Finishing Half-Finished Projects

A while ago I talked about my procrastination problem– I mean the fact that I start tons of projects but don’t finish them.  Ever since then, I have been trying to finish up projects that I started or had the supplies for but hadn’t completed.  Here are a few:

1. Bibs. I bought a cheap pack of bibs a long time ago and intended on decorating all of them but most of them just sat in my closet for a long time… until this week!  I used scraps of fabric from past projects and vintage sheets to add some interest, and even gave a few away. 

2. Burp cloths.  I had a template at one point that I had used to make burp cloths before, but I couldn’t find it when I went to make these burp cloths out of flannel scraps, so I drew up my own template.   These were really quick to make; I just sewed them with right sides together and a little hole for turning them right side out, then I top stitched them together.

3. Marble maze game.  I first saw this idea over at Serving Pink Lemonade.  Again, I just used fleece scraps and marbles I had lying around.  This would be a good activity for preschool and school aged kids to stay busy while traveling, at church, at the dentist’s office, etc. 

4. Glass etching.  Between Marissa and I, we had everything we needed for this project months ago, but we never got around to it, and she went to Africa.  But now that she is back, we decided to give it a try. We followed this tutorial from make it and love it.  Here are a couple of things that I made.

We used the Silhouette to cut out the letters. I didn’t have any vinyl, so we just cut contact paper to an 8 1/2 x 11 size and ran it through.  It worked pretty well, although it didn’t want to stick on the carrier sheet very firmly.  Our etching cream seemed to work ok, although we had to leave it on for more like 30 minutes to get the desired effect.

5. Car seat protector pad.  I had seen the piddle pads that you can buy but I wanted something that would cover more of the seat.  I made it when I started potty training my son, but planned to continue using it after we finished potty training.  It has been really useful so far… it has kept me from having to wash the seat from potty accidents, spilled drinks, ketchup and cheese, all all sorts of other icky stuff.  It was easy to make… I just cut a slightly trapezoidal shape, put it in the car seat, and marked where to add the darts, make slits for the straps on the side, and a long button hole in the middle for the buckle.  I used flannel and part of an extra waterproof crib pad on the bottom. I am going to make another one for my other son’s car seat, and I think I will add a layer of batting to make it even more absorbent, and cushy.

I think those are enough projects for one post, but there’s more, believe me!  I will share a few other projects that I have finished in the next few days.  What projects have you all been working on?  Leave a comment with a link to your latest and greatest, and I will be sure to visit and comment on your blog too!

Easy- On Potty Training Pants: Tutorial and Pattern

DSC_8739

Yes, it’s here!  (WARNING! Picture heavy post ahead!)

This tutorial is for size 3T potty training pants with 2 seams that go front to back, instead of a seam at each side- this allows for easy addition of padding in the middle section (which really is a must if you don’t want to be cleaning up tons of puddles off the floor during potty training).  You are welcome to resize the pattern for your needs, but if you use stretchy fabric and adjust the elastic in the waistband for your child, this pattern will fit a somewhat smaller or larger child comfortably.  In addition, these underpants are designed to be roomy, and have plenty of wiggle space in the leg holes, making it easier for kids to pull pants up and down.  Again, use a soft, stretchy knit fabric, the stretchier the better.

Let’s get right to it, shall we?

You will need:
-Easy- On Potty Training Pants pattern- print all 3 pages, cut out, and tape pieces A and B together as marked on the pattern.
-Soft stretch knit cotton- try re-purposing a soft old T-shirt to make this a really frugal project!  If it is new fabric, prewash!
-Batting, heavy fleece or other absorbent material
-1/4 or 5/8″ elastic
-Your regular sewing supplies- sewing machine, serger (if you have one, don’t sweat it if you don’t), thread, scissors, pins, etc.

Click this picture to go to the Google Doc PDF.  Click “file” and you can download and/or print.

 

Don’t worry- your pattern pieces will look much nicer than mine- this is what pattern development looks like…

Lay out your pattern pieces and pin them to the fabric.  It is important that for each piece, the grain is running up and down, or in other words the stretch goes from side to side.  Make sense?  If the grain runs the other way the underpants won’t stretch properly or be nice and roomy.  That would be sad. :(  (I really must have potty training on my mind because I sound like I am talking to my little guy that I am potty training… “Are you going to keep your pants dry today?  Good boy.  No wetting pants, ok?  That would be sad.”)

