Tummy time mat, all the rest

Well, I got it done for Christmas.  I sure didn't get step by step pictures of the rest of the making, though.

Here's the finished product, complete with baby:
The play gym above her is from Ikea.  I find it not nearly as obnoxious as a lot of the other ones I've seen.  I love babies, but I hate the baby land feeling that comes when you have a newborn and your whole house is just covered in blankets, bouncers, swings, burp clothes, and all the rest.  Am I alone there? Anyway, I feel like the Ikea play gym is a lot less baby-ish than a lot of others, so I don't mind it so much.

Now for some details. Here's the other vision quarter:
{Don't mind my feet there at the bottom}

Just a child mirror attached to a wedge pillow and two loops for attaching toys. 

The mirror is one of those ones you can get for your car to look at rear-facing children.

The mirror sticks to the mat with velcro.  The wedge pillow actually has two sets of velcro on it- one set on the short side to make the mirror stand up at a steep angle, and another (in the picture above) on the opposite long side that will make it be at a low angle, for when the baby is sitting up and looking down at the mat.  I feel pretty smart about that.
I also felt smart figuring out my pillow dimensions.  I used the pythagorean theorem and the sine function to get things right.  I always liked trig, and as it turns out, it's still actually useful!

For the last quarter, the sound/hearing one, I had a bit of a dilemma.  A lot of store bought play mats have squeakers in them, or buttons that play music.  I thought it would be really cool if I could DIY that, but I never figured out anything that was actually doable.  Thus, for this quarter, I just attached a bunch of loops.

I'll use the rings to attach things that make noise.  It's nothing too special, but it works.  My parents got Elle a bus that lies flat and has a bunch of buttons that make noise and play songs, so that works. 

After I finished all the quarters, I pieced them together and then put the grey square down over the center and just like that my quilt top was done! The grey square is attached like an applique- I cut it, folded the edges over once about a half inch and ironed, then sewed it down around the edges over my pieced top.

I quilted it quarter by quarter, too.  My original plan was to use different techniques in each section, like a grid in one and stippling in another, but that proved to be a bit ambitious.  I just did wavy lines instead.  I kind of wish I had done them a little closer, but it was Christmas Eve night and I just wanted this thing DONE.

I machine bound it using this tutorial and it worked out pretty well.  It's got some problems, but I'm not embarrassed of it as a first try. 

{The backing is the same grey as the middle square and the binding}

{This was by far my best corner.  The others are a bit wonky.}
 Here it is, all finished.  It was such a great feeling to get this done.  The littlest miss likes it, too, if drooling and chewing and spitting up on everything is any indication of fondness.  I'm pretty sure it is.  If you're less than a year old. 

Making it was not nearly as frustrating as I thought it would be (my expectations of frustration were incredibly high, but still).  Working on it in quarters made it pretty manageable- I definitely recommend it as a strategy. 

I hope everybody else got all their handmade projects done in time for the holidays!


Tummy time mat, part 2

The mat is organized by senses (it was the easiest way to think of things to put on it) and yesterday I finished the touch quarter.

So, the big thing is like a little touch book.  I took a bunch of different fabrics with distinct feels, used Heat n' Bond, zig zagged the edges together, then put eyelets in.  I just used normal 3 ring binder hoops to put it together. The fabrics I used include velour, burlap, denim, terry cloth, minky, satin, felt, monk's cloth, suede, flannel, cotton with puff paint on it, and corduroy.   I thought I was going to have a hard time thinking of more than 3 or 4 fabrics, but then I couldn't stop thinking of them.  I already had all of them, too.  Nice.

The book attaches to the mat like so:
Those little bits with the trims on them are detachable, too:

One of the goals I refuse to sacrifice with this mat is that it NEEDS to be washable. Pretty much everything will be detachable. 

Again, I know that the book might be a little advanced for her at this age.  Mim will be there to help, though.  The little tassel bits will be perfect for Elle, though.  She loves grabbing and pulling right now.  My hair, Mim's hair, faces, everything.   

That's part 2.  Here's part 1


Tummy time mat, part 1

So it's possible that previously I've mentioned the tummy time mat that I'm making.  Maybe here.  And maybe in my last post.  Things are moving on it, though.  Today I actually remembered to take pictures of some progress, so here you go:

It's my little picture flap quadrant.  Now that it's done, it doesn't actually seem like enough, so there might be more added to it.  Maybe like pockets on the tops of the flaps for more pictures.  I'm not sure.  Maybe some simple appliqued shapes. 

