Housewife MacGyver: Wrapping up the Domestic Sphere

We've had a great month domestically! A huge thanks to all our guests:

How has your domestic month gone? I will be honest... mine was less than I had hoped. We spent my husband's spring break car shopping instead of cleaning and then it's been rainy (and snowy!) about two out of every three days since then... so we spent the sunny days playing instead of doing chores like washing our nasty windows. :)

I do have one project that I'm still working on that I hope to be able to share with you on Monday... In the meantime, here are some awesome domestically-inclined projects to keep you busy while I'm busy with mine. :) And don't forget to come enter the giveaway for the dino applique!

Head over to Maker Mama to learn about the 8 green cleaning essentials -- and in addition to being "green", these green cleaners are also chee-ep! :)


Try out a version of a stay-put kitchen towel with Pin. Sew. Press. (left) or Sassy Sanctuary (right).

And don't forget your apron!
from left:

can't leave the wee ones out...

But what apron would MacGyver wear?
One of these of course!
(because we know MacGyver would have an iPhone!)

Have a great weekend!

This post is part of the Housewife MacGyver series on just Lu. Read more about Housewife MacGyver and see all the posts in the series here.

One year...

Today marks one year (plus a bit, actually) of Wednesdays on the Web. Crazy! I started WotW at Housewife Eclectic for two reasons: to get me blogging more regularly and to help me keep a bit of the technical in my technical writer title that I hold dear. And wow, what a (successful) year it has been!

Come on over to Housewife Eclectic today for a walk down memory lane -- and a gaze into the future {queue cheesy inspirational music here}.

Thanks for reading! And being along for the last crazy year :)

Housewife MacGyver: Modern Mending {and a giveaway} with Helping Little Hands

Before I married my husband, I asked my mom to teach me how to darn a sock... you know, just in case I ever needed to. She told me that she'd teach me just how her mother taught her: "You hold the sock like this over the trash can, and then you holler 'DARN' as you toss it in the trash."

What does this domestic tradition have to do with Housewife MacGyver? Well, today our guest is Polly from Helping Little Hands, here to share some more modern methods of mending and helping clothes make it a few extra miles. No darning required. :) And be sure to read clear down to the end of the post because on top of her amazing skills, Polly has a fun giveaway for you!

Hi, I'm Polly.  I'm mom to three busy kids, and wife to my amazing science teacher husband.  I blog over at Helping Little Hands where I blog about whatever I'm working on...sewing, reading with my kids, cooking, random crafts, and fixing up and refashioning clothes.  Come over and say hello sometime.

(All the patterns I provide on my site are free...but the site I'm using to host the images has started asking people to pay before downloading.  I'm in the process of converting them over to Google Doc, but if you want to download a pattern before then, just email me.)

I've been wanting to go back and do a recap of some of my favorite Hand-Me-Down Rehab posts for a while.  You know...because sometimes you see a project on someone's blog and you wonder how it really turned out for the long after it was washed and worn once...or 10-20 times.  I'm so glad Lorene has finally given me the motivation by being part of her Housewife MacGyver series.

I really got into what I call Hand-Me-Down Rehab during the year just after Hubby graduated with his PhD.  We were lucky to be able to substitute teach consistently, but Hubby didn't have a permanent job yet.  We were pinching pennies as tight as we could.  Buying new clothes was just not an option, so we got creative with what we had or could get on sale at the thrift store.

So here are a few of my favorite techniques.

Applique is really versatile.  I LOVE it for mending.  It's also great for covering up a stain, random logo, or just making a plain shirt more fun.  Rather than making a patch and trying to hide's so much fun to go all the way and make it super obvious and cute.  For applique, I have come to prefer knits (old T-shirts).  You can sew around the edges easily and knits won't fray except just a tiny bit around the edge at first.  (You can find my basic tutorial for it here.) 

I did these Dino Knee patches to fix some pants Little Brother was given with holes already in the knees.

Not only have they held up amazingly well...they've been his favorite pair of pants for almost a year.  I bet he's worn them at least once very 2 weeks for a year.  They're totally high waters on him now...but I haven't quite been able to put them away in a box yet.  I also made him this double dino applique shirt, and since it was one of his only "matching" outfits, it showed up in a lot of pictures.  And I couldn't stop there.  Both his sisters had to have a girly version too...since we were living in a town with 2 dozen large dinosaurs roaming the streets at the time.

Freezer Paper Stencilling
Freezer Paper Stencilling is a great no-sew option for covering up a slight stain or making a plain T-shirt more fun.  It can also give you finer details than you can get with applique.  I was scared to try it for a long time, but have recently fallen in love.  Most people recommend fabric paint, but I've had great results using acrylic craft paint (make sure you iron first after painting!). 

These are two of my favorite freezer paper projects so far.  You can find the car pattern here and the girl reading pattern here.  My kids have loved the shirts I made just for them and wear them often. 

I've also done some other quirky designs involving Pi (the number) and gyrocopters that you can see here.

Sometimes I find a great shirt at the thrift store or Firecracker falls in love with a hand-me-down...that's a couple sizes too big.  Rather than waiting two years (during which time you'll be given more hand-me-downs or your taste may change) you can resize them to make them work now.  If they're just one size too big...I usually leave them alone and let my kids wear them.  Resizing works best if they're just about 2 sizes too big, but can work with an even bigger gap depending on the types of clothes. This is particularly handy if you're like me and like your kids shirts to be just a bit long, so you don't see tummies peaking out.
Firecracker was wearing size 5/6 and the T-shirt was size 10/12.  It just took about 5 minutes, and the shirt no longer falls off her shoulder, but still has plenty of room for her to grow.  Since it was a T-shirt, the sleeves were fine and it's just a little long at the waist...which I like.

Another great option for a girly T-shirt resize if you've got a standard fit T-shirt that's at least a couple sizes larger than you want is to bring in the sides just a bit, remove the sleeves, and give that edge a ruffle hem.  This will probably take about 15-30 minutes.

Of course resizing doesn't have to stop at kids clothes.  You deserve some too!  I found the perfect pair of capris for 50 cents at a garage sale...but they were a size too big.  So I resized them by slipping some elastic through the waistband to tighten them up a bit.  Of course this works with kids' pants too and can be made adjustable by adding using buttonhole elastic instead of regular.

Now sometimes clothes are just too damaged to keep mending and it's better to reuse the good fabric for something else...or you might have clothes in your closet that you just don't wear.  This works especially well if you've got some adult size clothes that you want to remake into something for your kids.  My very favorite-most used thing to make is shorts, capris, and pants out of old T-shirts.  (Although I admit, by the time Hubby and I are finished with our T-shirts they're usually not even useful for this, so most of my kids clothes have been made with thrift store finds.)  These are perfect to make now for the warmer days ahead.

One of the things I especially love about making these shorts and capris is that there are always scraps left over that I can use to make some matching appliques for a shirt.
You can find the cat applique here and the butterfly applique here.

Another really fun and easy option with T-shirts is to turn them into a T-shirt dress.  I've got a free pattern for this one.

You can also take just about any piece of adult clothing and make it into a skirt for a little girl.  Skirts are about the easiest piece of clothing you can make if you're just starting out in sewing.  One of my favorite projects has been to take some of my old pants, cut them into strips, and then resew them into skirts for my girls.  From one pair of pants I was able to get a skirt for both of my daughters.
I especially love the look of reusing the original waistband because it has all those cute belt loops...without the work of me making them.  And I have to say the Very Hungry Caterpillar outfit is was one of my favorites to make ever.  It was Sweet Pea's 1st birthday present.  The pattern for the cupcake onesie is here, and the tutorial for the caterpillar applique is here.  She's outgrown the onesie, but still loves wearing the caterpillar skirt...especially now that she's old enough to love the book.

We don't want to leave the boys out you might want to try making your little boy some church pants out of Dad's.  (Or in the case of Little Brother...they were made out of some I got at a garage sale that were a size too small for me.)
And you might want one of these ties to go with it...made from one of Dad's or one from the thrift store.

Something Totally Different
And of course, you can also use those old clothes for some completely unrelated projects.  A couple of my favorites include the school spirit chair, color matching parking lot, drawstring bags, and denim photo mat.

One last word to the wise
As awesome as it is to recycle, mend, and decorate old clothes, you want to be sure the materials you're using are going to last as long as you need them to.   Jeans in great condition except for those holes in the knee are awesome to fix up.  Jeans that have holes in the knee and are worn out with holes beginning in 5 other spots are probably not worth it.  Some of the shirts my husband has worn out are SO worn that they're not even good for applique scraps...and some are still fine for applique scraps, but would not work for making capris because there are too many holes (from acid...he worked in a chemistry lab.)  A shirt with just a stain or two is great for covering up with an applique...but you could make yourself crazy trying to come up with a design to cover up 5 different stains, so that shirt might be better to cut up for scraps.  Even though I love being frugal and using what I've got...I have to factor the time in that it's going to take me to fix something and decide if it's worth it.

If you're interested in more Hand-Me-Down Rehab, I've got links to more tutorials on my Hand-Me-Down Rehab page.  (I'm in the process of taking my bullet list and turning it into a browsable photo please excuse the mess.)

Isn't she awesome?!? And Polly is much more than just hand-me-downs... she does a little bit of everything. You might recognize her stamped washers as the inspiration for my rock & roll earrings; she also makes the best coconut cream pie ever, teaches her kids math in fun ways, lets her kids frost birthday cakes, sews some super awesome felt food, and in March, she hosted a kids' book read-along. She is one busy woman and one of you lucky readers will win one of her dino appliques to make your own dino shirt!

To enter to win, just be (or become) a follower or subscriber of just Lu and leave one comment here on this post. Tell me something... anything -- what you'll do with the patch if you win, what you're making for dinner tonight, what your favorite color is... anything. :) If your email isn't linked in your profile, please leave your email address, too.
    The giveaway will close Tuesday, May 3 at midnight(ish) with the winner announced on Wednesday.

    Happy mending and rehabbing!

    The Daddy Diaper Pail {baby shower gift}

    Baby showers are fun. Except for the dumb games (and I'm really sorry if you like the games... I'm not a huge fan but I have a *fantastic* baby shower activity to share with you next week). It's just fun to get together and talk about all things baby and freak out a soon-to-be mom. Who is probably already freaked out anyway.

    More and more, baby showers seem to be becoming less of a ladies-only thing and more of a family thing -- get the expecting mommy AND daddy and their friends together for a shindig. I approve of this, depending on the family's preference. My husband was not okay with this with our first, but with #2 on the way, he actually suggested a little get-together after the baby is born to celebrate. It involves a grill and burgers. :)

    So, if you're invited to a family-type shower or maybe just have more of a connection with the baby's daddy, try out the Daddy Diaper Pail*

    *Of course, this could just be called the Mommy Diaper Pail or something else like that, but Daddy Diaper Pail just rolls of the tongue better, plus it's based off of this Daddy Diaper Changing Toolbox. I'm definitely open to name suggestions, though :)

    The best part about it? Mostly everything in the pail is from the dollar store, or can be purchased very inexpensively (and in some cases probably for even less than a dollar) elsewhere. Everything that I gave was from either the dollar store or Target's travel and dollar aisles. 

    Start with a pail (aka bucket, found in the cleaning section of the dollar store).

    Cut (or buy) some fun vinyl (or stickers) and put them on aforementioned pail. (If you're a Silhouette user, let me know and I can email you my file.) This will be SO much easier if your pail is flat instead of ridged like mine, but it works either way. Be sure to include the warning:

    Scour the dollar store and elsewhere for inexpensive (unless expensive is your thing) baby- and diaper-related items, both practical and gag, such as:
    • diaper ointment
    • hand sanitizer (gel, spray, wipes, or all of the above)
    • air freshener
    • "biohazard" diaper disposal bags
    • gloves
    • face mask (like a surgical mask)
    • tongs
    • safety goggles
    • ear and/or nose plugs
    • pacifier
    • spot cleaning wipes (such as Shout wipes)
    • a fresh pair of socks
    Label the items with witty, or at least explanatory, labels and load everything in the bucket.

    Present the gift pail to the mom- or dad-to-be and judge the wittiness of your labels upon whether she/he wets her/his pants laughing or not. (And if the expectant father wets his pants, you must be REALLY witty.)

    Other optional additions

    If you are a sewist and the mother-to-be is having a boy, whip up an assortment of pee-pee teepees (following the WeeWee Wigwam tutorial here at Make It and Love It).

    And, again, if you are a sewist, try your hand at a travel changing pad (or at-home changing pad). Otherwise, Target has a really awesome travel changing pad for around $10. :) I made the Duo Pocket Changing Pad Clutch, following the tutorial by Vibrant Designs... with a few changes, as is my custom:

    I rounded the top flap by tracing a dinner plate
    (and added an embellished strip to cover up a mess-up :)

    lengthened the changing pad part
    (by cutting my first piece the full width of my fabric, about 42 inches)

    applied iron-on vinyl to the lining fabric
    (but only to the top 18 or so inches that will be the changing pad part)

    used a magnetic closure instead of velcro
    (but I think velcro is better because the snap ends up being where the baby is lying)

    added a simple handle

    and replaced the fusible fleece with medium-weight interfacing to cut down on bulk (although, in retrospect, it probably would still have been just fine bulk-wise).

    When I make one for myself (because you better believe that I made sure that I have enough of that fun fabric to make some for me too :), I think I will also add some type of closure to the duo pocket part (the second pocket that is meant to hold the wipes so that you can reach *just* the wipes if you want -- SO smart, right?). I tried to make it fairly snug but the travel wipes container can still fall out a little more easily than I'd like.

    And, if you are a die-hard dollar store crafter, I'm certain you could make the changing pad out of placemats or laundry bags or some other material. As it was, I paid around $6 total for a yard each of my fabrics and that is enough fabric to make at least 3 changing pads, so $2 + on-hand interfacing is an okay price for me. :)

    Thanks for reading!

    Buttons, buttons, on your EARS!

    Buttons are such an easy and fun craft supply, and I love earrings, so it was only a matter of time before the two merged. This time, I had some help from this awesome tutorial from Kitty Cats and Airplanes. :)

    You saw the quick and dirty version here in the pink or blue post, but the slower and... er, cleaner (?) versions I've made are so much more fun.

    The Pink or Blue Set
    A friend of mine here in the neighborhood is due with her 4th baby just 2 weeks after our little girl, and she asked if I would make a set of the pink or blue earrings for her 9-year-old daughter to announce their baby. Well... instead of just earrings... I kept going:

    The full set includes two sets of 2-inch earrings:

    two button pins, one pink and one blue (duh!)

    and a big sis necklace with both a pink charm and a blue charm:

    so she can announce either a little sister:

    or a little brother:

    or both if the need be ;)
    (and she does have both a little brother and a little sister already, too)

    The big sis pendant is a pearly celluloid guitar pick with vinyl words. Vinyl and I are finally starting to get along, thanks to Transfer Paper's involvement in our relationship. :)

    The Spring is Here! Set
    Lest you think that I only craft in pink and blue anymore, I made this spring button bracelet for my 12-year-old niece:

    Originally I made these fun earrings to go with it:

    but then I remembered (thanks to my sister's reminding) that my niece's ears are no longer pierced. So I refashioned those earrings into this pendant instead:

    The earrings and bracelet are made following Amie's awesome tutorial at Kitty Cats and Airplanes, and the pendants are just 3 buttons each on a jump ring and then attached together. You can see the construction the clearest on the pink and blue pendants.

    Now, despite the weather forecasts to the contrary, it actually looks like we may have some spring sunshine outside, so we're headed out to play (one I get out of my pajamas, that is :) -- thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend!
    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
    Blogging tips