Montessori Listening Jars Activity

Yesterday I made a new Montessori (Montessodium as A calls it) activity for J. Whenever I make a learning activity for J I want it to be as pretty as it is fun, because I think that visual appeal goes along way for kids–especially in getting them to get the activity off the shelf on their own.

So. I saved up some baby food jars.

baby food jars

Ripped up some pretty blue tissue paper.

ripped tissue paper

Paper mache’d the jars…twice actually.  (I used Elmer’s glue mixed with water)

paper mache the jars enough to so that the jar isn't translucent anymore.

Applied a layer of modge podge for that pretty sheen and added durability, and spray painted the lids white.

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And now the fun part.  I put in all different kinds of things for the kids to shake. I put in the same thing in two separate so they can find the matching sound for each.

I have ten jars (so five sets). I put in Q-tips (cut in half), uncooked rice, dried pasta, raw kidney beans, and pennies (those are listed from softest to loudest).

J and I had fun shaking and listening and identifying LOUD sounds vs. SOFT sounds, and then (with my help), we identified the matching sounds.


Having fun shaking our listening jars!

The Motherboard Frame

Well, at least MY geeky man did. I saw this a while back in a magazine (can’t remember which one), and I knew it would make my true-love’s heart sing. So for Vday I made one.I think it made a great guy-gift.

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If you have a nerdy man who would like a frame like this one, here’s how I made it: (warning: there ARE some legit tools used in this project)

Buy a frame that has a completely flat surface (I got mine at the dollar store).

Finagle yourself an old motherboard (I went to PC Laptops, and asked if they had any around. The dude actually removed one from a dead computer he had).

Remove all the chunky stuff (I’m talking about the resisters and capacitors and PCI slots, chip set etc–Allan totally helped me with the vocab just now).  Mine had a lot. Hopefully you can find one with minimal stuff.  To remove it all, I soldered off all the little components in the BACK , and then once it was all melted, we removed all the stuff on the front with a wrench.  When I say “we” I mean my upstairs neighbor and I. He has pretty much every tool imaginable, and I’ve been the happy benefactress of these tools (and his help) MANY times.  (Thanks Jayson!!)

Trace the outline of your frame onto the motherboard once it’s all cleared of excess chunkage. I used a dry erase marker.

Cut out the center of your frame first. Drill four holes in the corners, large enough for your jig-saw blade.

Then cut out the center with your jig-saw. Make sure you use a blade meant for metal. Clamp it down, and insert your blade into one of the drilled holes, and then cut from hole to hole. Smooth it out as needed.

Finally cut around the outside of your frame. Smooth it out.

Glue to your frame. I just used hot glue.

Stick a photo in, and make your honey smile.

Office Chair Reupholster

The Tribe household has been in a tragic chair famine. Just ask my poor sewing students–they’ve suffered more than anyone. I’m ASHAMED to admit that they’ve spent some time on their knees because there wasn’t a free chair.

I found this office chair at DI for $8, and this fabric from Ikea for $6 a yard. It looks pretty fresh, don’t you agree? Too bad I really hate re-upholstering stuff. It’s so dirty and grimy and my mind always wanders and I end up imagining what kind of nasty history the furniture might have that I’m now touching. Ughgh. And really, I can’t think of a worse project to do with kids around. All the staples and dirty old upholstery. I can only do it with my husband around to coral the kids. And it really hurts my hands! Pulling out all those staples!

BUT, in the end I’m usually so thrilled with the final result, that I forget the pain and suffering involved, and buy more furniture that needs reupholstering. Like my maybe a set of retro dining chairs. You know, in a way, it’s a lot like childbirth.

