Lily wanted a pony birthday last week.  Not My Little Pony, not Disney Princesses with ponies, not even cowgirl - just straight up ponies.  It is quite a tall order these days to find any sort of decor that isn't a brand, so I had to resort to using my very own hands and brains.  I had already thought about a version of the mobile-garland thing I'd made for the baby shower last month, so I proceeded to do that.  Then I wanted a matching birthday banner and discovered a perfect placement for it between the hanging lights over my bar in the kitchen.  Since we haven't been in the house long, I'm still figuring out the best locations for decor for all occasions, so it gave me more than a little joy to have a banner spot established.

For both the garland and the banner I used double sided cardstock in brown & pink patterns.  I found a couple of horse pics online and printed them out to use as patterns.  A friend of mine saw the finished product and complimented my cute cricut cartridges, and she was scandalized when I explained that I don't have a cricut.  I traced with pencil and cut with scissors each little horse and all the other shapes - old school.  I wanted it girlie, so in addition to the logical horseshoe patterns, I added flowers.
I meant to take more process pictures this time, but forgot - oops.  The garland is constructed by using a needle and thread to sew each shape to the next, knotting the thread at the top and bottom of the shapes.  Then the string of shapes is sewn to the ribbon.  Construct another string of shapes and attach it to the ribbon about four to six inches over.  Keep doing this until the desired length is achieved.  I find it looks better to keep the lengths random rather than all the same.  It moves better in the air current, and it looks more aesthetically pleasing.  This one was made rather quickly, and there are things I'd change if I went back and did it again, but it worked well all in all.  I tried that green sticky mounting clay stuff instead of scotch tape this time, and I used ribbon that matched my paint rather than bright white, so the base was more subtle.

For the banner, I printed out the letters spelling out Happy Birthday, using a hollow font so I'd just get the outline, and fitting four letters to a page.  I mixed up brown and pink cardstock so the letters would end up random, and I printed it out twice.  Why twice, you may ask?  Because I'm crazy!  If you look closely at the pictures, you will notice that there are actually two different versions of the banner.   When I started planning the banner, I realized that since my kitchen faces the family room and dinning room, there would be a large amount of living space looking at the back of the banner.  So I made it double sided.  Since the cardstock was already printed on two sides, I simply cut out two sets of letters, double-stick taped them to an appropriate background print, then figured out which letter would go on the back. (Yeah, I admit that it took me more than a little time working that out, since if I put an H on back of the H and a P on back of the P one banner would end up backwards.  It bent my mind a bit working it all out - especially because the print on the back is different than the one on the front, and the color of the back letter sometimes didn't work with the background I'd chosen for the front letter.  It got wicked complicated for what seemed a simple plan.)  Two holes punched at the top corner of each card allows a thin 1/4" ribbon to be run through and knotted at each hole to keep the letters in place.  I added a rearing pony on each side of "Happy," to tie in the theme, by sewing it on with thread like the mobile banner.   And it said Happy Birthday wether you were getting a drink from the fridge, sitting at the table, or watching TV :-)
Voila!  Pony birthday!  Still not sure if it equals Isaac's Transformers birthday that was less papercrafting but more impressive Photoshop fun, but it made Lily very happy, and that is the entire point.
I've heard it said that the first step to recovery is recognition that there is a problem.  So I'm formally recognizing here that I have a problem with perfectionistic tendencies to an idiotic extent.  :-)  Remember the pettiskirts I made for Easter?  Well, I wasn't totally happy with Chloe's.  The fabric I used for the waistband section was tricot.  I thought it would be perfect because the color was exactly right and it is shiny, similar to the satin on the other girls' skirts.  But it flopped.  It didn't have enough body.  It irritated me.  Also, since I was pushing the Easter deadline when I originally made it, I got a little skimpy with the ruffles to save time.  All in all, every time the girls wore them together, Chloe's looked pathetic to me, even though it's likely that no one else ever noticed a difference.

So, I took Chloe's skirt apart and re-did it.  I got some satin instead of the tricot.  I constructed an extra layer of the skirt (two tiers & ruffle fluff).  I sewed the whole thing back together.  Yup, I'm crazy - certifiable. But check out the before and after pictures.  It was SO worth it!  And now I can put the skirts on all three girls and be filled with nothing but joy at them - no regrets.

How much fun does this look like?!  Pettiskirts are made for swinging!!  Almost better than capes!

