My kid had a big growth spurt this past summer, and by the end of it, most of his pajama pants fit him more like capris. (Or, as we like to call capris in our family: shpants.)
As we went through his outgrown pajamas and made a pile to donate, he grabbed one pair of pants and announced he loved them so much he didn't want to give them away – he wanted to make a pillow out of them.
(At some point when he was a toddler, we made a pillow out of a shirt. I don't remember the project, and I don't think we even have it anymore, but it's stuck in his head that we make pillows out of old clothes we love, and I love this idea so, so much.) (Also, I have a growing pile of his old clothes I want to make a quilt out of someday.)
So here's what we did:
First, Cut Off a Leg
Since these pants were made from a stretchy knit fabric, I held them taught while my son wielded my fabric scissors. We cut the leg off as near to the crotch of the pants as possible, to make for the longest/biggest pillow. We also cut the elastic off the cuff, at the ankle.
(I took this photo later on in the process [scroll down for notes on adding an appliqué], but below you can see one of the cut-up ends of the pant leg.)
Next, Sew Up One End
We could have simply sewed the ankle end shut, but it was way more fun for the kid to decide on a design for felt scales to sew in there, too. So he took a sharpie to some felt, then he got frustrated trying to cut felt with safety scissors and my fabric scissors were too big for him to use for detail cutting. So I cut out the design.
Then I sandwiched the felt inside the ankle end of the pants leg, threaded some embroidery floss onto a sharp embroidery needle, and taught the kid how to sew a running stitch through the three layers of fabric.
You might think a running stitch – and not a terribly tightly sewn one – wouldn't be appropriate for eventually keeping stuffing from coming out of the pillow, but (spoiler) it's worked great.
Maybe, If You Want, Make an Appliqué
The kid didn't particularly want to make this pillow into a monster, but when I suggested he could cut out a shape of felt and decorate it however he wanted, he decided that would be a grand thing to do. He drew a big triangle, I helped him cut it out (mental note to get him scissors that are sharp enough for cutting felt or fabric), then he took a Sharpie to it.
At this point, he'd lost interest in the slow part of hand-sewing, and he expressed zero desire to sew the appliqué on. No big. I sewed it on, for I love the slow part of hand-sewing. While I did this, he went outside and tossed a baseball against a net.
Now Stuff It
We used basic poly-fil as stuffing. You could, alternatively, use scrap fabric or yarn, or a mixture of scraps and poly-fil, for a more eco-friendly (though lumpier) stuffing. (I love eco-friendly lumpy stuffings, FWIW.)
Use as much or as little stuffing as you or your small friend wants.
Finally, Sew Up the Other End
We again cut out some felt humps to sew into the second and final seam at the crotch end of the pant leg.
Because of the stuffing, I used pins to keep things together, with the humps sandwiched between the halves of pant leg as for the ankle end.
The kid did the sewing after I got it started, and I held things together for him as he went, obviously removing pins as he progressed.
And there you have it: a pillow made out of old, outgrown pajama pants!
The kid's slept with it in his bed every night since we made it.
What do you do with outgrown-but-beloved clothes?
PS You can see bits of a book in some of these photos. It's a great book called Sewing School: 21 Sewing Projects Kids Will Love to Make, by Andria Lisle and Amie Petronis Plumley. We didn't follow instructions from the book to make the pillow, but even starting from a place of the kid flipping through and saying he didn't like any of the projects for pillows was a great launching point for figuring out what he did want to make. And the book assured me running stitch was a totally age-appropriate skill to teach him. Also, I love this book because the projects are made by actual kids – there is zero room for comparing what you or your kid makes against any sort of “perfection”. It's all gloriously age-appropriate. And therefore absolutely what it should be!
Because our kid's birthday is right at Christmastime, we decided when he was an infant that until he insists it's dumb to do so, we'll have parties for him at his half-birthday.
Which is how we ended up with twelve 5- to 8-year-olds in our house yesterday after the cold, rainy weather made us ditch holding his half-birthday party in a park.
The kid loves – LOVES – baseball, so we decided each of his friends would leave the party with a pack of baseball cards. I wanted to make it a bit more like a goody bag, without the crap or candy, so I decided to tag each pack of cards with a thank-you for attending the party.
Fifteen minutes in my graphics program, scissors, my beloved laminating machine*, a hole punch, and some scrap yarn later, and we had a more celebratory goody to give to kids as they left. Hm. Writing that out makes it seem like it was a big deal, but it really wasn't. I got it all done between bouts of frantically cleaning house after we realized the park just wasn't gonna happen.
So much fun!
* This machine is one of my favourite things in the world. I've used it to preserve small pieces of kid art, and these tags are not the first I've laminated. I don't use it very frequently, but when I do I'm so happy I have it. (That's an affiliate link; I use them only for things I truly recommend. Thanks for your support!)
