Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween 2012: Special Agent Ellso (Oso)

I know I haven't been too crafty lately.  It's been so humid, I haven't really been feeling the funk.  Although, I have been slowly working on Ella's Halloween costume!

As soon as the costumes and Halloween treats started appearing on store shelves, Ella announced that she was going to be a princess.  She picked out a pink, princess Aurora dress and asks to try it on at least once a week to twirl around in.

Since then, I learned about the Co-op doing a special day for the kids, including costumes, trick-or-treating, and even a pizza lunch.  I wanted Ella to have an awesome handmade costume and to give out little treats to her friends.  She still likes Yo Gabba Gabba and Fresh Beat Band, but I was worried that either the idea is too old, or that no one would know what character she was supposed to be!  Recently, she's started watching Disney Junior and has really taken to Doc McStuffins and Special Agent Oso.  I wanted to get her the Doc McStuffins doctor set for Christmas, so I thought maybe she could be Oso.

The internet didn't have too much on Oso.  There weren't too many toys, and I think the show is too small to have a huge fan-base, so there were definitely no costumes.  All the kid costumes online were ones that parents made for their kid.  I guess my only option then was to be totally ambitious and make one for her myself!  BTW, Ryan did make a comment about making it myself, something to the extent of "as long as it's not too boroz" in other words, "I'm not confident in your skills to make something decent so she can use it at home".  GASP!  Oh no he didn't!!  He claimed he didn't mean it "like that", but really, he did.  He means exactly that as he's referencing my ability to cook food, since we've had a few mishaps of the most awful tasting meals.  Ever.

But come on, I'm really not half bad at this sewing activity ;)

This won't be a tutorial since I lack the discipline and forethought to actually photograph my steps and list out exact details of my work.  However, I will share a bit about my process in case you're interested in how I did it and how you may want to approach a similar project.

Ok, so first, I wrote out all the elements of the costume:
  • Oso body - Long-sleeve yellow body/legs and white belly, round tail
  • Oso head - Yellow hood with facial details
  • Vest - Black with red trim, faux notions
  • Accessories - Paw pilot and watch communicator
Then I tried to figure out what I could sew to make it work.  I scoured blogs for free patterns and tutorials to help me.  Most times I had to create the pattern myself for the sizing, but at least I could find information on how to build the pieces.  Here's what I came up with:
  • Oso body
    • raglan tee by Craftiness Is Not Optional, using yellow knit (purchased a couple cheap yellow blouses from Ross') for the back and long sleeves and white (knit shirt I threw into the junk pile) for the front panel.  Tail was a gathered circle ( like making a yo-yo), attached to the back bottom of the tee.
    • leggings by Craftiness Is Not Optional, again using yellow knit
  • Oso head
    • hoodie by The Boy Trifecta, I drafted my own hood shape by tracing a hood from one of her jackets, but used the instructions on how to piece it together and attach to the tee
    • face details by Disney Junior, I used one of the coloring book pages, enlarged his facial details and cut it out with felt.  I covered most of the felt pieces with scraps of knit so that I could match up the colors and hand-stitched them in place on the exterior hood (I did this before assembling the hood so that you wouldn't see the messy backside).  For the mouth and nose, I did a satin stitch because I wasn't sure how else to get it to look similar.
  • Vest
    • frontier vest by MADE, I didn't have felt yardage, so I cut out the pieces from sheets and assembled them together.  The back is actually two pieces that I attached and pressed.  The red binding is just strips of 1 inch felt that I attached like bias tape.  
    • notions by me, I used silver lace ribbon to look like a zipper on both sides, and on one end attached little zipper pulls.
  • Accessories
    • Paw pilot by Disney Junior, there's a printable matching game that has an image of a Paw Pilot, I printed it out, cut it to shape, and laminated it.  I used E-6000 to attach a flat back metal pin.
    • Watch communicator by me, I just made a strip with a circle and used some embroidery thread to make frequency lines on the face.  It's held on her wrist with adhesive velcro.
And, that's it!  I probably could have finished this project in a weekend if I had no other distractions (and the weather was cooperating).  It was rewarding to work on it and have Ella exclaim, "You making Oso??!!" when I would finish each component.  At least she thinks it looks like it.  And if she's happy, I think that's all that matters.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween treats

I've always wanted to make school treats, but I went to a small private school that didn't really allow for "distractions" even for birthdays and holidays. We did have some opportunities to share treats, like Christmas where every student brought one dozen cookies to share.

With Ella in co-op, I'm excited that I finally have that chance! Ok, so basically she only has 4 other kids in her class, but there are other classes filled with kids. For Halloween, all the kids are gonna dress up and go trick-or-treating during the work day!

So as "her contribution", I wanted to do something fun. I thought it was lame to do a mini favor bag with fun size candy, so I thought, why not decorate a bigger yummy treat?

My little Cookie Monster loves wafers, especially chocolate ones like Loacker. So we grabbed a bunch from Price Busters ( they were 50 cents each... A little pricey, but since there aren't too many kids, I didn't mind) and I went to brainstorming.

I knew I wanted to make little Halloween themed treats, so I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out a base to add the decorations. Basically it's an open ended box to fit the wafer (2" x 3" x .75"), the template was a rectangle with perforated lines to ease folding.

I also cut out some random shapes and grabbed a baggie of googley eyes.

This past weekend, I made a craft night out of it, and Ella was so excited to help out. I started by making one of each character and let her try to match what I did. Here's Ella hard at work making Frankenstein's monster:

The clear tacky glue was a bit messy and sometimes didn't hold up too well. I would recommend glue dots or similar adhesive if you have it.

She was so proud that she could do it by herself!

Here's the finished set - a ghost, a jack-o-lantern, spider, vampire, and Frankenstein's monster:

We made a total of 28 little favors, and Ella actually pieced together 21 of them!  Not bad for the attention span of a 2.5 year old.  I packaged each favor into a clear, self-sealing sleeve (in case the pieces started to fall off) and added a little choking hazard sticker to be safe.  All the kids are under 5, so I'm sure most of the parents will help them sort through the goodies, too.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tutorial - Nap mat fitted sheet

I said I would work on getting this together, hopefully it makes sense!  The nap map ended up being too small and I'm just going to have to alter it to be closer to a crib sheet (lots of tutorials for that), but this would be helpful in trying to do calculations for smaller mats instead of a standard size mattress.

How to make your own Toddler Nap Mat fitted sheet

This will make a sheet to fit a nap mat with the dimensions: 24” x 48” x 2”, but you can adjust it to any size by adding 10.5" to the width and length, however, using the 10.5" addition will not allow you to adjust the depth.

  • Fabric from store – 1 to 1 and 3/4 yards depending on the width (If the fabric width is 60” or wider, you will only need 1 yard.  All others, you will need 1 ¾ yards.  Your workable piece must be 34.5” x 58.5”)
  • thrifted sheet, cut to a workable piece: 34.5” x 58.5”
  • 1 package -  ¼ inch braided elastic
  • thread to match/contrast the fabric
  • cardboard to make pattern, about 8 inches square

  • Cut out your workable piece from your fabric.  It should be 34.5” x 58.5”.
  • Create a cardboard pattern to cut out.
    • 1 - Square piece: 4.5” x 4.5”
    • 2 – Right triangle: 1” x 2”
    • See image below on how to arrange the 2 pieces to make the pattern.
  • Use pattern to cut corners from your fabric.  Your sheet should look like the multi-colored cutout. (Hint: Fold and press your workable piece into quarters and you will only need to cut the pattern once.)
  • Sew French Seams to create the corners of the sheet
    • Start in one corner of your fabric and fold wrong sides together, along the diagonal, matching where the pattern was cut.
    • Using a straight stitch, sew a ¼” seam.  Turn the corner inside out and press.
    • Repeat on the remaining corners.
    • Starting again, in one corner, this time, with right sides together, sew the same seam with a 3/8” seam.   You should now have a French seam, and no raw edges.  Repeat for the remaining corners.
  • Finish the edges of your fitted sheet.
    • Press a ¼” hem, fold over, press and sew.
  • On the long sides, measure 11” from each corner and pin.  You should have 4 pins, two on each long side.
  • Set your sewing machine to zig zag, widest and longest stitch length.  Anchor your elastic at one of the pins, with the tail toward the short sides.  With an even pull, zig zag the elastic along the hem from one pin, across one short side and anchor at the next pin.  Repeat on other side.

Here's the finished sheet. You're looking at the corners tucked into each other and the label I stuck on top.

