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Step five: DIY Fort Kit for my brothers

I have two younger brothers, currently 7 and 9.  Technically they’re not related to me but it’s a long story and for all intents and purposes, they are.  I absolutely hate buying them presents for Christmas because it’s impossible to find something.  First, they’re ridiculously spoiled.  The amount of crap they have is astounding.  Second, they destroy everything.  Third, they don’t do anything except play video games anyway.  Nothing irritates me more than spending money on something that isn’t going to get used.  Last year I came up with a brilliant (and super cheap) idea:  DIY Marshmallow Guns.  I have no idea what tutorial I used but I don’t think it matters…they’re all pretty simple.  We spent less than $5 on both of them and although I doubt they were used at all after Christmas morning, I’m totally fine with it for that price!

I scoured Pinterest and the internet for another DIY idea for this year.  I never realized how difficult it is to find stuff like that for boys that age!  Everything just seemed dumb.  Finally I stumbled on DIY Fort Kits.  I was on the fence about whether or not it would be used, but I never found a better idea so a Fort Kit it is!

I checked out just about all of the tutorials on the general Pinterest search above.  I followed Pie Birds‘ tutorial the closest, but pulled ideas from other random ones that I added to it.

I made my list:

**2 twin flat sheets
**rope
**flash light
**clamps
**glow sticks
**clothes pins
**suction cups
**grosgrain ribbon for the ties 140 in

Everything was super simple to find except the sheets.  I bought all of it minus the ribbon and sheets from the Dollar Tree…best store ever!  I took it all of the original packaging and put it in some plain ziplock bags.  diy-fort-kit-8I picked the ribbon up from either Hobby Lobby or Joann’s…I can’t remember for sure now.  It was just two rolls of plain white grosgrain ribbon.  Which I don’t know why I had 140 inches put down…I didn’t even end up using all of one roll!  Darn, could’ve saved myself $3…

I looked everywhere for cheap sheets.  Walmart, Target, Ross, Marshalls, Goodwill and 3 local thrift shops.  They were all so expensive!!  I mean come on Goodwill, who pays $5 for a used single twin sheet?!  I finally struck gold at Big Lots and found a set of sheets on clearance for $7.  And not just any sheets…CAMO!  Perfect!!

Although flat sheets work so much better I decided that the fitted sheet would do.  Especially since I’m not even sure if they’re going to actually use this kit beyond the first day.  At first I was going to trim all around it, getting rid of the fitted part then folding the raw edges in and hemming it.  I decided that was entirely too much work.  Especially since I don’t understand why the fitted sheet won’t work, especially if you pull it tight.

First I cut the ribbon.  I cut 6 pieces that were approximately 12 inches long.  I folded them in half and then pinned them onto the fitted sheet.diy-fort-kit-2I sewed them on.  I used a straight stitch back and forth across the top (at the end of the sheet) about 6 times to make sure it would hold.  Then I zigzagged the other 3 sides to help keep the ribbon from fraying. diy-fort-kit-3I put one on each “corner” and one in the middle of each of the long sides.diy-fort-kit-1Done.  In my search I found two ways to attach the ribbon:  either in a loop, like I used above, or with two open ends so they can be tied.  I had no idea which way would work better so I decided to make one sheet with loops and the other with ties.  So for the flat sheet I cut 8 pieces of ribbon, this time about 20 inches each.  I folded each piece into a V shape and pinned it on.  I sewed them the same way as above:  a straight stitch a whole bunch of times along the edge of the sheet and then a zigzag for the other three sides.  diy-fort-kit-5I sewed one onto each corner and then one in the middle of each of the 4 sides.diy-fort-kit-4I had also seen a tip somewhere along the way that if you fold the corners in and sew them down it makes an opening for the rope to slide through.  I decided to do that as well.  Why not?diy-fort-kit-6Since this was a complete sheet set it also included a pillow.  I debated for a few minutes and then decided I mine as well use that too.  I cut it open on three sides so it was as big as possible, folded the edges in and sewed them closed. Then I cut four more pieces of ribbon, looped them like I did for the fitted sheet, placed them in the middle of each of the four sides and then folded the corners in like I did on the flat sheet for the rope to slide through.diy-fort-kit-7Sheets were done!  Now I just needed a bag.  Fortunately I’ve made a ton of those peek-a-boo storage bags for kids toys a couple years back so I already knew exactly how to make one (someday I’ll do a post on those.  Maybe).  It was even easier to make this bag though since it didn’t need a window.  I went through my fabric file and picked out a camo print.  I unfolded it and set all of my supplies on it to see how big I needed to make it. I made sure to cut it plenty big.  Of course I have no idea what the dimensions are.diy-fort-kit-9Then I took all of the stuff off, folded it in half (right sides together) and sewed the side and bottom edges.  It looked like a gigantic pillowcase.diy-fort-kit-13The downside to using this fabric was it turned out it was a jersey knit.  Which meant it folded up on me.  A lot.  And I was entirely too lazy to pull out my iron to make life easier.  See, this is why everything I sew turns out half-assed!  I mean it would’ve taken me 2 minutes to pull out my iron, plug it in, wait for it to get hot and then use it.  Lazy, lazy, lazy.

