August 14, 2014

Outdoor Play Mud Kitchen

The girls and I really like to be outside.  The weather in the Northwest has been phenomenal, and we've been riding bikes, blowing bubbles, having picnics, and just about everything else we can think of to do outside.  In addition, my husband and I have been working really hard on clearing overgrown brush from the backyard so we can utilize the space better.  

Over the weekend we put down sod in this corner of the yard that was formerly overgrown with bamboo and raspberry bushes - you couldn't even see the fence it was so thick!  It took us months to dig out every root and stump, but we finally made this beautiful, usable space!  And now that it's clear, we plan to use this area a bunch.  The concrete patio is also a nice place for the girls to bounce balls and ride scooters, and I'm happy to have a fenced place to let them play!  

We didn't have any kind of storage for the little outdoor toys though, so it's been on my mind to make something.  Then, a couple of weeks ago I found out about this industrial recycle center near my house.  If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen the pictures.  This place is huge.  Talk about a repurposer's dream.  People drop off all sorts of building leftovers and discards, and it's all priced really cheap - score!  

So, I picked up an old cabinet and some scrap wood to play with...behold, the raw materials ;)

I sanded the cabinet, took off the hardware, and spray painted it a bright teal color.  One of the handles was broken, but that was ok -- the recycle center had hundreds to choose from.  I picked up another for a few cents, and spray painted the handles black.

I wanted a pallet style back sticking up behind the cabinet - both because I thought it would look cute, and because I wanted to be able to hang things from it.  With my scrap wood I cut and nailed the boards together like you see below...

Then, I nailed it to the back of the cabinet.

Besides just having a place to store toys, I wanted the kids to have another place to play - and kitchen toys are perfect for digging in the dirt with.  

The girls helped me pick out a few old kitchen things from the friendly neighborhood Goodwill, and we got to sprucing those up too.  

I spray painted the handle on an old slotted spoon, and with a few well placed nails we hung the kitchen stuff on the back boards.  

My daughter traced and painted the Mud Pies sign - I love the way it looks :)  

They could barely wait for the paint to dry before they were filling it with their toys and banging around with the kitchen stuff.  Mission accomplished!

I'm sure this will be a work in progress.  We might pick up more old kitchen utensils eventually, or make crates to go on the shelves...we'll see!  Now, it's tucked perfectly against this wall, right where we'll be playing and having a great time in the summer sun.  Mud pie anyone?

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July 27, 2014

Fold-up Fabric Needle Holder

Is this thing darling, or what??

I don't know about you, but I'm always digging around in my sewing box for a needle.  Ripped seam, popped button, (heaven forbid I actually have to hand sew something, but it happens.  I do so love my sewing machine...).

My needles are usually on my magnetic pin cushion, but they are hard to find (insert joke about needle in a haystack) and I'd rather have the needles in their own, designated place.  

I first saw one of these types of needle holders at my friend's house.  She's had it for a while, and loves hers!  I made myself a pattern, and it was a fun project.  

Turns out, it was a very similar project to a needle case that Khris from Sew Prim Khris posted on her blog a few years ago.  If you'd like the pattern and tutorial, head on over to her blog to see how she made it.  

When I made mine, it came out in more of a heart shape, so if you'd like a copy of the shape I used, feel free to email me.

To make it stiff, I used fusible batting and ironed it to one of my fabric pieces, because I sewed around mine and left a hole for turning. Interfacing or fusible fleece would also work for this method. With 3 kids, I'm happy if I don't have to make an extra trip to the fabric store - so I always search around for something I have on hand that might work!

To easily know where I was sewing the felt down, I used a disappearing ink fabric pen (or a really light pencil mark would work) and a ruler to make lines between opposite inward points.

In order to make it fold properly I ironed the folds.  This really helped me when trying to make that nice folded shape at the end.  If you start by placing the tab up, fold the flower shape diagonally to one side and iron, and then fold it diagonally the other way and iron.  It will be folded along the sewn lines when done this way.

Once everything was tucking in where was supposed to, I ironed it again very well to reinforce the way it should fold.

For the closure, I used a small piece of Velcro on the end of the tab (again, used what I had on hand!), and a decorative button over it.  You could even use a functioning button with a button hole if you don't have Velcro handy...

Awesome!  Now, I have this great fabric needle holder - with the needles securely in the felt, no lost needles because it folds it up into a cute little bundle for safekeeping.  
This is such a quick project, you'll want to make a few for your friends.  And they will love them too!  I think I might make some of these as Christmas presents (too soon? ;) )

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July 4, 2014

Patriotic Shabby Fabric Headbands - a very quick DIY craft

Want to add a little patriotic flair to your wardrobe?!  These shabby headbands are so fast, I whipped 2 of them up for my girls in about 10 minutes!

You really only need a few, long, skinny scraps of fabric, about 1 yard long in red, white and blue.

Make a snip about 1 - 2 inches wide on the fabric you want on the base, and TEAR your fabric.  It is amazing how cool this ends up looking, and how it comes out in a straight line!  If your first tear is not straight compared to your edge, make another snip and tear again.  The grain will stay the same, but may not be in line with the manufactured/cut original edge. 

Tear a second piece, in a different color, slightly thinner than the first.
Lay them on top of eachother, so the wider one is on bottom.  If you want to taper your ends slightly, do that now with scissors.
Sew along the edge of the skinnier/top piece of fabric, leaving about 1/8" seam allowance.  Sew two or three times up each side, letting your line wave and cross to accentuate the shabby look.  I used a dark, contrasting color to add a decorative element. 

Now to add flowers.
Tear a piece of fabric about 1" wide and 1 foot long. 
Tuck the end under and start to twirl the fabric in a circle. 

You can twist the strip as you go if you want, but just make a tight little pinwheel.
Then, tuck the end under, and place it on your headband.  I dont usually put it in the middle, because I like my flowers off to the side of my head.  So maybe 1/3 of the way along your headband, place the flowers. 
I dont pin them down, I just smoosh them with the presser foot of my sewing machine.  Then, I sew in a spiraling circle all along the flower.
I twist and twist my headband, sewing the circle tighter and tighter, catching the layers of the twirly flower as I go.  Do this with 2 - 4 flowers, overlapping each flower a bit if you want, sewing each individually.  It ends up looking like this:

That is it!  So simple.
Happy 4th of July!!

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June 28, 2014

Tension Rod Puppet Theater

My middle daughter loves putting on puppet shows.  She has such an amazing imagination!  She creates scenes and characters from paper and crayons, and tapes them onto popsicle sticks to hold them up.  Her puppet shows are elaborate and her pictures are darling - it is such a treat to witness her creativity!  Usually she sits behind a chair or the couch to tell her tale.  When I saw this idea for a hanging puppet theater facade - I knew I wanted to make her one!  It hangs in a doorway or hallway with a tension rod, and is easy to put up and down.  

I already had a tension rod I wasn't using, so I went and picked up some fun fabric and got started.
2.5 yards of the main fabric was more than enough to fill the doorway.  3/4 yard of the pink fabric was for the curtain, and 1/2 yard of the blue fabric was for binding and bunting.  Bias tape would also work for binding.  

I cut off the selvage on the large piece of fabric, and zig-zag stitched the long raw edges to keep them from fraying.  On the top edge I folded it over once by 1/2" and ironed...

Then folded it over again by 3.5" and pinned it down.  I sewed 1/4" from the edge (the folded edge toward the middle of the fabric) and this created a sleeve for the tension rod to go through.

I decided where I wanted the bottom of my window, and cut the long piece of fabric off at that height.  Then, I folded that top piece of fabric in half to cut out a window right in the middle.  My window is 24" wide and 14" tall.  I used my home-made "bias tape" from the dark blue fabric to line those three raw edges.  Don't worry too much about where you put your window.  You can raise or lower the tension rod a bit if necessary.

With the remaining large piece of fabric that I cut off, I looped it just as I had the top, to create another sleeve.  I wanted a sleeve below the window so that I could put something through it to hold the bottom of the window straight.
I made the loop nice and wide at 3 inches.  Then, with right sides together, I sewed the two large pieces of fabric back together.  The piece of fabric with the window was sewn at the bottom to the remainder of the fabric with the looped edge on the top.  If you look closely at the picture below you can see what I mean.

I ended up sticking a yardstick in the sleeve, but you could use another tension rod or a dowel.  Something that will hold the middle of the fabric taught.  

To make curtains I cut the pink fabric into 2 large panels a few inches taller and collectively a few inches wider than the window.  I zig-zag stitched the edges to keep them from fraying.  I looped over the tops and sewed them to create a sleeve for a dowel, and looped over the bottoms so it would look nice.  

On the back, I sewed two tabs of fabric a few inches outside, and above, the window opening.  Through these tabs I was able to place the dowel that had the curtains hanging on it.  

This system allows the girls to open and close the curtains from the back...

On the edges of the window I sewed loops of ribbon which allow us to tie the curtains back.

Below the window I sewed a button, so that we could hang a sign from it with the title of the show!

Triangles of fabric sewn to a piece of ribbon made a quick bunting to add a little flair!

And in just a couple of hours, my little puppeteers had a theater worthy of their elaborate productions :)

It has already been really fun to listen the stories, and watch the silly shows.  My girls spend hours creating puppets and practicing their plays - which is great for these long summer days!  And another bonus - the theater folds up small and is easily put away.  No permanent structure in our small space.  

I am so happy with the way this turned out!  Even for a beginning sewer, this is a quick and satisfying project.  If your kids love putting on their own productions - this tension rod puppet theater is a must!
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