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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Sunday, 28 December 2014
Make your own American Doll Bed with Storage and Bedding ~ all you need is scrap fabric and a plastic tote with a lid! 
My daughter threw me for a loop this year by deciding her big Christmas wish was an American Girl doll.  Once I picked myself up from the shock (see why here...), I did what any self-respecting creative mom would do and hit Pinterest looking for some related diy gift ideas.

Oh my.
There is a whole WORLD out there I never knew existed... the AG world.
As a non-doll playing mom of a heretofore non-doll playing daughter I  stood on the edge looking in... and then I jumped!

Using a variety of tutorials, images and my beloved fabric stash, I got busy preparing a place for Samantha ('The Chosen One') to enter our lives. 
{{I think getting a puppy is easier!}}
Rowan helpfully started an American Girl Wish List board on Pinterest for me.
When I found an image of a storage bed made with a lidded plastic tote, but without instructions for the creation of this brilliant bit of multi-purpose crafting, I started digging to find ways to bring it together!


WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
• a lidded tote long and wide enough to hold the doll (I chose one 21 x 18") and preferably with a lid that pushes on, rather than latches (for best fit/ use of sheet)
• fabric to create fitted sheet, pillows, dust ruffle and quilt (you will have to do the math to suit your container, but I'll show you how I did it) 
sewing machine, unless you love to hand sew (really?)
scissors, pins, notions, cutting board, cutter, ruler
1/4" wide elastic (amount tbd)
stuffing for pillows
quilt batting (I used a piece of flannel)
bias tape or binding 
ricrac and other trim, as desired
hot glue gun, optional


••• ••• ••• ••• ••• •••
DO THE MATH ~ it is unavoidable, sorry! 
To get started on this you will need your tote and your math skills.

Dust Ruffle~ Determine where the ruffle will fit on your tote.
Due to its shape, I had to hot glue the finished ruffle onto my tote.
Find the measurement for the ruffle from top to base of tote. (ie. 4")
Add 1/2" for hem + 1/2" for elastic casing. (ie 5")
This will be the width of your fabric for the ruffle.

Next, measure *around* the tote at the point where the casing will sit.(ie. 40")
For a full ruffle, double or triple this circumference.  (80-120")
Figure out the amount of fabric you will need (based on 45" or 60" wide)~ (ie out of a 45" wide fabric, you could cut 3 pieces at 45 x 5" to make the pieces for your ruffle. Requiring just under 1/2 yard)
Pillows~ determine number and size of pillows.
Cut two pieces for each, at the desired size + 1/4" on each side (seam allowance).
Fitted Sheet~ see tutorial link below for the calculations.
Quilt~ choose any doll quilt pattern you love, or make your own.
I made a 'Ticker Tape' quilt of my own design (will try and blog ASAP), calculating the size based on my container lid size plus 4" on the length and width. Of course, you could cut and use fun fabrics like minky, flannel etc.
You should now know how much fabric you need!


••• ••• ••• ••• ••• •••
I'm not about to re-invent the wheel, so let me share with you a few of the links that were helpful in creating this bed/ bedding/ storage ensemble:

Pillows:  Craftaholics Anonymous; Bee in My Bonnet Co.; Ribbonwood Cottage

Quilt:  Sew Mama Sew offers a nice, simple Ticker Tape tutorial.

Fitted Sheet: Pick Up Some Creativity Blog
(includes directions for making a covered mattress as well)
Dust Ruffle:
Cut your fabric as calculated above.
Sew the pieces together by the short ends, all except the final seam which would close the circle.
Press the bottom edge (the length) over 1/4" and then another 1/4" for a tidy hem.
Stitch with 1/4" seam allowance.
Press the top edge (length) over 1/2" and stitch with 3/" seam allowance to create a casing for the elastic.

Sew the unfinished short ends together to complete the loop, leaving an opening at this seam (top) for the elastic to be threaded through and out again.
Cut your elastic to a length that fits neatly (not overly tight) around the container.
Thread the elastic through the casing, check fit and sew ends securely together.

Finish the seam where you left the openings.
Optional: Hot glue the finished ruffle in place, leaving space for the fitted sheet to come on and off comfortably.


{{The quilt and pillows were made with fabrics drawn largely from Sarah Jane Studio's 'Wee Wander' collection.}}

Now all that is left is to fill up all that storage space with fun items for your (erm, your *daughter's*) American Girl friend.  I included some more scrap fabrics for Rowan to make her own clothing for Samantha, as well as the clothing patterns for her dolly (available for FREE at AG Playthings HERE).

Add a book, a few knitted clothing items made from stashed yarn and we had a pretty, affordable trousseau for giving on Christmas morning! ♥♥
{Kit's Christmas Cape Knitting Pattern Here (free)}
{Dress Pattern 'Camillia' Purchased Here ~ I found this pattern poorly written with inconsistent use of terms, no glossary and bottom up knitting that fit poorly at gauge~ definitely have a doll in hand to ensure a better fit}
 
 
Enjoy! If you do make a bed, share your results!
What other great AG tutorials or ideas do you have to share? ♥♥
Tuesday, 23 December 2014
Every year we make handmade ornaments for our friends and families.

Maybe they would rather have gift cards? Who knows! 
But we so enjoy making things for them (#cantsstopwontstop).

