Heating Pad Tutorial

So this is a project that’s been in the back of my mind for months, but it took finding the perfect fabric to get motivated and get going on it.  When I laid my eyes on Amy Butler’s LOVE flannels, I knew it was time.  I chose this vibrant, yet soothing flannel and got busy.

See, there’s a particular day each month *ahem* that makes me yearn for a good, heavy heating pad, but by the time my body reminds me that I want it….well, I’m just too crabby to sew. ;)  This month, though, I’m prepared.

Gorgeous, right?  If only you could feel, smell and pet it.  It turns out that Amy Butler’s super-luxurious flannel + rice + lavender essential oils = heaven.  In case you were wondering.

I didn’t have the details for the heating pad worked out in my mind, but I find if I just start cutting fabric….it just all works out.  Usually.  This was one of those fortunate times and I’m thrilled that it only took my one shot to achieve the sectioned heating pad glory I was after.  I was nervous that I would fail at achieving the sectioned design that I was picturing in my mind, but I came up with a little trick that makes it super easy.

Ready to begin?  You know you want one!  I knocked this one out in under an hour while still in my pajamas this morning.

Cut two 19″ x 8″ rectangles of high quality flannel.  I bought 1/2 yard of this one and it’s enough to make 2 heating pads.

Serge (without cutting fabric) one of the short ends of each piece.  (I don’t like raw edges.)

Pin your pieces right sides together.

Serge 1/4″ along the two long sides and the other short end.  This short end will be the “bottom” of our project for tutorial purposes.

Then, on your open end (top) start sewing approximately 1″ from the side with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Continue around the fabric until you return to the top edge and stop when you’re about 1″ into it again.  That makes very little sense, so here’s a pic:

Now you’re nice and reinforced.  We want this thing to be sturdy and never leak so much as a grain of rice!

Cut diagonally across all 4 corners without cutting into your seam.

Turn it right side out, make your corners nice and square, press it and topstitch along the edge.

Starting at the seamline at the bottom of your project, mark the pad into six 3″ sections using a chalk pencil.  My lines didn’t show up very clearly in the pictures, but you get the idea.

I think.

Put 4 1/2 cups of uncooked rice (or flax seed or whatever filler you prefer.  I like the weight of the rice. ) in a large zip baggie and throw in some of your favorite essential oils.  Shake!  Shake!  Shake!

Now, take 3/4 cup of your rice/oil mix and dump it into your heating pad.

My concern was how to contain the rice long enough to sew the barrier seam.  Hmmmmm…..A-HA!  A temporary barrier!  I pinned the rice back about 1/2″ away from my marked line leaving just enough room for the presser foot to pass by.

The problem with that was that it was a tad difficult doing it with the pad lying flat on the table (or my bed as you see in my pics. ;) )  So…..I hung it from my ironing board using my iron to weight it down.  Work with gravity, baby.

Stitch it up and repeat for all 6 sections.

After filling your final section, sew your barrier seam near the top edge and then the folds in and zigzag the very edge.

That’s the toughest part…and it’s not even so tough.  And…you’re done!

You’re final product will measure 18″ x 7″ which is ideal for abdominal cramps, sore lower back or tense neck.

It rolls up nicely to tuck into a bedside drawer.

And I’m pretty sure that my next project will be a cute little drawstring bag in a coordinating fabric.  Perfect for storage and for gift-giving. I’ll keep you posted on that project. :) EDIT: Drawstring Bag Tutorial has been added!

Stick it in the microwave for around 2 minutes.  Of course, this time varies from one microwave to the next.  Just be very careful not to overheat (it will stink and can hurt ‘cha!).

Also….you can store it in your freezer for cold therapy on an injure knee, back, etc…

So…there you have it.  Now get busy! ;)

Light Switch Extension Tutorial

This tutorial is for you mommies out there with a super-independent little one on your hands.  A little one that insists on doing everything by him- or herself, but just doesn’t realize the limitations that their age and size might bring.  Limitations such as not being able to reach the bathroom light switch during their mad dash to the potty while they’re saying to you, “No, Mommy!  I don’t need help!  I can do it all myself!”

Because Elliott is the epitome of Little Miss Independence, I had to come up with a way for her to reach the switch without moving her stool across the room in back in those 2.5 seconds she allows herself to make it to the bathroom.

Now, there are mass-produced versions of these light switch extensions available.  They work, but they are just not cute.  We just can’t have that, can we??

I decided to attempt making one from scratch.  I didn’t want to use wood because I’m a worrywart and I’d lose sleep at night thinking it was going to catch on fire.  Metal would be scary, too.  So…I bought a sheet of thin, flexible Plexiglas at Hobby Lobby.  I’ve never worked with the stuff before, so I’m sure there are better ways of dealing with it than what I did.  However, I got the end result I wanted and Elliott is very pleased with it…so no worries. (If you want to share helpful Plexiglas hints with your fellow readers and me, please leave a comment!  I would love to learn more about working with it.)

So…let’s get started.

You’ll need:

  • A sheet of Plexiglas ($1.99 at Hobby Lobby)
  • Mean scissors
  • Craft knife/blade
  • Sandpaper
  • Marker
  • Paintbrush
  • Mod Podge or similar glue
  • Pretty paper or fabric
  • Embellishments

First, print out this template.

Then, place the template on a flat surface and lay your Plexiglass on top of it.  When you bring it home from the store, it will have a protective film on it. Leave it in place for now.

With a marker, trace the template onto your Plexi.

Carefully cut out your design.  (This is where I could use tips on using Plexiglass.  The stuff was cracking all around the edges.  Any suggestions on how to cut it and end up with nice clean edges?)  To cut out the inner circle, I used a craft knife to cut a slit through the center.  I had to cut from the top, then flip the Plexi over and go over it again.  Once it was sliced all the way through, I poked my scissors through and finished cutting out the circle.  Please, please use caution not to cut yourself.

Now remove the protective film.

Use sandpaper to smooth your edges and help round out the circles.  They don’t have to be perfect because they will be covered, but take the sharpest edges off.

Now, tear or cut strips of pretty paper or fabric.

Paint Mod Podge onto your Plexi a bit at a time and apply the paper/fabric until the entire thing is covered.

Wrapping the paper around makes for safe, smooth edges.

Apply stickers or any other embellishments, then give the entire surface a nice, full coat of Mod Podge.

Here is Elliott’s new freedom…er….extension.

She absolutely loves it!

Please be very careful in making and using this light switch extension.  It is not a toy and children should be supervised when they are using their light switch extension.  In case of breakage or damage that exposes bare Plexiglas, please dispose of the extension immediately to avoid injury.  Okay, thank you and goodbye.

Owl Party Favors: A tutorial and a giveaway (Winner added!)

Elliott’s third birthday is quickly approaching and for her party, she has requested an owl theme.  After scouring the internet and local party supply stores, I came up empty handed.  It seems that owls just haven’t made it into the world of mass-produces party goods.  What does that mean for this mom?  It means I’ve got to get my booty in gear and rack every crafty brain cell I have to pull this party off in style!

Party favors were my immediate concern because I knew there would be a good number of them to make.  Time to get busy!  I didn’t want to spend a fortune, so I went through my mental inventory of craft supplies I already have on hand and came up with felt.  I can do felt!  Since we will have both boys and girls attending her party, I wanted to do something for each gender.  So…the girls will be getting owl hair clips and the boys will be getting owl finger puppets!  Sounds great, but….where to begin??  I couldn’t find a template online, so with the guidance of my friend The Fabric Floozie, I created my own and will share it with you guys along with the step-by-step process of putting these owls together. (For more owl party ideas, look here.)

First, download and print the template here.

Second, gather your supplies:

  • Felt
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue or fabric glue
  • Needle
  • Embroidery thread
  • Alligator hair clip
  • 3/8″ ribbon

Then, cut your owl pieces out of felt in your desired colors.  I’m doing quite a few, so I put all my pieces in little piles.

I began by tacking each of the pieces onto the body with a dab of glue.  I used just a dab of hot glue, but any fabric-friendly glue will do the trick.  I did this because I’m fumble-fingers and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to hold the tiny pieces in place long enough to stitch them on.

First, the wings.

Then the eye piece.

The little beak…

And some eyeballs.

The owls looked a bit untidy after I pieced them together, so I used some very pointy, very sharp scissors to trim and neaten up the edges.

Once you get your little guy just how you want it, get your embroidery thread and split it into 2 3-strand sections.

Start stitching around the edges of the wings and eye piece.

When you’re done sewing, your little owl should look something like this:

For the girl guests,  I lined an alligator clip with coordinating ribbon and attached the owl with hot glue.  For more details on this, check out my trusty hair clip tutorial.

I fixed the owl lengthwise rather and across the clip so that no matter which side a little girl’s hair is parted on, the owl will be upright.

I’d wear it. ;)

Now, obviously the boys aren’t going to be into hair clips, so I took the two felt finger puppet pieces (see template) and stitched them together.  Then I attached a prepared owl with….you guessed it!  Hot glue.

I think he needs some little orange feet.  When I go to the store next, I’ll grab some orange embroidery floss and stitch some on.

Note:  Please use caution in giving this to small children as they could potentially become a choking hazard.  Be safe, be fun!

GIVEAWAY!  I made an extra hair clip and an extra finger puppet and I want to give them as a set to one of my readers.

To enter:  Leave a comment (only one, please!) telling me what themes you’ve done for children’s parties.  I love hearing how creative moms can be!  Enter by 5pm tomorrow (Saturday, January 2, 2010) to be eligible to win!

The winner is comment #11.  Congratulations, Amy!  Please contact me within 7 days to claim your prize.

