Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Valentine Upcycling

I had a pair of pajamas that I loved. They were exceptionally comfortable and covered in hearts- what's not to love. Unfortunately, they finally became too loved and were worn and torn beyond the point of repair. So instead of throwing them out, like any normal person would, I cut them up and made a Valentine's shirt for the little Monkey. And while I was at it I figured she could use a matching flower bow as well.
I took one of those Faded Glory flag shirts (this one was proudly proclaiming the year as 2009) and drew a large heart on it with a fabric marker that covered the current decoration. I then cut out a piece of my pajama fabric that was larger than the heart I had drawn and pinned it on the inside of the shirt. I pulled out my sewing machine and did a zigzag stitch following my outline (if I was really good, I probably would have found a pattern or something to follow, instead I just free-handed it). After I had finished my zigzag stitch, I carefully cut out the red fabric, being careful to not nick the heart fabric underneath. Quick and easy Valentine shirt that I didn't spend an extra cent on, The flower bow I just followed the directions I had found for this bow. Unfortunately, that link has now gone private. If you want to Google it, the official name is a Kanzashi petal fabric flower. They are pretty easy, and turn out cute.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Things You Can Learn From the Internet

A couple of days ago I was in one of those moods where I just wanted to create something. Anything. I wasn't feeling particular. The only problem was a little Monkey who was insisting that she be held. It is very difficult to accomplish anything with a lap full of wiggles. I finally decided I could crochet, but what? Then I remembered this headband I had seen instruction for here.

I think the end result turned out well, considering I had to look up all the stitches. When I was taught how to crochet, I wasn't taught the names of anything. It is also the first time that I have tried following a pattern. 

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My

 I decided that "Small Fry" really wasn't working out very well so I have decided to rename my children. For future reference, here they are:


I know, very creative, but it will have to do.
The real reason I started taking these pajama pictures was to get a picture of Monkey's new pajama pants. The other two just thought Mom wanted them to say "Cheese" and happily obliged. The pajamas are McCall's M4643 and made out of some scraps I had leftover from a bedding project several years ago. I have noticed that my children's ankles are becoming a prominent feature of their wardrobes, so I think much more sewing will be in my near future.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Train Table

The biggest fry got a train table for Christmas. It too has an Ikea connection. In this case, it was an Ikea coffee table in it's previous life. All I did to it was paint it. I decided to go with some Thomas-y blue for the legs and under shelf, and grassy green for the top. I added the train track around the outer edge so that it would match his light plate.
 It worked out better than I could have hoped. Turns out, the shelf and top are almost the exact spacing that the GeoTrax tracks are (my son may love Thomas, but I love GeoTrax).
 It must be some magical number, because the shelf also fits the Sterilite storage boxes that I already use perfectly as well.
Dad and kids have had a great time playing.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Toddler Bunk Bed

 This bunk bed for the girls was their other Christmas present. The inspiration came from an Ikea bed. I liked how low to the ground it was so that the little one could fall out with no injuries. I also liked how little space it took up in their tiny bedroom that they are sharing (I confess, I took over the fourth bedroom in the house for a craft room). My wonderful husband did the majority of the work. Basically, I think I said- here is what I want, and occasionally helped hold boards so that he could drill them in.
The end result cost us about $30. Sure beats the $200 from Ikea. Also, that bed was for a twin mattress, which I didn't already have on hand. When I get to it, I have an idea for how to make a tent cover for the top. One more thing for my to do list.

To make this bed, we measured the mattresses that we wanted to use, and made those our inside measurements for the boards. We used 2"x2" fir (the stuff that is around $.98 for 8' at Home Depot). The white board was some cheap particle board that was already a glossy white on one side; just a 4'x8 strategically cut'. We had some long wood screws leftover from another project, but I am pretty sure I picked them up at Walmart. We downloaded the Ikea bed assembly instructions from their website, and used it as our rough guideline. I just went and remeasured- the bed is 4' high, 30" wide, and 55" long. On the sides that have the white board in-between, we cut a groove in the middle of the 2x2 that we slide to board into. It actually ended up being very solid. The mattress on the top is resting on 1"x2" furring strips screwed into the 2x2 (we have 12, spaced about every 4"- so ~2.5 inches space between each). I have some cardboard just smaller than the mattress laying on top of the strips, but that is just because I had it in the crib (the instructions with the mattress recommended it, I think to keep the springs from rubbing against the mattress), but I don't think it is necessary. (Because I am silly like that, I have covered my cardboard with a crib sheet so that it doesn't look tacky from the bottom bunk).  Don't tell my husband, but I have seen two little girls standing on top of the bed (they might have been jumping) with no problems. Our three year old can climb in and out by herself and sleeps up top quite contently (and the 19 month old hasn't yet figured out how to climb, so she stays safely on the ground). I still plan on making the tent cover, someday. I have so many other projects on my to-do list it keeps getting pushed back.

I will attempt to post some more instructions on how we built these beds. Please note all disclaimers (i.e, I would prefer to not to be sued by anyone).

4: 2x2’s @ 52 (long sides)
4: 2x2’s @ 48” (posts)
8: 2x2 @ 27” (short sides)
1: 2x2 @ 46 ½” (ladder)
3: 2x2 @ 14” (ladder rungs)
2: 2x2 @ 36 ½” (upper bunk side rail)
2: 1x2 @ 10 ¼” (side supports on top rail)
12: 1x2 @28 ½” (mattress support)
5: board 27”x 10 ½+” (can’t remember exact width- they should slide into groves with enough leeway for expansion and contraction, but not enough to pop lose)
1: board 36 ½”x 10 ½+” (see note above)
1: board 52” x 10 ½+” (see note above)
Screws, sandpaper, paint, varnish, etc.

Note: Assembled, this bed is too large to go through a standard door frame. Because it was a Christmas present, we assembled it as much as possible in the garage, but left enough boards off to move it to their bedroom on Christmas, and finished the assembly there. It probably would have been much easier to just do it all in the room where it was going to end up. Also, I make no guarantees or promises of any kind whatsoever. I have not had this bed tested by any agency or anything of the sort (legal disclaimer- use at your own risk should you decide to make your own). Next disclaimer- I am writing these directions from memory. I apologize for all mistakes in advance. If something isn’t sounding right to you, it probably isn’t, so use your best judgement.

After getting the wood cut to size and laid out about were everything went (sorry- no drafting program, please see picture) we determined which boards needed a center groove cut in them for the whiteboard to slide into. I believe that our board was 1/8" thick, so the groove was just barely wider. My husband used his table saw, adjusted to blade so it would only cut a little into the 2x2 1/4" deep. I think it took two passes.

Sample of groove (in board we cut but didn't need groove. Oh, well).
We used this process to make the end board (we cut, sanded, stained, and varnished everything before screwing it all together. We did drill pilot holes before sanding and staining. It was a pain to keep the individual pieces from getting mixed up. If you are just planning on painting the whole thing, I recommend just assembling it as you go. If you want to stain it like we did, and leave the white board white, just come up with a good system to keep the pieces straight. I think ours involved colored pencils.)
and all around the top bunk.
With the board sandwiched between the 2x2's it was actually quite sturdy. We didn't cut grooves in the side posts, just the top and bottom rungs. The sides were flush (make sure your cuts are straight). We screwed everything together with some long screws that would go through the 2x2 and into the other enough to make us feel like it was secure. They may have been about 3" long. If you want to figure out how to make some CAM bolts or other fastening system work, feel free to. We thought about it, but the hardware would have increased the cost significantly enough that we opted to go with just screws. we made sure to offset the screws so that they weren't running into each other in the posts. Our screw heads are exposed, but we used a darker colored one so that they don't stand out too much.

I think the only part of the bed where assembly steps matter is on the posts leading into the ladder.
If you look closely, you can see a nice little cross section where the top side rail and ladder join (there on the right side of the ladder where the top rung meets). To attach that, we drilled the pilot holes into the post and the 2x2's they attached to individually. Then we screwed in the screws just through the post. Next we twisted the rung onto the screw till it was tight and lined up (it took a few tries to get it just right- make sure your grooved board ends with the groove side up) and repeated for the other side.Since the bed was 4' tall, we wanted to rungs and end boards to be spaced every foot. There is about 10 1/4" between all the boards (you may need to adjust this number to compensate for variations in 2x2's, because a 2x2 isn't really 2").

After the bed frame was all screwed together, the slats were screwed down (I think the screws we used here were 1 5/8". Don't forget pilot holes to reduce splitting). 
They were spaced mostly evenly, about every 4", but adjusted slightly to accommodate the ladder posts. Also, we inserted a center support post on the long spans of white board. Not sure if it is necessary, but figured it couldn't hurt. They are just screwed from the top and bottom in the center of the span.
Since the bed is against some walls, we only have the supports on the sides that are visible. That is the direction we faced the white board as well (it is just plain on the back side- you can see where we stained it on the bottom bunk here).

I am not positive, but I think this bed is designed to be against a wall. We knew which corner we wanted it in and planned the ladder and ends accordingly. You can move the pieces around to suit your needs.

There you have it. Hope it helps. Good luck!

Play Kitchen Fun!

You are probably wondering where I have been. I wish I could answer that- I am really not sure. Somewhere between October and Now my calendar just skipped ahead. Maybe now that the holiday season is past I can get back on track. One of the projects that I have been working on for this last while was the girls' Christmas present- this play kitchen inspired by here. Thankfully, my in-laws showed up just before Christmas and helped us get it much more ready than it would have been otherwise (sincere apologies to all who hoped to see us Christmas Eve- we were no where near ready).
 This is the full set that we came up with- Fridge, Stove, Dishwasher, Sink (with Ikea play pans).
 The countertop was inspired by the one in our "real" kitchen. I wanted to go for the granite look, and I think it turned out well. First, the top was painted black. Then I sponged on Country Tan. I followed that with a sparse painting of a darker brown. When it was dry I used some polyurethane that was left over from the girls' bed to make it shiny and also provide a protective coat. I think it turned out well. The sink came from the dollar store. The faucets I sanded from some scraps of wood, added knobs, and spray painted. It could be better, but worked for my time constraints. On my to-do still list if I ever get around to it is a curtain for the front.
 The dishwasher was a pain to figure out. My father-in-law and husband figured out the door engineering. The rack was the best I could find. I wanted a second shelf but was unsuccessful in finding all of the hardware that I wanted that would fit.
 The stove was fun. If you look closely, my husband set the temperature at 350 for 40 min.- the time and temp for bread. Someday I hope to make cute dish rags to hang on the front.
The fridge is bare. Someday it could get cute felt play food to adorn it's innards. I have the pattern. It could happen. I am not a big fan of the cheesy looking cheap plastic foods so my children will just have to be patient with me.
Overall, I am pleased with how it turned out. Thanks to all who helped.