Saturday, March 28, 2015

What I've Been Up To: Nursery Projects: Cradle Ruffle!

So I am officially at 41 weeks today. I'm hoping to go into labor today or tomorrow, otherwise (and even possibly then) I'll have some decisions to make on Monday.

I thought I'd show one of the reasons I have multiple pregnancy tracking apps:
This is "I'm Expecting" It cycles through a bunch of cute baby pictures at the top, has a progress bar with a countdown, and lets you track symptoms. Usually it says "You have 5 days to go" right over the bar. As you can see, at 40 weeks it just says you're past due. Thanks pregnancy app, thanks. I never would have known.

This week they gave up altogether. I don't even get to track symptoms or weight anymore (not that I want to at this point!) It still says only "You are past due" in the middle, but you can't see it due to the baby bottle.   The app on the right is BabyCenter Pregnancy App. It goes till a full 42 weeks pregnant with different bits of info, and then till the end of the second week of baby. They also have baby tracking apps which I will be using.

Look how BabyCenter tries to be comforting, even though I have -7 days to go!

So I guess it's time for another nursery craft: The Cradle Ruffle!
I don't sew, but really wanted a crib ruffle. Specifically I wanted something with lime green to offset the dark mattress sheets. I purchased the material when I was visiting my mom, making the rocket roller coaster table. I had originally planned on having to hand sew it, when I didn't have time to sew it while visiting my mom. Thankfully, an employee who lives close by was willing to bring her machine over and let me use it.  That turned this into a simple, quick project even for a novice!  The cradle was approximately 18x36, so I figured out in the store the least I could spend to get a decent ruffle. I started with fabric that was 45" wide, and I purchased 1.5 yards of it. I cut it down the center, since I didn't need it to hang down very far, sewed the two halves end to end, hemmed the bottom, and hemmed the top with room to slip elastic through. 

I then ran elastic through the band I'd created at the top, making sure to give it a bit of ruffle but not worrying about making it difficult to stretch around the cradle. I found the lovely matching ribbon, and hand sewed several section into position at the corners and the place where the two ends meet. I had also purchased wonderful bright blue matching ribbon, but I didn't pay enough attention to the type and it ended up being plastic-y stuff made for floral arrangements. I have yet to find the same color in actual fabric, but I'll be adding a few more bows if I do!

Here is the cradle in its spot by the bed. There is just enough room. The blankets were a last minute find, with wonderful colors/patterns to match my theme-very happy to come across them! They are packed away until baby actually gets here, and the mattress is in the cradle now, but still wrapped in plastic until then as well. 

With the mobile set up, it reminds me a bit of the Doctor's cot, which pleases me greatly!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What I've Been Up To: Nursery Projects: Rocket Toy Box!

       So, obviously I'm making these posts in an effort to distract myself from the fact that Wiggles is still not here. At this point my main worry is that all my trying to be patient and let my body do it's thing is going to fail and I'll still end up with a repeat C-Section. I'm already second guessing myself and thinking I should have tried to bribe the doctor into a Saturday delivery at 39 weeks so I could have a pi day baby.  By now I'd be cuddling a ten day old.  As much as I want a favorable birth experience, these thoughts are hard to ignore when I'm worried it won't work out anyway and when I'm so ready to meet this baby.
        My Doctor doesn't understand why I wouldn't want another C-Section, which is a tad annoying. On the other hand, he is still good at reassuring me of my concerns. I talked to him about meconium aspiration, since Toddles was born stained green. He said that it wasn't a real issue these days, and only when there was very little fluid, and that they would monitor fluid starting next week. 
        My main concern is of course not wanting another Emergency C-Section. I want instant skin to skin and bonding time with baby, which was my main reason for wanting a home birth last time, and something I was ultimately absolutely denied. As long as there is no emergency situation going on at the time of his birth, then a C-Section at this hospital will likely hit more of the points I want than the hospital Toddles was born at.
        I'm still really surprised that a doctor couldn't comprehend any reason why a mom would want to give birth the 'natural' way, even being a male. If *he* were the one to get pregnant after he and his wife conceived, wouldn't there be a sense of frustration? Having to have a surgery when you didn't want one? Even feelings of loss, over not having your children come into the world the way you'd always expected? When it is so intimately connected to your very body, it's hard not to feel like there is something wrong with you, that you aren't able to do this thing that has been done since time immemorial.
        Enough whining self pity. I'm still trying my best to be patient and hopeful. In the meantime, more crafts!

This is also not a strictly 'nursery' craft, but is made for the boy's room and in theme, so I'm including it here.
We made a rocket prop for Toddles' one year photo shoot, and afterwards I wanted to keep it around as a toy box. It was duck tape stuffed with immense amounts of pillow stuffing, and it didn't have any actual structure to it, so I was not able to come up with anything to make that idea work. I still wanted a rocket toy box, so I had to start from scratch.

I decided to use the method in this Epbot cauldron How-To, and started off with an 18x48in concrete form cylinder base.

Actual usuable space.

I cut dozens of ribs while Lord Covington taped them in place.

I left space at the bottom for the fins to go, so that it could be sitting on its base but look like the fins were propping it up.

Many fins. Such mess.

Fins are attached to the base here...

and taped together like so. You can also see a circle of carboard that will be taped on the bottom (We atually did three layers to make sure it was sturdy enough.)

Then, the taping began. I first had to go around the entire thing making sure there was tension between the ribs so that they would mostly stay in place for the bulk of taping.

Then, taping. We went through many rolls of duck tape.

It was a good opportunity to get rid of all our extra partial rolls.
After the rocket was taped, I cut two port holes for toy access. This was far more labor intensive than I had anticipated. I thought I'd be able to use a Dremel, but the angle made it impossible. I ended up using a keyhole saw and patience.

After cutting the holes, I taped around the exposed cardboard to re-solidify the surface. 
The next step SHOULD have been to paper mache the entire thing several times, but I was not able to do this during my week of super crafting, where Lord Covington was out of town with Toddles in tow. I completed many craft projects that week, but ran out of steam on this one. It remained unfinished until a couple weeks ago. We finally decided to just go the expedient route and tape over everything again, in the colors we were wanting to use. We went with a shiny chrome tape for the body, lime green for the top and fins, and some accent marks in black.  
Here is the final product, filled with a couple plastic tubs worth of stuffed toys.  I attached the lid with rope so that it can be dumped upside down to clear it completely out when warranted, and there are also two ropes shown here on the front side to help with lifting/moving. By the time we were ready to get this into its final spot, I could not physically lift it into position, my bump would not allow it! I am pretty happy with the results. This ended up being a fairly cheap project, with the most expensive part being the duck tape.
Concrete form: approx $15
Cardboard: (free)
Duck Tape for base layer: at least three big rolls, $10, and five partial multi colored rolls (on hand)
Duck Tape for top layer: $26 (Chrome duck tape one roll + extra, $14, lime green, two rolls" $8, black: one roll, $4.)
Curtain rope from fabric store: $8

Total cost: $59
Considering any wooden toy box would cost at least twice as much, and that we get something on theme in the colors we want this way (and that takes up less floor space!) I think it was a worthwhile project.

Monday, March 23, 2015

What I've Been Up To: Nursery Projects: Rocket Rollercoaster Table!

This may only be tangentially a nursery project, since it will be a while before Wiggles can play with it, but whilst pinning lots of wonderful rocket themed things to my retro rocket room board, I came across this super cool rocket themed roller coaster table. 
The price was a bit outside my range, being something like $200+, so I sent a picture to my mom a couple days before I was heading to visit her, and told her we should make one.  I expected her to laugh it off, but she was super enthusiastic instead! She told me she'd look for some wood and start making rocket patterns.
She didn't find any good wood to use, so we did have to end up going to the store for wood and a few other things. I had planned on using macrame beads I knew she'd had for a few decades, but she suggested making smaller rockets/space shapes and cutting them out to use as beads. I thought this was an awesome idea, so I traced all the pieces, including the rocket pattern she made (Two versions with different sized holes.) and she cut them out (in freezing cold weather, because she's awesome.)

The sanding took forever with a dremel, so I ended up having to take all the unfinished pieces home to complete the project.  Very early on I realized this would not be a project with a 'professional' looking finished product, so I embraced the quirkiness of it.

Here is the table top at the beginning of and after staining with watered down tube water colors. I had decided to try making holes in the tables and wrapping wire around the legs and through the holes.

I enjoyed painting the main rocket, and thought that the shaped beads turned out really well.

I began threading beads and shaping wires....

I ran into problems with the beads fitting around the bends of the wires, so I had to do a last minute change of orientation. This involved drilling each hole three times with increasing drill bits to make the holes big enough, then sanding each end of the holes.
I *should* have repainted the raw wood, but I was far too ready to be done at this point.

Side view...

Front view....

And finally, Toddlesworth's immediate attempt at destruction.

The wood was the most expensive part of this project, being about $25. The tube watercolors were about $7. I would have like to use liquid watercolors if I had them on hand. The wire was some my mom had, but likely would have run less that $15 if I had needed to buy it. The beads were on hand or made from the wood. 

All in all, even though it isn't as perfect and shiny as the inspiration table, I am quite pleased with the results!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

What I've Been Up To: Nursery Projects: Plush Robot!

