Adorable Wizard of Oz Costumes for Kids


cutest wizard of oz costumes for kidsWith the evenings starting to cool off and fall creeping right around the corner I’ve started thinking about making this year’s Halloween costumes. But first I thought I’d share the adorable Wizard of Oz costumes that I made for my kids last year in case any of you are looking for some inspiration. Upcycling items to make Halloween costumes is just the best! It takes a little effort, but the results are always well worth the time as you end up with really unique and inexpensive costumes.

When I was trying to decide what costumes to make for the kids last year I first went digging through my daughter’s drawers to see what she already had to work with. I came across the blue and white gingham overalls with sunflowers and thought what a perfect Dorothy costume that would make. She also already had the white ruffly turtleneck, white ruffly socks and tights to go with the outfit. I had some blue and white gingham ribbon in my craft stash too, so the hair bows were already taken care of. The only thing we needed to finish off her costume was the ruby slippers. I ended up ordering these ruby slippers off amazon which cost more than I would normally spend on a costume accessory, but she loved them and got lots of use out of them throughout the year (not just on Halloween).

I wasn’t sure right away what I was going to make for my son, but then I came across this really strange, black furry dress at Goodwill and thought, “Oh perfect, I can totally make that into a Toto costume!”

furry dress before toto

Here’s the before picture… furry with sequins and quite the steal at $2.00. I cut all the sequins off, turned the dress inside out, and traced around one of his onesie outfits.  Taking the marked dress to the sewing machine I stitched around the whole outline that I had traced except for between the legs. I left that open and put velcro/safety pins in there so we could get it on and off and have access to change diapers.  The excess fabric that I cut off was just enough to fashion a hood with ears and a tail. I stuffed both the ears and the tail with fiber fill to make them stick out. We also had him wear some black mittens and black boots that we already had – perfect!

dorothy and toto costume

At this point my daughter was a little sad because I had spent more effort on Toto than on Dorothy, so I decided to put together a basket of friends for her to carry.  The basket itself was a leftover flower vessel from a wedding earlier in the summer and was just perfect for carrying the lion, tinman, and scarecrow in.  The characters themselves were stuffed animals that I gathered from my kids’ collection and made simple little costumes for.  The lion didn’t need any work.  For the scarecrow I made a floppy hat out of felt and stuffed a few pieces of straw into his scarf.  The tinman took the most work, but it was fun!  He was a sock monkey for whom I fashioned a solo cup vest covered in sparkly duct tape. Then used regular duct tape to cover his arms and legs.  And finally made a funnel hat out of cardboard and covered that in duct tape too.  And for the final touch I took their monkey pillow pet and turned him into a flying monkey with a solo cup hat and felt wings.  The best/most fun part about that guy was that he had velcro straps on his belly already like pillow pets do, and so we could attach him to all kinds of stuff while we were walking around: the kids’ wagon, Dorothy’s basket, the wicked witch’s arm, Toto’s arm… It was probably more fun than it should have been!

Wizard of Oz costumes are pretty common, but I’ve never seen it done quite the way we did it.  The extra little accessories really put this one over the top on the cute scale! Have you ever worn a Wizard of Oz costume?  Do you coordinate sibling costumes?  I’ve coordinated my kids’ costumes the last couple years, but may be nearing the end of that as they are starting to get their own ideas of what they want to dress up as.  I think I may have one more year of coordination.. stay tuned!

little girl dorothy costume with tin man lion scarecrow

Family wizard of oz costumescutest wizard of oz costumes for kids


How to Make an Upcycled Jeans Purse

My mom had mentioned that in the 70’s they used to make upcycled jeans purses. It sounded like the perfect upcycled sewing project so I decided to give it a whirl (and finished it just in time to give to her for a belated mother’s day present since she came in for a visit last week). It turned out beautifully so I thought I would write up a tutorial in case you’re interested in making one yourself! I really like the yellow and blue color combo of this one, it looks so summery!

