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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June 5, 2014

Getting those t-shirts clean with White Cloud Laundry Detergent

This post brought to you by White Cloud. All opinions are 100% mine.

Now that I've made myself a t-shirt quilt, I have family members coming out of the woodworks wanting me to make one for them ;)  Both my husband and my father-in-law have started combing through their unused t-shirts and setting them aside for me - which is actually pretty cool :)
Of course, not all the t-shirts are completely clean...(and who wants to do a project with dirty fabric, right?)

Luckily, I had White Cloud Laundry Detergent to get all those stains out!  White Cloud has a new line of laundry care products that you can get at Walmart (Store Locator) - and the 3 in 1 Micro clean technology promises to get out the tough stains.
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Heaven knows how long some of these t-shirts have been sitting in their drawers.  I was worried that some of these stains wouldn't come out after sitting so long.

I mean, those are serious business, am I right?

This one has something red on it!!  I was seriously skeptical about this one coming out.
In they all went, with the White Cloud detergent.  Mine was the Blooming Lavender scent, and I liked that it wasn't overwhelming, but smelled light and fresh.  Plus, this is going to sound weird, but I really liked the cap.  It didn't drip detergent over the edge of the bottle when I was screwing it back on.  It's the little things :)

The moment of truth...

Can you believe it?!  The stains are gone!  I'm so happy.  No stains on these t-shirt quilts!

Even the red came out - phew!

Pretty white shirts again.  Awesome.

Now you can try White Cloud Laundry Detergent for yourself!  Click here for a high value coupon, and be sure to Like White Cloud on FacebookFollow White Cloud on Twitter and Follow White Cloud on Pinterest.

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June 3, 2014

Clay Garden Markers

With our move to the Northwest, one of the things we've been looking forward to is having a bigger garden.  I grew up in Oregon, and we always had a gigantic garden.  My mom reminisces about how well everything grew in the rich, wet soil, and so one of our first orders of business was to get our veggies planted!

Our second order of business was getting the veggies marked, and this is one my kids wanted to help with!  

I've made garden markers with wooden stakes, which is really fun.  This year, I wanted to make something a little different, but still durable and waterproof.  The kids always love playing with FIMO clay, and they'll take any opportunity to paint, so we decided to try making clay garden markers they could paint little pictures on to.  They turned out so fabulous!!

Here's how we did it:

I got a big package of FIMO clay at the craft store with a coupon.  We were able to make 24 medallions (each 2+") out of this size.  I also got an uppercase set of $1 rubber alphabet stamps (from Michael's).  I've seen these all over, so hopefully you can get your hands on some.  I use them for all sorts of things, and you can't beat $1!
We used a canister with a flat bottom for smooshing clay - and we used acrylic paint + a paint brush.

1) Cut the block of clay into equal sized chunks
2) Warm up the clay with your hands and roll each piece into a ball
3) Using something with a flat bottom, smoosh the ball until it is flat - about 1/4" thick
4) Use a skewer or something small to poke a hole 1/4" from the top for hanging.  Make sure the hole is big enough to fit onto whatever you will hang them from.  In our case, this was a metal hanger.
5) Use the rubber alphabet stamps to press letters into the soft clay to form the names of whatever is in your garden

Bake the clay according to the package directions and let cool.

Using acrylic paint that is really well watered down, and a tiny paint brush, fill the letters with paint.  I found that if my paint was the correct watery consistency, I only had to touch my paintbrush into the corner of a letter and the watery paint would flow into the grooves of the letter.

We then looked up pictures of the veggies and herbs online as a reference, and drew a pencil picture outline onto each garden marker, above the words.  My daughter and I then used acrylic paint to color in the pencil pictures.

Here are some close up pictures of our paintings.  They are all so cute, I don't know if I could even pick a favorite.  I do love the cherry tomatoes and swiss chard though...

After the paint was dry, I sprayed them generously with clear coat protective spray.

To put them in the garden I gathered a few wire hangers and cut them down into approximately 1 foot lengths.  

Then I made a small curve at one end and threaded the garden marker on...

...and twisted the top around a couple times so that it wouldn't fall off...

And then we stuck them all into the garden!

We have a ton of herbs, and it is darling to see all the markers in our row of pots...

Because I sprayed them with clear spray, the water beads right off them, and the paint is totally protected!

So, if you have garden plants or potted herbs - try making some of these darling, useful garden markers for yourself!  They make the garden look so cheerful and happy ;)

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