Jul 6

I recently made some cloth diapers. If you have explored making cloth diapers yourself, you know that the subject is deep and wide with tons of opinions and “I’m right” ways to do things and “don’t do THAT” advice. It took me weeks of research to even figure out HOW to make a cloth diaper because the info out there is so confusing. I find this whole scenario rather ridiculous because when I was a baby, my mom used a padded flat diaper that she folded to fit me, changing the fold to fit me as I grew. The cloth diapering scene is a crazy confusopoly, and when I’m confused and overwhelmed, I just can’t buy into any specific radical philosophy. I finally decided to jump in and try a free pattern and discover my own radical philosophy.

—-Read the rest of this post, including the tutorial for how to make cloth diaper inserts – over at DollarStoreMom.com.—

 

Apr 6

Welcome to the April 6, 2010 edition of the All Things Family blog carnival.
 

 

I called this a "Yoplaithouse" - ha ha!

 

 

Earth Day Crafts, Activities, and Tips:
Other Family-Related Articles:
That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of all things family using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Sep 11

I went to the Pendleton Woolen Mill store a couple weeks ago and picked up some of their waste-wool products. This is “blanket leader” – strips of wool blanket waste. I sewed them together to form a backing for a rug. They cost $2 a pound, and they have a variety of patterns and colors (and they don’t all look this rough – I just knew I could use these for the bottom of a rug).

I LOVE using these upcycled materials!

I also picked up some off-white waste strips of blanket. I had a couple ideas in my mind. One, I could just sew the strips together to make rug. Two, I could get crazy and twist the strips. I was intrigued with the idea of that, and I wanted to see how it would look, so that’s what I ended up doing.

I just started by sewing the strips to the end of the prepared rug backing.

This is what it ended up looking like. I wanted it to look kind of trashcycled, but I’m not sure I love the look I achieved (although it looks a bit better in real life). Yeah, it’s kind of a CraftFail. BUT,

My three year-old likes it. He immediately hunkered down on it and proceeded to “nap.”

Although this particular rug isn’t perfect, I enjoyed the process, and using the reclaimed materials. I would definitely like to try making another rug (with a different technique!).

May 21

It rains a lot in Oregon (until July 5th!), and I have to come up with rainy-day activities that expend little people’s energy without making me completely crazy. Here’s another quick and easy activity that will keep them entertained for quite awhile: a recycled grocery bag punching bag. It works more like tether ball than a punching bag, and if you have more than one child, they can play with it together.

Project Materials:

  • Plastic grocery bags, about 10
  • Piece of yarn, twine, etc.
  • A nail or hook for the wall

To Make:

Stuff one grocery bag with all the other bags (alternately, stuff a bag with recycled paper, newspaper, etc.). Knot top of bag, and tie a piece of yarn around it. Hang string on nail or hook on the wall (or in a doorway).

I would love to try this with a fabric cover (an old t-shirt? an old ruined piece of kiddo’s clothing?).

**REMEMBER: because this activity deals with potentially hazardous items, do not leave your child unattended with this toy. Do not leave it hanging after s/he is finished playing with it.**


Alternate Option:

Tie a stuffed animal or another soft toy to a string. Kids will enjoy batting this around as well!

Feb 13

Over the years, I have filed the idea away in my head of making a rag rug. The project I really wanted to try was a Martha Stewart bath mat made from braided towels. I have had that project on my mental list for years now. However, the thing that held me back from wanting to actually MAKE a braided rag rug was the whole sewing issue. I really didn’t want to sit there and hand-sew all the braids together into a rug.

Enter the huge crochet hook!

I had a Craftster swap partner who mentioned she would like to receive a kitchen rag rug, and so I made her a small crocheted rug in about two hours. I ripped up some stash fabric I had (that was too junky to actually use to sew anything – why was it in my stash?) and a vintage sheet I recently picked up at the thrift store. The rug went together so fast that I started another one. It’s the perfect activity to do while watching TV.

To make:

First: Prepare Your Fabric Strips

I ripped up strips from stash fabric (easy to rip), sheets (easy also), old curtains (easy), and clothing (not as easy!). Basically, if the item to be ripped up is in flat and straight pieces, it’s pretty easy to turn into fabric strips.

To rip a flat sheet, I undo any hems, then cut a one-inch notch in the fabric about one inch in from the hem. Rip all the way to the other side of the sheet, but don’t rip to the very edge. Leave a quarter-inch bit unripped, and then cut a notch about one inch in and continue ripping. In this way, you will get one long strip of fabric. Roll ripped fabric into balls like yarn.

How much yarn will I get from a sheet? Assuming your strips are exactly one inch in width, a queen sized flat sheet will yield approximately 255 yards of yarn. (The math: a queen flat sheet is 90×102 inches. 90 times 102 strips in one-inch widths = 9180 inches. Divide by 12 to get 765 feet of yarn. Divide by 3 to get 255 yards. Tell me if I did my math wrong!)

