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Okay so Felt Mats are Just as Addicting as Quiet Books…

After making a road felt mat for C for his 2nd birthday I wondered if I could make a princess version for J.  In case you’ve forgotten (oh, if only I could forget…) she is completely obsessed with the Disney Princesses.  She has a bunch of these pop up board games that came with tiny princess figurines to play.  I think we played the games about a dozen times before she completely abandoned them and now just carries the princesses around with her everywhere.  Between those and her sets of felt people, I thought it would be fun to make a princess mat for her to play on!

I started off like I do with all projects:  Pinterest.  Unsurprisingly these aren’t nearly as popular as the car mats are.  I found three possible inspirations.  First, a Tangled one on My Decoupaged Life.  Although I loved it, I didn’t want to focus on just one princess story.  In retrospect I do kind of wish I would’ve got this route instead–made a small felt mat for each princess.  I just might do that down the road…

The second one I found was a little bit different.  Instead of focusing on the outside, All the Joy made the inside of the castle.  I stored this idea away for the future.

The one I relied on the most for ideas was A Girl and a Glue Gun.  I decided to make a mat that included something from each princess story.

One mistake I made was to make this project while J was home sick from school for a week.  I got a lot of input from her, which was both good and bad.  Like she wouldn’t let me include anything for Mulan, Pocohantas or Merida, even though that had been my original plan.  She’s only had the mat for a couple of weeks and she’s already complaining that they don’t have a home.  I knew I shouldn’t take advice from a 5 year old!

When making all of the buildings I referred to Google images for pictures of what they looked like in the movies and then did my best to replicate them.  I did a better job on some…  The animals especially turned out rather interesting…

I started off with a piece of dark green felt for the background.  I added a square of white for Elsa’s kingdom and dark brown for the woods.  Together those two were the same length as the dark green.  I cut a strip of light blue for the sky that was the same width as the dark green/white.  Last, I cut some dark blue for Ariel’s ocean.  I cut the top so it resembled waves.

I also wish I would’ve made it bigger.  I didn’t realize just how much larger C’s mat was until I had already cut the background felt for J’s mat and it was too late to make it bigger without having to scrap the pieces I had.  It didn’t need to be much bigger, but a little bit would’ve been nicer.

But here’s the final product, warts and all!

J requested the North Mountain first…no surprises there.  I made an Ice Castle for Elsa.  I used blue and white puffy paint to embellish it a bit and glued just one side of the door down so it “opens”.  I cut out a sleigh and Sven, a bunch of white triangles to represent mountains or snow mounds or something.  The light blue is a path for the princesses to walk on (J requested markings on the part leading up to the castle for stairs).  Marshmallow is guarding the castle and Oaken’s Trading Post is in the bottom corner.  diy-princess-felt-mat-north-mountainNext we worked on the woods.  I made a stream that leads to the ocean.  There’s a bridge that crosses over it.  The woods are supposed to represent Pocahontas, Merida, Snow White and Aurora all at once.  J requested a bench, an owl, squirrels and the three fairies from Aurora (just in case you were wondering what the hell those shapes were, hahaha).  The orangish/brownish felt is the path.diy-princess-felt-mat-woodsThe ocean scene was up next.  This one turned out to be waaaaay to spacious.  I should’ve made Ariel’s castle a lot bigger, but I didn’t realize how small it was until I had already glued it together and I didn’t feel like starting from scratch.  But this section has Ariel’s underwater palace, Eric’s ship, sunken treasure (I just needed something to throw in there!), Sebastian, Flounder (not sure where he is…), Ursula and her lair.  I also made Flotsam and Jetsam but by the time I was ready to glue the underwater scene down I had lost them.  I think they ended up getting swept up with all of the other felt scraps.  I haven’t gotten around to making another one set of them yet.  diy-princess-felt-mat-ocean

And then the rest of mat all crammed together.  Aurora’s cottage and spinning wheel.  A bookstore and fountain from Beauty and the Beast.  The Snuggly Duckling, tower and cave from Tangled.  The Wishing Well from Snow White (J had me add a blue sapphire ring at the bottom.  There’s a short story about Cinderella we read once where she lost her ring in the well and the mice had to retrieve it).  A pumpkin and carriage from Cinderella.  Tiana’s Palace (which I had to fight J tooth and nail so I could add it).   The magic carpet from Aladdin.  And, most importantly, Cinderella’s castle.

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I also added a back to the mat.  Since I used a bunch of different felts to make the different backgrounds I figured it would help to make it roll up easier.  Although really this mat isn’t large enough to roll.

I finished the edges of the front and back with some ribbon.

Voila, finished!  J uses it all of the time, just like I thought she would.  I really am considering making a different mat for each story.  Hmmm, maybe I’ll start that right now…

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The Original Quiet Book, Part Four. Hooray!

Okay, this is it!!!  My last three quiet book pages I made for J’s original quiet book (check out parts one, two and three if you haven’t already), the cover and some general musings about the whole process.

Mailbox page is up next.  quiet-book-original-mailbox-page-2 quiet-book-original-mailbox-page-3 quiet-book-original-mailbox-page-4This one is a two-parter.  The left page has a pocket to hold a few markers/pens and a pocket for a small notebook.  The opposite page is the mailbox.  These pages are everywhere so you really shouldn’t have a hard time finding one you like.  I modeled the pocket page off of this post and the mailbox from this one.

do not like these pages.  The pen and notebook both fall out of the pocket all of the time.  And the mailbox is junk.  Which is due to my novice quiet book making status and sewing skills, not to Imagine Our Life’s instructions in the slightest!  As you can tell from the picture below, my button and ribbon combination did not work well.  J was never able to loop the ribbon behind the button, which I’m not sure if that’s due to the button being too small or the ribbon too thick or what.  Either way the ribbon is falling off now.quiet-book-original-mailbox-page-1Technically the rest of the page works but I just don’t like how it looks in general.  I made a similar page for Nolan’s quiet book, which I think turned out much better.  You can read about it here.mailbox-supplies-quiet-book-page-2 mailbox-quiet-book-page-2I need to ask Amanda how everything is holding up, and if it’s good then make a carbon copy of that page for C.  And in J’s new quiet book just include a place for a small notebook and pack of crayons to be stored somewhere.  You’re never too old to color!

The next set of pages are two that I added a bit down the road.  When she was 3 she was absolutely obsessed with playing doctor for about 6 months.  And I mean totally obsessed.  The moment Hubby walked in the door until bedtime that’s all she wanted to play with him.  She has a My Life doll we named Wendy and poor Wendy was constantly in fires and needed to be fixed up.  It’s been two years since she’s asked Hubby to play it with him and I think he’s still burnt out on it.  But I thought a Doctor’s Kit would be a great addition to the book.
quiet-book-original-doctors-kit-page-2 quiet-book-original-doctors-kit-page-1Ugh, this is another one that makes me cringe when I look at it.  I couldn’t find anything online that I liked and apparently this is what happens when I design a page myself.  On the left page I figured out a way to attach the stethscope.  I took four rectangles of fabric about the same size, added velcro to each end and sewed half of each one directly onto the page.  And then you simply slip the stethoscope piece into the flap and fold the other end over and secure the velcro.  It works really well.  The thermometer doesn’t actually go there (all of the loops are for the stethoscope) but J must’ve popped it over there at some point.

The opposite page is just three pockets to hold doctors supplies.  The only thing that I found in there now is some gauze, but it used to hold a thermometer, a medicine dropper, a reflex hammer, an eye-checker-thing (obviously that’s it’s official name), gauze, two of those huge bandage things that you can use as a cast/wrap your ankle/sling/etc, and some bandaids.  Oh and a few surgical masks.  All of the stuff I either bought from the Dollar Tree or was duplicates of what she had in her doctor’s kit at home.  And let me tell you:  bandaids are a brilliant idea for keeping toddlers occupied either at home or in the car.  J would spend hours putting bandaids on herself, her stuffed animals and us.  Of course she was a good kid and all we had to do was tell her one time that bandaids don’t belong anywhere else except those three places and she remembered (and followed) that forever.  Other kids may not be so good…

Although this page is perfectly functional I hate the fabric that I used.  I tried and tried to find some doctor’s-type fabric but to no avail.  I had a bunch of this crappy yellow stretch knit and figured it’d work fine, which it does…it’s just not appealing.  And this is another example when it was a waste to use up two pages.  One would have been sufficient.

I made a similar page for Nolan’s quiet book, which turned out much better.  Minus the fact that I majorly messed up the pocket so all of the stuff is going to fall out, hahaha.  If C gets into the doctor thing I’ll make a page like that for him instead.  You can see how I made it here.quiet-book-doctors-kit-page-6Last but not least, the rainbow and name page! quiet-book-rainbow-and-name-page-2 quiet-book-rainbow-and-name-page-2 quiet-book-rainbow-and-name-page-1This one is okay.  I got the idea for the name here.  I saw a few sites where I could’ve used velcro instead, but that seemed too easy and there was a ton of velcro throughout the rest of the book, so I wanted something else.  I think the buttons were too hard for J though, because she only ever laid the letters on top.  And although I liked the idea of felt rainbow and thought it looked really neat, she only put it together once or twice.  Either because she didn’t care or it was too difficult for her.  Obviously she knows how to write her name now so this page can go into the garbage.  I’ll probably make one for C down the road but find a different way to attach the letters.  Maybe snaps?  Nolan will get a page like this first so I’ll experiment on him 😉

So that’s it for the pages.  Let’s talk cover now.  I researched the crap out of how to make a quiet book cover.  It’s been so long since I’ve made it that I really can’t remember much about it…except that I cried and seam ripped a lot.  One thing I know for sure is that I did not like the ribbon for handles.  It isn’t sturdy enough.  Otherwise the cover is okay.  I put a ton of pockets on there, which is good since a lot of my pages wouldn’t actually hold the pieces so I needed some extra storage, haha.  j-quiet-book-cover-4 j-quiet-book-cover-5 j'-quiet-book-cover-1j-quiet-book-cover-3 j-quiet-book-cover-2This one and this one are two of the four blogs that I have saved that the links still work that I used as a reference…I have no idea what I took from where.  However, you can read all about how I made Nolan’s quiet book cover here.  That should help tremendously if making your own.

General thoughts:

  1. Hate the ribbon as a handle for the cover
  2. The pages are too big.  I think I went with 12×12?  So once they were finished about 11×11.  Although great when spread out on the floor, it’s just not practical in the car.  Way too big.
  3. Felt, iron-on Heat n Bond and muslin are not friends.  As you probably noticed while looking at my pages, a bunch of the felt letters fell off.  Which is fine…in retrospect the pages didn’t need titles anyway.  Now ironing fabric on with Heat n Bond works great.
  4. Close/secure all pockets.  It doesn’t matter what’s being stored in it or how big it is, it’s going to fall out.
  5. 3/8″ grommets are way too big for the pages.  I couldn’t find anything smaller until I finally bought my Crop-a-Dile, which uses eyelets instead.  Game changer.
  6. Making quiet books is extremely addictive.  Going through and writing these posts have made me itching to make some more pages.  We currently have three books:  J’s Original Quiet Book, the ABC Quiet Book and a mini Baby Quiet Book (that C never played with even though I tried my hardest to get him to.  Bastard.)

I think that’s it!  Hope you learned lots of what-not-to-do things and got some ideas on pages that might work for your little one!  Check back to see future posts about the ABC and Baby books!

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The Original Quiet Book, Part Two

Don’t judge me on the quality of these pages.  I made this book for J about 3 years ago and although my quiet book sewing skills may not be extraordinary and amazing now, they’re definitely a lot better than when I started out.  I love the idea behind most of these pages…just not the application, haha.  You can check out some of the other pages in Part One.

The Seasons page.  This one is actually one of my favorites.  J never really got into it, although I don’t know if it’s just because she was too young or there were too many pieces or what.  But I absolutely love this page.  quiet-book-seasons-page-3 quiet-book-seasons-page-4quiet-book-seasons-page-5quiet-book-seasons-page-2 quiet-book-seasons-page-1This post and this post were my main inspirations for this page.  I made the grass into a pocket but didn’t put anything across it to keep the stuff in, so I ended up shoving it all into the pocket on the back cover, which has velcro on it.  Fortunately I managed not to lose any pieces!  (The “spring” and “summer” labels were just never finished in general, haha).j-quiet-book-cover-2Remember in Nolan’s ladybug quiet book page I said I had a bunch of snaps leftover from a previous project?  The project that made me cry several times because I kept on hand sewing the snaps on incorrectly?  Well this is the one.  I used 4 different sizes of snaps.  For the first size I made a snow cloud, a rain cloud and a regular cloud.  The second size were a sun and a moon.  The third size were the things that went onto the tree:  spring flowers, summer leaves, fall leaves and snow.  And the last size was the name of the season.  That way she couldn’t snap the leaves in the sky or anything like that.  Maybe that’s part of what made it so confusing for her?  Although I really do think she never played with it just because there were so many pieces it made it hard to do in the car.  And she just didn’t understand/care enough about the idea behind it.  Either way I’m keeping this one for a future book just because of all of the effort that went into it!

The next one never ever got played with.  It’s going straight into the trash.  It’s a combined hair and face page.quiet-book-make-a-face-pageI was going for something like this.  I don’t know what happened, but mine just didn’t turn out very nicely.  I don’t know if it’s because the head’s too small or the hair too long or if the face pieces I made were just creepy looking.  Regardless, J never played with this page, either with the hair or the Make a Face pieces.  I think it’s hilarious that even though she never played with it, almost all of the pieces are missing.  How did that even happen?? Definitely the garbage for this one!

Dress-up closet.quiet-book-getting-dressed-page-2 quiet-book-getting-dressed-page-4quiet-book-getting-dressed-page-1quiet-book-getting-dressed-page-3It’s easy to tell that I used this blog and this blog for inspiration here!  I wanted to put two people on there instead of just one, so I used Serving Pink Lemonade’s template for the size instead.  I also used this blog to make a few princess dresses.

I remember when I was making this page that I cut out two tan people, but when I went to sew them on I could only find one.  By that point I was out of skin tone felt, so I cut one out of dark brown instead.  And wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I sewed both of them down I found the missing person.  So I just shoved it in the closet with the rest of the clothes so she had a third person to dress.  Looking at the picture I can tell that some of the clothing is missing.  There used to be a full firefighter outfit (she was obsessed with firefighters for the longest time), along with a couple of princess dresses and some shoes.

That’s another one that I’ll just get rid of.  She has another dress-up page in the ABC quiet book that’s just one big person and she plays with that one a lot more.  Of course that’s probably because it’s filed under the letter Q for Queen, so it’s only princess dresses and witch outfits, haha.  But the fabric I used on the closet wasn’t a good one and it’s fraying like crazy so you can only unzip it about 3/4 of the way now.  Now she did play with this one quite a bit, but I don’t see C being too into it in the future.  He’s more of a truck and train guy.

Next up:  laundry day!  This is another one of my favorite pages.  Even if there are only 3 socks left, and none of them match hahahaha!quiet-book-laundry-page-3 quiet-book-laundry-page-2I had two websites listed for inspiration, but only one of the links still works, this one.  This is the one that I followed the directions to make the washer, but not the clothesline.  I really liked the idea I saw somewhere else of making a clothesline with mini clothespins for the socks to hang up on, so that’s what I did.  J played with this one a decent amount.  And fortunately it’s one that I don’t really have to do anything to in order to keep it…minus cutting out some more socks haha!

Another easy page:  match the colors.quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-original quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-originalHere’s my inspiration post.  This is another one that I had two websites listed, but only one link currently works.  I liked the idea of doing balloons and shapes, so I decided to combine them.  This page ended up being a bit confusing for J because some of the ribbons didn’t quite match up with the felt colors.  Like the best I could do for light brown was that blue ribbon with a dark brown stripe (in the bottom photo it’s the one with the red heart on it).  I think it  confused her since some of the shades were different.  Hmmm, maybe my child isn’t the smartest on the block… Just kidding!

I made a similar page for Nolan and I think that one turned out much better.  quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-finished-2That’s it for now.  Check out Part Three next week!

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The Original Quiet Book, Part One

Okay so I’m about to slam you with posts about quiet book pages.  I’m actually writing a lot of these posts in advance and then scheduling them to publish automatically over the next few months.  I’m 8 months pregnant with our third child and am assuming that once he or she (we’re not finding out the sex this time and I love it!!) pops out, this blog is going to be the least of my concerns.  So I figured I’d stock up on a bunch of quick and easy quiet book posts and give myself some breathing room.  Especially since I’m also not currently involved in any projects and one of my goals for the last two years has been to revamp our quiet books.  I’m hoping this will be the motivation I need!

I can’t even remember now how I stumbled on quiet books.  I made J’s first one about 3 years ago and immediately became addicted.  You can tell that this was my first attempt and that I was just getting back into sewing after taking a 10+ year hiatus.  Not that my more recent pages (like Nolan’s quiet book) are amazing and awesome, but you can definitely see the difference in quality.  Hence why I want to revamp this one.

