Super easy, 5 minute DIY gnome hat for Halloween or pretend play (no-sew option!)

Read this to learn how to make this super simple felt gnome hat in under 5 minutes! There’s a size for everyone in the family!

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Happy Fall! Halloween is almost upon us and it’s crafting time again in our household! I’ve taken a short hiatus after the birth of my second son this summer, and we’ve been finally getting back into the swing of things lately and the sewing machine has made its reappearance! Hurrah! And to tell you the truth, the sewing machine has been banished to the closet for the past few months not due to baby #2 as much as big brother toddler boy, who has needed lots of outdoor running about this summer. It’s been a gorgeous summer and we’ve spent most of it outdoors, which means no sewing machine. *sniff, sniff* But I did rig up a pretty good system of mobile knitting by wearing the baby in my ring sling while watching my eldest dig in his sandbox in the backyard. I used the pocket in the tail of the ring sling to hold my ball of yarn and knitted away while the baby slept. It worked wonderfully! Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to create anything at all for a few months, and that would have made mama go crazy! Knitting under the big maple tree with baby sleeping in the sling and the cool grass (weeds, but that’s how I like it) under my feet while my adorable 2-year-old experimented with decorating the honeysuckle branches with sidewalk chalk was an amazing way to spend the summer.

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I knitted baby boy this adorable cotton sun hat to match big brother’s hat, and this picture taken last week at the park is probably the last day he’s going to be able to wear it; Fall has hit us fast with delightfully cool weather! Plus, he’s growing like crazy, so it probably won’t even fit for much longer!

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However, I do love Fall and I’m excited to be able to pull out my favorite hat I knitted Buck when he was a baby. It still fits!

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I also knitted Buck this monkey hat for this winter, because he’s been really into Curious George lately. Here it is, modeled by both boys:

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I was going to make this part of Buck’s Halloween costume, but I couldn’t think of much else to do except dress him in brown and maybe add a tail. But then I saw a picture of a garden gnome for a baby on Etsy, and I couldn’t dream of my boys dressing as anything other than these adorable gnomes! So I poked around Pinterest for a while until I decided on how to make the hats. I ended up coming up with my own pattern, so I thought I would share! It took no time at all to make, the materials cost next to nothing, and you don’t even need a sewing machine! So, to the task at hand: how to make a totally easy, adorably cute garden gnome hat in under 5 minutes!

I made three sizes that will fit everyone in your family: baby, child, and adult. The adult size fits me and my husband, the child size is perfect of my 2.5-year old but would probably fit up to maybe a 10-year old or so, and the baby one fits my 4-month old and would fit up to a year or so.

Here are the sizes; you just need to know these measurements. No need to make a pattern!

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Start by folding a piece of felt and put the fold at the top, and a straight edge on the right. The fold will be the top of the hat, and this straight edge will be the opening around the face. Measure the length of the opening and make a little mark. I’m making the child size here so I measure 8″.

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Next, measure the next side from that mark, parallel to the top fold in the felt (just eyeball the parallel lines, it doesn’t have to be perfectly parallel). The child size is 5″ here, so I measured 5″ over from the right edge where I made the mark and made a cut. I used my rotary cutter so I didn’t even need to draw a line, but if you use scissors, draw a line first with the ruler and it’ll keep your cut straight. This is the neck opening.

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Now you are going to make the last cut. Turn the ruler to join the end of the last cut at the back of the neck to the top of the folded edge. It’s about 12″ for the child size but this one doesn’t need to be terribly precise. I followed the line of my ruler until about two inches from the top, then I curved just a bit inwards to give the hat just a bit of curve at the top. This is optional, you could leave it out and just cut a straight line, or you could play around with it and make the curve more exaggerated.

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The only thing left is to fasten the back seam together! This is going by so quickly! The only thing you need to sew together is that last side you just cut, the one with the curve at the top. Here I am, pointing at the side you are going to sew together:

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I sewed the back seam on my machine in about 10 seconds, whoo-hoo, but you could easily sew this by hand or even staple it! Felt doesn’t glue together very solidly in my experience unless you buy specific felt glue, but even that would work as long as you let it dry thoroughly. Then just flip it right-side out and use a chopstick or a pencil to push that point all the way out.

As that’s it! I saw lots of these with added ribbons to keep them tied on, which was cute, but my toddler doesn’t like things tied onto his head so I played around with it plain. I must say I really like it with the front edge folded back once; it’s a little Norwegian-looking and so adorable. Here’s baby Weston modeling his hat and some matching felt boots I whipped up:

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Isn’t that the cutest face you’ve ever seen?! You see why I HAD to dress him as a gnome this year! I whipped up one of these hats for all four of us in less than 20 minutes, so we are going to be a whole family of gnomes. I will have to make some fun fuzzy beards as well.

Happy Halloween and happy hat-making! These gnome hats will be fun year-round for pretend play. I can’t wait to make more in tons of different colors. I think I am also going to make some felt appliqué patches to decorate ours with soon. Enjoy and let me know if you make your own hats; I’d love to see your creations!

