Monday, September 21, 2015

DIY T-Shirt Rag Rug

I recently got the motivation to use up materials that I've been hoarding for far too long - specifically t-shirts. I've saved several t-shirts to make a t-shirt quilt (post to come later). I cut them up a few weeks ago and had SO much leftover t-shirt that I just couldn't throw away! I decided to make one of these rag rugs, which I had considered doing years ago. 

Here's how I did it!

Step 1: Cut

Cut t-shirts into strips along the bottom of the shirt. I didn't take a photo of this, but I used my rotary cutter and just zipped up a bunch of shirts of several different colors. Most of the shirts I used were missing a big square in the middle where I cut out a piece for the t-shirt quilt. Just the lower part of the shirts made plenty of "t-shirt yarn" to work with. 

After I looked over my colors, I decided to start with red and follow the rainbow outward with whatever colors I had on hand. You can see in my final product, that I'm missing orange and purple, but I had pink and lime green. I ended up with a lot of white strands, so I kept one white strand throughout the whole rug. 

Step 2: Braid

Choose three strands and tie them together. 

Secure your braid with a clip. I used a clip board, but a chip clip or clothespin would work too. Start braiding. Re-pinch your braid every few inches so that you can keep control over the braid. 

When you get to the end of one strand, you'll need to extend that strand. To do this, fold over the end and cut a little slit in it to make a hole.

Cut the same kind of hole in the next piece that you'll use to lengthen your strand.

Pull one through the other...

...and loop the end of the new strand through it's own hole. 

Then pull it through. You have to kind of flip the ends through the holes to make it as smooth as possible. You could also sew the new strand on, but I wanted as little sewing as possible, so I used this loop method to add new strands. 

Then you just braid it as long as you can stand to. I used up most of my red, then transitioned to pink by braiding pink, red, and white together before switching to two pinks and one white strand. 

Step 3: Sew

I saw tutorials where you could use your sewing machine. I would not have attempted this project if I knew it was a hand-sew project, but guess what? I ended up hand-sewing it!! My braids were too bulky for my machine, and I knew I would get frustrated and break needles. Also, the zig zag stitch looked really tacky, so I opted to hand sew.

You just curl the braid and sew the inner edge of the braid onto the inner circle. Once it wraps around a few times it's easy to follow.

IMPORTANT TIP #1. Keep your stitches loose. Too tight and the rug becomes a bowl, because it's being pulled on the inner side. 

IMPORTANT TIP #2: Sew on a flat surface. If you don't sew on a flat surface, the rug gets lumpy and bumpy. Mine is very lumpy in the inner colors, because I didn't use a flat surface. The outer rings are nice and flat, because I got smart and sewed on cardboard. 

That's it! The whole project took me about 4-5 evenings of braiding and sewing. I worked on as much as I could while the kids were awake, but when the rug got big, I had to wait for them to go to sleep to work on it. Otherwise they were all up in my business.

It was SO fun to see old ratty t-shirts turn into something beautiful. The colors ended up matching my living room perfectly, because of these pillows I made last summer: 

I didn't really plan that, but it's a very happy coincidence! I love my new rug!

I've seen several tutorials over the interwebs about how to do this, so if you don't like mine, there are plenty others out there! I even watched a few youtube videos before I started my project.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Mom of Two: Eleven Months In

We made it another month! This month started off a little rough for me. August is my least favorite month and somehow always depressing for me. Then as soon as September hit we were busy as bees! Now we're getting into Fall, and I'm starting to reminisce about the days just prior to Amy's birth. 

My big "mom milestone" was leaving both the girls for four nights in a row! Zane and I took a cruise out of Port Canaveral to celebrate his graduation and get away after an intense 15 months of school. We had a wonderful, relaxing time, and the girls did amazingly with grammy. When we returned, they acted as if we had only been away a few hours. 

My biggest concern about leaving them for four days straight was Amy and breastfeeding. I never left Daisy that long while still nursing. Two days before we left, Amy dropped herself down to two feedings. I was happy to oblige, since I'd only have to pump twice a day. I thought she might not be interested in breastfeeding again after so many days away from me, but she nursed like a champ right on schedule the evening that we picked her up. Leaving the girls exceeded my expectations!

Amy's milestones this month include wearing shoes (which she loves!), learning to sign "more," two more teeth (giving her a total of eight), and knowing the members of the family by name. She put on a fireman hat, and I told her to go show Daddy, so she turned around and walked into the other room where Zane was. She and Daisy continue to amaze us with how much they know.  

They're also starting to play together really well. Amy basically just wants to do whatever Daisy is doing. They will make noises back and forth to each other the car. Amy's also content to watch Daisy play. I think my dream of them being best friends is already coming true.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mom of Two: Ten Months In

Ten months! It's hard to believe that the anniversary of my labor (a.k.a. Amy's birthday) is just around the corner. I'm having lots of memories from "this time last year" when I was hugely pregnant. For example, this week we took Rufio for his annual shots, and I remembered being incredibly uncomfortable in the August heat last year. It's so much nicer having the baby in the stroller than in my belly!

Amy's biggest milestone this month was taking her first steps. She can toddle short distances and gets very excited while she's doing it. If she needs to go from room to room, she was choosing to crawl, but just today, she started tentatively toddling across a large room.

Her top four teeth came through different days in the same week, which could explain a lot of sleepless nights we had this month. She learned to eat from a pouch, which is very convenient for me! She also started drinking from a transitional sippy cup.

She has started mimicking behavior, like dancing and clapping. She also dances on her own to music, which has pumped up family dance parties even more.

This month, Amy dropped two breast feedings in two weeks. I was kind of glad it happened, because Zane and I are going out of town without the kids in September, so I wanted to drop down to two or three feedings by then (we were doing five a day). I didn't expect her to drop them that fast. I think my hormones got a little out of whack from it, because I had a good two weeks of anxiety and depression for no apparent reason afterward. I'm not even sure if I'm feeling back to normal yet.

My main symptom of life these days is tiredness. Amy has been sleeping well at night this week, but last week she was not. The last couple days, both girls have been sleeping late in the morning (7:00am), which has been wonderful. I'm hoping that lasts! 

Amy is on the go and exploring! We're continually baby-proofing with each new level of development.

As for being a mom of two ten months in, I realized this month that I feel more stress, anxiety, and negative self-image when I'm looking at myself, measuring my "mom-ness," or worrying about getting my to-do list done. I feel more joy, peace, and appreciation for life when I'm looking at my kids and experiencing the moment. I still working on the latter.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Zane Graduated, and I Made a Video

Zane graduated from nursing school this past weekend. Three years of our lives revolved around this one goal, and this weekend he ran across the finish line. Here's a little video I compiled of the events:

The last month was crazy as we got closer to the end. I felt like I didn't see him very much, even though I was seeing him more than I had last Fall when we had the baby.

Then he was done, and I was seeing him a lot. He didn't take a break. He just went from 75% student/ 25% family (exaggerated) to 100% family. He immediately jumped into "give Deb a break" mode. He let me sleep in multiple times in a week and even took the kids away for several hours in a day so that I could relax, read, sew, whatever. He still does all the grocery shopping and dog-walking.

I felt like I was the one who graduated and was getting a reward pampering! This man is so sacrificial!

After Saturday's graduation festivities (shown in the video above), I fell into somewhat of a funk. Sunday was hard. I was listless. This was partly because Amy kept me up a lot teething the night before and partly because I was anxiously wondering, "Now what?" My dreams and aspirations that I've been putting on hold for the last few years still seem far out of reach.

Zane gave me another day-long break on Monday to work on Etsy sewing, but I ended up using the time to make that graduation video. I needed to stop and mark the journey that we just came through.

My tendency is to get onto the next thing, but our next thing isn't happening for a while. Zane was offered a job (Hallelujah!) in Tampa, and our rent is too amazingly low to give up. If those reasons aren't enough, we also have a depleted savings account that needs to be replenished after 15 months of no income.

I was antsy, anxious, and fearful of getting stuck here forever.

As I worked on the video, I reflected on how God has always provided for us better than what/when I would have maybe chosen. His path is always the right time and the right place. Even all the details of us moving to Brandon point to God's perfect timing. I know that when He wants us to move along to the next thing, it will be clear. For now, I've got to keep on keepin' on (thanks, Joe Dirt!) and learn to love (thanks, Ciara!) where we are now.

"Here" isn't that bad, either. My social calendar is usually full, we have plenty of childcare, and we're less than a couple hours from basically anywhere we'd want to go.

So, yay! Zane's done with school! Come see us in Brandon, and we'll take you to Wow! That's Fresh!...because we eat there a lot.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

DIY Fleece Peso the Penguin

I don't know about you, but in my house we have way more stuffed animals than we need. Earlier this year, Zane and I placed an embargo on stuffed animals as gifts. It's even hard for me to honor, because I find myself in a Disney gift shop, Cracker Barrel store, or browsing the internet thinking, "Oh that's so cute!"

My three year old has been completely obsessed with Octonauts. She often has Zane or me pretend to be Peso and help heal her other stuffed animals. This morning she was playing that game, and I thought, "She needs a Peso doll." I looked it up on the internet, found some Octonaut merchandise, and then remembered my stuffed animal embargo.

Then I realized I could easily make one, and somehow the hand-crafted aspect of a plush doll justified adding another one to our huge collection. Plus, I was hankering for a creative project.

It's really not too difficult to make, once you break down the steps. Hopefully this DIY tutorial will give you the confidence to make your kids' favorite character into a simple doll if you feel the inclination. With the right planning, you can easily make a simplified version of any character.

**Disclaimer: I did not make this with the intention of writing a DIY post, so I don't have pictures of each step, but I hope my written instructions make sense. Feel free to ask questions!

Materials Needed: 

Less than 1/8 yard each of black, white, blue, yellow fleece.
Hot glue gun
Fabric glue
Poly fill Stuffing or scraps to stuff with
Index card for Peso's medical bag

Part 1 - Cut Pattern and Fabric

1. Find an image of the character you want to create. Front-facing is best. I searched Peso the Penguin and found this image: 

2. Save the image on your computer and paste it into a word document. I decreased my margins to .5'' and expanded the picture as big as it would go on a normal 8.5x11'' page. Then I printed it.

3. Use scrap paper to trace out the sections that need to be cut out separately. I traced a big head and added about .25'' around for an inseam. Then I moved my trace paper around to trace the black eyes, yellow beak, white face, black body (add .25'' for inseam here too), white belly, black wings, yellow feet, white hat, and blue collar.

3. After you trace your sections, cut them out of the scrap paper. Now you have patterns for each part of the doll.

4. Use the patterns to cut your fabric pieces. Remember to cut 2 identical fabric pieces for any part that you intend to stuff:

  • Black: eyes (2), head (2 pieces, add .25'' inseam), body (2 pieces, add .25'' inseam) 
  • Yellow: beak, feet (2) 
  • Blue: collar (make it a little longer to go around entire neck) 
  • White hat, belly, face **For Peso, I did not cut his white face out with the pattern. Keep a rectangle for his face, and go to the next step. 

Part 2 - Sew

1. FACE: I used the instructions from this Monster Hat tutorial, specifically how she sewed the eyes of the monster with a tissue paper pattern to sew Peso's face on his head. I've referred to that tutorial a lot for fleece appliques. If you don't want to click her link, then here's my instructions below: 

Trace Peso's face pattern with chalk on the white fleece rectangle. Pin the white over the black fleece, trying to center the "face" part on the black oval. I sew along the chalk line. After it is sewn on, cut just along the outside edge of the stitch. 

You can do the same for Peso's white belly or glue it on at the end, which is what I did. 

2. HEAD: White face facing inward, sew Peso's two head pieces, leaving an opening at the bottom where his neck will attach. Flip it inside out and stuff with poly fill stuffing. 

3. BODY: Place wings and feet pointing toward the middle of the black body piece as if he's folding up his legs and arms. Then sandwich the other body piece on and pin around the edges. Leave a little bit of arms and legs poking out to make sure that they get sewn in. Sew around the edge. Flip it inside out. The arms and feet should wave around on the outside. Stuff the body with poly fill stuffing. 

Hand sew the top of body (neck area) into the hole left at the bottom of the head. 

Part 3 - Glue

1. BELLY: Glue the white belly in the middle of the black body. If you sewed it on, skip this step. 

2. COLLAR: Optional: hand-sew chevrons on either side of his collar. Use hot glue to glue it to his neck. I extended the fabric past my pattern to wrap around his whole neck and glued it in the back, further securing my hand stitches at the base of his head. 

3. FACE: I cut tiny white pieces and used my fabric glue applied with a tooth pick to glue them to Peso's black eyes. Then I used hot glue to glue the eyes and beak to his face. 

4. HAT: The hat was the most tedious part of this endeavor, because I had to freehand cut an Octonauts symbol, which looks ridiculous. Then I hand-sewed it onto the hat. I'd say forget the Octonauts symbol unless you're really detailed. Just take small rectangle of white fleece, fold up the bottom by a 1/4'', and sew/glue it in the back. Then round off the top with your scissors and glue it on his head. 

**All of the glue parts, I used a toothpick to apply fabric glue to the edges and corners to prevent peeling up or fraying when my daughter plays with him. Hot glue is nice for big pieces, but fabric glue is better to get small pieces and spaces. Fabric glue holds better with fleece too. 

5. MEDICAL BAG: I folded an index card in half, cut out the corners to leave a "handle" in the middle, and drew a blue bandaid on with a blue marker. Then I taped up the sides with packing tape and filled the "bag" with strips of white fleece for Peso's bandages. 

My daughter LOVES him. My creative bucket is filled, by knowing that he's now a favorite toy makes it all the more worth it!