joan Holub and Kristin Sorra- this adorable little tale features an overwhelmed groundhog trying to appease the frustration felt continually from his localized weather reports. He recruits, trains, and posts more groundhogs to help create more accurate weather reports.

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The Groundhog day Book of Facts and Fun by Wendie Old- This longer more in-depth book, tells all about the seasons, why they actually change, whether groundhogs are proper advocates for changing weather conditions and how this tradition came to be.

IMG_7451Who Will See Their Shadows This Year? by Jerry Pallotta and David Biedrzycki- This fun and simple book is easy enough for the beginning reader to master. Strange things happen when other animals try to see their shadow to bring about spring.

Besides books, we had a little treat for this mini-theme. Some print offs! I really like activity village for many of our holiday activity sheets.

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Another super cute craft we saw floating around the internet was a ground-hog puppet. The puppet from Buzzmills was our favorite! Though she had some awesome clear directions, we made a modified version that the snug could do herself.

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The main shaft is a toilet paper tube. The snug measured and cute out the felt herself, though I did help with the shape of the groundhog and I hot glued everything, because hot glue burns are stupid. I get one every time I use a hot glue gun, without fail.

The snug sewed the groundhog by herself. I threaded the needle and tied the first and last knot and that was it. Definitely very cool.

Last was the food.

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That’s a groundhog pancake, by the way. Not the prettiest, but recognizable and more importantly edible.

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Next were those adorable groundhog cupcakes that have been floating around on pinterest. The original ones look amazing. Ours look more like something you’d find on pinterest fail sites. This point of the activity and the reason I love ours is because, again, the snug did this herself. She helped make everything, but frosted the cupcakes and decorated the cookies alone. (Those round things on top are ears).

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Groundhog cupcakes only a mother and child could love, right?

They were delicious by the way. Yellow cupcakes with strawberry frosting and butterscotch cookies. A mash-up of wonderful flavors. Everything was homemade, obviously.

Happy Winter!!

P.S. Did you know narwhals do have the ability to sense changes in weather??

DIY knitted cat bed.

We have a super snuggly kitty in our house, but it has been tough times. He has to hunt around the house looking for forlorn piles of clothing, unmade beds, or blankets that have been neglected. Comfort has been scarce and he often has to take comfort in the laps that are at times aloof for snuggling in the evening. While the dog has been a possibility, the cat has kept his pride and stayed away from the tempting, though malodorous, body heat from the dog.

Noticing this desperation, as it was keeping me from knitting, given he would come and lay on my lap/project every evening, I figured it was high time he had a bed of his own.

I had already sewn a bed for the dog, but the kitty prefers finer knitted comforts. Having a lot of Lion Brand Hometown USA® yarn I figured I could work something up for him.

The project took a little under 3 skeins of Hometown USA®. It is a super bulky yarn. I used the color Jersey Gardens.

The needles I used were US 13, 9mm straights.

This modified pattern is loosely adapted from the soft baskets pattern in More Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson.

CO 31 sts. Stocking stitch until you reach 5 inches, ending on the right side.
K one row.
CO 10 sts, knit to the end of the row, CO 10 sts.
Stocking Stitch until you reach 13 inches, ending on right side.
Bind off 10 sts, knit to last 10 sts, bind off last 10 sts.
Stocking Stitch for 5 inches.
Bind off.
Sew up side seams.
 

Before sewing the side seams you bed should look like this.

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After sewing up the side seams you will have this.

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This does create a simple and floppy bed. Perfect for snuggly kitties, who are not big on firm structure.

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The last step is to insert the cat into the bed and cover with a homemade blanket, made out of ultra cuddle fabric.

He uses it every day! Except today, he found a neglected blanket on another bed. The main point though, is he now has snuggling options. So I can knit in peace.

Happy Knitting!

 

Upcycled Christmas Tree and DIY Ribbon Garland

I really don’t like Christmas. I like the idea of it, or the “ideal” of it. Giving someone a thoughtful gift, something you put your heart into, something you worked for that was completely for someone else. Spending time together, actually having time to sit and relax, talk and play.

Unfortunately, that ideal has been slipping from my family for a little while. Since we already greened up and minimized Easter, we figured we could do the same to Christmas.

Starting with the tree. I had many ideas…

At first I wanted to build a wood tree, but our lack of resources, experience, and power tools, made me decide against it.

Next I thought a cardboard tree would work nicely. Though it would mean cutting over 260 strips of cardboard. The husband nixed this one.

Then there was lost of brainstorming as a family, we needed something large and possibly triangular, that we could rig up to be a Christmas tree for the month of December.