Last year, we were on our big road trip when the annual Vancouver Mini Maker Faire was held. It was the fifth annual one, and the first I'd missed. I was especially excited, then, to bring the whole fam to the event this year.
I was impressed and delighted by how many varied activities there were for kids. For adults, too, obviously, but it was just so much fun to be there with my kindergartener.
We came home with a couple of robots – one of the light-seeking ones shown above, and another that involves taping markers to a solo cup, which I'll pull out on a rainy day.
There was a Textile Village featuring the Modern Quilt Guild, weavers, spinners, knitters, paper-dyers, and screen printers. Unlike at other maker events I've attended, where fibre people are sequestered away in a small back room, this area was prominent and inviting. I was so happy to see it.
I'm resurrecting my ridiculous dream of making a huge animatronic crocheted robot/statue, and I'm determined to participate in next year's event as a Maker again!
Do you have a major Maker Faire or a Mini Maker Faire in your area? Have you participated as a Maker? Enjoy going just to play? If you've never been, I urge you to check one out!
Between the Saturday-night timing and the rain stopping around 5PM, Halloween this year was one of the best and busiest ever. We saw around 350 trick-or-treaters!
Back in August, the kid declared that for Halloween, he wanted to be Chewbacca… driving the Millennium Falcon. Then we all fell in line and were assigned or chose our own Star Wars costumes. He told me I should be Darth Vader, and that was so perfectly obvious that I was happy to go along. Greg decided the morning of Halloween to be Han Solo, then emerged a couple of hours later encased in carbonite. Such is Greg's aversion to ever doing the expected. My parents arrived with their Yoda and Leia costumes ready to go (okay, those weren't DIYed).
Greg worked so hard on the cardboard Millennium Falcon, and this photo is the only one I got, because Owen refused to wear it at his school parade and on Halloween proper. Kids, I tell you.
Obviously, I bought my Vader mask, but I made the rest of the costume myself. For the cape, I followed these instructions, including the hood since I figure I can use a black cape for a hundred costumes into the future. For the rest, I wore black leggings, socks and gloves. I turned a printed t-shirt inside out and made the computery part with duct tape using these photos as reference. (Google auto-generated that .gif up there, you guys.)
It's taken me many years to get used to Halloween being a fireworks holiday, but this is how we roll here in Vancouver (across all of Canada?). Our neighbour put on a huge spectacle for half an hour!
So tell me, did you DIY your Halloween? What did you make? How much fun did you have?
The night we spent in the maternity ward nearly five years ago with our tiny, tiny son, we sat on the bed with that bundled-up baby in our arms and wondered aloud, now that we were, for real, parents, what might happen if this tiny tiny kid didn't end up liking Lego.
Now those nearly five years have passed, and our kid loves Lego more than any other kind of toy. It's exactly what we envisioned when we'd fantasized about being parents – kissing boo-boos, reading great books together, and lots and lots of Lego. When Owen fills up his marble jar with kindness and helpfulness and good listening, he turns those marbles in for Lego. If he doesn't have time to finish assembling a complex kit before bedtime, he'll skip watching a cartoon the next morning in favour of Lego. When a Lego catalog arrives in the mail, he'll sit with it as he sits with his favourite books.
Last week, Owen announced to Greg that Lego Friends, the line of kits the company launched in 2012 in an attempt to draw girls into the fold, are just for girls and are boring.
Lots of people have decried Lego Friends as a wrong-headed idea, insisting that Lego are, at least in their before-Friends existence, for everyone, and that Lego could have put its energy into featuring more female mini-figs and superheroes in its existing lines (this comic nails it, in my opinion). And that now it seems like there's Lego “for girls” and Lego “for boys” and that that's just playing into the horrific trend of manufacturers divvying up kids' culture along gender lines in a toxic, terrible way. Lego itself said it developed the line because 90% of its sales were to or for boys, and they wanted to draw girls into building.
So Owen declares that Lego Friends are boring, and this is what Greg did. Greg whipped out the well-worn Lego catalog and proclaimed his love for all the cool pink and purple kits, and Owen discovered there's a jet plane kit. Which is why, a few minutes later, Greg came upstairs and informed me that he would be spending a lot of money at the Lego store for feminism.
A hundred and twenty bucks later, Owen spent an entire afternoon putting the kit together (it comes complete with an airport that has a cafe and gift shop, and a baggage carousel), muttering under his breath about it being a perfect choice and oh my gosh it's so awesome.
In related news, there's a Lego croissant, you guys.
PS I do very much wish, regardless of how successful Lego Friends is at drawing in girls – and apparently it is very successful at doing just that – that Lego had used its standard mini-fig design for the characters, so they'd be compatible with all the other Lego kits. Friends figures don't have moveable legs or hands. It's weird, and limiting in ways it simply shouldn't have to be, considering the standard mini-fig can be any gender at all.
PPS Some of this post came from my initial posting of this photo on Instagram. I revised and expanded it because I want it to live here on the blog, too.