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Dresser Redo

When Allan and I were getting married and trying to scrounge up furniture, we found these two beauties at a massive college apartment furniture sale for $10 a piece. They were probably overpriced. They’re the cheap laminate wood, but they’ve held up surprisingly well. I’ve always hated them, and planned on replacing them ASAP, but ASAP turned into As Soon As I-get-around-to-it, and then.. IDRSMOMIT (I’d Rather Spend Money On More Important Things). So I FINALLY decided to make them a little more bearable, seeing as they’re probably sticking around for awhile. First I cut off the two inside lips, and pushed the two together. Then I used a stencil from Ed Roth’s Stencil 101 Décor (thanks again, Aundi), and  a few coats of polyurethane for durability. I like it! I wouldn’t do this to a solid wood piece of furniture, but I don’t feel a bit of remorse painting veneer!

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Braided-Neck Tee

When making your own clothes,  you take what fabric you can get. A neighbor and friend gave me TONS of fabric she was clearing out, among which I found this blue knit.  The sleeves were supposed to be different–I can’t remember what—but I do remember that they didn’t turn out, and they became little bubble sleeves. I messed up cutting the body, and it turned out more fitted than I originally planned. And I tried to put a facing on this neckline–instead of a band–didn’t like how it looked, and from there was born the braid. This shirt has never been my favorite, but considering it was just one accident after another, it turned out okay.

The tutorial for this is the quickest and dirtiest of all.

Make a really long braid from your fabric scraps.

Tack them on by hand.

Spill applesauce all over it. Yep, I pulled this shirt from the dirty laundry for the picture.

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Tiered Circle Sleeve Tee

I saw this tee in Real Simple over the summer, and I liked the sleeves. They were pretty and not really me. I drafted the pattern using the techniques I learned here. I have the original 198-something version, but the cool thing about fashion, is that it all comes ’round again.

PS I knew that the fabric for this had to have a nice drape, and usually knits aren’t stand-out drapers. So when I found a white drapey fabric at Hancock’s, I thought “wow. that would be awesome for that yellow shirt I want to make. Huh. Too bad I wouldn’t like it in white.”  And then it so happens I was also buying another thicker white knit for a doll I was making my gal, and since they didn’t have flesh colored, I  picked up some dye to MAKE her fleshy. HELLO. So of COURSE the obvious answer was to dye my perfect drapey white fabric for the yellow shirt that I actually decided to make teal instead. Nice.

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Flower Cluster Tee and Party Tee

These two shirts get featured together because they have one thing in common–I didn’t make them.  I simply embellished them.

I drew my sweet sis-in-law for Christmas, and so I bought this tee, made the flowers, and then sewed them on (and don’t you know, I spent 5 X longer on this shirt I didn’t make, than all the ones I did!) Here’s the quick and dirty tutorial for you–

1. Make pretty flowers.

2. Hand sew them onto a piece of tulle.

3. Iron on some interfacing onto the backside of your t-shirt where the detail will go.

4. Sew the tulle–not the flowers–onto the shirt with a sewing machine.

Our second feature is the Party Tee. I call it that because when I wear it I think…”*sigh* I wish I were at a party…..HEY! There’s a party on my SHIRT!”

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I’m certainly not the only one to figure this one out (but you MUST know I DID figure it out myself, and didn’t see it on anyone else’s blog!) Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Really. I get lots of ideas of other peep’s blogs. Just not this one. Anyway. So I saw this shirt first at my go-to favorite, Jcrew. Well go-to favorite place to shop for ideas not clothes. Too pricey. Anyway–I saw it there, and quickly figured out that all it is is hearts tacked on in a cluster. Easy peasy. I first did with this coral number, but unfortunately, I forgot to prewash the fabric, and it shrunk UP. Yikes.  So I tried it again with this blue shirt I got on clearance at Down East Outfitters. I didn’t like the length of the sleeve–just barely too long. So I cut it right at the band, and re-attached it higher up. Then I had this extra fabric, and I thought, “hmm…what should I do with this extra fabric? Hey! I think I’ll throw a party on my shirt!”

*Note. On my coral shirt the “petals” are softer, and then on  my blue one it looks more like confetti. Jcrew’s version has even bigger, softer petals. It has to do with the heart’s humps (is that what you call ’em??). On my coral shirt, I cut the heart pretty mediumish. (see my drawing, for heaven’s sake!) Then with the blue shirt, I made the whole heart wider, and flatter, with longer humps. This made them roll up, rather than softly curl, giving the edges a more pointy look. Jcrew’s are a little bigger, and less flat. I like all three. BUT CAREFUL! I’ve seen people do the hearts skinny and tall. Yikes. No likey. Oh! I also forgot that with the blue, I really packed those suckers in there, where as with the coral there are less. The quick and dirty tutorial:

1. Cut a bunch of hearts from your fabric.

2. Sew them on in a cluster to your shirt’s neckline. Sew just a short line through the center of your heart. Heck, just tack it there somehow.

Um, that’s it.

Cascade Ruffle-Front Tee

When I first tried this on for my husband, he said “Wow. You made yourself a Puffy Shirt.” That is this shirt’s true and rightful name–I just put “Cascade Ruffle Front”  on the tutorial because it sounded more searchable.  Besides Seinfeld, I saw this shirt first at Jcrew, but have since seen it surface other places.  This took me just over an hour to whip up, and I bought the fabric for $2.25 (a yard and a half) at Hancock’s in their bargain fabric section.  Definitely my new go-to shirt.

See the Puffy Shirt Tutorial below!

PLEASE don’t judge me for my photo shoots.  I really was talking to my mom on the phone. I had to do it sometime (take these pictures of course). Modeling for these photos was the WwwwwwwwWORST part of doing all this. Ughg. So, sorry..

Before you start this tutorial you’ll need to cut out 4-5 strips of fabric (the same as your t-shirt fabric…or not, whatever you want)  that are cut in a descending size i.e. 3 inches by 17 inches, 3 X 15, 3 X 13, 3 X 11, 3 X 9.

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Hope you dig!  May your ruffles be the puffiest of all!

Ruched-Front Tee

My sister Em gifted me this awesome black knit for my birthday last year (I believe she found it at Wal-mart’s $1 fabrics).  Thanks Em!  I also had some gauzy black fabric from an old AE skirt that I was cutting up to make a dress for Twinkle. This is what the marriage of the two became.

And PS I know you can’t see the detail in front here, but look at the shape here in the first, and the detail in the second.

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ugh. this close-up makes nervous. Note the detail. Not….anything else.

FYI, this is not the text-book definition of ruching, but I think ruching generally refers to a gathered embellishment, or element of clothing.

Ruched-Front T-shirt Tutorial:

1. CUT YOUR STRIPS. Find  a really stretchy or gauzy fabric that matches/coordinates with your t-shirt (made or bought, but finished). You want to cut 2 strips of fabric with a width that (when put together) equal the width you want your detail to end up.  Mine were like 4 inches wide each, and the length should be at least double that. Let’s say 4 X 10 inches.

2. BASTE AND GATHER.  Baste the edges of both you strips, and then gather each side, leaving the outside edges a little longer on top (to accommodate for the neckline).

3. Position the gathered strips on the “yoke” or front of your shirt, and pin. Make sure the top edge is shaped and rounded with the neckline.  Zig-zag, or, if you like the raw-edge look and don’t plan on adding any additional trim, then just straight-stitch it on.  Sew ALL four sides of both strips.

4. Baste a long piece of ribbon or thin strip of fabric that matches/coordinates (I don’t know how long, just make it real long), and gather it up.

5. Sew that sucker on around and barely on top of the outside edges of your wide gathered strips, around the neck, and then down the middle (you cut a separate piece for the middle).  Don’t worry if the ribbon twists and is not lying flat. Doesn’t matter. Just sew over it all. It’s part of the look.

Have fun and don’t sew your finger!

Hemming Knit Fabric on a Sewing Machine

Ready? This may be the world’s easiest tutorial. Knit can be hard to sew, and for many a project I wanted to know how I could just finish an edge simply. HOW DO YOU HEM KNIT?!?! Of course this is the simplest solution ever, but it was a revelation to me.