We came up with this…

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Our play tepee from the warmer seasons! This thing is awesome! My mom and I had made it for the snug a couple of years ago, we went to thrift shops for queen size sheets and used the Butterick pattern B4251. Be warned, it is huge, it has a diameter of 72 inches and has a center height of around 55 inches! The structure is super unfriendly PVC pipes, but they were lighter than wood. The pipes/frame is what we used for our tree.

IMG_6964TA-DA!!! IT’S A CHRISTMAS TREE-PEE!! (mind the blur). Without the fabric siding we had to drill extra holes in the middle and near the bottom of the pipes, to string ribbon and braided yarn through for support. We made it a little wider than it usually is due to the light fixture. Then we decorated.

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Tinsel, a ribbon garland, strings of ornaments and, later, a feather boa.

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What else do you need?

The best part. The few gifts we do give can go inside of the tree-pee and we can have tea parties in there until Christmas.

Also, it cost nothing. And we already had everything for it.

The ribbon garland we made, it took about 20 minutes max.

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Take a hot glue gun and a variety of ribbon cut into 7 inch strips. Any width and type will do for the ribbon, though you might want to avoid anything smaller than 1/4 inch, as it is hard to glue.

IMG_6954Then make a ribbon chain. Same way you make a paper chain, only with hot glue and ribbon, instead of a glue stick and paper.

The snug was thrilled with this project. I let her pick out the ribbon order, which adds to the fun and time.

I really have never, ever been this excited about a Christmas tree.

Happy Christmas!

A Thanksgiving post before the Turkey gets too cold.

Thanksgiving was filled with last-minute projects. Thankfully they were all up-cycling projects!

I was able to fill most of my day with sewing, as we were going to a relative’s house for dinner. That being the case, I figured I would gift the hostess with some homemade place mats.

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The fabric was some home decor fabric. I had originally used it to make a tablecloth. After the tablecloth was no longer needed I set the fabric aside to make place mats.

They turned out lovely. I mostly followed these instructions by My Poppet.

So after I had stayed up late Thanksgiving eve working on the place mats, I woke up early on Thanksgiving morning to make a turkey outfit for the snug and finish the place mats.

I am sure you have seen similar outfits on pinterest and etsy. They are adorable.

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This is my version, you can find the original and the instructions at The Ribbon Retreat Blog, it is adorable and easy to follow.

Easy to follow, that is, if it isn’t 6am on Thanksgiving day and you went to bed way too late the night before. Then it gets a little hard, especially the math.

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So many numbers!!

The fact that I do not own a printer made things a bit complicated.

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However, if you do have a white piece of paper, you can turn up the brightness on your screen and very VERY gently trace the design.

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Then, I had trouble with the double-sided interfacing. I had to do the gobbler piece three times, because I kept fusing it to the right side of the fabric, which is incorrect.

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Despite ALL of my many mistakes, which lead the project to take much longer than anticipated, which ran everyone late. It turned out super cute!

The best part, we have to buy nothing for this project. We had everything already and got a chance to finally upcycle this t-shirt that we had found at the goodwill a while back.

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Someone was very happy with the results.

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving.

Next up the holidays!!

Sustainable project #9: Mermaid Costume for a doll.

What a month!!

I have sewn more items this month, than I sewed all last year.

One of the things I sewed at the last minute was a fun little, easy, slightly different from most variations, mermaid doll costume. The main difference is this pattern does not use stretchy fabric.

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This little get up is so easy, you could whip it up in 20 minutes. It took me 2 hours, due to drafting.

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Too long, too skinny.

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Just right. After the first tail, I learned it is best to make mistakes on muslin, instead of the fabric you are going to be using.

You will need:

Decorative elastic, 1/4 elastic, non-stretch fabric a large remnant would do (I used a sparkly satin), a bit of stiff interfacing and a large piece of paper. Typical sewing tools of varying format will be necessary.

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First lay your doll on the large piece of paper. We have an American Girl doll, but any doll would do.

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Trace around your doll, but when you do, make sure you are about 3/4 of an inch away from her body. Do a second tracing around your first tracing that is a 1/2 inch away from your first tracing, this is your seam allowance, cut along this line. In the end, your pattern paper will be 1 1/4 inches away from the body of your doll.

Why so big? The fabric we are using (ahem the stuff I had on hand) has no stretch to it at all. You want to allow all the extra space you can give without losing form so you can actually put it on the doll. Beware of calf muscles and posteriors on these dolls.

