Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Barbie's New Bathroom - Of Course It's Pink!

Three guesses how I'm going to use this stuff...
After building the G.I. Joe/Barbie mansion, my kids were pretty fluid on the function of the rooms. Bedroom, living room, library, whatever... It didn't matter. That is, for most of the space. The pink room was always intended to be a bathroom.

Barbie seems pretty pleased with this room... I'm sure it
has nothing to do with it being pink.
We have a mix of secondhand doll furniture and homemade accessories, but we don't really have any bathroom furniture to put in here. So I made some :) The kids requested that the furniture be permanently installed, but you could easily follow these same steps and make movable furniture.

Barbie is used to luxury. This jacuzzi tub has 8 jets!
I used a recycled deli container for the jacuzzi tub. I hot-glued 8 white buttons around the sides of the tub to simulate jets. We had originally planned to use a styrofoam meat tray for the bathtub, but the shape of this container inspired me to take it to the next level. It reminded me of a hot tub, so that's kind of what I went for.

This paint is also a primer. 

I planned to make the tub white, but it turns out I am out of white spray paint. I am also impatient. I had everything else I needed for the project, so I just went ahead and painted the tub brown inside and out as well as this canister which will be the vanity.

Painting by hand takes longer than spray paint, but
it will do in a pinch.
When the brown paint was dry, I painted the inside with white acrylic craft paint. It would have looked better with spray paint, but well... impatient. Meanwhile, when the paint was drying, I got to work on the sink for the vanity.

A bottle cap or a plastic egg would have worked as well,
but since I couldn't find anything more suitable, I used
a Wendy's cup for the basin of the sink.

After cutting the cup to size, I traced the circle and cut
the opening in the "vanity" lid.
After a little trial and error, I got the cup to fit in the hole and I hot-glued the two pieces together. A little more white paint over the glue helped to unify the two pieces.

Aren't these some cool beads? Gabriel Brothers sells bags of broken
jewelry pieces. 

Once all the paint was dry on both pieces I dug through my collection of mixed beads and found some pieces that would work for fixtures. It took a little mixing and matching, but I found some pieces that would work. I hot-glued a few beads together and then glued them on to the sink and tub. Next, I installed the pieces in the house, securing them with hot-glue.

I'm not sure Kohler makes this set, but hopefully it's
close enough that the imagination can take it the rest
of the way. We also found beads to make a bar of soap,
a flask or lotion jar, and a toothbrush cup.

The bathtub faucet and knobs are similar to the sink, but
not identical. I found 2 little gold rings for the sink and
tub drains.

Pretty luxurious!

We didn't put together a toilet for this bathroom, but the chair Barbie is sitting on was originally a candle holder and has a hole in the seat, so a few modifications (or a bit of imagination) and the room is complete. My daughters drew the pictures that we hung on the wall. I found the tiny frames at Goodwill a long time ago and kept them, intending to put them in a future dollhouse. This is the only room in the mansion with a skylight (my son's idea). 

There is still room for a little more upgrading to this bathroom. I would like to hang a mirror over the vanity and put up curtains. There's room on the walls for more art. But at this point, the room's in pretty good shape. Chelsea seems to be enjoying her bath!

Cardboard "Mansion" in the Snow

Last week was spring break for my kids. There was snow on the ground. Lots of snow. We were unable to escape to a beach, so we had to get creative to stave off cabin fever. So, of course, I got out the cardboard...

Spring Break 2014 - Woo hoo!!!

My son took the lead on this one. He said he wanted to make a cardboard "mansion" for his G.I. Joes, and yeah, Barbie can probably live there too. This project kept us busy for three days. Check it out:

Our mansion has stained glass windows; marble, tile, and hardwood
floors; custom wallpaper, and landscaping!

Our windows are made from sun catchers that the kids
painted a while back. Shutters are made from foam with
Sharpie lines (suggested by my son the architect).
Landscaping is pretty simple - layered flower stickers,
which seem to be attracting a variety of sticker butterflies.

This is the room I put together, with "wood" floors and
white paint, as my son suggested. The gilded frame on
the wall was originally a Christmas ornament.

My son chose orange wallpaper and red floor tiles,
sealed with Mod Podge. They match the stained
glass ladybug window pretty well, don't ya think?

Daughter #1 designed the bathroom. She made the
marble floor by drawing lines in Sharpie on the cardboard
floor and gluing crinkled tissue paper on top. We sealed
this down with a double coat of Mod Podge. My girly-girl
chose pink wallpaper. Mama helped with the jacuzzi tub
and sink a bit ;)

Daughter #2 designed the upstairs room, drawing a custom design on the
wallpaper before hanging it. It's one of a kind! She also laid the tile pattern
all by herself. Not bad for a 4-year-old!

Barbie loves her new house! Her favorite thing is all the
natural light and color from the stained-glass windows.

Now that the kids are a little older, they were able to participate more fully in the design and construction processes of this endeavor, which meant that they were entertained. Maybe not the ideal way to spend spring break, but certainly not the worst. Now all we need is a sunny day to light up those windows!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ballerina Babes

Today I had the girls home with me. No school on Fridays, so we generally make it a "girls day". I gave my girlies some Barbie ballerina dolls for Valentine's Day. They played with their new dolls for a while, singing and dancing, brushing hair, and chattering as only children do. Soon they decided to put on a dance recital of their own, throwing in claps and circus moves along with twists, jumps, and original musical compositions. Gotta love a 4-year-old's imagination (times two).

On an unrelated note, I've been tripping over some blue tulle that has spilled out of my sewing room into the hallway for about a week now. Someone gave me a bunch of different colored bits of tulle, and I've had no idea what to do with it all. It's just been taking up space in my sewing room. This is something I probably would never have purchased myself, but I am not one to turn away free art supplies.

So... dancing, dancing, dancing... tripping over tulle... Eureka! I've seen a bunch of cute tutus on Pinterest, Etsy, and in little boutiques at the mall that were made simply by knotting tulle around elastic bands. And I happened to have some elastic in my sewing stash... so voila! We made some fun little tutus today and continued our dance recital in style!

Ta-da! Blue, orange, green, yellow, and white tutus.

We had a little extra left over, so we chained long strips to make crowns.

We also made our tutus into "dresses" by adding a loop that went around
the neck. This helped offset the weight of the tulle. Our elastic wasn't
the super stretchiest, so this helped keep it from sagging. I recommend using
ribbon or something not so itchy for the neck strap if you try this project yourself.

These dress pieces were tied to the skirt just like the other tulle pieces.

We looped some colorful scraps through the front for decoration.

These would look great with some fairy wings and glitter ;)

We had a lot of fun with our "girl day" today. This was a quick/easy project, and for the tiny amount of effort  we put in, our results were pretty good. Try it out, I'm sure you can do even better! Post your pictures to my Facebook page - I'd love to see them :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

G.I. Joe Doesn't Do Pink

Today I tackled a little project that has been on my To-Do List for a while: the G.I. Joe car. If you are expecting an episode of "Pimp My Ride," prepare to be disappointed. If you hate pink (like I do), prepare to be satisfied.

We found this pink Barbie car at Goodwill a year or so ago for $1. In case you haven't priced Barbie Cars lately, that's like finding a $300 beater at the local used car lot with good tires and all working parts. Jackpot. The Joes were tired of hitching rides with Barbie anyhow, so despite the awful color, this car was too good to pass up.

Well, the Joes have been saving their pennies in hopes of a new paint job. The stars must have aligned today or something because that's just what we did. Maaco I am not, and winter isn't really the season for painting cars, but I would venture to say we have improved upon the car. Check it out:

Whoa, that's bright! I find "Barbie Pink" to be an offensive color, and I know
the Joes agree with me. Heck, I think even Barbie agrees with me. So we chose
a nice tan interior color and sleek black for the outside. A Phillips screwdriver
is all we needed to take off the dashboard and windshield and expose the
undercarriage, which needed some anti-rust (read: anti-pink) paint.

See how handy I am with tools?

Voila! I call this work of art "Barbie car, deconstructed."

I painted the underside of the car with black and the top
piece with the tan interior color. I figured an all-over coat
of the tan wouldn't hurt anything - just another layer to
help banish the pink.

I discovered that I do not currently have masking tape.
Bummer, because I needed to do some masking. Instead
I used Contact paper to cover the tan interior and an
Xacto knife to cut the edges precisely around the
folded convertible top. I forgot to take a picture of the
masking job, so imagine perfection and you'll just about
have it ;)

Two-tone brown and black. I always use spray paint
outside because of fumes, and I always find bits of plant
matter and insects in my paint. It always annoys me. Also,
I put on a clear sealer which made the black paint run a bit.
It wasn't completely dry. I'm impatient when paint is drying,
and it takes twice as long in cold weather. I'm sure you
can do this better!

The paint may be a little uneven, but the color is a million times better.
Mr. Joe, in his racing coveralls, is adjusting his mirrors in preparation for
a test drive.
My recommendations for improving this project: 
  • Sand off the raised "Barbie" lettering on the side first.
  • Clean your car and let it dry.
  • Paint on a warm, dry day or in a well-ventilated, climate controlled space.
  • Wait for paint to dry thoroughly before applying the next coat. 
  • Apply paint in multiple, thin coats.
I didn't do all of these things, as you can see. But Joe knows that he gets what he pays for, and I'm definitely the discount paint shop. We are still waiting for paint to dry, but are optimistic that by tomorrow nothing will be tacky (except for the other two pink Barbie cars we own - burn!). 

Can you do a better job? Please post pics of your awesome project on my FACEBOOK PAGE!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Stuffed Owl - Mark I.

Buying fabric is a luxury that I can rarely afford. I'm sure you can relate - after the bills are paid, groceries are purchased, and cars are gassed up for the next week of work your wallet is coughing up cobwebs and crying for sustenance. Because of this, I tailor my projects to the materials I have on hand. I do have some cute fabric prints, in small quantities. I have tried a few quilting projects, but  have ended up with some disappointing results. Apparently you need to plan ahead, cut precisely, and have a little patience. Who knew? Anyhow, with Christmas coming up, I got the idea that I would make my kids some homemade presents from Mama. Project #1: stuffed owl.

I made my own pattern from a brown paper bag. Body, wings, belly,
eyes, beak. I stuck with simple shapes and added extra space for
seam allowance.

I dug through my stash and found some fabric options that look pretty
good together. Then I took this beautiful, out of focus photo of it.

I decided to use different prints for the front and back. I pinned the
pattern to the two pieces of cloth with right sides facing.

I used two different prints for the wings too, and folded them over
so that there are four layers of fabric pinned to my pattern piece.

Once everything was pinned, I cut out each piece.

I sewed the wings first.

I turned the wings right side out and pinned them to the inside of
the owl body pieces. This way, when I turn it right side out the wings
will be on the outside.

After sewing and leaving a hold in the bottom for the stuffing,
I stuffed the body until it couldn't hold any more and hand-stitched
the closure.

I chose a purple thread that would look okay if visible and stitched
the belly piece on, turning the edges under as I sewed.

Finished belly.


Next I stitched on the beak.

Initially I chose two brown buttons for the eyes. I wasn't satisfied
with the way this turned out. The beak looked a little wonky and the
eyes were kinda blah. I didn't know how to fix it, so I set it aside for
a couple days.

When I went back to this project the first thing I did was remove the
brown eyes and beak. I scooted the brown beak up a little so it no longer
overlapped the belly fabric. I cut some pink felt to size and sewed that
on. Bright blue buttons stand out much better than the brown ones.

I thought this turned out okay for a first try. Maybe not good enough to try to sell on eBay or Etsy, but perhaps it will make the cut for a plaything for my own kids. I plan to make a bunny for my other daughter. I'm thinking I will use silver thread instead of purple and adapt the pattern from the owl pattern. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Archaeologist Party Attaché Cases

For each birthday party I throw I like to put together some sort of gift bag for the kids. For the cowboy party we did "loot" bags, treasure map bags for the pirate party, for the circus party we used popcorn bags... you get the idea. For this party I wanted to give the kids some research materials on ancient Egypt and archaeologist tools like a notebook, magnifying glass, brush, etc. I decided that these items would all fit nicely in a "leather" case - kind of like Indiana Jones' messenger bag, but not so complex.

Materials: manila folders, masking tape, clear tape, brown paper,
scissors, craft Velcro, and hot glue (not pictured).

The brown paper I used came in a big wrapping-paper roll ($1 at
the Dollar Tree). I rolled out enough to fit the width of my folder plus
about 2 extra inches on each side. I positioned the folder a few inches
away from the nearest edge.

First fold: bottom. Fold about two inches of wrapping paper over the
bottom edge of the file folder and secure with masking tape. Make
sure you have your folder centered in the brown paper.

Second fold: Sides. Fold both sides of your paper over and secure
with masking tape.

Secure the bottom corners with clear tape.

Top fold: This section will serve as the flap on your attache case, so
make sure you leave several inches (about 4) of doubled over paper
above the top edge of the folder. Secure with masking tape.

Use clear tape to seal the sides of the "flap" together.

Fold the manila file folder along the crease. One side (the back/flap
side) should be about 4 inches longer than the other side (the front).
Use clear tape along the sides of the folder forming an "envelope."

I decided that the attache case needed a clasp. A quick rummage through
my crafting supplies revealed this yellow craft Velcro. This particular
type of Velcro has a very low profile, which means it's not super
sticky -- which is good because otherwise opening/closing the case
would tear the paper.

I cut the Velcro to size and secured to the case with hot glue. Be careful
not to burn yourself!

Ta-da! Simple, academic, elegant. Everything an archaeologist could
want. Hopefully...

Several of the finished cases. I got the tiny composition books 3/$1 at
guess where... that's right. Dollar Tree. I printed out some labels that read
"Field Notes - Giza, Egypt" and affixed them to all the notebooks before
putting them in the cases. I am still finishing up the archaeology notes that
will be included but they do have a key to decoding hieroglyphics inside.
Wish me luck on getting everything else finished! (I need it!)

I'm thinking about putting each kid's name on a bag, but I haven't gotten that far yet.