Apr 28, 2010

Folding Change Pad Carry All Style #1

Last year I brought you this post with my tutorial for making a change pad clutch (an all in one change pad and diapers and wipe carrier). Included in that post I had a couple of pictures of a diaper bag set I had made for a friend that had both the change pad clutch and a folding change pad. Since that post I have received numerous e-mails asking for a pattern or directions on how to making the folding change pad. The one that I had made for my friend was made using a pattern from this book:

so I didn't feel it was my place to share those instructions on my blog since they were not of my creating. Since then I have created my own version of a folding change pad that is super quick and easy to make. This is version #1 with an elastic fastener strap which doubles as a wipes and diapers holder. TADA!!! This still allows the convenience of a all in one change pad without the size of the change pad clutch (which I had some complaints about). Here is a tutorial:
Materials needed:
1 piece of fabric 22x15
1 piece of fabric 22x3
1 bath towel cut into a piece 22x15 (you want to use a decent quality towel for thickness and softness. I got mine at my favorite big blue store for $4.00 I was able to get 3 change pad pieces out of mine plus left over for bibs)
1 piece of velcro 3 inches long
1 piece of elastic 3 inches long (3/4 inch wide is what I used)

Step #1 Cut your two pieces of fabric. I was able to get my fabric in a little bundle at Walmart. It came with 6 different pieces I think, all precut to 22x16". It was super convenient considering the cutting staff at my Walmart work at the pace of a sloth. (just a side note I had to add) Step #2 Place towel piece down on fabric-right sides together
Step #3 Round your corners. I saw this trick on another blog. Use a CD as a pattern for rounding your corners.
It works best on the fabric not the towel. Trace the edge of the CD and then cut on your traced line.
Step#4 Pin your sides together and sew around all the edges. I used a Serger for mine but you could do the same thing on a regular machine with a 1/4 inch seam. Leave an opening for turning.
Step#5 Turn the entire thing right side out and top stitch around the edge at 1/8". Make sure you tuck the edges of your opening in while you are topstitching to secure them.
Step#6 Now for the strap. Take your remaining piece of fabric and fold it in half width wise, right sides together and sew along both sides. Again I used my Serger but you could do a 1/4" seam on a regular machine. Turn it right side out and press with an iron.
Step#7 Pin your elastic 2 6/8" from the open edge of the strap piece. I used 2 6/8" as a rough estimate. You are going to stretch this as you sew and you want it to be in the center of the strap piece. You may want to adjust it slightly depending on your elastic stretchiness.
Showing you that it is pinned nearer to the open edge. Notice that I tucked in about a 1/4 inch on my opening. Don't forget to do that.
Step#8 To begin sewing, sew across the end of the elastic first. Then put the needle down in the elastic and lift your presser foot and turn the strap piece so it looks like this (lengthwise facing you)
then pull it out straight. I took this picture when I was sewing my second side. To help hold the elastic it is a good idea when you stretch it out to pin it at the loose end to help hold it there as you are sewing. Sew all around all 4 sides of the elastic. I don't know about anyone else or if there is some secret I don't know about, but my sewing machine hates sewing over elastic. It eats it up. It's ugly. If yours does that too, know that you are not alone.
It should look like this when it is finished.
Step #10 Now a quick how too on folding these. (sorry some of these pictures are at odd angles-not sure what I was doing). Start with towel side up.
Fold in half.
Fold one side in (like in 3rds)
and the other side. At this point it doesn't matter which side you fold first. But after you add your strap piece it will.
Step #11 Attach the strap. You will attach the open edge of the strap first.
You want to attach it to the side of the folded change pad that doesn't have any flaps showing like this.
Center it and attach it with some pins. You want to attach it right where the change pad folds. It will look like the elastic part is not centered but once you add the diapers and wipes it will all even out.
Step#12 Now unfold the change pad and sew over this open edge.
Step#13 Attach velcro. You will want to attach one piece of velcro to the strap on the same side that the elastic is sewn to-right near the end-parallel with the end and the other piece of the velcro will be sewn to the change pad edge like this (sorry this is blurry). This is the opposite side of the side you sewed the strap too. You want the velcro to be centered just like the strap so they will line up when you go to secure them. Sew all around the edge of the velcro.
Step#14 Now another lesson in folding-only this time it matters which way you do it. So once again you start with the towel side up and fold it in half only you want the side with the strap to be on the bottom.
Fold the non velcro side in first
then the side with the velcro
and secure the fastener. In the picture below I have turned my change pad around 180 degrees from the picture above.
The back side.
And this is how it looks once you add a wipes case and 2 diapers. It holds a max of 2 diapers and 1 wipes case. It looks really cute with a coordinating wipes case like the picture at the top.