After you cut your fabric pieces (2 of piece AB and 2 of piece C- just make sure you cut with right sides of the fabric together if there is a print.  If the fabric is the same on both sides, then you don’t need to worry about it.) you need to cut the padding.  Use whatever type of batting you want, or heavy weight fleece, or whatever you have on hand that is absorbent.  Fold pattern piece AB on the dotted lines and cut it out.  Cut one or two- depending on how much absorbency you want.  I want enough absorbency that I don’t have to clean up puddles on the floor, but not so much that it acts and feels like a diaper to my child.

I bet you thought you were done cutting fabric, right?  Wrong!  You need to cut some fabric strips to bind the waistband and leg holes.  You can use ribbing that is bought from the fabric store, or you can cut up an old ribbed shirt or tank top, or just use the exact same fabric you’re using for the rest of the underpants- it works great either way.  I found the easiest way to do this was to use my rotary cutter with the ruler- it saved me tons of time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it with scissors.  You just need a little more patience.  Cut strips that are 2 or 2 1/2 inches wide- your preference.  You could do all the same, or 2″ for the legs, and 2 1/2″ for the waistband.  It really is whatever you want.  The approximate lengths you will need are 22 inches for the waist, and 16 inches for each leg.  It may be more or less depending on the size of your child and your sewing preferences.  More on that later.

Sandwich the batting between the two long pieces (piece AB) so the curves line up as closely as possible.  If your fabric has a pattern or “right” side, make sure the right sides are facing outward.  Pin the layers together.  You can skip this next step if you want, but it makes it easier and faster if you take a fabric pencil or pen and a ruler, and mark a line that goes across the fabric the “skinny way” right below the edge of the batting. Do this on both sides.  Then sew the layers together in a straight line on each edge, making sure that you’re catching the batting as you sew.

Now pin the side pieces to the front only (the top) of the middle piece (AB), with right sides together.  Check the pattern pieces to make sure you’re lining up the correct edges.  The pattern pieces are labeled in each corner to help ensure that the fabric is pieced correctly.  So, on pattern piece C (the side piece) you will see in the top left corner “R1/L6″ which means that when you are sewing the Right side of the underpants on (the child’s right), that corner should match up with corner 1 on piece AB, and when it is the Left side, it should match up with corner 6 on piece AB.  Each corner is marked similarly- just check that the numbers match up when you pin it together.  Once you actually start doing it it will make sense.  See the picture 2 pictures down if you need a visual on what this should look like after it’s sewn.  Serge or sew the edges.  Serged edges give a nice, polished look to the finished product, but you can definitely sew, zigzag for reinforcement, and trim.

Now you have a piece that kind of looks like an elephant head (see the ears and the trunk?!).  The next step is to take the binding strips you cut earlier and cover the raw edges of the leg holes.  This will work basically like bias tape.  Pin right sides together, starting from the edge of the curve on the side piece to the end of the curve in the middle of the long piece (see picture below).  If you want the leg holes to fit a bit more snugly (but not tight), then just stretch the binding a bit as you pin it- making sure not to stretch the other piece of fabric.

Here is the same thing from the other side- this is the “wrong” side, and you can see where the fabric is pinned together.  Baste together (~1/2″ seam), and repeat for the other leg hole.

We are going to fold the binding around the leg hole just like we would with bias tape, only we aren’t going to mess with ironing.  It is not hard as long as you pin well!  Here are the steps: 1. Start at the edge- either edge.  2. Fold the sewn edge into the middle of the binding strip.  3. Fold the other edge into the middle of the strip, so the two edges meet.  4. Sandwich the folded strip over the raw edge of the leg hole.  Look at the pictures below for a better idea of how to do this.

Do this all around the leg hole.  I would pin every inch or inch and a half or so.  Check the other side and make sure that the raw edge is fully encased.  Do the same process on the other leg hole.  It sounds laborious, but it probably only takes 5 minutes total.

