Kid sized tote bag

happy campers

happy campers

My daughter requested a bag to carry her bible to church in.  My son said he would like one too.  It was a request I could not deny and have joyfully worked on since the middle of summer.  The first thing my daughter and I wanted to do was to go shopping for fabric.  After getting the look from my husband we started at home.  We found lots of super fun fabric in my stash!  I piled all the fabric on the back of my computer chair where it sat for the rest of the summer while I tried to find a pattern I wanted to use.  I found all sorts of patterns for bags online that I pinned for reference.  None were exactly what I was looking for; this satchel tutorial came really close.  I wanted to make a bag with a gusset.  I wanted the back and top flap of the bag to be all one piece.  I wanted to create a lined bag with places for pens and scissors.  I didn’t want to use hardware for the strap.  I feel like that makes straps too fussy for a kid’s bag.  I didn’t find one fit all pattern, so I dreamed one up.  I spent the better part of a month ruminating on the project to work out what I would do. Once school started I had time to make some progress.

Most bags benefit from some sort of lining to help give the bag structure.  I chose not to use any.  I used bottom weight cotton. I figured since I included exterior pockets, that would give the bag extra stability.  As I made them, the satchels are pretty floppy but it suits them.  The lining fabric was lightweight cotton.  Everything was washed before I started.  For the strap padding I used some felt by the yard that I had on hand. I used a 0.5″ seam allowance.

  1. Cut out these pieces of fabric
    All the pieces laid out around my pattern.

    All the pieces laid out around my original pattern.

    4×26″ – outer bottom gusset
    10×17″ – outer back & flap
    10×8″ – outer front
    10×7″ – outer front pocket
    10×8″ – outer back pocket
    4×26″ – inner gusset
    10×8″ – inner front
    10×17″ – inner back & flap
    ? – inner pen pocket
    6×38″ – strap
    2.5×38″ – strap padding
    5.25×35″ – strap
    2.125×35″ – strap padding
    The strap size will depend on where you want the bag to hang on your kiddo.  For reference, I listed a longer & smaller shorter option.

  2. Sew the inner pocket to the inner front.
    Inside out view of the bag lining and pen pockets.

    Inside out view of the bag lining and pen pockets.

    I picked a random scrap of fabric for the pocket.  I put the right sides together and stitched around, leaving a spot to turn it right side out.  After pressing the piece to lay flat, I used a pen, pencil, and other items to help determine where I wanted to stitch.  This part was really random.  I didn’t take measurements.  I used fun scraps that the kids liked which were too small to use anywhere else on the bag.  I recommend testing the pens & pencils you’re likely to use with the bag.  The inner pockets on my second bag were placed a little too high.

  3. Put the strap together
    Pressing the strap fabric around the strap padding.

    Pressing the strap fabric around the strap padding.

    Press the strap in half lengthwise with the wrong sides together.  Lay the strap padding against the crease.  Fold one side snugly over the padding about 0.5″ and press.  Fold the other side under and press about 0.5 under.  The two folded edges should line up.  Stitch along the edge.  Then add and extra 3 lengths of stitching for support.

    Showing all the stitching down the length of the strap.

    Showing the stitching down the length of the strap.

  4. Hem the tops side of the outer pockets.
    turn under, turn again, press, and then stitch

    Outer pocket turned and stitched & basted to outer front.

    Outer pocket turned and stitched & basted to outer front.

  5. Baste (long running stitch) the bottom of the outer side pockets to their respective sides.  These pieces will be right to wrong sides together, so both right sides end up facing you.
  6. Put right sides together for the inner bag
    Pin in place (see picture in step 7 for reference) and stitch 0.5″ from the edge.  I started by basting everything in place with a long stitch at about a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Stitching the corners can be frustrating.  The picture shows what mine looked like as I was working.  They don’t end up square, but have a rather fun rouche to them.

    Sewing the corners. You can also see the line of basting stitches on the left.

    Sewing the corners. You can also see the line of basting stitches on the left.

  7. Put right sides together for the outer bag
    Pinning the gusset to the side.

    Pinning the gusset to the side.

    Same steps as above, but with the outer pieces.