Stay tuned for versions 2 and 3 coming soon!!!

This tutorial was featured on Craftaholics Anonymous
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Apr 25, 2010

My mothers day wish list

WARNING: This could put me in the running for one or two "bad mother" awards. Listen I am just stating the truth and I know I am not the only one who has wished for these things before.
With mothers day right around the corner, I thought I would just state my list of wishes in case any genies are to appear in the near future:
1. To sleep in past the hour of 6:30AM
2. To have one or two shirts not stained with spit up
3. To have a foot massage that lasted at least for 1 whole day
4. To go pee in private without having a little body opening the door and saying, "mom are you okay?" 4 or 5 times.
5. To eat dinner without a screaming or crying baby
6. To eat dinner with two free hands
7. To eat dinner at a table without a bumbo chair, burp clothes, baby monitor, musical birds and linky doos clambering up the space
8. To have my husband rub my shoulders with some degree of pressure for a good solid hour when I ask him to rub my back
10. To have someone take my children for the "day" so that my husband and I can go to Hawaii, or Alaska or California or the chow hound down the street for an ice cream. I would prefer to have the ice cream in Hawaii
11. To sit in a hot tub until my toes were wrinkled like prunes
12. I would like to never have to shave my legs again. What a pain in the summer.
13. If I could have the same amount of memory in my brain that I had pre-pregnancy and child bearing that would be so fantastic.
14. 1 entire day to do crafts in perfect silence-ahhhh I can't even imagine what that would be like
15. To have days where small fry only says things like, "you're so cute mommy" and "I love you" and "this is fantastic" all day long instead of, "I no like that no more" and "NO that's mine!!!" and "I want dada back."
16. 1 day without a blowout diaper
17. No more little bits and pieces of every toy imaginable in every part of the house
18. To not watch small fry dip her strawberries in her scrambled eggs and ketchup when she eats breakfast
19. To have my sweet daughter come the very first time I ask her to do anything (oh can you imagine how simple life would be)
20. I would never want to run out of time to do all the cute and fun projects that I want to get done for my kids and family but never seem to have time to do.
I was going to stop at 20 but since I just had to go comfort a crying child in the night I will add one more
21. I would love it if my children never had another scary dream in their life.
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Apr 24, 2010

Amateur Gardening Tips

Now that spring has sprung (hopefully for most of us) I am getting that gardening itch once again. The smell of the freshly tilled dirt, the feel of it between my fingers, the smell of tomato plants, watching little green plants poke out of the ground...AHHH can't get enough of it. I thought that since I am an amateur gardener myself but have developed a love for this little hobby, I would share a few tips and tricks that have really made things more successful in our gardening and therefore that much more addictive and hopefully they can help you catch the itch too. I am just stating right now that I am not a pro. I know very little and I am not guaranteeing anything. So here is my list of helpful garden tips for the beginning gardener:
1. If you want to start seeds indoors try using these Jiffy Peat pellets. They are amazing. I have used these for two years now and I haven't had one single seed not germinate. They are easy to use and then once your seeds have sprouted and grown some you transplant them into larger pots. Really easy and pretty much fool proof.

