Tuesday, June 25, 2013

simple DIY play broom

   Evening loves playing with my broom.  She pretends to sweep, she walks around with it, she talks to it, and lately she's been wanting to play outside with it.  The problem with that is how much she wants to sweep things like mud puddles.

  In an effort to save our house broom, I decided to make Evening her own little play broom.  While there are lots of tutorials out there on how to make a proper broom from straw; this isn't one of those.  This is just a note on how to make a quick little broom for some outdoor fun.  
  You will need: a stick, a generous handful of some tall grass, scissors, and a bit of string/twine/etc.  A child old enough to use scissors could easily make this themselves.

   First of all, lay out your grass and place your stick in the middle.  You want to place a knot or fork from your stick into the grass so the grass doesn't just slip off.  If need be, do trim your stick so one of these is near the bottom.  

  Wrap the grass around your stick and secure with your bit of twine above the knot or fork on your stick.  Tie a tight knot and there you go - you've got a broom!  

  Evening had lots of fun 'cleaning' the yard and she loved the swishing noise the broom made as she shook it about. 

  It also makes a great palm tree when it's upside down!

  The six-year-old girl that lives next door immediately fell in love with Evening's broom when she came over to play.  No sweeping for her, though, she held an imaginary quidditch match instead!   

  Apparently, with the right broom the possibilities are endless, which leads me to think that I should be having a lot more fun sweeping the kitchen than I have been...

Linking up with Eco-Kids Tuesday Creative Fridays, and We Made That!

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Friday, April 19, 2013

DIY toddler Fisherman's Pants

  If you’ve never worn Thai fisherman’s pants before, you are in for a treat.  I was first introduced to them while attending university and fell in love.  Thai fisherman’s pants are comfy enough to lounge around in with the freedom of movement usually reserved for gi pants (karate pants), and funky enough that you look like you made an effort.  

  So when I realized that Evening was going to need some more summer pants, I wanted her to have a pair of my favourite comfy pants too.   I busted out the measuring tape and started figuring it out.  This pattern is for toddlers, but don’t worry, you can find an adult pattern here.  

  This pattern and these pants are forgiving, but I don’t recommend you make these pants out of a knit fabric.  I’m actually using some upcycled linen from an old couch cover!  An old sheet would be perfect for this project too.

   This pattern should fit most kids from 1-2.5 years old (gasp!  they'll fit for more than a month!) as the hips don’t widen too much in those years.  I’ll tell you where to adjust the pants for your child’s inseam length, but the pants look nice cropped as well so use your own judgement! 

  To start, gather up some paper, a ruler, and a pencil to draw up the pattern pieces.  This pattern has three pieces altogether. 

  The first piece is for the top panel, a rectangle that is 54 cm by 24 cm.  Click here for a handy conversion from centimeters to inchesYou will use this top panel pattern to cut 2 pieces of your fabric.  

  The second piece is the pant legs, which look something like a fat capital T.  Measure and mark 54 cm across the top of your T.  On both sides, mark out 12 cm straight down, and then another 23.5 cm (this measurement is the inseam plus 2.5 cm seam allowance – sub here to fit your child).  Returning to where you marked 12 cm, cut out a curved 5 cm by 23.5 cm (or inseam) rectangle from either side so that your T looks like this:  

(you can click on this photo to enlarge it)

  I find it best to draw one curve and cut it out then fold the paper over and trace the first one.  A good match means the pant pieces will fit together well.

  Cut two of these from your fabric.  

  Our third piece is the tie, simply a long strip 2 cm by 90 cm long.  You’ll need to cut 1 from your fabric.  

  If you want to add a graphic to your pant leg as I did, now is the time to do it.   

  I used a silhouette of children playing dress up that I found on the Graphics Fairy’s blog.  You can find it here.

adorable silhouette I added to Evening's pants

   There are a lot of different methods to apply graphics to fabric, but we’re pretty low tech around here.  I printed off the picture and taped it to our window.  Then I taped the pant leg over it and traced the image onto the fabric using a frixion pen.  Next I coloured it in using a non-toxic, black “Stained” fabric marker. 

super-technical way of adding graphic (patent pending)

 While that is setting, take your two top panels and placing right sides together (if applicable) and stitch along both shorter edges so that you make a tube.  Hem one long edge of the tube.  Turn right side out and set aside.  

  Take up the two leg pieces and place right sides together.  Stitch along the 12 cm seam on each side and open so that these seams fall in the middle.   Beginning at the bottom of one pant leg, stitch up and around the curve of the crotch, and down the other leg.  Turn right side out.  

  Place the pants inside the tube made by the top panel, lining up the tops of both pieces.  Making sure that both are turned right side out, stitch around the tops.  

  Almost there!

  Now stitch around your tie piece, leaving one end open.  Using a chopstick/pencil/what-have-you turn the piece right side out.  Iron flat and stitch open end closed.  

  Pull the top panel of the pants up and stitch the middle of the tie onto the rear of the pants, about 8 cm above the back seam.  

  For potty training purposes, you might want to add a few snaps or a button to the tie so your little one doesn’t have too much trouble.  

  And you’re done!

  But wait!  How do you wear these huge pantaloons??

  It’s a bit different from our regular pants – first put your tot into the pants, pulling that top panel up and tying the tie (or snapping or buttoning) around the waist.  Then allow the top part to tumble over the tie – there you are, ready for some fishing!

pull panel up and fasten tie around belly

  I hope you like these pants as much as we do!  Evening really appreciates the new freedom she has for climbing…

  If you have any questions or if any parts need clarification, leave me a message so I can help.   And of course, we’d love to see some photos if you try this out! 

Linking up at A Humble Creation, Eco-Kids Tuesday, Sew Darn Crafty, Brag Monday at the Graphics Fairy, We Made That, Pattern Party and the Creative HomeAcre.  

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

play-dough adventure (with recipe!)

  I’ve had my friend Cathy’s play-dough recipe on my fridge since she posted it on facebook when I was pregnant.  

  Then I had a baby and forgot all about it until another friend asked me the other day if I knew a decent play-dough recipe.  Since then I’ve been waiting for a good time to try it out. 

  Or more specifically, I was waiting until Evening got bored.  Bored toddlers tend to be rather  cranky.

  Today was that day.  I retrieved the recipe from the fridge and dove in.  

  Cathy’s Favourite Play-Dough Recipe

1 cup white flour
½ cup salt
2 tbsp cream of tartar (Wha???  It’s in the spice aisle)
1 tbsp oil
1 cup water
Food colouring

  Mix the first four ingredients in a pan, and then add the water.  Mix well.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3-5 minutes.

  Dough will become hard to stir and start to form a clump. 

it sure will

  Remove from stove and knead for 5 minutes.  This is the time to add your food colouring.  I found it easiest to form a ‘bowl’ and drip in the colouring.  For our play-dough, I separated the batch into four quarters and kneaded them all separately.

making a bowl for the food colouring

  Will keep for a long time in a sealed container. 

   Then I set out the play-dough on our scratchy old play table and waited for Evening to investigate.  

  She poked at the strange balls, recoiling sharply as her little finger dented them.  A crease appeared on her brow and she reached out a hand again, cautiously, gingerly touching them.  She looked up at me curiously and bravely tried to pick up a ball of yellow play-dough.  

  Now that she had determined these strange soft balls to be safe, I joined her in making different shapes and whatnots.  Most of which she immediately grabbed to investigate and a growing mound of my broken creations piled up on her side of the table.  

  The mystical pull of the play-dough soon pulled her daddy in too.  It was then a play-dough family event as we re-discovered the fun of play-dough and showed her our mad skills and advanced tricks, like making spaghetti, cups, and tubes.   

  Evening was less than impressed, and decided it was far more fun to drop the play-dough on the ground and laugh at the ‘thunking’ noise it made.  

   (I tried it, and she was right – it was more fun!)

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Friday, April 5, 2013

DIY cloth diaper inserts

    There comes a time in every cloth diapering mummy’s life that she can use some more diaper inserts.  Maybe the dryer ate some, or an eagle flew away with a few from your clothesline to line their nest with.  Maybe they got left at Grandma’s house.  Maybe great great great granny stole them to use with her adult cloth diaper.  I don’t know.  Whatever the case, looking into buying extra inserts can be crazy expensive and the quality can be questionable at best.

  So don’t buy them.  You can make them with the bare minimum of sewing skills and time, trust me.  Here’s how:

  You’re going to need: 
  • an old towel or two (any colour, any condition – this is absorbing feces and urine after all) 
  • scissors 
  • current diaper insert to use as a pattern OR just measure out a rectangle 38 cm x  14.5 cm (14.75" x 5.5") and round off the corners to use as your pattern (this should fit most one-size pocket diapers based on my experience) 
  • thread 
  • needle or sewing machine.  

   I love to hand-stitch but I do recommend using a sewing machine for this project.  

  Trace and cut out as many diaper insert pieces as you can from your towel.  If you want to make a newborn diaper one layer will suffice, but any child older than that you’ll need to layer two pieces together (so you want to end up with an even number).

using an existing insert as a pattern piece
   Pin your layers together if need be, and set your sewing machine to the zig zag stitch.  All you want to do is run along the edge of your layers to keep them fraying away during frequent washings.  

use a zigzig stitch to keep the edges from fraying
   That’s it – you’ve just made yourself a diaper insert, recycled a towel, saved yourself some cash, and gave yourself a bit more time before your next load of diapers.  You’re so amazing!  

  NOTE: the measurements provided above have served me well with several different brands of one size pocket diapers but please use your judgement with your particular diaper brand. 

  I'm linking this project up at Small Footprint Friday, Creative HomeAcre and A New Creation- check them out for more great projects!

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