  8. Put it all together
    Putting the right sides of the bags together.

    Putting the right sides of the bags together.

    With the outer bag inside out, lay the strap in the bottom making sure it’s laying flat and not twisted.  Turn the inner bag inside out and slide it inside the outer bag.

    stitch from one red pin on the flap all the way around to the other red pin.

    stitch from one red pin on the flap all the way around to the other red pin.

    Pin around the pieces taking care to match up the corners.  Stitch 0.5″ from the edge leaving the end of the flap mostly open so you can turn the bag right side out.

  9. Clip corners
    corners that need to be clipped, clip both sides.

    corners that need to be clipped, clip both sides.

    I didn’t think of this at first and almost cried when I turned the bag right side out and it was wonky between the bag and the flap.  You also need to clip the corners on the end of the flap so it lays flat.

  10. Turn & Top-stitch
    Turn the bag right side out.  Stuff the lining where it should be.  Press along the seam you made in step 8 so it lays flat.  Take care on the end of the flap to turn under your raw edges and press.  Top-stitch as close to the edge as possible.

    Inside view of finished bag

    Inside view of finished bag

    Finished bag and proud new owner.

    Finished bag and proud new owner.

I’m still thinking about adding extra stitches where the strap goes into the bag.  At this point though, the girl has run off with hers.  I may never get to touch it again!











Pillow Cases

You can never have enough pillow cases.  They are fast to make and a fun way to change up a bedroom for a kiddo or yourself!  I made some pillow cases to match a quilt the sewing ladies at my church are making for a gift.  While I was working my daughter spied some fabric in my stash that she was keen on having be hers.  I find this hilarious because when I purchased the fabric she claimed she did not like it.  It’s amazing what 2 years of cold storage can do for the popularity of items in my strong willed child’s eyes.

crude sketch of measurements.

crude sketch of measurements.

Since I’ll need to do this again, I want to get my thoughts down where I could find them easily.  I started by measuring a pillow case I had in the closet. If I were sewing it all on my regular machine I’d add 0.5″ for the inseam, or another 0.25″ to what I’ve outlined to the right.  Since I bought a serger from one of the sewing ladies and I only need to leave 0.25″ for it’s stitch.

For the main body of the pillowcase I used a piece of fabric that was 40 3/4″ by 26″.

The cuff of the case was 40 3/4″ by 8.5″.  I also used a bit of flat lace that was 40 3/4″ long.

I started by turning the right sides of the larger piece together so it made a 26×20 3/8″ rectangle.  I serged down one short side and then the longer one of the rectangle so a short side was left open.

showing the wrong side of the cuff with the lace basted on and then stitched in a loop.

showing the wrong side of the cuff with the lace basted on and then stitched in a loop.

The cuff pinned onto the case.

The cuff pinned onto the case.

I basted the lace onto the right side of the cuff fabric.  I only wanted 1/8 of the lace under the 0.25″ seam, so I basted it on 1/8″ from the edge, with the fancy side pointing towards the majority of the fabric.

After basting on the lace, fold the fabric, right sides together so your piece is now 8.5″ x 20 3/8″.  Sew the fabric along the 8.5″ side.  Press the seam to the side.

Fold the loop of cuff fabric right sides out so now it is 4.25″ x 20 3/8″ with the lace on the inside of the loop.  Iron it flat.

Turn the case right side out.

Put the cuff loop around the outside of the case.  The lace should be next to the right side of the case fabric.  Line up all the raw edges and seams.  Pin them to keep them together properly.  Stitch it up!

Finish up the case by ironing it.  Press all the seams away from the cuff and toward the case.  Adding a top stitch here would look nice too, but my machine is destined for maintenance and not stitching nicely.  🙁

Ta da!  Well done.  Everyone is happy.  The Girl loves her Pink Princess Toile pillow case.

CP50525 Princess Toile, C Disney for Springs Creative Products Group, LLC.2014

Little enjoying her new pillow case.



One million dollars!

A Million Dots by Andrew ClementsMuah ah ha!

