Monday, December 15, 2014

How To Make a Barbie Doll Quilt

My daughter loves to put her Barbies to bed. For Christmas I made her a full sized toddler quilt and a matching lap quilt in Frozen movie themed colors to go with her posters and toys. It's her favorite movie right now, she loves to sing all the songs and enjoys anything Elsa and Anna related. With the leftover tiny scraps I decided to make a Barbie sized quilt to match. This is a fun and easy project to do with your little quilt scraps.
These are the leftover squares from making the larger quilts, they were originally cut as 4 1/2" squares to allow for 1/4" seams.
After considering how to get the most tiny squares out of my scraps, I cut the 4 1/2" squares into 1 1/2" squares. That allowed for 9 tiny squares per block.

 After cutting as many 1 1/4" squares as possible, I used my quilting grid to lay out my squares in a pattern. I always start with the boldest color and then fill in around it.

 I used the main pattern of my daughter's toddler bed quilt so they would match, and I had already spent a lot of time working out the pattern to look like a snowflake starburst.
 Next, I folded over the second row on top of the first, then stacked the pairs from bottom to top to be fed through the sewing machine in that order, sewing the right edge on each pair. This helps me keep the blocks organized.
 Here are some of the paired rows sewn together in long strings, like those Mexican flags. You can open the pairs up and press them with an iron before continuing.
 Next I sewed the pairs together in long columns. There was one column of three at the end because I used an uneven number of rows. Try to iron in between each step, it makes the seams come out more evenly.
 After I sewed the tall rows together, I needed a few more inches to make it Barbie bed sized. Since this was my first doll quilt, I really didn't know how big to make it. You could add a few more rows of squares, or several borders, depending on your taste. I had some long skinny strips left over that fit perfectly.
 I used the finished, ironed top to measure out a backing piece. I also had leftover material from putting the backs on the bigger quilts.
I sewed the top and back together with right sides facing, leaving a hole about 3-4 inches long in one side to flip the whole thing right-side out later. In a similar manner, I used the measurement just inside the outer seam to cut a piece of extra batting. This could be made of felt, or skipped altogether for something as small as a doll blanket.
 Now it was time to flip! My mom always told me to roll the edges inward and that helps keep the batting in place while you push it through the hole.
 To flip everything right-side out, stuff it all through the hole you left and carefully spread it out, pushing the corners out and straightening any clumped batting inside. Hand-stitch or machine sew the hole closed on the edge.
 Here's the finished quilt! Some people use embroidery floss to make little ties at the corners and keep the batting in place, or "quilt" the top using "stitching in the ditch" in certain areas, and the more skilled quilters do elaborate swirls and such. I doubt the batting on a doll quilt is going to move much, but I stitched a few lines around the middle square and outside of the pattern to keep it all in place.
 I think the two doll quilts turned out super cute! The doll bedding will match her toddler bed and lap blanket perfectly. She seemed very happy when I handed them to her, and that's all I care about. What a great use for those tiny scraps... I'm sure I will be making more in the future!

Thanks for reading! Quilts and other fun costumes & accessories can be found at my ETSY shop, Isles of Day. Join me at Isles of Day on Facebook & Pinterest, and keep up with my blog at Deep Forest Groove! Blessings to you.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Color Boxes for Montessori Toddler Sorting & Sensory Activities

Last year I was browsing through an educational toy catalogue when I discovered the color boxes. There was a set of 4 primary colors, created out of sewn fabric boxes, and filled with objects representing the colors (In the yellow box, a stuffed banana, sun, lemon, etc.).
Of course, I had to go really wild with the idea. I found small cardboard boxes at the craft store and painted them 8 shades of the pastel rainbow using acrylic paints, with 8 shades of the jewel toned rainbow represented on the insides. I lined the inside of each lid with coordinating colored felt so the lids wouldn't stick when closed.

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Pink, Silver/Grey

I placed them all in a larger white cardboard box, also found at the craft store for about $5.

 I sealed them with a coat of non-toxic clear acrylic. These should not be used with toddlers that like to chew on things... my two year old no longer does.

 Inside, I glued the felt circles of coordinating colors so they wouldn't stick when closed.

A beautiful display! We love finding treasures of all colors to place inside the boxes. Additionally there could be a brown and a black box added to the collection.

Hope you enjoyed this idea, please continue to follow us on Deep Forest Groove, or visit our Facebook at Isles of Day! Blessings to you!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Make a Barbie Bed for Under $10

As a consummate fool for DIY, it is difficult for me to pay full price for an object I know I could make. My daughter has an obsession with putting her dollies and stuffed animals to bed. She covers them with little blankies and says "close your eyes" and tells me they are sleeping. So I knew it was time to give her Barbies a proper place to lay their nappy heads.

I shopped fruitlessly for a sturdy looking, affordable bed choice for the dollies, and concluded that I was either going to spend $20 on some sub-par plastic garbage from somewhere in Asia, or $30-$50 for a hand-crafted wooden model. For a doll, this was too much. I knew immediately I had to make it myself.

Upon reading several tutorials about making one out of a cereal box, pencils, & colorful duck tape, I hit the local Michael's Crafts to see what I could find. Lo and behold, in the unfinished wood aisle I came across two shallow wooden boxes that nested perfectly within each other, for under $10 combined!

The important thing is to find a base that is at least 12" long, to fit the height of the Barbies. Even if you do not find two boxes that nest perfectly, if you can find something as wide or slightly wider that you can butt up against the base as a headboard it will still work.

I measured the headboard box (which was 10" square) at the 3 1/2" mark and cut it with a skil saw set on it's shallowest depth to reduce splintering. If you do not have this option, perhaps you could find two shorter plaques to use as the ends, or leave off the footboard.

The next step was to wood-glue the ends on, clamping them with simple kitchen bag clips for a couple hours until the Tacky Glue dried. 

See, doesn't Barbie look comfortable? Oh wait, maybe she needs a mattress or something! LOL 

After painting the entire thing navy blue (the flash brightened it up) with basic craft paint, I wood-glued a sheet of sequins to the inside of the header & footer for interest, topped with a row of acrylic jewels to fill the gap at the top. 

The white you see showing behind the sequins is actually wet glue. It will dry clear in a few hours. I painted hot pink behind the jeweled sheet so anything showing through would match. And because, well, Barbie!

After the paint was dry (and I may go back and add a layer of clear with glitter in it to seal it later, we'll see...) it was time to make this bed a little more comfortable for the fake plastic ladies who would inhabit it. (And maybe someday, Ken if he's lucky. Although I may have to make a couch for him. Or a doghouse. LOL)

I used fabric scraps to make a little mattress and pillows. Using the size of the bed base for a measurement, I cut the pieces 1/2" wider all the way around to allow for the 1/4" seams. I sewed it inside out, leaving a hole in one end to stuff it with batting. Then I flipped it and stuffed it with flat batting. You could use a piece of flat foam or a scrap of bubble wrap if you don't have any batting, lots of things could work. Then I simply sewed the end shut by rolling the open part over once and zig-zag stitching. The pillows were made the same way.

I found a couple blanket scraps I liked and made both a thin navy and a thick pink blanket for the bed. I suppose the thin one could be used as a sheet if your kiddos are old enough to get that concept. I did hem the edges about 1/4" all the way around to give it a finished look. If you are sewing by hand and using fabric that doesn't fray, you could get away with skipping that step and still be fine. make sure to measure a little wider than the bed so the blankies drape nicely over the sides.

At this point you could really do anything with this, paint little designs or stencils on it, embellish it with those wooden painted hearts or flowers they sell in the wood aisle at the craft store, cover it with acrylic jewels, whatever your little girl would like best. I tried to keep it simple because my daughter is still really young, but if your child is older perhaps including them in the process, or making a little quilt together for the bed would be fun.

Hope this tutorial helps save you money and give you the perfect custom option! Join me for other costume and crafting fun at Isles of Day on Facebook!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Super Mario Brothers Cosplay & Question Mark Boxes

We have eclectic cosplay tastes here in my little circle. What could be more poignant, I ask you, than a vintage Mario & Luigi cosplay for the upcoming Rose City Comic Con?

In an attempt to be ironic, or iconic if you will, we designed an epic prop to pay tribute to a game I know most of the 30-somethings will appreciate from their childhood Nintendo memories: the Question Mark Box. Filled with coins, mushrooms, or stars of invincibility to assist you on your journey through Mario Land, the bright yellow boxes were the ripe cherries of loot just waiting to be picked. 

These costumes were budget-friendly and super fun to wear. We used real work overalls, and essential part of life in the forest if you don't appreciate blackberry scratches or crawling under a house in normal clothes. The hats, shirts, moustaches & gloves were purchased for a song from various sources such as Goodwill, Ebay & Party City's Halloween selection.

The construction of the Question Mark Boxes began with a simple square cardboard box from Uhaul. They sell book boxes which are perfect squares. We removed the top flaps and glued the bottom flaps securely shut. After applying several base coats of white paint and caulking, the construction of a wooden dowel internal frame began. 

After the dowels were inserted in the bottom center & reinforced with hot glue around the holes, a criss-crossed frame was zip-tied in place and glued to the box at each corner. I padded my plastic mesh star with some crumpled paper to add a 3-D element and prevent collapse of the shape. The dowel ran up the middle.

 The mushroom was heavier, so my friend added structural supports all the way around his box to brace the framework. His dowels actually passed through the plastic mushroom shape we had formed out of fence mesh and zip ties. This was the most lightweight, flexible material we had on hand to form the star and mushroom shapes.

At this stage we went on to print out a Question Mark template from the computer (found easily on Google Images) and traced it onto the four sides of the boxes. We added yellow paint around the designs, leaving the question marks white. The upper insides of the boxes were shadowed black, as well as any exposed dowel material. The star and mushroom shapes were padded with batting before being covered in fabric scraps from my extensive collection of costume remnants.

The fabric was hot-glued to the star, since it was a rubbery shower curtain material. Polar fleece eyes were also hot-glued on.

The mushroom top required a little more work. I had to "sew" the red fabric on using flexible craft wire, poking it through the fabric and plastic mesh with large stitches. The white fabric and eyes were glued on just like the star.

After completion, we took these little accessories all around the Con, resting the dowel ends in our pockets to alleviate the pressure of having to hold them all day. The star was considerably lighter than the mushroom of course. 

The positive response at the Con was overwhelming! Plus we finally found Peach! LOL
We even had the opportunity to share our cosplay at the contest.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial and can find time to make your own version for future fun!
For more epic costumes, join me at Isles of Day on Facebook & ETSY.

Keep Calm & Cosplay ON!!!