So I've actually made 3 sheets in total, and I pulled the elastic by hand (like in my instructions) for two of them.  For this pink sheet, I borrowed my mother-in-law's Elastic Wizard.  This product is great!  (I'm obviously not getting paid to say this since it looks like you can now only get this off eBay.)  It comes with a foot that helps line up the elastic to the sewing needle, and little plastic attachments that feed and pull the elastic through depending on the width you're working with.  It definitely helped maintain an even tension for the elastic and it helped get a zigzag right down the middle of a piece of stretched 1/4" elastic (which seriously becomes like 1/16")!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Because I felt left out

Last week I posted about making a shirt to match daddy, as if I needed yet another way to match my daughter! 

You know when you have your first kid, and you make a huge checklist of all the things you'll need in the hospital during labor and after delivery?  You pack a huge duffel and tote around another bag of items you need to access quickly, yet you barely use any of it?  Well, these pants were one of those items.  I bought a pajama set for $5 on clearance at Walmart for the purpose of comfy, oversized clothes that I don't mind getting hospital goo on.  I did use it -- it didn't need to be as oversized (after the baby comes out you aren't that bloated and huge), and well, that's the only time I used it.  It sat in my box of maternity items for the next time I was pregnant.

I'm still not close to being able to fit them, but I realized they are way too long for my liking.  I much prefer capri/cutoff style pajama pants instead of the ones that bunch at my ankles.  I don't live in a cold climate, so being cozy in your pjs is actually suffocating.

So, I shortened the pant legs to make them more like long shorts.

Then used the scrap material to make matching capris for Ella!

No specific pattern was used to make these.  I've already made her a couple pajama pants anyway, so I knew the basic sizing and assembly to get these done.  Instead of using a 1" elastic, I used 1/2" because that's what I had at the cutting table at the time.  I actually like the skinnier elastic.  It's probably easier for her to slip off for potty time, too.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Naptime fun

The preschool we plan on sending Ella to requires uniforms and that all students have standard items -- so there are less distractions on material goods and more focus on learning.  I grew up this way, and I agree, it's easy to get distracted by pretty Hello Kitty pencil boxes instead of Advanced Reading Skills workbooks.  Anyway, I knew I wouldn't need to be super-crafty-mom unless it was to come up with something for special celebrations.

Two and a half weeks ago, Ella started "school".  For the past 2 years, "popo" and "papa" (grandma and grandpa) watched her while Ryan and I were at work, but to free up some of their time and to get Ella used to being at school for a few hours everyday, we started sending her to a co-op with other kids her age.  Uh-oh, that means she can wear casual clothes and have customized personal items?!  Here comes super-crafty-mom!!

So it's only been two weeks, I haven't gotten crazy and made new outfits to correspond with a different pair of shoes for every day (although for a 2 year old, she does have a lot of shoes).  But I did try to make a sheet to cover her nap mat!

I whipped out my stash of Premier Prints Suzani in white and candy pink.  I bought 2 yards of it the year Ella was born.  I was initially going to make floor cushions for her bedroom, but just never got to it.

The description says it's supposed to be used for stuff like valences and bedskirts, can be laundered but not dried.  Well, you know what, I wash those things because it gets really dusty and I dry them because it takes too long to air-dry!  Plus, the little label from said it was "Sheeting".  I'm making a sheet right?  ...don't worry, I pre-washed/dried it and it was actually fine.  It just feels like a medium-weight percale.  It's probably more comfy than a thin sheet on those vinyl mats.  Plus at the time, it was only $6.98 a yard, cheaper than it's going for right now!
I modified the tutorial on making a fitted crib sheet from What the Hay to figure out the dimensions I needed.  Hopefully I can get that together and post about that soon!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I may be biased

WAIT!  Mr. Postman... wai-ai-ai-ait Mr. Postman.

According to the tracking on my package, it should get delivered soon!  The estimate is for tomorrow, but it's been tagged in the area since Saturday.  I really hope it comes (today??).  I got so excited that I started cutting out the bias strips I need to finish a project I'm working on.

I'm glad I figured out how to do the piecing and sewing and cutting the other day, because sewing that tube was really wonky!  I have to admit, it was really fast.  With a fat quarter of fabric, I cut enough to make 3 yard bias strip in minutes.