I loved the yellow and white striped t-shirt that I used for the lining and embellishments and it showed – it had several small holes in it. So this is a perfect upcycled project for a well loved t-shirt and an old pair of jeans that you don’t wear anymore but can’t bear to part with.materials to make upcycled denim purse

Making the Upcycled Jeans Purse

I started off by cutting the legs off of the jeans as high up as possible but making sure that you’re not cutting through the pockets.cut the legs off the jeans

At this point you will probably need to align the top edges and trim the bottom edges. I wanted it to look more like a purse than just a cut off pair of jeans with a seam on the bottom so I curved the bottom corners and added an elliptical bottom panel.rounded corners of jean purse

Cut a curve out of one of the corners (pic above) and use the scrap piece to copy the curve to the other corner (pic below).copy curve on opposite corner

At this point with both the top and bottom open, hand stitch any embellishments.  The flowers that I used on the purse I had just cut off of the t-shirt.

hand stitch embellishments

Next measure and cut the bottom panel from one of the legs that you cut off of the jeans.  For this purse I ran the tape measure across the bottom opening of the purse and added an inch on each side to make sure I had plenty of seam allowance to work with.  I used this measurement for the length of my ellipse and measured 5 inches across the middle and curving down to 1 inch on either end.

measure and cut panel for bottom of purse

Turn the purse inside out and pin the bottom panel to the bottom of the purse, right sides together.  Straight stitch the panel in place and then zigzag the seam allowance to prevent raveling.

pin and sew bottom panel onto purse

Cut a shoulder strap out of one of the legs of the jeans.  For comfort and ease of turning cut a wide strap.  I used the bottom hem of the jeans for one end so that I only had to hem the other end of the strap.  Once hemmed, fold the strap in half right sides together and straight stitch leaving 1/2″ seam allowance and several inches in the middle for turning.cut, sew, and turn purse handle from jean leg

Top stitch around the strap.  Pin the strap in place at each end of the purse avoiding belt loops if possible as they can be tricky to sew through.  I sewed the strap in place using a rectangle of stitching with an “X” in the center for reinforcement.

pin and sew strap onto purse

Adding the Lining

Once the strap is sewn to the body of the purse it’s time to add the lining.  I used the bottom hem of the shirt to slightly stick out of the top of the finished purse. Turn the shirt inside out and lay flat.  Place the purse on top of the shirt aligning the top of the purse with the bottom hem of the shirt and loosely trace around the purse using a water soluble marking pen.

trace lining

Move the purse, pin around the markings and stitch.  I used a zigzag stitch since the knit fabric is so stretchy. I also switched to a stretch needle.

pin and sew purse lining

Once it’s stitched cut away the excess fabric.  I used the extra t-shirt fabric to make the sash that I ran through the belt loops of the finished purse but I failed to get a picture of that part.  But it works pretty much the same way as the strap.

Once you have the lining sewn it’s time to position it inside the purse, pin, and sew into place.  Make sure if you want the lining to peek out above the rim of the denim that you pin it evenly peeking out the whole way around.  I also hid the side seams of the lining behind the shoulder straps.  Also make sure that you are pinning wrong sides together. And when you sew the lining in place try to hide the stitches in the top stitching on the waist band of the jeans.

pin and sew upcycled t-shirt lining in place

Now it’s time to sit back and admire your handiwork!

upcycled denim purse lined with a t-shirt

I looked up a tutorial for tying a Burberry trench coat knot for the sash because I thought it needed a little something special.  A bow just wasn’t cutting it for this bag. Of course you can use a regular belt through the belt loops too, but I am really partial to all the yellow highlights on this upcycled jeans purse.

upcycled jean purse

I think this would be a great project to try with little girls’ jeans too! Have you ever made an upcycled jeans purse? Did you sew a bottom panel or just a straight seam where you cut the legs off?

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Tips on Creating the Ultimate Kids Playhouse


Tips on creating the ultimate kids playhouseWe recently built this ultimate kids playhouse as the centerpiece to what has become a really awesome playroom for our kids.  This space used to be a largely unused sitting/entry room and I couldn’t be happier that it is now one of the most used rooms in our house.  The creation of this play room, and more specifically the playhouse, has solved several issues for us:

  • It gives the kids a place for active play during inclement weather
  • It gives the kids a shared play space so that their bedrooms can be more private
  • It adds attractive lighting to a room that had no built in lights
  • It greatly adds to the square footage since there’s space above and below to play in
Constructing the Kids Playhouse

To start we measured out our space and sketched up a rough plan for the ultimate playhouse using Visio.  If you are going to include an indoor slide make sure there will be enough room between the end of the slide and the wall. We have 55 inches of clearance between the end of the slide and the wall and I don’t think I’d cut it much closer than that.  You don’t want anyone to face-plant into the drywall! When planning you can use the good ‘ol Pythagorean Theorem to calculate how far out from the edge of the playhouse the slide will end.

We framed it out using 2×4’s making sure that everything was square and level.

B and M constructing play house

Then we screwed down 1/2″ sanded plywood for the floor and covered it with a remnant carpet pad and carpet. My father in law, who is a very skilled carpenter and makes everything look way too easy, took over for a while at this point.  He did all the detail work including the pine board panels, arched window and doorways, the awning and the adorable flower box and shutters.

Adding Some Functional Details

I had been scoping out playhouses on pinterest for a while and thought it was a great idea to put pegboard, chalkboard and white board walls inside, so we did that.  Pegboard puppet storage near the window

The kids often like to put on puppet shows through the window of the playhouse so we put the pegboard right next to the window to conveniently store their puppets.

Reading nook underneath the playhouse

We turned the area below the kids playhouse into a cozy reading nook.   The bookshelf used to be sitting on a desk so it is the perfect short height to fit underneath the playhouse.  It is screwed to the leg of the playhouse so that it can’t be tipped over.  And the green pad that you can see on the floor in the picture above is actually a pack n play mattress that we repurposed for this and it fits perfectly in the nook (plus it’s great that when the kids get it dirty I can just throw the sheet in the washer!)

Let There Be Light

We needed some great lighting in this little nook so we put some battery operated LED push lights (that the kids can reach and push on themselves) on the ceiling in the nook. But we quickly realized that the batteries weren’t lasting long so we hard wired the little push lights so that we could plug them in.  You can still push them to turn them off so they can be operated independently of the other lights in the kids playhouse.

Install lighting that kids can use

You can see the little hardwired push lights in the picture above along with a small remote control that we hung just inside the reading nook.  The remote controls the outlet that all the playhouse lights are connected to.  In addition to the reading nook lights we also installed LED string lights around the inside of the playhouse, and a porch light on the outside wall of the playhouse near the door.  The porch light looks adorable and actually functions really well to light the whole room since it is positioned near the center of the room.

Inside the playhouse

The kids love their playhouse, and we love watching them enjoy it!

I would have loved having a playhouse like this as a kid! What about you?

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DIY Felt Paper Dolls with a Fold and Carry Doll House

felt doll pin

Fold and Carry Felt Doll HouseI’m always a fan of handmade gifts for kids so when I saw this free fold and carry doll house pattern on Pinterest I knew that I had to make one for my daughter along with some felt paper dolls to live in it. I had fun picking out the fabrics (most of which came from my stash, but a few were from a fat eighth quilters sample pack). It was the first time I’ve ever done applique and I’d have to say that it was quite a successful first project – but very time consuming!  Inside of Fold and Carry Felt Doll HouseIt was fun and easy designing and appliqueing the individual panels, but sewing the panels together and attaching the binding was a bit tricky.  The areas where multiple corners came together got a bit bunchy, but for the most part the binding did a good job of covering the imperfections.  Just make sure that you clip off any excess before wrapping and sewing the binding.

I also decided to add an accordion pocket to the back of the house to store the dolls and doll clothes in. As an added bonus the pocket has a button down flap to keep it shut and my daughter loves practicing buttoning with it.  To make the flap I cut 2 identical pieces of fabric slightly shorter across the top than the width of the pocket it will cover, and slightly wider at the bottom than the pocket width.  I would suggest adding a layer of interfacing to the pocket flap too to give it a bit more stiffness.  With right sides together and the interfacing on top sew around the edge leaving an opening to turn.  Turn right side out and close the turn opening while topstitching around the whole edge of the flap.  Position the flap where you want it over the pocket and stitch in place along the top edge.  Add a button hole to the flap and sew a button on the pocket.Flat Doll House with Accordion Pocket on Back

I used the fusible web and Annie’s Soft and Stable like the pattern recommends, but the template plastic wasn’t necessary – I just used cardboard instead.

Of course once I was done making the house I had to make a couple felt “paper” dolls and outfits to go with it! I searched the internet for a while and settled on these dolls to make, but I came up with a face I liked better to embroider onto the dolls. I used 2 strands of thread for the backstitching and french knots on the eyes and mouth and only 1 strand of thread for the backstitching on the nose. You can see the resulting felt paper doll below.  I think she turned out pretty cute! What do you think?Embroidered Felt Paper Doll FaceDoll clothes are easy enough to make, just use your doll to trace out patterns for clothes. You can use any fabric that you want, just make sure to sew felt onto the back so that the clothes will self stick to your felt dolls.

Felt Paper Dolls

Fairy Garden Pool Tutorial: A Repurposed Watering Globe

Repurposed Watering Globe A Fairy Garden Pool TutorialThis project actually started last year when I accidentally broke a pretty blue watering glass globe.  The glass was so pretty that I wanted to repurpose it, so I ended up cutting it in half using the flaming string method  so that I could turn it into a little fairy garden pool.

I decided that I wanted to make a stone ring to line the edge of the pool to highlight it and also to hide the cut edge of the glass.  I hot glued a rock ring together, but it did not hold up well at all (it started falling apart within a few hours, ugh!).  So we went the rest of the summer with an unlined pool that blended into the dirt. Every time that I looked at it I thought how much better it would look had the rock ring held up.

And that brings us to this year and setting up the fairy garden amidst the other springtime flurry of activity around here.  I decided to give the rock ring a go again, but this time I invested in some E6000 adhesive to glue the rocks together.  This glue is recommended for use in jewelry making so it is up to the task of gluing rocks.  The only issue is that it takes 24-72 hours to cure which means that you need to be really careful when setting the rocks because they will slip around.  pool materialsI cut a hole the size of my fairy garden pool in a shallow box and set it down into the box so that I had a solid, flat surface to work with for gluing the rocks, but could see how they were going to sit on the glass.

Make sure to clean the rocks really well before gluing them as dirt will interfere with the bond.  You also need to be in a well ventilated location while using the glue – I worked outside on my patio table.

DIY fairy garden pool

This is a fun, quick project. And the resulting rock lined pool looks adorable in the fairy garden! Have you ever had success gluing rocks?  What did you use?  Have you ever cut glass?  I’m wondering what other methods are successful at cutting glass, because while effective, the burning string method is a bit scary! As I was plunging the hot glass into cold water and hearing it crack I was picturing it exploding in my hands, yikes!

Rock Lined Fairy Garden Pool

Enjoy your new fairy garden pool!

This post was featured at the Funtastic Friday Party!

“Thyme” for the Fairy Garden

Braided Thyme as Trees in a Fairy Garden

Over the weekend I was gifted a bunch of really well rooted thyme.  It was more than enough to put in my herb garden so I decided to use some as beautiful, living accessories for our fairy garden.

Last summer we created a fairy garden in an old, decrepit wheel barrow that was sitting, unused, behind our shed. It was a huge hit with my then 3 year old daughter (and even the older neighbor girls which makes me think that we will keep this tradition going for a long time). My daughter has received several cute accessories for the garden as gifts, but most of what’s in there we have made or scavenged from our yard/flower beds.

fairy garden in a wheel barrow

We have sedum, baby hostas (when they get too big I take them out and find new babies to replace them with), moss, forget me not, and now thyme planted in the fairy garden.  Last year I planted isotoma blue in there too, but it took off like crazy and was hard to keep under control so I took it out this year.  The little glass stepping stones were from a fish tank we had a few years ago.

With all the cute accessories that we already have in the garden I decided to play around with the thyme a little bit to see if I could make it look like little topiaries.  I stripped the leaves off the bottom sections of stems and braided the stems together (several stems on a single root). The result wasn’t exactly what I had originally pictured.  They look more like miniature weeping trees, but I really like them!  I staked them up with small lengths of wire that I clipped off of an unused portion of fencing we had in the shed and some tiny snippets of garden twisty ties.  I hope they survive all the “love” they will receive from the kids!

braided thyme for fairy garden trees

Do you like to garden?  Have you tried miniature gardening?

Repurpose the Hidden Side of a Crib Skirt

Repurpose hidden side of crib skirt

Before my daughter was born we got her a beautiful, very girly nursery decor set from a thrift store.  I was going to just use it for my son too, because who has the budget to decorate a nursery once let alone multiple times for different genders? That is until my mom found this awesome, sports themed crib skirt at Goodwill.  Like probably every other nursery arrangement, our crib sits against a wall.  Since the back side of the crib skirt is hidden from view anyway, I decided to cut it off and make it into a window valance.  The length and width of the back side of the crib skirt are perfect to dress up the one window that is in the nursery.

I cut some coordinating 1″ wide ribbon into 6″ lengths, pinned the ribbon (folded in half with the raw edges overlapping the top of the valance by half an inch) in place, and topstitched the whole way across the top of the valance (see picture below).

valance loop spacing

I do recommend using safety pins to pin the crib skirt in place on the mattress support grid since you’re now missing the back side. I actually think that this would help keep your crib skirt in the correct position whether or not you decide to repurpose one (or more!) of the sides.

pin crib skirt in place on mattress support frame

As I was taking pictures for this project I realized that with the type of crib  I have, I am not able to see the sides of the crib skirt either.  I cut those off now too, and hopefully soon will be making them into wall hangings and/or throw pillows.  nursery picture with repurposed crib skirt as valance

I hope that you find this idea useful and are able to save some money while putting together an adorable, matching nursery set!  There’s no reason to break the bank decorating a room that you will only be using for a year or two anyway.

How To Weave Ribbon Around A Vase

DIY ballerina inspired vaseMy daughter loves to pick flowers.  She also loves everything girly, especially ballerinas.  So when she received some chocolate covered oreos for her birthday (another girly thing that she loves: chocolate!) that came in a clear plastic cylinder we decided to turn it into a ballerina inspired vase by weaving ribbons on it that match her bedroom colors.

The materials are pretty straight forward for this one:

  • Ballerina vase materials list

Start off by cutting the ribbons so that they can wrap around the vase 1.5 times from the bottom to the top (picture below). Tack it at the top and at the bottom with hot glue.  tack ribbon swirl on vase with hot glueDispense a drop of glue and dab it on the end of the ribbon.  Don’t touch the hot tip of the glue gun to the ribbon or you will burn/melt it.  You also don’t want to glue the middle of the ribbon down so you will be able to weave under it as necessary. Continue to tack swirled ribbons around the vase leaving about an inch gap between each one. Once you have ribbons swirling in the same direction the whole way around the vase you are ready to start weaving them in the opposite direction.  Tack a ribbon at the base, swirling in the opposite direction but using the same angle of swirl. Weave the free end over and under the previously swirled ribbons until you reach the top.  Keep adjusting your swirl angle and pulling tight as you go, and when you are satisfied tack it down at the top.  Keep going until your vase is full of a beautiful swirl of woven ribbons.

To finish off the look glue a band of ribbon around the bottom and around the top to cover up the ribbon ends.  We decided that ours needed a bow too. To make the bow, cut a section of ribbon and loop it, leaving an even amount of excess out of each side of the intersection.  Glue to intersection (see photo below).how to make a ribbon bow

Below is a photo of what it looks like when you dab glue to the top of the loop and flip it under to glue down to the intersection.DIY ribbon bow  I made another slightly smaller bow to glue on top of this one, and then looped another small section of ribbon around the middle to come up with a bow like this:ribbon double bow

Glue the bow (if desired) to the top band of ribbon on the vase, making sure to pick your favorite spot in the weaving for the front. Go pick some flowers and enjoy your new vase!  Happy spring everyone!
ballerina inspired vase

Imagination + Motivation = Creativity

Imagination + motivation = creativity

My husband and I love to work together on DIY projects around the house, but with two young kids running around it’s tricky to find the time to work on our projects.  We had gutted our master bathroom over two years ago and are finally putting some work into that renovation in the evenings after we put the kids to bed.  We have already run into a few issues while plumbing the new drains but have come up with creative solutions that I think will work out better for us in the long run.  And it got me thinking that creativity is really a product of imagination and motivation.  You can think and dream as much as you want, but without some motivational kick in the pants you won’t ever produce anything.

We have lots of motivation to get our bathroom done: frequent overnight guests, kids taking longer in the bathroom as they get older, not to mention wanting to get the vanity and shower (that we bought a while ago when we found a great deal!) out of our basement/garage. Plus it will be such a luxury to have a nice, adult oasis as the rest of the house is over run with kid stuff!

So what motivates you? Manfred Max-Neef states that creation is one of the fundamental human needs.  Maybe that’s enough of a motivator in itself for some people, though I suspect most of us need a stronger call to action to get us off of the couch. Do you create things to get a sense of satisfaction? Do you create things to give as gifts (in which case there is a time limitation adding to the motivation)? Do you create things to sell (money is always a great motivator, right?)?  Do you create things as an escape from your everyday routines? Do you have a nagging project that keeps getting pushed to the back burner? I hope you find whatever it is that motivates you and have a productive week. Cheers to creativity my friends!

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Train Storage from a Cassette Tape Holder

I was born in the 80’s so I know what a cassette tape is, however, the first music that I ever purchased was in the form of a CD. That said, I really didn’t have a good use for this cassette tape holder that we inherited with the house. It had been hanging, empty, in the coat closet until today when I glanced at it and thought what a perfect train storage unit it would be with some slight modifications. And my kids have recently been gifted a lot of hand me down trains so they will definitely put a train storage unit to good use! The most satisfying projects are turning unloved items that you already own into something either you or a loved one will adore, don’t you think?

This is what the cassette tape holder looked like before the modifications.

Upcycled Thomas Train Storage

The width of the columns are perfect to fit the Thomas engines, but to accommodate the height of the engines 2 out of every 3 shelves need to be removed.  The shelves of this unit are made of balsa wood so I just used a pair of tin snips to clip the shelves out.

Here’s a picture of the unit as I was clipping out the shelves.  Look how perfectly those engines sit in the new openings!

Thomas train storage unit

After clipping out the remaining shelves that were in the way all that was left to do was to hang it by the train table.  Of course you could paint it if you want, but we have lots of this color wood in the play room so I didn’t bother with that.

Thomas train storage-

The kids got to work right away filling their new train storage unit with all of their trains (and even some construction trucks and matchbox cars!).

train garage pin