I totally blame my perfectionist problem on my Mom and talented sisters.  I'm not the only crazy one.  Notice the gorgeous sweater that Lily is wearing - that is the handiwork of my amazing mother!  And the adorable crochet barrettes were made to match the skirts by my uber-creative sister, Natalie.  Look what I have to measure up to!!
An update on a previous blog entry, Seth won first prize for his ladybug planter in the 3rd-6th grade category!!  Poetically, the first place prize is a little planter box, seeds, and garden hand tools!  How funny is that?  Winning a planter by making a planter?  Love it.
Pin It
I had a bit of difficulty coming up with an Adam and Eve craft for the Sunbeam class last week.  Most online suggestions revolved around making snakes, which isn't the direction I wanted to go since the lesson was more of the sixth day of creation than the account in detail.  Finally, I found these hilarious little people shaped craft sticks at Hobby Lobby.  I bought some pipe-cleaners (oops, I mean chenille stems - gotta stay up on the terms), and some felt for clothes.  If I had given it some more thought, I probably would have grabbed googlie eyes too to save myself some work, but instead I painted the faces on.  E6000 attached the chenille-stem hair.  I designed and cut out felt clothes (the cheetah print just made me giggle - though Lily was disappointed that I didn't get the hot-pink cheetah print for Eve.  It would have given her a whole new image though LOL!). Double-stick tape on the back of the clothes meant that the kids got to dress their own Adam and Eve.

After I was done with the puppet-stick dolls, I wanted a puppet theater of sorts for them, so I found a coloring page online (it was actually a My Little Pony scene, and I just photo-shopped out the ponies).  I selected and copied the bottom half of the picture, and modified it to give it some shape along the top for bushes, then stretched it just about half an inch bigger than the original.  This way, when I staple it on both sides, it is a little bigger than the underneath scene and so it bows out and creates a space in between for Adam and Eve to walk around in.  When I demonstrated this for the kids, using a deep voice for Adam, saying, "Hi Eve, how are you today?" the Sunbeams looked at me like I had completely lost my mind.  Totally cracked me up!  But they got the idea and had a great time dressing their puppets, coloring the scenery, and playing out scenarios.  I love it when I start out totally clueless, with no ideas and no plans, and then something finally comes together and turns out fun.  I adore these little people-shaped craft sticks too.  So many possibilities! I'm thinking princes and princesses - fairies - all sorts of characters will soon be performing puppet shows at our house!

(P.S. My older kids helped me out and colored the scenery in the pic.  The 3 & 4 year olds' pictures turned out a bit more, um, abstract)
 For Earth day, my kids' school challenged the students to come up with projects using recycled items.  Seth spent a lot of time brainstorming - favoring ideas that would have made NASA proud, but were a great stress to me because of how complicated (and not likely to be anything but a big mess) they were.  I told him to simplify a bit - especially because, as usual, he had waited until the last minute to do the project - and he came up with a planter box.  He used a Hawaiian Punch bottle, and his Dad helped him cut a rectangle out of the side.  He GENEROUSLY spray-painted his planter to look like a ladybug.  I love the face he drew on the lid.  Craft sticks are the legs - which serve the purpose of keeping the whole thing from rolling over on its side.  After picking out and planting his plants, he finished barely in time.  He's pretty proud of his buggy bottle planter.
Just a quick little funny decoration I made for a baby shower at my house.  I wanted something to accentuate the tall double arches in my entry hallway.  I cut three different sized circles from double-sided card stock, cut daisies from white with centers from the same cardstock as the circles. I then connected the circles and daisies in random ordering using a needle and thread.  I sewed a hole in the top of the circle, knotted the thread, let the thread run down the length of the circle before poking another hole in the bottom and knotting it again, and then repeating the process to attach subsequent shapes.  Each strand of circles and flowers was sewn to a strip of grosgrain ribbon, to create the garland.

I was really pleased with the way it turned out.  It was in constant, gentle motion and looked very sweet.  I had only two issues.  First, I attached the ribbon to the arch with scotch tape, which looked really tacky - as you can see clearly in the photo.  If I hadn't been pressed for time, I would have run to the store for some removable double stick tape so that it didn't show.  Second, I cut out enough to do both arches, but ran out of assembly time.  It took A LOT longer to put together than I anticipated.  Otherwise, I think it was so much fun that I'm inspired to repeat it with variations for other events.  Hmmmmm, Lily's birthday is coming up....she wants a horse theme birthday.....oh the possibilities.
Last week's Sunbeam lesson was, "I am thankful for Birds and Bugs."  There were too many ideas for my brain to even cope with!!  Bugs made of beads, bugs made of milk-bottle lids, feathers and all sorts of fun.  I had a list of crafts and games a couple of pages long - both internet inspired and self-inspired.  For the craft project, I settled finally on doing some sort of bird feeder, so that, hopefully, the kids would be able to see some real birds sometime in the week after learning about them.  Finding a birdfeeder craft idea for preschoolers though - one that didn't involve lots of drilling of holes and adult assembly so that there wasn't much for the kids to do themselves - proved challenging.

