Posts Tagged ‘crafting’

Lila is now a full two weeks into five.

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I must say, I felt differently about five than I did about the proceeding birthdays. I’ve always been the type to get a bit nostalgic and sad around birthday time, trying to hang on to those final days of each year before they’re gone forever. Five, though – I’m just plain excited for five. Every year has been pretty extraordinary, of course, but I have these wonderfully high hopes for five. I can’t wait to see what this year brings.

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One thing it’s brought already is a late birthday gift – a Purl Bee lap duvet made with double gauze and shot cotton.

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There are so many great Purl Bee blanket tutorials, and when Anna posted her lovely baby seal lap duvet I remembered that I had some double gauze (Nani Iro’s Melody Sketch in Pastel) in need of a project. This is such a wonderful, cozy blanket. The double gauze and shot cotton are both extra soft fabrics, and the wool batting makes it so warm and lofty – I used a crib-sized Dream Wool and tacked it down by machine every six inches.

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I really intended to give this on time – it looked like a pretty simple project, so I started it a couple nights before her birthday. After spending an entire evening trying to lay two pieces of fabric on top of one another without wrinkling (I’m not kidding – why was this so hard for me??), I got tired and gave up. The main problem, aside from general unwieldiness and ineptitude, was that the backing ended up two inches shorter than the double gauze, and I couldn’t bear to cut into that precious double gauze. The whole reason I was using it for a blanket (after hoarding it for 13 months) was to avoid taking a scissors to it AT ALL. But in the end it seemed silly to buy another piece of shot cotton just to save two inches of Nani Iro, and I was already a week behind schedule, so I proceeded.

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I ended up taping the fabrics to my kitchen floor prior to pinning, and besides not being the cleanliest option, it worked out alright. Both fabrics have some stretch to them and I never really got things to lay straight and even. My finished rectangle is a little wonky, but it’s passable. And what it lacks in mathematical precision it certainly makes up for in cuddleability.

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The tutorial calls for 1.75 yards, and I only had 1.5 yards of double gauze (making it even harder to chop off those two inches!), but it’s still a good sized blanket, even for me. I didn’t have double gauze for the backing so shot cotton seemed like a good alternative. There were so many color options to go with those dots, but I eventually settled on Quartz – I’m not a big pink/purple person, but Lila likes it, and I found this shade to be wholly non-offensive.

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I added (as I do) a little embroidered tag to the back.

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And just a few more birthday things to show – the traditional invites:


A birthday banner (which just came down today):

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And she requested a birthday crown like Oscar’s – I used the tutorial from Heidi & Finn. They’re so quick and simple to make.

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We thought about doing something more elaborate, but decided to keep it simple and have a little birthday party with neighborhood friends like we’ve done every year. She chose ice cream sundaes for the party – those little polka dot cups are filled with kid portions of the toppings, in a futile attempt to minimize sugar overload. Adults were free to make their own bad decisions. Not pictured: salted caramel sauce and hot fudge – both excellent recipes if ever you’re looking.


And on the real day, we had a gummy bear adorned chocolate cake. I think it’s safe to say that I’ll never use another chocolate cake recipe as long as I live (I like it with plain old vanilla buttercream, though).


We fulfilled (in the loosest sense of the word) her wish for a pet with a betta fish. It’s not the most exciting animal – in fact it’s hard to tell if he’s dead or alive or part of the plastic plant or what, because he almost never moves. Not exactly the rabbit she asked for, but what can I say, we aren’t pet people. And that big box in the back is her very own Janome Hello Kitty sewing machine (it was quite a bit cheaper in the store, just FYI). This thing is the real deal – it’s a great little machine. I don’t know, five is probably slightly premature for a sewing machine, but I got excited about the idea and couldn’t help myself. She loves it and is doing great so far, I just wish we had more time to use it together. But alas, the presence of a toddler in the house makes most activities utterly impossible. Still, it’s an exciting new development, and just one tiny part of why five is looking like so much fun.