Well, not really, but I couldn’t resist.  Actually, I’m talking about A Million Dots by Andrew Clements.  As we were wandering through the books at our local library, my Little grabbed this off the shelf.  I’m glad she did.  We sat down to read it and I was surprised how entertaining looking at a million dots could be.

Clements starts by showing what 10, 100, 500, and 1000 dots looks like.  Then he tells you to get ready to look at 1,000,000 dots.  I loved the extra information and illustrations of how big a number is.

dots and starsEach page is filled with dots! There is a neat image to go with the dots and on each page there is a featured dot.  It’s a seek and find to locate the circled dot.  When you find it, the number is listed on the page along with a description to to help you imagine how big that number is.

200000 dots pageMy kids favorite part was finding each circled dot.  I’m pretty sure they weren’t listening very closely as I was reading “two hundred thousand pennies would fill twenty-two one-gallon milk jugs.”  I don’t mind though.  I think A Million Dots is a great way to expose kids to large numbers, how to say them, and keep me entertained too.  We’ll check this one out again.


Have you ever noticed that disclaimer on your bag of sugar, the one that says “100% pure cane — contains No Beet.”  I never really thought about it until the beginning of this year.   We had my son tested for food allergies in December.  His results came back in January with IgE reactions for Milk & Beef, and IgG reactions for all dairy and sugar cane.

The beginning of this year marked a change in our diets.  We stopped eating out and started reading food labels.  I studied the FARE website on Milk Allergies.  I still review it.  I went through our cupboards and read all the labels on the food we had.  I found a new bullion to use that didn’t have whey in it.  I stopped using our taco seasoning which had milk in it and made my own.  I was surprised by the many places I found Milk.  I read blogs about others who had milk allergies.  I talked with a local mom who has an amazing allergy story for her children.  I learned about Nucoa buttery sticks and that most margarine products have a form of milk in them.

At first I was overwhelmed by all the changes but now we are settling in to a new food routine.  I’m lucky that my son is old enough to understand that the food he’s allergic to make his body sick and he plays an active roll in asking people if there is milk in the food they offer him.  He’s also a reader, so when he asks for a type of food at the store I ask him to read the label.  Often milk products are highlighted, so he knows right away if it’s a food he can eat or not.

Cutting out beef was not as hard as milk.  It has been easy to substitute pork, chicken, or turkey for beef.  My son loves fish sticks and he learned he loves pork chops too!

After we had a handle on eliminating milk and pork from his diet, I started trying to figure out what I could use as a sugar substitute.  I like baking him cookies and I’ve always used regular sugar that boasts “100% cane.”  After searching locally I came across beet sugar on Amazon.  I was going to make my own brown sugar with molasses, but it turns out that molasses is made from cane sugar too.  One of the things I read online was that coconut sugar has a brown sugar like taste.  I could find coconut sugar in my local grocery stores, but it was $6-7 a pound.  I found a 3 pack of coconut sugar on Amazon for just over $4 a pound.  Yay!  Now I bake cookies with Nucoa, beet, and coconut sugars.  They don’t taste the same, but they are still yummy.

Hello Kitty Birthday

For Little’s second birthday I put together a Hello Kitty birthday party for her at the park.  She called her Hello Meow Meow then.  What is it that draws a kiddo’s attention to what they love?  From the first moment she caught a glimpse at the store, she was in love with Hello Kitty.

Hello Kitty Gift BagsI wanted to make her birthday full of Hello Kitty fun.  I also wanted to make treat bags that were going to be fun for more than a day. I used the small white bags at Hobby Lobby and bought enough with coupons for our attendees.  My plan was to freezer paper stencil Hello Kitty onto the bags.  I put stacks of freezer paper under an image that I had printed from online to help me cut out her features.  I hadn’t finished cutting out one eye before I was dreaming of having my own Silhouette.  Maybe someday I’ll own one.  By the time I finished cutting out all the stencils I’d given myself a pretty good blister, but it was worth it.  The cardboard inside the bags keeps them stiff so the stencil sticks well.  It also helps for better paint application.  After the painted bags were dry, I removed the stencil and gave them a quick iron to set the paint and started stuffing them with goodies.

