40 DIY Projects to Prepare for Baby- Part 2: The Nursery Edition

Before getting pregnant I read about a DIY mom who laid out 40 projects to complete during the 40 weeks of her pregnancy in preparation for the baby. I thought this was such a great idea, and I decided to do the same in getting ready for our daughter! To break up the overwhelming amounts of projects, I am posting them in 4 parts with 10 projects each (that is, if I finish all 40...).

I am only going to post pics of the actual projects that I made, and include links to any tutorials or patterns that I used. So many blogs just link to pics on other sites that look amazing but make me think "there is no way I could ever make that!" From one crafty, but not particularly talented, diyer- all of these project are very doable! 

Note: I also want to put a disclaimer out there that this nursery list is NOT gender neutral. I had this great idea that we would be frugal and make everything gender neutral to be used for all of our kids...and then we found out that we were expecting a girl. Suddenly all of that went out the window, and the nuraery just had to be bright, ruffly, and obnoxiously adorable! Needless to say, if you are expecting a little boy, this list will probably not help you at all.

When looking for the perfect bedding set for the nursery, I must have browsed thousands of designs online. What else is there to do while dreaming of baby? Nothing seemed right until I came across a picture on amazon that was SO adorable, SO perfect, SO girly and bright and fun...and unfortunately SO expensive! 
Carousel Designs Kumari Garden 3-Piece Crib Bedding Set:

$340 for a three piece set? I immediately decided to make my own bedding to look just like it. The fabric is in the line called Kumari Garden by Carousel Designs. I was able to buy the exact same fabric directly from their website. I bought 18 yards of fabric to do the whole nursery for $150. Let's see how far that amount will go in making the most adorable nursery you have ever seen!

1. Crib sheets

I made two crib sheets and they were so simple! They take two yards of fabric each, some elastic and a sewing machine. I used this tutorial from The Ribbon Retreat, and it was a simple starter project to boost my confidence and make me believe that I can actually make this nursery bedding on my own.

2. Changing pad covers

I made two changing pad covers, which are pretty much just a mini version of the crib sheet. I used this tutorial by A Small Snippet.

3. Ruffled Crib Skirt

I was so proud of this! It took a ton of fabric to make, a lot of time, and really serves no logical purpose, but I LOVE this crib skirt. It makes me giddy to see all of those cute little ruffles just overflowing with girly adorableness! While my crib does cover up the third ruffle, I couldn't care less. This skirt is just TOO CUTE for words! I used this tutorial from The Ribbon Retreat. The only change that I made was to use elastic thread to make the ruffles instead of gathering them all by hand. Let me tell you, this will save you HOURS, so go buy some elastic thread and save yourself the frustration.

4. Comforter

This came out so much better than I had imagined. I made it 42 x 56 which is big enough to be a comforter for a toddler bed, so that hopefully she will get a lot of use out of it for years to come. I used this tutorial from Fave Quilts. This was the first "real" quilt that I made that wasn't a rag quilt, and I was so pleased with how it turned out. I added a layer of batting to the middle to make it more of a comforter, and I love the weight of it.

5. Accent Pillow

There was no tutorial or pattern for this one. I bought a 13 x 17 pillow form from Joann's, thought up how I wanted it to look, and my mom and I just pieced it together. I LOVE how it turned out! The front is three pieces of fabric each 6 x 13. We added a 2 inch ruffle on either side of the center piece (again we used the elastic thread which makes ruffles a breeze!), and the back is a solid piece in the same fabric as the ruffle.

6. Window Valance

Once again, no pattern for this one. My mom and I cut a piece of fabric 2 1/2 times the width of the window, made a three inch wide casing with a coordinating fabric and added a three inch heading on top to form the ruffle. Seamed it up, and it was a simple project with a stunning outcome!

7. Wooden Initial Wall Art

I don't have a tutorial for this one, but it is pretty simple- there is no right or wrong way to make one! I bought the large wooden initial on the clearance aisle at Michael's for $3! I painted it in the same pink as her nursery fabric, wrapped some yarn around some parts, hot glued on some buttons, felt shapes, and ribbon flowers, and finished the whole project in about an hour. It fills the empty wall next to the window perfectly, and I couldn't be happier with the final product!

8. Name Canvas Wall Art

I used some spray-on fabric adhesive to attach some nursery fabric to a canvas, painted some wooden letters for her name, wrapped some yarn in coordinating colors, and added the felt and button accents. After that, I simply hot-glued the letters to the canvas! Once she arrives, I will be adding her date of birth in the lower right hand corner. I only wish I knew what that date would be!!!