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So there you have it.

F I V E.


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first birthday things

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So I did a little bit of birthday crafting. Or I cut out a bunch of crowns, anyway.

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The birthday boy photo bunting was inspired by the fabulous hair bow version Danielle made for her daughter – I knew the minute I saw it I wanted to recreate something similar for Oscar (sans hair bows of course, though he’s certainly worn his share). The faces (each one is about 4 inches across) are printed onto photo paper and glued to card stock, then taped to the ribbon.

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I made a simple felt crown (template and tutorial courtesy of Heidi & Finn), and he wore the silly thing all morning long, along with his birthday trousers and a new sweater, knit by my mom.

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There were crowns for the cupcakes…

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Cookies in crown bags…


Crowns clipped to his month-to-month photos…

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And a mother-load of triangles sewn into miles of triangle garland…

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He also got a triangle birthday bib – the fabric (Leah Duncan’s Movaje Illuminated) was the inspiration for the triangle garland.

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That’s all, nothing fancy. We celebrated with two small parties – just family on his real birthday, and some neighborhood friends the next day. He got a little barbeque trolley and a ride-on bumble bee and was perfectly content just sitting there, enjoying both at the same time.


That’s the thing about this kid, he’s just perfectly content, all the time. We are beyond lucky to have him around. I had forgotten how much fun it is to have a one-year-old – I love all the stages, but ONE! sure is spectacular.

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 p.s. There’s still another day to enter the fabric giveaway – details are here!

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birthday favors


Since we only had a few neighborhood kids at Lila’s birthday party, I decided to put together little favor bags for everyone in her preschool class.


Her birthday happened to fall on a school day, so she was extra excited about passing out treats to her school friends.


We made sparkle play dough (this recipe plus a bunch of glitter) and sprinkled sugar cookies shaped like fours. Lila also requested that I make “little tiny baby dolls” for each bag, but that birthday wish got squashed pretty quickly.

The kraft bags from Paper Source are a good size for a couple of little treats and make for a nice blank canvas. I cut the little animal shapes from a sheet of wrapping paper, glued them to punched card stock circles, then stamped names on the bags.

favors-2593This is surely one of those projects that was 14x as much fun for me to put together as it was for the kids to receive, but believe me, such things stopped concerning me a long time ago. 🙂

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It’s birthday month again! When I posted last year about my love for birthday crafting, and how I wanted another baby so I’d have two parties to plan every year, a wise commenter reminded me that two kids means half the time to plan. Yep, that’s about right. That second kid is totally cramping my style this year. But he’s sweet, so I’m trying not to hold it against him.


I have found a little time to play around, though. There’s no real theme this year, just keeping things colorful and birthday-partyish. I found some birthday balloon rubber stamps at my local crafty store, Collage, and used those to make invitations. I sewed the balloon strings by machine with silver thread. The stamps are made by Yellow Owl Workshop and they have lots of great stamp sets to check out if you’re into that sort of thing.


I thought it might be fun to have a birthday party craft, so courtesy of Pinterest, we’ll be making paper straw necklaces. Lila will sit for big blocks of time making bead jewelry, so this seemed like a good choice.

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Lots of Etsy sites will let you choose your own mix of 25 or 50 paper straws – I got an assortment and cut them into beads.

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For anyone wanting to try this – the straws are very sturdy, so cutting with a scissors flattens the ends of the beads. An exacto knife worked better – start with a sawing motion and then continue through the straw. I made my beads a little less than 3/4 inch long, and you can get about 10 beads to a straw.

paper straw beads-2162All that straw cutting was a little time consuming, but hey, you only turn four once.

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And speaking of four, I also decorated some plain white cups with washi tape 4s. So easy, plus I had to capitalize on the fact that a 4 consists of all straight lines – that won’t happen again until she’s 7, and after that not til she’s 11, and who knows if she’ll want me washi taping her party cups by then. But I digress.


