Monday, November 30, 2009

Handmade Christmas: Supplies

It was a fun shopping trip this morning. A trip to the bulk store for chocolate is next, and then the epic baking shall commence.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Handmade Christmas: Superhero cape

If you are my sister in law, don't let your kids see this post!


Make them leave!


OK, if they are gone:

A superhero cape for my nephew. My skills with applique are just as bad as always, but it's pretty cute, if I do say so myself. Mostly the problem was the fabric I choose was a real bitch to work with.

From the front. It can also be reversed with the plain blue side out.

This is a very easy little project - I'd say it took me about an hour altogether. You could whip these up super fast if you didn't want to do the applique! I used these instructions, although once I drew out the pattern I thought it looked short so I added a few inches, and I did the actual sewing part completely differently because the written instructions seemed overly complicated and I am all about fast and simple.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Something new: cloth pads

This is the post where half of you decide I've lost my mind. Just to warn you.

Now, I know these tend to make a lot of people go what the fuck? and/or EWWWWWWWWW. I know, because I was one of those people as little as a year ago. But I have a lot of fabric left over from making diapers for the baby, and I've really been focusing a lot lately on reducing the amount of garbage our family puts out into the world, a little bit at a time, and these are kind of a natural step, especially given that I have to wash diapers anyway.

Cloth menstrual pads*. I was skeptical, but you know what? I like them so much better than disposable pads. And not just because they don't get thrown out. They are actually more comfortable to wear, they don't have any weird perfumes in them (and whoever came up with perfumed menstrual products needs a slappin', because, talk about EWWWW), and I swear, I never would have believed it until I tried them, but I swear my cramps and other unpleasant symptoms are actually less since I started using these.

Because I like the high tech stuff, these are about as high tech as you can get, at least when talking menstruation. PUL for the outer, totally waterproof, so your clothes don't get wet or stained. Fleece on the wings for softness, and they fasten with a snap (two settings to adjust the fit). The absorbant bit is made of 2 layers of flannel with a layer of Zorb in between. Zorb is probably about the most absorbent material you can get, it's amazing stuff. Topped with an athletic wicking fabric so that moisture passes through and is moved away from the skin. And the wicking fabric is also surprisingly stain resistant.

So while I know these aren't going to be everyone's cup of tea, I like them, and they are a great way to use up some of the excess fabric I have lying around. Look for sets in the store soon.

Now I'm going to hurry up and write another post to get this one off the top. Also I'm sure I've managed to convince at least half my regular readers than I'm nuts. Come back! I promise the next post won't have anything to do with menstruation!

*I refuse, refuse, refuse to call them 'mama pads', which seems to be the term most people use. Sets my teeth on edge.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dollhouse renovation part VII: Exterior and furniture

Progress on the house exterior! Windows are framed and painted purple, and I've painted some grass along the bottom. I'll be adding in some flowers as well. Also, note the hook and eye set ($1) to keep the doors closed when not in use. Paints are from my craft supplies.

I have to figure out what to do with the roof. It looks kind of wrong to leave it just plain.

I also painted grass along the bottom of this side, and added some vines and flowers. Painting is not where my talents lie, clearly, but I think it's prettier than the plain white, and it was fun to paint!

Close up. This actually looks a lot better in person. Really, I swear.

The interior is fully painted. I'm not happy with the curtains, so I'm going to change those. I'll post more about the curtains when I get them figured out.

I picked up these dolls a couple of weeks ago. My brother and his wife will also be supplying a set of dolls, so the kiddo will have a nice big family to play with and live in the house! It's handy to have these ones here to provide scale as I start building furniture. While I would love to furnish the house completely with Plan toys stuff, it's expensive! So for now most likely just the kitchen will get purchased furniture, and the rest I'll make enough for ongoing play. Further sets can be birthday presents later on.

This is the bed I made for the blue room.

Mattress and pillow were made out of my fabric stash.

The bed is super simple - just popsicle sticks glued together.

On the bottom, I drilled holes into the popsicle sticks for legs made out of some dowel from the dollar store, glued the dowel into the holes, and stuck some tacks in the bottom just for the heck of it. This works surprisingly well! Now I have to make a couple of similar beds for the kid's room.

Total spent this post - $1 for hook and eye.
Total spent to date: $17.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Trades #3: Name banner

Isn't this cute? A name banner for my younger daughter's room. I love the rainbow flannel for the letters; pretty sure I actually used to have some of that fabric, although I used it all up. I wonder if I can get more, it would come in handy for quite a few things, given my whole rainbow obsession.

This was made for me by this lovely Etsy seller. She's not taking orders for the name banners again until January, but keep her in mind, she does good work (and is just an all around dynamite person!).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pencil crayon and notepad case

Put together a final version last night. I love this so much, I really do. Big Kid has already tried to steal it from me about 10 times this morning. The slots will also work with the skinny markers; I personally would prefer it with markers so you don't have to deal with the whole pencil sharpening aspect, although you could add a small single pencil sharpener to the notebook slot, there is enough room.