One idea was to smear peanut-butter on a pinecone and then roll it in birdseed.  My kids made these at one point, and the birds loved them.  But in my mind's eye all I could see was peanut-butter covered toddlers and angry parents!  The second idea was to string round cereal on a pipe-cleaner and hang it in the trees.  I liked the stringing concept, but wanted something a little more appealing than a straight line.  So I decided on a triangle shaped feeder - with a straw at the bottom as a perch - and cereal strung on either side all the way up.  I had to glue the straw in the middle to keep it from slipping around, but that turned out to be a fantastic move because it stopped the cereal at the bottom so there were no worries about it falling off.  The kids loved making them - eating more of the multi-grain Cheerios than they strung!  Of course, my own kids wanted to make some too, so the pics are of my kids and their cousins making their own birdfeeders.  The birds around our house are well taken care of :-)
Pin It For the bug section of the lesson, my class played a game with riddles about bugs and talked about helpful bugs and dangerous bugs.  I found a fantastic picture of a butterfly drinking from a flower with its long, straw-like mouth, and came up with the idea to have the kids drink like butterflies.  I printed off a simple flower pattern, cut it out, punched a small hole in the center, and stapled it to a capri-sun with the hole in the flower leaving the capri-sun straw hole exposed.  This worked great because I was able to leave the straws covered and attached to each drink, so it was all sanitary and self-contained.  I think that kids always enjoy a capri-sun, but this time, drinking like butterflies out of their flowers, they LOVED it!  I didn't anticipate just how much they would get a kick out of it - or how many giggles would result.

There was one crazy sideline from my lesson prep.  I discovered a new fascination.  I spent way too much time enthralled by pictures of Ambush Bugs.  While looking for great pictures of bugs and birds to show the kids (I've discovered the power of taking our laptop to show pictures, because then they aren't clipart versions, they are actual photos and the kids get really engaged), I was looking for pictures of stickbugs and katydids, and found these amazing Ambush Bugs.  I am so intrigued!!  One of these days that I have extra time on my hands (maybe when I'm 90) I have got to find out how these bugs end up looking the way they do.  Are specific ones always born on specific plants?  Or do they adapt as they grow to whatever flower they are living on?  Whatever happens, they are wicked cool, and further evidence of how teaching pre-schoolers can open our eyes to new things.   Can you find the bugs in the pictures?  Aren't they amazing?  I'm SO intrigued!!

While the debate rages on in scientific and philosophic circles about Nature vs. Nurture, I think that simple observation of a multiple-childhood household provides ample evidence of both.  Obviously children in similar environments will develop similar traits.  And what is the point of teaching them at all, if Nature determines development exclusively.  However, anyone who has more than one child, raised in the same household, knows that these little beings absolutely come pre-programmed with personality.  In this instance, my evidence comes from two of my children's reactions to the Disney movie, Tarzan.
When Lily watched Tarzan first, at about four or five years old, she was very emotional and upset by the gorillas' treatment of Tarzan.  Every time the "Daddy monkey" came on the screen, she would curl up and hide her eyes.  She asked me, her eyes brimming with tears, "why are they being so mean to Tarzan?  He can't help how he looks."  She ended up putting Tarzan in her least-favorite movie category, despite the happy ending. 

Fast forward a few years to last week, and now Chloe is watching Tarzan for the first time.   She also gets upset at the treatment Tarzan receives, but with completely different reason.  She says to me, "why are they making it look like the Daddy monkey is mean?  He's absolutely right - Tarzan is a human, and nothing he can do will ever change that."  Through the rest of the movie, she rolled her eyes and snorted at what, to her, was an illogical lie.  Tarzan couldn't be a gorilla.  It's the truth, why try to get around it?  And why should those who speak the truth be vilified?  Chloe put Tarzan in her least-favorite movie category too, mostly because of the happy ending.
How can two little girls raised in the same house have such opposite gut-reactions to the identical story-line?  Because Lily is Lily, and Chloe is Chloe. That's all I know.  I can't wait to see how their different outlooks play out as they grow up.  I see Lily as an artist, maybe a veterinarian, or a social worker - Chloe as a lawyer, a politician, or a princess.   Time will tell.
(For the record, Chloe did actually use the phrase, "absolutely right."  I giggled about that for quite a while.)

