I Want to be a Toy Maker When I Grow Up…

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Or, do I really want to grow up?

When I became a mother and as our oldest grew more interactive and playful, I felt so fortunate to find an excusable outlet for my inner child. I love to be silly and horse around. Being a parent gives you an avenue to do that without looking to weird.

I am also learning, that with three boys, I really enjoy creating and making toys for them to play with and use their imaginations. The mass toy market is saturated with plastic, battery-operated, light-up, noisy toys. Everything is also so brightly colored and “attractive”…or perhaps over-stimulating. Even I began to feel overwhelmed by all the brightly colored plastic toys.

Like many other homes, our living room began to look like a toy store instead of a family room. So, I began thinking of alternatives. I didn’t want to just pack everything away. I want our family room to appeal to all of us, including our children.

The product of my imagination became Adventures on the Wall ™ , my original vertical playscape.

14570276_551550921717132_8713510960624530311_nI wanted to design a visually appealing and engaging toy that didn’t have a large footprint. What better way to have a small footprint than a toy that can hang on the wall?!

My first three playscapes included a farm/barnyard, an outdoor camping/mountain landscape and a fairy village. The soft colors on the blonde wood background are pretty for us grownups to enjoy and appealing to our boys.

My next addition to Adventures on the Wall ™ series is one with a chalkboard background so that the boys may draw their own playscape to suit their mood.

Originally, we used our Little People collection to pretend and play with these fun, vertical adventures but I knew I would be making some peg dolls to accompany them. I finally did this weekend! And let me tell you, it was so much fun!

Using watercolor paint, felt and embroidery thread, I made two boy/girl sets of fairies/gnomes as well as a king/queen set. I also found the adorable toadstools and watercolor painted the tops red and added some white spots. They turned out so cute!

The birdhouses are the $1.50 ones you can find at the craft store and I just added a soft toned watercolor wash to the roof and kept the rest raw.

I also painted some rainbow peg dolls to be used in any manner needed for the creative moment.

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Again, using watercolor paint, I “washed” the bodies with the rainbow colors and the result was fantastic!

Watercolor + wood = beauty.

The soft colors that resulted are so pretty and inviting. And by leaving the faces plain, the possibilities are endless!

(Can you see some Waldorf inspiration here?)

 

I also cut a wood block set from pine boards. We have a set of wood blocks that are the really chunky kind, which I adore, but I wanted to add a set of thinner blocks that included some bigger triangles for mountains and volcanoes as well as some house/building shapes. You can also see I ended up with some considerably smaller triangles that make wonderful chimneys or small shrubs. I just love how they turned out!

I considered adding some watercolor to a few of these but abstained for now. I can always do it later if I want to but my goal is to have open-ended toys that can be anything their imaginations desire!

I also witnessed our older son (1st grader) using the shapes to make tangrams. He was piecing them together to make different bigger objects such as a windmill!

My last addition to the handmade pieces in our new Waldorf-Reggio-Montessori play was some simple dolls that we refer to as pillow people.

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My husband was a little skeptical of me making dolls for our boys but I assured him that they would be simple and perfect for playing house or school or doctor or whatever they wanted. Are they the beautiful Waldorf dolls like the ones I covet but cost $100+? No. But are the simple, sweet and snuggly? Yes!

They also make really good “throw pillows”…not the kind you decorate a sofa with. I can see these being used to create some kind of indoor {ball}game as well as a tossing game into the box for points. Its fine with me since they are so lightweight.

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With all these new toys I made, I went through the rest of our toys and packed away all the plastic toys. We have other pieces for the boys to play with besides the one I made including a raw wood, handcrafted barn that folds up into a 10″ x 20” footprint but has gates that pull out to make a paddock; a couple of wood puzzles, a treasure bucket filled with sea shells and other natural and fabric treasures.

I will share another post soon about what our play areas look like now with no plastic toys! I can’t wait to show you!

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Do you like to make toys for your children? What are your child’s favorite things in their play area?

Thank you for stopping by!

◊◊◊ For more information on my Adventures on the Wall™ or to order your very own you can email me at caseyreneeblog@gmail.com or visit my Facebook page, Casey Renee Designs

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Tutorial: Customize the Function of Your Prefold Diapers

During my quest for a simpler cloth diapering routine I found Imagine Baby cotton prefold diapers. I had tried the Osocozy brand and was not impressed with the fit. They were really long and narrow and that made them hard to fit on a small, squirmy bottom. But the Imagine Baby prefolds were so soft and had a better width and more manageable length to them. I became an insta-fan.

The thing for me about prefold diapers though was when I folded them I ended up with a very bulky section in the groin. There had to be a better way!

Insert my Customized Prefold Cloth Makeover.