1 Fold it under. I don’t iron, I don’t pin. I just simply fold it under.

2. Then, setting my machine to an overlock stitch, I align my presser foot up with the edge of the fabric.

*NOTE!!! I usually use a my STRETCH twin needle to hem the bottom and sleeves of my t-shirts nowadays. It looks more professional looking. I’ve also found that using a strip of soft knit interfacing along the edge can really help stablize the fabric, and reduce any slipping or rippling. I found mine at my local fabric store, but something like Sof’ Knit from HTC.

3. Then I sew, securing that folded edge down. Make sure to keep your fabric in place, as it has a tendency to slide unfolded. Uhh, maybe pinning would help with that..

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4. When you use a coordinating color, this gives you clothes a nice finished edge.

For a more professional look, use a straight stitch. The trick is to use a 1/2″ bias strip of soft knit interfacing and then stretch the fabric slightly as you sew. This might sound crazy, but with a little stretch and the interfacing, the straight stitch will acquire a little give, and prevent breakage.

Good luck!

Reverse Applique Tee

Boring title. Fun shirt. The story on this shirt was that I’ve made approximately a ton of tee shirts, but never documented the process. So this one came out of necessity, but not because I needed a shirt. Because I needed a tutorial. I didn’t have enough of anything at home, so I had to run to Hancock’s again and I picked this slinky stuff because of it’s fun color. Allan told me just hours before that he likes girls in green shirts. I wondered what girls, but he said only me. He USED to like other girls in green, but now he only likes ME in green. Good save.

PS See Reverse Applique tutorial below!

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So, FYI. This is my technique. As in, the way I figured it out. Just so you know…

1. Lightly sketch your design on some light-weight fusible interfacing. *Note–your design must be a completed shape–no open ends. Cut around it, iron it on the fabric you want to peek through, and then cut around that.

2. Position and pin that beauty on, (with your shirt in-side-out), and your interfacing facing up. Make any alterations you want to your design.

3. Sew exactly over your sketched-design.

4. Starting with a tiny little snip (maybe even use a seam ripper),cut out your design just inside your stitching. MAKE SURE TO ONLY CUT THE OUTER LAYER OF FABRIC (the shirt). YOU WANT THE BACK FABRIC TO BE UNSCATHED SO IT CAN PEEK THROUGH.

5. Trim around your design on the inside of your shirt.


Arm and Waist Band Tutorial

I always like me a good arm or waist band.  They’re are a great way to finish off the edges because it dresses up a shirt just enough to make it feel a little more classy.

Arm and waist bands are done exactly the same.  For this tutorial I’ll try to explain both simultaneously.

1. MEASURE AND CUT. Measure the circumference of  your arm (or waist for the waist band). Add 1/2 inch. That will be the full width of your band. (For a waistband, you can also divide the circumference of your waist in half, and then cut TWO pieces that length that you will sew together).  The height is simply double the height you want it end up.  For an arm band I usually make it around 2-3 inches (waist bands are usually thicker around  6-8 inches for a wide band).  Cut 2 from your fabric for an arm band, and 1 for a waistband (2 if you have two halves).

2. FOLD AND SEW.  Fold in half hamburger style (right-sides-together) with the short ends together.  Overlock. You’ll have a ring.

3. FOLD AGAIN.  Now fold the ring in half, lengthwise, in on itself, wrong sides together, matching the raw edges. The right sides are facing out.

4.PIN AND SEW.  On the RIGHT side of your sleeve/shirt, place that puppy on, matching the raw edges of your sleeve/shirt, and the raw edges of the band.  It should be flipped up towards the shirt at this point.

If you’re doing an arm band, pin the seam of the band to the underarm seam of the arm opening. For the waistband, pin the seam of the band to a side seam. Now, for both arm and waistbands, pull your band out and find the opposite middle point. This will be pinned to the opposite middle point (the opposite middle of your sleeve, or the opposite side seam).  Continue this process, finding the middle point between your two pins of both the band and the sleeve/shirt.  You’re centering the band over the opening, and you should keep it up until that bad boy is pinned really well. Overlock around entire opening.

5. Ta Da! Flip it down, and you should have a rockin’ armband or waistband.