Carefully topstitch over both leg holes.  The idea is to sew close to the folded edge, but not so close that you don’t catch the fold on the back side.

Now fold up the back piece (the part that looks like the elephant’s trunk) so that right sides are together, pin, and serge (or sew and zig zag) one side piece onto the back piece.  It doesn’t matter which side, just so long as you only sew one. Pull the fabric or make whatever adjustments you need to make sure the the leg hole ends meet up evenly.  It might look a little wonky in 2D, but it will work out when your child is wearing it.

Now the waistband is one long piece, so you are going to repeat the binding process you did for the leg holes on the waistband.  Pin right sides together, stretching the waistband binding very slightly as you pin.  Baste together.

Fold the waistband binding as shown above for the leg hole binding, and pin.

Topstitch all the way across the waistband to match your sewing on the leg holes.  These are really starting to look like training underpants- yay!

Thread your elastic through the waistband using a safety pin.  Tacking the ends in place once you are finished will make things a lot easier, but it is not essential.

Now, turn the underpants inside out, and pin the remaining raw edges together, right sides together. Serge edges, or sew/ zig zag.

If you want, stitch the seam allowance down on the waistband binding (where the ends and elastic are poking out- see below on the picture).  This makes the underpants more comfortable to wear.  You could do the same thing on the seams on the leg holes if you want.

Ta- da!  You have a very nice- looking, comfortable, and of course functional pair of training pants!

Hopefully you can  use things you already have (fabric scraps or old T shirts) and save money you would be spending on more expensive cloth training pants or disposables.

Add variety to your child’s training pants collection by using different fabrics, or contrasting color trims, applique designs, or contrast stitching.  Do you have questions, comments, corrections? Email me: rochelle@homesweethomebodies.net.

If you like this tutorial, or if you use my pattern, I would love it if you would leave a comment below.  As always, my tutorials and patterns I share on my blog are free for you to use for personal use because I want to share with you!  Please don’t redistribute, copy, or sell items made from my patterns without written permission from me.  I love features, and you are welcome to use one or two pictures from my tutorial with a link back.

Good luck sewing (and potty training)!

Good News!

I have been working on finishing projects that I have started but never finished…. and I have made lots of progress!  I finished some wall hangings (pictures to come), a few sewing projects, and (drumroll please!) my pattern for potty training pants. Yay!

This project has taken quite a bit of time to get it just how I want it, but it is finally done!  I still need to write up the tutorial, but I hope to share it with you all in the next week or so- so check back soon, and if you don’t already follow or subscribe, consider doing so over on the right sidebar to get the pattern when it comes out!  Thanks!

I have a problem….

Yes, I have a problem.  It is called “I-start-too-many-projects-and-get-overwhelmed-and-don’t-finish-them-until-many-months-later-if-ever.”  We can just call it procrastination for short.  I have so many ideas, and some of them I just don’t realize how big they are until I am in the middle, and then you know the rest.  It’s a very sad story.  I have an adorable apron pattern and project which I mostly finished- in March, like maybe 75% of the way, and then stopped.  I have been working on sewing and making a pattern for toddler training pants (for potty training) but temporarily lost steam on that too.  I have some yummy summer recipes I would love to share, I just need to write them down.  I intend on finishing all these projects, but when?  Who knows, right?  So I am telling all of you so I have some accountability.  Hopefully by stating my intentions here, I will be motivated to finish projects I have already started!  Ok, but now I feel a little insecure (haha) because it sounds like I haven’t finished any projects at all (besides what I have already blogged about).  Well, I have, but they are kind of little things, and don’t necessarily deserve a blog post all of their own.  But here are a few things I have worked on and actually finished over the past couple months:

Noah’s Ark cake for my baby!  Marissa and I did this together before she left.  We used marshmallow fondant to make the animals and cover the cake.

First pair of potty training pants- adorable, but a bit too small.  Still working on it!  I also made a car seat protector pad, but no picture.  Look for more on this!

I got to help prepare a gorgeous tea party as per tradition for my mom, aunt, sisters, and some of my cousins.

