DIY Doll Swing


For all of her willingness to play along with her older brother in his games of police and fire rescues, Zoe is also beginning to really delve into her role as Mama to her baby doll. It is such a joy to see her imagination and ability to enter into pretend play of her own develop. And as you know… I love a good excuse to make toys for my kids.


I got my inspiration for this doll swing from the book Creative Play for Your Toddler. ( you are a long tie follower of Folk Haven you may remember seeing it before in this post.


While I followed the project in the book as a basic guideline I didn’t use their measurements. It all began with this shirt that was gifted to me for fabric after it had worn out. (Thanks, Jacki!) IMG_3704

I took the front side of it, removed the buttons, and used the hem and button panel. I then hemmed the left side. Basically it is a rectangle 9″ (with a 1″ hem on each side) by 17″ (not hemmed although to original shirt hem is there), or get the book and use theirs.

IMG_3706The book’s directions ask you to glue the cloth to the stick (or dowel rod but I use what I had on hand, or rather, in the yard). I did that for the first stick, but didn’t like how that worked as much as just sewing a sleeve to slide the stick in… probably if I were using a dowel rod it would have glued on more nicely.

IMG_3707I sewed a sleeve for the other end and for the stick that goes in the middle  of the cloth to separate the seat from the back.



IMG_3715Then using a craft knife I scored around the ends of the sticks at the top and the bottom of the cloth to keep the string from slipping off.IMG_3716A couple of eye hooks into the edge of the patio ceiling and the swing was ready to hang with a couple of lengths of yarn.



The only thing I think I will change, is I will add a bit of a baby safety belt. Eli pushes a bit enthusiastically, which can send the baby flying… something Zoe finds MOST distressing (as any good mama would). ūüėČ



IMG_3729And I really love that this project didn’t cost me a dime!

Button Snowflake Decorations


Eli is so excited to be living in a place where we will get snow this year. The first week we moved here last August he asked me excitedly if there would be snow when he woke up in the morning. For a four year old, these last three months have been a long wait. We still haven’t seen any snow but the temperatures have been getting low enough that it is at least possible. (I know many of my friends and families in other parts of the country are drowning in it right now.)


I recently saw this seasonal decoration idea in my Facebook newsfeed. It is so simple and self-explanatory that I didn’t even follow the link at the time and now can’t remember the original source.


I have a big basket of buttons, and many of them white as I never throw away a shirt without first saving the buttons. I had the kids sort out a couple of little bowls of white ones for this project and I glued popsicle sticks and tongue depressors with the hot glue gun. IMG_3324

I let the kids squeeze their own Elmer’s glue (hand-over-hand for the 20 month old, of course) on the snowflake forms and then place buttons along the lines of glue. IMG_3322

This is an excellent fine motor activity. I let Eli use the smaller popsicle stick snowflakes with tiny buttons while Zoe did the tongue depressor ones with the bowl of larger buttons. Zoe loved squeezing out the glue but the feeling of glue on her hands drove her to distraction. After using a few wipes she was ready to get at it again and did a good job of carefully placing the buttons on without getting her hands coated again.

IMG_3330Now our button snowflakes are floating down over the dollhouse.




When they were finished Eli and Zoe played together with the rest of my buttons and their garbage truck for the longest time. ūüôā

Little Fox Sweater

Things are starting to get a bit chilly here so I thought I’d make up a new little sweater for Zoe. I know it is super trendy right now but I can’t help loving the fox and owl motifs I see out there these days. So stinkin’ cute!


I decided to repurpose this¬†old cashmere sweater that I had felted in the wash for a diaper project that never came to be. It is super soft! (My husband says that if Zoe won’t wear it I can change it into a pillow case for him.)IMG_1723

After perusing Etsy for a little inspiration I made this little fox applique from other wool sweater scraps.


For the pattern I used this DIY Peasant Dress freebie from Once Upon a Sewing Machine. Zoe has 3 other tunics in her closet made from this pattern… simple, fast and easy (and it goes up to 4T!)


The sweater cam together quickly and I added a little embroidery around the neck, passing the embroidery thread just through the top layer of stitches in the knit fabric. You can’t see the stitches on the inside.


I like that while it is 18M to 2T size it will fit her for a really long time first as a sweater dress and later as a shirt.



If she wears it at all that is… She begs me to take it off almost as soon as it is on,¬†making a¬†photo shoot, already made challenging by a squirmy toddler on an overcast rainy day almost impossible. She reacts like this to new clothing quite often though, so I’ll¬†not give up hope she will wear her fox sweater too soon.


DIY Space Bags… Easier Than You Ever Imagined!

Big things are happening in our family these days. This weekend we are moving from Southern California to Virginia! I’ll post later with details of our new adventure, but for right now I just want to share a quick post about a packing trick that is really helping me decrease the amount of boxes we have to haul.


Photo from

Remember these? I even have some, but they are pricey and not anywhere near the amount I need to shrink the sewing cloth, family clothing, linens, pillows. etc. that we have to move.