9. Felt Flower Canvas Art

I had seen several pictures of these felt dahlias on canvases on Pinterest and loved them, but could never find a tutorial! No worries- I put together a tutorial here in case you are interested in making your own :) I covered two canvases with the nursery fabric and then hot glued the felt dahlias on top to hang on either side of her name canvas. The three together look fabulous on the wall above her dresser!

10. No-Sew Baby Name Pennant Banner

No tutorial link for this one, but it is pretty self-explanatory. I made pennants out of felt, cut out felt letters in alternating colors, and then used iron-on fabric adhesive to apply them. Next I cut out alternating sizes of triangles in the nursery fabric to put in between the pennants just to tie everything together. I hot glued the the pennants to a piece of ribbon and then added some tulle and ribbon to make the bows and accents. It looks perfect hanging above the crib!

Just to do a quick run-down of how much I saved by making the nursery bedding and accessories instead of buying them on etsy, here is what they would have cost:
Crib sheets (2)- $35 each    $70 total
Changing pad covers (2)- $30 each     $60 total
Ruffled bed skirt- $150
Comforter- $175
Accent pillow- $35
Window Valance- $35
Pennant banner- $25
Canvas wall art with name and felt flowers- $150

The total cost would have been $700, but instead I paid $150 for fabric and another $20 on paint, letters, felt, etc. Oh, and I also spent hours and hours making it all, but I count that as fun! Overall, I think her gorgeous nursery was worth every penny!
All we need to add now is one sweet little girl! 

If you missed Part 1, be sure to check out all the basic projects for just getting started!

Felt Dahlia Flower Tutorial

I saw some pictures of a felt dahlia flower on a canvas on pinterest and wanted to make a few to hang in my daughter's nursery. Unfortunately I couldn't find a tutorial on how to make it, so I played around with it for a while until I found what worked for me. It is pretty simple, so here's how to do your own!

First I covered a canvas in fabric using a spray on adhesive.  Next I cut out all of my felt pieces. My canvas was 12 x 12, so if yours is a different size, keep in mind that you will need to change the sizes of your felt pieces to make the flower larger or smaller. 

For the first two outer rows of petals, I cut rectangles that were 3in x 4in. Fold each rectangle in half lengthwise and cut a rounded corner going down about 1/3 of the length of the rectangle. This will form the tip to each petal.

Next, hot glue the flat end of each petal into an accordion "M"shape with each corner and the middle of each petal glued together. 

Next, hot glue 8 petals evenly spaced with the edges of the petals reaching out to the size that you want the finished flower to be.

Add a second layer of 8 petals with the new ones overlapping on top but set in slightly towards the center of the circle. Each new petal should fit right in between the first layer of petals to form a layered look.

For the last row of petals, use a slightly smaller size of felt. I used 2in x 3in rectangles to make the inner petals. Continue to hot glue them in between the other petals set in slightly with each row. You may need to add several more rows depending on the size of your flower.

Now for the center! This can be a little tricky. Make a star-shaped piece of felt and some even smaller petals. I used 1in x 2in rectangles for the center. Glue the four corners of your star together.

Flip the star over and hot glue each of the four center petals into one of the open corners of the star.

Glue this piece into the center of your flower, making sure that it covers up all the edges of the inner circle of petals. I wanted the center of the flower to look a little more closed, so I hot glued some of the edges of the center petals together.

That's it! The whole project didn't take long at all, and I was so pleased with how it turned out! 
Get out your glue gun and go to town :)

40 DIY Projects to Prepare for Baby- Part 1: The Basics

Before getting pregnant I read about a DIY mom who laid out 40 projects to complete during the 40 weeks of her pregnancy in preparation for the baby. I thought this was such a great idea, and I decided to do the same in getting ready for our daughter! I quickly learned that 40 projects is A LOT to create, and completing one project per week is an absolute joke! I completed zero projects during my first trimester when I was very busy with work and had no energy- ugh, that first trimester blah.... Most of the projects took place during my second trimester, in that burst of nesting energy that just happened to coincide with Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks at work giving me extra time to create :) 

I am only going to post pics of the actual projects that I made, and include links to any tutorials or patterns that I used. So many blogs just link to pics on other sites that look amazing but make me think "there is no way I could ever make that!" From one crafty, but not particularly talented, diyer- all of these projects are very doable! 

To break up the overwhelming amounts of projects, I am posting them in 4 parts with 10 projects each (that is, if I really do finish all 40...). This first list contains some basic projects that you can make in the beginning- things you will need for any baby and can easily make gender neutral since you won't know yet if you are going to have a girl or boy.