The details:
 I first sewed the flaps down while they laid open, the folded them over to cover the pictures and sewed them down again.  Also, you might notice the tape on the vinyl.  That's what I was using to hold the vinyl in place while I sewed.  I didn't want to use pins.  I thought the tape would just rip off, easy as that, when I was done and it would be awesome.  It was not. 
 I just used a zig zag to sew the vinyl on.  Don't make the stitch length on the zig zag too short, or you might just make it really easy for the vinyl to rip along the perforations the needle makes.
And there it is.  A drool proof little pocket for pictures so the baby has a little something extra to look at during tummy time. I realize the actual opening and closing might be beyond her at this age, but I want her to be able to grow into it a bit.  I'm betting that her big sister will be more than happy to help her until she can do it on her own, though.

Stay tuned for part 2!


Sweater stocking

I've seen stockings made from sweaters all over blogland and on pinterest.  Since I needed a new stocking for little miss Elle, I decided to upcycle an old sweater of my husband's.  It was just plain red, so to give a little detail, I did my pretend embroidering (as seen here and here) and added some snow flakes.  Here it is!
{It's not lined, the cuff is just a bit of fleece that I sewed on.  I'd explain how, but I didn't take pictures and I don't think I can do it with just words.}

{I used a yard darner and a fuzzy off white yarn to add the snow flakes.  The yarn was left over from this project.}

{Here it is with the rest of our mismatched stocking collection.  Mike's is his from when he was a kid, mine is one I picked up at Target two or three years ago, Mim's is my old one from when I was a kid.}

 It still kind of makes me do a double take when I see four stockings up there.  I kind of love that they don't match, too.  Maybe I won't ever end up making the matching set I've been planning for three years.

Also featured on the mantle: my old school paper chain advent calendar.  I was going to use those paper maché boxes from craft stores to make a fancy one this year, but I just won't have time.  This one is good for us for now, anyway- Mim totally gets a kick out of tearing the links off everyday.  And since we made it, she hasn't asked every day if Santa is coming.

I'm more excited for Christmas this year than I have been since I was a kid.
Happy holidays to all!

Thanks for reading.


Polly Pocket Beds

For Christmas, my side of the family does a name drawing for all the cousins.  Mim drew the name of her cousin Ari, who is really into Polly Pockets (so different from the Pollys of my generation).  Anyway, my sister in law told me Ari really wanted Polly Pocket beds and bedding.  So here they are:
The beds are popsicle sticks and some wood craft circles cut in half.  You could save yourself some gluing by getting the balsa wood pieces in the width you want from a craft store, but I had popsicle sticks on hand, so I went with that. 

The bottom "sheet" has a few layers of batting underneath and all the layers are secured with modpodge. 
I put the quilts wrong sides together and just finished the edges with a zig zag. 

There you have it.  My niece lent me a Polly to make sure everything was to scale, so here she is all tucked in. 
I actually quilted the blankets a little bit because I wanted some practice with my free motion foot, but I didn't do that until after I took the picture above and now they're all wrapped up in their box.  Ahwell. 

Anyway, I think these would be an awesome gift for the Polly enthusiasts in anyone's life.  They were also free for me, as I had all the materials, and they weren't even that time consuming.  My daughter was even able to help a little bit (since the gift is from her, after all) by painting and picking the fabric out. 

There will be more posts soon, I promise.  I've just been mostly working on a more involved project for my youngest- a tummy time mat.  Part one of that will hopefully be done by tomorrow!


Dress um ups

That's how my daughter says dress ups.  She's been talking a lot lately about how Santa is going to bring her "pink dress um ups."  Although yesterday she was talking about purple ones.  I hope she changes her mind back to pink before Christmas, or she might be a little disappointed.  Here's what I've done so far:

No pictures of the process- it's all after bedtime work, which means pictures would be so crappy they're not even worth taking.  I snuck down to the basement this morning to take these. 

I'm so excited to give these to my girl.  She wears dress up skirts all day, every day.  And to bed.  "Look mommy, I a pin-cess!"  There will be at least one more, made of chiffon.  I'm thinking either a circle skirt or a gored one.  Something more on the long and flowy side of things that will be good for spinning.  I might do a bubble skirt, too.  Now that I've started I can't stop- there's just something so addicting about making these super easy skirts.

