Category: Tutorials

September 29, 2012

Halloween Trick or Treat Bag Pattern

Filed under: Everything Else,Sewing,Tutorials - 29 Sep 2012

I have memories of growing up carrying a plastic, orange jack o’ lantern bucket to collect my trick or treat candy.  When our girls were old enough to go out and collect up candy from our neighbors, they were into everything pink and glittery. So, naturally, they had pink, glittery princess buckets to carry on Halloween.  The sad part about the buckets were they would spontaneously open at the bottom and each year someone would wind up with all their candy in the street. This year, the poorly made princess bucket are out of here because I made them some new trick or treating bags.


July 14, 2012

Sun Jar

Filed under: Crafts,Tutorials - 14 Jul 2012

Light up your night with the sun. Using a few inexpensive materials, you can make your own solar powered nightlight. If you sit the sun jar in your window on a sunny day, the jar will automatically light up at night.  Our girls love getting to have the sun jar in their rooms at night.  I think I need to make a few more so they don’t have to keep fussing over this one!



Things you’ll need if you want to make your own sun jar:

  • Small glass candle or hinged mason jar; a 10 ounce jar  is a good size
  • Solar garden light; be sure the light fits into the lid of the jar
  • Glass frosting spray paint or glass etching cream
  • Glue, poster tack or other adhesive material to secure the light to the lid


What to Do:

1.  Twist the top of the garden light to separate the battery pack from the garden stake. The top of the battery pack has the solar panel and bottom portion of the pack holds the small LED light. Most lights will have a small tab near the light for you to remove to activate the battery. Go ahead and remove this tab. Below is an example of a garden light you can use. I think the mini version fit into the lids of the jars best.

2.  Insert the battery pack into the lid of the candle jar. Position it so you can see the solar panel from the top of the lid. Secure the battery pack to the lid of the jar. Depending on the space between the battery pack and the glass, you can use silicone glue, poster tack or even wedge a couple pieces of craft foam between the battery pack and lid to secure it. The best method may vary depending on your supplies, but remember the goal is to get the battery pack to stay in the lid without blocking the solar panel.

Here you can see the battery pack inside the lid.

3.  Frost the jar by using spray paint or glass etching cream. Only the jar needs frosting, not the lid. Spray the outside of the candle jar with the glass frosting spray paint. Be sure to use the spray paint outdoors and place paper under the jar to protect your workspace. Follow the directions on the can for instructions and drying times. If you would rather use etching cream to frost the glass, apply the cream to the inside or the outside of the jar and wait the time indicated on the bottle before rinsing the cream off.

4.  Place the lid on the jar and sit it in a sunny location so the solar panels on the top of the jar can collect sunlight.
Wait until nighttime and watch your jar automatically light up. The light will be about the same brightness as a candle and should last for several hours.

Here you can see the solar panel portion of the light/battery pack in the lid.




The jar needs direct sunlight to recharge the battery and normal indoor lighting does not work. On cloudy days, you may not get much light and may take several days to fully charge.

The waterproof seal will let you use the jar inside or outside in your yard.

Depending on conditions, moisture may build up in the jar. You can open the jar and dry it out.

As a decorating option, you can place a few small stickers, like small stars or dots, before spray-painting or etching. When the jar is dry, remove the stickers and the light will shine brighter through those spots.

January 29, 2012

Bouncing Balls

Filed under: Kid Activities,Tutorials - 29 Jan 2012


Today as a beautiful day and we went outside for a couple of experiments. The first one was bouncing balls. I found this recipe for them the other day on the internet.

These do not make the typical store bought balls that you get out of the little vending machines at the grocery store, but it was fun to make them ourselves. The balls will dry out in a couple of days, so this is a project that if fun to do again and again.

What you will need:

2 Tablespoons warm water

1/2 teaspoon Borax (I found it in the laundry aisle at the store)

1 Tablespoon school glue (the recipe says that using white glue will give you an opaque ball and using clear glue will give you a translucent ball. That’s not accurate. We made them both ways and they were all opaque. Once you add cornstarch, it’s opaque so I’m not sure where they got their info)

Food coloring (optional)

2 paper cups

1 craft stick for stirring



Directions for making the ball:

Place 1/2 teaspoon of Borax and 2 Tablespoons of water into one of the paper cups. Stir to dissolve the Borax. Set aside.

Place 1 Tablespoon of glue into the second cup. Add a few drops of food coloring and stir.

Place 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch into the cup with the glue and food coloring.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of the Borax solution to the cup of glue and cornstarch. Wait 15 seconds before stirring so the ingredients have time to interact.