Enough chatting- on to the list!

1. Contoured Burp Cloths

From what I have read, you can't have enough of these! My sister never used a single one on her son, but I think she has the neatest child on the planet, and that is unlikely to duplicate itself in my daughter. I am prepared for spit up! These were so easy to make! I make a dozen of them (four of each of the three different fabric patterns). I used the free pattern from Floating on Cloud9. The only change that I made was to make both sides flannel, rather than cotton on one side and flannel on the other. Many moms had commented that the cotton didn't absorb well, and that kind of defeats the purpose of a burp cloth! I am so pleased with how they turned out. I bought the flannel at Joann's the day after thanksgiving for 70% off, and the total cost to make 12 was $4. In the store burp cloths run about $1 each, so I saved $8 (and mine are super cute!).

2. Cloth wipes

Yes, we are planning on cloth diapering. From everything that I have read, ti is easier to use cloth wipes with cloth diapers because they can all go in the same bag to be washed instead of having to separate the wipes into a separate trash can. But the price of cloth wipes is outrageous! They run about fifty cents each, and to have a good stash you need around 50. That adds up pretty quick considering it is just a cloth to wipe a baby's behind. These cloth wipes were so easy to make- they are 8 x 8 inch squares of flannel that I serged around the edges. If you don't have a serger, a plain zigzag or overlock stick on a regular sewing machine will do the job. You will get 20 wipes out of each yard of flannel that you buy (or if you do 7 x 7 inch squares, you can get 25 wipes per yard). I bought the flannel on sale and made 50 cloth wipes for $4. To buy them would have cost $25, so I saved $21).

Note: After making these I realized that they can be used for SO MANY THINGS! Wiping runny noses, sticky hands, or spills, I have a feeling that I am going to wear this set out pretty quickly and need to make more!

3. Nursing pads

Once again, I wanted to have a reusable option for this item rather that using disposables. I used the free printable pattern from DIY Maternity but didn't sew in the darts (it would have made it way too thick). I didn't follow their directions for making them either- instead I used three layers: flannel to go against the skin for wicking away moisture, a layer of Zorb in the middle to hold any leaks, and and an outer layer of fleece to keep moisture from soaking through onto clothing. I layered the three fabrics and serged around the edge- super simple! Zorb is a special super absorbent fabric that absorbs the same amount as ten layers of flannel! I ordered mine by the yard on etsy (it runs about $10/yard). Again, to buy these at the store is really expensive. On average they run about $7 per set! I made 12 sets, which used 1/4 yard of each of my three fabrics, costing a total of $4. (I saved $80!!!)

4. Rag Quilt

This is such a cute baby blanket, and really easy to put together. I had never made a quilt before, and this one turned out great! I followed the tutorial by Do It Yourself Divas. The only change that I made was to add a layer of fleece to the middle of the blanket. I wanted to use it as a blanket that I could put down on our hard wood floors for the baby to play on and the fleece added just the right amount of weight and cushion.

5. Knitted Baby Blanket

I love to knit, so of course I have to knit a baby blanket! After looking at a lot of different designs, I finally settled on this pattern by All Free Knitting. The only change I made was to make it 5 x 5 squares instead of 5 x 7.

6. Bibs

Bibs are an essential, so why not have some soft, cuddle, and cute ones? I used this pattern and tutorial from Life with my Littles. The only difference is that I used two layers of flannel to make mine instead of using cotton and minky. This was another really easy project to whip out in an afternoon, and I made half a dozen. Bibs cost $2 each, and these cost me $2, for a savings of $10.

7. Taggie Toys

These taggie toys are so cute! And what better way to use up all of the little ribbon scraps I have left over from other projects! I used this pattern and tutorial from Beloved Ones to make the dinosaur, and it is adorable! I hope that I have time to make this owl and this giraffe :)

8. Wash Cloths

I was originally going to make my own washcloths by cutting squares of terry cloth and backing it with flannel, but then I ran across a four pack of baby washcloths at the dollar store. I loved that they came in a variety of colors, so I bought two boxes. I cut out flannel pieces to match, sewed right sides together, turned then right side out and top stitched to complete. The weight turned out just right, and they made for a quick and easy bunch of washcloths. If you are looking for a more detailed tutorial, there is a great one at 2 Little Hooligans. Washcloths cost about $1.50 each, and I made 8 for $3, for a savings of $9.