Hello Kitty bow making stepsThe bags were filled with Hello Kitty goodness; stickers, temporary tattoos, cake topper rings, special candy, and bows just like Hello Kitty wears.  I made the bows with the 2 1/4″ red ribbon I used on my Rainbow Brite dress.  Before I started sewing, I sealed all the ends with a lighter so they wouldn’t unravel.  The best part about making Hello Kitty bows is they are lopsided, so you don’t have to worry about getting them perfect!  I hand stitched them onto the barrettes so they wouldn’t always be sliding off.  They were so cute!

Little with her Hello Kitty Balloon Boquet.For an extra special treat I ordered a Hello Kitty Mylar balloon bouquet for Little.  It was crazy big and took a ton of helium to fill.  I didn’t realize how much it would cost to inflate the balloons, but it was worth it.  Little loved the balloons and was so excited to carry them around the park.  The large Hello Kitty balloon was nearly as tall as her.  I used a stainless steel straw to flatten the balloons when we were done enjoying them.  Maybe one day we’ll use them again.

We had a lot of little boys we invited to the party.  I didn’t want them to feel left out so I made them Green Lantern treat bags.  I freezer paper stenciled the Green Lantern logo onto black bags from Hobby Lobby.  I put super hero stickers inside as well as candy and some squinkies.  They thought the Green Lantern rings were especially cool.  If you’re ordering rings for boys, they are the way to go.  I can’t believe they are currently out of stock.

Hello Kitty cupcakesI made Funfetti cupcakes and used Reynolds staybrite wrappers.  They are great to use for parties and special occasions and a fun break from the plain white ones I normally use.  Pillsbury Funfetti Hot Pink Vanilla Icing was the perfect topping.  I’m so glad they started making bright colored icing.  I’m not sure I could enjoy cupcakes if I knew how much food coloring it took to make the icing vibrant!  The pink sprinkles that come with the hot pink icing were a perfect sparkly addition.  They have a slightly iridescent sheen to them.  I printed out a few Hello Kitty cupcake toppers I found on pinterest.  I made enough to add randomly so the saran wrap wouldn’t stick to the cupcakes and mess up the icing.

I over planned for attendees.  There were so many left over treat bags!  I handed them out to friends when I remembered, but by the time November rolled around I still had a bag of bags on my desk.  I grabbed them on my way to pack shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  I hope they brought smiles to all the kids who received them.


A year in cloth diapers!

We’ve passed several amazing milestones this year, a dozen years of marriage, a decade in our house, and a year in cloth diapers!

A year after tentatively buying 2 JSB pocket diapers from, Buckwheat Bottoms, we’re still doing it!  I don’t have cold hard numbers for you on money we have saved.  I do know I’ve tried to stick to spending less than what we would have been spending on paper diapers each month as I update and expand my diaper library.

Little in a Rainbow Brite fitted diaperAlong the way I’ve made some discoveries.  My daughter is what’s known as a ‘heavy wetter’ in the cloth diaper world.  I love the simplicity of using a trifolded prefold in a cover.  I don’t love pockets as much as I thought I would.  I do love natural fibers, cotton and bamboo are my friends.  I put off trying wool, but wool is cool!  It’s so amazing, and washing it every 1-2 weeks or when it gets dirty is NBD.  Fitted diapers with a wool cover are awesome for night time.

Around December my big baby decided to grow.  When she was 1 she weighed 27 pounds and was 31.5″ tall.  At her 18 month check up in December she clocked in at 33 pounds and 34″ tall.  Many of our pocket diapers started to fit poorly, or were too small.  The snaps on my favorite Rumparooz covers sprang open.  I found myself floundering, searching for styles that fit my daughters body and her active nature.  Cotton Babies had large FuzziBunz Perfect Size Diapers and Bummis Super Snap covers on clearance so I ordered some to try.  Large FuzziBunz diapers are large.  They sort of fit, but not well, they were a little too big.  They came with 1 microfiber insert and they don’t absorb fast enough for my ‘heavy wetter’ daughter.  When I added an extra insert, it helped with the absorption, but then they became bulky.