So in desperation, I decided to see if I could make a generic lawn and leaf bag serve the same function. I was shocked at how easy it was (not to mention how cheap)! Here’s what I did:


This box was full of blankets. I’ve been consolidating the boxes of squishy stuff that have already been packed and stacked in the garage. I filled the first garbage bag, gathered the top of the bag around the nozzle of the vacuum hose and turned it on. When the bag stops shrinking, turn off the vacuum and quickly remove the hose holding the top of the bag closed.IMG_0688

Tie the top of the bag closed in a knot and your done!


This is the big duvet from the top of the box shrunk down in the garbage bag.IMG_0690

Two additional garbage bags and all the blankets in the box are shrunk. Placed back in the original box, you can see the amount of space that has been saved.IMG_0691IMG_0692 Now I added another bag to the empty space and put a quilt, a bedspread , 2 Mexican blankets and a full length wool coat. Turn on the vacuum and NOW the box is full.

IMG_0693 IMG_0694

The top of the box didn’t reseal quite as tightly as before, but I figure the blankets are still now better protected from dust and whatnot than they were before.IMG_0698

One other example… Giant Sock Monkey… I honestly didn’t know how I was going to be able to take this toy due to it’s size, but it was a gift to my kids from my niece and they are very attached to it.

IMG_0699 IMG_0700

I think Sock Monkey will fit on the truck just fine. ūüôā


Using this packing trick, so far I have managed to consolidate and remove at least 7 good sized boxes from out “to go” pile.

Here is a glimpse of Zoe helping me enjoy my work in the hot garage a bit more by her running commentary. Here she’s exclaiming about how this bike is just so “beeeg! It beeeg!” She’s growing so fast!


A Day in the Park: with Bees

Yarn-Wrapped BeeI was recently inspired by this post from Housing a Forest to invite a group of Eli’s friends from preschool for a Saturday morning craft day in the park.

After an extended free play time on the play ground we all gathered around a picnic table. I was curious to see how Eli would take to doing a project with other children in an informal setting. We are on the cusp of beginning our Adventures in Homeschooling and when we do our lives will (hopefully) be full of learning activities such as this.

crafting in the park with friends!

As you can see, I wasn’t the only one taking pictures!

We had a blast!

Materials and Bee Craft Sample

I prepared the materials ahead of time… it really wasn’t much. I only had to buy the yarn and the googley eyes as I had the rest of the materials on hand. The neat thing is that it costs the same to do an activity like this with ten kids as to do it with one as for one either way you¬†have to buy the entire package of each supply item needed.

The boys wrapped yarn around the bee bodies…

Eli working on his bee

wrapping yarn around his bee

wrapping yarn around bee bodies

cut out and glued on the wings…

cutting out wings

cutting out wings

cutting out wings

added the eyes…

finished bee

sticks and stingers.

finished bee

I love how each bee has a distinct personality and how there is no wrong way to assemble this craft!

I hope we will enjoy more park days such as this in the near future.

Pinterest Challenge: Homemade Paint

I recently saw this on Facebook, and later found it on Pinterest. Perhaps you’ve seen it too.

I love the idea of being able to inexpensively supply my kids with art supplies, and my son loves to mix, cook and experiment so this was an activity that HAD to happen.

We mixed up a full batch, waiting to mix in the food colors until we had divided it into four different containers.


We found that the paint was super gritty, and additional stirring didn’t seem to help.


I took the kids outside to paint on some cardboard…


And a tree…


and my sensory-seeking son couldn’t resist the urge to go all out with the body paint.


And while it was good, messy, non-toxic fun, the paint really didn’t adhere very well to much of anything, remaining grainy and pasty.


After giving the kids a good bath I began to wonder if perhaps cooking the paint might make it smoother. After all, play dough has a quite a bit of salt in it but isn’t gritty.

So back to the kitchen for a quick half-batch to test out my theory…


I found that when cooking it the ratio of water to the other ingredients goes way up. Sorry, I didn’t measure;¬†I just kept adding water as the mixture kept clumping and coming together like play dough.

It felt like the salt was dissolving but I had a lumpy mess, so I put it in the Magic Bullet with some additional water.


The result? A nice smooth white paint base.


Mix in the colors…


and give it a try on Eli’s easel paper.


Two thumbs up!

Next time I will use more food colors for darker paints. I learned long ago when working in a preschool to mix dish soap in with kids paint. It helps any accidents to wash out of clothing better.

So while I really like the idea of using old ketchup bottles to store this paint, the original post won’t give you a paint worth storing. With added water, cooking and blending though you can get a paint that will save you money on your kids’ art supplies.