So now I'm just waaaaiting on USPS.  At least they're government workers and will finish delivering mail by 5.  Recently, Fedex and UPS have been delivering my packages after 8pm, if I'm lucky!  Sometimes I check at 9pm, nothing, then when I leave for work at 6am there's a package sitting outside the door.  Uhh, yah, no further comments. 

Update:  As I was backing into the driveway when I got home, what did I see in the reverse camera?  My box came!!! Yipee!  I tested it out with that strip I made, and it was delightful.  During the few seconds it took to make all those nice folds I was smiling at the thought of not having to do it by hand.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

No beef, beef tofu

It's about to get personal up in here!

My husband is amazing.  I hope he doesn't mind me writing about this, but I am very proud.

Back in May, he got some unfortunate news from his doctor. Basically, if he wanted to stick around for his family to see his kids grow up and avoid some nasty medications, he needed to change his lifestyle.  Apparently, this man really loves his family. <3

He change his diet, from red meat every day to mainly vegetables and occasionally some salmon. He started exercising, daily for an hour. He lost 60 lbs in about 4 months.  His thoughts: you can't just do it halfway, you need to go all out.  

Many people would ask him if everything was ok.  I guess losing that much weight in so little time makes you start looking "sickly" and for a while he was wearing his same clothes so it was much more noticeable.  He does feel very self-conscious about this stuff, but he looks fantastic.  He hasn't been this size and this energetic since when I met him 12 years ago.  Yes, I realize that there may be a connection between myself and the weight gain.  Also keep in mind, he turned a legal age soon after meeting me.  Beer has lots of calories, well the fancy, imported ones that he used to enjoy.

Well, it's been hard supporting him: eating veggies just does not sound appetizing this pregnancy, and being alone at home to cook and watch a toddler is exhausting when he leaves to workout.  But it's all for the best, and now it's actually easier.  His workouts have shortened as they are more efficient, and he even does a lot of cooking!  We've been experimenting with not-so-veggie, vegetarian options.  He just wonders why we didn't do this sooner.  I believe his phrase is, "Why couldn't we have eaten like this when I started my diet?"

No beef, beef tofu adapted from JC International
1 C  SuperSoy Beef Style Strips
1 package Onion soup (from Lipton's Onion Soup mix), prepared
1/2 Block Tofu, firm
1/2 Round Onion, cut in 1” pieces
1 Bunch Green Onions, cut in 1” pieces
1 Bunch Watercress, cut in 1” pieces
2 TBS Sesame Oil
3 TBS Soy Sauce
2 TBS Mirin
Ground Pepper

Bring 1 C prepared onion soup to a boil in pot and reconstitute soy beef strips in it until liquid disappears.  When liquid disappears, remove from heat immediately and cool.
Cut tofu in cubes and fry lightly in a large skillet.
In a separate pot, simmer remaining prepared onion soup with sesame oil, soy sauce, mirin, pepper.  Add soy beef strips and tofu.  Continue to simmer.  Add  green onions, and watercress.   Simmer for additional 5-10 minutes or until onions become clear.

Monday, October 8, 2012

"Finishing" projects

No, this post isn't about actually getting around to finishing projects. Although, I really ought to finish that clutch.  This is about the final touches to really "finish" a project.

Last month, I finally invested in a serger.  I was so afraid of it: there's too many threads, too many moving parts, it goes too fast! After a week of borrowing my mother-in-law's Huskylock 435, I decided I needed my own.  It's not as fancy as a Husqvarna, it's a simple, affordable Brother 1034D.  Now, I use it every chance I get.  I am amazed at how quickly I can get projects whipped up.  I mean, to finish an edge with a zigzag strip takes forever with my Bernette, but now it takes mere seconds with the serger.  Even if I had to rethread the machine, it'd be faster than a zigzag.  If something ever happens to my serger, I might as well just resort to pinking shears instead!  You really can't go back!

Anyway, I've become interested in finding other ways to ease adding that finishing, professional touch (not that I really make anything that has to look professional, but it is a confidence booster).  My next goal: bias binding.

Last Christmas, I made oven mitts to gift.  I went through quite a few packs of bias tape.  I love the look of bias tape, but store bought ones are so, plain and stiff and well, plain.  I love the idea of custom made bias tape because you can have prints and can probably better pick out a coordinating binding instead of the remaining stock in Walmart, plus, the fabric isn't ever as stiff (unless you use the entire can of starch while ironing it out).  I've made my own bias tape before, it's really simple, but there is one problem, I hate to iron.  It is soooo time consuming, not to mention really hot.  I don't know why I didn't ever consider getting a bias tape maker.