How it looks closed. I like the simple black outer, although I will probably make a few with crazy rainbow stripes, because crazy rainbow stripes are just what I do.

Requisite arty shot for Etsy listing, because to fit in on Etsy, you gotta do the pointless artsy shot. Goofy yet true.

Buy it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Prototype: Pencil and notebook case

This is something that I was asked if I thought it would be possible to make, and I said, what a great idea and got to work. This is the prototype and it has some issues, first off that I really don't like the black and grey fabric, but for some reason I have a ton of it so it's good for making prototypes.

Reverse side. Very similar to the little people rolls, obviously.

Inside! Pencil crayons and a notebook. I think this is such a great idea, and after i work out a few more details I'm definitely going to make a bunch of these. I need to make the whole thing about an inch taller, and the pockets need to be a bit snugger because right now a couple of the pencil crayons really want to slip right out. Both of those are easy problems to solve, however.

Close up. I think these would actually be really nice with a plain black outer and the crazy rainbow inner. And what a great thing to have tucked away in your purse for child entertainment emergencies! the number of pencil crayons can easily be increased, too, although more colours makes matching up the background fabric a bit of a pain. I shall have to experiment a bit more with that. And this could also be made with crayons or markers, too, although that will require working out the specific sizing for each one.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Perhaps I should take a nap.

Made a few more of these for the store. Can you spot the problem with this next one?

Clearly, I need more sleep.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dollhouse renovation part VI: Interior almost done!

A reminder of what I started with on this rapidly becoming epic project.

How it looks right now! The interior is almost done - the trim in the green room needs one coat of paint, but that's the last thing, other than the curtains, which I'm still figuring out.

Aren't those chairs cute? I got them from an Etsy seller, and very reasonably priced. I'm not including them in the cost, for that I'm just accounting for anything used on the dollhouse itself. The other thing in the blue room is a folding screen I made out of popsicle sticks and some elastic from my sewing stash.

I found this set of wooden painted letters at the dollar store and just couldn't resist using them to decorate the kid's room.

This doesn't look much different in the picture, but in real life you can tell! Two coats of white semi-gloss paint from the paint cupboard. And now that that is done, it's time to figure out decorating the outside! I'm going to trim the windows in popsicle sticks (of course!) painted lavender and see how that looks. Also I have to install a hook and eye to hold the doors closed, as they tend to swing open.

Spent on wooden letters: $1
Total spent to date: $16

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tutorial: Making Crayons

I'm pretty sure every family with kids above the age of about 4 or so has a bucket or a bin or a jar full of broken crayons. And because who wants to colour with the crappy broken crayons, the jar just keeps getting fuller!

This is a great way to put those broken crayons back into use. And have some fun craft time with your kids! Essentially all you do is pile the broken crayons into a baking mold of some sort (you can even just use a muffin tin, to make nice little hockey-puck type crayons), and then stick 'em in a hot oven until they melt. Wait until they cool, and bingo, you have some big fat crayons your kids may be willing to use again. Or they'd make a terrific gift for the toddlers in your life. Or at least you'll have spent an hour of quality time with your kids.

First up, you need crayons, and lots of them. Peel off the paper (it helps to score the paper with something like the tip of a knife to make them easier to peel), break the crayons into small pieces, and have your child helper sort out the crayons by colour. My helper refused to help with the paper peeling part, but she did enjoy the sorting.

Decide what you will bake them in. This is a Pampered Chef silicone cake pan that I have never actually used, so I figured if the crayon residue doesn't come off, well, at least I used it for something! I found the crayons do leave a residue, so I'd bear that in mind when choosing your pan. If I was going to do these in a muffin tin I wanted to use again later for muffins I'd probably do them in paper cups (the paper should just peel off the finished crayons).

I gave the pan a quick spray with some spray oil, then my helper got to work piling in the crayons. We decided for the first batch to go with blue/purple, red/pink, and yellow/orange. Fill up the molds, then stick in a warm oven (I used 300 degrees) for about 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, the crayons had mostly melted. Once they're melted, there will be more space left, so we added more crayons.

Adding crayons to the melted ones. Then I put them back into the oven for 5 minutes, and then checked every 2 minutes or so until they were completely melted.

We probably shouldn't have put quite so many crayon pieces in the second time! Here you can see why perhaps you shouldn't fill them up completely. Or at least keep the tray completely flat as you take it out of the oven.

Then, let them cool, resisting the temptation to take them out before they are completely, 100% cool.

The really nice thing about the silicone pan is it's super easy to turn these out, just push 'em from the bottom.

Having achieved such great results with the first three, who could resist making more?

So fun! We have now exhausted our crayon supply. Whenever we make these again, I think I will chop up some of the crayons into very small pieces, and put those pieces in the bottom of the molds. Especially for the blue, where it would have been nice if I'd made sure more of the light blue and lavender crayon pieces wound up visible in the finished product.

