This is my little place for my creativity.


It's time to move on to a place that is more DIY for this DIY-er. Please come on over to see what is up, comment, make suggestions, stalk, or just say hello.
The links are all the same--I have trouble clicking on tiny stuff on my phone so I thought that having it over a few lines of text might make it easier for folks like me.


This is more or less a record of my crafty pursuits. I'll use this space to keep track of promising ideas and my own successes or "learning opportunities" for future reference.

Comments are welcome, but will be removed if they don't actually contribute to the content. In other words, comments should have all meat and no time-sucking fillers.

As I complete the projects/ideas on the right, I'll move them to the left so you can see how well it worked out.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tag for diaper bag, luggage, backpack, lunchbag, etc

This is awesome.
Tape around it and you are good to go.  We used the first one for 6 months and today I made an updated one.  This is really handy for someone who is packing the bag or for someone looking to find something in the bag.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cosleeping DIY Economy/Travel Option & Easy Swaddling

Cosleeping is usually great for everybody.  Because I was dirt poor with my first baby, it was our only option and, because of this positive experience,  I had no doubts with this new baby 21 years later.
I looked at all the options for cosleeping contraptions that were either purchased or DIY and none of them seemed to fit.
I was trying to figure out how to make a DIY changing pad when this idea hit me. It is so basic and simple and worked very well until our boy was rolling over things. Because the border is raised and fairly hard, it kept me from rolling in my sleep and in the last few months, gave my little one a "pillow" to use while nursing while we were sleeping together.
My desk is against my bed and we usually kept this on the desk when I first went to sleep.  When the baby would wake up in the night, I could pull the entire thing into the bed with me and curl up around it.  
When traveling and visiting family in un-baby-friendly homes, this was perfect!
My boy began rolling at 2 months and this kept him contained.  We used this until he was almost 5 months old.
Of course, this did work great as a changing pad, too.

Step 1:
Gather one pillow case, one pool noodle, and one normal towel.
Bend the noodle and slide it into the pillowcase.  It will naturally expand out the sides of the pillow case.  Insert the folded towel to fill the center.
Step 2:
Admire your economical genius for a moment while you grab your baby.
Step 3:
Lay your baby down and smile. Take a cute photo and post it online somewhere then post the picture location here for me to see (if you right click on the photo, you can "copy image location" and then paste it here in the comments).

An easy way to swaddle your baby is to simply roll him/her up in a towel.  Forget all the blanket origami, this is much easier

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Walking Helper "Toy"

Our boy likes to be upright when he is not asleep.  This contraption gives us an option besides simply holding him in our arms.  He loves this.  The small loops (over his shoulders) are good to use while the adult is sitting (to balance him on a lap or the floor) and the long straps are good for when the adult is standing.  For now, it is very simple.  It is just a basic fabric bucket with intense stitching and a crotch strap instead of a round bottom.I put longish straps looped in the normal bucket handles.  (Extra points for upcycling the leg of some blue jeans that are already super stitched on the sides.)

At 8 months, out boy still eats this up.  It is, of course, getting shorter and shorter on him.  For anyone who might be concerned about hip issues in the baby--A.) Baby doesn't do much dangling in this--he is normally on his feet bouncing, "walking", or just standing.  B.)  There isn't much time spent in this.  No more than an hour at most and usually just 10 or 15 minutes--however long it takes for the adult to get tired.

I had planned to make a second one, but this one is enough .  He is so cute in it that he gets loads of the attention that he loves.

6 weeks old

4 months old    
 He was too impatient in his desire to take off to let me get a non-action photo.

Here's a tutorial on another site for a different variation of this

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What do you do with a broken sewing needle?

This is what I do.  I keep this roll of Scotch tape right in my sewing area.  When I need it, I pull off enough tape to cover the needle and (this is the good part) tape it to the inside bottom of the tape dispenser.  Voila! Those dangerous parts are safely contained.  I have used the same tape for over 2 years. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

DYI Quick and Easy Coconut oil stick for diapering, hands, lips, whatever

Coconut oil is magic.  It is antifungal, natural, clean, and all-around good stuff.

We use it on our hands, lips, elbows, and on the baby's backside.  Rashes occur sometimes and this is one option for making it easy to use. 

Coconut oil is solid at normal room temperature but liquid at body temperature.  This means that it goes on like silk.  Having it in stick form makes it easier to apply.  This is what works for us:

1.)  Put some coconut oil (or whatever substance pleases you) into a container to melt.  You can nuke it or put the container in a cup of hot water or whatever.  It doesn't take much.

2.)  Take some paper out of your pantry--it can be freezer paper (my fave) or waxed paper or foil or whatever is non-absorbant.  Cut it into a rectangle or square.  I like to be generous and have it wrapped around 3 or 4 times.

3.)  Roll it up.  I like the handles on my can opener.  Tape it closed.  Scotch tape, masking tape, duct tape, it's all good.  A small rubber band might work, too.  I'll have to remember to try that next time.

4.)  Slide it off and crimp, roll, crush, twist the end so that nothing will drip out.

5.)  Drop it into a small container to keep it upright.  I like these milk-saver bottles. 

6.)  Pour in the good stuff.

7.)  Wait patiently or stick it in the freezer to wait impatiently.  In a few minutes, you have a ready product.  Peel off some of the paper to use it.  I keep it sitting upright in a cup next to the container of wipes for applying with each diaper change. 

This might be a handy way to grease certain cooking items, too.

Total time:  15 minutes (Includes wait time)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Baby food and Adult food - Turkey dinner cost versus savings

Wow! 2014 already? Yeah.  Incredible.

To celebrate the new year, and, of course, to save some dinero, we bought a couple of sale turkeys and a ham along with the other traditional goodies after Christmas.  After cooking, I divied everything up into other usable parts.  Here is the savings breakdown:

$9.00  1  turkey 
$2.00  2 packages of sweet potatoes (camotes)
$ .30   2 taters (papas)
$ .30   2/3 package of cranberries
$ .88   box of stuffing mix
$1.00  bread made from butter, egg, yeast, sale flour, sugar, milk
$ .20   small part of fresh cabbage
$ .20  added sugar, salt, pepper, flour, etc (guesstimate)
$2.00 electricity to cook this stuff (guesstimate)

Dinner was: Turkey, dressing, gravy, dinner rolls, sweet potatoes, pureed taters, cranberry sauce, and cabbage.  Approximately 16$ for 2 hungry adults and a baby to eat is a pretty decent price.

I then took the items and made:
$10.00  10 turkey dinner baby food packs.  Tupperware with an ounce +/- each of: meat, veggie, camote, and dressing. Prepared Gerber on sale at my local supermarket runs about 1$ for 5 ounces of plain veggies.  I am conservatively guesstimating each of these to have a prepared value of 1$
$ 8.00  Chopped dark meat for Baby in recycled baby food containers equaling around 10 ounces.  These run about $.88 each for a single jar of meat with other stuff mixed in.  Mine is made at 3-4 ounces at a whack with some cranberry sauce stirred in and some water to make it a little juicier.
$10.00   Chopped dark meat separated into snack-sized Baggies for tossing into stir-fry, soup, chicken salad, whatever.  I am lazily conservatively guessing that each is worth a dollar. 
$ 8.00  Sliced and sectioned white turkey meat for sandwiches and munching.Again, this is very conservative.  When we have bought ready-to-eat chicken fajita in half that amount, it is usually 6-8$.
$ 1.00  Fresh cranberry sauce. This is so simple to make that I am horrified that I bought it all these years.  When I can get the cranberries on sale, I don't plan to ever buy it at all. 
$ 2.00  Leftover fresh baked dinner rolls
$ 1.00  Leftover turkey drippings.  I'll use this when I make some bread later.  It is rather exquisite.

Extras:  more sweet potatoes, taters, cabbage, and gravy than I cared to bother sectioning but the value would probably be 2$ or 3$ more.  I didn't like the gravy this time so I tossed it.  Total time after dinner was maybe 2 hours.  I make baby food every few days so that part was negligible.  Removing the meat from the turkey was the time-consuming part.  There is a bonus to this, though:  My normally-dry hands feel moisturized from the turkey oils that were rubbed in while removing the meat.

I debated about saving the turkey carcass to make stock with and the chewable parts to make doggie snacks with but laziness took over at this point.  We do have another turkey in the freezer.
Now for the nitty gritty: 
From 16$ worth of original dinner, we ended up with 40$ worth of extras.  That is FORTY DOLLARS of convenience foods that I know exactly what went into them. Yeah.  I do feel victorious!