And to go along with the cups, a washi-foured circle garland:


This year was fun because Lila was very involved in the crafting process. She cut, stamped, taped, glued, punched, and beaded right alongside me, and had all sorts of wild almost-four-year-old ideas to contribute.

Okay, still a few more days to prep, I best get back to work!

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I saw this pin pop up all over the place yesterday, which led me to Mer Mag’s “Easy Bunny Candy Pouch” – and before I knew it I had some felt bunny pouches of my own.

It was exactly the kind of project I was in the mood for – there’s a printable template, I had all the supplies on hand, and each little pouch took about 10 minutes from start to finish. Embroidering the bunny faces was fun, and you can customize them any way you like – I used the sleepy eyes from the template and added a little mouth, then cut some fabric scraps for inside the ears.

These were so simple to make – cut out a back and front, stitch the little face, and sew the two pieces together, leaving a gap between the ears so you can fill it with treats.

Then tie the ears together, and your bunny pouch is complete!

I haven’t shopped for Easter treats yet so I plumped up the pouches with felt balls for the purposes of these photos. I’m hoping to come up with something besides candy to stick inside – Lila has her first dentist appointment tomorrow and I’m a little nervous…she definitely inherited my sweet tooth. But even if it’s not candy, I think it’ll be fun to get these out every year and fill them with some sort of treat.

Here’s another link to the original bunny pouch post, where you can find the template and instructions. They’re so quick – there’s still plenty of time before Easter to make one (or a whole slew of them) if you’re in the mood!

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label making 101

I had a couple February babies to sew for, so I went back to the Simple Sewing for Baby snugglers pattern – they come together so nicely, especially when you’re on your fourth one! This one’s for baby Sophia, who’s due to arrive sometime this week. I figured since she already has a name, I’d personalize it.

And since I’ve been on a labeling kick lately, I thought I’d share a little bit about how I make them (and drag out some past label and tag photos, too).

Here’s the rundown on the supplies I use for stamped labels: twill tape (available in many colors and widths, but here’s the kind I use), alphabet stamps, and a fabric stamp pad. I use StazOn ink – now that I look at the product description, it just says “multi-surface stamping”, but I’ve never had a problem using it on fabric. VersaCraft makes one especially for fabric, so you could try that, too.

There are also lots of options for letter stamps, but mine are made by Hero Arts. I have this lowercase set. I couldn’t find a link to my exact uppercase set (I’ve had both sets for 10+ years), but this one is close – it looks like they’ve swapped out the punctuation (mine came with ! and ? and &) for shapes, but the letters are exactly the same. The uppercase set includes numbers too, which is handy.

After stamping on the tape, press it with a hot iron to set the ink. Then sew on your label, either by hand or by machine. Easy! I like to pink the edges of my labels, but you can press the edges to the inside before sewing it on if you want a cleaner look.

I love being able to spell out names and make ridiculous little labels with the letter stamps. These were made with the same twill tape, just folded in half.

Of course you can use any old stamp to make a label…

And there are other options besides stamping, too. Here’s snuggler number four, with an embroidered name label. This one’s for baby Eleanor, who was born yesterday!

Embroidered labels are easy too, even if you don’t have much experience with hand stitching. I write the name with a water soluble pen, then use one strand of embroidery floss, doubled on the needle, to create a backstitch (here‘s a very simple explanation of this very simple stitch). The smaller your stitches are around the curves, the rounder your letters will look.

And more labels. You can also sew a fabric cut-out onto the tape or just machine stitch a design.

Or just use a piece of ribbon or fabric.

Tags are great for simple elastic waist pants and skirts, because it can be hard to tell the front from the back, especially for kids just learning to dress themselves. They’re also just a fun way to personalize the things you’ve made. And of course, they’re not just for clothing. You can pretty much slap a label on anything you make. Like Valentines or tea bags, for example.