Anyway, I finally came to my senses and got one.  I added up my points from Amazon Rewards, redeemed a couple gift cards from other point systems, and I had enough to snag it off Amazon!  I spent the other night researching how to make bias tape using the machine, but even with the countless tutorials out there on how to make continuous binding and videos using the machine, I still had trouble understanding.

So, I practiced with paper.  During my lunch break at work, I made my own version of striped paper (striped so I could get an idea of before and after since paper doesn't actually have a bias) and finally figured it out.  It really is much faster than sewing individual strips together.  I am so excited and can't wait til USPS drops off my package!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Daddies want to match their daughters, too!

Ghostbusters is Ryan's all-time favorite movie. It is to him what Star Wars was to people born in the 60s/70s. He was so bummed when BAPE discontinued their Ghostbusters themed apparel before we even found out about the line.

Back in 2007, we went to Vegas as part of an annual trip we take with our friends. There, he proposed and bought 3 of these shirts from Anchor Blue.

It glows in the dark!

I didn't want to be left out, so I got one for myself. Did I mention it glows in the dark? Makes for a horrible pajama shirt when you glow. It went into my junk shirt pile.

Since realizing I am approaching my third trimester (oops, did I fail to mention that this is my renewed motivation for blogging again?), I've also come to acknowledge I will be losing crafting space in a few months. So, I've been trying to catch up on all things crafty.

I've finished this year's Christmas gifts, sewed a hospital gown, toddler nap mat sheets, a pillow case, a blanket, stuffed plush toys, I've been quite busy, though you probably would never guess from my blog.  But since I've been so busy crafting, I actually went on another fabric spree and chose some knits and flannels to make pjs for Ella.  Since I wasn't about to practice on nice yardage: I raided my junk shirt pile to do a test run.

I used Dana's 90-minute shirt tutorial. This is an excellent title by the way! I'm still a novice sewer and even with drafting the pattern and not having a serger, I was able to whack this out in an hour and a half. Seam-ripping apart the onesie for the pattern guide actually took longer (don't ask why I didn't just cut the darn thing).

Ella was so proud to wear a shirt that had the same picture as daddy's. She's his little princess and he's totally wrapped around her littlest finger.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How do people find time to blog?

Whenever I want to know how to do something, I look to the internets.

Nevermind Pinterest.  I'm actually overwhelmed by Pinterest, sure it has lots of inspiration and most times includes more information on how to realize the inspiration, but really, it's everything that's been done already and if one person pinned it, I'm sure there 46 others that repinned it and 4 other similar pins using different photos.  Plus it's so easy to overwhelm yourself with, ooh I want to do that and that and that, and you end up with 15 different baby mobiles.  Maybe you'll have 15 kids so that assuming there is never another cute mobile in the future of the universe, you can put every idea to use, or maybe you'll have one kid and swap out the mobile 15 times.  Honestly, I'm thinking 2 kids are good, and one mobile design for each will suffice.  So Pinterest aside, I look to the internets.  Yes, I do have several dozen blogs in my reader that I use for inspiration, but it never seems as overwhelming.

I have an idea of what I want to do and if I can't figure it out myself, I want to search the internets (btw, yes I have been adding an "s" for hilarity sake) and hope that someone has tried to do it or maybe even posted a tutorial on how to do it.  It actually bums me out when there isn't a blog post dedicated to what I want to do.

I usually have a spark that says, "Hey!  I should figure out how to do it, make a tutorial, and post it so that other people that may want to do something similar won't have to reinvent the wheel!" But then I decide to just figure out how to do it and not even bother with a tutorial, let alone let people know that I've done it.

With this in mind, I am extremely grateful for those bloggers who create wonderful tutorials.  How to they do it?  How do they find the time to post (consistently), create tutorials, raise kids, have decorations, have jobs, etc.?!  The last time I posted was in February.  Yes, 8 months ago, that February.  Sure, I've quickly drafted posts to get edited and published later, but obviously, later hasn't arrived.

So, with renewed motivation, let's get to posting!  ...maybe. 

My Fave 5 Blogs for Inspiration, in no particular order: