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.
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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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