Stir until the mixture begins to stick together. Once the mixture is a globby mess, but stays in one piece, remove it from the cup and put it in your hands.

Start rolling and kneading the mixture. It will be quite sticky at first, but after you keep rolling it and kneading it, it will start to smooth out and become less sticky.

After a couple of minutes of rolling, it will form a smooth ball.

The ball is then ready to bounce. We found it bounces a bit higher on carpet than a hard surface.

Store the ball in a Ziploc bag to help prevent it from drying out too quickly. I’m not sure how long they will last, but they were fun for the afternoon.


Since we already had out cornstarch, water and food coloring, we used equal parts of cornstarch and water to make sidewalk paint. After adding a couple drops of food coloring and giving it a stir, it was ready to go. The mixture goes on wet and dries looking like chalk. After a bit, our sidewalk looked like some pop art.


November 19, 2011

18-Inch Doll Hospital Gown Tutorial

Filed under: Sewing,Tutorials - 19 Nov 2011

I made a hospital gown for an American Girl doll. A friend of mine was doing an awesome thing and donated part of her liver to her mom. I wanted to do something for her. I made her a hospital gown to wear and I made one for her daughter’s American Girl doll, in hopes it would help ease her fears about her mom and grandma’s surgeries. It’s been a long time coming, but here’s finally a tutorial.

First, draw the simple pattern. You only need one piece for the gown. It will fit on a sheet of copy paper. It’s easiest to begin in the upper left corner. Mark a dot one inch down the page and another three inches along the top. Connect these two dots with a slightly curved line. Follow the diagram below to complete the pattern piece.

Cut out the fabric pieces. Place the left side of the pattern on the fold of your fabric. Repeat one more time to get two identical pieces. Flip the pattern piece over and cut one, not on the fold. You will need to make one alteration. Place the full size back piece, right side up. Draw a line from the armpit to the top of the neck curve. Cut off this sleeve portion.


You should now have your three pieces to make the gown.

Fold the fabric on the neck towards the back twice, Iron the pieces to make stitching the curved portion easier. Stitch along the neck for all three pieces. I didn’t do this the first time around so I had to rip part of the gown apart to complete the neck since it was just too tight to easily stitch after the shoulders were sewn. I went ahead and did a sample to show you the part with the neck stitched, and just pretend the pictures following this step have the neck completed.

Place the back pieces on the front with right sides together. Line the shoulders up and stitch using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Use pinking shears to trim the seam allowance and iron open. You can also serge or do a zigzag stitch to finish the edge, but I find pinking shears work fine on doll clothes.

Fold back the end of the sleeve two times (about 1/4 inch for each fold is sufficient) and stitch.

Line the sides up and stitch from the end of the sleeve to the bottom of the gown, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Pink the edges.

Fold back and stitch the remaining sides to finish the edges on the back pieces.

Hem the bottom of the gown and attach fasteners of your choice. You can use snaps or Velcro. Placing one at the neck and one along the side. With this design, the back flap stays closed.


That’s it! As an alternative, you can use bias tape around the neck and to tie the gown closed.


If you need a matching down for your child’s hospital stay, I have that pattern available too!


September 11, 2011

Messenger Bag Tutorial with Matching Doll Purse

Filed under: Sewing,Tutorials - 11 Sep 2011


I didn’t take pictures of the bag I made Katelyn as I went along, so I decided to make another one. This time I made it for her American Girl doll. Now they have matching purses.
I need to get a shot of the two of them together.

The measurements (obviously!) are different, but the construction is the same for each of the bags. So use the measurements for the size you want and follow the instructions.

Go here to see detailed pictures of the other things I made to put in this bag.

Here we go!



July 30, 2011

Cooling Neck Wrap Tutorial

Filed under: Sewing,Tutorials - 30 Jul 2011

These were a lifesaver during our Disney World vacation this summer. The night before our trip, I whipped up these cooling neck wraps and we were all so glad I did. Although the man in the family balked the idea of using one at first, the heat won and he wore his too.

To use the neck wrap to cool you off, you simply soak it in water to activate it and tie it around your neck. Polymer crystals absorb the water. As the water evaporates, it cools you off.

I made them different lengths for the kids than I did for the adult size. Here’s the tutorial for the child size cooling neck wrap.

Start with a strip of fabric that measures 30″ by 4″ and fold it in half lengthwise with right sides together.

Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, stitch the length of the wrap and one end. Zigzag or pink the edges. Leave one end open to fill the neck wrap. Turn the wrap right side out.

Measure 8.5″ from the bottom seam and stitch. This section remains empty.