The handmade process means we spend time thinking about each person, what they like, what they mean to us, our best memories and our hopes for them this year. We turn our gifting into an intentional practice of expressing our love and appreciation.
Sometimes I am not sure that the end product shows this off~ there have been a few near-fails over the years~ but it has become a part of our seasonal preparation and celebration at home.

{{and if it uses up some of my craft supply hoard~ I prefer to think of it as a 'stash of potential', but it might be a hoard... even better!}}

This year we turned on the Christmas carols~ the music we choose at Christmas is so personal and diverse... woven into our customs and recollections... we have an odd mix of Burl Ives, Barenaked Ladies, Elvis, Bing and Boney M to name a few!~ and set to work making yarn balls.
 These ornaments are simple and so pretty!
Easily made to match each person's tastes~ riding coach, knitting friend, groom-to-be...
{{the purple and pink ball with the T-Rex charm was made by Rowan for her Uncle who is getting married next month... she figured he doesn't care what colour he gets, his fiancee does and their/her tree is decorated in purples... about time he learns how it rolls from here, no?}}

I have an aversion to wasting good yarn, so the majority of these were made from scrap balls of various weights gathered up from knitters and yard sales. The little jars pictured were filled with glitter and tied with pretty charms and strings as fairy dust for Rowan's friends.

These balls are pretty self-explanatory, but I can share a couple of tips to get you started.
• We began with ping pong balls (small ornaments) and whiffle balls (big ornaments) from the local dollar store (eek, I know! but it is the yarn wasting thing, again!).
• I hot glued the first few inches of yarn randomly around the balls to help my daughter get hers started~ unless you habitually wind a lot of yarn, you may want to do this, too!
• Variegated yarn is only effective if it has short colour changes, otherwise  you may only see on colour on the top layer.  I found using 2-4 different yarns together at once more effective for a colourful finish.
• We personalized some of the balls using small jewelry charms I had in my supply stash.
• For a secure finish, hot glue the last couple inches of yarn in place and the ends (you can tie on the hanging loop where you finish and glue the tails).
 Pretty? Pretty!
There are lots of great handmade ornament ideas on the BTRT Holy Days & Holidays board on Pinterest, too.
Enjoy! ♥♥


Friday, 19 December 2014
These simple winter crafts for children can make a big difference to our littlest feathered friends!

And kids can learn more about nature all around us, whether city or country, big yard or small porch.
When we purchased our home, one of the great draws for me was the big kitchen windows overlooking the side yard.  I imagined doing all the myriad kitchen tasks while looking out at the trees and the birds in the sheltered little glade.

Fast forward through a year of many changes and 6 months of living in our new home.

My daughter sitting cross legged on the countertop with the hot chocolate she made for herself, watching the birds with absorbed wonder in the early morning winter sunlight is already filed away under 'precious memories'.

Today we baked Christmas shortbread in the company of a dozen or so little black capped chickadees swooping and hopping about, enjoying the treats we made for them.  
It's a simple little dream, but it's coming true is so  sweet.
We want to purchase some serious bird feeders and some suet in order to provide in a real way for our winter residents~ we have our hearts set on enticing a pair of Grey Jays (Whiskey Jacks, Ontario Jays...) we have seen about into sticking around for a while. But for now, we had some fun making our own seed feeders with two simple crafts (...of course, these are old school and we lay no claim to originality!).
First, we made the classic children's toilet paper/ peanut butter/ seed feeders
With a little creativity we turned this into a homeschool lesson about birds and their needs, as well as our local species.

Pine cones could substitute for the toilet paper rolls.
All you need is:
• string or yarn cut to length
• toilet paper tubes or pine cones
• peanut butter
• bird seed

Simply string the rolls for hanging, spread with peanut butter and roll in bird seed.
Set aside in a cool place (we used the fridge) to allow them to set for an hour or two.
Hang and enjoy!
Secondly, we made our own cookie cutter seed shapes to hang.
Gather up:
• unflavoured gelatin powder (ie Knox Gelatine, instructions for use are here)
• cookie cutters, large simple shapes work best
• wax paper on baking sheet or other tray
• bird seed
• string cut to length
Lay the cookie cutters out on the waxed paper on the tray.
{{We found that shapes with small/ narrow parts (ie gingerbread man arms) didn't work as well as larger shapes. We experimented with frozen cranberries in the mix, but they caused the shapes to fall apart.}}
Mix the gelatine as directed. Do not let it set.
Pour in some bird seed and stir it up... continue adding seed until there is little to no liquid remaining in the bowl.
Fill the cookie cutters 1/2 way with the seed mixture.
Lay the knotted end of a string loop inside the 1/2 filled shape.
Cover the string and fill the remaining part of the shape with sees.
Pat firmly into place.
Chill for 12+ hours in the fridge or outdoors.
Carefully remove cutters, hang and enjoy!
It took about a week before the birds discovered our feeders (and we live in a heavily wooded region), but as soon as one found them, friends were quick to join.  Hopefully the addition of a varied diet including fat and berries will bring more variety in days to come!
You can find more links and ideas for winter bird feeding and feeders on our 'Feed the Birds' board on Pinterest.
Enjoy! ♥♥

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