Little in her Rainbow Brite dress and fitted diaperI broke down and tried some BumGenius 4.0 diapers.  For some reason I was trying to ‘buck the trend’ of the popular BG diapers.  Susan at Buckwheat Bottoms had some pre-owned options in her store so I bought a few to try out.  Where the JSB pocket diapers were too small, the BG gave her nice room above her thighs so she could still move freely.  The BG 4.0 diapers still fit my Little.

Around February I came to the realization that I needed more absorbent material than the average cloth diaper uses.  When I realized that I needed to ad an extra insert to everything that works for the average child I felt like I wasn’t floundering quite as much.  The covers stopped leaking and I didn’t have to change the bedding as much!    The type of absorption mattered too.  Microfiber didn’t absorb fast enough for us.  I started using cotton inserts and put my stack of flour sacks to use.  I could fold the flour sacks to fit into many different covers/pockets/styles.  I’m not sure why it took me so long to make the realization that we needed natural absorbent fibers and more of them, but there it is.

Little taking a nap in our loaner wool longiesOur diaper stash started shifting.  I acquired more GroVia shells.  We use their organic cotton snap in soaker pads inserts with their organic cotton boosters.  The boosters don’t seem like much but they make all the difference in the world for us!  I fold down the top a little and stick them inside the soaker pads.  They stay put and make diaper changes faster.  These trim diapers fit my daughter well.  They don’t get in the way of her active nature.  We are still using our GroVia diapers.  I also picked up 2 more Flip trainers.  They work for us if I have two inserts in them.

Little showing off her big jumps in her BottomBumperI bought my first ‘fancy’ fitted.  I had a few plain ones.  A couple workhorse terry Popolini ones I’d bought preowned, and some Bumboos I bought on the baby steals site.  I was ready to try what everyone in the cloth diaper group was talking about; Wool and Fitted diapers!  I had some wool.  A friend is lending us her awesome longies but I was chicken to use them over night.  I bought a wool wrap, but it was too small to use over our night time configuration.  It wasn’t until I found the XL Loveybums at Buckwheat bottoms that I had some big enough for our night time solution.  When I started using wool covers at night it was amazing.  My girl’s night time diapers are something else.  I often sing that Sir Mix-a-Lot song when I see her in her night time diaper.  A prefold wrapped around a cotton insert laid in a popolini fitted wrapped in wool.  That lasts about 4 hours or so.  Neither one of my kiddos likes being wet at night.  Doesn’t matter if it is a paper diaper or cloth.  They get angry and start kicking, and nobody sleeps once they start kicking!   I put her in one night time configuration when she goes to sleep, change her when I get in bed around 10/11 and that lasts through the night, most of the time.  In the last month she’s started holding her pee better at night.

I bought a large RagaBabe All in One from a local woman in April.  Not counting wool, it’s the most expensive diaper I own and I love it.  It has hook and loop closure which sometimes irritates me, but I’m glad I bought the diaper.  It still fits my girl, and I know it will hold and not leak.  If we weren’t so close to potty learning, I’d buy more.

Little taking a break at the park in her Bottom BumperI also bought two Large snap Bottom Bumpers from Buckwheat Bottoms in April; they rock!  When I added the extra insert, they were perfect for us.  They have an amazingly narrow crotch area.  Their design is trim and they fit my big girl awesomely.  I thought I was a snap only girl but I bought some Large Aplix (hook and loop) diapers on clearance and they are awesome too.  I love the easy of putting on an Aplix diaper instead of fiddling with snaps.

In May I purchased a custom Rainbow Brite diaper from Happy Little Llama.  Such a sweet side snapping fitted that my little loves wearing with the Rainbow Brite dress we happily stumbled upon.  Another mama had bought the dress for her daughter, but it was too big.  It fits Little perfectly!  Paired with a Loveybum pull on cover it is a winning combination.

In June I snagged some XL side snapping Clover fitted diapers that someone had traded in at Buckwheat Bottoms.  Paired with a tri-folded prefold, they are our new go to night time solution.  Their design is unique, they have what looks like a pocket with snaps inside, but it’s not a pocket.  It’s a way to adjust the button hole elastic on the inside; sweet!  I was waffling about buying both of them.  So glad I was able to decide quickly to buy both of them.  Sadly, you can no longer buy them new.