I began with my washed and dried prefolds. Mine had been used several times before so they didn’t need prewashed but if you are starting with brand new prefolds you need to follow washing instructions before you begin.

Laying my prefold out flat, I used my rotary cutter to cut into the prefold toward the center where the absorbency is but not all the way to the stitching. I measured 3 inches down from the serged edges and then drove the cutter in at a very slight rounded angle.

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*I apologize for the horribly focused photo. My camera is a little fickle*

Make this exact cut 3 more times so you have 2 on each long side. These will become flaps that you can then customize your fold and fit with.

Next I stitched along each of the cuts. You make choose your stitch based on your machine and skill. You can do an overcast stitch, a zigzag stitch, or a straight stitch. My first round I tried a zigzag stitch and after several washes seemed to have missed fabric in places and had lots of fraying. This time I just did a straight stitch.

It is simply dropping your needle and foot at one end and stitching in to the corner of your cut. I back-stitched at the beginning, the corner, and the end of each cut. Do this on all four cuts and there you go! Super easy!

Now, for the folding…

You can tri-fold the flaps, just as if you would do it before but without the added bulk.

You may also use the jelly-roll technique for added protection from blowouts!

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You can also still adjust the rise just by folding the front down (shown above).

By doing this to my diapers I keep all the function and absorbency that I had before but with much less bulk. It also keeps our diaper changes quick and easier to do one-handed.

Here is my stash! It makes for easy laundering and packing a diaper bag!

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Do you use prefold diapers? Would you try this with your diapers? Leave a comment!

 

Tutorial: Customize the Function of Flour Sack Towels as Cloth Diapers

We have been what I would call “hybrid cloth diaperers” for almost 2 years now. We use disposables when we travel, when kids are sick, when we moved, sometimes at night, and sometimes because family is visiting. Beginning with Alva Pocket Diapers and adding in some BumGenius pockets and All-in-ones, as well as a few other brands here and there, I felt we had a good stash of about 35 cloth diapers for our (then) one child in cloth.

Then, as I joined cloth diaper groups and learned more, I noticed a lot of love for prefolds, flats, flour sack towels (FST) and covers. I already had a Rumperooz diaper cover so I decided to try out the FST and prefolds and see what the fuss was about.

I purchased my FST from Walmart as a pack of 10 for about $7. We also use Imagine Baby prefolds that I ordered off of Amazon.com (I customized these, too! Stay tuned for that tutorial)

A little practice, a couple of Snappi diaper fasteners (they replace the use of safety pins) and I was hooked! They fit so trim, were super absorbant, easy to launder, and quick to dry! The only “downside” for us is all the origami folding at each diaper change. Especially for my husband, who willingly changes any diaper but not as often as me, and for on-the-go.

Enter: customizing my FST by stitching the first few folds of our favorite diaper fold, which is most commonly called the Jelly-rolled Kite Fold.

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*(Not my original image…can’t find original post to give full credit)*

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By folding and stitching my diapers in the first couple of folds it saves the awkward origami session at the public changing table and helps be get a wiggly toddler back in his cloth quicker! I can still customize the fit between our 25 pound toddler and our 14 pound infant, and they wash easy and dry fast…just like before.

Here is what I did:
I laid out the (washed-worn-washed) FST and folded in the adjacent sides that make up the first two folds in the Jelly-rolled Kite Fold. I tested how the next fold would land before I moved on to placing a few pins.

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Next, I placed a few pins since I was doing about 20 FST assembly-line-style.

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~ Let me take a second and add that other than washing at least once before doing this, I wouldn’t bother with any other fabric prep such as ironing. Of course, you could, but these are not perfect square cuts to begin with, the edges roll and THEY ARE A POOP-CATCHER! Don’t stress about a perfect edge or stitch, just worry about function. ~

Okay, moving on…

After all my FST were pinned and ready to go, I was able to whip them through my machine in one stretch with a few turns, only cutting the thread at the end.

Beginning with the fold going in from the right start on the fold corner, stitching the fold closed, and stoping and turning at the edge of the fold.

Then, stitch down the fold all the way to the end of the diaper. There will be some funky and bulky places but just keep going.

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Once you reach the end, with needle down, turn and stitch to the point.

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Then turn again and stitch to the end of the left fold.

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Turn again and stitch down the open edge of the left fold.

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Finally, turn and stitch your left fold opening closed. Back-stitch and finish.

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This stitch closes all your edges and keeps them from trapping stool, lint, or anything else.

I stopped here on my diapers. On the first one I went so far as to fold in the corners and stitch down the middle but felt that was too much.

For us, once laundered, we will “prefold” the next step and stack them so they will be ready to roll! (Pun intended)

And there you have it! This one small step will really help our efficiency in diapering our two in cloth.

Are you a fan of the Flour Sack Towel cloth diaper? Leave me a comment!