Monday, December 26, 2011

More Christmas projects!

I managed to make and wrap several of my Christmas project before photographing them, so I only just managed to get photos now! Oops. :)

Baby legwarmers for our little guy (tutorial here).
Nubbie dolls for both kiddos (tutorial here).
And two simpler ones for a friend's two babies.
Wrench rolls for my husband! This was quite the involved project.
I will be posting my process photos and explanation of how I put them together later.
A stop sign for across the door to the tree (a family tradition in my family).
Coordinated pjs for the kiddos. I'm quite proud of these, even if the baby's outfit ended up being 6 months too large (it SHOULD have fit him, I'm not sure what was going on with the pattern sizing).
A cute little hat for our daughter. It makes me think of a cupcake every time I see it. (The basic hat pattern is based on this one.)
Crocheted balls for our little guy (tutorial here). These are quick and easy, I'll probably be making some more in the next couple weeks.
Well, they're more for our daughter to throw around the room and they won't hurt our little guy. Win-win!
A booster seat cushion to replace the booster seat for our daughter. She's a big girl now! I made it using iron-on vinyl and I think I've sworn never to use the stuff again. Talk about hard to work with!
And this last thing I actually just made today: a little house for our daughter's new night light. The little glowing animal was a bit too bright, so I put together a felt house to help reduce its light out-put and then added curtains to pull across. Our daughter was quite excited about having a house for her "little glowing friend."

That's what I've been up to for the past several weeks! Busy, busy, busy! :) Our daughter's 3rd birthday is in a month, so I've got more things to work on! :)


Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Grand Play-Dough Experiment: Salt Play-Dough

Most homemade play-dough recipes are variations on this most basic one.

Salt Play-Dough

1 cup of salt
1 cup of water
2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon of cooking oil

Mix the salt, flour, oil, & water together.

My addition: it was too thin to just play with, it needed to be cooked over medium heat for 2-3 minutes (or until it comes together in a soft, but not sticky, ball).

Initial impressions:
-Very basic
-Didn't become smooth even after kneading for many minutes
-Leaves a light residue, but wipes up easily
-Easy to make
-Sticks to fingertips something awful (maybe it needed to be cooked a bit longer)

2 weeks later:
I'm going to guess that I put it in the bag before it was completely cooled, otherwise I have no idea why this dough turned into a puddle of goo! I know this isn't what this type of dough normally does... so strange.


Other posts in the play-dough experiment series:
Kool-Aid Play-Dough
Traditional (Baking Soda) Play-Dough
Coffee Play-Dough
Gingerbread Play-Dough

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Grand Play-Dough Experiment: Gingerbread Play-Dough

Gingerbread Play dough

1 C. flour
½ C. salt
2 tsp. Cream of tartar
1 C. water
1 tsp. Vegetable oil
lots of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, whatever!

(This play dough is simply a slight variation of a standard salt dough.)

Mix the dry ingredients. Play with the spices until you get the scent and color you want. Mix water and oil together first and THEN add them to the dry ingredients and stir.
 In a pot, cook the mixture for two to three minutes, stirring frequently. The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and clump together.

  Take the dough out of the pan and knead the dough until it becomes soft and smooth. Allow to cool and store in an air-tight container.

Initial impressions:
-Easy to make
-Good for having a little helper
-Feels like a standard salt dough
-Needs lots of kneading to feel smooth
-Smells amazing!
-Leaves your hands smelling great!
-Leaves a small amount of easily wiped residue.

2 weeks later:

-Firm and moist
-A rubbery, elastic feel when molded
-Only a very slight graininess from the salt
-Very smooth for a salt dough
-Still smells great
-Leaves a light residue on the play area and hands


Other posts in the play-dough experiment series:
Kool-Aid Play-Dough
Traditional (Baking Soda) Play-Dough
Coffee Play-Dough

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Busy, Busy--Christmas Projects!

If you're anything like me, you're scrambling around trying to find time to complete all of your project ideas for Christmas gifts. :) Of course, most of my gifts are for my kiddos. Here's a selection of what I've done so far:

A cool pyramid pillow for my daughter. Tutorial here.
A stocking for our baby boy. I finally got on the ball and made one for my daughter last year (her 2nd Christmas), so I was quite proud of myself that I managed to get this one done with a 2 month old hanging around. :)
My mom cross-stitched the cuff for me. She made stockings like this for our whole family when I was young and has continued to make them (or at least the cuffs) as the family has added in-laws and grandkids. What a special tradition!
Another project was "blanket pajamas"  requested by my daughter. She picked out the fleece by herself and is very pleased with the pjs.
I followed this tutorial and got the idea for the foot cuffs from the Halo website (since they make sleep sacks this large!).
I LOVE the footholes/cuffs! You know what I made these from? The leftover foot portion of very long knee-high socks that I used to make legwarmers for the baby, a la this tutorial.
And then I decorated our Advent "wreath" so that it looked a little more Christmas-y.

And since there were only places for 4 candles and we had a 5th (to be lit on Christmas day), I needed to make our Christ candle look nice and pretty.
I just wrapped the candle in ribbon, hot glued it to itself at the back (careful of the wax--don't want to melt it!) and then added the second bow. I love how it looks! :)

I forgot to take pictures of the loveys I made for the kiddos (and a couple friends) and the legwarmers I made the baby. Maybe next time.

Still on my list are matching winter pjs for the two kiddos (maybe I can find more of that fleece I made the sleep sack from), a gift for my husband (can't say what since he'll see this post), a booster seat cushion cover, a tree skirt, and some random ornaments or wall hangings that I have yet to design. :)

Happy crafting!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Car Seat Cover!