Next I made a casing for the rope at the top.  This is where the jersey knit really irritated me.  Normally I would fold the top edge down about a 1/4 inch and then fold it again to make sure that all of the raw edges are hidden, but that was impossible this time.  So I just folded it down once and then zigzagged it instead.  diy-fort-kit-14I left an opening about an inch wide about halfway on the front for the drawstring.  diy-fort-kit-15Then I picked out some string.  When a fabric store near me in Canada was going out of business I made sure to stock up on drawstring in a major way since I was making a ton of those peek a boo bags.  Which meant that I had a bunch of options.  I went with beige.  I attached a safety pin onto the end to make threading easier and then pulled it through the bag.  Normally I would attach the other end to the bag to make sure it didn’t get lost along the way, but I made the string so long that there wasn’t any fear of that.  I have absolutely no idea how long I cut the string.  Maybe about twice the width of the bag?  I just know it ended up being barely enough.  diy-fort-kit-17diy-fort-kit-16And that was it!  The bag was finished! diy-fort-kit-18Turned out that for once in my life I drastically overmeasured!  Once it’s all in there and closed the bag is only about half full.  Which I’m perfectly fine with.  Always better too large than too small!

I made a tag in my Silhouette program, printed it on regular printer paper and then laminated it using my awesome laminator.  I punched a hole in it and attached it onto the bag.  There we go, a Christmas present for two boys for less than $15 that’s original.  It may or may not get used, but whatever!  And I love this idea so much that I think as J and C get older we’ll be giving it to their friends as birthday gifts!  Another win! diy-fort-kit-19

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Step four: a new Cinderella dress. Obviously.

J has a Cinderella dress.  There was a woman selling 7 dressup dresses for $7 on one of the local yard sale FB sites (seriously, best invention ever!  I LOVE stalking those pages!) about 2 years ago which was when J was just starting to get into her dress up phase in a big way.  The Cinderella dress was a homemade one and its condition was already “gently” used (not that I’m complaining.  It was a dollar).  She absolutely adored that dress and wore it allllllllllll the time.  Although I’ve patched it up several times, it’s now beyond fixing.  There are holes all over the actual dress and it’s filthy.  That’s okay…I got my money’s worth…several times over!js-original-cinderella-dressWhen the latest Cinderella movie came out J and I went to see it.  It was her first experience in the movie theater and she absolutely adored the movie.  Even if she did come out of thinking that “courageous” meant “pretty”.  She adored the blue dress, like I’m sure every other girl out there, and said she wanted one.  So I decided I was going to make her one for Christmas.

First step:  research.  I pinned 3 DIY dresses from Pinterest that seemed to fit the bill:  this one, this one and this one.

I made a list of supplies:

*4 yards of blue tulle—sparkly would be a bonus
*3 yards of purple tulle
*blue zipper 7 in
*blue thread
*1 1/2 yards blue shiny fabric

Then I hit the stores.  I was trying to do this for as cheap as possible.  I ended up getting my tulle from Walmart for 97 cents/yard, the thread, zipper and costume satin from Joann’s on three separate occasions so I could use a 40% off coupon each time.  I also found some blue sparkly tulle at Joann’s.  I only bought half a yard of it…it was nearly $3 a yard and I figured I could just do one layer on the skirt to give it the necessary sparkles since I couldn’t find sparkly tulle for cheap anywhere.