I promised more about projects with my ruffler foot, and here I am to deliver.  As with everything in my life though, there is a story as well, so sit back and enjoy.  Easter dresses are one of my favorite sewing projects (second only to Halloween Costumes).  I start thinking about them months in advance.  This year was no different.  But this year, because of General Conference, we didn't have church on Easter Sunday.  For some, that would be no big deal, but for me - a crazy tradition freak - all it meant was confusion because what then would the kids wear to Grandma June's house for the egg hunt?  That hunt always results in the most darling pictures, and I love when the kids look their best around all the relatives.  But white dress shoes to get scuffed and tights to get shredded, as they do every year, were definitely out.  I cast about for an idea for more casual outfits.

It is here in our story that I discovered pettiskirts.  I saw a little girl wearing one and my first thought was a wish that I were a little girl again so that I could wear one - followed closely by the next thought that I do have three little girls.  Yay!  But I absolutely HATE gathering, and I could see that it would be hellish to make, so I decided to *GASP* buy some.  Made some calls, found a store that carries them, went with Lily to pick some out, found out that they cost *GASP* $70 per skirt!!!  Alright, I can find them online for cheaper, right?  Slightly.  Try $50 per skirt.  OK then, back to making them.  Looked for some tutorials online (we'll come back to those), was intrigued by how the skirts are assembled, and decided to forge ahead and make my own.

First challenge: they take a TON of fabric!  Over ten yards per skirt.  Even at only $2 a yard, that is $20 for fabric that then requires time and effort to make it into a skirt.  And $2 a yard isn't likely.  I began to see why they are so expensive.

Second challenge: no place local carries the fabric the skirts are made out of.  It has to be Nylon chiffon, not polyester.  OK, order it online.  Even with shipping, it is still costing me less than $70 a skirt, right?  I found a website that actually sells the fabric on rolls in various widths so that I don't even have to cut all of the insane yardages of fabric into strips.  YAY!

Third challenge: I mis-figured.  I ordered less fabric than I needed, it actually takes EVEN MORE - but ordering more would mean shipping costs again, which would make them ridiculously expensive all over again.  So, instead, improvise.

Finally: still HATE to gather.  Solution: my new ruffler foot that made the whole thing possible!!

Evey's skirt went fine, but it was making hers that I realized that I would run up short on fabric.  For Lily's I tried skimping a little, and according to my math it was going to work just fine.  I was sharing some of the same fabric with Chloe's, and by reducing a tiny bit on both, I would have enough.  Only I didn't.  So at the very last minute, with two skirts made and one sad little Chloe, I tried calling every obscure fabric store I could find.  One place had some of a similar fabric - but only in baby blue.  Hmmm.  Well, baby blue it is!
So here are some pics of the process, as well as the results.  Actually worth every second of anguish, I think, just for the twirly fun the girls had.  I think I'll be re-doing part of Chloe's because the fabric for the waistband isn't stiff enough for my taste.  But otherwise I'm pretty pleased with my pettitskirt persistence.

I found excellent tutorials at 

The first step is the ruffle fluff.  I ended up using about 35 linear yards on Evey's.  I didn't really keep track of Lily or Chloe's, but it was probably close to the same, maybe 40 yards.  Based on the tutorial instructions, they all should have been more in the 60 yard range, but I was dealing with my mis-figuring, plus learning the ruffler foot functions.  Instead of 3 to one on the ruffle-to-tier ratio, I think mine was more like 2.66 to one.  I didn't notice much of a difference though in mine and the ones at the store.

Once the ruffle fluff is attached to the bottom tier, they, together, are attached to the top tier, then sewn to the long edge of the waistband, just like in the tutorial.  The waistband is 2 x the waist measurement in length, and 2 x a tier in width.  (For Evey, the waistband was 38" long by 8" wide because her waist is 19 inches and the tiers are each 4" wide).  Repeat the process: fluff to tier, tier to tier, tier to waistband on the remaining long edge.  It looks like this. 

It's amazing how fluffy it gets!  This is just one side of fluff  and tiers before being sewn to the waistband.

Now it's just a matter of sewing the ends to each other, sewing a casing, and voila!  At least, according to the tutorials.  I, myself, topstitched the waistband, sealing it all together rather than leaving it open to the elastic casing.  Also, as you can see from this picture, it was a bit see-through.  (can you see my hand & ring?) I planned on having the girls wear leggings underneath, but for times when they weren't, I went ahead and added one more layer - a built in slip with the same fabric I used for the waistband.

The "look" I wanted with the skirts included tight little girl t-shirts, knee-length leggings, and converse chucks.  The weather was colder than expected, so jackets were added on-the-fly, but I was quite pleased with the overall look.  I found pink sparkle chucks for Evey that made me happier than is rational.  Lily's shoes had sparkly toes, and Chloe's were plain - unacceptable.  So Easter Eve I was gluing tiny jewels on Chloe's shoes so that she could sparkle too.  How much fun to have girls! 

© 2012. Design by Main-Blogger - Blogger Template and Blogging Stuff