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Here are the sketched out measurements for my pattern. It was a little easier to show on paper, then the actual pattern. The length of my pattern was 17 inches from top to the very bottom point of the fin. These measurements have the seam allowance included.

Once you have your pattern, use it to cut two pieces out of your main fabric remnant.

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Then cut a piece out of the interfacing that matches the bottom of the tail.

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Pin right sides of the tail together, with the interfacing on the wrong sides of one of the fins. Sew around all edges with the 1/2 seam allowance.

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Clip corners and curves and turn inside out and try the tail on your doll. To finish the top of the tail, do a simple elastic casing. Sorry I don’t have pictures, there are many great you-tubes and tutorials on this subject.

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Now for the top of the costume. Cut a rectangle of fabric, 6 1/2 x 3 1/2. Hem the short ends and then fold the piece in half lengthwise and sew.

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Turn inside out and grab your decorative elastic.

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Tuck 1/4 inch of elastic into the band and pin. Then wrap the elastic around the back of the doll, stretching it slightly as you go, measuring the amount you will need including the tucked amount, then cut.

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Sew the ends of the band straight down along the hemlines with the elastic encased.

Try it on your doll to make sure it is snug enough.

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Next cut a smaller rectangle, 2 1/2 x 1 inch.

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Fold lengthwise and sew. Then turn inside out and press.

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Scrunch up the middle of the band and wrap the small rectangle around it. You will need to hand sew this down or glue it.

There you have it!

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Your doll is all ready for the sea!

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Or some sun on the beach.

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A couple of fun things about the interfacing in the bottom of the tail, your doll can still stand and it keeps the fins form.

Happy Sewing!

P.S. This is one of my first sewing tutorials, so if I accidentally left something out or if anything is worded in a confusing manner, please let me know in the comments and I will be sure to fix it or clarify. Thank you!

DIY Homework Tray!

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Now that we are in the thick of school, let’s talk homework!!!

I love homework! I live for homework! Homework is, in fact, my favorite!

The object of this project, was not to make my snug like homework more, but to establish a good homework routine. This tray makes it easy to do homework anywhere after school. Nice day? Let’s do homework outside! Tried? Let’s do homework in the bedroom. Any old day? Let’s do homework on the dinning room table. The point is, anywhere you do homework, with the tray all your supplies are at hand. Closer supplies = less stopping = less distractions = more play time!!

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You will need a variety of things to make this exact tray, though I have seen many versions on the internet. For this you need: a tray, paint, modpodge, paint brushes, yarn, old jars, a clipboard, and any school supplies you deem necessary.

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We used some old store-bought jelly jars we had in my giant stash of things I can’t yet recycle because I want to up-cycle.

First really clean the jars. The inside will be painted, so it needs to be spotless. A nice warm bath with Dawn dish soap does wonders to those labels.

While the jars are washing, or soaking, you can paint your tray!

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The snug has been super into Lalaloopsey recently. So she wanted an artsy tray, like Spot Splatter n’ Splash’s dress. For that look, paint the tray white and then using a good amount of paint on your brush, brush down your finger fast, towards the tray, to splatter the paint. It makes a big mess, so is best done outside.

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It turned out very cool. Good idea snug!

Since we did the splatter look, I put a good coat of modpodge on the tray, after it was dry. So the paint wouldn’t fleck off.

Your tray is now finished! Back to those jars.

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Once they are dry, grab a good amount of the paint you want to use to coat the inside.

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This was my first time painting the inside of a jar, so I didn’t take too many pictures. I squeezed a lot of paint into the bottom and slowly moved it around, then I did the same for the sides. Squeeze on the sides and move it around. I had them rest upside-down on a wire drying rack with a painting placement underneath.

These take a long time to dry.

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While they are drying, you might want to move the drying rack and scoop up all of the dripped paint. No need to waste it.

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Once they are dry, scrap the excess dried paint off of the edges. I then did some touch ups with a small paintbrush and finished the inside with a coat of mod-podge.

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After that grab your yarn and tacky glue!!

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Start gluing and wrapping. Once you are started it is easy to get the yarn good and tight.

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I glued my end piece down and then with an extra piece of yarn, I wrapped it around the middle and tied a bow!

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Allow to dry!

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Wonderful!! All done! Now grab the tray and accessorize!!!

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We also picked up a clipboard for our tray, just in case we ever do homework outside.

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The clip board was mostly eco-friendly, of course!!

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Now, last and most important. Find a good place out in the open where the homework try will be accessible every afternoon!!!

Happy Homework-ing!!!