Finally I got to work.  I read through all three tutorials to decide exactly how I wanted to make the dress.  I used Made for Mermaids the most.  I referred to Kiki & Company for the butterflies.  And I didn’t end up using the third one at all.

As usual, refer to the original blog for specific directions.  Read mine to know what not to do 😉

I started off by printing her awesome free pattern and cutting out my bodice pieces. diy-cinderella-dress-1I sewed them together as instructed:  each side piece to the front center; one for the lining and one for the front.  diy-cinderella-dress-2Then I added one back piece to each side.diy-cinderella-dress-3The straps were next.  I folded them in half and sewed the long edges, leaving the short ends open.  
diy-cinderella-dress-4I trimmed and flipped right side out. diy-cinderella-dress-5Then I put the straps in between the lining and front piece and sewed the two bodice pieces together all along the top.diy-cinderella-dress-6diy-cinderella-dress-7And then I realized my first mistake:  one of the straps was twisted.  diy-cinderella-dress-8So I had to rip the seam out and resew it, making sure that I pinned it the correct way this time.  After I flipped the bodice right side out I saw that my front piece and lining didn’t exactly match up along the straps.  Mistake number two!diy-cinderella-dress-9diy-cinderella-dress-10This one was very easily fixed, however.  I just folded the outer piece in to hide the raw edge and then sewed it down like that.  diy-cinderella-dress-11Then I went through and top stitched the entire bodice as instructed, so you couldn’t even tell my mistake there.  Score one for me!

Now for the tulle on the bodice.  I read through Made for Mermaids’ instructions about 10 times and then switched over to Kiki & Company but still didn’t understand exactly what I was supposed to do.  So I made it up.

One change I already knew I wanted to make was that I wanted to take Kiki & Company’s idea and use both the blue and purple tulle in the top.  That was a simple adjustment.

I cut a 20×54 inch rectangle each of the light blue and purple and folded them in half.  I only used one layer of the sparkly blue, so it was only about 26 inches.  diy-cinderella-dress-12Then I layered them so sparkly blue was on the inside and purple on the outside.diy-cinderella-dress-13I sewed along the long bottom edge. diy-cinderella-dress-14And then found the halfway point in both the bodice and the tulle and attached them together. diy-cinderella-dress-15I went back and forth about 15 times just to make sure it was going to stay put!  Then I squeezed the ends together as small as I could and sewed them down on each side.
diy-cinderella-dress-16The result is very unfinished.  But it’s tulle so it’s not going to fray.  It’s fine.  I’m serious, I’m such a dunce when it comes to reading simple instructions!  I’m sure everyone else understood exactly what Made for Mermaids was talking about, but not me.  I still don’t get it.  Of course part of my problem was that my tulle wasn’t as long as it should be–it should’ve extended past the bodice.  And then the ends would’ve been tucked inside the bodice.  But it’s fine.

Time to finish up the bodice.  I sewed each side closed.diy-cinderella-dress-17Then added the zipper.  I don’t like using velcro on dress-up dresses.  Although J needs help getting the zippered dresses on and off, I find that velcro loses its stickiness after awhile and then my life just becomes “Mama, fix my dress” 800,000 times a day.  It happened to both her Merida and Snow White dresses and I vowed no more velcro. So I installed my zipper using my cheating method found in my Glinda tutorial.  diy-cinderella-dress-18See how the tulle doesn’t reach the zipper?  So much for cutting it long enough and making sure that I found the halfway mark, hahahaha!  Good thing J will never notice.

And there we go, bodice is finished!

Time for the skirt.  I cut two pieces, 24 in by the width of my fabric.  Which I want to say was 54 inches, but can’t remember for sure now.  I followed Made for Mermaids’ instructions and cut the front piece at a diagonal so the front bodice would be pointed.

diy-cinderella-dress-19I sewed the two long ends together, flipped it right side out and gathered the top.  I also use a cheating method for gathering, which again you can read about in my Glinda tutorial.  I had to gather it about 3 times until it was small enough to fit the bodice.  And even then I think it ended up being a shade too large.diy-cinderella-dress-22Then I had J try it on.  I needed to make sure that I wasn’t going to make the same mistake with the Glinda dress and have it be too long.  The poor kid tripped about 68 times on Halloween night in that costume.  I’ve hemmed it since then, but still not enough because she has to hold it up when she walks.  I waited until she got home from school and had her close her eyes since it was a surprise.diy-cinderella-dress-20And thank goodness I had her try it on!  Look how long it is!!!!  Obviously my 5 year old isn’t nearly as tall as Made for Mermaids’ is.  I went ahead and trimmed about 3 inches off of the bottom, then folded the bottom edge under twice (taking off about another inch) and hemmed it.  diy-cinderella-dress-23Time for the tulle.  This was ALL wrong, so don’t do this.  First I took the sparkly blue piece since it was the smallest.  I put it around my waist to make sure it would be wide enough for J, which it was.  Then I took the light blue, folded it so it was about the size of the sparkly one and then kept on folding it over and over and over again until I was out.  I repeated with the purple.diy-cinderella-dress-24

I sewed them together along both short edges.  
diy-cinderella-dress-25This part took forever.  I had to readjust the tulle about 68 times, folding and refolding.  Which is why I was even more pissed than I normally would have been that this all ended up being a colossal waste of time.  It took me an entire nap time to do this part, and it all ended up being in vain.  I discovered my mistake when I went to put the tulle inside of the skirt and it wouldn’t fit.  Because the bottom part of the skirt is about 10 times wider than the gathered top…DUH!!!!!!!!!  I can’t even describe to you how upset I was at my stupidity.  Or how difficult it is to seam rip tulle.  Which was my next step.

Then I started again.  This time I laid out my tulle, put the dress lining on top and figured out how wide it had to be to completely cover the bottom.DIY Cinderella Dress 26The bad part was that I didn’t have enough sparkly blue to go around the entire thing.  On the plus side, the sparkly tulle was on the inside of the top sash, which meant that it was going to be on the inside of the skirt as well.  And between all the layers of tulle and the lining you really couldn’t tell unless you looked very closely that only half of the dress was sparkly.  I decided just to make sure the sparkly half went in the front.

I folded it all over and over and over again until it was lined up nice and neatly.  And the right width this time.
diy-cinderella-dress-27I had to sew it together in three spots to ensure the blue sparkly wasn’t going anywhere:  once on each end and then the two remaining pieces together to form the skirt.
diy-cinderella-dress-28diy-cinderella-dress-29diy-cinderella-dress-30Then I gathered it.  Obviously I did a stellar job of lining the different colors up.  diy-cinderella-dress-31

I’m serious, I have a newfound hatred for tulle after making this dress.  I despise it.  With a passion.

Then I tucked the bodice inside of the skirt tulle (right sides together) and the tulle inside the lining.  I pinned that sucker about 68 times and then sewed it all down.  This is me, which means it took me about 6 attempts before I finally deemed it good enough.  I did an awful job of making sure all three were lined up well enough and there were a bunch of pockets where there were holes or the bodice lining poked out or you could see the seam where I sewed the tulle pieces together.  And then it was not in a straight line going all around.  The first time I completely ripped all of the seams out and started from scratch.  The other 5 times I just ripped the trouble areas.  Finally I decided it was straight enough.  I trimmed the inside edges close to the seam and then zigzagged the entire way around to finish it.diy-cinderella-dress-32And then the dress was basically finished! diy-cinderella-dress-33diy-cinderella-dress-34See the line on the tulle on the left side of the bottom picture?  That was one of my trouble areas.  It’s because I didn’t line the tulle up well enough when I sewed it together originally and that part dipped down farther than the rest of it.  I fixed it as best as I could, but I couldn’t put it up any higher without the skirt being a lot shorter on the bottom.  Plus side?  It’s on the back.  And not very noticeable.

Another thing that I just couldn’t get to work was the point in the front.  I cut my skirt lining and tulle to a point as instructed, but it never emerged.  I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t gather the skirt enough?  Whatever, I don’t care.  She’ll never know the difference.

The top tulle sash bothered me a bit.  Since I didn’t sew it on properly you could see the line where I sewed the tulle together on the bottom.  diy-cinderella-dress-35Although I’m sure I could have hand stitched it closed (HA!  YEAH RIGHT!!!!) I opted for an easy out:  hot glue.  I tucked the ends under so I liked it and then put a few drops of hot glue on each side to hold it in place. diy-cinderella-dress-36Much better.

Finally, the butterflies.  I found a butterfly outline preloaded onto my Silhouette program so I made it what seemed to be a good size to go in the tulle.  I pasted 14 of the same size on there and then made one a lot bigger for the front of the sash.  I used the machine to cut them out of grey cardstock.  Then I followed Kiki & Company’s instructions and Modge Podged them several times.  I put a layer on the front, sprinkled some white glitter on them, waited until they dried, added another layer of Modge Podge, waited until they dried, did another layer, waited until they dried and then flipped them over and did one layer of Modge Podge on the back. diy-cinderella-dress-21Can you tell from looking at that photo that I’m not one of those moms with a severe glitter phobia?!  A little bit of that glitter is from the butterflies, but most of it is permanently lodged on the table from many, many, many past crafts.

I hot glued the big butterfly on the front.  diy-cinderella-dress-37I was planning on doing all of them, but I decided it would be best to wait until the dress was on J and then place them on.  I put them in a baggie and set them off to the side (hmmm, speaking of which…where did I put that bag??) for Christmas morning.  I am so excited for her to open this present.  I think she’s really going to love it!!!!!  It may not look nearly as nice or professional as my inspiration pins, but I don’t care.  I worked hard on it and although there are a few parts that I don’t like, all in all I’m thrilled with how it turned out.  Win! diy-cinderella-dress-39 diy-cinderella-dress-38

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Step three: DIY Hooded Towels.

I found these amazingly adorable hooded towels on Pinterest a year or two ago by Crazy Little Projects.  I fell in love with them immediately.  Not only are they super cheap and super cute, but, most importantly, they’re super easy.  I made J a duck towel for the bath and a shark towel for the beach about two years ago.  Last year for Nolan’s 1st birthday I made him either the dog or shark…I can’t remember now.  I want to say dog.

Since poor C is still using baby towels and J’s duck is looking a bit forlorn, I figured I’d make them each a towel for Christmas.  Although there are a ton of choices, it was super easy to decide on one for each:  Elmo for C and a Princess one for J.

I picked up my supplies:  a red bath towel and matching hand towel for Elmo from Target and a purple bath towel, matching hand towel and yellow hand towel for the Princess crown from Walmart.  There isn’t a particular reason I bought them at two different stores…just turned out Walmart didn’t have an appropriate shade of red for Elmo.  See, chalk it up to yet another reason why Target kicks Walmart’s butt!

Check out the Princess hooded towel tutorial on Crazy Little Projects’ blog for the clear and easy to understand directions.  I’m just going to give a quick synopsis and I’m sure it’ll be confusing since I can’t explain anything, haha.

Since the crown is a separate piece this one was a tad bit more “difficult” than the other towels I’ve made previously.  Which means not at all.  I started by cutting the yellow hand towel in half so the width was about 8.5 inches.diy-princess-hooded-towel-14Then I cut a crown shape from one of the halves.  Crazy Little Projects has a template if you want to use it.  I just eyeballed it.  I made the crown go the entire width of the towel (there were 4 spikes) and the tip of each spike was about halfway up the length of the towel. I laid the first one on top of the rest of the hand towel and cut out a carbon copy.  I matched them and sewed them together, leaving the finished edge of the towel open as instructed.  I flipped it right side out so the stitching was hidden.diy-princess-hooded-towel-15The jewels were next.  I scrounged up some sparkly purple scraps from a long ago project which worked perfectly.  Now Crazy Little Projects does it the smart way and has you use Heat n Bond on the back of the jewels and then attaches them using an appliqué stitch.  I didn’t bother.  Instead I cut out four diamonds and sewed them directly onto the crown with a zigzag stitch.  I’m sure it won’t last nearly as long but if there’s one thing you’ve learned about me by now it’s that I am L-A-Z-Y.diy-princess-hooded-towel-12diy-princess-hooded-towel-13Now time for the part I’ve done before:  making the hood.  I cut the purple hand towel in half the fat way and put half of it aside for a future project.  I folded the finished edge about 4 inches up and stitched it down.diy-princess-hooded-towel-11I folded the hand towel in half (so the folded part was on the outside) and zigzagged it on the back to form a hood.diy-princess-hooded-towel-9diy-princess-hooded-towel-10I flipped it right side out and then pinned the crown on.  I took Crazy Little Projects advice and took the hood into the bathroom so I could adjust the crown as needed.  Don’t I look nice 😉 diy-princess-hooded-towel-8I sewed the crown onto the hand towel along the bottom edge. Crazy Little Projects advises tucking the open edge of the crown in before sewing it down to hide the raw edges.  Since with mine the end of the crown is already a finished edge I didn’t bother folding it in.  It would’ve looked nicer, yes, but honestly I don’t think my machine could’ve gotten through all of those layers.  I recently broke a needle and was on my last one so I didn’t want to risk breaking this one and having to wait until I could make it to Joann’s to purchase replacements before finishing the towel.  It looks fine.diy-princess-hooded-towel-7Then it just needs to be attached to the towel!  First, Crazy Little Projects recommends folding the bath towel in 3-4 inches on each short side and sewing it down, which I did. diy-princess-hooded-towel-6Then you find the center of the towel by folding it in half and form a pleat that’s about an inch wide. diy-princess-hooded-towel-5Sew across it. diy-princess-hooded-towel-4Then take the hood, match the hood seam with the center of the pleat and pin together.  Make sure you match the right sides of the towel together.  Although as you’ll see in a minute for Elmo, it’s really not a big deal if you’re not paying attention and mess that part up.diy-princess-hooded-towel-3Sew the two towels together and voila, finished! diy-princess-hooded-towel-2 diy-princess-hooded-towel-1diy-hooded-princess-towel-21diy-hooded-princess-towel-20

