AAH: Make a haversack

Also known as “sew a small bag.”


I have no pattern to show you.  It’s simple, take one of those 9×12 pieces of felt and cut it in half.  One of those halves cut off about 3-4 inches from the top of it.  Place it on top of the other piece and sew.  Cut a strap from a piece of ribbon measured to the size of your kid.



During the Revolutionary War children would help support the war by sewing bags for the soldiers to carry their stuff in.  After we finished sewing we brainstormed what might be in their bags: bullets, food, knife, Bible, letters from home, etc.


They’ve been using their bags nonstop since they made them.  Pretty good job, huh?


In case anyone’s wondering: fabric used: felt, regular sewing needle and thread (I didn’t grab embroidery thread this time, though it’s easier for kids to use because of its thickness).

Decorating a doll house

Princess got a gorgeous doll house built by her Granddad when she was two.  She played with it a little bit earlier, but she’s really starting to get into it now.  She’s also putting stickers on it.  So, I’m trying to turn her creative bent in a constructive non-destructive way.


To forestall the complete stickering of the dollhouse I offered to help decorate one room.

We had to ride for a long time to get the supplies.  A very long time.


And then we got to work “making it pretty.”  First we cut some pink flannel for a carpet.  Princess insisted it needed to be taped down, so it is well and thoroughly taped.  Then we got some very fuzzy pink fabric (not sure what it is, maybe  fleece) and cut it into small blankets and pillows.


Mac checked out our work and declared we needed something on the walls, and some knick knacks.  So we took another long ride and picked up some scrapbooking paper and some flower buttons to strew about the room.

And finally after hours of work it was done:

There are extra blankets and pillows for all of the visiting dolls.  The pet dragon has a lovely pink pillow for his bed.  Now, I’m just wondering how long before the boys demand I first build something like this for their  rooms, and then how long before it needs to be “decorated.”


And finally after all that hard work we were tuckered out, and took a nap.  Oh wait, that only happened in my dreams.

learning laboratory at mama smiles

How to make a Rapunzel dress from scratch

You’ve probably seen Princess in her  Rapunzel dress before on my blog.  We have to trick her into taking it off and letting us wash it.  Jeff and I had been discussing how I should make her another one soon.
And then Jeff took Princess out for breakfast and went with her to Target where Princess begged and begged and begged to get this dress.

Now, I look at it, and I see a repeat of the Sleeping Beauty dress, that within 30 minutes of being worn started unraveling and wasn’t worn more than that first day.  I also see a dress that won’t stand up to being worn nonstop for 2 weeks straight.

So, I went to Joann’s and got some more fabric, and then took A LOT of pictures to show how I did this.
1.  Buy this pattern.  Then purchase 3 different fabrics: a lighter purple for the bodice, a darker purple for the overskirt, and a print for the underskirt.  Also purchase two different types of ribbon (broader one for sleeves, thinner one for the lacing).  For my 4 year old daughter I bought 1/2 yard of the light purple, 1.5 yards of the dark purple, and 1 yard of the print.  I had enough to start making a second.

Unless otherwise specified seams are ironed open.


1.  Fold the short sleeve pattern in half.  Pull it out from the fold about an inch and cut it out.  This ensures the sleeve will have some gather to it.


2.  Put the front bodice pattern piece on the selvage edges.  Cut it out with about 1 inch of the pattern piece hanging off the edges.  Alternatively cut it out not using the selvages, but instead fold the pattern piece under and cut it that way.


3.  Cut out the insert piece on the fold.  Make sure it overlaps the other bodice piece by about 1/2” to give yourself a bit of wiggle room.

4.  Unfold your sleeves.  Spray them with 505 spray to make them sticky and start laying the ribbon on top of them.
To ensure the sleeves are even I put the sleeves in mirror image and put the ribbon across both of them.  This ensures the ribbons are put the same on both sets of sleeves.

If you don’t have 505 spray you can just  pin it like mad, but this lets me not pin.  I’m lazy that way.

5.  Now sew the ribbon down.  Depending on the width of your ribbon you could just zig zag it, my ribbon was just wide enough I had to sew down one side and up the other.


6.  Spray the bodice insert with 505 spray.  Than lay out the ribbon on it in a criss cross pattern.
I used the grid pattern on my cutting board to make sure the X’s were always the same size.  Mine are 2 inch X’s, but I think a 1.5” X might look better.


7.  Tack the ribbon down in the middle with a couple of stitches, backstitching several times to make sure it is very secure.


8.  Iron under the seam of the bodice front about 1/4 inch.  This doesn’t have to be exact.


9.  Lay the bodice insert on top of the front bodice pattern piece and line up the neckline (I’m showing the second half because it is more obvious in the picture what you’re doing).  Than carefully place the bodice front you’ve ironed on top so it matches the pattern piece and pin it.

10.  Now, topstitch the front bodice pieces together.

11.  Sew the shoulder seams together just like it says in the instructions.

12.  Run a gather stitch  along the shoulder seam of the sleeve.  For my machine I set the stitch length to 5, and just ran it through very fast.

