Friday, April 30, 2010

Washcloth Puppet Tutorial

Puppets for bathtime!  Take your older washcloths that are still usable and make them into something great!   So far the favorite seems to be the shark.  I was trying to figure out a crab, but I think it would need to be more of a glove than the mitten puppet.

-washcloths or hand towels
-2-3" of ribbon
-detail fabrics for fins (I used satin for the green fin on the alligator, hot pink spandex for the fish)
-fabric marker or buttons for eyes
-thread/ sewing machine/ pins
**To make these even easier, you could use fleece, felt, or knit for the fins/ arms.  The body and mouth of puppet should be washcloths or towels, but you aren't cleaning with the details so you can use fabrics that won't fray and dry quickly

**when you print your pattern be sure to change  the print settings for your printer in Page Scalings to None, or to print Borderless.
Your printer may also let you know the page is beyond the printing range, click print anyway.
The bodies of the shark and alligator puppets should be the entire width of the 8 1/2 x 11 copy paper when printed out.  If they aren't when you print, the pattern will still be to scale, the puppets will just be a little smaller.**
If this PDF file printing seems confusing, email me: and I will email the pattern in a Microsoft word document that you can just print that way.  Please put "washcloth puppet pattern" as the subject of your email.

The tutorial shows step by step for the alligator puppet. But the patterns for the fish and shark are here too. The steps are the same, just switching arms for fins.

1. Cut out pieces

I traced the patterns with a sharpie. 

You'll only need 1 fin and 2 feet if you're using knit, fleece, or felt.  Any other fabric, like my lime satin, you need to cut 2 fins, 4 feet.

Cut out the pieces.
*With the alligator, I left an edge around them when I cut them out to make it easier to sew since I was flipping them right-side-out later.

2. Eyes
There are lots of options with the eyes and gills (shark and fish). 
The fish was a little fancier and I sewed button eyes and zig-zagged with a short stitch length to make the pink gills.

The alligator and shark I kept it simple by just drawing on the eyes and shark gills with a fabric marker. 

***At this point if you are using the fleece/ felt/ knit legs and fins, you can skip to step 5***

3. Make Head Fin
Starting with the head fin, put the 2 pieces right side together.

Sew 1/4" seam allowance along the zig zag of the fin. 
*Fish is more of a curve
Snip the top of the points off, but don't snip down to the thread

Snip the valleys of the dips straight down, but don't snip the thread

Turn the fin right side out and press with an iron. It's done!

*For the fish I used a wave stitch in lime green on the edges to add some detail

4. Make Arm Fins or Legs
Put the legs right sides together. Sew along the marker, leaving the bottom unsewn.

Trim the edges as shown in the left foot.

Using tweezers (I use surgical hemostats) reach in and pinch the end of the foot, and pull it out, turning the feet right-side-out. 

You can use the tweezers or a pen with lid on it to push the little toes out

Sew with 1/4" to 1/8" seam allowance.
Trim the tip of the point like the alligator head fin
Turn right side out.

5. Pin and Sew Arms to Body
On the right side of the body, pin on the legs, or arm fins according to the pattern.

Sew on the legs/ fins. 
I zig-zagged with a shorter length stitch (1) and narrow stitch width (2 to 2.5) back and forth to secure the legs and arm fins to the body

6. Sew the Head Seam and Fin
Pin the head fin to one side of the body

Fold the other straight edge and pin it to the other side.
So you have a sandwich of washcloth, fin, washcloth.  The washcloth body is right sides together with the feet folded inside.

Sew along the top 1/4" from the edge

7. Pin on the mouth
Lay the puppet on its back, still inside out.  Fold back the bottom lip.

Line up your mouth to all the edges.

Pin mouth to head all the way around.

8. Sew Mouth on Puppet
Flip your puppet so the mouth (red) is flat on the table.  I rolled the body of the puppet up so I could see easier the shape I was sewing.  Sew 1/4" from the edge and just go all around the mouth.

**This is probably the trickiest part.  Just go slow around the corners, and adjust the rolled body that is sitting on top to keep it out of the way.

The alligator is more of a mushroom shape, fish is an oval, and shark is more of a diamond.
Snip the corner of the mouth, but don't snip thread.

Turn the puppet right side out.

9. Hem the End and Add Ribbon
Now your puppet is pretty much finished, and right side out.  Fold the end under about 1/4" to 1/2".  Fold the ribbon in half and pin so it's hanging out the back.
Sew along the edge with 1/4" seam allowance.  When I sew over the ribbon, I go back and forth a couple of times to secure it on well

Your puppet is finished!

*Extra options:
I sewed the hem of the fish with the same wave stitch for extra detail.
I top-stitched along the lips of the alligator and shark, but liked the puffy lip look on the fish.

I'm sure many of you will end up with cuter puppets and I'd love to see your twists on this idea!  I briefly tried to find waterproof googly eyes, but ended up keeping things simple.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Baking Box

This was my first wood-working project that I completed all on my own!

I have these little jars that sit on my counter, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  I've always wanted a little storage box to take up less space and make them look more organized.

I'm working on a larger project, and had scraps of this 1/4" thick MDF.  MDF is a pressed wood that is great for crafts because it's super smooth and easy to cut.  There's no wood grain, so you have to paint it, but it makes things a lot easier, since real wood has knots, warps, and isn't as consistent.

Because it was only 1/4" thick, I didn't nail it at all.  Just wood glue and clamps.  My mom has a band saw that I used for the cuts.  First time operating a saw and it was pretty fun and easy.

I obviously still need to paint it, but I'm still deciding on the colors of the kitchen when we move.  I'm thinking to have a few red accessories. 

What do you think of this little box in red?  I'm thinking a darker barn red rather than bright cherry red.
I bought the jars for $3.00 and just measured them to plan the dimensions for the storage box.  I didn't make the box quite as deep as the jars, because I wanted the lids to poke out from the ledge a little bit.  I will eventually have labels on the jars rather than just my writing with a thin Sharpie.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fabric for Living Room

There were great sales at Hancock Fabrics for their upholstery, drapery, and outdoor fabric!  We're in the process of purchasing our first home and have very little furniture, and most are hand-me-downs.  So I got these fabrics for great deals with the plan to take crap and make it great on a budget. 

This olive green/ brown/ blue color scheme came from first grabbing the upholstery weight suede.  Then we (my mom and I) found the the chocolate floral print that coordinated.  I liked the blue in the floral print and already had the blue broadcloth in my cart I'd grabbed of the 70% off table.  Finally I thought the stripe would add a different pattern and texture to the mix, further combining the blue and olive green. 

It was quite exciting putting it all together from all the different discount bins and different areas.  The brown floral print is actually outdoor fabric, so durable, and soil & stain resistant.  Great for kids!

All this fabric is also a kick off in my next adventure.... learning to upholster!
I'll document the process as it unfolds.  I'm not very good, or have zero experience in decorating a home.  I guess the sewing comfort zone is what made me begin the whole plan with the fabric and we'll work on paint colors and the rest from there.  Fabric was my base.  I like the colors scheme a lot.  My mom doesn't like the blue, but I love it.  Maybe in 10 years I'll wonder what I was thinking, but for now I am excited.

I'm glad I was able to find the scheme of fabric I like while the sales were going on, but I really need to pack and not begin making accessory pillows, so this fabric will most likely be put aside until it can be a higher priority.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Birdcage Tutorial

or week 1 of SYTYC, the theme was Folksy.  I made a birdcage with 2 love birds inside, and little paper butterflies resting on the twisty tendrils of the cage.  Here is the tutorial to make the birdcage!

-grapevine (approx 20 feet or so)
-thin floral wire
-wire clippers
-deli lid
-keychain ring
-hot glue gun
-finish supplies: scrapbook paper, cardboard, ribbon etc.

