Monday, November 21, 2011

Animal flash cards

I'm almost done with the homemade gifts. Well... Jack's homemade gifts anyway. I have one left to go. I'm doing so well, I may have to throw in a couple extra projects before the big day. Anyhoo. Here are my animal flash cards.

Ive been talking to a friend about how much she loved using flash cards with her son and how much she thinks his language skills developed because of them. I thought about buying some, even took a gander around the interwebs but the graphic designer in me always comes out at times like these and says "You know, you can MAKE some that will look exactly how you waaaaaannnnt...". That voice is always a little sing-songy. Of course, I listened to the voice. I bought a roll of Duck clear laminate from Staples for $9.49 and 10 sheets of scrap book paper (for the backing) at JoAnnes for about 3 bucks. I have TONS of laminate left. Plenty to cover the food cards I also designed but have yet to print out as well as, I'm sure, several more sets.

All that cutting was a bit time consuming. I'm so glad I thought to bust out my rotary cutter and mat for trimming the edges. Stacking 4 at a time and just running along a straight edge was sooo much better than scissors. Plus scissors always get stuck to sticky stuff and then you have to stop and pull the extra bits off. Anyway, this worked beautifully.

Not sure how interested Jack is yet. Truthfully, this is what happened next.

We've got over a month till Christmas. Perhaps they'll hold his interest a little longer by then.

I put the PDFs up on a file sharing site if anyone is interested in making their own. Just click through to download.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Another Christmas present for Jack: floor cushion

I've been kicking ass this year in the handmade gift department. Perhaps the universe is making up for last year but everything seems to be coming together quickly and almost exactly as planned (wouldn't be hand made without a couple of bumps). I've had this project on my gift list for Jack since forever. Its the land of nod inspired floor cushion from Living with Punks. There are so many great tutorials on Susan's blog and this one didn't disappoint.

I didn't have any piping so I used strips of corduroy along the edges and I think it worked out just fine. I can see that the thickness of home dec fabric would have probably made a pillow with a bit more structure. I would definitely go that route next time. It looks a little overstuffed. That's OK though, Jack doesn't seem to mind.

Part of the beauty of this age is that I can check out the sizing of my mama made presents and then whisk them away at nap time. He wont remember a thing. Win.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Best hat in the world?

I love projects like this. It was conceived and executed within 48 hours. It's getting colder around here and I wanted to add a hat to Jack's hand made Christmas presents. Of course it couldn't be any old hat. Ive had this super soft fuzzy yarn in my stash forever. When I came across it, looking for inspiration it jumped out and screamed "Yeti". Right in my face. Rude right? But it couldn't be ignored.

I used Jane Richmond's top down hat tutorial and this ear flap hat pattern as reference. The face is craft felt, a couple of mis-matched buttons and embroidery floss. I'm so excited about how it turned out. Now, on to slippers for mom!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Things we do after nap :: indoor "leaf" pile

I've been fascinated lately by "things we do after nap" going on over at Sew Liberated, mostly because I've found it hard at times to find creative activities to do with a 13 month old that aren't completely exasperating for one of both of us. Jack is old enough now for independent play which gives this happy momma a little more time to get some things done around the house. Jack isn't quite old enough not to put things in his mouth, or pay attention for more than a few minutes in any kind of guided environment. He is however, beginning to understand simple instructions and I wanted to encourage that by doing something a little more specific together. I was inspired by both a recent trip to the park and a recent trip to the mail box. Jack and I were admiring the lovely fall colors and I was reminiscing about making piles of leaves in my parents front yard as a kid. All that jumping and throwing was a blast. We only have evergreens in our yard so piles are unfortunately out. When we went to get the mail that afternoon and I saw the ridiculous stack of junk mail I had my ah-ha moment (the light bulb, not the band... but now I need to listen to "take on me").

Here's what we did. We tore all the junk paper into strips together.

And made our own indoor pile of "leaves". We threw them about and stomped around.

And then practiced putting them away in a paper bag.

I'll save this scrap paper for more indoor play as the weather continues to get less friendly around here and when we're finished Jack will hopefully be old enough for his first simple paper mache project. I do love me some paper mache. Theres recycling at its best my friends!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sweater Refashion: Big Man Sweater to Lady Sweater (a tutorial)

Ive been wanting to do this forever. Especially to THIS sweater which the hubbs refuses to wear because its pilled pretty bad but its a cashmere/cotton blend from Banana and I just couldn't throw it out. So when we got home from lunch today with my lovely ex-coworkers and Jack was passed out, I decided to give it a makeover. I forgot to take a before picture of me in it but just imagine a L man sweater on a broad who generally wears a ladies M.

First I hacked off the sleeves. I have kind of long arms and when I realized that the sleeves wouldn't be long enough after taking the shoulder up I decided to make them 3/4. Since I wasn't worried about the length I just went to town. If you want the sleeves to be full length, you might want to be careful here.

I marked where I wanted the shoulders to attach (using the a lady sweater that fits as a guide) and cut the armhole to match.

Next I adjusted the curve of the shoulder to account for the smaller size of the new armhole.

I turned the sweater inside out and pinned down the sides where I thought I wanted to take it in. Note: Since I didn't try it on like this I ended up having to take in more before I sewed on the sleeves. Which is a good reminder. When you are winging something like this... keep trying it on throughout the process.

After you've sewn up the sides, you'll attach the sleeves. This is a perfect project for a knit since the sleeve doesn't have to exactly fit the hole. The fabric is stretchy and you can sort of fudge it, but here's how I pin to avoid major puckers. First, mark the top of the sleeve with it folded in half (I just use a pin). This is not strictly necessary but it will come in handy in a minute here.

Next, with the wrong sides facing, line up the underarm seams and pin.

Then before you start pinning around. Pin the shoulders together at the top using the marker on your sleeve as a guide. This way you'll know you have an even amount of fabric on each side of the opening. Then just start pinning around. You can finesse the fabric in whatever direction you need.

Sew around the opening beginning on the backside of the armpit, so that your back stitch wont show on the front (it probably wont show anyway, I'm just kind of paranoid about messing up the fronts of garments).

And there you go. A super cute lady sweater from a big man sweater.

As you can see, I misjudged the 3/4 sleeve length. However, since I am super lazy, I rolled up the cuffs and it looks just fine. Good enough for me anyway.