2. If you are starting seeds indoors it is a good idea to start them in smaller pots or containers and then plan to transplant them at least once while they are still indoors before setting them out in your garden or plant them in larger pots but don't fill them full of dirt all at once. This will allow you to add soil around the stems of the plants as they grown and make them more stable. What I am saying is if you leave your plants in one little container and expect them to get big it probably won't happen because they will become too root bound.
3. Use good potting soil when starting seeds indoors. It pays to use something good. I made the mistake 3 years in a row now of using cheap potting soil or regular dirt and it just doesn't cut it and I have always had plants die when I do this.
4. This book is a great resource for all kinds of gardening information from vegetables, to fruits to trees and grasses. It has a great section with a bunch of tips for almost any vegetable you could imagine growing and a bonus to all the naturalists out there-all the tips in the book are natural.
5. If you plan on planting tomatoes start saving your egg shells now. I just put mine in a cool whip container under my sink after I crack the eggs. They don't have to be covered and in fact it is better if they aren't so they can dry. When it fills up I put the shells in a ziplock bag and let small fry pound on it with a wooden meat mallet. Egg shells are great for adding calcium to your soil for all kinds of plants but especially for tomatoes. We put a big handful in each hole we dug before we plant our tomato plants.
6. Also right before you are going to plant tomatoes go on a banana eating spree and save your peels. A banana peel in each hole also acts as a great fertilizer.
7. Lastly before planting tomatoes stock up on Epsom salts as well. They are also a great nutritional supplement. Last year we put Epsom salts, a banana peel and a handful of eggshells along with a shovel full of compost in each tomato hole before planting and we had huge tomato plants that were loaded with tomatoes very early in the year.
8. I just read this in a magazine, when watering tomatoes don't get the leaves wet as that can cause rotting. I didn't know that but we have had that problem before because we do pour water on the leaves when we feed our tomato plants so that is great to know.
9. Get some coffee grounds. Even if you don't drink coffee, apparently the grounds are great for your soil so find a friend and ask them to save some of their coffee grounds for you. I planted my carrot seeds with coffee grounds this year so we will see how that goes. Otherwise you can just till them into your soil.
10. Get started. Even though there are still cold nights you can get planting your cool weather crops. (well in some areas-not all are ready). Peas, potatoes, broccoli, and cabbage. If you live in a warmer climate add carrots and onions to that mix.
11.My mom always said when we planted our garden, "it is easier to plant too much and then thin it out then to not plant enough." I hold true to this policy. I can always go over my rows and thin out the extra plants that I don't have room for or don't want but it is much harder to add some in, so when you are sewing your seeds in the ground don't do so too sparingly. I know the back of the package says how far to space them, but who are you going to listen to-me or the package? Don't answer that!!
12.. Lastly here is my philosophy on gardening-you can do it anywhere. You can grow veggies in containers or in planter boxes or in a full on garden. Seeds are inexpensive and I say, "what the heck you can't go wrong by putting some in the ground." If you have never done it before go to a store that sells bedding plants (plants already growing) and buy a couple an stick them in the ground. The feeling you get when you can eat something that you grew is amazing. Don't be afraid!!!
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Apr 21, 2010

Dear Small Town USA

(Because I am a concerned citizen living in one)

Dear Small Town USA,

When did you become the exception to the rule? Why is it that within your town limits things like drinking laws, smoking laws, seat belt laws, and driving laws become obsolete or ignored? When are your citizens going to stop saying, "things like that don't happen in our town" and wake up and realize that there is just as much crap going on on their block as there is in a big city? When are you going to start penalizing kids caught smoking and drinking underage with more than just a slap on the wrist? And when are you going to start penalizing those who are supplying the cigarettes and alcohol to these minors? Ever heard of crime and punishment small town USA? Doesn't seem like it from what I have been hearing. Why do you have 13 and 14 year olds driving vehicles, golf carts and ATV's down your main streets? Has the concept of a drivers license been totally lost in small towns? When are things like sex parties and binge drinking parties that everyone knows about going to become of major concern to parents and law enforcement? For how long do your residents have to worry about having drug dealers living on your blocks next door to children?

Do things like speed limits not apply on your streets? They must not and I sure know that seat belts laws don't apply. Someone correct me if I am wrong, but isn't there a law stating that an infant must be placed in a rear-facing car seat when in a vehicle? Then why is it that on your streets, small town USA, there are many an infant riding on the lap of his or her parent or other children sitting or standing in or on the back of moving vehicles with no seat belts of any kind? Why would those laws apply in your limits? Things like loitering, littering, jay-walking and defacing of public property don't seem to be enforced. I guess just add it to the list right? Are you doing your youth and children any favors by not enforcing rules and laws? Is that teaching them anything? You may say, "Oh it's just kids having a little small town fun. No one cares anyway." I would beg to differ small town USA.

And lastly a word on education. Just because people live in rural or remote areas of the United States does that mean that they have to settle for less than the best in education for their children? Then why do you keep teachers who give coloring pages as homework for High School US History or who spend more time acting like students than teaching students, on staff? You can do much better than that in helping prepare young minds to go on to college and universities.