Right now, the rug is getting big (about 5 feet x 5 feet) and one queen sized flat sheet ripped up into approx. 1” strips made four rows of crochet.

To join ripped pieces, you can just tie the ends together in a square knot (if you don’t mind the nubs in your finished rug), or just twist them together when you are crocheting to create a more seamless join.

To rip something like clothing, you have to be more creative, and it involves more cutting and less ripping. It also doesn’t yield much “yarn”. Something that is relatively long and flat, like pants or maybe a bathrobe or big nightshirt might be worth working on.

The pattern:

More experienced crocheters might have better info about this, but I just started by making a chain of 12, then single crocheting 2 in from the edge. I sc’d to the end, and then did about 4 scs in the last stitch (to go around the corner). Continue sc-ing. Do 2 scs in one stitch when you get near the corners. I kind of just randomly add stitches – about 6-10 per trip around the rug. Like I said, I’m sure there is a much more perfect way to do this, but it’s working for me.

When I get done with my big rug (I call it “a monstrosity”), I’m going to block it by laying it on the floor and covering it with damp towels overnight. We’ll see how well that works!

Aug 14
yes, i really have 20 lbs of zippers in my garage

yes, i really have 20 lbs of zippers in my garage

Ah, the old salad days of yore, when I spend who knows how much money adding to my crafty stash. I still have a garage full of stashtastic stuff that I have toted halfway across the country with me. I just can’t bear to part with the twenty pound bag of multicolored industrial zippers I got at a dorm garage sale in 2002. Of course, when a new project comes up, I just have to go to the craft store to pick up “one or two” things necessary for completing my new opus.

The last crafty things I purchased were for a holiday ornament project I have yet to do: white glitter, fabric stiffener, and balloons (can you figure out what my project was from that list?). You know how long ago the holidays were…

I have put a moratorium on purchasing any new supplies this year. My stash is too large already, and with two little ones, I’m lucky if I have time to eat dinner, let alone wax crafty.

That doesn’t mean I can’t add to my kiddie craft stash, though! I admit I’ve fallen prey to the siren song of the loss-leader school supply aisle. Washable crayons for a dollah? Let me stock up! My toddler has a full arsenal of washable art supplies, from markers to paints, as well as every type of art paper a 2 year-old could possibly need for his precious scribbles. He even has a pair of high tech safety scissors (they don’t look like they did when I was a kid! They’re now entirely made of plastic–safe enough for my seven month old to chew on, if they fall into his hands.) I vicariously craft through my toddler, who sits in his high chair long enough to paint a few strokes on one wooden figurine before he gets bored and wants to “run around like a crazy guy.”

I’m actually quite the eco-crafter, too. I find it hard to throw away a lot of my trash because it has potential to be used as a craft item. Egg cartons, colorful cereal boxes, used wrapping paper, twisty ties, bread tabs, cans, milk cartons. I have a major case of tightwad angst against throwing this stuff away. It’s good stuff! I’m sure the day after our recycling bin is picked up, I will NEED that huge olive can for something! Hey it would be great for potting geraniums!

As a stay at home mom, you would think I have time for all that crafting I wished I could do back when I was working. I feel guilty, though, even starting a craft project when I know there are seventy-three domestic tasks I have been putting off. I feel like I just have to do those (Item fifty-two: sew blackout curtains for my toddler’s room so he won’t keep getting up at 6:30 every morning!) before I can start anything that is just for fun.

So when I add to my craft stash (okay, okay, I admit it, I did buy a vintage sheet at Goodwill recently. It would make such adorable reusable grocery totes), what I’m really purchasing is the idea of crafting. It’s just not enough to purchase the materials, you have to actually use them. Otherwise, they become the fabric of just another crafty quilt dream.

Oct 8

I’m hosting a Morsbag-making party at the CROQ Office on Oct. 17th from 7-9pm.

What’s a Morsbag? Check morsbags.com for more info, but basically, it’s a handmade cloth shopping bag (made from recycled fabric). Morsbaggers make a slew of the bags and then GIVE them away to unsuspecting shoppers – all with the goal of eliminating some of the 1 MILLION plastic bags consumed over the globe per MINUTE!!

We’re just going to be doing the sewing/construction part at this party – and it’s our first Portland event.

If you check the Morsbags website, I guarantee you’ll be intrigued. Email me for the office address if you’d like to be a part!

heather -AT- croqzine.com

Mar 29

So, my mom and I finished our baby quilt sweatshop, with 17 quilts completed. Guess what, we used up our 5-inch quilt block stash! Woo hoo!

