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.


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


Too long, too skinny.


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.


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

IMG_6303 IMG_6304

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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


Turn inside out and grab your decorative elastic.



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.

IMG_6316 IMG_6317

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.


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


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


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!


Your doll is all ready for the sea!


Or some sun on the beach.


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!


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!!


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.


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!

ht5 ht6

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.



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.


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


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.


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.


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.


After that grab your yarn and tacky glue!!

ht15 ht17 ht16

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


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


Allow to dry!


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




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


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


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!!!

August Dishcloth!

I, assuredly, did finish this dishcloth in August, but things have been a bit busier than I anticipated. A lot busier!

Knitting hasn’t been easy recently. Time is a small part of the reason.

The other, main reason, is this guy.


Look at that guilt!

Literally every time I start to knit anything, he comes up behind me, sniffs and plops right in the middle of whatever I am working on. The ridiculous thing about the picture above, that you can’t see yet, is the size of the project vs. the size of the cat.




However, with a mix of distraction and secret knitting, I did end up finishing my dishcloth.


Definitely a different pattern for me, but so easy! Here is the like to the pattern;

Grandmother’s Favorite Dishcloth Pattern!

Now to get Sir Snuggleton off of my lap, so I can go enjoy the beautiful blue skies outside!

(Hopefully I can sneak in a bit of knitting sometime today, I am getting so desperate for knitting time, I might even have to start going to work knits at the local yarn shops!)

Happy Knitting!



Sustainable Project #8: Upcycled Hair Clips and Hair Clip Holder.

Here is another back to school post that we created last year!!


Last year we kept seeing the cutest hair clips, they were a simple clip with a little felt design. We thought we would give it a try.


Here are the supplies you will need. Floss, scissors, felt, old hair clips, a needle, a pen and glue. We had a bunch of my old hair clips hanging around that I didn’t use anymore, so we up-cycled them!


Some of the hair clips had a decorative gel on them, we peeled that off as best as we could.

We choose a piece sign for our first design. So, naturally we just cut out a simple circle.


Then sketched the design on the shape with a pen.


Grab your needle and floss and embroider on the design. We did a back-stitch.


Keep going until you are all done and then trim around the edge.



Add lots of glue to the hair clip end, center and press the felt piece onto it.


#1 done!


Mini-mistake time: I forgot to cut out two pieces at the same time, so I had to trace around the first one.


and measure the original design.


Done!! A pair of adorable hair clips, to start school. With only leftover materials, this should cost nothing, but if you do have to buy things, felt and embroidery floss are both very cheap.

NOTE: When making matching hair clips, be sure to glue the design the right side up to the side it is on. Note how the hair clips above are pointing different directions.


DSCF2002For the hair clip and headband holder you will need; a paper towel tube, glue, scissors and three different ribbons of varying width.


Start with a good amount of glue at the top of your tube.


Begin wrapping one of the ribbons around the tube, leaving enough hanging off at the top that your can fold and glue it under.


Keep adding glue as you wrap.


Once your tube is completely covered, cut the ribbon, glue and fold the excess into the tube. Then grab the ribbon you want to use for hanging.



Put a good amount of glue on the end of the hanging ribbon and glue inside the tube.


Now take the third ribbon and tie around the tube, cut a good length, the ribbon will probably be curly, but will straighten out over time.


TA-DA!! A convenient and up-cycled hair clip and headband organizer!

Happy Back to School Up-cycling!!


Money Managment for Little Kids: The Shop.

My daughter gets allowance; she is 5. She gets allowance because she is a big contributor to the family. We settled on $3 for now.

While trying to decide on the amount of allowance to give her, I noticed a few things. Mainly that money, (U.S.A. currency), is confusing. For adults, for teenagers and especially for small children who are just mastering their numbers. First, I noticed that stores have a disappointingly fast turnover, by the time a small someone were able to save the full amount, the wished upon item would be long gone. Second, tax, here it is not added until the end of the transaction, which is difficult to explain to a small kiddo, who is just coming to terms with history. Third, all shops are extremely overstimulating, your child my want one thing but gets so caught up in all the other options that they leave with something they are later extremely unsatisfied with.

We have tried to work around all of these, letting her only save up half, just paying for the tax ourselves, or making lists and trying so hard to remember what we initially had wanted.

Not only were our solutions aggravating for everyone, they were counterproductive.

Then one day we started learning how to read and we had to practice. Practicing can be hard, it is a learned trait. So in order to get better at it, I made this:


For every ten books we read, we would go out and buy a new book to read. It worked once. Twice. Then it got boring. It wasn’t exciting enough. Which is fine. SO, I changed things around a bit. I got together a bunch of these:


and we painted them together.



Then put them in a jar, in plain sight and changed the reading log rules.


Now instead of reading ten books, we could read just five and earn a “token”. Every time the snug read a book she would get to put a sticker on one of the drawn pictures. Once a whole row of five were ‘stickered’, she could get a token. She also earns stickers by practicing other things, piano, soccer, dance, things like that.

We also made it known that tokens can be earned in different ways, through chores and thoughtfulness. In other words, through a little extra work, we created our own currency. All the tokens are worth the same, once the snug has earned 10 tokens, the shop can open.


(I did the price list in French, since, you know, it is a “cheaper by the dozen” sort of thing to do.)

There was a lot of build up about the shop. I talked it up a ton, but it still took a couple of weeks for her to earn enough tokens for the shop to open. I stocked the shop with a bunch of miscellaneous items I had collected over time that I knew she would enjoy. Some were gifts that had been tucked too far away or things I had picked up recently.



These were the items the first time we had in the shop.



Everything has a “price tag” and there is the price list for translation.



