Saturday, 30 July 2016

More upcycled worry eaters!

After my last post about our summer time and short break because of summer trips finally something I have actually done! I have mentioned before how Finns tend to get crazy when it becomes summer and every town and village have their own summer events and fests. Our little village is no exception, our summer event lasted whole week with casual sport events, market etc. There were also small group of volunteers who opened a season shop for that week filled with local products. Potatoes and other farm products, crafts etc. I also made something, could have made more but the time was short with holiday trips and all other duties. I decided to make worry eaters and got together eight of them.

Four are the size I made the original one (here) and four are slightly smaller because the size of the clothes I upcycled for these. They are, of course, upcycled; zips, buttons and fabric comes from old clothes. For the filling I used new cotton wool. I didn't think it would be such a good idea to use old cotton wool from old pillows. Think about the sweat and grease the pillows might have absorbed! No washing can take it out of them, so new it was instead of upcycled.

I used knit fabrics to make them nicely soft and cuddly and of course saved the extra parts from the clothes I used.

This one was a small ballerina body and I cut the front part from the body's front part with the star, placing it on the side rather than in middle. Ears and eye background are from scrap fabric, the body itself is soft jersey.

My favourite worry eater! For this I used old adult pants made out of soft velour. There is still plenty of this fabric left for many other projects, the adult pants have so much fabric for upcycling purposes! Again, the rest is from my scrap box.

Green terry hoodie with bright pink zip and wristbands turned out to something more harmonic with green zip and yellow ears and eyes. Terry is elastic, very comfortable for a toy like this. Yellow fabric is out of old baby body.

Sometimes it is some small detail that makes you happy. In this case it is the zip. I had a sweatshirt blouse with grey sleeves (the fabric in ears) and I found a zip with matching colour from my storage! I like this one too because the fabric is sturdier than jersey and gives whole more feeling to a toy than jersey.

However, jersey works great for the smaller ones. For the the pink I used sleeveless summer top in size 104. From the shirts at this size you make easily the bigger one but then you need to have sleeves for the hands and ears. The blue one is t-shirt in size 104, also the missing long sleeves made it impossible to make the bigger one. Also the fabric is 100% viscose and very soft, I doubt it would have worked well with the big one.

For these I used old baby clothes, the left one is out of pants, the right one out of a body. Even the small baby clothes make great small worry eaters!

I have to say that if (or when) I will make more worry eaters for sale I will not make the fingers and toes! It would save me easily 15 min/worry eater - at least. I sold three of these in the season shop during that week, quite well when you think that these were the only things I had for sale, the shop was open only for a week and it was in a small village, not next to a busy shopping street in a city. Right after the week I sold two more so only three left!

I also made small notes with my email and blog addresses so someone interested could take a card and maybe contact me later.

I also had an explanation what these are, what they are made of and a mention that I can make something out of old favourite clothes, great keepsake! That's why I made these cards too, easy to grab into your wallet. The box is, of course, upcycled. I got a shower gel in a pretty box, this is the cover. It was quite pretty but the surface had suffered some damage in the bathroom so I covered the edges and the bottom:

It was just right for this use!

Altogether; 8 pieces of clothes used, same amount of zips and 16 buttons, not bad! If you took a look at my working room, you wouldn't notice it though, it is still too full!

And... if you want to make your own, I have a post about making your own worry eater with full tutorial:

Friday, 22 July 2016

Summer time

Do you remember when I said few posts back (here) that we have to enjoy the summer weather when we have it as you never know when it ends? It was three warm days and after that raining and more raining, couple clear days and then some more rains. It has been raining whole July, no kidding! Couple sunny days when you can say it is actually warm and couple mornings when you think it is going to be summer - and then it starts raining. A real rain season when it should have been the warmest month of the year! If it is, then we have a problem. A problem called not having proper summer! I haven't been swimming once, the kids only couple times, no need for a beach bag... But we have tried to enjoy the holiday anyway.

One morning when it wasn't raining  we went to pick blueberries to a forest that is next to our back yard. Soon we found out that we were followed by our cat.

Last week we took a trip to visit my friend who lives in South Finland. The dry erase book and toy bag were in great use as it was another 3 hours drive. I also made something else that will be introduced later, travelling with kids - part 3.

You never know when you need a pair of scissors and when you have to think out of the box, like when you are on a highway driving 120 km/h and the bumper almost falls of. Luckily we had visited Ikea and had an Ikea bag, problem solved!

It was safe enough to continue driving and luckily with the help of my friends, it was fixed with something better before driving back home!

We visited medieval castle in Hämeenlinna and the view from there is quite something - even with those rain clouds!

On our way back home we visited Särkänniemi amusement park in Tampere and it has own small park dedicated to Koiramäki - books (books telling how people lived in old times, characters being dogs). There is also Angry Birds play ground and we visited them both. Koiramäki is an actual park with buildings from the books, some animals etc., Angry Birds is mainly huge climbing jungle and after these two the kids were so exhausted that only our son asked halfheartedly why we didn't go to any rides and was asleep about 15 minutes after that.

In Koiramäki-park the kids found a huge colouring picture, at least enough to colour for a while!

If you have liked my Facebook page, you might have seen these clothes. They are the result of my smart idea to cut plenty of them at one go, then sew them at one go. More about these too later.

Some characters from the books:

Yes, that WAS a sunny day! Not a cloud visible anywhere, temperatures 25-30 celsius and we had to buy sun lotion on our way to the park. I had forgotten to pack it, no wonder seeing how little we have needed it.

And the weather next day? You will never guess it; raining. 

Then something I haven't done but definitely has to be included here. Our small summer cottage needed new railing and my brother found new ones that someone had thrown away, took them, painted them and the cottage had new, upcycled railing!


The old one definitely needed a change, the new one looks much better!

So much to blog about, so many ideas! I have been collecting pictures what I have used or saved from clothes, then there are the travelling with kids part 3 coming up, as well as something more about the kids' clothes I made and also about making these:

So many upcycled things! Old kids clothes, old buttons, old zips, only filling is new. 

I wish people would more actively join their own areas second hand store groups in Facebook, to sell, give or to buy. These fabrics and zips were in great condition and I wasn't going to throw them away but the clothes had stains in them, I know many people would have trashed them without second thought. And the railing for our summer cottage, lucky my brother found it! Of course the second hand groups in Facebook (or anywhere else) won't work without buyers or people who need that stuff so that's why I hope people would be more active. There is so much good stuff  going to the landfills now. If you don't think environment, think at least money! Emptying your trash bin costs money, the more often it is done, the more it costs. And if you take extra load to landfill? Not free either. But imagine someone picking up those things you don't need and actually pay for it? I call that win-win. Do you belong to any groups like that or just go to yard sales?

Monday, 4 July 2016

Toy bag for car trip featured...

... twice! My toy bag for car trip was featured in A Round Tuit and Craft Schooling Sunday. Thank you so much! Both link ups are still on, A Round Tuit couple days and Craft Schooling Sunday for today. Go and join or just look around!

Diy dry erase book - travelling with kids part 2

Time for another thing that is handy when travelling with kids, dry erase book! There are some to be bought of course but the selection in here isn't that great and the idea of the few available is quite educational. Not that it only matters, the kids usually like those kind of things but the books I found were the kind where the kids need someone to read the tasks and explain them. Something that doesn't work very well for kids on the backseat of the car. Also, it would be great to use the activity books we already have and select the pages the kids like. Then things got a little bit out of hand and this turned out.

I tried to explain to everyone that making something like this is pretty normal thing to do before going for a car trip, nothing weird in it, right?

In case you are wondering the same thing... I did it because:

  • usual paper activity books can't be opened properly by kids without normal table, they won't stay open
  • paper activity books don't have hard covers, something that would be needed especially when there is no table
  • once a maze is done, it is done, no re-doing it even though the kids would like to solve them again
  • markers aren't great to use in the car as there are always caps missing and chalks or wooden colours are too light if you can't press them enough, again you need table for this
  • chalks or wooden colours can't be erased, something very important in the car as there are pumps and turns in the road making drawing more difficult
So I needed an activity book that is A5 (approximately), opens easily, has hard covers, activities can be done again and again, uses markers that don't lose their caps and can be erased easily. After a brainstorm and surfing in the Pinterest I thought I had everything covered. Of course, it should be something that I could make out of the materials I had on hand, great project for upcycling!

I knew the principles; use some plastic pockets and marker that can be erased easily. Plastic pockets I knew I could get anywhere, the ones used in folders would work just fine but the marker? There are no actual dry erase markers sold in Finland. The ones sold are made to be used with their own brand of books and might get messy working with other surfaces. Thank you for the great tips by a group of crafters in Facebook! Someone actually tried those dry erase markers on other surfaces so I knew if they would work or not! I found some on eBay (of course) but didn't have time to order them there. The tips included water soluble overhead projector and white board markers. I though white board markers would be too thick for this purpose so I decided on overhead projector markers. But... there are hardly any overhead projectors nowadays so there was nothing under that name. So, if you are looking for the markers I used, look for cd/dvd markers, they are the same, just under different name.

So I had the pens for my dry erase book but then I had another problem. The folder pockets were only A4's and I needed A5. A4 is way too big for the kids to use in the car. I could have cut them half but then the book would have been positioned wrong as the A5 activity pages I have are all vertical. I also wanted the book to open horizontally rather than vertically, again the problem with small space. It would have been frustrating for the kids to use something that they have to twist and turn to turn a page. A5 and vertical pages to make it open horizontally were the things I didn't want to compromise with. I'm sure there are the right size plastic pockets available in the depth of the internet but I still didn't have that time to wait for them. Yes, I could have cut the A4 pockets to A5's by simply making them smaller but simply couldn't bring myself up doing it. Imagine the amount of plastic that would go to waste just because of dry erase books for kids to be entertained during car trip?

Then I needed the covers and I didn't have any suitable ready folders either and first I thought I would use cardboard for them. But while looking for cardboard I I found couple old kids books that were just right! And what a great idea to upcycle old books that weren't used anymore.

I torn out the pages (and left for future crafting) and added ribbons to tie the pages. I found a necklace that I don't use, never have and most likely never will, that had just perfect ribbon! It is narrow enough and sturdy enough, the ribbon is some kind of fake leather.

The other parts I kept, of course for other upcycle projects. The ribbons I glued with hot glue.

Then I had to cover the activities with plastic. I found some overhead projector sheets that I have had way over 10 years. I once bought a package of them to make stencils but only used couple back then and still had 18 left. It wouldn't be enough for two books though so I bought a roll of sticky plastic (the one used to cover school books) and used that for the rest. I don't very much like to cover paper with plastic as it isn't possible to recycle the paper anymore but I thought I would use sticky plastic to the pages that would be used again and again. The sheets would be used for the pages that would get boring after couple trips and would need to be changed.

Of course, folding overhead projector sheet half isn't that easy but luckily I had solution right on hand, Wonderclips! Just match the edges, add Wonderclips (or clothespins) and once you are sure it will stay, press.

The pages with sticky plastic I added piece of normal paper on the place where I was going to make the holes to make it last better. For the plastic sheets I used first eyelets but decided after couple pages that I don't need them and made just the holes with the hole making tool that came with the eyelets.

With the sheets I used brads to keep the paper inside still. I attached the brads right next to the paper to pin it on its place, worked very well. Loosening the brads will make it possible to change the activities easily.

I attached the brads on different places for every page so the book wouldn't become too thick. Still, using the brads for the whole book would have been impossible because of the thickness so it was actually good thing I didn't have more overhead projector sheets, using sticky plastic for some worked just fine. Don't tie the ribbons too tight, the pages won't turn if you do that.

I could have left it here, right? Leaving the covers like that when there are so many ideas out there to try? Not likely. When I saw quiet books first time my first thought was "oh wow, that must have taken ages to make!". The second time "they would be great to make but I will never have the time". The third time "they would be great to make". The fourth "my kids would love them" and small voice in my head only whispered "I will never have the time". The fifth (I have been seeing them a lot lately because once you look something in Pinterest twice you get to see it much more often) "what would I make if had time?" At this point I was saving couple pages, you know, just in case. The sixth thought "what if I had the time, what if I made time for it?" added with a loud sound in my head "don't go there!" I knew that once I started looking them with that thought in my head I would have lost the game and I would be making them some day. The seventh thought "what does it matter if it takes time, you like doing it, just one page?" and a whisper in my head "you could be doing something more sensible like sewing new clothes for the kids!".

The other voice in my head lost. Of course it did as I knew it would from the moment I saw the quiet books for the first time. Does this ever happen to you? I wanted to make something nice for the cover and while doing it, I could make it one more activity. The problem was that most quiet book pages are meant to be used together, most of them won't keep kids busy for more than a minute, at least at the age of 4 and 5. The kids around 1-2 usually like closing and opening a clip for a longer period of time, the older kids not so much. First I thought I would make a clock with turning hands, then I saw some mazes that I considered as the mazes are my kids' favourite activity pages. But then I found a page with little mouse with cheese and home from I don't understand a word of the blog post itself but all I needed was the picture.

I tried to sew the mouse but didn't have felt, like she seemed to use so I made my mouse out of Fimo clay and hot glued the ribbon-tail.

I draw the face with black permanent marker.

It can go under the cheese, come out from the holes and go back to its home:

As you can see, I have sewn around the holes, this is to prevent stretching. The nest's top has also framilon-elastic band to make it, well, elastic, and to keep the mouse inside when not played.

And I was right, the kids liked this idea very much! They like small figures, especially animals and usually figure out their own play around them and this one quiet book page entertained them alone for few kilometers. It also didn't take that long to make actually, of course figuring out where to find all the materials took more time than the making itself. But that's usually the case with my projects. The cover itself is from my old jeans and I matched the inside seam to the back of the book. Here I also attached the marker with elastic band.

The idea here is that the marker's cap will stay put under the elastic band so it wouldn't get lost in the car. I thought of adding a ribbon to the marker as well but then decided against it, it would just annoy the kids. Of course with smaller kids I would advice to tie the marker too. As the marker is water soluble I cut few fabric scraps, wet them and packed them in self-sealing plastic bag as erasers. Of course the fabric scraps I have are mainly from the fabrics I have used to make clothes for them so they were interesting itself and nicely colourful.

I sew folds to the cover so it stays put but can be removed when I want to change it so it isn
't glued. Overall, this dry erase book was great success for the kids and I could upcycle so many things here! Here is a list what you need:

  • old book
  • overhead projector sheets/plastic folds/sticky plastic
  • activity books or print activity pages, there are loads available
  • cd/dvd marker, water soluble!
  • fabric scraps
  • self-sealing plastic bag
  • old jeans
  • yellow felt
  • elastic band (couple centimeters)
  • ribbon for tail
  • fabric scrap for the nest
  • framilon-elastic band for the nest's top
  • Fimo clay or similar
  • hot glue gun
Very fun project to do, something that I liked to make and the kids liked to use! Proved again that I should never throw anything away! And what is more, the books did keep the kids occupied quite long. I'm happy.