Llama Llama Returns

Long time Folk Haven readers may remember this post¬†¬†from almost two years ago where I shared a llama rag doll I was inspired to make for Eli. I created the pattern based on illustrations in Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama series of books. The main character in the stories has as little rag doll llama that is seen on nearly every page, but never mentioned. Eli has always loved his llama doll and Zoe now loves it as well.

llama rag dolls 2

Recently, on a whim, I posted a photo of it on a local Mom-to-Mom sales page on Facebook to see if there would be any other mothers interested in buying a llama doll for their kids. I posted my question at 10 pm and when I checked Facebook again at 6 the next morning I had 14 people wanting to place orders!

llama rag dolls


So, lately any free time I can get has been dedicated to llama creation! As is almost always the case with my sewing, I use repurposed materials for these little llamas. I love the thought of pieces of fabric from well-loved clothing finding a new life as part of a snuggly children’s toy. I also am enjoying how each of the little llamas has a very distinct personality… truly there are no two alike! I can make only about 1 a week so it is taking a while to fill the existing orders. In addition people have contacted me about creating other sorts of critters and literary lovies for them.¬†My next pattern to draft will be a¬†pig inspired by Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a¬†Pig a Pancake.¬†I also will be designing a horse (not so very different from a llama), an owl and an elephant.


IMG_1458If I can ever catch up with local orders I plan to put some of these in my Etsy shop, which has been sitting empty and gathering dust for a very long time. I have also created a Facebook page for Folk Haven Creations to have a place to post llamas as they are created and available for sale.

corduroy rag doll

I haven’t done much sewing at all since well before Zoe was born, so I am enjoying this return to a bit of a creative outlet.


No-Sew Child’s Apron

I think I’ve mentioned here before that Eli loves to cook. I have long planned to sew him his own adorable apron. There are all kinds of tutorials and free patterns online (such as¬†here¬†and¬†here), and I will one day get around to doing it. I may even make my first Spoonflower purchase to get a fun fabric of Eli’s choosing for it. But enough daydreaming of future projects.

Eli helping me make play dough. He mixed for about 20 minutes using all utensils in his reach. Yep, he needed an apron... especially during this phase where everything becomes an instant "construction site".

Eli helping me make play dough. He mixed for about 20 minutes using all utensils in his reach. Yep, he needed an apron… especially during this phase where everything becomes an instant “construction site”.

Right at the moment not a lot of sewing is being done by me, and Eli really needed an apron, like 6 months ago, so I grabbed an old t-shirt from the recycling pile and a pair of scissors and within about 3 minutes an apron was born.

No-Sew T-Shirt Apron

Yea, it’s dirty. I didn’t think to take the picture before we made the play dough. Oops!

I can’t claim credit for this idea. I saw it on the cover of a magazine in Barnes and Noble while walking a fussy teething baby around the store in the Ergo. I’m sorry, but I now can’t remember which magazine it was. It’s a simple enough design. Basically this is cut out much like the No-Sew Bibs that I made a while back, except the entire length of the shirt front is used and a strip across the back is left attached to create the ties. Cut around the neck and down the front from the top, and up the sides from the bottom. Just below the the arms of the shirt leave a strip going straight across the back from one side to the other. This you will snip apart in the middle of the back to create your two ties. Since the knit fabric of a t-shirt won’t fray no sewing is needed.

T-shirt apron cutting diagram

An adult medium sized shirt is more than ample enough for a preschooler.

Zoe wants an apron

“Hey Mom, where’s my apron?”

Thanks for reading!


Meet Zoe!

Zoe Anneliese was born on Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 12:22 p.m.

Zoe after her first bath

We are so happy to have her out where we can now all enjoy her. Eli is thrilled with his little sister and has been a big help to his mama. He was initially a bit confused though when he came to the hospital to see her for the first time. He said, “Mama, have a new baby. Have another Zoe, this time orange.” I guess all this time he was thinking I was going to give birth to the Sesame Street muppet but somehow hadn’t gotten it quite right on my first try! Thankfully, after a little explanation he’s been able to accept our current Zoe just as she is.

Eli meets Zoe

I have so many things in mind to post about these days but so little time to actually do so. I’ll get you all caught up as time and energy permit, but right now around here it all about baby snuggles, carving out time for Eli and whatever elusive rest comes my way!

E is for Elephant

Elephant SoftieI’ve not been doing a whole lot of sewing or crafting as of late, but as I have been waiting for this baby to come I realized I wanted Eli to have something new and Mama-made to hold onto when I go to the hospital. Due to the flu season being what it is this year they are limiting all visitors to the maternity floor to spouses and the baby’s grandparents only, and certainly no children under 16 years of age allowed! This is going to be a bit hard on Eli (and me as well, if I’m honest) even though I know he will be well taken care of while I am absent.

I like seeing the softies that other people make in magazines at the book store. They are so ugly-cute and fun. It’s a no-pressure project because as long as it holds together you really can’t go wrong.

crocheting an elephant ear

I started off by crocheting a pair of ears. They came out slightly differently shaped but once sewn onto the head I found they were just fine.

Elephant softie side view

The body and trunk are made with a remnant from a man’s shirt that had been used previously in a quilting project. The arms and legs were from an old felted wool sweater.¬†I embroidered an “E”, added a braided tail and finished the critter off with a couple of button eyes.

Eli hugging his elephant

Simple, quick and definitely huggable.

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