One other suggestion - try not to put too many low quality crayons in any one mold. The lower quality crayons seem to have a lot more wax than colour, and you may find if you use a lot of low quality crayons you get a layer of largely colourless wax at the top of the mold. And that's very frustrating to try and actually colour with!

This is a super easy activity to do with your kids! Highly recommended.

Edit: since we made these, my kid has spent about 3 solid hours playing with them. Not so much colouring with them, but stacking them, sorting them, pretending they are people having adventures. I'd call that a success, anything that can keep her busy for an hour is fine by me!

NOT the dollhouse: making coasters

I found these on Etsy and have been totally inspired. What a great way to use up scrap fabric! I had a big piece of fabric I'd strip pieced together a while ago; it was one of those ideas that worked better in my head than it did in real life, so I'd tucked it away in the UFO ('unfinished object') pile. Every craft person has a UFO pile, where things that just aren't working languish until, hopefully, someday, inspiration strikes and you salvage something great from the wreakage.

This is one of those times I managed to make it work! I cut up the fabric into 5" squares, backed each one with some scrap black cord or some black denim, sewed 'em together, turned, and topstiched. I think they came out really well!

I'm probably going to keep this set, but now I have all kinds of ideas for coaster/placemat coordinated sets (the etsy seller I linked above also has these fabulous coordinated placemats that are also inspiring me). I have a couple of people on my Christmas list who will now be getting coaster and placemat sets! I'm thinking the leftover fabric from the Laurie bag could be worked into a really gorgeous set...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Doll house renovation part V: STILL working on the interior

It's coming along! I'm actually surprisingly close to finishing the interior. The floors are all installed, and the windows have all been framed.

The blue room has had two coats of dollar store white acrylic applied to the trim, and I think that's plenty. ($1 spent on paint; the small paintbrushes I'm using for trim work I have a ton of already). Which means there's actually only one more thing to do here - install the 'curtain rod' and make the curtains. I'll cover that in a separate post.

Floor installed in the red room. I like it!

I've started putting in the trim in the yellow room. I'm hoping tonight to get all the remaining trim glued down in all three remaining rooms so that tomorrow I can apply the wood filler to the cracks and then get it painted. The window frames in the yellow and green rooms are both fully painted, so I can get the curtain rods installed there too; the red room window frame needs at least one coat to cover the wood filler. If I can find some craft varnish for a reasonable price I would like to make the trim semi-gloss, just because I think that would look nice, but I may not get to that.

Then it's on to the outside! Right now I am thinking I will paint it white with some semi-gloss pure white paint I have leftover from when we painted our house. Then I'll trim around the windows with the popsicle sticks, probably painted lavender. I'd also like to paint vines and flowers on the outside, but we'll see.

I would like to figure out at least a little bit of furniture (I don't plan to go overboard here, as I figure dollhouse furniture will make good gifts for birthdays and that sort of thing over the next couple of years!). I picked up a few things from the dollar store that will be useful in furniture creation, I'm going to play around with any leftover popsicle sticks, and I'm hoping to maybe get my hands on some Barbie furniture - I have some paints especially for plastic so I could paint the Barbie furniture to be a little less bubblegum. Assuming I can find some, of course!

Spent on paint: $1
Total spent to date: $15

Monday, November 9, 2009

Doll house renovation part IV: More interior progress

Coming along! The swine flu appears to be on its way out, finally, which will hopefully mean more craft time (and a kid who isn't sick, of course).

The green room is painted ($2 spent on craft paint from the dollar store), and the floor laid. The floor in the green room is made of wooden coffee stir sticks ($1 at the dollar store). I'm not 100% thrilled with it, but the important thing is it's DONE.

Shot of the green room, with the window framed.

Blue room with trim added. I'm making 'baseboards' out of the popsicle sticks leftover from making the floor here - it took slightly more than 1 bag to do this floor, so I have a TON left, hopefully enough to do the trim in the whole house.

Framing the door. Here you can kind of see the 'seams' between the popsicle sticks, which I've filled in with some wood filler I had on hand.

Close up.

I have wood filler lying around, so I'm using it to smooth out the seams. I think I'm going to paint the trim in the whole house interior white to kind of give the whole thing a unified look, even though each room has a different colour and a different floor. Pure white trim throughout should sort of pull it all together. In theory. Actually painting it is probably going to be a massive pain in the ass - I think I might paint a whole bunch of the popsicle sticks white tonight. They'll need a final coat put on after being installed, but it'll make the trim painting in the other three rooms significantly easier if most of the sticks are already white! Should have thought about that before I starting gluing trim pieces all over the place.

The red room is the kid's room, so it'll have this crazy multicoloured floor. Dollar store again, these popsicle sticks come prepainted in lots of colours. $2 for two bags, with a ton left over that I can use for other things, like maybe some popsicle stick furniture. I used some clear varnish from the paint closet to finish and seal the popsicle sticks.

Total spent for this post (paint, popsicle sticks): $5

Total to date: $14