My current quest is to find cute pull on wool for my girl.  If it’s not soft and brightly colored she has no interest in wearing it.  My Little is currently 34 pounds and nearly 37″ tall.  She has a 20″ waist and 12″ thighs.  It is a challenge to find trim fitted diapers to go with the cute wool.  I’m trying my hand at sewing some that will hopefully fit her perfectly under her new to us size 3 Sustainablebabyish underwoolies!

3 30 foot clothes lines!It’s been an adventure trying cloth diapers.  My husband was not on board when I started.  He used to frequently make negative comments about cloth and search for a paper diaper if he needed to change a diaper.  He hasn’t said anything, but little things tell me he’s coming around.  He no longer tells me how much the diapers stink when I put them in the washer to wash them.  One time we were traveling I only packed paper diapers and our daughter’s diaper leaked after her first pee that evening, thankfully I had put down one of those pads anticipating that.  He said “There’s a cloth diaper in the car, should I go get it?”  It was so sweet.  He even installed an amazing clothes line for me between our porch and garage.

Cloth isn’t for everyone, but I’m really glad I tried it out.  Sometimes it seems overwhelming with all the different options, but options are good.  No two babies are the same.  As my baby grew and changed different diapers fit her better.  It’s been a fun adventure figuring out what works best for us.  I’ve met a ton of amazing local mommas who cloth diaper.  I’ll bet there’s a local Facebook group for cloth diapering mommas in your neck of the woods too!  You should check it out.

A LEGO Birthday

Turbo's 5th LEGO Birthday PartyI feel like my son’s 5th birthday snuck up on me.  I was so busy worrying about our costumes that I completely forgot his birthday is soon after Halloween.  Last year he was sick with the croup twice in a row so we canceled his birthday party.  It was two months later when he asked me if he was going to have a birthday party.  Ouch.  This year, I wanted to make sure he had a super birthday party.

Turbo said he wanted to have a LEGO Hero Factory party.  I wasn’t quite sure where to go with that so we sat down and searched Pinterest for ‘LEGO Hero Factory party’ ideas.  As you can imagine nothing came up.  I asked him if it would be okay if we narrowed our search to ‘LEGO Party’ and he agreed.  So many cool ideas for LEGO parties have been pinned.  Turbo sat with me and pointed out ideas he liked and wanted to have at his party.  The first thing he pointed out was a race car ramp.  We checked out cakes and cookies.  When I asked him if he wanted a cake or cupcakes he knew he wanted a cake.  I’m not much of an artisan with cakes.  I offered to make him a LEGO Brick cake and he thought that would be cool.  *whew*  We found a cool LEGO Bingo game that he said he’d like to play.

Pin the LEGO PieceI did come up with one of my own ideas, a Pin the LEGO Piece game.  My mom always made a pin the piece game for parties.  The one I remember the best was a Wonder Woman she made for my sister’s party.  She free handed all the pieces.  I’m much better with technology and I’ve been dying to find a reason to have a large engineering print made.

LEGO Batman thank you cardI set up a LEGO piece photo shoot.  I shot the image for his invitations and a close up of a standard LEGO man for the pin the piece game.  Then I took super close up shots of as many tiny LEGO accessories as I could find; hats, fish, cups, flasks, stars, hair, and a diamond to name a few.  I sent the LEGO man photo to Abadan, our local print store, to be printed as a 2×3 foot engineering print.  It looked so cool!  I printed out the accessory pieces at home, trying to make them the right size for our large engineering print out.  Little was a good helper.  She grabbed the print outs and brought them to me as I was printing them.  She loves retrieving paper from the printer.  Turbo was super excited about his party and carried around the printed LEGO pieces until I put them up so they would be ready for the party.  I found a LEGO font to use for the invitations and thank you cards.  I had the images to be printed as photos.  I stuck the invitations in envelopes as they were.  Turbo helped me glue the thank you photos to cards so he could write in them.