The Elmo towel was even more straightforward than the last one and very similar to the towels I’ve already made.  Once again, refer to Crazy Little Projects Elmo tutorial for the complete (and better!) instructions. Especially since for some reason my camera did not like this shade of red and the photos are difficult to see.

So same thing.  Cut the hand towel in half the fat way, fold the finished edge up about 3 inches and sew it, fold the towel in half (with the finished edge on the inside) and zigzag down the back to form a hood. diy-elmo-hooded-towel-6 diy-elmo-hooded-towel-4Next cut out your face pieces.  I used regular fabric for the eyes and mouth and an orange towel for the nose (since that’s what I happened to have on hand).  I just eyeballed the pieces and am actually surprised at how well they turned out!  Usually circles are extremely difficult for me. diy-elmo-hooded-towel-9Once again Crazy Little Projects recommends ironing Heat n Bond to the back the pieces and sewing them on with an appliqué stitch.  And once again I ignored this advice and just zigzagged them on as is.  I’m sure they’ll be fine… diy-elmo-hooded-towel-8There was one step on here that I’ve never seen in her other tutorials before, including the princess one.  She instructs you to sew a line across the top of the triangle and then cut it where the seam is.  Not sure why, but not one to question experts I did as told. diy-elmo-hooded-towel-3Then I did the same things as above to the bath towel.  Folded each side in about 4 inches, sewed it together.  Folded it in half to find the middle, formed a pleat and sewed it down. diy-elmo-hooded-towel-7Matched the seam of the hood to the middle of the pleat in the bath towel and attached them together. And that’s it!diy-elmo-hooded-towel-1diy-hooded-elmo-towel-10Like I said I wasn’t paying attention to make sure the right sides were together with the Elmo towel so it turns out that the seams I sewed on each side of the bath towel are facing out, not in.  I actually made this exact same mistake on Nolan’s towel.  Fortunately unless you’re looking super closely you’d never even notice the mistake.  And even if it was an obvious mistake it’s not like a 20 month old is going to care.  He’s just going to be excited to see Elmo!  I can’t wait to give them their towels Christmas morning!

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Step two: DIY advent calendar and felt tree all in one. Because I like to combine things to make life easier.

Two Christmases ago I made an Advent Calendar (is that supposed to be capitalized?  I don’t think it is.) for J.  I made one out of mason jar lids shaped into a tree, similar to this one.  I hated it.  And that goes to show just how much I really disliked it, since J reminds me every time I say the word hate, “You’re not supposed to use that word.”.  I told her there are certain times when it is okay to use it, but you have to really mean it.  And in that case I do.  The lids fell out allllll the time.

But anyway, I went to hang it up this year when we got out the rest of our decorations but it was nowhere to be found.  I asked Hubby about it and he reminded me that I threw it away last Christmas.  Good for me…if I hadn’t have bit the bullet and just thrown it away then I would just continue to use it every year for convenience purposes.  So although I was a little peeved at myself for doing it, overall I was thrilled it was actually gone.