You can find the polymer beads to use for the wrap in the floral section of craft stores. I found these small packages so I didn’t have to get a huge container. This project uses 1.5 teaspoons, so you don’t need much. These beads absorb water and swell up to much larger than their dry size.

Add 1/2 teaspoon to the neck wrap.

Be sure to get all the beads towards the bottom of the section so you can sew the sew the section closed and not hit any of the beads. They will break a needle! I found it easiest to ease the whole teaspoon down into the wrap before dumping out the polymer beads.

Measure 3″ from the first stitch line and stitch another to form a pocket to secure the beads. Repeat two more times in order to complete three sections with polymer beads. Fold in the end of the tie and top stitch to close the tie.

The two sections at the ends with no beads will be the strips you tie together.

Soak the neck wrap. It may take about 15 minutes to fully absorb the water. The polymer beads will absorb warm water than cold water.

Then wrap it around your neck and chill out. In this picture, it was untied, so it’s pretty loose around her neck.


I made the adult size more like 45″ and made 4 pockets with the beads.

We soaked the wraps the first morning we were at Disney. Each night we put them in the fridge and quickly dunked them in water each morning. The beads remain large for days so it doesn’t take long in the water each morning to have them fully absorbed again.

When we weren’t using the neck wraps, we carried them in an open Ziploc bag in our backpack. If you close the bag while they are wet, they can mold and mildew.

Running the wrap under water to refresh it as you pass a water fountain really feels good when it’s hot.

June 22, 2011

ID Tags for the Kids

Filed under: Crafts,Everything Else,Kid Activities,Tutorials - 22 Jun 2011

We took the girls to Disney World and Seaworld earlier this month and it was their first trip to each. We had a blast!

I always have a fear of getting separated from one of the kids when we are in big crowds. Our kids know our home phone number. That wouldn’t work so well for them if we were away from home. They may also have difficulty trying to come up with our cell phone numbers if they are scared.

So I needed a way to attach our cell phone numbers  to them. I’ve seen things like wrist bands, temporary tattoos, etc to put on your kids so they always have your phone number. Those sound nice, but they can be costly and that also requires prior planning, which for people like me who wait until the last minute, that doesn’t always work.

The night before we left, I decided to drag out my Shrinky Dinks and make them an ID tag. I cut a circular tag shape, wrote our numbers on them and punched a hole. After shrinking the plastic, I strung each one on a ribbon to tie around for a necklace.

They worked perfectly. They also made it through water rides and didn’t fade, smear or smudge. We can also use them for the next time we go out in a large crowd. I love reusable!

The girls also loved having them. You can see the tags on the girls in most of the pictures  of the girls from the trip.

They were easy to tuck into their clothes.

I did find one downside to the ID tag. By the end of the trip, the girls were very disappointed that they never needed their necklace.

May 23, 2011

Ribbon Bookmarks

Filed under: Crafts,Kid Activities,Tutorials - 23 May 2011

Teacher gifts for this year were fun and easy. The girls made ribbon bookmarks and we also gave their teachers gift cards to the bookstore. So the teachers are ready for summer reading.

We used ribbon clamps and the girls made charms out of Shrinky Dinks for the ends of the bookmarks. I made myself one out of a fabric scrap and a bikini charm.

They were a hit!

To make them, cut a piece of ribbon about 10 inches long. Get some ribbon clamps (found at craft stores in the jewelry making section) and use a pair of pliers to clamp them to the ends of ribbon. Adding a charm to the end finishes off the bookmark.

The camps come in several sizes, but I used the same size with several different ribbons. I used a lighter to melt the ends of the ribbon just a bit so they wouldn’t fray if they extended past the clamp.

March 21, 2011

Butterfly Hair Accessory Tutorial

Filed under: Sewing,Tutorials - 21 Mar 2011

These butterfly hair clips are easy to make and are so cute to wear. I made these on a snap barrette, but with some modifications, you can make them into pins or place them on a headband.

You can also change up the design by changing the shape of the butterfly and how you choose to stitch the edges. On the one above, I stitched near the edge with a straight stitch.

With this red one, I did a zigzag around the edge with the sewing machine. With the yellow butterfly below, I hand stitched near the edge.

This tutorial gives you the basics and you make them the way you want.

Here’s a pattern I drew to make the butterflies. Butterfly template Clicking on the link will open a pdf that you can print.

To make a butterfly hair accessory, you will need scrap fabric, felt, thread, DMC floss, a needle and a hair clip. I used Heat’n Bond Lite, but it’s optional.