Friday, November 8, 2013

DIY - Baby leggings/pants made from adult socks

Here is my photo explanation:
I learned how to do it from this site:

It really does take about 5 minutes.  If you sew by hand, it took me about 30 minutes. I got the socks at Burlington Coat Factory in a packet with 3 pairs for 4 dollars plus tax.  Heck of a deal.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Girly stuff

I am always looking for natural ways of dealing with things and, even at my "advanced age", with this pregnancy, I've got some girly stuff issues coming up.

I've explained to my husband that, even though a woman's periods aren't an issue during pregnancy, they really don't stop--they are still there, just waiting waiting waiting and that there will likely be several weeks of it as a "new-parent-gift".  He made a face that said "horror" and then quickly recovered and said, well, it is all natural.  Yeah.  No matter how natural it is, I still am feeling the horror.

I have had some allergic reactions to some of the disposable paper products over the years.  (Tender bits are NOT where you want to develop a contact-reaction!!!) and have been restricted in what I could use because of that.  In a pinch, I have--like all women--used wads of toilet paper or old wash cloths or whatever was available.  (When I travel, I like to use NuvaRing that I piggy back each 3 weeks to prevent the issue entirely.)  I've also tried the Instead cup but I think that I might be a bit different anatomically because it didn't work for me at all (on ultrasound, it appears that I might have a retrograde uterus--perhaps that has something to do with it). 

I have been interested in making my own girly stuff pads for some time and have looked online at various options. While pregnant, I can't really test them for true practicality but I can test them for comfort.  Well, not entirely true--I have gone back to the puking again and I am always fearful that I will pee my pants from the force of it, so I might really get to test them. Hopefully not, though.

Here's the wetbag sewing vid: Sew a wetbag in 2 minutes   Use a polyester zipper--not cotton-it wicks.

 Here is my experience so that you can explore for yourself while learning from my

Common issues:

A.)  Jersey knit is the kind if underwear that I wear and I could not feel any difference whatsoever in having this on versus having only undies.  I have NEVER before not been aware of a pad until now.

B.)  The Eeeewwwww! Factor--If you get some blood on your regular underwear, do you freak out?  No.  You wash them.  No biggie.  Why is this any different?  Duh.  If you got a nosebleed all over a black sweater, would you trash that?  Nope--you'd wash it.  Why is this any different?  Duh.  If you got blood on your towel from a nasty shaving accident, would you trash that?  Nope--you'd wash it.  Why is this any different?  Duh!  Etc.  Grow up and get real.

C.)  Website:   Moldy tampon fresh out of the package
What can I say except:  Ewww.  Ewww. Ewwwww. EEEEEEWWWWWWWW!!!!!
If I ever buy any tampons again, I will be sure they are the O.B. brand that are not hidden inside an applicator that could prevent me from not using something like this.


1.) Finally, I bit the bullet this past week with and attempt at making some that seemed logical, reasonable, and practical.
The site:
The link to the tutorial:

I was excited and thought this would be great to try out and then send some on to the charity.  I did not expect these to be horrible for me.  The idea is to have a base that is used to hold an easily washed/dried foldable insert.  The problem for me was that the insert did not stay in the base when I went to pee.  It would stick to ME!  And in my third trimester, I don't always have time to wait--I ended up peeing all over the damned thing and barely kept it from dropping in the commode.

I had already made up several and all went into the trash.  I would only offer these to someone I despise.


The lower ones are what I made except that I didn't leave them foldable--I stitched them together. they are rectangles--two layers of old tank-top cut 9 inches square, slit in the middle of one layer, turned, folded to hide the turning-slit, stitched down, backed with PUL and tabbed.  I made two and it was hard going with my sewing machine--I will try these first two out this weekend and then either make more or make them like these--to fold up.  (The PUL is from JoAnn's in the three pack for making baby stuff--Normally the 3 cuts are 15$ but we used the 1/2 off coupon and this is the left over parts from cutting some diaper covers.  I turned the kiddie prints to the inside because, frankly, it is just weird for me to have little cowboys and robots on my girly stuff.)

 3.)  I made one that is foldable.  A square that was slit in the middle for turning, backed with PUL (covering the turning slit) with a couple of wings sewn under the PUL with a snap to fasten it.  This was a great idea but not cool whatsoever to wear.  It is just weird to have the layers open up when you are rushing to pee.  Then the wings held together but the thing was sliding backward towards my butt.  Not cool.  Not cool at all.  I went ahead and put a row of stitches across it at both ends to keep it together last night.  I am so glad I am only making one of each kind now and not stuck with a bunch of awful ones that SEEM like a good idea but don't work for me.

4.) An issue I am having is with the item sliding when I am trying pull my undies up or down.  The PUL doesn't give any resistance so perhaps I need to cover that.  I made one long rectangle that was 6 layers of jersey and 2 layers of terry  (one square sewn, turned, with 2 layers of old towel in the middle section, then folded into 3rds, backed with PUL) .  It is without any holder of any kind and is more comfortable than others.   It is also a bit longer.  That one so far is most comfy.  But still not what I am looking for.

The adventure continues....
Update: January 7, 2014

I have almost no need for these items since our baby breastfeeds on demand.   Most of these that I made have ended up being used for doublers in the cloth diapers. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Baby stuff-What we've got, what we need, what we think would be cool

Edit:  May 2, 2013
Edit: January 7, 2014  What I wish I knew when I made this list.  Baby is 7 months old.

All of this is still pretty overwhelming but we think we have begun to figure some practical things out.   The Toys-R-Us  online registry was recommended by a couple of folks but the website was sloppy and not particular user-friendly.  Plus we received a wedding gift that was purchased there--it was defective and just needed to be exchanged.  They refused. I never, ever intend to support this company ever again.  There are too many other businesses that DO care about customer service!
 Amazon is much better.  It is easy to see and look over and the options of related items are really neat to see.  I have now returned to TRU and BRU at different locations and have had great experiences. 