Our 2006 quilt marathon was begun because we had two huge bags of 5-inch blocks between the two of us. We sewed for a week straight last year, and finished 20 baby quilts, but we still had (it seemed) as many blocks left as we used up. Flash forward to 2007… we finally recovered from our week of intense baby quilting, and decided to try to use up our remaining stash of 5-inch blocks.

My mom did the math, and each quilt takes 81 blocks. If you mulitiply that times 20, it means we used up 1620 blocks last year. This year we used 1377 more blocks, which means that we had 2997 blocks between the two of us. How on earth did we get that many blocks? (I personally won’t be cutting up fabric to use for quilt blocks… ever again.)

Instead of working on them all at once (in one week), we have been spending most Thursdays for the past two months working on this project. We laid them all out one week, and then sewed about three to five quilt tops per week until we finished, with a few extra half-days added in during the past two weeks just to finally wrap the project up. After all the tops were done, we assembled the batting and quilt backs. Using up our stash was the name of the game, but we managed to find enough cozy flannel for quilt backs between the two of us (and a donation from my friend Cassie) to finish up without buying any new fabric. The only thing we had to buy was one roll of batting.

One of my favorite things about this project were the last three quilts we laid out. Why? Because we had to use what we had left and make it work. And because we finally used up the stash of blocks – few things in this world compare to the feeling you get when you use something up! It’s an amazing feeling!

<–This quilt was one of the last ones we did. Who would have thought that the burgundy, pink and various plaids would work together with some leftover surfboard fabric? I love that these baby quilts are unexpected in color palette and fabrics. Not your typical choices for the nursery, but awesome! Also, notice the scottie dog fabric around the border – that quilt back was made from a recycled thrifted flannel sheet.

What do we do with the blankies once we have them completed? We usually save them until we come across someone in our vicinity who is having a baby and use them as our baby gift. I love handmade quilts so much; I can’t think of a better gift to welcome someone into the world with!

The epilogue to the story is that once we had used up our entire stash of blocks, my grandma gave us a huge bunch of vintage blocks and strips. My mom and I are brainstorming what to do with them. They are almost all unique blocks, and almost all 20 years old or older (mostly older). We are selfishly thinking maybe we’ll make quilts to keep in the family with these blocks.

A few ideas are a crazy version of the Arkansas Crossroads pattern, any number of inspirations from Hillary Lang/Wee Wonderful’s arsenal of awesome ideas, this quilt (seen on Wee Wonderfuls) by Josie of Mr Monkey Suit.

<—I love the greyish fabric with the pink clocks on it. Love the color palette and so cute! All of these vintage blocks are so inspiring. I want to scan them all into my computer so I have a record of them for inspiration!

Okay, on to the next project!

Coming soon: forays into altered clothing.

-Heather

Feb 23

Quilt Sweatshop II Update

(This picture is from last year’s batch of quilts)

Update on Quilt Sweatshop Marathon 2007: Thursday, my mom and I got 5 baby quilt tops sewn together. We decided to tag-team sew them, so we each sewed half of each quilt together and then joined them at the end. It helped us feel like we were making more progress, since one quilt comes together in half the time that way. Not too bad for an afternoon!

Today: added 4 quilt tops to the collection, bringing us to 9 finished quilt tops and 8 left to go (I thought we only had 15, but apparently we have 17). We’re over the hill, with more tops done than we have left to finish. We are going to wait to do the finishing work on each quilt until all the tops are completed.



*UPDATE on today’s update*

Since I typed that last little bit, I have put together 5 quilts with tops, batting, and backing. They’re all sewn together and ready to be tied, and then they’ll be done! I ran out of batting, so I guess I’ll have to hit the store up for more before I can finish assembling more quilts.

I used a thrifted Scottie Dog flannel sheet for 3 of the quilt backs, and some of a bolt of cream-colored flannel for the other 2. I set up two 4-foot tables in the living room for my quilting ease (although, it would be nice if they were counter-height instead of table-height, as hunching over the tables doesn’t really do the back a lot of good!), which was SOO much awesomer than finishing the quilts on the ground, which is what I have always done, and I just HATE. (I am the kind of person who will only play a board game if a table & chairs are involved – I hate to play on the ground, I don’t know why. Oh wait, yes I do, it’s because I don’t like to be UNCOMFORTABLE!!)

–Heather

Feb 16

Well, my mom and I have launched our annual baby quilt sweatshop with a few good hours yesterday (we laid out 13 quilts), and I continued today, laying out 2 quilts (and using up the balance of our blocks! boo-yah! That’s what we set out to do LAST year in our first annual baby quilt sweatshop marathon – and we only managed to do 20 last year, and still had tons of blocks left.)

Let’s do the math: 15 baby quilts at 81 blocks each = 1215 blocks so far!

Once we get these sewn together (they each take about 2 hrs per quilt top, and then another 30 mins of finishing work), I plan on starting on our bigger pieces of material. Must bust stash!

–Heather