So, although I have no tutorial, I do have some tips.  The top skirt is costume satin- finish your edges before you gather anything!!  I didn't for the bottom layer and it was just fraying everywhere.  That satin stuff is crazy.  I zig-zagged all the rest of my raw edges before messing with them and it was a lot less messy.  One tip for the no-sew tutu: if you want it to really stick out, stick some netting in there. 


Piano bench!

It's out of the garage and in the house!  This is a big deal.  I've only ever done one other big painting project, and this turned out well (although spray paint is pretty fool-proof) and it's my practice for an even bigger project that I might just have done before the new year. 

So here's the before.  I know I posted a picture of it before, but then I realized it didn't look so bad, so I went back and took some pictures of how crappy this thing was before I took care of it.

{I suppose it wasn't that bad...from a distance.}

{The glazing or whatever that the previous owner attempted was a really ugly brown.  And they definitely didn't prime before they painted, because it was chipping off like crazy in a bunch of places.}
I had originally planned to just do a light sanding and then priming and painting, but because of the paint chippiness, I ended up pretty much taking it all off.

{I got it down to its original stain or bare wood almost everywhere.  The upped left corner in this picture is white because of sunlight.}
As I took off the paint and uncovered the original stain color, I got kind of annoyed, because the original stain looked really close to what my husband had used on the piano.

An aside:  Here's why this project even happened.  For our first anniversary, my husband got me a piano (he's awesome).  Of course, cash was tight, so he was looking forever on Craigslist for a piano that worked and was in our budget.  He found one a week before our anniversary, but it was ugly.  He bought it anyway and then worked with a friend on it, stripping it down and re-staining it.  They got the whole piano done in week, but not the bench.  He was wiped out on refinishing furniture after that week, and so when he gave it to me, told me the bench was going to be my responsibility.  I was ok with that, and now after almost 4 years later and about 3.9 years after the leftover piano stain was lost, it's DONE!

Here it is now:

I did some light distressing that you can't even see in the photo, and might later go over it was a bit of stain or possibly stencil the top, but for now I have a real place to sit when I play.  It's great.

A detail I love:
I mod-podged some fabric over the bench bottom before I nailed it back on.  I love it.  Bonus tip: When mod-podging over a large area, start in a corner and move out ward a little bit at a time, smoothing like crazy.  Worked like a charm.

I hope everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving and for those of you not in the States, I hope your Thursday was totally rad.


Appliquéd ornament pillow

I love this pillow.  You probably won't, if you really love good embroidery.  Because I'm not an embroiderer.  I know the name of like 2 stitches, and I'm not very good at either.  However, I like my very imperfect, informal style of embroidering, at least on this pillow.  Here she is:
 I used a combination of all the stitches I knew how to do and did some machine embroidering/appliquéing as well. 
{Machine zig zag around the edge, hand sewn buttons.}

{Blanket stitch around the edge plus a running stitch to attach the vintage lace.}

{All machine.}

{Running stitch}

{Running stitch plus back stitching}
I used gray flannel for the pillow body.  I had wanted to use burlap, but then realized that would be really hard to embroider on it. 

It was fun to make this.  I'm no hand sewing expert, so it was just kind of fun to try whatever and just kind of mess around on this pillow.  All the unevenness adds charm, right?


Let the Christmas crafts commence- Ornament trees

I haven't done anything original in awhile, so it's about time.  I thought of doing something like this last year, but was too sick/busy finishing this to make it happen.  So this year, when I saw these mini ornaments at Walmart, I decided it was time.

They were about $3.50 each.  Not bad, but I'm going to check out the dollar store (that was my original plan, but by the time I got out last night, it was closed) next time.  I started by hot gluing some ornaments in a ring about 6-7 inches in diameter.  Then I just kept building up, ring on ring, leaving the middle empty so I could get maximum tree out of the ornaments I had.
See?  It's hollow.
I like it.  It's going to be perfect on the mantle in a week or so, with Christmas lights all around it and reflected by it.  Mmmmm.  I'm going to make a few more, I think, in different metallics.  It's about a foot tall, but I might put it up on a candle stick or something.. 
Here's to the beginning of Christmas crafting!


Big plans

I have a few things I want to make for gifts this Christmas.  The picture above is my plan for a play mat for the little one (from Santa).  I'm going to make it in four sections. 

The first section, the red oval, is going to just be a mirror (one of those child safe ones) propped up on a triangle pillow that will attach to the mat with velcro.  When I say "propped up" I actually mean permanently attached to the triangle pillow.  The reason it will be attached to the mat with velcro is so the mat can be washable.  I'll also put some fabric loops where I can attach toys with those rings you get at the store. 