We've got:
37 bibs  We use them like crazy!  Snaps on them is wayyy better than velcro.  If you are sewing some, I'd recommend it.  The Velcro destroys things in the wash.
2 pairs of sandals and 2 pairs of sneakers
Several newborn-3 month sized clothes, onsies, full-coverage do-hickeys, some shirts, some pants
30+ burp cloths  Used like crazy for about 5 months, now used often
8 AIO newborn diapers (cloth diapers that are self contained)  These were perfect and then, once outgrown, used without the insert all summer as swim diapers.  Don't buy too many--they do outgrow them in a couple of months.  The bigger all-size diapers were really too big until then.
Some cloth diapers without covers-experimental ones I have sewn from internet patterns to try out.
3 pairs of breast pads  I never really leaked.  We use these in the cloth diapers that absorb slowly.  If the diaper is advertised as being designed to keep your baby feeling dry, expect that it will absorb s-l-o-w-l-y.  If you kid pees a bunch at once, it can overwhelm the slowness.  These along with some pad doublers solved the problem.
One drop-in bottle  You can use the Lanisoh bags in these just like the old-style Playtex nursers.
2 Complete outfits for baby 3 month sized
3 complete outfits for babies 6 month sized
3 outfits for babies 1 year sized
8 Regular receiving blankets
6 Keepsake receiving blankets  The blankets were used like crazy and are still used when we go out.  He stopped liking to be swaddled at about 5 months.
Bathing towel-apron Kind of handy.  We still use it sometimes.
3 belly bands for supporting his navel (Peruvian baby fashion)  PITA
Convertible carseat  Baby HATED this and driving was torture for me.  At 3 months, I bought an infant seat that he still uses.  It immediately made all the difference and I could see his head in the carseat mirror
20+ Reusable cloth baby wipes  We use them all the time.
5 pairs of baby socks  Most baby socks suck.  The only brand that stays on is Robeez Kick-Proof. They're cute and He could not get them off at all until he was 7 months old.  It began to be his mission in life at 2 months to try--first by rubbing one foot on the other and then later by pulling. 
Baby pacifier medicine-giver
Baby bottle medicine-giver
6 pairs of socks
4 med sized onsies
year sized outfit with matching bib
Nose frida
Contoured changing pad for a changing table (We plan to use the dryer as our changing table)  Great item.  I made a designer cover that was perfect until we bought a really perfect Halo cover that has "wings" to swaddle the baby.  He started rolling over at 2 months and this made it much easier to diaper him.
Swing  Baby didn't care for it after the first month.
Lidded (baby-food) ice tray  Winner!
1 bottle of baby sunblock
Baby teether
A few baby books :) 
     Pooh and Eeyore
     Animal Babies
     Are You My Mother?
     Animal Colors
Some wooden letter/number blocks
A noisy toy (I couldn't resist--it was on sale and looks like fun!)  WINNER!
Snappi -5  Unnecessary for us.  My husband hated them. The most practical fold for us was just to twist it and use the cover to hold the flat or prefold.
          What is and how to use a Snappi - You'll laugh!
Glass bottles  WINNER!
Flat diapers - cotton, bamboo, or hemp -6
Prefolded diapers - 5
Plastic lidded bin for soiled cloth diapers plus two sized zippered wetbags for this  We put a big brick under this to raise the height.  It works alright but we'd prolly get a regular trashcan with a lid in the future.
Car seat hanging organizer for stuff that is handy to have in the truck 
Pacifiers  He only liked the one-piece hospital kind and loved them for about 3 months then only chewed on them after that.
An umbrella stroller with adjustable handles--With traditional umbrella strollers, the height is for very, very short people and anyone who is normal sized will get a backache quickly. Giant strollers that are huge and take up all the space where you are trying to use them are horrible and usually (IMHO) just to show off when used indoors.  If it can't be lifted one-handed, it is impractical.  Just now starting to use this.  We used carriers/wraps most of the time before.
Real Nappies sample pack
booster seat (high chair)  We finally bought a real high chair.  The little one is not so practical.
sun shades
Baby hangers (for clothes, not the baby-ha!)  We really like these.
Beanie monkey
7 onsies
Pacifier cuddler  WINNER!
Very cool skull romper 
3 pretty diaper/burp cloths
Floaty-spinny-bath-ball-toys  WINNER!
Gift certificate-Amazon
Gift certificate-Amazon
Gift certificate - Wal-mart
Contoured changing pad for a changing table (We plan to use the dryer as our changing table)
Breast pads  Hate these!  They somehow flipped over in my bra and I ended up with the sticky side against my skin.  The ones I made were much more comfy.
Bottle brush  Get one with a nipple brush, too.
Waterproof diaper covers  (5) in newborn size
Cotton toy ball
Baby pants-2
Baby gowns-4 (These were awesome when Isaac was tiny--he loved kicking at them with his legs and stretching in them--I made some cool ones from old T-shirts)
4 swim diapers/ covers
Wetbags (Washable waterproof zipper bags to put used diapers in when we are on the go)  2 is enough for us.  Bright red makes them visible.  Don't expect the daycare to have a clue.

We need:  (Used stuff/garage sale items are fine--we are big on recycling and appreciate extended-use items)

Waterproof diaper covers (3 or 4) in bigger sizes
Breast pump  (I've been bidding on eBay for this one--I am determined to get it for around 40$ instead of the new price of 125$!)  I ended up with 4--I'll make a specific post about this.
Changing pad - washable/foldable for on the go  Winner!
Baby sunblock
Baby first aid kit / meds
More socks
Back seat mirror to see the baby in his car seat from my own rear-view mirror  Gotta have detachable headrests for these--ggggrrrrr......
Pacifiers  (We'd like a few different ones so that he is accustomed to sucking on different shapes and won't freak at the bottle so much when I go back to work)
Pacifier clip - 3 or 4  The ones available to buy these days suck.  The suspender clips do NOT stay on more than a few seconds.  I make good ones as baby gifts now.
Breast milk storage bags to freeze Lanisoh!

We'd like:
A traditional play pen--they aren't sold any more so it would have to be found in someone's attic or garage  Graco Pack-n-Play is perfect. Cosco is a PITA. Get the good one. Really.
Gerber Graduates rest easy spoons--these are highly recommended.
Baby buddy 1st toothbrush  At 6 months, he started enjoying this and it gets use every day.
Red Cross nail clipper with magnifying glass (My eyes aint so hot these days)  Meh.  The magnifier didn't help and any small clippers are just as good.
Baby toys that aren't just colored plastic
Drop in bottles to use with the milk bags

We don't want:
Diaper pins
Dreft-laundry soap (We mix up our own laundry soap)
Diaper rash cremes or ointments--These ruin cloth diapers Coconut oil is perfect!