Free postpartum/heavy flow cloth pad pattern and tutorial

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Happy Spring! I don’t know how you all get swept up into the season, but I know when milder weather starts rolling in, my favorite ways to celebrate are nature walks with my son, planting and gardening, and massive Spring cleaning and organizing! It might be the pregnancy “nesting” hormones this year, but I’ve been going strong on the cleaning and organizing this year. I just love how all my linens smell after a day spent on the clothesline in the sunshine! But when warm weather hits I find my crafting time diminishes drastically. I was eating lunch with my toddler on our sunny back deck yesterday and eyeing the kitchen window, considering if I could run an extension cord out of it so I could set my sewing machine up outside…

But I was “blessed” last week with a bout of unseasonably cold weather and even a sprinkling of snow (?!), so I made the most of my banishment to the indoors by whipping up this project that I have been putting off for a while: postpartum cloth pads. I’ve been debating whether or not I should spend the time making postpartum pads this time around since I don’t know if I’ll ever be using them again or not. If you want to use cloth pads for your regular periods, this is a no-brainer, because these are great for heavy flow days and especially for overnights. But I’m a Diva cup convert and couldn’t think of using anything else, so all I need is some little cloth liners as backup that I sewed up about a year ago. But ultimately I opted to make these for a few reasons: I already had all the fabric on hand so they’d be practically free, cloth pads are tons more comfortable and stay in place better than disposables, no tons of waste going to the landfill, I already cloth diaper so I know how to launder them easily, I have some organic cotton flannel from an old bed sheet so there won’t be any harsh chemicals next to my inflamed skin, and lastly, if I bleed as long as I did last time around, I’m gonna save tons of money not buying a box of pads every day! Ok, so that’s a lot of reasons! So you can see why I decided to take the plunge and whip these up.

I made 12 because that used up all of the remaining organic flannel bedsheet I was repurposing, but I think this should be a sufficient amount if I wash every two days like I do the cloth diapers. I made these assembly-line style, and did one step every day for a few days, so even though there’s a bit of work involved in making so many, it went by fairly quickly.

To begin, here’s what you’ll need:

Absorbent fabric: repurposing old fabrics is great here! I used old t-shirts, flannel bedsheets, and/or some bits of fabric scraps saved from other projects. You’ll need a few layers of this per pad, so gather quite a bit.

Water barrier fabric: you won’t need as much of this because you only need one layer per pad. I haven’t tested my pads out yet since I’m still pregnant, but through my research I see that most people either use PUL (laminated) fabric or polyester fleece. While I prefer to only use natural fabrics for breathability purposes, I decided the benefits of not leaking would outweigh any negatives here. I made a few pads with both fabrics so I’ll be able to decide later which I prefer. Use whichever you have on hand or prefer working with if you haven’t tried them out yet.

Pretty fabric: totally optional here but I hid my waterproof outer fabric with one more layer of pretty print fabric. This was for two reasons: PUL fabric is kinda slippery and I didn’t want my pad sliding around (fleece isn’t so if you use fleece you won’t have to worry about this), and I can’t resist using a bit of pretty fabric, even on a pad! If you have pretty fleece, use that on the bottom because that grips really well and doesn’t slide, but I had boring fleece scraps so I hid that too.

Sewing machine with a heavy duty or jeans needle: totally necessary. If you already aren’t in the habit of changing out your needle regularly, you’ll need to change it before and after this project. Sewing through a ton of layers of fabric will wear your needle out quickly, and if your needle isn’t sharp enough or strong enough to make it through all those layers, it’s gonna snap and be super frustrating.

Thread in either a matching or contrasting color: I love contrasting thread these days. I picked a bright turquoise in 100% polyester because it’s strong and doesn’t wick moisture like cotton.

Rotary cutter and cutting mat or scissors: a rotary cutter (my new love) will save you tons of time in cutting, but good ol’ scissors will definitely cut it here. (Ha!)

Pattern: print out my free pattern here! Click on each of the four photos and save the image to your computer. Then open each file and print each without changing the proportions. The pads are longer than a standard sheet of paper, so you’ll be printing two pages per piece and taping them together. Make sure to print “actual size” on your computer and double check that the one inch test mark on the page is indeed one inch on your printout. I also recommend tracing these shapes onto cardboard or a cereal box so it holds up better for all the cutting you’ll be doing. There are two pieces to the pattern: the outer “sleeve” with wings and the inner “core” that makes up the thicker absorbent layer.

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I researched other postpartum pads for ideas and cross-referenced that with some of my own smaller pad patterns. I have tried these on and like the fit, but like I said above I haven’t actually taken them for a real test run since I’m still pregnant. I actually edited my pattern and added a bit more flare to the top (front) portion after I finished making all of mine, because I thought it needed it. This pattern has a ton of flare in the back for tons of coverage, especially while lying down, which is important for postpartum! It also makes them great for overnights.

Sew-on snaps or snap press: the snap press will save you time here, but again, sew-on snaps will be just fine. You need a set per pad.

On to the process! Like I mentioned before, doing this one step at a time for all the pads was easiest for me and helped whip these things up in a few days. Feel free to construct each one from start to finish if that’s what you prefer, or if you just want to make one and test it out before tweaking. Always a good idea but not an option for preggo me right now! Start by printing out your pattern, found above.

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Here’s my two pattern pieces cut out of a cereal box, laid on top of one another to show you that the core pieces will be 1/2″ smaller than the outer pieces. This is to allow for seam allowances since you’ll be turning and topstitching the sleeve pieces. Also remember I updated the pattern after I made all these to make the top part flare out more, which is why yours will be a slightly different shape.