Just to prove I was there this time… (I am on the left)

I helped my mom re-cover the window seat cushions.  This was NOT a small job!  We worked on it in March when I was visiting, and finished it the last time I was there. 

The other cushion.  Yeah, I know it is pretty much the same, but you know, it has to be representative of the amount of time spent on it and all.

I bought this girly chair at a garage sale last summer for $2 and finally got around to re-covering it this year for my son’s Thomas the Tank Engine- themed 3rd birthday.

Ok, I am getting to work!

PS- If you are new to our blog, and would like to be among the first to be able to get new patterns and tutorials (once I actually finish them!) please follow or subscribe to our blog! 😀

How to host a bubbles activity

My friend Sherilee and I recently started a neighborhood playgroup that meets once a week.  We try to have a variety of activities planned, and as it gets warmer we are trying to do more outdoor activities.  A week or two ago we wanted to do something to take advantage of the warm-ish and sunny-ish weather- something fun outdoors that wouldn’t get anyone too cold (it was an even 60 degrees).  I remembered some fun bubbles activities that I did growing up, plus a few more I’d heard about but never tried, so I suggested an all- bubbles activity.  We planned a few stations for the kids to rotate around in a grassy area next to my home.  Some things turned out great, others not- so great.  Here is a run down of what we did (and in some cases, what I would do differently the next time around).

Station 1: BIG Bubbles

Materials:
Bubble solution, big wands, large, shallow Tupperware container(s) (i.e. the under the bed type)
Bubble solution:
Make your own bubble solution by combining 10 parts tap water (soft water works the best but if your water is too hard and you don’t mind the expense, try distilled water), 1 part Dawn dish detergent, and 1/4 part glycerin (which can be expensive, so you can try substituting white Karo syrup).
Tips:
Mix up your bubble solution the night before if possible (the longer it sits, the better it works).  Use Dawn detergent, it seems to work the best.  Joy detergent comes in second.

Big wands:
Round up any bubble wands you may already have, and make a few extra in creative shapes using old wire hangers. just bend them to the shape you want, and bend the hanger part upwards to be the handle.  These can be dipped in the Tupperware tub and waved to make bigger bubbles- lots of fun.

Bonus: If you want, fill a kiddie pool with a couple inches of bubble solution and use a hula hoop to pull a giant bubble up over your kid standing in the pool.

Station 2: Creative Bubble Blowing

Materials:
Old washrags that can be cut up, rubber bands, plastic water bottles to cut up, small, wide containers for bubble solution (such as an empty sour cream container), pipe cleaners, fly swatter, various kitchen utensils or toys with holes, regular bubble solution, cheap, clean stretchy gloves.
Foam snakes:
Cut the water bottle all the way across about halfway down, and rubber band a square of washrag just larger than the opening to the piece that has the drinking opening at the other end (if you didn’t have old water bottles you could use toilet paper tubes as well). Get the material damp with water, then dip in the bubble solution (or just dish soap) and blow through the other end and you will get cool bubble foam snakes.  Check out this link to Family Fun Magazine for more details if that doesn’t make sense.

Photo credit to http://familyfun.go.com/assets/cms/crafts/steps/foamerator-summer-craft-step2-photo-150-FF0809EFW19.jpg

Creative bubble wands: twist pipe cleaners into fancy shapes for customized bubble wands, and use mason jar lids, slotted spoons, fly swatters, or anything you can come up with for creative bubble play.  Put on the stretchy fabric gloves (just the kind that are usually a couple dollars- you probably already have a pair) and try bouncing the bubbles! Check out this link for more info.

Station 3: Bubble Art

Materials:
White paper, regular bubble solution, small containers for bubble solution, bubble wands for each container, food coloring or tempera paint (which would probably work the best), markers

Photo credit to http://bubbleblowers.com/Party/art.gif

Bubble “Modern” Art:
Add several drops of food coloring to each cup of bubble solution.  Write each child’s name on a piece of paper, then have the kids catch the bubbles you blow on the paper.  This works best when it is not too breezy.  Make sure to do several different colors, then let the papers dry in the sun with a rock holding the paper down while the kids move on to the next station.