We plan to make:
Mei tais (2 or 3) baby carriers  Winner!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday, November 16, 2012

DIY-T-shirts-Freezer paper stenciling

Now that I am pregnant and my belly is pooching out enough to make me walk weird, it's time for some cute maternity t-shirts.

Note:  My jeans were bothering me within 6 weeks.  I bought some butt-ugly maternity jeans.  Why-oh-why is the tradition to sew a panel in them that goes all the way to the front of the crotch and then make it a completely different color?  Most modern shirts don't hang all the way to the crotch and with the black panel in front, I am sure that it looks like I have wet my pants .  Gggrrrrr...   I do have some pants that are working for me, but for how long, I don't know.  We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Now for the shirts.  I've made 5 and have plans to make another from a men's shirt later.

Tips:  Be generous with your freezer paper.  I like to turn the shirt inside-out and iron that on as my backing.  I feel like I get less bleeding and more control with that than a cardbord cutout.

To place my design, I put the shirt on and slobber on my finger enough to mark a darkened circle in the middle.  This lasts long enough to get the freezer paper stencil ironed on.  

Freezer paper is backed with a plastic.  It is NOT wax.  Don't confuse the two.  The freezer paper peels off pretty easily.

Wash the shirt first or buy it at Goodwill. 

Links to sites with directions are below my own project info.  Click on an image to see it better. 

This is my "swallowed a watermelon seed" shirt.  It is cartoon-ish and silly. The shirt was 5$ and the paint was 2 including tax.  7$ for a customized and cute shirt is a steal!

On the directions, it states to spray repeated coats to desired coverage.  It does NOT say to let it dry between coats.  The base colorant does bleed under very easily.  Coverage is nice, but this is a pain in the butt project.  The can clogged horribly and "spraying it upside down to clean the nozzle" didn't work--it DID spray/drip all over the place.  I used a dime that was discolored and creepy as the center of the O.
 Since the above shirt looks like crap, I am thinking that it would be an appropriate diaper cover.  A crappy paint job to hold a crappy diaper. We'll see.

These were my "good paints".  1.) They dry harder than I had hoped.  2.) The bottles are easier to open and deal with, but they will sneakily roll over your art.  Approx 1.75$ @ Michael's.  3.)  The tube paints were easier to handle but opening them means you might squirt it out at your face, hair, etc.  Once the safety foil is off, no problem. I am thinking my old bent sewing pins would be perfect for this.  Unless you are painting huge or multiple items, this set should be more than enough.  It was around 7$ @ Wal-Mart.

I am not the best stencil-cutter-outer.  I dug out an old off-brand X-acto to cut some after trying scissors and a normal razor blade (cover one edge with duct tape and the other edge is ready to go).  I tried running the freezer paper through my printer, but it was as likely to jam as it was to take it.  It was just easier to print out what I wanted, staple it on, and then tear it off while leaving the staples to plug the holes.

Stickers are a great resist that work like magic. One portion of the S in "special" wouldn't come off.  I used a marker to color over it and am hoping it will come off in the laundry.  I used the blade to scrap off stray paint.  It worked a little, but the fabric markers are probably more effective.  We'll see.

Dollar store sponge.  I cut off the un-painted end and tossed it in the baggie with the rest to use later.
2nd attempt at this one.  I wanted it for Thanksgiving day.  I can't even feel him kicking yet, but we have seen on ultrasound that he is a HE.  The can of glitter paint still sucks.  I threw it away even though there is enough for another project.  It was about 6$ @Michael's.
Here are the three shirts waiting to have the elastic put in the sides.  Not too bad, huh?
I would like to make another that says "I love Mommy.  Te amo Papá." in a word balloon that comes from the belly.  I'm not sure that I can justify having 7 maternity shirts though.  After the future Señor Robles is born, I plan to eBay these off, if they still look good.

This is such a popular method to customize your stuff that there are tutorials and videos all over.  Most of the videos are long and boring, though.  Don't bother unless there is a language barrier.

*** Modify a shirt one size up into a maternity top--EASY!
      *** Another tutorial
              ***Note: Don't bother trying to hand sew this, just gather it if you don't have a sewing machine.  For the elastic,  definitely use a machine.

