Sunday, 26 August 2012

DIY Soap Pouch

Are you a soap lover like me?
I really can't stand slimy shower gels, and I adore that clean, antique scent a bar of soap has, especially if we are talking lavender and natural oil soaps. That scent reminds me of my grandma too! I always look for bars of soap in market stalls...BUT (and there is a BUT), soap can get a little yucky when left in a soap holder after a few uses...
I stumbled across the lovely idea of a soap pouch on Pinterest (where else?!); the original was a very simple pouch made out of towel by Whimsy Love. I love the idea because the pouch acts as your sponge as well as eliminating soap-related mess in the bathroom. I added to this basic idea a couple of elements.

I've also used a microfibre towel as my base material, as it dries quicker than ordinary towel and it's softer. At the bargain price of £1 at the Pound Shop (and I can make another 5 with the amount of fabric it had), it's even better!

So, I wanted to make it slightly prettier (you can see the little trim I added to the edge of the pocket), and more practical, so I added a loop to be able to hang the pouch in the shower (=easier to dry + no yucky mess).
If you want to do the same, remember to add first the trimming to the edge of the pouch your are going to see, then the loop (I've used herringbone tape for a strong loop that doesn't lose shape when hung wet with the added weight of the soap bar), then sew the raw edges, as illustrated below.

Now you can turn the pouch inside out, place your soap bar in, and enjoy your soft soapy moment!

Sorry for the fake soap, it was past midnight, I couldn't find a new bar in the whole house, and I certainly didn't want to take a snap of the used one I had in the shower! 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Travelling with children: two 30-minute ideas to entertain them on the way: I-Spy bag and Crayon Roll

I know, the summer holidays are almost over, may be thinking of a small trip before heading back to winter life?
If so, and if you have a toddler like I do, you will know what I mean when I say I DREAD travelling...especially flights and car trips, and I'm lucky because my girl is not a hyperactive kid...
So, before leaving for our trip to Sicily a couple of months ago, I looked up on the Internet for ideas of simple things to make to entertain toddlers (I don't like electronic stuff for small children).
If you have time before leaving, why don't you have a  look at my Car Cosy? It could be another good travelling toy...
I only had an afternoon to make my toys before leaving (as usual, I should say), so here they are:

I-Spy Bag

I won't get tired of referring to the wonderful projects of Homemade by Jill.
Her I-Spy bags appear so neat and precise that I would just suggest to have a look and follow her tips on how to make some. Check also out Gluesticks' I-Spy Dry Erase I-Spy Bag Tutorial, she gave me some pretty good ideas too (including the use of a dry erase pen to cross off found objects on a picture).

By the way, I didn't know I-Spy bags before stumbling upon those (I don't think they are very well known in England, or in Italy), but I think it's a simple and wonderful little game, that can entertain a child as young as two for a long time and improve his concentration skills. The game simply consists of looking for some little objects within the bag, hidden among some neutral material (rice in my case, or poly pellets, if you can find them), and cross the objects off a list. You can play the game against time, or you can look for similar objects (e.g. all the green ones, all the animals, etc.).
The bag is made of cotton fabric (or fleece, as some other tutorial on the Internet suggests), and a clear plastic vinyl window (I've cut mine out of a plastic envelope some crayons originally came in), inside there is rice (as said, you can also use poly pellets, but I couldn't find any in the time frame I had, and rice seems to be a more environmentally friendly option too...just remember not to wash the bag, though!) and a number of trinkets I found around the house, including a 5p coin, a tiny peg, a bead...but the majority of my little objects were novelty buttons, which I bought over the Internet. My Little Miss loves to look for the little pink rabbit in particular...The bag is not exactly square, I didn't measure the fabric (yes, I know, terrible corner-cutting attitude), but the finished bag is 12 x 13 cm, and it works quite well with Little Miss' little hands.

Because she is only two and can't read yet, I've taken Jill's suggestion not to write a list and took a picture of the objects instead (the one you see below) before I put them in the bag and sealed it. Then I printed the picture off and laminated it, in a size small enough to fit in the back pocket of the I-Spy Bag (but you could simply print it on photo paper or card, the laminator simply makes it more resistant: you can use the picture to identify easily and cross off any found object with a dry erase marker, and use it over and over again). I made a number of copies so that if we lose one picture we always have a spare.