Playing LEGO BingoTurbo was keen on the LEGO Minifigure Bingo game.  As I scrolled through the call cards and boards I thought about replacing some of the Minifigure images with ones my son would know and his favorites like Batman.  I have Adobe Acrobat, so switching out a few images and text wouldn’t be a big deal.  Well, after I had added Turbo’s favorites, reorganized the board layout to be more like traditional Bingo, and added letters to the call cards it might have been less work for me to have started new!  I found most of the Minifigure images from the LEGO website and searched the web for some too.  Here’s my version of LEGO Minifigure Bingo (.pdf 3.2Mb) call cards and boards.  I printed the call cards full size and the boards 2 to a page on card stock.  Then I laminated the boards and we used dry erase markers with them.  It was a hit at the party and we ended up playing the game for several rounds two different times.

engineering print of LEGO man on wall with LEGO bumpsMy sister and I were chatting the day before the party and she asked if there was anything she could do.  “Yes! Do you have any colorful paper at your disposal?” I asked.  I really wanted to print out the LEGO Bumps from Deliacreates, but was running out of time to get things done before the party.  Thanks to my sister we had a great colorful wall of LEGO bumps.  Turbo enjoyed helping us hang the brick bumps on the wall.  We used the bumps to wrap the juice boxes like bricks too.

racing LEGO cars down a press board rampWhen the kids arrived they could build a crown with the LEGO bump paper, race LEGO cars down a ramp, and free play with the LEGO bricks we set out.  I sorted out wheels and axle type pieces from the majority of the bricks so they could build their own vehicle creations easily.  There were a few pre-built LEGO cars ready for racing.  We used a piece of press board for the race ramp.  It wasn’t nearly as big as the table ramp we saw on Pinterest, but if fit our space and Turbo was pleased with it.

There are so many cool ideas for putting together the gift bags.  I’d nearly run out of time for putting the party together, so for the gift bags we splurged.  I bought the bagged LEGO sets I found by Target’s checkouts.  This was our biggest expense.  If only I had bought a bunch of those box sets I found on clearance for $2.50 a while back; oh well right?  I printed out activity pages from the LEGO website, two on a page, and made a little activity booklet to include with the building sets.  You have to search within each LEGO product line website to find their printable stuff;  LEGO City had the most.

framed engineering print of LEGO manOne of the hardest parts of planning the party was deciding on a guest list.  I’ve always had this idea in my head that you should only invite as many guests as you are old.  Turbo was turning 5 and he has more than 5 friends.  It was hard not to invite all his friends.  Even after we sent the invitations I kept worrying that we should invite more people.  I think it was okay that we didn’t invite a ton of kids.  The party size was good and it was enjoyable, not overwhelming.

I framed the engineering print and hung it in my son’s room.  It’s a nice reminder of all the fun he had at “the best birthday party ever!”

Rainbow Brite and Twink

Rainbow Brite, Twink, and Batman, photo by Scott Butner aka Picture Fairy

Photo by: Scott Butner

One year ago I pinned an image of the cutest Halloween costume ever; Rainbow Brite and Twink.  Little was almost 6 months old and I knew, even though I hadn’t dressed up for Halloween since 2000, in 2012 I was going to be Rainbow Brite and Little was going to be my sprite, Twink.

I guess I should have known, but something that wasn’t mentioned in the original Twink Tutorial by pinksuedeshoe was how much the fuzzy fabric sheds.  When the lady at JoAnn’s was cutting the fuzzy fabric for Twink it was a mess.  She grabbed her cleaning cloth and said something like “if you vacuum the edges as you cut that should help with the mess.”  I vacuumed the edges as I cut, and got quite a bit of fuzz.

I thought I had the shedding under control, but after sewing the pieces together, which needed to be pinned like crazy, I still looked like someone had given a polyester Persian cat a haircut on my lap.  Before I sewed the fuzzy fabric to the fleece lining, I madly shook the pieces outside.  Then I washed and washed and rinsed and rinsed them in an attempt to get rid of the shedding fibers but they were still shedding everywhere.  Tiny shiny threads glistened all over me and my floor.  I’ve got about 3/4 of a yard left that I’ve quarantined in a plastic bag in the garage.  I’m contemplating throwing it in the trash.  Which says a lot.  I usually keep every tiny last scrap of fabric that I can.