Freezer paper stencil tutorial
      Another tutorial

Baby Shirt-Class of...onsie

Preggo-Halloween shirt

Baby monthly milestone onsies

Maternity calendar shirt

Krylon spray paint tutorial

Baby hats!

This bear hat is the one that I have enjoyed making.

Baby Teddy Bear hat to crochet.

Here're more hats to try out.

Baby sun hat  
Sewn baby hat from t-shirt fabric

Friday, August 17, 2012

Making a Quena

A quena is an Andean flute, very common in Perú, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.  These can also be found in other places, but the music made with these is notably Andean. 

If you'd like to hear some examples, Peru Folk Radio is my favorite Peruvian station:

To start with, say: KEH-huh with the "eh" being like Canadian's say it.  It is not KAY-nah unless you are a complete redneck. If you speak Spanish, you should already know how to say "qué". 

I want to learn to play one so I ordered one from Bolivia.  It has been about 3 weeks and I am still waiting waiting waiting.  Since these are reputedly very easy to make, I figured it would be fun to try.

I elected to use bamboo because I like it and because I already have some.  Specifically, I have the tiki torches left over from the 4th of July that I bought at the dollar store.  Seriously.

  1. Screwdriver - my longest one
  2. Clamp - (It came with my Dremel-style tool.)
  3. Work surface - I used a TV tray.
  4. Pencil
  5. Scotch tape
  6. Hammer
  7. Drill
  8. Drill bits
  9. Tape measure
  10. Saw
  11. Laptop videos and sites
  12. Tiki torch (I had 4 of them.)  (PVC is also popular.  Use what you've got.  I have seen sites with beautiful Pyrex ones.)
  13. Superglue - optional--for small cuts on fingers or bamboo that splits a very little bit
  14. Grinding stone - optional--I have one that is 6 or 7 mm at its thickest, in a cone shape.  This was PERFECT for this project.  
Here is the first of a video series in making a quena.  This one shows what you need to make one out of PVC. (You can see the rest by clicking the link below the word "quena" in the title.)

4 min video I wish I would have watched before I ever tried my first time. Good chart. Good demonstration. 3rd video in the series above.
 Websites that helped me:
YouTube: Make a Quena from beginning to end-8 minutes
At 7 minutes in, he slides the measurements past the camera slowly to read them. 

Instructable: Make 4 Easy Bamboo Flutes-Quena --This makes it look very doable

Translated website that was especially helpful for the mouth portion
The original Spanish Quena-instructions site

YouTube-How to Tie a Quena (to help prevent splitting or hide ugly spots)

Quena Playing:

Old manual that is posted online

Brief single page: Posture and mouth position with great image

YouTube: Checho - Famous Peruvian quena player giving basic instructions- English subtitles

YyouTube: Checho #2-How to hold the Quena and basic notes-English subtitles

YouTube-Michaela Chauque video-very nice demonstration of mouth movements

My Quena making adventure

I started off earlier this week making 2 of them.  They are difficult to play and I can't do anything with them.  OBVIOUSLY, I screwed up.  A little more research after those first two attempts and my 3rd one is much, much better. Each site had differing measurements or, more commonly, vague ones.  I chose to use this set because the mm are more precise than inches and the video was especially helpful.