I wasn't planning this particular project.  I had held onto a footy pajama that the dogs ate a hole in, and while I was clearing out a box of clothes that needed patching or trashing I found it. It wasn't fixable, but I decided to 'upcycle' it into a cute stuffed robot.  

I have Ginny Penny's shop favorited on Etsy, so I wanted to make a robot similar to hers. I found this tutorial for a DIY plush robot, and decided to try it out. 

I didn't actually measure any pieces, but cut them out to approximately correct proportions to each other.

I sewed all the squares together inside out to make cubes...
Turned all the pieces right side out....

And stuffed them. I sewed along all the edges again to make the shapes more cubical. The pieces above were quite a bit over stuffed. I left the open spot for stuffing till last when going around the edges again, and de-stuffed them until the shapes became more cubical.
I ended up reducing the amount of stuffing by about 25% for all the pieces.

Toddles couldn't wait to play with him. I swear he's happier than he looks here.

Toddles may have watched Coraline once too often. He did say the robot was the 'other robot' and 'creepy.'  It's a good thing the boy likes creepy.
The only part I don't like is the arms... they should have been much thicker so I could ruffle them a bit, but they're ok.  The eyes are slightly crooked, but I accidentally sewed them onto the back of the head first, and I was soo ready to be finished sewing!

Here's the robot on his shelf, awaiting his new playmate. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

What I've Been Up To: Nursery projects: Mobile!

Whelp, it's my due date, and as expected baby Wiggles is a no-show.  I have said somewhat jokingly that he won't be here 'til April, but that might very well be the case.

For now I'll show off another craft I did for the 'nursery,' a stuffed felt mobile:

The wall is far too busy with the mobile right in front of the marquee letters, but that's the only place for it for now. That can change as soon as we have more living space.

I started by making shapes-rockets, planets, clouds, and stars in various colors of (29 cent) felt and stuffing them with pillow stuffing before I had a real plan.

At a bridal expo, a fellow vendor had this for one of her decorations:
I realized the base/frame would be a great mobile frame!

I spent far too long laying various shapes out, trying to envision it hanging up, and stressing over not having too many of the same color on the same row vertically or horizontally.

Various 'layers' had different numbers of items.

I threaded the shapes with mono-filament, and this is the final result.

From below.

The planets and rockets I added to the other moving/musical mobile I purchased.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What I've Been Up To: Nursery projects: Marquee letters!

I gave myself a pretty ambitious list of projects I wanted to complete before Wiggles got here, and I've accomplished almost all of it! The first was marquee letters for the 'nursery.' I'd seen them and like them, but they can sell for quite a bit. I looked up several tutorials on different ways to make them. I would have preferred to make sturdy ones out of wood and metal flashing,  but seeing as I didn't have easy access to a saw, and since I was going to be hanging them on the wall above where baby would be sleeping, I decided to go with a lighter, though less sturdy version.

I spent several hours researching fonts and making a list of ones I like, and many more picking exactly which one I wanted for each letter. Then, on to actual construction!

First I cut out two cardboard shapes for each letter. One shape I covered with metal tape (shown here with holes poked for lights to go through). I used aluminum tape for one letter, and copper for the other.

The second shape was the backer. We glued stacks of cardboard strips as spacers.

For the W, I covered the outline cardboard in metal tape, and attached the outside after running the lights and hot gluing down the front to the back, as so:

I had originally planned to do the same with the T, but the copper tape was purchased online and I didn't realize how thin it was (and thus much more expensive than the aluminum!) Luckily, I had a copper coated metal plate left over from Christmas crafts, and I was able to cut exactly what I needed from it, in about four strips. 

It was much harder to work with- I had to pre-bend the pieces, and try to glue the entire piece at once.

You can see here the metal-taped cardboard, as well as the less than perfect gaps I left when gluing the metal bits down. There is also a gap between each piece (in the curve) I spot fixed many of these with more copper tape.

A blurry close up of the W.
A close up of the T, where you can see some of the 'patching' I did along the seams. I also left a gap in the bottom, lined up with the end of the plug, in case I want to add another string of lights/letter in the future.

The glow of these when the lights are out is wonderfully calming. Basically the perfect evening/bedtime light. I am so pleased with the results!

Here's a shot of the layout...

And here is the wall a little closer to finished. I'd love to be able to paint the 'nursery', but since we will be moving pretty soon, I'm settling for plastic tablecloths. A few thumbtacks and it's not a bad approximation of a painted space. Since this picture I've added one more to the left, but still need to add one to the bottom to finish off the nursery area.

The star swirls are another quick project--just glow in the dark stick on stars. They are lovely in the dark.