Thursday, September 15, 2011

mini ABC drawers for kids

Well, you voted for it so here it is! I ran a little poll on my mousehouse facebook page to find out what you wanted to see next on my blog and this project won. It was close though, 4 votes for this and 3 for an 'organised home challenge' post - although I haven't actually done that yet so it was lucky this activity won as with the week I'm having it'll be a good while before I can get an organised home project done!
I saw this cute project on the awesome blog Itty Bitty Love and loved it straight away-I love making 'teach-ery' type things and this project also appealed to my filing and organising tendancies hehe.  I think some of my teacher friends might like this in their classroom too- would be great as a reading activity or a choosing activity on a Friday afternoon maybe.
I found my mini drawers from Mitre 10 Mega for $20.  Places like Payless Plastics, Plastic Box, Bunnings or maybe even Supercheap Auto or Repco have them too- any hardware type store probably. I had to get a 25 drawer one in the end as the 30 drawer one was quite a lot more $$ so I just combined X and Y in one drawer. I got the ABC stickers and the picture stickers from The Warehouse. I didn't actually have to go and buy any of the things to go in the drawers as I had heaps of stuff in my craft stash (I'd bought a few things a while ago to make a i-spy bag that I haven't got around to yet from a shop here in Tauranga -'AJ's emporium'.)
Amelie had heaps of fun too going around the house finding things too- it was pretty funny hearing her walking around the house going d d d dice!! b b b bead!! She was very excited to say the least :) It's a really neat way to teach letter sounds and a great activity for those 'kinesthetic learners" - there's some teacher-speak for you ;) And it took ages for her to put all of the things into each drawer- always a good thing! 
With Jack already rolling a bit and managing to wiggle himself around a full 180 on his back we are having to be super careful with little things lying around now so I'm keeping this in a cupboard and Amelie just plays with it when Stella and Jack are asleep.  Some of the things she does is take everything out, mix them all up and put them all back again (love that one!), sorts the objects into colours, goes outside and finds things for the drawers like shells, stones, leaves etc, and just general playing.  
Thanks Anne for a great idea!
Megan x
PS: Amelie drew the winner of the Katherine Mansfield book just now- the winner is 'Time for a Little Something'.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sewing for beginners: Lesson one- A Pin Cushion

Now I know I said in my first 'Sewing for beginners' post that I have an aversion to pinning so it seems funny to be writing up how to make a pin cushion for my first lesson! But I do use my pin cushion all the time- just maybe not as much as other sewers. If you're going to get into some sewing a pin cushion is a great first project. I have kept this tutorial as the most basic pin cushion you could make but have added an 'extra for experts' pin cushion too -it's based on the first one I made after seeing Joanna's lovely one here.  She has some lovely pin cushions and needle books for sale here too. (And Joanna has kindly agreed to share her pattern for the extra for experts tutorial)
My pin cushion- one of the first things I made last year
One of the first crafty swaps I took part in was a pin cushion swap hosted by Kate at Fox's Lane (Kate is an incredibly talented crafter and is on a fantastic journey around Australia with her family in a renovated caravan- you can check out her crafting and adventures here).   I made this pin cushion for the swap after googling 'pin cushion tutorial'. Unfortunately the tutorial is no longer there so it sometimes pays to print out a tutorial if you really love it!
For more pin cushion inspiration you can check out all of the pin cushions made for the swap here.

How to sew a pin cushion
You will need
  • sewing machine 
  • sharp scissors- I use Korbond scissors from the supermarket for all my crafting 
  • fabric - you could use the same for the front and the back pieces or two different fabrics
  • piece of card for the template
  • stuffing- a huge bag of this is about $7 from craft stores- mine has lasted about a year!
  • needle and thread 
1. I use cardboard templates for a lot of my projects. Cut out a piece of cardboard the size you would like your pin cushion to be plus a bit bigger - after sewing, things are always a bit smaller as you have to leave room for the seams. I didn't measure my template for this pin cushion but the measurements are 18 cm wide by 11 cm high.
Draw around the template on your front and back pieces of fabric and cut them out.
2. Place right sides together  and sew around the outside about 1cm from the edge of the fabrics. Start in the middle of one of the longer sides - roughly where the purple dot down the bottom on the left is in the pic below. Sew around and stop when you get to roughly where the other purple dot is- this leaves you a gap to stuff the pin cushion. Don't leave your gap too small or you'll find it tricky to turn your pin cushion right sides out and stuff if the gap is too small.
Clip across the four corners, taking care not to cut your stitching. You do this so that when you turn your pin cushion right sides out you will have nice sharp corners.
3. Turn your pin cushion right sides out by pushing your fabric through the gap. You can then use a chop stick to push out the four corners if needed.
4. Stuff your pin cushion quite firmly. Use a needle and thread and hand stitch the gap closed. 
Now for the 'extra for experts' one... with no measuring!
1. Use the same template and cut out a piece of fabric for the back of your pin cushion. Choose two fabrics for the front of your pin cushion (the sewing notions fabric is from here)- use the template and cut out your two pieces but make one a bit shorter than the template and the other one a bit shorter still- see pic below. So both pieces are the same height as the template but shorter widths.  Cut  a piece of ribbon the same height as the template.

2. Place the two pieces right sides together and line them up along one edge. Sew 1 cm in from the edge to join the two fabrics together. Open up your seam on the back and iron flat like this. Now you can do patchwork!
3. Lay your back piece on top of your patchworked front piece. You can see where I needed to trim the patchworked piece to make it the same size as the back piece.
4. Trim off the edges so both pieces are now the same size.  If you used measurements to follow a pattern like this you wouldn't need to do the trimming but this way is a lot quicker I think!
5. Place your ribbon along the seam and sew onto your fabric
6. Place your two pieces right sides together and sew around just like the first pin cushion. Clip the corners.
7. Turn right sides out, stuff and hand stitch gap closed. Finished!
8. Now for an extra -extra for experts... you could make a little needle book to go with your pin cushion! I will write a little tutorial to make one of these too as I just made it up using my pin cushion template but if you want to make one now try googling 'needle book tutorial'.
Would love to hear if you have made your own pin cushion or if you have any questions. Feel a bit nervous writing a proper sewing tutorial! Post a pic of your pin cushion to my mousehouse facebook page if you would like to- would love to see them!
Happy sewing!
Megan x
And thank you for the comments on my dolls house lights-  I'll draw the winner of the book tomorrow :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

"I seen the little lamp"

If you've read any of New Zealand's famous short story writer Katherine Mansfield's stories you may recognise the line in the title of this post- it's not a typo, it's the second to last line in Mansfield's rather sad story "The Dolls House".
I've always wanted to be able to light up the dolls house so I was pleased to see that the Lundby transformer came back in stock the other day so I could connect up the lights I had bought ages ago.  I had to buy two 'electric mix sets' as well to make a circuit big enough to connect all four lights and the oven and sink unit. I got my hubby to drill some holes in the back of the dolls house to put the wires through and then connected it all up and plugged it in- a lot easier than I thought it was going to be!
Like moths to a flame
Had to add an All Black's flag too of course!

And if you would like to read "The Dolls House" and three other Katherine Mansfield stories for yourself I have a copy of this book to giveaway- just leave a comment here or on my facebook page :)
Megan x
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