With the cold weather coming, we need to keep our little people nice and warm!
I decided to make a "shower cap" style car seat cover for our infant seat because I knew I could make it for less than the going price out there ($20-$30) and it would be a lot cuter. I had the solid fleece leftover from another project, I bought the monkey fleece from the remnant bin, and everything else I already had on hand. This project took me an afternoon and cost about $3.

***A note about car seat safety: this type of cover is considered safe and will not void your car seat's warranty in the event of an accident because it does not interfere with the straps or safety features of the seat. There are many car seat buntings that go under the child or that have you thread the straps through them. Those are not safe and if you use them, your child cannot be guaranteed to be safe in the event of a crash. Any extra padding can compress and allow too much slack in the straps (which are made to stretch up to 6 inches in a crash) so that the child could slip out. Anything interfering with the straps could prevent them from functioning correctly or stress them in the wrong way so that they break.***

OK, now that that's out of the way, onward! Just to warn you, this is more of a description of how I did this, rather than a tutorial. I couldn't figure out how to make it less confusing, but I think someone could take my ideas and modify them to make one themselves....

To help you visualize what we are making, all it is is a ring of fabric with a circle sewn onto it. I used about 1.5 yards of 60 inches wide fleece for the cover--or about 3/4 yard of outer fabric and 3/4 yard of lining fabric. I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants on this, so I didn't actually know I had enough until the very end. ;)

First, measure your car seat. Mine is 28 inches tall, 14 inches wide, and about 76 inches around. I played around a bit before figuring out that I preferred my long strip of fabric, which would make the ring that goes around the car seat to hold the cover on, to be about 8 inches wide. I added a bit of length and width and started cutting.

I seriously should have taken pictures of this part, but I didn't...feel free to ask questions in the comments so I can clear anything up...

I cut 4 strips of fabric 40 inches long by 9 inches wide (2 outer fabric, 2 inner fabric). I joined the matching fabrics into into 2 long strips of about 79 inches long and then sewed them all together (right sides together). So now you have your outer and lining fabric stitched into a long tube, right sides together.

Before turning the right side out, I wrapped them around the car seat, pinned it in place, and marked where the handles were so that I could contour the fabric a bit. I pinned along my markings and sewed along the line. Then I cut off the extra fabric and turned the entire tube right side out.

So now you have a shape something like this (pardon the mess, our toddler's play area has the best light): 
Of course, you can put your seam where ever you want to, but I wanted my last seam to be at a handle because I felt that it would hide any weirdness better. Here's a shot of how the tube/ring of fabric looks on the seat:
Once I liked how the curves fell, I top-stitched along all the edges, making sure to leave a 1/2-3/4 inch channel along the bottom edge, where we will thread our elastic shortly. Then I pinned my edges together and stitched the fabric strip into a ring, leaving the channel for the elastic open. (Make sense? Probably not...)

Next step: fitting the fabric to hug the top of the car seat. I arranged my fabric ring so that the contours lined up with the handles and grabbed some pins. I started folding the fabric at the corners this way and that until I liked how the fabric folded around the seat. I ended up doing just one fold at each corner, but looking back, I think the bottom of the seat (where the baby's feet go) could have used one more fold or pleat right in the middle.
Pinned folds. It looks kind of loose because it doesn't have elastic in the lower part of the tube yet.
Stitch down both edges (outer and inner) of the folds to make sure they don't flap around.

Now it's time for elastic! Find where you left the openings for the channel and cut your elastic. I cut mine at about 50 inches long. Thread it through using a big safety pin or one of those cool threading things that would be soooo nice to have for this project. :)
Once you're all the way through, safety pin the two ends together so that you can tighten it around the seat and stitch it later.
Put your fabric ring back on the seat and play with the elastic until you like its tightness.
Check everything, especially the contoured areas to make sure they fit nicely. Pin your elastic at your desired tightness
Once you're happy with it, you can stitch the elastic together and finish the seam that you left open. I ended up tightening my elastic up a good 8 inches. To finish the seam, I held the end of my channel together and stitched it (through the elastic), then I pushed the raw edges of the seam over to one side and stitched them down in a kind of half felled seam. (Once again, that probably doesn't make much sense...but I couldn't get a good picture of it, either.)
Now that you're done with the outer part of the cover, you can do the actual cover part! I laid my remaining fabric out on the seat, roughly cut it to the correct size, took it off and trimmed it some more, checked its size, trimmed it some more, etc. until I had the size I wanted. Mine ended up being 15 inches by 23 inches.
Stitch it right sides together, leaving a gap for turning. Turn right side out, check the size on the seat again before top stitching it! Once it's top stitched, position it on the car seat and pin it to the ring of fabric. I pinned mine about half way up the ring (up to even with the handle) so that I could get the child in and out of the car seat without removing the cover.

Now you stitch the top of the cover onto the ring of fabric. This takes a bit of maneuvering since you're fighting elastic, too.
Almost done! Now you just need a way to close the flap over the baby so that the cold wind stays out. I decided to use some velcro. You could use snaps or magnets or velcro all the way around the edge (unlike my few spots of velcro).
Whatever the case, secure your closures and put the baby in it!
It keeps the baby nice and comfy on those cold, windy days. I do have to pull up on corner of the cover to tighten and loosen the car seat straps, but otherwise the cover can stay on the seat all the time.

Now that you survived that uber-confusing explanation of how I made this thing, have fun trying it yourself! I recommend having a car seat right there with you while you are making it because there are so many styles and models of car seats. Unless you have the exact one I have, you're going to need to figure out the best measurements for your seat.

If you read all of that, congratulations! I hope you enjoyed it. :)