Cut out your butterfly template pieces. Use a piece of Heat’n Bond Lite and iron it to your piece of felt. Make sure the felt and Heat’n Bond Lite are big enough for your butterfly template piece.

Remove the paper from the Heat’n Bond Lite and place the wrong side of your fabric to the Heat’n Bond side of the felt and iron again.

Cut the butterfly shape and the body piece out of the fabric/felt piece. Cut the body out of felt or felt with the fabric to add thickness to the piece. You can have the fabric decorate the top or the bottom of the butterfly depending on the look you want.

Stitch the edges as desired and add any additional stitching or decorations to the wings before moving to the next step.

Fold the butterfly in half so the wings rest together. Stitch near the bottom of the fold. I leave about a 1/4 inch or so from the fold to the stitching.

Open the wings back up and place the body along the fold on the top of the butterfly. Use two strands of DMC floss or thick thread to stitch the body to the wings.

Cut 2 pieces of felt slightly larger than your hair clip.

Make a small slit in the bottom layer to allow the clip to slide through. Set this piece aside.

Fold the wings in half again and fold the piece of felt over the fold of the butterfly and stitch the felt to the butterfly.

Place the two pieces of felt together with the clip sandwiched in the middle. Pay attention to the direction you place the clip opening so it goes in the hair toe correct direction. Hand stitch the felt together and trim the excessive fabric.

March 7, 2011

Fabric Basket Tutorial

Filed under: Sewing,Tutorials - 07 Mar 2011

You can customize this fabric basket to make it any size or shape you want. I’m going to give you the instructions for how I made this one, which is about 5″ x 5″ and is 8.5″ tall.

What you will need

If you are purchasing fabric for this project, each 1/8 yard of fabric will give you 2 strips so you need a total of 1 and 1/4 yards of fabric. The amount of fabric you need for each strip depends on how many different fabric you choose to use. I decided to use lots of different fabric for this project, but it can also be done using only 1 or 2 different fabric choices.

Fusible interfacing – you will need and equal amount of interfacing.

2 buttons

Making the strips

Start by making your strips for weaving the basket. Cut fabric 2.25″ wide and at least 24″ long. You will need 20 strips total for this pail. Place each strip on a piece of fusible interfacing and iron them down. I lined them up and did as many as possible at once and cut them apart later.

Once you cut the strips, fold one in half lengthwise and stitch along the side using a 1/4″ seam allowance to form a tube. Leave the ends open. Repeat for 18 more strips.Leave one strip alone for now. It will be the edge piece for the top of the pail later.

Turn each strip right side out. This may take a bit of time. I sat down with a cold drink and some trash tv to help pass the time. After turning each strip, iron flat. Now you should have 18 strips ready for making the basket and 1 strip ready for the handle.

Weaving the pail

Take the 5 strips you want to use for the basket and place them next to each other, going the same direction. Take the other 5 strips and start weaving them back and forth between the first 5 strips, one at a time. They will look like this. Get the weaving as close to the center as possible because this is the bottom of your basket.

Place an object on the part you just weaved to begin weaving sides of the basket. I used a box of saltines because it was the perfect size for what I wanted. Bring all the strips up the sides of the cracker box and use a rubber band to secure the strips.

Begin weaving strips to form the sides of the pail. Sorry these pictures aren’t the best, but I made this in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep well. So this is the best you get.

Keep the strips as close together as possible to make a tight weave. Overlap the ends and tuck them behind one of the vertical pieces. At the end you may need to wiggle some of them around, tighten them, etc.

Continue adding strips, until you get to the top. This one took 8 strips to complete the sides. (I think I mentioned that before, but I tend to repeat myself often…it’s a result of raising kids). Once you get to your last strip, fold the vertical ends over the top horizontal piece and pin into place.

Wiggle your strips until they are pulled tight enough and are even all the way around the basket. Hand stitch the ends of the horizontal strips to hold them in place. Run a zigzag stitch around the top of the pail. Trim the flappy pieces.

Finishing the pail

Take the remaining strip you didn’t sew into a strip. Fold the strip in half lengthwise with wrong sides together. Press flat. Open the strip and fold the raw edges back towards the center fold and press. Fold the ends in and press them also.

Place the strip along the top of the pail so the pail is sandwiched between the two sides of the strip. Overlap the ends and stitch near the open edge.

Take your remaining strip and fold the ends up a couple of times and stitch across to finish the end. Make a buttonhole on each side. Attaching the handle with button and buttonhole will allow you to put the handle up and down. Sew on a button to each side and you are finished.

These would make cute Easter baskets or Trick or Treat buckets too!

As usual, if something doesn’t make sense with this tutorial, please let me know!

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