She went for the Friz and a new token box the first time. 12 tokens in all.

The next few times, she again, spent all of her tokens.



(I only add one or two new things each time the shop is open and I only offer 5-10 items, depending on stock).



Then something different started to happen.




She started to relax on her purchasing and decided to save. Today she bought a new purse and saved the rest of her tokens. She has done this the past few times saving anywhere from 2 to 4 tokens.

That is very exciting. We have been doing this all summer and it has taken some follow through, but she is excited to earn more tokens, has been helping around the house more than ever and even more important, has become more relaxed about shopping. She knows, that in my shop (La Boutique De Maman) there are no sales, or gimmicks, nothing goes anywhere or is out of stock, she can take her time and wait on things she really wants. Sometimes she even will ask if the shop can be opened for browsing. Most importantly, she is learning that not all her tokens need to be spent right away.

Another benefit. It has become very fun to pay more attention to what she sincerely likes, as oppose the “heat of the flourescent light moment”. I can get these things at my own pace, when our finances allow. There are no longer arguments in stores about buying things right now or disputes about why one toy is 20 dollars more than another, though they look exactly the same. The shop has given her a real grasp on currency, in the terms of earning, spending, saving and waiting.

We will continue to do the shop at least for the next year. Then we will reassess.

In the meantime, I am upping the game a bit. I have yet to have had anything that costs over ten tokens.


This, however, is worthy of the change.

I hope this is something that you think will help your kiddos learn about money, I will let you know in 20 years or so, if my idea was foolproof!

Happy Shopping!

Sustainable Project #7: DIY Clothes Organizing tags.


School is starting back faster then we know it!! Last year was our first year of all week schooling so we decided, due to time constraints and an indecisive, fashionista child, we would make clothing tags to help get the week set.

They worked perfect and held up great!! They have been waiting in our closet to be put to use for another year.

These things are super easy to make and they take up barely any room.


Here’s what you need: leftover felt (in two colors), leftover ribbon, tacky glue, a water-soluble pen, embroidery floss, scissors, and a needle. (I made our tags all from leftover/scrap materials, also these things last forever, making this a sustainable craft). True though, the more new materials you use, the less sustainable this project is.


Take your main piece of felt. You will be embroidering on this one. You want it to be a light enough in color so that you can see your maker.


I eyeballed my pieces when I cut them out, but they are all about, 1 1/2 inches wide and 2 1/2 inches long, I did trim the Friday one after I embroidered it, also the Wednesday was much longer. Take your water erasable pen and write a day of the week on each piece of felt. We did Monday through Friday. You can also write the day of the week, first, and then cut around it.


Embroider over your writing. I did a simple back-stitch for all of mine.


Trim your embroidered piece if you like. Then measure your embroidered piece up against a piece of backing felt. Cut out a good piece with a border.


Decide how long you want your ribbon to hang from the hanger. We did about 4 inches long.


Add lots of tacky glue to the back of the embroidered piece and place the ribbon right side down into the glue. Make sure it is not twisted at the top and that it is low enough it will not slip out.


Press on the backing.


Repeat for the rest of the week.


Ta-da!!! A little organization goes a long way!

Happy Crafting!

(Note: the pictures are from last year, at night, in a very poorly lit room.)

Sustainable Project #6: DIY Flower Press

One of the most exciting things about the warmer seasons are all the different types of flowers that come out at different times. Tulip and dandelions in the spring, morning glories and poppies in the summer and wild orange flowers and sunflowers in the fall.

While on a nature hike with the snug, admiring and taking pictures of all the different wildflowers, I recalled a plastic flower press I had as a kid. Thankfully for a mostly helpful photogenic memory, I was able to remember all the inert details of the press and decided we should create one ourselves.

It is super easy and requires minimum new products, thus becoming the next sustainable project!!

Here is what you will need:



Two pieces of wood the same size (ours is about 4 inches by 6 inches), a drill, 4 threaded screws with flat ends, 4 washers and 4 wing nuts and some corrugated cardboard. Some paint for decorating, coffee filters and flowers.



We had a piece of wood lying around that we cut in half. If you don’t have wood lying around, most hardware/wood shops have scrap piles or a scrap bucket filled with smaller pieces of wood that they sell for very cheap.

After you obtain your pieces of wood, drill a hole in each corner. Remember to use a drill bit to match the width of your screw.



Put it together to make sure it all fits!



Then decorate!



Once the paint is dry, put the pieces back together and get the cardboard.


Cut out 4 pieces of cardboard. The cardboard is going to go in between the pieces of wood, like a sandwich. It should fit side to side, but stop top to bottom before it reaches the screws.

Like this:


Now you are ready to press some flowers!


Find some pretty flowers and unscrew your flower press a bit, enough to easily slide the cardboard in and out.




Place the flowers in between the coffee filters on top of two of the pieces of cardboard.


Gently place the other piece of cardboard on top and very gently press them together and slide all the pieces into your flower press. Then push the wood pieces back together and tighten the wing nuts as tight as they will go.

IMG_5489Wait a couple of days and WHA-LA! You have pressed flowers that will last!


I really, REALLY suggest an envelope for keeping them safe. They are paper-thin and will disappear faster than cookies out of the oven!


When we first pressed some flowers, we used wax paper, bad idea!!!

Here is what the flower looked like before pressing.


Here is after.


WHOA!!! That is not quite right. Why did this happen??

The wax paper worked, firstly, like a glue completely attaching to the petals, making it impossible to peel off without ripping the petals to pieces. Secondly, the wax paper sealed the moisture way too well, causing the flower to degrade instead of preserve.

We have had amazing results with the natural coffee filters.

Mistake: Do NOT use wax paper to press flowers!!!

Happy Pressing!