Small town USA you need to make some changes. You are not immune and you should not be exempt. You can't keep sweeping problems under the carpet. Maybe not all of these things happen in every small town but I would bet I am safe in saying that most small town folks have seen or heard of at least some of these things. Enough is enough. There is a generation of children being raised on your streets small town USA. Are those streets going to get better or worse before these children become teenagers?

A concerned mom
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Does this hat make me look...

like a nerd? I think this is something inspired by Grandpa Sam for sure.
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Apr 20, 2010

Backyard Renovations

When my husband bought our house, before we were married, he also got these two old sheds full of junk courtesy of the former home owners (you know what I mean-nuts and bolts and wire and bits and pieces of random, useless junk-in other words, stuff my dad would love). Well he has wanted to tear these sheds down since he bought the place, but it was kind of a daunting task and since it was never pressing he never got around to it. But my in-laws bought a swing set for small fry for her birthday which started a chain reaction of backyard renovations events which had to begin with the tearing down of these sheds. I told my husband if we were going to have to do one project to find a place for the swing set we might as well just tackle everything. He agreed but said he didn't know where to begin. I said, "honey, back the truck up to the shed and step aside." Then I put my gloves on a went to work. I had those sheds cleaned out and loaded into the back of the truck in a half hour. It helped that both my dad and my father in law were not there (they would have wanted to save everything). I developed the motto "we do not want to be remembered for our junk" and got rid of everything. Then it came to tearing the sheds down and again my husband said he wasn't sure where to begin, maybe he should call his buddy to help, how would he get a vehicle in there to pull them over etc etc. I said, "quit stalling. Put a chain around the shed and pull it over." And with only a little effort we pulled the first to the ground and the two of us went to work. Here is what we started with. This is after the first shed came down.
I wasted no time diving in to rip that eye sore apart. Put a crowbar in my hand and I am a dangerous woman. I grew up on a farm with two brothers and an older boy cousin. Destruction and junk were just a normal part of my childhood. We were always tearing something down or building something up, playing with old junk and going exploring to the dump. I mean a trip on the stone boat pulled behind our tractor up to the dump with my dad was better than going to town when we were little kids. So I really enjoyed this project and when we got done with the first shed, I wasted no time getting my husband to pull the second one over. I think he was a bit shocked by my knack for destruction and though it was hard work, in two days we were left with this to look at

Next we had to tackle this: a rock and cement water fountain surrounded by our dog kennel. We moved the dog kennel to our newly cleaned area and then went to work chipping away at the rock fountain. This was a pain in the butt with more cement than rock but we prevailed and got the thing finished by 8:00pm Tuesday night. We then stayed up until 11:30 pm setting up the swing set for Small fry for her birthday party the next day. AHHHH-what a project. There is still more to do on this part, with sand to put down and stuff but we went from this to...
this and I am so happy with how it looks. I hated that rock wall. This is a really great play area now.
Now that we are on a roll with these backyard renovations my husband and I can't be stopped. The list of projects we want to do grows everyday. We will see what happens. Yay for crowbars and sledge hammers and a dad that taught this girl how to tear down some serious junk.
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Apr 19, 2010

Ways to keep your child busy when you have something else to do.

Here are a couple of ways to keep your child busy while you have something else to do like cook dinner or bake bread or something.

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Umbrella Cover Tutorial

This is somewhat of a random tutorial and I am not sure if it will be useful to anyone but I figured since I was needing to make one of these, perhaps someone else out there might need to make one some time also and it is always nice if someone else has already kind of figured out the particulars.
We bought one of these large folding umbrellas from Ikea this spring. It was a steal of a deal- like $24.00 or something like that. We needed one for the fall baseball season (yes our school plays baseball in the fall) when it is still really hot. Since we are a 1A school there is never enough money to build shaded bleachers at any of these schools so on-lookers are always left out in the baking sun to watch baseball games (my husband coaches by the way) so we needed a large umbrella for the girls and I to sit under during games. So anyway we found this one. The only problem was that it didn't have any kind of cover and that makes it hard to transport on the bus and things. So I came up with a cover for the umbrella and pole. Here is a tutorial in case, like I said, you ever find yourself needing to make one.
Obviously the measurements will vary depending on the size of the umbrella you have (this could also be used to make a bag for a folding chair).

