Thursday, April 25, 2013

Rhys' Road Trip Box

I was in The Container Store yesterday, picking up a bakery box for bringing mini birthday cupcakes to Rhys' school tomorrow (Three!!! I KNOW!!!).  Since we're taking the little dude to Legoland soon to celebrate his birthday, I stopped by the travel bottles aisle for some trip supplies.  I saw a travel soap dish and remembered this idea about making a travel coloring set with post its and a soap box . . . then I realized I was already in the perfect store to buy a box to convert into a travel busy box for Rhys  . . . and that there is a Toys R Us next door to The Container Store . . . and basically that the world would end if I didn't put together a travel busy box THAT VERY DAY. 

This is how I operate.  I'm an extremely motivated magpie.

So I left The Container Store with a small accessories box and a soap box.  At Toys R Us, I picked up a Hot Wheels car, a package of Silly Putty and a new box of crayons. I picked up a free newspaper on the way home and then stopped off at Joann's with the little guy after school for a few small supplies (a sheet of craft foam and a lace).  Everything else I used to build the busy box I had on hand already, so my grand total spent was only about $6, including what I spent on the box itself.  The idea is really adaptable to using whatever small toys or craft materials you have on hand, but this is the selection I came up with: 

The item of which I'm most proud, a set of 12 cards depicting Duplo block patterns ranging from 3 to 6 blocks each, and 8 Duplos for Rhys to use replicating the patterns.  I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it was perfect for a Legoland road trip busy box.  I made my cards using Gimp (a free Photoshop like program that I just love to pieces for layout type stuff).  I "laminated" them front and back with packing tape and used a hole punch and a binder ring to tie the cards together.  

Next up, a Button Snake and a Lacing Card.  The card is foam sheet that I cut into a heart and hole punched all the way around. The lace is just a bit of cord from the by the yard ribbon section at Joann's (although, if I'd had a spare shoelace on hand, that'd have worked just as well).  The button snake is made from vintage buttons and random bits of ribbon and felt from my craft room. 

And then on to the coloring kit that got me into this whole mess.  My post its didn't quite fit, so I had to cut them with a paper cutter, but in the end it all works out. I love how this idea keeps the crayons contained!  I also threw in some stickers and letter tracing worksheets for each letter of Rhys' name, since he's working on learning to write it. 

And then a new Hot Wheels car (in the wrapper, since unwrapping is half the fun) and a stack of animal trading cards from Rhys' old issues of National Geographic For Kids, clipped together with a yellow binder clip I found in the junk drawer.

And, lastly, an egg of Silly Putty with a few pages of newsprint and a Road Sign Bingo printout with Post-it flags to mark off the signs. 

 Here's what the box looks like all put together:

I'm really pleased with how this turned out!  All 9 activities fit neatly inside the box (which is about half the size of a shoebox), so this really is perfect for travel.  I'm also super excited that this came together for only $6.  I'm always falling prey to crafty ideas that end up costing me way more in supplies than they're worth. This idea, though, really did come together for only a few dollars.  The idea is adaptable so that I might have spent more, but then again, I might have spent less, even nothing!  When I was planning this project I searched "toddler busy bag" on Pinterest and found pages upon pages of ideas, most that would be inexpensive or free to put together.  At some point, I might replenish this box with a DIY noodle stringing set, maybe some cuter lacing cards,  or a piece of fabric with various clasps attached, or a homemade paint chip color matching set . . . the possibilities are practically endless. 

For now, I can't wait to see how Rhys likes his new box. I'm keeping it hidden until we get on the road!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Shorts with Leather Detail: Reconstruction

I've basically never found shorts that look good on me. They are always either too short, too relaxed fitting and saggy or too twee. I really wanted shorts that fit well, were long enough that I didn't feel over exposed wearing them and that were a bit edgier than the very "juniors department" looking styles I'd seen in stores.  After being disappointed in the dressing room one too many times, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Calling cuttoffs a "reconstruction project" is kind of reaching, but in this case I think the term is warranted since the jeans I cut off had been in the garbage/goodwill/spare fabric pile for years on account of a massive 3 inch long rip in the seat.  So fixing these jeans up and making them wearable and cute was a three part process: 1) fix the rip, 2) cut them off and 3) sew in leather panels, so as to look like a not-twee badass.

First up, the rip:  I started off by cutting a piece of black twill a bit longer and wider than the rip and then rounding off the corners (so that the patch, if it does lift, won't have pointy, uncomfortable edges).  I used a piece of iron on fusible web to make the twill into a patch, which I then carefully ironed in to the inside of the jeans, making sure the fabric was flat as I ironed.  Then I flipped the jeans back right side out and used my sewing machine to make a slew of zig zag stitches back and forth over the rip, until it was completely covered and the loose threads were contained.  I used black thread and black twill, since that's what I had on hand and since I didn't mind the jeans having a "scar", but i might have also used denim from the lower part of the legs to make the patch, and denim colored thread for the stitching.  Here's a great tutorial with lots of photos and explanation of the zigzag stitch process:, and, below on the left, here's my finished patch/scar. I think it adds to the general bad-assery of the shorts:

Next up, cutting.  I tried the jeans on and marked where I wanted them cut with chalk.  Then I took them off and cut them about 3/4 of an inch longer than that mark (to give them room to fray down an inch or so), making sure they were a little longer in the middle than they were on the outer seams (so they made a slight v shape, when laid flat).  I went over the cut edges with sandpaper to start them fraying, then washed and dried the shorts to finish messing up the edges.  I cut off all the long loose threads and it was time for step three:

Applying the leather panels.  The jeans have a triangle shaped motif on the back pockets and the button, so I went with that inspiration and cut two pieces of black scrap leather into triangles and used masking tape to affix the triangles to the outer seams of each leg.  Leather shouldn't be pinned, since the pins would leave lasting holes in the fabric, but the masking tape worked like a charm.  I just ripped it off when I was done sewing.

I'm not one for fancy single use machine needles, but I did use heavy duty leather needles when sewing these panels in.  When I first bought the leather needles, I thought they were probably overkill, but in retrospect I'm really glad I had them.  My leather was pretty thick, and I was sewing it over thick denim. because of the placement of my panels over the side seams, the denim was 4 layers thick in places . . . add that thickness to a chunk of leather, and I'm pretty sure judging by the noises my machine made as I sewed that I would've busted quite a few needles trying to sew this with a standard needle.  I barely made it through as was!  If you're going to try sewing leather applique, spring for a pack of leather needles. You won't regret it. 

Here they are, all completed! 

And on:

I wore these on Sunday and I'm happy to report that they're the exact shorts I was hoping they'd be.  I don't feel like a stripper or a teenager in them. Huzzah!