Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Creating Clothespin People: Hours of Fun on a Budget

At the beginning of every summer I tell myself I'm going to do more 'crafty' things with my girls. I have three of them and they all love crafting. I have to admit, I'm not really into crafting lots of things that I don't have a purpose for. I love sewing - especially when I'm sewing for a purpose or something I can and will use. I like making jewelry and other things, but getting out the glue and paint and glitter and all sorts of other crafty things --- not so much. I decided, though, that this summer would be different. I'd try to overcome my own dislike of making big, sticky messes and let my girls create things, to a certain degree. And you know what? They LOVE it. As it turns out, they are much more creative and imaginative that I thought they were and I love watching them.

A few weeks ago, I found a package of old fashioned clothespins at a local thrift store for $2.00. There were about 24 clothespins in there and I thought, "Hmm...these would be fun to make dolls with!" So, I bought them and a few days later, when I started hearing those all-too-familiar words, "I'm bored", I got them out. I decided to put a few pieces of scrap fabric in a bag with some yarn and my hot glue gun and then brought the bag out to the kitchen table {where all of our messy crafting is done} and then called my girls in. They went nuts! I gave them free reign of it all after a quick lesson in hot glue gun safety and they got right to it. They worked at least 2 hours on it before we had to go somewhere. And guess what they wanted to do the next day? A couple days later, their cousins came to town and they joined in on the fun. We ran out of clothespins quickly.

So, I went in search of more old fashioned clothespins and found something even better! While the girls had used the round clothespins previously, Hobby Lobby had the same type, only they are flat on the front and back. This gave me another fun idea - paint them! So, I bought one bag of tall flat ones and one bag of round ones.
As soon as we got home, I brought out my stash of craft paints and paint brushes and tried not to panic thinking about the mess that could happen and sat down with my girls to paint some people! I painted a few to help give them ideas of how to paint them and then I let them go crazy! They sat quietly at the table painting people and complementing each other on their work for FOUR hours!!! I could not believe it. No electronic devices, no TV, no fighting. Just happily painting together. Best.Day.Ever!
They ended up painting close to 40 people in one day. We can't wait to do this fun craft again! And they actually play with their clothespin people. I've found Pin People in all kinds of places in this house.
We ended up having some super heroes, pirates, girls, boys, fashionistas, and even Rapunzel in our little Pin People Family. There's even one that looks like Michael Jackson, although that wasn't the plan. It just sort of happened. I guess you could say it was a Pin People Fail. Makes me laugh every time I see it. My kids have no idea who that even is, but looking at it cracks me up! Can you pick him out?

They are easy to store and easy to play with at home or on the go. It's a great way to keep your kiddos busy this summer while encouraging their creativity and enhancing those motor skills. They're learning and growing without even knowing it!
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Monday, June 30, 2014

Hoop Art Five Ways

For several months, I've been collecting embroidery hoops from thrift stores and any other place I can find a cheap deal on them. I wasn't sure exactly how or where I wanted to use them until I finished my girls' shared room and was looking for art for their walls. That's when I got them all out again and put my creative juices to work. It took me a few days of laying them out on my floor in different arrangements and digging through just the right prints of fabric to get a look that I liked and my girls liked.

After all the rearranging and trial and error, I came up with five ways to make art with hoops. I love how ours turned out so I wanted to share them with you! Maybe these will inspire you to do the same or spark some other creative ideas for your own hoop art.
1. Use fun, coordinating fabric prints in your hoops. I used a few different ones (polka dots, dolls, muslin, etc.) here that went along with my girls' room. It's easy and cheap and you can just do that with all of your hoops if you want. But if you want more variety, keep reading.

2. Add in a couple of hoops with muslin and embroider your favorite saying or quote (or a name, monogram, etc.) with your favorite color of thread. Since this is a shared room, I wanted to include something about sisters.
3. Cover the outer edge of your hoop with washi tape for a little pop of color and pattern. I bought the off brand and it didn't stick too well, so I mod podged it for a little extra hold. I used a red chevron patterned tape and I love it!
4. Put a fun fabric print in the hoop and then use felt to make people or animals that you love. Either sew them on or hot glue them like I did. I also added the names of my girls above the item to make it personal.
5. And, last, but not least - my favorite one! Think outside the box and hand stitch a picture on your muslin and use other methods such as different fabrics/threads to make a picture. I love this London double decker bus and the 'street' made from coordinating fabrics. I want to make more of these!

I hope these inspire you to make some of your own! I love how they turned out and plan on making a couple more to add to this wall. You can use as many or as little as you want and hang them in any way you want. The sky's the limit - or maybe the ceiling - but let's not get technical. :)
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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How to Cover a Lampshade with Fabric

 As part of my Shared Girls' Room Makeover, the one thing I had to keep was the ceiling fan. I am fully aware that ceiling fans are not the most fashionable thing in a room. However, comfort is a definite MUST. So with this room being one of the hottest rooms in the house during the summer, the fan stays.

You might remember seeing the fan in this picture....
It had pink floral on the fan blades and two shades of pink on the lampshades. And since I've banned pink from the room (or at least 99% of it), that had to be dealt with. Here's what I did....

I spray painted the fan blades white. I already liked the fan so much better, but the shades had to be covered. My love for polka dots took over and I ran out and bought red and white polka dot fabric. I bought extra so I can use it somewhere else in the room (more on that later).

Here's how I covered the lampshades and I just COULD NOT believe how quick it was. Less than 30 minutes and the shades were back on the fan.

First, take a lampshade and lay it sideways on a legal sized piece of paper or newspaper or paper bag, etc.
Then, trace each side of the lampshade (top and bottom) as you roll it on the paper. I started by laying the seam side down so that I would know when to stop rolling and tracing. I did go about an inch further for a small overlap.
Next, cut along the lines and then wrap the paper pattern around your lampshade to make sure it is big enough and works before you cut out your fabric.
You might want to trim any pieces that are sticking up too far, etc.
Pin pattern to the fabric so it doesn't move when you cut it.

Now, cut it out making sure to cut a little extra about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch to fold over the top and bottom of each shade.
Now, with all of your pieces cut out, you're going to need your Elmer's Spray Adhesive and some old newspaper or something to lay your pieces on, as well as, a well-ventilated space. I love Elmer's Spray Adhesive because it works on so many projects, but it is absolutely perfect for this one.
Lay your pieces WRONG side up and get ready to spray. I suggest spraying one at a time because you'll need to get it on your lampshade within 15 seconds for a permanent hold. Sounds harder than it really is. Spray your piece of fabric on the wrong side and then immediately lay your lampshade onto the piece starting with the seam down.
Then, you'll carefully roll the lampshade like you did when making the pattern for it. The fabric will stick right away. Then, just smooth out any bubbles. (There probably won't be any.) Fold over the top and bottom edges quickly. You might need to spray the top/bottom pieces carefully if you don't get them folded over fast enough.
{pic taken before I painted the blades white}

You're done! Wasn't that easy?? I can't wait to redo another lampshade!
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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Update on the Shared Girls' Room Makeover

Well, I'm almost done with my part of my Shared Girls' Room Makeover. I say 'my part' because I need my husband's help for the last two projects of the room and I'm not sure when we'll do them yet. I am loving how it is turning out! It's so exciting to see it transform and come together like I had it in my head.

I'm working on a gallery wall to display their art and trying to find all the things I need to make it cute, but not cluttery. Gallery walls are not my strong point, so this may end up being the trickiest part of the entire room for me! I love this one from
I'm also trying to decide what to put on the walls above their beds. These are a few of the things I love...

You can find links to all of these on my Pinterest board, here.
Now if I can just figure out which ones go with my girls' new bedroom and how I want to incorporate them, I'll be doing great.

I really love the idea of the black and white photos above the bed so we'll see what happens!

Thanks for checking in!
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Friday, May 30, 2014

How Do You Thank a Teacher?

Our school year is finally winding to a close one week from today. It's been a long year in some ways, but so short in many other ways. 
This was me and my girls on the first day of school. Don't let the picture fool you. I was a bundle of tears after we dropped our little baby girl {ok, 5 year old} off for her first day of school. I held back the tears until Hubs and I drove out of the parking lot.
What a year this has been! Our oldest is finishing up her last year of elementary school. She's really come a long way this year. I cannot believe she's going to middle school in the fall! Every school year she has been excited about learning and really loves history and science. {We won't mention the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the math homework.} Right now, she says she's going to be a mechanical engineer when she grows up...I could totally see that happening, but we'll see. I think she'd make an awesome historian, scientist, journalist or negotiator. She's been really good at the latter her whole life. {wink}
Our 2nd child is finishing up the 2nd grade. She's the tallest girl in her class and probably will be for awhile. This girl truly has a gift for drawing. It's how she expresses herself and how she relaxes. I have been blown away by many of her drawings. She doodles on any paper she can get her hands on. In fact, the other day, she came home very offended because her teacher told her that she is wasting paper by drawing on everything. I had to reassure her that drawing is NOT wasting paper, but to be sure to use her own paper from home and not the teacher's paper. If she doesn't grow up to be some kind of artist, I will be shocked.
My little K5 graduate learned SO MUCH this year! She had been waiting so long to go to school and this was finally her year. She loved everything about it. Reading, writing, playing, making friends, etc. has been so much fun for her. Every day she is happy to go to school and that makes my heart happy. She does her homework for the whole week on Monday afternoons....and then begs for more. She can't get enough! Wonder how long that will last?
I am so thankful for the teachers we've had this year. Really, every year we've had good teachers, but this year they've been exceptional. You never know what to expect with a new teacher every year and much prayer goes into our school year for my girls' teachers. We've had some change this year with one awesome teacher having to leave early this semester for unexpected heart surgery and one teacher moving to a new city, but overall, it's been great. As our year ends, I am trying to think of ways to say thank you to our teachers and I'm coming up short. Nothing I've found seems adequate. When I think of all the lives they've touched this year and the ups and downs they've gone through with my kids and all the other kids and the drama they put up with every single day, especially in the upper elementary grades....Whew!  The parents. I've had to send a few emails this semester for a certain subject, but I can't imagine dealing with parents on a regular basis. The emotional side of teaching must be really tough for some. This year in my daughter's 5th grade class there were some tough things some of the students faced because of their sad home lives. Those kind of things carry over into the school life and it's hard for teachers {and fellow students} to see them go through it.
But teachers - good teachers - do what they can to help even though it means riding an emotional roller coaster at times. They do what it takes to teach that crazy math problem {that your child will never need to know in the real world} and help your child understand it because they want to see your child succeed. It's not just about a math problem, it's about learning to overcome obstacles when there seems to be no good reason for it in the first place. It's about learning to face issues head on and finding the solution that works best for everyone involved. Good teachers come back everyday ready to do it all over again for the sake of your child's growth and development even when those they are teaching have no idea the amount of work and dedication that goes into it. Good teachers are the ones that are there because they want to be. It's hard work and I can spot a mile away a teacher who wants to be there and those who don't.
I'm thankful today for the teachers who want to be there. Those who touched my kids' lives this year. They have made a lasting impact on all three of them. Mrs. E. has inspired my oldest to do her best and have fun doing it. She doesn't take everything so seriously. The students love her and she loves them. It's so obvious. Mrs. T. had to leave the school year early for heart surgery, but she was an amazing 2nd grade teacher. She was kind and happy. She helped my middle girl look forward to going back to school every day when she would have otherwise been homesick. She impacted my little future artist in a big way. Mrs. B loved on my 'baby' everyday. She has the patience of Job. She runs a tight ship, but does it in a sweet way and the students respond accordingly. A kind heart makes all the difference in the world to a little kid. Mrs. C. was a perfect K5 assistant. She's a grandma-type, so incredibly sweet and gentle with every child. She truly loves those kids. And the fact that she dresses up is awesome. Think June Cleaver in her 70s with dyed jet black hair. Love her!
It's hard to just say 'Thank You' to these incredible people who have invested so much into my daughters' lives, but we're going to attempt it. I'm trying to come up with something for each individual teacher that represents our gratitude for all they've done this year. It won't be nearly enough, but at least it's something. I've found some cute ideas and you can find them on my Pinterest board, Teacher's Gifts.

How do you thank a teacher?
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Thursday, May 29, 2014

How to Sew with Piping {Tutorial}

I am in the middle of a much-needed makeover for my two younger girls' room as I posted about here. It is starting to come along, but I have hit a couple of bumps in the road. First, is my white quilts. I ordered two that are technically suppose to go inside a duvet cover, but hoped that they would work by themselves. Not so much. They're definitely going to need a duvet cover, but I'm planning to make a permanent cover for each one out of sheets, kind of like this duvet cover I made, only this one will be fitted to the comforter and completely sewn up. It's pretty much necessary in my girls' room. The second bump in the road to completion is that I have come to a painting project involving spray paint. Me & spray paint don't really jive. Think drippy and clumpy. I'm really trying to hold off as long as possible {or until my hubby is here to guide me on it}. I'm just a tad bit nervous about ruining a piece of furniture. No big deal, right? Yikes.

Today I did make some progress on a couple of sewing projects for the room and I am feeling good about it. So, I thought I'd throw in a tutorial on how to sew with piping. This is one of those things that looks absolutely fabulous on a pillow or what-have-you, but can be a little intimidating when you first start out. However, if you take it slow, you'll be just fine. Enjoy! And if you have any questions, feel free to comment.
This tutorial for piping is shown by sewing piping onto a pillow cover. So, we'll start from the beginning. If you need a pillow cover tutorial, check here. Take your two pieces of fabric for the pillow cover - Front and Back. Place right sides together and lay on a table top.
Now, take your piping and start placing it in between the top and bottom pieces, carefully pinning all the way around the fabric. You want the straight edge of the piping to line up with the straight edge of the fabric pieces. The rolled edge will be on the inside.

Pin carefully, approximately every inch or so to hold it in place. I like to leave the corners unpinned so that I can move it around exactly like I want it. Feel free to pin yours.

Leave an opening of approximately 7-8 inches, depending on how big your pillow is, so that you can stuff your pillow form inside before sewing it up. We'll deal with the opening in a minute.

Now, change your presser foot to the zipper foot. This gives you the ability to sew closer to the edge of the piping giving you a more professional look. The regular presser foot will leave a gap.
Start at one end of the opening and begin sewing all the way around until you have only 7-8 inches left. Backstitch at both the beginning and ending.

Now, turn your fabric rightside out. Be sure to push the corners out. Put your pillow form inside and fluff it up to fit your pillow cover.
Once you are ready to sew the opening closed, line up the piping to see how much you need to trim off. You are going to line it up so that you have about a one inch overlap.
Next, using your seam ripper, open up the fabric on the piping that will overlap about an inch down.
Cut the cording {not the fabric covering the cording} so that you can now line up the two ends and overlap the fabric piece on top of the other end.  {See pic.}
Now, fold each side piece down on both sides of the opening to line up with the already sewn part of the pillow cover. Line your piping up inside the two folded over sides and pin close together.

Still using your zipper foot, start sewing the closure. Go very slowly, removing pins as you go, to keep everything in place. Cut all loose threads.
You're done! If you want to embellish your pillow, do it before you sew the two pieces together. Unless you're like me and you decide to hot glue your design onto the pillow. I wouldn't recommend it for pillows that will be laid on or jumped on. The pillows I made are just for if I can convince my girls of that.....

Thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned for more shared girls' room tips and tricks, and of course, the After pic.
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