Now, on to (lots of) cutting! Start with the outer winged pieces and cut one piece per pad of your top layer of whatever material you want to touch your skin. Most people prefer a darker patterned fabric for this to hide stains, but I wanted to use my organic fabric here and all I had was white. Not the best at hiding stains but oh well! Mine is a cotton flannel and I do recommend 100% cotton for this. Hemp doesn’t absorb as quickly as cotton, which could lead to some run-off (at least that’s what I’ve learned from cloth diapers). I also used some t-shirt fabric for this layer when I ran out of flannel, which worked well but was harder to sew because of the stretch. Here’s two cut outs of my inner fabric (you only need one per pad, remember):

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Next cut out one winged piece per pad of your (optional) pretty fabric that will go on the bottom. Then cut out one winged piece per pad of your waterproof fabric (PUL or fleece). So now you have three winged pieces per pad: a top layer that will touch your skin, a waterproof middle layer, and the pretty back layer that will touch your undies. And don’t worry, you won’t need sticky tape to keep these in place like disposables! A sturdy cotton print will do just fine!

Next, cut out your absorbent core layers. How many layers you need per pad is totally up to you. You want enough to absorb a lot but not be too thick and uncomfortable. One way to solve this is to use a layer or two of a fabric with extra absorbancy. I used two layers of hemp terry that I repurposed from some Hemp Babies doublers from my son’s cloth diaper stash that have seen better days. (I hear cotton terry cloth works well from old towels, but it might be a but thick.) The good thing about hemp fabric is that is holds a lot more than cotton somehow. The same goes for bamboo fabrics, which is why I go for hemp or bamboo cloth diapers for my little ones. But if you have the option of buying some new fabric for this project, the one everyone seems to be using these days is called Zorb. It’s apparently super absorbent without the bulk, but I personally have never used it. If you do, let me know what you think! But really, whatever you have on hand will work just fine. I was all about keeping costs down as well as reusing, so here is my choice for my absorbent core layers:

One piece flannel (bedsheet)

Two layers hemp (old diaper doubler)

One more piece flannel

Those four pieces all sandwiched together makes one core for one pad.

On to sewing! Are you sick of cutting yet? 🙂

You can start with either piece but I began by sewing my core layers together into one thick piece. This is when you need that heavy duty sewing machine needle! I used a wide zig-zag stitch and simply sewed all the way around. Easy peasy. No one’s gonna see your work here so don’t worry about neatness. I tried to stay relatively close to the edges to help prevent fraying over time. If you have a serger, use it here instead and lucky you! Mmmm, I want a serger…

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After you have your stack of cores, let’s whip up the outer sleeves. Pay attention to how you stack these up before sewing them, because we will be turning these right-side-out after sewing to hide the seams inside. If you’re only using a top cotton and a fleece bottom, just place them together with right sides (print sides) of your fabric facing each other. If you’re doing the three layers with the hidden waterproof layer like me, stack ’em up on your table like so:

•Waterproof fabric with right (printed or color) side facing UP

•On top of that, pretty print (bottom) fabric with right side facing UP

•On top of that, your inner fabric that you want to touch your skin, right side facing DOWN

Here’s a visual, although my inner fabric is hard to tell which side is which:

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Once everything is lined up, sew with a straight stitch all the way around with about a 1/4″ seam allowance but leave a 3- to 4-inch gap at the bottom. This is important so you can flip it right-side-out and add your core! Next, flip it right-side-out, making sure you flip it so your stack is now aligned like so: top piece with pattern/right side on the outside, hidden waterproof piece with inner waterproof part against your top piece, then outer backing with pattern on the outside. Then you just have to stuff a core piece into your pocket! Again, just be sure to stuff in the right place. Now it should be top fabric, core, waterproof layer, then outer backing, like so:

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Now all you have to do is topstitch around your pad (I don’t worry about pressing first, and definitely don’t if you’re using PUL; the iron will melt it!). Fold in your opening and pin it closed. Start at the pinned part and sew close to the edge, all the way around. I chose to follow the wing shape around to keep that laying flat. It’s not totally necessary to sew through the core layers here if your machine is struggling, but I like to at least catch it in a few places to make sure it won’t shift around in the wash.

And voila! It’s (nearly) done!

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All you need now is snaps, either pressed on or sewn on. You might want to just place a pad in some underwear to determine snap placement; definitely make sure it’s in a good place for you. You want it snug to keep it from sliding around. Here’s how mine looks with snaps and also snapped together:

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Please excuse the changing colors of pads in my pictures; I ran out of flannel and used an old gray t-shirt for this last one for the inner fabric. I must say t-shirt fabric is a little harder to work with because of the stretch! But it’s very comfortable.

And there you have it! Do any of you use mama cloth for periods or for postpartum? Let me know what you use and how you like it! Also, please let me know on here, on Pinterest, or on Twitter if you use this pattern and I’ll give you a shoutout! Thanks and happy sewing!

DIY longies from recycled wool sweater sleeves

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I talked about my love of cloth diapering and my conversion to wool covers as a waterproof layer in one of my latest posts, and now I’d like to share how to save a fortune by making your own wool pants, or longies as they are often called. Store-bought longies can easily run you from $50 to $75 or even more for one pair (!!!), and while these are very cute and stylish, I personally went straight to researching how to make my own. I wanted to have a few pairs each of pants, shorts, and trim covers for my little guy, and that would add up pretty quickly at retail price. So instead I learned from a multitude of tutorials over a course of a few months, and started sewing up my own woollies in all sorts of styles. I’ve now had two years of practice or so, and have made more woollies than I can count or remember, so I’d like to share some of my own designs with you all. Thanks to all the other moms who inspired me over the years, and I hope this tutorial and my future tutorials can inspire some more moms to make some adorable woollies for their little ones! It’s a great feeling to whip up one of these in an afternoon (it really takes under an hour for these pants even with toddler distraction!) and have an item that is adorable, useful, practical, and full of handmade charm and love. And it’s endlessly embellish-able and adaptable to suit your needs and creativity!

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It also helps to have a little helper threading the bobbin for you! “Vrmmmm!”

The first part is selecting your sweater. I like to hunt around at Goodwill or any thrift store and I look for 100% wool or cashmere sweaters. These are the best for lanolizing and using as a waterproof diaper cover, although some people say up to 80% wool works as well. Tags that say merino wool are usually softer than ones that just say wool, but just go by feel. I look a little funny rubbing thirty different sweaters on my neck at the thrift store, but that’s my softness testing method since my hands aren’t as sensitive to scratchiness as my neck is. I usually can score a few great quality sweaters for just $3 each, which is an amazing price for such great fabric. A few holes or a shrunken sweater is no problem at all, as it’s best to shrink it anyway!

Next I like to felt my sweaters, which is a fancy word for shrinking in hot water (we all know how to do this, right? I know I’ve done this before by accident). I highly recommend putting each sweater in a separate pillowcase (an old one just in case the colors run- beware of red wools!) and either tying the top shut or securing it with a rubberband or hairband. This keeps a ton of fuzz from clogging up your washer, and this can really mess up your washing machine, so please don’t skip this step! Then you can throw all your bagged-up sweaters in the washing machine, and I usually add an old pair of jeans or some dryer balls if I happen to need to felt those too in order to create more friction in the machine. Then wash with a bit of detergent on a heavy duty cycle on hot, and the heat, soap and agitation will felt your sweaters down into a nice thick fabric. I also recommend being a little selective with your sweaters and not buying ones that are super thick before they’ve been felted, as felting makes them shrink but also get thicker, and you can end up with some unworkable fabric if you’re not careful. But you’ll figure out which wools work best for you, and don’t throw away any scraps or fabrics that don’t come out of the wash looking very usable! I’ll have more posts later on how to use every bit of wool scrap to make dryer balls and other goodies! Oh, and go ahead and dry these in the dryer. They can only shrink so far so they won’t shrink down to nothingness. I like to take them out of the pillowcases to dry them so all the fuzz balls get sucked up in the lint trap, but I don’t know how your dryer will handle all the fuzz. Use your best judgement here but otherwise you’ll be picking a lot of wool fuzzies off your sweaters before you can start.

On to the creations! For this first post I’ll show you how to make super easy pants out of the sleeves of a sweater. Use a sweater that has sleeves long enough after felting to go from your child’s waist to the floor, with an added inch or so at the top for a waistband. I like to make mine extra long and cuff them so they won’t get too short too quick. You can also use the part of the sleeve that goes into the body past the underarm seam, like I did in the pants below. It’ll just make a little V design at the top of the pants. To know where to cut, simply take a pair of pants that fit your child well in the seat area (length not important) and fold them in half along the seam length-wise and lay these on top of your sweater sleeve, like this:

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As you can see, I made these a lot longer than the pants I was using as a pattern, to allow for some growing room and because I wanted these pants to be cuffed at the bottom. Be sure to keep the finished edge at the bottom so you don’t have to hem the pants, if the finished edge looks nice to you. Just place the folded pants on the sleeve wherever you’d like according to the inseam measurement you want, then cut the sleeve starting about 1/2 inch above where the crotch is on the pants (always give yourself this 1/2 inch extra for a seam allowance) and follow the curve up to the waistband, making sure you stretch the waistband out on your pattern pants all the way if they have elastic in them so that your waistband isn’t too small. I couldn’t stretch these out and take the picture at the same time, but you’ll see how my cut line has some extra room at the top to account for this. Then, if you want to do an easy elastic waist, give yourself at least an inch on the top to fold over and create the elastic waistband casing later.

Then, cut your other sleeve to match. I usually take my first cut-out sleeve and lay it on top of the other sleeve and use this as a pattern so that they match. Here’s my two legs cut out:

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Next we are going to sew the crotch seam- that J-shaped cut we made. Take one pant leg and turn it inside out. Then take the other one that is still right-side-out and tuck it inside the inside-out leg, lining up the raw edges of the crotch seam. Here’s a visual:

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So to be clear, you have a right-side-out leg inside an inside-out leg. Then you simply sew that entire curved seam, the one making a U-shape. I have done it from one side to the other in one seam, but I have found that the crotch lines up much nicer if you start in the middle at the crotch and sew one side up to the waist, then turn it and do the other side the same way. Here I am starting in the middle, sewing with a straight stitch first:

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And then the other side and here it is, all sewn together:

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After sewing both sides of the seam with a straight stitch, I like to go back and seal the raw edges with a wide zig-zag stitch close to the edge. Use a serger if you have one, and send me yours if you don’t use it! 😉 This will add some strength to your seam as well as preventing anything from unravelling. If your pants are super felted and you don’t think there’s any chance of unravelling, it’s up to you if you do this step. I sometimes just do two rows of straight stitch right next to each other, just for the added strength so no seams split. These pants are cashmere so they didn’t felt as tightly as wool does. Here I am zig-zagging the edges:

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And here are the pants with the zig-zag finished:

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Turn them right-side out and you have something that looks like pants already! Super fast, no?

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The waist line probably won’t be super even at this point, so cut them straight across the top to even it out. Cut off as little as possible. I love my ruler and my handy rotary cutter, but scissors work just fine.

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Feel free to dip the front down a little lower than the back, like most pants do, although I tend to make mine very high-waisted to protect against wetness wicking up onto my son’s shirt, so I either don’t worry about it or just dip the front down a tiny bit. Either way you want to make sure there’s plenty of room to fit a fluffy cloth-diapered bum in the back!

You now have a few choices for waistbands. You can take a ribbed band from the collar or bottom of a sweater (the same one or a contrasting color) and simply sew it onto the top like so:

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I love this way! Just make sure your ribbed waist piece is about 2 inches or so smaller around than your pants waist, depending on the amount of stretch in the fabric. You’ll want a good stretchy ribbed piece, so it’ll almost be like elastic, but it’s trimmer and I think more comfortable, but it won’t hold up as strongly as elastic. I typically use these waistbands for my 2-year-old and have no problem with them slipping down! If you do this waistband, sew the band together first, right sides together, then pin it right-side touching the right side of the pants, with the raw edges aligned, and sew around the raw edges. Sorry I didn’t take pics of that, but if anyone requests I can definitely do it again soon and document it! Let me know.

The other waistband method is to simply turn the pants inside-out, fold down the top about an inch or so (as much as you need to comfortably fit your elastic in – I use 3/4 inch elastic usually), and sew around, leaving about an inch or so gap to thread your elastic through. I used a zig-zag stitch here since my pants are super stretchy, then threaded my elastic through the casing by putting a large pin on one side and pushing it through:

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Sew your elastic together, making sure it isn’t twisted anywhere in the casing. I like to make mine about an inch smaller than my son’s waist, but you can measure it onto your child and mark exactly where it feels good to them, too. You won’t see this seam so don’t worry if yours looks as messy as mine, whoopsie! My machine got a little stuck there at the beginning:

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After your elastic is sewn together, finish up that hole you left in the waistband seam and there you have it! Super cute pants in two steps!

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These I made for my next baby, so they’re much too small for my 2-year-old, but of course he insisted on modeling them:

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They actually don’t look too small on him, but he’s pretty slim and only wearing undies under here. They definitely wouldn’t fit with a diaper! But I can’t wait to try them on the new baby, and they are so soft and snuggly!

Send me pics of your wooly creations; I’d love to see them! And remember to lanolize before use and these will be a great waterproof cover to your cloth diapers. See my post about my wool conversion for lanolizing instructions.

Enjoy crafting!;

My wool conversion for cloth diapering and why it may be right for you

I absolutely love wool items for babies. Wool is so soft, warm, breathable, comforting and snuggly. I started my wool conversion after a few months of cloth diapering my son. I had been using mainly cotton prefolds and Flip or Econobum covers from Cotton Babies, a local St. Louis company that I highly recommend for any cloth diaper needs. I love Cotton Babies and all their fabulous products, but I also can’t afford more than their cheapest options, one of which is the $1 prefolds, which is super economical. However, the cotton prefolds need a waterproof barrier, and as much as I liked the fit and look of the adorable covers, I started not really loving the PUL fabric after a while. PUL stands for PolyUrethane Laminated, and is a cotton or polyester blend fabric that has been coated with basically a thin layer of plastic on the inner side. (See PUL fabric info for more info.) It’s quite genius, really, and you can find all sorts of adorable prints these days that look just like regular fabric on the outside, yet are totally waterproof on the inside. It’s great for puddlepads on the bed to protect your mattress from wetness as well. I loved the idea, loved the products, and soon had tons of baby supplies with PUL fabric and yearned for more. I thought I would cover the bed, rugs, and couches with the stuff, not to mention my baby’s little cute bottom. I’m somewhat of a clean freak, especially when it comes to wetness. As a California girl, I am still not used to dampness and mold. I love my desert weather after all these years, thank you very much! And damp mattresses… I shudder to even imagine it.

However, after months of using PUL puddle pads and diaper covers, my son started getting diaper rashes. I know diaper rashes are pretty commonplace with babies these days, but I’m not the slather-on-a-medicine-and-call-it-a-day type of person. I knew it was from the PUL fabrics; every time I took off his diaper it radiated heat and the ammonia smell was stifling. Nighttime was especially bad, and sometimes if he filled up a diaper so much it would start to trickle out the sides of the cover and onto the bed. And my son does not stay contained on the small surface of a puddle pad throughout the night. Did I mention how much wet mattresses bother me? It was a nightmare!

I knew there was a better solution out there so I started researching. I found out that most of the world doesn’t use disposable diapers, plastic pants or PUL fabrics to waterproof their babies, as these haven’t been around that long. Most people throughout the centuries have turned to wool as a waterproof layer over simple cotton cloth diapers. The first reaction I had to wool was “hot” and “scratchy.” Not very comfortable on a baby, right? But I soon found out that wool is much more breathable than plastic or polyester, allowing temperatures to regulate and the baby to feel warm in the winter and cool in the summer. And even with a wet diaper against their bottoms, the wool keeps them feeling comfortable, even outside on a chilly day! See wool as a diaper cover for more. And wool doesn’t have to feel scratchy like the sweater your grandma knitted you in the ’80s (sorry, grandma). Merino wool and wool roving and even cashmere can be used, and they’re absolutely luxurious to the touch! Plus, the way to wash wool is super simple; all you’re really doing is adding more lanolin, the oil naturally found in the wool that gets washed or worn out. Lanolin makes the wool softer, and this is what makes it water-repellant, kinda like how ducks oil their feathers so that water rolls off their backs. But instead of the wetness simply rolling off like it does on PUL fabric, and then straight onto my mattress (!!!), wool absorbs up to 40% of it’s weight in liquid while still feeling dry! So it absorbs the run-off, and it’s still clean because of the natural anti-microbial properties of the wool, and all you have to do is air it out a bit between uses. And every month or so, once you smell a bit of the pee-ammonia smell when it’s dry (you can’t smell anything for weeks of use, it’s amazing!), then you put a tiny bit of lanolin in a tub of water and soak them for a while, then let dry and use again for another month! It really is the easiest care ever.

So if I haven’t converted you yet, let me tell you that we have had no diaper rash since switching to wool covers, and no wet mattresses or car seats! What a relief to momma. I have a wool puddle pad on the bed under a thick cotton pad, and he wears a wool cover I knitted him over his nighttime diaper (hemp or bamboo absorb the most), and we’ve added high-waisted wool pajama pants on top of that recently. The only accidents we would have at night was when he would squirm around so much that the wool cover would get pulled down a bit, and if that diaper came into contact with the cotton pajamas at all, they would wick the moisture onto them. So now we double up at night for squirm-proofing! But he never smells like ammonia anymore, he’s never red-bummed or has any rashes whatsoever, and he seems so much more comfortable, even in summer. And his woollies are the cutest ever, which brings me to the fun part of this post!

I started off knitting woollies, and I have made about 20 by now for myself or friends. You can see my Ravelry page for most of them (my user name is amacherie if it doesn’t take you directly to my projects), and see what patterns I use, but I have recently designed my own pattern and will be publishing that on this site soon. Here are some of my favorites:

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After more than a year of slowly knitting adorable woollies, I needed a way to get my fix faster. Plus, it is getting increasingly difficult to knit with a toddler who wants to steal your yarn and pull your needles out of your stitches and then run around the house playing keep-away with you! So I hauled my ancient Singer sewing machine to the shop for a tune-up, headed to Goodwill for some wool sweaters, shrunk them all in the washing machine (we all know how to do that, right? I was already excellent at that part), and sewed up some super fast, absolutely adorable woollies for my little man and some friends as well. And WOW is this the most inexpensive way to go; I can score an XL wool or cashmere sweater at a thrift store for $3 and make at least three woollies out of it! And if you’ve shopped for new or handmade woollies lately, you know how insanely expensive they are. I’m talking $50-$70 for pants (aka longies) and even more for sleep sacks, close to $100! And while these wool creations are gorgeous and some of the handmade items on Etsy can be classified as works of art, I’m a thrifty momma and these are things that are meant to be peed on, after all. Plus, Macklemore would be proud of my thrift store creations. (Video contains expletives. But if you haven’t seen it already I would be very surprised. Excuse me while I go watch it another five times.) Here’s just the tip of the iceberg of my creations, because I can whip these out in no time flat now!

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And here’s my latest: wool sleep sacks for the new baby! Although it looks like I will be making one for Marlon next, as he loves wearing the much-too-small baby one! The green and blue one is cashmere on the top… heavenly soft!

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I just realized when looking through all my photos how much my son doesn’t wear pants! We have done some ECing (elimination communication) and are now going potty pretty regularly, so at home we look like this most of the time:

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This is a knitted wool “EC belt” and a prefold tucked in and it’s great for potty learning as well! We love our sumo-wrestler look.

I’ll be posting tutorials for recycled wool sweater creations like these (reversible) diaper covers, pants, shorts, and sleep sacks shortly! Which styles are your favorite? Anyone else have a love of wool baby items? I’d love to see your creations as well. Comment here or tweet me @laughingfoxcrft and I’ll give you a shout-out! I’m new to Twitter and really all social media, so come see me there and on Pinterest at LaughingFoxCrft!

Have fun crafting!

Easy DIY party bunting with non-sewing option!