Station 4: Snacks and Clean-Up

Have one or two buckets filled with clean warm water for kids to rinse their hands (or faces, or heads as the case may be… speaking from experience here) and some paper towels.

Any circle foods would be great for a snack- whether it is grapes or olives, or tapioca pudding prepared ahead of time, or other foods cut in circle shapes.  It would be a good idea to have some water in a pitcher and some little paper cups.
Keep a garbage bag handy to collect all the litter.

Other Set-Up:

You will want to have chairs set up for the adults to watch from, and a picnic blanket for snack time.  A few card tables might come in handy for setting up some of the stations, but you can just put everything down on the grass as well.  Other things that would be useful are balls to play with for really young kids, a bubble machine for the kids to just go crazy and try to pop all the bubbles before they get away, and sunscreen.

Have fun with bubbles this summer!

Homemade Toys: Exploring Rhythm and Music

Here is a fun project to do with kids- it is almost guaranteed to be a success with toddlers and preschoolers because 1. They love music and making noise, 2. They will be fascinated by watching normal household items transform into “musical instruments”, and 3. These kinds of toys require them to use their imagination, thus holding their attention longer.  We made an afternoon of it today, and had great fun trying out all our different creations.

Let’s make some music!

Marching Drum

1. Find a large plastic container with a lid, like this potato salad bucket.  Make sure it’s clean, and the lid fits.
2. Use a hole punch or crop tool to make two sets of 2 holes, one set on each side.
3. Thread a ribbon, thick yarn, or large shoelace through the holes.
4. Tie a knot and poke the end of the string back into the bucket.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the other side.  You have a drum that can be worn and played at the same time!
6. Find “drum sticks”- this could be chopsticks, popsicle sticks, plastic spoons, or anything you feel comfortable giving your child.

Egg Shakers

Just put a little bit of uncooked rice into one side of a plastic Easter egg, put strong glue all around the rim, and close the egg tightly.  Allow glue to dry before giving to you child.

Fun and colorful percussion!

“Jingle Bell Stick”

My son loves to sing “Jingle Bells” (still! Two- year- olds don’t get the whole seasonal music thing…) so I wanted to make him a percussion instrument with bells.

This “Jingle Bell Stick” only took 3 minutes to make.

1. Gather a craft stick or popsicle stick, mini jingle bells, and a pipe cleaner or wire.
2. Hot glue one end of the pipe cleaner to the stick, and string the first bell onto the pipe cleaner, pushing it all the way to the top.
3. String the rest of the bells on, 4 or 5 total, with a centimeter or so between them on the pipe cleaner.  Trim the excess pipe cleaner.
4. Hot glue the other end of the pipe cleaner onto the stick and jingle away!

Kazoo

This is one way to make your own kazoo!  It is nice for little kids because they can fit their whole little mouth inside the open end, and that allows them to sing- much more fun than saying “doo doo doo” the whole time.

All you need is a toilet paper tube, a rubber band, a small square of wax paper, and a hole punch.

Not much to it, just secure the wax paper onto the TP tube with the rubber band, and punch a hole or two with the hole punch- this allows some air to escape which will let the air vibrate better against the wax paper, making that fun buzzing noise.

You can also make a kazoo “harmonica” by folding wax paper over a comb and blowing at the open end.

“Guitar”
I guess you could call this a harp as well, not that it actually sounds like a guitar or harp, but it gives you the idea.  I used a embroidery hoop and some rubber bands.  This is another very easy and fast “instrument to assemble, and it will come apart easily when you are done, and nothing is wasted!

Just stretch the rubber bands across the inner hoop…

… and set the inner hoop inside of the outer one and tighten the screw to keep it in place.

Voilà! You’ve got yourself a string section! 

Bottle Flute

I myself was a player of woodwinds in my day, so of course we had to do something along those lines.  Bottle flutes are easy, as there is really nothing to “make”… you just blow across the top of a clean glass or plastic bottle.  Tip: the smaller the opening, the easier it will be to make a noise.  It is fun to guess which ones will make high or low sounds.  Try putting different amounts of water into the bottles to see how that changes the pitch.

The fun thing about this kind of activity is that you can find music in so many different places, and your possibilities are as limitless as your imagination!  Of course, with all of these fun instruments, young kids should be supervised.  For older kids, try playing the spoons by holding a pair of small spoons together with the edges facing away from each other, and shake them in such a way that they clack together.  Or try filling some glasses partially with water and (very gently) tapping them with a spoon.  It would be fun to make a preschooler “orchestra” or band (ooh, or maybe a parade!?) using homemade instruments.

I know there are tons of other possibilities out there, have any of you done homemade instruments with kids?

Magnetic “Sleeping Baby” Door Sign

This is dedicated to all the UPS guys who knock really loud, wait 3 seconds, then ring your doorbell twice during naptime.  Grrr.

Well, there is a story behind this, and you can probably figure it out… let’s just say that my two sleeping boys were not happy, and not sleeping.  My sleeping baby sign came together quickly thanks to the Clipart For Free blog, a roll of contact paper, and two of those advertisement magnets that come stuck on the phone book.

To be honest, after naptime was forcibly ended, I felt like posting this sign:

But in the interest of keeping up good relationships with my neighbors, I went with this one (click on the picture if you would like to download a pdf version of this sign):

I have my sign up now (it is naptime as I write this) so there had better not be any doorbell- ringing!

Go ahead and print the sign out if you think it could help keep your naptimes more peaceful. (If you don’t have young kids right now and just want to use it for yourself… I won’t tell if you won’t…)

Shirt refashion: Shorts, knapsack, and bicycle cap

I’m a sucker for “matchy” stuff on little kids.  Girls, boys, it doesn’t matter.  I had a refashion in mind for my son, using one of my husband’s old heavy duty shirts.  I knew it could be a great pair of shorts and a knapsack, and for the most part they turned out really well.  It was a big shirt, so there was plenty of fabric left.  All the recent blog tutorials on making hats inspired me to try one of my own, and I think it turned out great! 

This was the original shirt I used…

I used a pattern I made from another pair of my son’s shorts to make these faux fly front shorts.  They came together very quickly.  If you make pants or shorts out of a shirt like this I recommend using shirts made of heavier fabric for the most part.  These shorts turned out better than the first pair I made out of a much lighter weight shirt.

The front pocket of the shirt made a great front for the knapsack, and I used the yoke of the shirt to make the top flap.

The buttonhole strip made great shoulder straps.  (I think I am going to move the tops of the straps inward a bit so they stay on his shoulders better.)  I did line the inside with some plain cotton fabric.

I made this bicycle cap with the help of this great tutorial at Dude Craft.  There is a video tutorial and downloadable pattern pieces.  It was made for an adult, but I measured my son’s head and adjusted the pattern accordingly.  (The way I resized it was by measuring the width of the pattern piece, without the seam allowance- 6″.  I measured my son’s head- 19.5″.  The hat is made from 4 pattern pieces, so I rounded to 20″, divided that by 4, and figured a 5″ pattern piece would fit pretty well.  I divided 5 by 6 to get the ratio to resize it- about 83% of the full size would fit my son.  I opened the pdf with the pattern in Open Office Draw and resized it to 83%.  It worked perfectly!  I did add the elastic in the back to give a snug fit, and he will be able to grow into it a bit more!)

My son was almost as tickled to wear his new hat (really the only thing he was overly excited about) as he was to go practice riding his tricycle. 

If you can believe it, my son didn’t have a single plain white T-shirt.  So I used my serger (yay! I just got it last week! :-D) to make one of his onesies (which he never wears any more) into a regular T-shirt/ undershirt.

I could not get him to look at the camera!  He’s cute anyway…

Ok, one more picture.  I couldn’t resist.

PS- I realized after looking through a few of my refashion posts that it probably seems like I steal all my husband’s shirts for my projects.  Well maybe I do!  However, I did get his permission to use all of those shirts before I cut them up, and anyway, I like to look at it like I am doing him a favor… Some of those shirts were 10+ years old and it was time to make room for some other clothes!  Refashioning old clothes into something new is one way to purge your closet of unused, unloved, or ill- fitting clothes while keeping the nostalgia of a loved item of clothing.