Green Kid Craft For The Holidays

I’m sure most of you with children have had Reindeer Food come home from school or daycare just before Christmas.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Reindeer Food, it’s a magical mixture of dry oatmeal and other special goodies that lure Rudolph and the gang to land at your house Christmas night.  The kiddos take it outside, sprinkle it in the yard and spend the rest of Christmas Eve evening anxiously awaiting the Big Guy’s arrival.

This year, I happened to have some empty spice bottles in my kitchen windowsill that I’d been saving for the right craft….and Reindeer Food came to mind.  I love finding ways to reduce, reuse & recycle, so let’s put these empty spice bottles–or whatever containers you can rescue from the landfill–good, festive use!  It’s a great craft to do with kiddos, but you might want to replace the hot glue that I used with a more kid-safe craft glue or school glue.

First, gather supplies.  I used my spice bottles, leftover wrapping paper, leftover gift tags and hot glue to decorate the bottles.  A measuring tape, ruler, pen, scissors and a sharp knife are the tools I used.  Please use caution with the scissors, knife and glue if the kids are involved.  And the wrapping paper.  Nobody likes a paper cut.  Ingredients for our particular Reindeer Food recipe are oatmeal, green sprinkles and red sprinkles.  You can substitute glitter or any other magical ingredients you have lying around your house.

Next, you’ll need to measure the length and circumference of your bottle.

On the back side of your wrapping paper, outline the size that you’ll need.  Ours were 3 3/4″ x 7″.

Cut the pretty paper to fit.

Make a thin line of glue up the length of the bottle.

Adhere one narrow end of your paper to the glue.

Wrap the paper snugly around the bottle and glue that end down.

Continue with any additional bottles you are decorating.

Now, I had this gorgeous chipboard gift tags from Target leftover and used them.  You can use curling ribbon, scrapbook paper….just whatever you have around the house.  The key thing is that you attach this cute little poem:

Sprinkle on the lawn at night
The moon will make it sparkle bright
As Santa’s reindeer fly and roam
This will guide them to your home.

I printed the poem very small and glued them to the backs of the tags.

Then I glued the tag ties around the neck of the bottle.

The sprinkle lids had holes that weren’t large enough to accomodate the oatmeal.

So I gouged them with a sharp knife.  Please, please use caution and don’t hurt yourself or others.  Pretty please.

Once you’ve thoroughly mutilated them…

You can start making the magical mixture!  The kids loved pouring in all the goodies and talking about where all they would sprinkle it to ensure a prompt and sure arrival from the reindeer crew.  Oatmeal first….

Then green sugar sprinkles…

And the red ones.

Put the lid on, give them each a good shake to mix up the magic and you’re all done!

Just before the kids get tucked in on Christmas Eve evening, take them out and let them sprinkle this all over the yard!

Let’s make a felt board!


The other day I was out shopping with Elliott when I got this feeling in the pit of my stomach.  That feeling was the fear that maybe–just maybe–I had become one of those moms who didn’t work with or stimulate their second child as much as she did her first.

I couldn’t live with that fear festering inside me, so we rushed to a teaching supply store in search of preschool teaching tools.  I found little to nothing that suited what I had in mind.  As we roamed the aisles, I tried to think back to my school days and dug deep in the recesses of my scattered brain for hands-on learning tools that I might have enjoyed as a kid.  FELT BOARDS!!!  I had to find a felt board and fast!

I did find one in the store.  It was small, plain and expensive for what it was.  It just didn’t feel right.

So, I ran next door to the craft store and gathered supplies.  And…enter the felt board tutorial!

What I used:

  • 1   20″x30″ foam board (like poster board, but…foam)
  • A large section of felt (I bought 1 yard of 72″ wide felt and had enough for 2 boards)
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun & glue sticks
  • Trim & decoration

Spread your felt out on a flat surface.  Place the foam board on top and trim felt about 4-5″ larger than your board in all directions.


Take one corner and fold it inward, securing with plenty of hot glue.


Repeat with remaining 3 corners and your board should look something like this:


On 2 opposite ends of your board, fold the felt over and glue.  Make sure to pull it tightly and evenly so that your finished product will look nice and tidy.


Repeat with remaining sides.  Remember…nice and snug.


Now it’s time to make it pretty.  Flip it over and decorate!  Elliott chose green rick rack.


And it just wouldn’t be right without some purple eyelash trim…right?


Finished product and my little satisfied customer…


And the letters?


I got our felt letters in the scrapbooking section of the craft store, but you can find all kinds of felt cutouts on Etsy, Ebay, teaching supply stores and your local craft store.  I plan to cut some of the more simple shapes by hand when I have more time.  Also…I thought little families of felt stick figures would be fun!  And maybe a little felt house, pets and a car!  Oh man, felt boards are fun for moms, too!

(Green alternative: rather than using foam board, use a good sturdy piece of cardboard from a leftover box if you have one available.  Use scraps of felt and trim that you have around the house or find at a garage sale.  Reduce, reuse, recycle!)