My mom has grapes in her yard, and pruned them a month or so ago, so there was a large pile I chose from.  If you have a neighbor with grapes, they may also have spare vines from last season.  I don't, but I also thought if you live near vineyards that may be another source to collect some vine.

But if you don't have grape plants near you, I found a few retail sources to get some.
Here's a website  that offers a variety of thicknesses in straight sticks or wreaths:
Hobby Lobby or JoAnn's also carry grapevine wreaths for $1.25 to $2.00.  It may take more than one wreath potentially, it just depends on how large the wreath is, and how tightly they've woven the vines.  Other craft stores may also have grapevine.

****You will be shaping the grapevine, so if it is older and dry, you could soak it in water for 24 hours or so to help it soften up so you can bend it without breaking.  If you are using a wreath that is already round, you may not have to really shape your vines.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Newsie Outfit

I made this little Newsie suit for my son.  These are his 2 year old photos.
I used a pair of his more stylish jeans (more straight/ skinny leg) as the pattern.  They are slip on pants with elastic in the back to hold them on.  I sewed a faux zipper fly and tab front to make them look more like trousers, even though they are pretty much just pajama pants with pockets.
Pretty much the same technique as this tutorial, but added the pockets.

The vest I used a sleeveless t-shirt as the pattern.  It ended up way too huge, so I wish I'd used a more fitted shirt for my pattern.  I ended up fixing the boxy big vest with darts in the back.
I made the newsie hat, based an adult hat I had to adjust for children sizes.  To make the brim stiff, I used a $0.19 foam sheet.

I am actually planning on creating a formal PDF pattern to sell in my etsy shop.  Through the process, I ended up adapting the pattern for a few different head sizes, to finally get it right for his head.  So if you are interested, I'll keep you updated as I get it together and available for purchase.
The tutorial to make your own suspenders are HERE.

My husband thought this photo made him look like a tough little street newsie.
photography by Jacquel at Moments by Design

In Your Face Dad!

My dad saw the painted filing cabinet and said:
"Wow.  That looks a lot better.  You can't even tell it's junk now."

So thank you for that.
photo of my little sister, Lynette and my Dad.  He's pretty great...and yes those are his regular prescription glasses.  He says they're just like Clark Kent's.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


With the weather warming up, yard sales have been popping up.  I bought this metal file cabinet for $10.00.

My husband said I paid too much and it looked like junk.  I asked my dad if he could show me how to use his power washer to clean it up and he also asked how much I paid for it.  "Total rip-off".  Even my mom said it wasn't worth the money.

Well I thought I could make something great out of this junk.

2. WASH with soap & water (I also power washed it to begin with)
3. SAND THE EXTERIOR: I just had a little handheld sander.  I read it's important to sand the metal to rough up the surface for the paint to stick
4. PAINT WITH PRIMER You can read on the back to make sure your primer works for metal surfaces.  I used paint and applied with rollers.  I just wasn't in the mood to spray paint all that area

5. SPRAY PAINT INTERIOR: The cabinet was an ugly green/gray color--I guess your typical metal file cabinet from the 60s.  So I used cheap $1/ can white spray paint to get a cleaner look.  You can see I didn't do multiple coats.  I just did a basic coat since most of the time these drawers should be shut and you'd rarely see it why paint the insides at all?  It was only $2.00 worth of paint.

HARDWARE: I cleaned and used sandpaper on the hardware.  Then I just spray painted it white.  I did take time to spray multiple coats so the hardware is nice and smooth and totally white.

CABINET: I used paint again with a roller to apply the paint to the cabinet.  I chose Glidden Spanish Olive for the color.  I've always wanted an olive green piece of furniture, and a file cabinet seemed small enough I could give it a try and if I didn't like the color afterall, it's only the file cabinet.
I painted 2 coats.

The thumb trigger hardware to unlatch each drawer didn't come off easily, so I just hand painted them at the end.

Here's the finished project!

My editing is pretty crappy around the edges, so here's the actual shot in the garage.

I think this looks like it was worth $10 + a little paint. 


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