9. Door Latch Cover

 So this item slips over the door handles and holds down the latch so that you can open and close the door without the click waking the baby. I used this tutorial from Practically Functional. The first one I made with just cotton fabric was too thin to hold down the door latch, so I added a layer of flannel in the middle to give it more weight. That did the trick! I'm not sure how necessary this item is, but it took five minutes and some scrap fabric to put together, so it's worth a try!

10. Baby Accessories Hanger

I'm sure I saw this idea somewhere, but I really can;t remember where. This baby accessories hanger is so easy to put together and is a simple way to keep all of the little hats, mittens, and shoes together in a place where you can easily see and access them. All you do is buy a pack of shower curtain rings with the clips, loop a ribbon around each one and a sturdy pants hanger, and voila! Now you can hang all of those little items in the closet instead of taking up a drawer where they all get jumbled up together.

To see the next set of projects, see Part 2- The Nursery Edition!

DIY Photo Block Tutorial

I enjoy making presents for as many people on my Christmas list as possible. Let's face it, some people just really want a gift card, but I get a lot more enjoyment out of creating something that I think they will enjoy. All three of my roommates from college had babies this year, so I will be sending each of them a Baby Photo Block. They are really cute, personal, and easy to make, so I thought I would share the idea :)

What you need:
- a 2x4 piece of wood (will make lots!)
- a saw (hooray for power tools)
- acrylic paint
- printed 4x6 photo
- Mod Podge
- paint brush
- tulle or ribbon
- Sharpie

First, take a 2x4 and cut it into 4" long pieces to make the blocks. Then paint each of the blocks in the color of your choice.

Next, get a printed copy of a picture- it could be baby, graduation, wedding, birthday, etc. In this case, I have three adorable baby pictures. Cut each picture slightly smaller than the size of the block so that you can see just a little bit of the paint around the edges of the picture.

Now grab your handy Mod Podge! Use a paint brush to coat the back of each picture and paste it to the block. Then I painted three coats over the front of the picture to seal it and protect it. Make sure to let each coat dry completely before adding the next.

Once they have dried, use a Sharpie to write a message on the back. It could be a verse, a memory, a special date, etc. In this case, I wrote the baby's name, birthday, weight, and length (not shown for privacy reasons).

Finally, wrap ribbon, fabric, or tulle around the edge and make a bow on top to finish it off for display!

I hope they don't stumble upon this post before Christmas, or it will spoil the surprise! I hope you have fun crafting for Christmas this year!

How To: Starting a Raised Vegetable Garden

I decided to extend my vegetable garden last week, so I thought I would take the opportunity to make a quick how-to on putting one together. Starting a raised vegetable garden is pretty simple.

Why make a raised garden?

1. You can get great drainage for the soil, especially good for me in south louisiana where we have swampy ground.

2. You can start your garden off with great dirt rather than slowly building up the natural soil over several years.

3. The weeding is slim to none! (That's a good enough reason right there!)

First, lay out the dimensions of the garden. My extension will be 5 feet by 5 feet. You don't want to make it wider that 5 feet, otherwise you won't be able to reach the plants in the middle unless you make rows, but those waste too much space in a small backyard garden. Once you have decided on the size, mark out the area on the ground and use a flat shovel to dig up the grass.

This really is the hardest part. Digging up grass is no fun and a lot of work, but it has to be done, so just think about all those tasty homegrown vegetables and do it! I have discovered that the easiest way is to dig the shovel in a few inches deep around the whole perimeter and then do the same thing in one foot wide lines across the inside, then peel up each one foot wide section in rows.

If you use this method, the grass should come up in pretty nice chunks of sod that you can then reuse in low or dead spots in the yard.

Give yourself plenty of time and breaks for water, but if you stick with it, sooner or later all of the grass will be gone!

Next, use boards to frame the outside and screw them together at the corners. I use 2x6 treated pine boards cut to the length that I need. Some people say not to use treated wood when planting food, but treated wood is not the extremely toxic stuff that it used to be a few decades ago, so I use it. If it really bothers you, pay the extra money to use untreated cedar. Just regular untreated boards will rot in no time.

If you want to really keep the weeds and grass from growing back, you can line the bottom of the bed with weed fabric. I have noticed that this keeps some of the plants from growing deep roots and producing as well, so I opt for lining the bottom with a layer of cardboard. It kills any remaining weeds or grass and decomposes after about 18 months. I layer my compost and leaves on top on the cardboard, then bagged rich soil, and finally finish it off with top soil. Be sure to fill your raised bed to the top for the best growing conditions. Now all you need are some plants :)