1 piece of canvas 20X60" I happened to find some at Walmart for $3.95 a yard. It was 58 inches wide which actually turned out to be a perfect length for the cover.
1 piece of elastic 10" long
1 piece of velcro 2 inches long and as wide as your elastic
1 piece of canvas strap 1 yard long (for the carrying handle)
A cord for the draw string (or you can re purpose one like in my tutorial)

First: you will make a tie to hold the umbrella closed. You want to separate your velcro pieces and sew one to one end of the elastic and one to the other end but the opposite side.
So it will look like this when you are done.
2. Now you will attach that to the umbrella. I found it kind of tricky to get my umbrella under my sewing machine so I basically attached this at the easiest place to sew it too (some where near the lower part of the umbrella). You will want to stitch over the elastic (back and forth a couple of times to make sure it is secure).
It should look like this.
You should now be able to wrap it around the umbrella and fasten the velcro to hold everything down like so.
3. Next to make the cover using your piece of fabric 58"x 20".
4. First mark down 4 inches on each side of the top edge of the fabric (which ever you are going to designate as the top).
Next fold over a diagonal fold (like a dart kind of) along the long sides about 3/4 inches wide at the top and 4 inches long. Pin in place. Repeat on the opposite side.
5. Now sew along this fold with a 1/4 inch seam. You will not sew down the entire length of the fold. That is okay. Repeat on the other side. (I should have turned this picture, but the top part of this picture is the long side part of my fabric)
6. Now you will make the casing on the top for your draw string. Fold down 1 inch along this same top edge (the one with the folded darts) and pin. Sew along the bottom edge backstitching start and stop to form your casing.
7. Now for the side seam. NOTE: I created this tutorial as I was making my umbrella bag and decided I would try doing a flat felled seam down the side. However I found it really difficult considering the weight of my fabric to actually sew said seam. Therefore if you don't want to have the difficulty of this I would recommend just folding your fabric right sides to together and sewing down the side seam at 6/8" and then again at 5/8" for extra stability and forget the flat felled business all together. But in case you want to give it a try (because it does look really nice) here is what I did.
You fold your fabric in half wrong sides together (so the right sides are out) and pin. Then sew starting at the mark you made when you made your darts and sew all the way down with a 6/8" seam. You will want to do this same thing even if you are doing a regular seam (start at the mark you made in step 4 -so about 4 inches from the top and backstitch and then sew the rest of the way. Where my pin is, that is where you start sewing.)
8. Next open up your seam and trim the underneath seam to a 1/4 inch like shown.
9. Now at the top where your mark is you will need to snip to the seam so make a little cut. This will allow you to separate the fabric for the flat felled seam and the fabric you will tuck under to finish your dart.
10. Now turn under about a 1/4 inch of the longer top seam allowance and...
fold it over the shorter underneath seam and pin like so. Notice the clip at the top which allows you to work with two separate pieces.
11. Here is the crazy part. Because your fabric is thick and this is so long you have to sew half way down from the top and then half way up from the bottom and meet in the middle (if you do a flat felled seam). So slip your cover on your machine something like this. WARNING: you will stab yourself a billion times with the pins. Now sew along the top folded edge of the seam.
When complete it should look something like this.
12. To finish the upper dart, fold the remaining piece behind and sew down like this.
The darts will look something like this when done. Having this opening gives your cover a little extra room when slipping the umbrella in and out and is not so tight. Look at those bags that come with your folding lawn chairs and you will see that most of them are not sewn all the way to the top.
13. Now for the drawstring. If you are using a piece of cord, thread that through the casing using a pin. I decided to cut a bungee cord off a bag and thread that through instead. To get it off it's original bag I had to cut the cord in half. So I threaded one end through my casing and then tied the ends back together then slipped the knot inside my casing. 14. Before you sew the bottom you will want to attach the handle. Take your canvas strap piece (sorry I don't know the technical name for this handle stuff) and place one end at the top (about 10 inches down) and pin, centering it over the side seam and then pin the bottom end also. After making it I realized that I could have had a shorter strap if I wanted. Sew over each end with a square and an X like this (pardon the crooked sewing-I was in a hurry by this point).
5. Lastly you need to sew the bottom closed. Turn the cover inside out and pin the bottom edge together. Sew a 5/8 inch seam along the bottom. Now square off the corners by pulling them to a point and marking up 1 1/2" from the point. Sew along this line. Repeat on the other side. You could trim these off if you want but I left mine since they would be in the inside bottom of the bag. Turn it right side out and you are ready to go.
Slip your umbrella and pole in and pull your top cord tight and you are set.

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