The second section, with the blue rectangles, will be little flaps that cover pictures that I can remove.  I'm going to make some kind of pocket with clear vinyl so I can just slide them in and out.  This idea, to have pictures of family on the play mat, is pretty much what's driving me to finish it, because I'm pretty sure it'll be a big pain and I'll regret not just buying one.  I'll probably be clinging pretty hard to how cool it will be that the mat is customized with our pictures. 

The third section, the pink square, will be kind of a fabric touch book.  Burlap, fur, minky, fake leather, etc.  I'm not sure if it will be a book, I'll have to see what works.  Whatever happens, that quadrant will be about the sense of touch.

I'm unsure about the green circles right now.  It will be about the sense of sound.  A squeaker, a bell, crinkle flaps, more fabric loops to attach things that will make noise, etc. 

I'm putting the plans up now for a few reasons.  I'm just excited is a big one.  I also want to share with anybody who might be making something similar, and I want to give myself time to incorporate any advice that I might get.  So if you have any, all you have to do is click on "comments." 

ONE WEEK UNTIL THANKSGIVING!! WHAT?!  I wish luck to any of you that are making any of your gifts to give!


Thrifted sweater to baby sweater dress

For this, I used this tutorial.  I swear, there's nothing at Make It and Love It that I don't want to make.  And all her tutorials are so easy to find, too! 

I got the sweater at a local thrift shop.  I used one of her little dresses as a pattern and put it together, as per the instructions on Make It and Love It.  The neckline on mine went a little funny because I didn't leave myself enough width to bind it like I had planned.  Good thing this baby has 3 chins and no one will ever see it.

{See the furry pillow behind her?  I've gotten started on my winter pillow making!}
I love sweater dresses on my girls.  I'll probably make several more before it gets warm again.  And the little one can wear them with these little booties.  I'll probably make several more pairs of those, too.

I think I might unpick a bit of the side seams on the dress and sew in a ribbon or some kind of tie to put a bow in the front.
{Sorry she's flipping you off.}


Coming soon...

Last Saturday I got to start sanding it, hopefully I'll get to finish sanding and start painting tomorrow.  I'm using one of the Krylon paints that's for plastic, so we'll see what happens.  Also, will it be weird that the bench won't match the piano?  Seeing as having it match the piano is not an option, I hope not.

Happy Veteran's Day!


Little princess cape

My daughter loves dress ups.  So when I saw this dress in a bag of clothes my sister-in-law gave me, I immediately thought of a cape.
(This picture was in my October of 2010 folder.)

The dress is that stretchy velour/velvety stuff, so there was no way I could work with it on my machine.  Ahem.  My old machine (technically my mom's, but whatever).  I finally got to it yesterday in my cutting frenzy.

First thing, I measured my daughter from shoulder to floor and then cut that length plus a couple inches off the bottom of the dress.  The couple of inches was because I wanted it to still be long on her in a few years.  Then I opened up one of the side seams on the dress.  It was pretty much a big rectangle.  I didn't cut any of the width off because I wanted it to be nice and full.

For the cape/cloak hood, I used the top part of the dress.  I found a hood template online and then just eyeballed it.  I made it much taller than my daughter would need because I wanted it to be all droopy and loose.  Like this:

So here's my hood pattern piece:
 I ended up cutting of that little tab to the left of the red line, so go ahead and ignore that. 

Then you put your two hood pieces wrong sides together and sew along the curve (the green line in the picture).

And that's the only picture I took of the process.  Nice.  I didn't get to sewing until after dark, so I didn't even bother taking pictures because I knew how poorly they would turn out.  I am not a good tutorial-izer.

Then I took my cape piece and sewed a basting stitch along the top, about a quarter inch down.  I gathered it until it was the same length as the bottom part of the hood, then pinned wrong sides together and sewed.  Maybe this picture will help:

Then I hemmed up one side, up and over the hood, and down the other. No bottom hem needed because I used the existing one on the dress. Done.

Here's the finished product on my little uncooperative model:

 Then she started to get into it a little.
 She was pretty sold when she found out it was good for twirling.

It's a good addition to her dress-ups, I think.  Even though right now it's definitely in second place to either of her princess skirts, I'm betting it will get a lot of use over the coming years.  I know I would have loved a cloak like that when I was little.  My husband said he probably would have thought it was pretty cool, too.