The whole I-Spy bag took me no more than half hour to make (excluding the laminating and cutting pictures bit!), and I'm so glad I made it (in spite of my husband thinking it isn't a very interactive game), Little Miss' loved it and we spent over half hour on the plane looking for objects and classifying colours and learning new words (including "purple diamond"). And it's also a useful little game to keep in my bag for unexpected waiting at the doctors', at the station, etc.

Simple Crayon Roll Tutorial

A VERY simple project, this one, to make a roll to carry crayons with us when going around (before I used to shavel them in my bag!). Little Miss' loves drawing, so it was a no-brainer for me.
This project took me less than half hour to make.

All you need is:
  • 19cm x 22cm of felt (this will make a roll to contain 9 crayons)
  • a stripe of cotton (or another fabric that won't stretch too much) measuring 50cm x 3cm
  • matching tread.
Felt is great for this project because it doesn't need hemming, so just procede to fold the longer side of the felt by 6.5cm to create the pockets for the crayons.
Pin the fold in place.
Sew the edges of the pocket to the back.
Now sew at regular intervals of 2cm each to create 9 pockets as shown in the picture (you can see mine was done in a rush, I didn't even measure properly the pockets!). Go over each seam twice to make them stronger.
Now fold the other side of the piece by 3.5cm to create a flap that will prevent the crayons from falling. Sew close to the edge along the top to fix the fold.
Your crayon roll is done. Now to be able to tie the roll, you'll need your stripe of cotton (you could use instead a strong ribbon or a herringbone tape, but I wanted to add a touch of pretty to the roll).

Now, take the stripe of cotton, and fold lengthwise as you would to make bias tape (i.e. you could use a bias tape maker, or fold the edges towards the centre by hand and iron as you go...I did it, and then I run to the shop to buy a bias tape maker!!! you do the maths). Fold in the centre lengthwise, and press. Sew along the open edge.
Now you can stitch the tape you obtained to the back of the roll, somewhere above the pockets and below the upper fold as illustrated below.
And that's it!
Remember to take some colouring books with you and you are set for your next trip!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Summer Project #5: Noah's Car Cosy and Race Track

Where do you put your favourite toy cars when you go out and about?
A plastic bag? Your mum's purse? Your pockets??? well, there is a better place where to put them when you carry them around, where they can be nice and cosy and ready to play whenever you are!

The car cosy is the last of my projects aimed at Little Miss' friends; Noah is a great car (and trains, and buses...) lover, so I thought I could create something for his cars to stay in place and be carried in when he was out with his mum.
The car cosy idea comes from the always wonderful Jill of Homemade by Jill. Her Cozy Car Caddy was the inspiration for mine.
However, I wanted this cosy to be also a race track, so that Noah would use it to play with his cars on it as well as keeping them "cosy"...
So I modified the instructions to make my cosy 1/3 bigger (to allow for the extra roads), and added a few details to make it a little more interesting.
I used the wrong side of a denim quarter for the roads, and green felt for the rest of the landscape. A few scraps of fabric were used to recreate houses, trees and a pond, whilst three bottons worked as traffic light.

Also, I didn't follow the structure of Jill's cosy because I didn't have any decorative pipe, and I thought simply sewing all around the inner and outer panels of the cosy (wright sides facing) and turn the work where the pockets are before sewing them would have been much easier.
My denim and felt roads and landscape panel is shorter than the outer panel of the cosy (as you  can see from the picture below) so that it was easy to turn the work inside out and sew the pockets on top.

Before sewing the inside and outside panels, I secured with pins to the inside panel a piece of elastic pipe to allow the cosy to be wrapped and secured with a button (which I sew on the outer panel), and added a decorative applique double decker bus (this is England, after all!) at the centre of the outer panel.

Once inside and outside panels were sewn together, I pinned the stripe of denim, with hem already sewn, that will make the 6 pockets for the cars, to the outer panel as illustrated. 

I then sewed the pockets to the cosy all around, leaving the hemmed part open. Then, I turned it inside out so that now I had a big pocket inside the cosy, which I then divided into six individual pockets.

The pockets were made in denim as well, and showing the right side of the fabric to create some chromatic contrast with the roads.

The numbers on the pockets and the road markings were drawn using Tulip Puffy dimensional paint.
A word of caution on this method: I've made some card "masks" (see picture below) to make sure the markings were consistent and homogeneous, however the paint often spread underneath my card mask and made a little mess here and there (to my frustration! I really could scream...); dimensional paint is SO difficult to take off even when it's still wet that really you'd better not make any mistakes!

And this is how you fold the cosy once it's finished: