Author Archives: jane

Pretend To Campout: How To Make A Pretend Campfire and Paper Marshmallows

roasting pretend marshmallows

Believe it or not, children can have fun without watching TV. Take out some sleeping bags and let the kids pretend to camp out in the middle of your living room. They will enjoy building this imaginary campfire and pretending to roast marshmallows. Later they may tell each other stories, pretend to hear nocturnal animals lurking about, and imagine they are falling asleep under the stars.

pretend camp fire
How to make a pretend campfire:
Gather enough rocks to make the fire ring. Clean them off before bringing inside. We ripped up a brown paper bag and then twisted the pieces to look like firewood. You could use real twigs and sticks but paper is cleaner. We used scrap pieces of felt for the flames. To make the flames, the kids and I cut up yellow felt scraps (you could use a mix of colors) so that they were a bit like irregular triangles. Then we pulled at the edges to soften the look. Arrange the rocks in a circle and build your fire.

How to make pretend marshmallows:
You will need one-sided office paper, a stick about 2 or so feet long and a little white glue or clear tape.

MYO marshmallow step 1
Take a piece of one-sided office paper. One-sided paper means that only one side is blank. Why use a new sheet of paper when you can reuse another?
Fold the paper in half long ways. You should have the printed on side hidden on the inside.

MYO marshmallow step 2
Fold in half again.

MYO marshmallow step 3

MYO marshmallow step 4
Roll the resulting strip of paper around the stick.

MYO marshmallow step 6
Fold another piece of paper as before. Then add a little glue to this new piece before adding.
Add more layers (strips of paper) until the marshmallow is the size you want it to be. You will want to save the piece of paper with the least amount of stuff on the other side to allow for the whitest marshmallow. Use a piece of clear tape or carefully glue the end of the strip in place. If you choose to glue instead of tape, you will need to put something on top of it to hold it in place while the glue dries.
For a roasted look, be creative. We used watercolors and a sponge to apply paint around the edges.

campfire for girls and dolls

Here are some snapshots. These clever girls inspired me to do this post. They came up with the marshmallow idea.  They used shorter sticks for their dolls to use. The sticks were held on with elastic bands.

Make Your Own Protective Sketchbook Pouch Out Of Jean Pant Leg

This protective sketchbook pouch made out of salvaged jeans is a great beginner sewer project.

1.
Find a pair of pants that are worn in the knees. Cut off one leg at the knee. Keep in mind that the width of the pant leg will determine the width of your pouch. Therefore use children’s pants if you want a small pouch.


2.
Think about what you want to put in your pouch: sketchbook, journal, phone/ address book, or diary. I put a sketch book on top of the leg to help gauge the size pouch needed. Make sure you leave room on the bottom for the seam. I cut off the bottom edge of the pants but you can leave it on if you like.
If the pants you are using are a straight leg, you may want to use the bottom edge of the pants at the top edge (This edge will end up on the front of your bag as the flap edge. The pants that I used had a little flare at the bottom and I liked the shape it gives to it.
Also determine the length you want the flap to be and cut.


3.
Lay your piece flat and face up, then cut out the front part of the pant leg where the flap is (see image). The back of the pant leg will flip forward and become the flap.


4.
Turn your pant leg inside out and sew the bottom seam or don’t turn it inside out and just sew across, leaving the seam on the outside (as seen in photo).
Also, decide on the shape you want your flap and cut. You can leave the edges raw so they will fray or you can turn the fabric under and sew. The jeans that I used had some stretch to them and I found out that they don’t fry as well as traditional 100% cotton jeans.


5.
Add button, snap or recycled jean button. I re-used a button from a pair of button fly jeans. When you cut it off the jeans, leave it attached to some of the jean fabric. I left it on a 1.5 inch square piece of jean fabric.
Mark where you want the jean button (if using) and make a small straight cut. Then, mark the position of the hole below by making a mark through the first hole. You should now have two holes lined up with each other and just big enough for the button. Do not make a hole in the back of your pouch: just a hole in the flap and in the front part of your pouch.
If using a regular button, you will still need to clip a small hole in the flap and mark the position below. Instead of cutting a second hole, sew on a button to the front of the pouch. Keep your eye out for fun vintage buttons for using in projects like this.


6.
From the inside of the pouch, put the jean button into the hole (see image). I didn’t think it was necessary but if your button is loose, you may want to add a few stitches to hold the button in place (sewing, fabric to fabric, a circle around the button).


7.
To close the flap, put the button through the flap hole.


8.
Here is a closer look at the button I used in this project. It was salvaged from a pair of button-fly jeans.


9.
Add a slot that will give you easy access to a pen or pencil. Cut a small hole just large enough for a pen or pencil to slip through (see arrow in photo). Only cut through the front of the pouch! Next sew a channel about ¾ of an inch from the edge of the pouch (see white line in image).
10.
That’s it, you’re done. Put in your notebook and your pencil and you are ready for a nature hike.
Also see other ideas for pant leg pouch, bag, or purse. Link

Versatile Pouch Made From Recycled Pant Leg

This clever little pink pouch was designed by an eleven year old (my daughter). She independently came up with the idea to recycle the bottom part of a pair of old pants to make a pouch/ bag.
This project is simple enough to do at a children’s party. Kids will love designing their own unique pouch.


This pouch could also be used to hold your Valentine card collection. Do you have a collection of special Valentine cards already started? They would fit nicely into a home-made pouch. My daughters each have a small collection of valentine cards that grows each year.


Add a strap if you would like to make this pouch into a purse.


I think a pant leg pouch/ bag would make a wonderful eco-friendly gift wrapper too: place gift inside.
I used the design of this pouch and took it a little further: See my post for instructions on how to make a jean sketch book pouch.

Special Valentine Message Magnets Made From Salvaged Materials

Send a Valentine message to someone special in your heart. This sweet gift will be a constant reminder of your love.
How-to:
A. Cut letters from magazines. You will find a great variety of fonts in all sorts of colors. Go searching for just the right ones. You may want to find all the letters in the same color or you might want the letters to be as varied as possible. Cut out the letters and make sure they fit on the tiles.

B. I used the tiles from a salvaged My First Rummikub game which was missing some of the pieces. Paste a letter on the front of each tile.

C. The magnets I used are promotional flat flexible magnets. (Promotional flat flexible magnets are often given out by businesses for promotional reasons, are usually business card size and are easy to cut.) This is a perfect use for those unsolicited magnets. Use scissors to cut a piece large enough to cover the back of the tile and glue it there.

See my other post for additional ideas and uses for tile magnets including using them as a teaching aid.

Cleaning Rags Made From Old Clothes

It’s not like I came up with the idea to make clothes into rags: people have been using damaged clothing and other textiles as rags forever. This post is just a reminder. Have you been buying your cleaning rags? If so, why? I ask because cotton cloth rags work great and are easy to make.
I made nice cleaning cloths out of a pair of worn out flannel pajama pants. Old towels, worn flannel sheets, damaged blankets, cloth diapers ready to be passed on, stained or torn linens, old t-shirts and socks all make good cleaning rags!

Pick flannel or other cotton fiber clothing because it is soft and absorbent and usually lint free. Use it to wash your windows or clean your kitchen floor whatever…. It’s also great at polishing the chrome in the bathroom or dusting your bookshelf.

How to: Cut or tear the piece of clothing in manageable sized pieces (18 x 18 inches more or less). If you want to tear the fabric, sometimes it is easier to use a pair of scissors to cut the first half inch than tear. If you have never tried this before, the fabric will tear in a straight line following the weave. Quickly cut out any buttons, zippers, waistbands, hem, or anything else that might scratch whatever you are cleaning.

Save any buttons for future projects or give them to someone who can use them.

Made-made material like polyester, spandex, and nylon aren’t my favorite for cleaning because they are not as absorbent. I use worn out clothing made out of this stuff for rags that I don’t plan to wash and use again. They would be good for paint rags or auto maintenance.

Keep a pile(s) of rags on hand. I have a stack of cleaning rags with my cleaning supplies and another stack of “disposable” rags in the work shop.