But that meant I needed a new calendar.  I searched and searched and searched and just couldn’t find anything that I liked.  I was seeing those felt Christmas trees all over the place that people recommend for toddlers so they don’t tear apart your real tree (ha, $20 says that never ever ever works.  How is that the same to a 2 year old?!) and I wondered if I could somehow combine the two.  I decided to give it a shot

I have a ton of felt from a fabric store closing awhile back so I cut a tree out of dark green and a trunk from dark brown. diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-1I hot glued the trunk to the bottom of the tree and hung it on the wall using push pins.diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-2Not only do I have yards and yards of felt but I also have a bunch of bags of felt scraps, along with a ton of sheets of felt.  bags-of-felt-scrapsSo I got to work cutting out circle “ornaments”–one from each color.  On one side I used a permanent marker to write the day’s Christmas activity.  Then, because my activities change each year I had to figure out a way to make the numbers different.  I didn’t want to have to cut out new felt ornaments every single year…I’m lazy!  So I decided to hot glue a piece of velcro on the other side of the ornament.  I could cut numbers out of felt, put velcro on the other side and BAM, easily change the number corresponding with each activity every year.

Except that after I wrote out all of the activities and glued on all of the velcro I decided I did not like that idea.  The velcro was getting stuck on the felt and tearing it apart.  Plus making numbers was going to be a pain in the butt.  I was going to have to use my Silhouette to cut them all out and then glue them on to square pieces of felt that had velcro on the back.  And you couldn’t read any of my activities–the Sharpies bled right into the felt.  Plus my handwriting is atrocious.  So I threw out the 12 ornaments and went back to the drawing board.

And then I had an epiphany:  presents!  There are presents under the tree!  I could make 3 big presents and put four small boxes on each one.  (I only do 12 days of activities, not the whole month of December like some people.  I don’t see how they have time to do something every day when their kids are in school!!!  I had a hard time picking short/easy activities for the one week that J’s still in school during the countdown!).  And that way if I decide in the future that I want to expand on the number of days all I need to do is make more big presents.  Love it!!!

So I got to work.  I picked out three colors of felt from my collection:  red, pink and gold.  I cut a large square out of each (which were only slightly crooked.  Go me!).  Then I picked 3 coordinating colors from my felt bags for the pockets:  yellow, pink and green.  I cut four small boxes of each color (which were slightly more crooked than the presents.  Whoops.).  diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-4I went to my ribbon stash Box of Ribbonand picked out three matching ribbons:  yellow, pink and red.  I cut three pieces of each:  one to go horizontal, one vertical and one for the bow.  I hot glued the first two down, made a bow for the top and then glued that on. diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-5Then I sewed all of the boxes on.  I could’ve used hot glue but I just don’t think it works as well.  Plus those glue strings that get everywhere drive me insane.diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-6Man this project was flying it was so easy!  My last step was to get out my puffy paint stash and write the numbers on the boxes. DIY Felt Tree and Present Advent Calendar 7Now I meant to order them the other way (so 12 was in the upper left corner and then numbers would decrease) but I messed up on number one and didn’t care enough to do anything about it.  Still makes sense this way.  I set those aside to dry.

In the meantime J and I got to work on some more decorations for the tree.  I cut some garland out of the colors she wanted diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-3Which, by the way, it’s only been four days since we’ve made this tree and that crap falls off all the time.  It’s driving me insane.  I’m hoping now that there are some ornaments on there it’ll stay better.  If not it’s going in the garbage (pushed waaaaaaay down so J will never ever see it.).

I cut out some more ornaments and she decorated them with markers, glitter and felt pieces that I glued on for her.  I think they turned out cute! I had her pick out 12 to go in the boxes (to hang each day she “opens” a box) and then she hung the rest on the tree.diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-9After the puffy paint dried I tucked the scraps of paper with the day’s activity and an ornament in each box.  Here are the twelve activities I chose this year:

  • Write and mail a letter to Santa
  • Open 1 present (that one’s for Christmas Eve)
  • See the Nutcracker Ballet
  • Make cards for your teachers and bus driver
  • Make an ornament for the tree
  • Make a Christmas craft
  • Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • Watch Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Pick 10 toys to donate
  • Make and decorate sugar cookies
  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Visit Santa

diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-10Then I used a few more pushpins to hang the finished presents on the wall under the tree, and voila!  A new advent calendar that I adore!  Fingers crossed I feel the same way about this calendar in 15 days!diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-8C has shown zero interest in “decorating” the tree (which I’m not surprised about in the least) but J is enjoying it.  Until he finally does spot it and tears it all down and she throws a giant fit.  Good times.

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Time to get Christmas started…First step: DIY Snowmen Handprint Ornaments for the Grandparents!

Two years ago I decided that I was going to do some type of handprint ornament for all of the grandparents every year as part of their Christmas gift.  The first year we did the Santa Claus handprint ornament out of salt dough with J and last year I did the Mistletoe footprint ornament with both J and C (instead of doing both feet for one child I just did one of each).  After doing some searching for this year’s homemade ornament I finally settled on the Snowman handprint, which I’m sure you’ve seen a million times.  I liked how this one used a regular ornament instead of salt dough…a bit different this year.  And also very easy to incorporate both kids’ handprints on the same one.  Now next year will be tricky since I’ll have three to squeeze on there!

This ornament was super simple.  I picked up a box of 4 clear ornaments for 50% off at Hobby Lobby.  diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-bulbI always make one for us too, but my choices were either a box of 4 or 8 so I picked up a lone clear plastic ornament from Walmart for 98 cents.  Since I ended up accidentally breaking one of the Hobby Lobby ones (I didn’t even realize they were made of glass!) I should’ve picked up the larger box since I had to go back to Walmart to get another one!  Figures…

The clear ones were the cheapest so I decided to pick up some blue paint to jazz them up a bit.  I found some Extreme Glitter that I thought would work nicely.  I covered all of the ornaments with the glitter paint and then hung them up off of colored pencils to dry for a day.  You could probably use egg cartons or lots of other things…that was just the first thing I spotted.blue-glitter-paint diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-painteddiy-snowman-handprint-ornament-dryingNext was the tricky part:  handprints.  I knew I wanted to do J’s on one side and C’s on the other.  I gathered the white acrylic paint, a paintbrush, the kids, and, most importantly, Hubby.  I did J’s 5 handprints first. diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-handprint-1C got really excited when he saw what was going on and held out his hand and whined the whole time I was doing J’s.  He just couldn’t wait for his turn…so he could do this:  DIY Snowman Handprint Ornament 12Even with Hubby holding him down the little sh*t still managed to eat some paint!  Seriously, this kid.  Getting his handprint was a struggle.  As you can see, they didn’t turn out nearly as nice as J’s.  I’m perfectly fine with it though…I think it helps give it character!  At the very least you can tell that pinning down an 19 month old and getting him to nicely place a handful of apparently scrumptious paint onto a ball is nearly impossible.diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-handprint-2I once again hung them up to dry.  Can you tell which ones are C’s??diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-drying-2I painted the bottom all white and connected the snowman with snowy hills.  This would’ve looked a bit better had J and C’s hands actually been parallel to one another on the ornament, haha.  Some of the “hills” were a steep incline instead…diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-bottom diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-snowdriftsI also attempted snowflakes at this time as well.  I dotted one of the ornaments with white paint, but didn’t like the way it looked.diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-snowflakesOf course when I tried to erase the snowflakes while the paint was still wet, I dropped it and discovered once it shattered all over the floor that it was made of glass.  So they sat there for almost two weeks before the next step–I wanted to pick up another ornament from Walmart before finishing the rest of them.  And I avoid Walmart like the plague so it took awhile to actually psych myself up to get there.

Once I had my fifth ornament and painted it blue, I decorated the other four.  I used different colored Sharpies to add eyes, a carrot nose, a smile, 3 buttons, a scarf and a top hat to each snowman. diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-snowmen-1 diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-snowmen-2

On the bottom I wrote the year, Merry Christmas and C’s name.  I’ll let J write her own name under her handprint.diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-bottom-2Finally I had J and C do their handprint one last time on the remaining ornament and then painted just J’s pointer finger and had her dot the snowflakes all over.  I think it turned out much better than the paintbrush. More child-like.diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-snowflake-fingerprints

That’s it!  Finished!  diy-snowman-handprint-ornament-finishedNotice how there’s only 4 ornaments in this photo?  That’s because the last one still doesn’t have any faces yet.  $20 says it’ll stay like that until 2 minutes before I put it in the box to be shipped to a grandparent…