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Marlon’s second birthday has come and gone, and his birthday party was a huge success. We tried to keep it simple, but of course invited all our wonderful family and friends and just barely packed them all into our tiny mid-century ranch. I wanted a castle theme for the party, to go along with the felt crowns I made for all the kids attending, and the cute blue velvet cape I made Marlon (that he refused to wear of course). I just got him to put it on long enough to snap this one shot:

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However, as most parents of busy toddlers can attest, the days before the party flew by, leaving me with the task of paring down my long to-make list of decorations for the party into a manageable length. I settled for just the crowns to decorate for the kids (I also thought making ribbon wands would be fun, but never got around to scrounging up the materials), a ton of balloons hung from the ceiling (so they wouldn’t get underfoot and trip everyone), a batch of delicious gluten- and egg-free chocolate chip cookies from Gluten Free Girl Everyday, and this fun and quick party bunting I whipped up in an afternoon.

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You will need:

Approximately 1/2 yard of fabric total, in various patterns/colors

Two packages of double-fold bias tape

Scraps of felt for the letters (optional)

Sewing machine and contrasting thread (this can also be done with just glue!)

Making this was super easy, thanks to my wonderful new rotary cutter that got half price at JoAnne’s recently. I made a birthday bunting for Marlon for his first birthday party, but ended up liking it so much that it’s on permanent display in his playroom. The first time around I cut all the triangles out with scissors, which is totally doable, but that’s the project that made me yearn for a rotary cutter. They make cutting out shapes so easy, especially straight lines like this.

You can make a bunting with either squares or triangles of fabric, with whatever you have laying around, or grab a few fat quarters from the fabric store when they’re on sale like I did. I think I only used two fat quarters of fabric, if I’m not mistaken, so only 1/2 yard of fabric should make one in the size I made. It’s good to use scraps of a few different fabrics if you have it, but I only used two fabrics this time because they both had little balloons on the fabric and I thought it fitting. I folded the fabric in half and cut a rectangle out that was about 8 inches tall, then marked off points every 5 inches across the top. Then I marked off points at the bottom, but started 2 1/2 inches in from one side so that the marks would hit halfway between the top marks. Sorry I didn’t think to take a picture at this stage, I cut the pieces out late the night before and wasn’t fully awake at this point! Then I took a ruler and lined up the diagonal line from the first point on the top to the first point on the bottom, which was at the edge of the top and 2 1/2 inches in from the bottom edge. I drew a line, then connected the next diagonal line and kept going until I had a row of triangles drawn out. This is just my quick and easy way of cutting out triangles with minimal waste; do it any way you feel comfortable with. The rotary cutter came out and I cut out on all the diagonal lines, through both layers of fabric, using the ruler as a straight edge to run the rotary cutter against. This way cutting took no time at all, and all my lines were super straight! But scissors will work just fine, never fear. Keep going until you have 14 sets of triangles (I made mine double sided), so 28 triangles total.

After I had my stack of 28 triangles, I put them into pairs, wrong sides together, and zig-zag stitched along the two longest sides of each pair. They won’t be getting handled much, so I wasn’t worried about the raw edges fraying, but you can certainly cut them out with pinking shears instead if you have them (I don’t), and that’ll prevent any fraying at all really. The top you can leave raw because it’ll be hidden by the bias tape later.

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Next I laid the triangles out in the order I liked onto two pieces of double-fold bias tape, five triangles on the first one and nine on the other. This is if you want to have the “Happy Birthday!” written on them like I did; if you want to leave them blank, just split them up evenly. Make sure you leave enough bias tape on either side to use as a tie when you’re hanging it. I left at least 4 inches, but it doesn’t need to be exact. Now I simply opened the double fold of the bias tape and inserted the triangles in the fold, then closed the fold and pinned each triangle in place (just one pin in each triangle did the trick).

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Then I sewed the bias tape together, starting at one end of the bias tape, sewing the triangles into the tape as I went. After all the triangles are sewn in, keep going to the end of your bias tape, or however long you need to make an equal length tie at the end as you have at the beginning. I used a zig-zag stitch here as well, just to match the stitches on the triangles, but you can do straight stitches on both if you prefer.

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Alternately, if you don’t have a sewing machine, you can easily make this bunting by gluing the triangles into the bias tape! And you can do one-sided triangles to make that easier as well. This is a very adaptable pattern!

 After you have both buntings sewn together, you can add the optional lettering. I cut freehand shapes out of felt and simply glued these on with Fabri-Tac (wow that stuff works well). If you’re not confident in your freehand lettering skills, simply print out some bold letters in a size that’ll fit onto your triangles and cut them out and trace them onto your felt. I’m all about saving time, however, so I just drew some slightly wonky letters and cut them out however they turned out; I was sure my two-year-old wouldn’t mind the imperfections!

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I discovered when doing this step that my son loves letters! Marlon would identify a few letters like he was spelling out the words, then yell “Happy Birthday!” and throw his arms up in the air. I love hearing his little voice, now that he’s making more and more sounds that are identifiable as actual words! He still has those adorable toddler-language words that only we can translate: “bondee chips” are his favorite “monkey chips” (plantain chips), and my favorite is what he calls our cats: Remington is “Ya-ya” and Hastings is “Hay-hay.”

Here’s the birthday boy winding the thread onto the bobbin on the sewing machine. Boy was he excited to work that foot pedal! “Vrooooom!”

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This bunting will add some adorable rustic and homemade flair to your next party, and you can make one for any celebration! I’d love a New Year’s bunting, and maybe a Summer and Winter solstice themed ones! The options are endless. And this is a perfect project for you if you’re an expert crafter, or if you haven’t sewn one thing in your life! Like I mentioned before, it can be done entirely with just glue and scissors, and will come out super cute. And the best part is that you can reuse this bunting every year, for every kid! It can be a tradition to hang up the birthday bunting for each party.

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Here’s a little look at the rest of our party decorations before the party (it was so crazy with so many kids running around that I unfortunately never got a chance to take pictures during the party!). Here’s the snack table with the cookies and other nibbles, with the bunting overhead:

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Marlon trying out all the snacks before the party had even started:

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And here’s our little neighbor friend with her crown that her and her mom decorated with the felt shapes! The kids had so much fun decorating their crowns, and wore them proudly! It was fun to give them something to take home that they can have fun playing with again and again.

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Thanks for reading and let me know if you make a party bunting of your own! I’d love to see your creations! Also follow me on Pinterest or Twitter; I love to connect with my fellow crafters and I’d love to share your work as well.

DIY party favor crowns for birthdays

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Welcome to my new blog! I’m a mother of nearly two kids and my crafting bug hit me full force after the birth of my son Marlon two years ago. He’s about to turn two, and I’ll start this off by documenting my birthday party preparations. My idea for a party favor for all the kiddos attending is to make felt crowns that they can decorate with felt shapes on the day of the party, and then take home too add to their dress-up collections! We are having a castle theme for Marlon’s birthday, and the crowns fit in nicely, but I like the Where the Wild Things Are connection as well. These would be great for any prince or princess’ party!

If you would like to make these for your own birthday boy or girl or as party favors, this is super easy for any beginner sewer and very inexpensive. For 24 crowns I used a piece of gold felt approximately 60 inches by 11 inches (plus a little extra for mess-ups). I used a little under 9 1/2 yards of ribbon (mine was 3/8 inch wide just because it was the cheapest and it was the one thing I had to buy). I used scraps of elastic I had from various other projects (finally, a way to use up all those little useless ends of elastic rolls), approximately the same width as the ribbon. Then I gathered up a bunch of scraps of different colored felts for the decorations the kids would glue on at the party. I got these scraps from my local fabric store as remnants from their felt bolts.

On to cutting! I cut out a template from a cereal box that had three points, was about 2 1/2 inches tall at the middle point, and was about 8 1/2 inches wide at the bottom where I’d be joining the ribbon. I just freehanded the shape in a general size that looked good to me, folding it in half width-wise to cut so it would be symmetrical. You can do any shape or size that fits your fancy.

Then I traced this shape onto my gold felt 24 times (one for each child coming to the party, plus one or two extra just in case) and cut out. I kept the scraps from cutting out to make into shapes for my son’s felt board – more on that later! Then I cut out 24 pieces of ribbon, each 14 inches long. I also cut out 24 pieces of elastic, each 3 1/2 inches long. You can do any lengths that you want to achieve any size you need. The kids at this party range from about 4 months to all the way up to 10 or so, but most are around 2-4 years. These crowns ended up being about 20 inches unstretched, which is about the size of my two-year-old’s head, and they stretch to fit my adult 22 inch head, but just barely. I did actually make two littler ones for the under one-year-olds by using 11 or 12 inch pieces of ribbon instead of 14 inches. Once I got all the pieces cut out, it was on to sewing!

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I sewed one end of a ribbon onto the bottom edge of a crown piece with about a half inch of overlap. I used a zig-zag stitch for this entire project, and matched my thread to my crown color. Then I sewed the other side to the other end, making sure the ribbon wasn’t twisted and I was sewing to the same side of the felt:

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Here’s the crown with just the ribbon sewed onto both ends, wrong side up so you can see the seams:

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Next, I took a 3 1/2 inch piece of elastic and stretched it out all the way and placed it on the center back of the ribbon, just to see where to start sewing it to the ribbon. This way it’s about centered in the back, but it doesn’t have to be exact. I then measured how far the elastic was from the edge of the crown, so I would be able to just measure this on the next crown and not have to do this step. The edges of my elastic when stretched out all the way were about 3 1/2 inches from each side of the crown, so I placed the beginning of the elastic that far down on the WRONG side of the ribbon and did a few stitches on the machine, backwards and forwards, to tack it in place. Making sure the needle is down into the elastic so it keeps it in place, I then stretched the elastic out all the way with one hand and sewed it to the ribbon, pulling the ribbon gently out the back side with my other hand like so:

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When I got to the end of the elastic, I went backwards and forwards a few times again to make sure it held in place, and cut all my threads. And we’re done! It took only about two minutes to sew each crown after I was done cutting everything out, so you can whip quite a few of these out in one afternoon. Here’s the inside back of the crown with the elastic stretched out all the way:

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And here is the back of the crown from the right side out, showing how the elastic will cinch up the ribbon nicely once you let the elastic spring back into shape:

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Here’s the finished project on my son, showing the side and back:

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So now the crowns are ready for the kids to decorate on the day of the party! I bought some felt glue at JoAnne’s the other day after learning that Elmer’s craft glue doesn’t hold felt to felt very well. I tried the felt glue out and it works great. So we will be cutting shapes out of colored felt for the next week or so, and will show you the finished result at the party. Keep checking back for more birthday updates and other homemade craft projects, and let me know if you try this project out for your little ones!