By the way, thanks for all your kind comments about those tiny tea bags. They took some trial and error but really weren’t difficult to make. I was wondering – would anyone want to give it a try at home if I posted a tutorial?

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Lila’s little kitchen is pretty well stocked, but we’ve been lacking a tea pot for some time now. So for Valentine’s Day this year she’s getting her first tea set.

And I thought play tea bags would be fun, too.

The idea to make tea bags came from here, but once I got started, I went a little nutty with the details. Not that Lila will notice (or care) how closely they ended up resembling bona fide tea bags, but I get pretty excited about creating tiny versions of real things, so I went for it.

It was easy enough to do – I just deconstructed a real tea bag and made a mini version out of muslin and felt. A tea bag, as it turns out, is just a long tube with a seam down the center, pinched at the bottom, and folded in and over at the top.  I had some silver thread on hand (purchased for a Christmas craft that never materialized), so I used that to mimic the metal staples that close the bag and attach the string to the tag.  And since they’re for Valentine’s Day and all, I embroidered little heart tags in Valentine-y colors.

I hadn’t planned to fill the bags, but since I’d already destroyed two real tea bags in the process, I figured all that tea shouldn’t go to waste. Lila’s past the age where she puts things in her mouth, so it seemed safe enough. And it gives the bags a nice weight and smell. I sewed the bags up very securely by machine before adding the silver “staples” – that tea isn’t going anywhere.

At the last minute I decided to make some little felt sleeves for the tea bags (with the exact same labels as my Valentine envelopes) – no details on these, just two rectangles sewn together.

I think that about covers this installment of tiny. Here’s everything packaged up. I covered the top of one of those $1 Joann’s craft boxes with washi tape. Always looking for an excuse to use my washi tape.

Happy almost Valentine’s Day!

P.S. I’m going to sew some clothes soon, I promise.

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sick day

Today we stayed home sick. Lila had a high fever, but no other symptoms, so we just laid low.

She chose herself a nice sick day outfit of some leggings she outgrew six months ago and some mismatched socks, the partners of which she wore as “hand gloves” (is there any other kind?) – to ward of the chills, probably.

There was some of this going on today:

But we also made play dough:

I found a recipe on flickr several years ago and I’ve been using it ever since. We make it all the time at home, and we’ve used it for gifts and party favors, too. It’s the same recipe you see pop up everywhere, but I’ll post it here just in case anyone’s interested.

2 cups flour

1 cup salt

4 T cream of tartar

2 cups water

2 T vegetable oil

You mix everything together in a saucepan and cook it over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it all congeals. Then knead the dough on a piece of waxed paper and separate it into as many balls as colors you want.

I usually halve the recipe if it’s just for us, but I made a full batch this time so we can give some to Lila’s cousin for his birthday this week. Mixing the colors is the best part, so I separated the dough into 12 pieces and made the whole rainbow.

You can get super vibrant colors if you use gel food coloring. I bought a box of Wilton gel icing colors forever ago with a 40% off coupon at Joanns. It’s a lifetime supply.

Before the color goes in, you can add a few drops of scented oil to each ball (or you can add it at the cooking stage). We made some grapefuit, some anise, and some lavender. They smell pretty.

I use a toothpick to add a little gel to each piece until it’s the color I want. Be warned, though – a few of the colors will try to elude you. No matter how much black you add, the dough just keeps on looking green – it takes hours (sometimes overnight, even) before the color develops. It’s the same way with purple and red. But be patient. Good things (like black play dough, for example) come to those who wait.

Now, if you’re serious about the sport of play dough (as I think I’ve proven myself to be), you can head over to your local Bi-Mart and source out one of these little stacking compartment thingies to hold all your goods. It’s got three separate layers – I used one for the rolling pins and tools, one for the dough, and one for the shape cutters. They all stack together and snap shut.

No doubt about it, I love me some organized anything.

Now I have to figure something out for sick day #2….

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