13.  Gather the sleeve to match the armhole.  I find it easier to put the sleeve in flat for projects like this.

14.  Sew the sleeve in (don’t forget to reset your stitch length or switch it to your knit fabric setting).

15.  Iron the seam towards the sleeve.  This helps give it a bit more support, and I think feels better when wearing it.

16.  Sew together the panels for the front of the underskirt.  Run a gather stitch on the top of the skirt.
17.  Hem the sides of the two front overskirt panels using a double needle.  Run a gather stitch on the top.

04518.  Lay the overskirt on the bodice right sides together.  Pin the edges and then gather it until you like how it looks.  Pin in place

19.  Find the middle of the bodice front and place a pin there.  Then find the middle of the underskirt  pin that to the middle of the bodice front.  Now start gathering it up so you like how it looks and pin the heck out of that skirt.

20.  Run it through your sewing machine.  Iron the seams down towards the skirt.

21.  Sew back overskirt panels together.  Run a gather stitch, and gather it to the back bodice.

22.  Sew your side seam.  I did not catch the underskirt fabric in the seam to cut down on bulk, but that’s personal taste.

04423.  Iron down your hems.  I tended to use a 3/8” hem, but that’s an eyeball measurement.

24.  Sew down using a double needle, this makes a nice straight hem, but still gives it some stretch and give.

Hopefully that’s as clear as mud.

If I base success on her refusing to take it off for 4 days straight, than I’d say it’s a very successful dress.  I personally think the bodice shades clash a hair, but she picked it out and won’t take it off, so that’s a success.

I’d love to find some stretch lace so I can add the lace.  I think that would make it absolutely adorable.

Katie's Nesting Spot

Treasure Island

We were at Half Price Books a few weeks ago and the kids found this:


Amazon.com Widgets


They love it!  No, seriously, they love all of the flaps and things to pull out.  I can’t blame them, I love things like that too.  I have a small arsenal of books like that, Romans, Fairies, more fairies, mythology, etc……

make a treasure map


So, we decided to make our own treasure maps, and in honor of trying to pare down on craft supplies and because it’s so much cooler this way we drew them on canvas.




So, they happily spent a while coloring their own treasure maps.  I think crayon on canvas look very cool.  Afterwards I took it upstairs to set the crayon in the canvas, which the kids could just as easily have done without.


They spent the rest of the afternoon happily wandering around finding treasures galore.  Added bonus, you could let them put their treasures in their box from earlier this week.

learning laboratory at mama smilesabc button Shibley Smiles

stART: Homespun Sarah

<a href=”http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?rt=tf_mfw&ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=US&ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fadvenofmommy-20%2F8001%2F7921c721-f1a3-4f10-8a00-88ce149e069b&Operation=NoScript”>Amazon.com Widgets</a>


This is a nice simple book about an Amish girl in the 1700s. I suppose it could have been any girl, but for the sake of our study it was an Amish girl.  Afterwards we made handkerchief dolls using this tutorial, and then they decorated them.

It was rather common for the little girls to be given a doll like this to play with at church because it makes no noise if it falls, and you have the supplies to make it on hand.


The big surprise for me was how popular this craft was for everyone.

All of the kids loved it, including the 4th grade boys (who made superhero dolls).  My boys made ghosts.


See how Superman’s ghost is so scary.  Batman’s was an Iron Man ghost.

I’m worried what killed Iron Man.

Some last Valentine ideas

If you remember my earlier post, then I’m going to use some things from that.  Mainly the huge amount of contact paper I had left over from our earlier project.  Seriously, lots left over.
First project with that:
Super easy, and makes our dining room look festive.

Supplies to make this super cute guy: glue dots, heart shaped cookie cutter, the contact paper project or foam, pom pom, glitter glue (or googly eyes), little stickers of other sorts.

1.  Trace a heart shape and cut it out.

2.  Use glue dot to glue pom pom on.

3.  I put the foam hand stickers on, but those aren’t necessary.

4.  Put on two dots of glitter glue for eyes.
Aren’t they cute?

Next project using the templates from the earlier post.
Supplies: broken crayons, heart mold that can go in oven, printout

First peel and break into little bitty pieces an insanely large number of crayons.

The smaller the better, and if you’re mistakenly using those huge toddler crayons, smash those with a hammer.  You stand no chance of breaking them with your hands.

Apparently my computer ate the picture of them in their heart mold, so imagine it’s here.

Cook in your oven at 350 for about 3-5 minutes.  If the pieces are smaller it’s less time.  Then let them cool until they are hard, that takes AT LEAST 10 minutes.  If you don’t wait long enough you will poke a hole in the crayon.  So do be patient.

I don’t speak from experience.  Honest.  Or maybe a little.

Gather your next round of supplies:  glue dots, heart crayons, and template.

And here’s your two-step instructions:

1.  Stick glue dot on the bottom.

2.  Stick crayon heart on top of the glue dot.

I saw this cute mustache and lip idea here. Where I printed out the template from.

In case you can’t tell, they’re wildly popular and super simple to make.  Just trace the template onto the foam, and cut out.  Then punch a hole in the middle.  My hole punch is a little big for this, but all in all it’s wildly popular.

