Thursday, April 24, 2008

Homemade Playfood - Pancake Breakfast

This project was one of my first attempt at homemade toys…I made a playfood breakfast set for my daughter’s third birthday.

If you do much sewing, you probably have a small collection of fabric scraps that are too small to be of little use for other projects. I have many, and now, most of them find their way into playfood or other toys (either on the outside or as stuffing).

This playfood breakfast includes three pancakes, two sausages, two eggs and a slice of watermelon. I also made a griddle (that is a grill on the opposite side) so that my kids would have somewhere to cook the food.

Pancakes – any tan colored fabric would work, just serge or zigzag over the edge. I believe these pancakes have a circle of an old washcloth in the middle as stuffing…any fabric would work to stuff them, though. You could also add a darker sploitch of fabric and a little square of white or yellow on top of one of the circles prior to finishing the edges to represent syrup and a butter pat.

Eggs – for this one you need white and yellow fabric scraps. The yolk is zigzag sewn on the white (I used a tiny amount of stuffing under the yolk), then the white fabric is shaped, then serge or zigzag over the edge.

Sausage – use a long rectangle of brown fabric, sew the long edges together, then turn inside out to create the cylinder. Hand-sew one end closed, stuff and then finish off sewing the other end of the cylinder.

Griddle/Grill – For this I used two rectangles of gray flannel (old pajama pants, I think). After backing one with two layers of an old washcloth (the size of the inside rectangle), I zigzagged on the black lines for the grill. Then I put the gray pieces faces in and sewed around the outside, leaving four inch gaps on both ends for the handles. The four-inch holes give you a place to turn it inside out as well. After turning it right-side-out, I zigzagged two lines around the interior of the grill/griddle. This left a tube around the outside. I used a pencil to stuff this tube with fabric scraps around both sides of the grill. Finally, I made the handles (two semi-circles each, sewn together, turned inside out and stuffed), tucked them into the holes at each end and secured them with a straight stitch, then a decorative zigzag stitch.

Watermelon – this one was the hardest for me, since it isn’t flat or a tube. I sewed the red semi-circle to each white semi-circle, then I zigzagged the black seeds on. Next I put the two semi-circles red side in, and sewed along the straight edge. Lastly, I sewed the green “skin” on with the watermelon inside out, leaving an inch or sew to turn it right side out. After stuffing it with random fabric scraps, I hand sewed the inch closed. This similar method could also be used for cantaloupe or honeydew melon, apple slices, oranges, or pear wedges.

(One general tip – when I was stuffing this watermelon, I just used an assortment of fabric scraps. The day after giving it to my daughter, my then 13-month-old son dropped it in the toilet. I had no choice but to wash it…very, very well. When I did this, some of the colors from the stuffing fabric bled out on to the white portion of the watermelon. I now know that I need to stuff with fabric that won’t bleed any darker than my outside fabric. It’s fabric playfood…I should have expected that it would need to be washed at some point.)

I didn’t have any patterns for these, so I just made my own out of paper, then transferred to the fabric. When it comes to playfood, most of the shapes are so simple that you can just sketch them out yourself. I will have plenty more playfood posts in the kids are really into it right now.

Here are some of my favorite playfood links (Some are for purchasing playfood, but I just use them for ideas. Many of them are made with wool felt, which is great for playfood…but I still use my scraps most of the time, because it’s free.):

Have fun!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Homemade Stain Remover

Ok…this one doesn't truly have "homemade" status…but I was just reminded of it today, so I thought I would share. One of the best stain removal methods is 100% natural, readily available, very effective, and completely free…the SUN!

My kids are experts at getting stains on their clothes. Sammy (almost 2) excels at getting things like orange juice and tomato sauce on his nice light colored shirts.

Well, as it would happen, both my kids had some quality staining in the last load of laundry. After a round through the washer, each child had a shirt with a very visible stain on the front. They went into the soaking tub with detergent with color-safe bleach…nothing. They sat overnight for maximum soaking potential…NOTHING. They went into the next load of laundry to see if that would help…STILL NOTHING. I mean, not even a little dent in the visibility of the stain.

Then, I laid them out in the sun when I was hanging up the laundry (we just moved to Costa Rica and our apartment has no drier…yet). I came back an hour later and the stains were GONE! Not just lighter, but gone.

God sure made an awesome stain remover. AND it’s UV rays serve as a disinfectant at the same time (which is great since I have no hot water and no drier to do this for me).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Homemade Crayon Muffins

This is a craft that makes a great homemade gift for kids. It reuses broken crayon bits and makes them usable again. I’ve also collected crayola crayons that restaurants give away to the kids…that’s why most of the crayon muffins I’ve made are only red/yellow/green/blue combinations. If you had a preschool or church nursery with a boatload of broken crayons to get rid of, it would be a dream come true. Or…if you just want to get extra life out of a bunch of crayon bits, you could make single-color crayon muffins.

Here is my source for this one…

Basic instructions:

Remove all paper from crayons (I once read that it helps to soak them in water…but that didn’t work at all for me; it made it even harder. My suggestion is to use a knife to score a single line down the length of the crayon; then hand them over to your toddler to peel. J Mine spent an hour quietly at the table peeling crayons one time.)

(2) Preheat the oven to 300 degrees

(3) Break the crayons into little bits if they aren’t already

(4) Place them in a mini-muffin tin; fill the cups, but don’t overfill them. (I’ve tried 2-4 colors per cup and they’ve turned out nicely)

(5) Place them inside the oven and TURN THE OVEN OFF!

(6) Wait for them to melt.

(7) Remove them from the oven and let them cool for a while on the counter.

(8) After the tops have solidified, stick the whole pan in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. This will complete the solidification and make it so they just lift right out of the muffin tin without sticking.

Hand them to the kids to use or wrap them in cellophane to use as gifts, party favors, or anything else. I’ve given sets of them along with drawing paper as gifts. They tend to break in half after some use, but that actually makes them a little easier to use.