Fortunately I created a Word document that lists all of my pages, the inspiration pages I used to create each one and the materials I needed.  That’s going to make blogging about a project I did over 3 years ago ten times easier!  And I’ll be able to give credit to others where it’s due…I was wondering how that was going to work.

So this is the order the pages are in the Quiet Book.  First is a pirate treasure chest page.  quiet-book-pirate-page-3 quiet-book-pirate-page-2 quiet-book-pirate-page-1As you can tell, this one needs a lot of love.  I had seen a ton of lock and key quiet book pages when doing my research and I thought the idea of a pirate’s chest was neat.  I could put “treasures” like necklaces, gold coins and, for longer car rides, lollipops/other treats.  This and this example were my primary inspiration for my final product.  I didn’t want to “waste” two pages so I combined it all into one by nixing the treasure map.  I used this tutorial to make the pirate patch, which belongs in the chest.  I winged making the sword, which as you can see didn’t go too well.  The handle is super flimsy and I didn’t make the pattern pieces big enough to flip them so the raw edges were inside.  And I had some issues getting it to stick on the page.  There used to be a lock and key, but the red X I made wasn’t exactly great and the key wouldn’t actually stay inside.  And eventually the ribbon completely broke off so I had to remove the lock as well since the chest was now impossible to open.  J never really got into the pirate thing, so minus checking for candy every time she used her book (which 9 times out of 10 I forgot to put some in…) she never used this page.  I may or may not revamp this one for C…I haven’t decided yet.

Next is 5 Little Monkeys, which is actually one of my favorite pages.  J really enjoyed this one as well.  Definitely a keeper!quiet-book-5-little-monkeys-page-4 quiet-book-5-little-monkeys-page-3 quiet-book-5-little-monkeys-page-2 quiet-book-5-little-monkeys-page-1This one is actually still in pretty good shape.  One of the monkeys is lost and the number 2 pillow is missing its number, but other than that it’s good!  When I made the finger puppets originally they were too small, so I had to make another set down the road.  And of course those ones were too big.  I really despise making finger puppets.  That’s one of those things I’d just rather pay for!

I used this tutorial for the telephone.  I thought it would’ve been cool to find an old school telephone cord, but I couldn’t find one anywhere so I just stuck with ribbon instead. I used my Silhouette to cut numbers out of felt for the pad.

I really loved Imagine Our Life’s 5 Little Monkeys page but there was absolutely no way I could do anything that elaborate, so I dumbed it down for my skill level.  I loved the idea of having the monkeys tuck into the bed and that they each have their own spot.  I used my trusty Silhouette to cut out the numbers for the monkeys and pillows.  And then the damn things wouldn’t stay in the bed, so I ended up hot gluing velcro inside the bedspread to hold them in place.  For the monkeys I followed these instructions, just adding bellies and tails.  I even matched the googly eyes with the numbers!

Next up:  counting petals.  quiet-book-flower-page-2 quiet-book-flower-page-1I followed Serving Pink Lemonade‘s directions and used her template to make this page.  Except I have 10 instead of 8, so I must’ve resized it since my pages are bigger.

This one is a very straight forward page that, amazingly enough, is still intact.  Although I think it’s funny that the number 2 is missing, which is the same number from the 5 Little Monkeys page!  I did go back and draw the outline of the petals onto the flower since J was too young at that point to know which order they went in.  Looking back on it now, it really doesn’t matter if they were right or not.  I should’ve left it alone and she could order them however she wanted until she was old enough to look at the numbers and figure it out herself.  I don’t think J ever used it all that much, but since it’s still in working order I’ll keep this one as well.

Tie Your Shoes page.  quiet-book-tie-your-shoes-page-2 quiet-book-tie-your-shoes-page-1I relied on this tutorial for my instructions and template.  Totally not her fault mine turned out so crappy, haha…my sewing skills were just majorly lacking.

This one definitely needs to be thrown out and completely redone.  I like the background fabric that I used, but that’s about it.  The grommets are huge (this was early in my quiet book addiction so those are the only size I had.  And I hadn’t even heard of the magic Crop-a-Dile, which was going to make my addiction sooooo much easier!).  J was definitely way too young for this page.  I’m thinking about starting a brand new book for her with much smaller pages, and if I do this would be one of them.  Now that she’s 5 shoe tying is going to be an important skill.  Or I could just make one of those shoe tying boards.  Although then again, the kid refuses to wear sneakers and if this trend continues she won’t “need” to learn how to do it until she’s like 15.  Seriously, whose child is she?!

Okay, last one for today.  The fishing pages.quiet-book-fishing-page-2 quiet-book-fishing-page-1The link I used for my inspiration is now broken, so that blog must not be around anymore.  But I cut fish out of felt (they’re so realistic looking aren’t they 😉 ) and hot glued paper clips onto the back.  Then I made a fishing rod from a small dowel rod, tied (and hot glued) a piece of yarn around it.  I cut two worm shapes out of felt, put a magnet inside and hot glued it together and then onto the end of the string.  I made a pocket for the fishing rod, but as you can see since the rod is missing, it didn’t work all that well.

I know, these two pages are totally redundant.  I thought it would be a neat idea to have her “catch” the fish in the ocean and then put them in the goldfish bowl.  What a waste of space.  I mean she did use this page a decent amount, but not enough to justify taking up two pages.  I do like the idea of it and this would definitely be a page I would redo in the future for C.  Except I would make only the ocean scene.  And I would either make the sand on the bottom a pocket to store the fish and rod, or do what I ended up doing and making a special pocket on the cover just for the fish (the bottom one with the fish on it.  Obviously). j-quiet-book-cover-1So that’s it for today!  Check back next week for more pages in Part Two!

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New set of Quiet Book Pages for Nolan: Matching Balloons

I’m seriously loving giving my fake nephew quiet book pages for his birthday and Christmas every year.  It takes the guesswork out of figuring out what to get him.  And, since I already have most of the materials on hand, it’s super cheap too.  I’m all about DIY gifts for people this year.  That or gift cards.  Keep it simple man!

I decided to give him 4 new pages:  match-the-colors balloon, doctor’s, Wheels on the Bus and ladybug.  I started with the one that I definitely already had everything on hand for:  match-the-colors.

I made a very similar page in J’s original quiet book so I already knew exactly what I wanted to do.  quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-originalAnd, amazingly enough, this page actually turned out well the first time around so there weren’t any adjustments to be made!  Seeings as almost all of her quiet book pages need to be revamped, that’s truly a miracle.

I started with the pocket.  Every year (okay last year was the first year, but I plan on it being a tradition!) I make the kids matching Christmas pjs.  I ended up with a ton of leftover fabric that I have absolutely zero use for, so I figured that I would make the balloon pocket out red reindeer fabric.  Even though it makes absolutely no sense.

I made the pocket the same way as always:  cut a rectangle that’s extremely uneven, fold the raw edges in to make it slightly more even, sew the top edge down, pin it onto the fabric and sew the other three sides on.  I sewed it onto the bottom right corner.

Next I pulled out my box o ribbon (super organized isn’t it?!) and my bags upon bags of felt.  box-of-ribbonbags-of-felt-scrapsI picked out 7 colors that I had some of both of:  black, green, yellow, purple, blue, red and pink.  I cut 7 different shapes out of each color felt:  rectangle, triangle, crescent moon, heart, diamond, square and oval.  I made a rough layout with the ribbon to make sure I was spacing everything well enough and then got to work.  Super easy, but veerrrrrrrry tedious.

I started with the red.  I sewed the ribbon down (this one tucked behind the pocket so I just cut two pieces out and then lined it up so it looked like it was all one long piece) and then put the soft side of white velcro on top of the ribbon.  I sewed the scratchy piece onto the back of the red square. quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-1Green was next.quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-3

Followed by yellow, and then black.quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-4Then green and purple.quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-5

And finally, pink.quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-6I used white velcro for all of the shapes but when I sewed it down I made sure to use the color of the matching shape.  quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-thread-2 quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-thread-1

Now I thought it was pretty simple:  pick a shape, follow its matching ribbon and put it on the piece of velcro with the corresponding color.  When J was younger she didn’t really understand, however.  She would get confused as to where to put certain pieces.  I think that’s because sometimes I used ribbon that was two different colors (like for brown the ribbon was actually brown and blue).  I’m going to tell Amanda that Nolan doesn’t get it she can trace the shapes with a marker to make it easier to figure out.  I didn’t want to do that though because once he gets a bit older that makes it really simple.

And that’s it!quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-finished-2 quiet-book-match-the-colors-balloon-page-finished-1

diy-fort-kit-19
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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

diy-felt-tree-and-present-advent-calendar-8
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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.

Quiet Book Counting Octopus Page
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1…2…3…

I knew I also wanted to do a counting page in Nolan’s quiet book.  When researching other quiet book pages awhile back I saw this pin on Pinterest and it really stuck with me, so I decided to do that one.  Plus I have this gigantic bag of beads that I got a thrift store last year that desperately needs to be thinned out.  Especially since I already have one of those plastic bead organizers that’s already completely full of beads.

Bead Bag

The original page is an octopus (at least that’s what I’m assuming since it has 8 legs.  I could be wrong).  I decided to just go all the way to 10 instead so technically mine is a jellyfish.  Or an octopus that’s the victim of some crazy genetic disorder; whichever you prefer.

counting-octopus-quiet-book-page

This page was ridiculously simple.  I would’ve finished it all in one nap session, but of course it figured that this was the day C decided to take only a 40 minute nap and just happened to wake up the moment I closed J’s door for her rest time.  Literally.  Man it’s irritating when their nap times don’t coincide!  Especially when C is crabby after taking such a short nap.  And then I get crabby.  And that causes J to be crabby.  And then Hubby gets home a few hours later and probably wishes that he was still at work.  I desperately need that time to myself in the afternoons.  When J is at preschool (excuse me, Pre-K, as she immediately corrects me.  Every single time.) in the morning and C takes his first nap I do a quick 30 minute work out and then with my remaining time hurry to pick up the house or do some of the dinner prep or clean the bathrooms.  Nap time, however, is my time.  It’s how I keep my sanity.

Wow that was a major digression.  Sorry about that.

Anyway.  The page.  So first I went through my felt box.  I didn’t want to use fabric since the jellyfish was going to be curved and I didn’t want to have to worry about fraying.  Which was a shame because I could’ve used some super cute fabric!  I found the most interesting felt I had–glitter red.  I laid the felt down on the muslim page and eyeballed how big I wanted him to be.  I made sure to leave at least 2 inches free on each side so there would be plenty of room after sewing the pages together.  Then I cut out a body shape similar to the pin I found that I was using for inspiration.

Next I went over to my ridiculous ribbon collection.

Box of RibbonSuper organized, isn’t it?  That’s on my to-do list.  Sigh.

I chose 2 ribbon types that have the little loops on the sides–yellow and blue.  I cut 5 pieces of each color.  Then I went through my bag o’ beads and picked 10 different colors.  My OCD kicked in and I decided to make it a pattern.  Will anyone ever notice?  Probably not.  But it made me feel better and that’s all that matters.  I organized them a pattern and then pushed each bead onto the corresponding ribbon.  I tied the bottom into approximately 6 knots to make sure there was no way they were coming off.   Then I flipped the octopus jellyfish over and laid the ribbon on the back.

octopus-quiet-book-page-back

As you can see when I cut the ribbon it was all different sizes.  I lined the bottoms up as close as I could and pinned them down.  It took several re-pins before I was satisfied.  Which was a pain in the butt.  And it wasn’t until I flipped it over and got ready to sew that I noticed they weren’t spaced out evenly (see 5 & 6 in the finished photo?).  But I definitely didn’t care.  Good enough for a 1 year old!  I sewed across the jellyfish 2 times–I wanted to make sure there was no way Nolan could pull it off.  I didn’t want to inadvertently kill the kid with his Christmas present.

Next I debated if I wanted to make a background or just leave the page plain.  I thought about sewing down some blue fabric on the entire page to represent the ocean.  And/or some seaweed.  But I made the jellyfish pretty large and the bead strings were long so I decided it looked fine as it was.  Plain was better in this case.  But it did need something, so I went ahead and made a face.  I kept it super simple and just sewed 2 pink felt circles for the cheeks and a large white felt mouth.  I hot glued 2 googly eyes from J’s craft stash on there.  Then I used some black puffy paint to make eyelashes.  That part turned out a bit funky, but I still like it.

I pinned the jellyfish down and sewed her onto the page.  Finally, I wrote the numbers in puffy paint above the corresponding bead string and voila, finished!  I think she turned out pretty cute 🙂