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

 

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

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- www.upcyclednest.com

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

Sock Puppet Unicorn Tutorial

sock puppet pin
Unicorn sock puppet
sock puppet pin

I’ve recently been going through the kids’ clothes and clearing out the stuff that they have outgrown.  Most of the items we pass along to friends and family with smaller kids, but, seeing how much my kids have been putting their socks on their hands just for fun lately, I decided to try making a sock puppet.  It was a fun, quick project and the kids both love “Candy the Unicorn.”  I’m sure there will be a boy puppet in production shortly!

Materials:

  • 2 socks
  • embroidery floss
  • needle
  • tiny bit of polyfill
  • hot glue gun with glue
  • thin cardboard (cereal box)
  • water soluble fabric marking pen
  • I did a small amount of machine stitching, but if you don’t have a sewing machine you could easily hand stitch it

For this project I  used 2 different socks.
One frilly ankle sock which made a really cute frilly base for the puppet, and one striped sock for the horn and the inside of the mouth.  Socks used to make puppet

I started by tracing the curve of the toe onto the thin cardboard.  The cardboard will give structure to the inside of the mouth.Trace the curve of the toe onto the cardboard

Measure the distance from toe to heel of the sock that will be the inside of the mouth so that you will know how long to make the cardboard inner mouth structure.  I found that using the parts of the sock that naturally curve made it easier to glue it to the cardboard.  Plus this measurement worked out just perfectly for little hands.  measure heel to toe

In this case (using 2T-3T socks) the measurement from toe to heel was 4 inches, so on the cardboard piece I measured half the distance (2 inches) from the curve to the fold line.Prepare cardboard for mouth

Fold the cardboard on the fold line and cut out the shape along the curved line (do not cut the fold line).

 

At this point I turned the mouth/horn sock inside out and straight stitched a long triangle out of the front ankle portion of the sock to make the horn of the unicorn.  Once you stitch it, cut it off of the body of the sock. Unicorn hornTrim the fabric close the the point of the horn to make it easier to turn.  Turn the horn right side out and stuff with a tiny bit of polyfill.  Turn the remainder of the sock right side out and fit the cardboard between the toe and the heel.  Fit cardboard mouth to the sock

Make a small incision on the heel of the white sock (which will be the top of the head of the unicorn) to fit the horn through.  Turn the sock inside out and poke the base of the horn out through the hole in the heel while the point of the horn is hidden inside the sock (see picture below). Use a straight stitch to sew the horn to the white sock, and at the same time sewing the hole of the white sock closed and securing the polyfill into the horn.  Now that’s multitasking!Sew horn in place

Fit the cutout cardboard into the toe of the sock that will be the head of the puppet and use it as a guide to slice open the toe of the sock (soon to be mouth of the puppet). Cut open the mouthI drew on nostrils and eyes with a water soluble fabric marking pen and embroidered them.  I used a satin stitch for the nostrils and combination of satin and back stitches for the eyes.  Buttons probably would have looked cute for eyes too, and would be less work and more uniform (unless of course you are a pro at embroidery.  I am not, so our unicorn has character, and maybe a lazy eye.) I also added a mane using a rainbow of colored embroidery floss.  I threaded all 6 strands of the floss through a needle, stitched it through (see needle stitching through top of puppet in the picture below) where I wanted it, made a knot and cut the ends off about 1.5 inches away from the knot.  I made 2 rows of 5 knots for each color and felt it was a sufficient amount for the mane.  The rows probably could have been spaced out a little bit more to take up more space down the length of the sock and still look good. Or you can just keep adding more rows the whole way down, but it does start to get a bit tedious.Embroider the face and knot the mane threads

Next comes the hot glue assembly of the puppet!  First hot glue the inner mouth fabric to the valley side of the folded cardboard. Work in small sections to get the best bond.Glue the inner mouth to the outer lips Turn the mouth piece over and glue down the flap on the backside.  Finally, line the outside edge of the lips up with the inside mouth piece and glue them together right at the edge (do not glue the entire piece down, you need to leave room for little fingers to get in there!)

Have fun playing with your new puppet!

The best part is watching the kids enjoy their new, custom sock puppet!

Upcycled Dinosaur Tail from a Button Down Shirt

 

Thursday evening as I was checking the weather for the St. Patty’s day parade to take place on Saturday morning I realized that we had RSVP’d to a toddler birthday party for Saturday morning.  We had committed weeks ago to the party, and immediately after I sent the “Yes, we are so excited to come to the party!” response I completely forgot about the party. And, being a terrible shopper, I briefly panicked that we had no gift!  Then I saw the pile of my husband’s discarded button down shirts and I decided to make a dinosaur tail out of one (after all, the party invitation did have dinosaurs on it, so this has got to be a birthday boy pleaser!)  dino tail

I used the tutorial from Running With Scissors, except that for the fabric I cut apart my husband’s stained shirt and used the large piece of fabric cut from the back of the shirt.  It was a striped shirt, so I aligned the pattern so that the stripes would wrap around the tail giving it a ringed look.  And instead of using Velcro for the belt part, I cut off and hemmed the button placket from the front of the shirt.  Buttons and holes already sewn on, easy peasy!  The stuffing I actually already had on hand from disassembling some old, smooshed pillows.  This was the kimik tailnd of project that was so satisfying because I put it together in a couple hours using items that I already had sitting around (which meant absolutely zero shopping required for this gift!)  My kids both lovedcal tail the tail (and had to try it on, of course!), and we can’t wait to give it to our little friend on Saturday!  I know he will just love it!