I got the lining sewn to the fuzzy fabric.  I was so tired of the mess I decided I wouldn’t stuff the costume with fiber fill.  It looked poofy enough.  I skipped ahead to the elastic around the bottom section.  I broke two needles.  Oh my gosh!  The pattern directed me to turn and stitch.  In addition to going over the seams,  It was too much fabric for my machine to handle!  I ended up not worrying about turning the edge under.  The fuzzy stuff was a knit, so it wouldn’t unravel, and the fleece lining would be fine too.  I didn’t stitch over the seams either. Finally I got it done.  I felt like a champion who had made it across the finish line.

Instead of using the hook and loop closure the pattern called for I used my KAM pliers. Using my KAM pliers is easy and fun!  I am going to use them every time I get the chance.  Like for Twink’s belt, bam!  KAMsnapped it.

Little didn’t care for the hood, but she did end up wearing it a few times.  Mostly when she  was outside and it was cold.

Treating at UptownWith the kid’s costumes finished I could start mine.  I thought I was going to have to sew a blue dress and even went so far as to find a pattern in my stash that would work.  Then I remembered the bright blue bride’s maid dress hanging in my closet.  I hadn’t worn it since my best friend’s wedding in 2001. It was perfect to turn into a Rainbow Brite dress.  I started by sewing a satin blanket binding to the bottom of the skirt.  Then I measured up from the bottom of the skirt and sewed a long running stitch where I wanted the waist to be.  I gathered the skirt in and sewed it to a wide red ribbon.  I kind of messed this part up.  I had measured how wide the skirt should be, but since I was sewing the morning before the preschool party where my son expected Rainbow Brite and Twink to show up, I was in a hurry and satin is slippery.  As I was sewing the red ribbon to the bodice I had to make tucks to take into account my sloppiness.  I kept telling myself “it’s a Halloween costume.  If you wait until it’s perfect, you’ll never finish.”  Plus, I’d never gotten to a point where I could wear it that afternoon.

While I was hurrying to zig zag around the cut edge for the arm warmers I sewed through my finger.  Something I have never done before.  It went right through the callous part by the edge of my nail on my pointer finger.  Hopefully I have learned that I should not be sewing this close to a deadline!

I attached star patches to the blue shoes that I wore with the dress the dress the first time.  And sewed another to a blue ribbon for my pony tail.

I thought about adding more detail to the dress.  I had extra fabric in the form of a wrap. I thought about making it into sleeves and cuffs, but the dress ended up looking so cute the way it was I stopped.  I was afraid if I kept going I’d make it look too cluttered with all the details and it wouldn’t be so cute then.  Plus, I was out of time.

I had fun being Rainbow Brite.  I wonder if I can convince Little to be Twink again next year…



Turbo as the Dark KnightHalloween is nearly here!  I’ve managed to create a costume which transforms my son into Batman, the Dark Knight.  We used a freezer paper stencil to paint the Dark Knight emblem on a black long sleeve t-shirt.  For the color I mixed black with a little silver paint so the design would show.  My son painted his shirt and I helped smooth out the inconsistencies.  I made him felt gauntlets.  The black gloves he picked out from REI this summer are the perfect touch.  I used Simplicity pattern 5927 as a guide to sew the cape.  I wanted larger scallops at the bottom of his cape so I used a large dinner plate to draw them out with a white crayon.  I used 4 yards of costume weight satin and sewed the shiny sides to the inside.  There was no way I was going to hem that much satin. I had to improvise on the cape collar.  Turbo let me know velcro was not his desired closure method so I got to use my new KAMsnaps pliers and snaps.  For the utility belt, I used a large 2″ buckle from JoAnn’s with 2″ black nylon webbing.  We used Blackberry cases to hold his gear.  I know Batman’s utility belt is a sort of gold color.  I tried to come up with something sort of gold and debated about spray painting it, but I think in the end it works just fine being black.  To finish the look we bought a Batman mask that came with a batarang.  The mask set a little too deep on my son.  I glued old bike helmet pads in the mask  to keep the plastic around the eye sockets from leaving marks.  Turbo loves his costume.  As soon as it’s on him his demeanor changes, and he becomes the Dark Knight.

Dark Knight on the move