Batman ran around saying “I’m Mr. Charles” while wearing his mustache. His next thought was to “fool Daddy,” who wouldn’t recognize him with his disguise.

I now have a request to make a more permanent mustache, and he doesn’t mean wait 10 years to grow one.
And here’s my attempt at taking my picture.
And, now I’m going to go eat a yummy desert pizza from Papa Murphy’s…….  That’s what I call a healthy breakfast, you know a smores pizza……..

How to make a super-hero cape

supplies: knit fabric, velcro, plate or another cape

1.  Take a piece of fabric about 1.5-2.5 feet wide and about 3 feet long.  Take a large dinner plate and trace around the corners to round the corners.

2.  Take a small desert plate, in the middle of your fabric (to determine the middle, fold the fabric in half and mark that spot).  Put it partially off the edge, and then trace around this.

3.  Now cut on those lines you’ve just traced.  It should end up looking roughly like the red cape up above.

alternative 1.  Take another cape you have and trace around it.  Let’s face it little kids collect capes like crazy, or mine do.

optional step:  if making a Batman cape, cut triangles out of the bottom to get the cool zig zag look on the bottom of his cape.

4.  cut out a piece of velcro about an inch long and round the corners (this keeps the velcro from snagging as much).

5. Put one side of the velcro on top of your fabric and sew around it, then sew down the neckline to the other piece which will be on the bottom of the fabric.  Then sew around this velrco piece.

Sewing down the neckline keeps it from stretching and running.  I had that problem with some capes I didn’t reinforce and that was quite nasty to deal with.

6.  Find a piece of yellow fabric, ideally a knit, but if not you can zig-zag around it.  Cut out a bat shape.  You can freehand like I did, or find a Batman logo you like the looks of, print it out, and use that for your general idea.

hint: to free form it, but still have it be symmetrical, fold the yellow fabric in half and cut out half of a bat.
7.  Zig zag around the edges of the symbol (if your fabric is a knit or felt you can just sew a straight stitch).  My fabric was woven, so it needed the zig zag to keep from fraying while being used.

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Have your child happily model the birthday present for a friend, before heading off to a birthday swim party.

And for those who are wondering, yes Batman is modeling the Batman cape.

I only have about 10 of these at my house, so I’m well practiced in the art of sewing capes, but a friend was wondering about the details.  From start to finish the project is about 1 hour, more like 30 minutes.  Come back tomorrow to see what the kids did while I made this.

abc button

Works for Me Wednesday: trimming seams

I thought of titling this post like Mother, like Daughter…….

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But, in reality the post is about this:
The super easiest way to trim curves and seams.  So, when you’re sewing you are supposed to clip your curves of your seams.  In theory you clip little triangle wedges out of the curves that are supposed to curve in (think crotch, collars), and clip slits in curves that go out (think princess seams) to make them lie smooth.  Here’s what I do once I’m sure I won’t need to rip the seam out.

I get my pinking shears and just trim the seam with those, so much faster than cutting those little triangles, and it has the added benefit of finishing the seam at the same time.  Princess seams I still tend to do the slits, because I’m often lining those and don’t care about if the seam is finished.

For more great quick tips head over to We Are That Family and Works for Me Wednesday.  

After six months it’s done……

Ages and ages ago I teased the people reading with this post and this one.  I got all of the sewing done and then the project languished for a very long time as I sat there and didn’t ask Jeff at any of the right times to help me with drilling the pipes.  But finally, six months, okay really nine months later it’s done.
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The kids all got to take turns drilling a hole.  This was of course super exciting, working with real live power tools.

And then……. drum roll please……  We set it up.  Pause for dramatic unveil.
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Now I just need to thread some good heavy duty, but small rope, through the holes so it quite sliding down.  The kids happily and very quickly threw us out of their fort.

I feel so unloved…..  Maybe I should go to the garden and eat worms.  But, that’d be gross, so I don’t think I will.  And, I don’t want to sew one of those again, it was no fun.  Too much yardage to lug around my machine.

Clothespin Dolls

Supplies needed: old-fashioned clothespin, also called a peg pin; fabric (optional), matchsticks or pipe cleaners, markers, glue


1.  Let your kids have fun coloring away (Why don’t I close the blinds for these pictures?).  For this we used ordinary washable markers.


2.  Now let them have at your fabric scraps.  This is a perfect project to use up all those little bits that you hate to throw away.  Sadly, I had just started throwing all those littlle bits right before I started this, but oh well.

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Okay, I just added those because I like those pictures of Superman and Princess.

3.  Start gluing away.  Princess is a firm believer in use the whole bottle on every project.

End Results:
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Superman’s creation: Blue Arrow; and Batman’s creation: Superman, I kid you not
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Mine: Princess Aurora (would have been better if I’d gotten yarn out); Princess: Batman, yes Batman wears pink in her world.

Hmmmm, I just noticed that while it’s looking just fine in Live Writer when I get to it being posted it gets all screwed up.  Must fiddle with this more.