  1. I chose the tiki torch with the longest space between joints that was also the most aesthetically appealing. (That's fancy talk for "pretty".)  I gathered up the stuff and:
  2. Cut the bamboo. 29.2 cm  I put tape around it to prevent splitting and cut just beyond that.  The tape marked my cutting line nicely.  
  3. Put a piece of Scotch tape down the length of the front of the flute.  You decide where you want your front to be.   
  4. Using the Dremel (or files, if you have them), the mouth will be cut a rounded 8mm wide at the top narrowing down to 7mm wide and 8mm deep.  Angle the cut so that below that 8mm  deep mark, it has a bit of an angle or the look of a slide. try to do a slight angle on the back side, too. Try it out now to make sure it works.  If you have no experience, you can do what I did the first night--I put in a TV show and while watching it, I practiced until I could get a tone.  It took me about 2 hours of goofing off.
  5. If there is a  joint in the bamboo, you will have to de-crud the inside.  Put your screwdriver in the tube and use the hammer to knock it down.  Work it a bit.  You will see the bits fall out. 
  6. Draw a straight line on the tape (I used the side of the package of extra sawblades.)  It might be easier to put the tape on the table to mark it.  
  7. Also mark on this line, 23.7cm, 21.1cm, 19.1cm, 16.9cm,14.6cm, 12.5cm, and on the back, 11.2cm (thumb hole). Measure these from the mouth portion.
  8. Drill these out with a small bit.  You will enlarge them later.
  9. Expand the holes a little. If you want to tune the instrument after you have practiced at it and have some experience, don't enlarge them too much.  Expect to need to de-crud the backs of the holes.  The bamboo has a sort of "skin" running down the inside.  I worked at it with my screwdriver.  I would bet that a brush would work better, but I don't have one handy.
  10. Tie your quena, if you want.  
  11. Play, play, play.
I got my quena from Bolivia today (August 23).  It is bigger than I anticipated.  Difficult to hold properly and cover all the holes with my fingers.  I think that I only need practice.
Once I have gotten SOMEwhere with it, I will post a vid.

Video on playing El Condor Pasa (in Spanish)

Circular breathing video

YouTube collection of individuals demonstrating demonstrations with their quenas

Friday, October 28, 2011

Silver Ring from a Quarter

This was a special gift for the person that holds my heart.  When I learned about this technique, I read up on it and learned that this was an activity enjoyed by many sailors  because it is such a small item and can pass the time combined with the cost and uniqueness of it, it is a winner all around.

I looked for every website I could find about it and then sort of went my own way, like I do with everything.

I started out with the spoon, but after 2 or 3 hours of some TV shows, I had absolutely zero discernible progress.  I went with a hammer on one of my wooden TV trays.  One website writer said that he used his covered dumbbell for an anvil and since I had one, that did the trick.  (Note--The dumbbell will be damaged and uglified.  If you care, don't do it this way.  I don't care, personally.  My dumbbells have a purpose and decor it is not!)

Several times I got too enthusiastic with my banging and bent it some (more like folded it). to undo that damage, I'd lay down a coin of the best size inside of it on each side and hammer it as a sandwich.  I began with another quarter, then when the edges had flattened out, a nickel, and finally a one cent coin.  (Note here:  It is NOT a "penny".  That is a term adopted from other cultures. I know it is common, but I'll refrain from using it here.)

When I was ready (probably much too soon), I hammered a nail in the middle, then a fatter one, and so on until I had exhausted my supply of fat nails.  I then tried drilling it out.  Ummm.  DANG-ER-OUSSS.  I gave that up quickly and since the tip on one blade of my cheap dollar store scissors fit in the hole just barely, I began scraping it out with that.  This kept is right in the center and I could see progress with the silver shavings.

I continued with the hammering and scraping for 4 months.   July through October.

1.)  It is best if the coin is actually silver and not some combination.  I worked on it for a long time with a softer metal.  I actually watched the entire series of Jeremiah, Jericho, several episodes of Star Trek, House, The Mentalist, Law and Order, Gone With the Wind, maybe 50 movies, and who know what else while working on this. YAY for Netflix!!!!!
2.) To smooth out the outer surface and make it shiny, I used a 7-sided nail buffer that my son left behind when he moved out.  He used it to care for his nails for playing guitar.  I use it for looking girly and to make this.  It worked out really nicely, IMHO.

Tell me what you think.  (Weblinks are below the pictures for anyone else that wants to try.)

I am including all the pictures that I have.  You can see them in better detail by clicking on one and looking at the series that way.

Working on it.
Here it is as I am finishing it up.

In Peruvian culture, more modernized Peruvians wear their bands on the left hand and most indigenous people wear theirs on the right.  (From what I understand, a ring on the left hand is associated with slavery for many people there.).  He wears the gold one on the left and the silver one on the right so all bases are covered if some sancha-wanna-be comes looking at him.  ;)

Here are some websites to get you started.  There are tons more out there and each person has their own way of getting it just right. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Back from Perú!

Hi everybody.  I just got back from Lima on Friday.  I figured that I should make a page devoted to that part of my life since it is such an important part. I'll put up my favorite or most interest pictures and describe what was going on in each of them along with whatever else pertains to that.

Here's the page: