Monday, December 21, 2015

A Living Tree for the Holidays and Easy DIY Felt Ornaments

While looking for a small, artificial Christmas tree for the holidays, I started to wonder what the trees were made of and whether or not they were non-toxic.  It turns out artificial trees often have lead or PVC or flame retardants in them. (To see why I try to decrease my family's exposure to phthalates and flame retardants when possible, click above for my previous posts detailing what they are and where they can be found).

I didn't want to get a tree that was cut down for the holidays either, so I tried to find a living tree.  While there were some companies that rented living trees for a few weeks a year, they were not on my side of the country. So finally, I decided to get a tiny living tree.

I opted for a rosemary plant that will hopefully last for years to come to give us a truly green holiday season.

I decided to make quick, tiny ornaments out of felt to decorate the little tree.  I turned to what little felt I had in my scrap bags and did what I could with what was available.

I cut the following shapes out:

I sewed the felt together with a quick running stitch and then found an old ribbon. I tied it into knotted loops like this and cut it up so that each ornament had something to hang them up on the tree with.

I sewed the loops to the ornaments and using a Sharpie Stained fabric pen, quickly drew faces on and my ornaments were done.

Here is our little tabletop tree. It is a great way to celebrate while being environmentally responsible and decreasing my family's exposure to certain toxins. For more information on what trees have lower levels of these toxins, check out the Soft Landing's informative post on this topic here.

Happy Holidays!

If you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books, (including 3 Raksha Bandhan books, 12 Indian language books for kids, The Booger Fairy and Nishi Goes to India).   If you have a minute, I'd love some more reviews.
 You can also click here to see my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Space Card Table Fort Panel 1

For Diwali this year, I made my kids a space-themed card table fort. I had made them an ocean-themed one and an Indian-themed one a couple years earlier.

To make the four panels of the fort, I measured the length from the floor of the north side of the table, going up to the tabletop and back down to the south side. And I measured the width. I then measured the length and width needed for the east and west panels (without having to go over the tabletop again). I then waited for a good coupon at Jo Ann Fabrics and used to it to purchase black Eco-fi felt by the yard. The felt-by-the-yard was wide enough for me to get all four panels out of the cut I chose.

When I got home, I folded the felt in half and draped it over the table. So I have the north and south sides covered, and the east and west sides are open.

After confirming I did purchase the right length, I put the folded felt onto the floor.

And then cut it.

I was left with two long pieces of felt.

It was now time to see what was needed for the east and west sides, without having to go over the tabletop again, since that was covered. So I placed my felt where it needed to be...

...trimmed the excess length...

...and figured out how much of an overlap I wanted on the tabletop for the east and west sides.

I then sewed the east and west panels to the tabletop portion of the long panel that covers the north side, south side and the tabletop.

And with it hand sewn in place, I used the sewing machine to go over the east and west panels on the tabletop portion of the felt, to secure them in place.

For the first panel, I decided to make the solar system. I thought it would look cute and be a great way for the kids to learn the planets in the correct order.

 I used Eco-fi felt from Jo Ann Fabrics to cut out my planets, trying to make them as close to their actual color and proportions as possible with the felt I had.  I sewed Earth, Jupiter and Saturn's pieces together before sewing them to the black felt. I sewed the sun and its rays together directly on the black felt.

Once I got the sun and planets in the right order onto the black felt, I took white thread and with a running stitch sewed the planets' orbit lines onto the mat and one panel of four was finally done!

Check back here for the other 3 panels in the coming weeks!

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Halloween Felt Board and Snack

Here is how I used that felt board for some October fun.

I put the fall leaves on our seasonal tree every Autumn for the kids to play with but as Halloween nears, I slowly add some new Halloween-themed felt pieces each day to make the board more festive.  I started with some pumpkins, an apple and an acorn.

I then added two large pumpkins with vampire teeth, an eye patch, lips, eyebrows, mustaches, goatees, bows and more for the kids to use to make different faces.

And then I made some Halloween characters.  I copied the ghost saying "boo" from my friend Brynn's adorable Halloween felt board.  And I added a mummy raking leaves, a skeleton, a bat and a witch.  The kids enjoy playing with these guys.

Last year I made this organic Halloween snack for my son too, using real food ingredients (raisins, an avocado, an apple, carrots, cottage cheese and string cheese), with no added, processed sugar.

Check back every Monday for new posts, including more info on green products and DIY toys.  The next few weeks are full of fun posts on Halloween and Diwali projects so be sure to come back.

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Felt Swans and a Rabbit for the Garden Playmat

Last time, I showed you how I made a garden playmat for my kids out of old cotton clothes.  Here is how I made a black swan, a white swan and a rabbit out of felt for the playmat:

I drew this swan on a piece of white felt folded in half so that I would get two of them when I cut the shape out.  I then cut the same shape out of a folded piece of black felt to get duplicates in black.

I used my felt scraps to find two beaks and an eye for the black swan.

I then sewed the two pieces of the white swan together, stuffing it with cotton scraps, with a blanket stitch.  When it was finished, I sewed on the beak and drew the eye one with a black Sharpie Stained fabric pen.

I followed the same steps to make the black swan, except his eye was the piece of gray felt.  I sewed it on with black thread to make the pupil.

I cut the following shapes out of felt for the rabbit:

I sewed the ear, nose and eyes to the first piece of brown felt.  Then I sewed the two pieces of the rabbit's body together, using a blanket stitch, and stuffed it with cotton scraps before closing it, and the bunny was done:

These three animals were a fast, fun, low-cost project to make and my kids love playing with them.

Check back every Monday for new posts, including more info on green products and DIY toys.  The next few weeks are full of fun posts on Halloween and Diwali projects so be sure to come back.

Follow me on Twitter @soups25

Monday, September 28, 2015

Upcycled Garden Playmat

A few months ago, I turned some old clothes into a garden playmat for my sons.  I always make sure that when I am using old clothes, they are not wrinkle-free or no-iron clothes, as those have a PFOA coating.  You can click here to find out what Teflon and other PFOAs are associated with and how to avoid exposure to them.

I started with this cotton shirt and these cotton shirt scraps:

I cut horizontally below the word "Aspen" and then cut vertically along the two seams so I had a rectangle.

I then took my striped scraps and twisted them up to look like roses.

And I sewed the roses onto the mat.

I then cut out the pocket of an old pair of jeans, making sure I got the tan pocket part inside of the jeans as well.  I like putting pockets in my playmats for easy storage of the felt animals I make that go with each mat.

I sewed the pocket lake onto the corner of my mat and then added a few more wadded-up flowers and some trees using more cotton scraps:

And my playmat was done!

Tune in next week to see the swans and rabbit I made for the playmat.
You can see other playmats I've made by clicking below:

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