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Baby body tracing | Toddler art

18 Jul
Bug ponders how to add more decoration to the tracing of the Lil Guy.

Bug ponders how to add more decoration to the tracing of the Lil Guy.

We are still recovering from our big trip back East, so I was looking for a quick project to do with the Bug after she got back from gymnastics class today. As I often do, I consulted Tinkerlab, specifically the “12 Art Projects for Toddlers” post. Body tracing! That seemed like fun. (Note: This post contains affiliate links.)

Body tracing!


  • Big piece of paper or cardboard
  • A pen for tracing
  • Various art supplies for decorating

I pulled out a roll of medical exam table paper — which I use for pattern tracing — and unspooled a length of it on the floor. “OK, Bug, lay on top of the paper,” I said. She was not going for it. So I thought we’d try it with the Lil Guy, who at 4 months, is too young to protest. I moved the paper to our rug, laid him down, and started tracing. “No, I do it,” Bug said, taking the pen from my hand and scribbling on the paper (to her credit, she only got a tiny bit on the Lil Guy). I grabbed a crayon and finished tracing, and when she relinquished the pen, I retraced his body.

Bug grabbed her dot markers, and we moved the whole operation outside. Since the tracing paper is thin, I put my cutting mat underneath it. I’ve learned from attempting art projects with Bug that you need to keep the momentum going. So although I would have preferred using cardboard or something I could throw away underneath the drawing, I went with something that I could grab quickly. We taped the paper to the mat, and Bug started dotting away.

She doesn’t often ask for the dot markers, so I decided to take a cue from Rachel Doorley and let her guide the choice of materials. Since I left the Scotch tape out, Bug wanted to play with that. I kept that out, and also grabbed two rolls of Wasabi tape that I bought. One looked like stained glass, so I used that to call back the memory of some gorgeous stained glass windows we saw in a seafood place in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. “Remember those stained glass windows we saw? This tape reminds me of that.”

When she noticed some sidewalk chalk on the ground, we pulled out the chalk, which was less interesting to her. By this point, she understood where the art supplies were, and she pulled out some puffy paints her aunt gave her. I made a rule that we could only keep two art materials out at a time, so we put away the chalk and dot markers and kept the puffy paint and tape. Squeezing out just the right amount of paint was a little too fine of a motor skill for her, but she had fun globbing it on the paper, which began to rip under the weight.

I noticed her using the tip of the paint applicator to drag lines through the paint puddles, so I grabbed a couple of twigs from our yard, as well as some leafs and two clovers. We dragged lines from the blobs of paint and tried to use the leaves as stamps, which transferred shapeless globs of paint on the paper rather than leaf-shaped globs of paint, as I was hoping.

The whole activity kept her occupied for about an hour, which is a really long time for her right now. The Lil Guy admired our work on his outline from the vantage point of his bouncy chair. When we were done, I put the whole thing on an outside table to dry so that the dogs wouldn’t get paint on their noses.

The one thing I would change next time is the paper. Bug headed into her playroom with the last of our homemade play-dough, and I remembered that we had a roll of drawing paper attached to her play table. The drawing paper (from IKEA) is far sturdier than the tracing paper I used, and wouldn’t rip as easily under toddler hands and pools of paint.


Our wedding quilt

12 Jan

Wedding quilt with V

When Dave and I were planning our wedding, I came up with the brilliant idea of making all our napkins for the reception dinner. Since we had white tablecloths, the reception was in a dark barn, and we didn’t want a lot of stuff hanging up in the space, I thought it would be a good way to add some bright, fun color, especially since each table would get a different print.

This project put the intense in labor-intensive. My trooper of a now-husband said, “Show me how to sew!” and we spent many evenings and weekends working on our napkin assembly line. One of us would cut fabric, I would press and pin the napkins, and he would sew them. They came out looking great, and the different fabrics were a fun way to tie in the favors (spice rubs in mason jars with the fabric on the top), escort cards (name tag stickers on the favors), and the tables themselves (match the favor fabric to the napkins! easy!). Dave even made his own tie(!) and I made an apron to protect my dress while we tended bar for our guests as they arrived.

Photos by Mary McHenry.

Photos by the super-awesome Mary McHenry.

Because of a late change in how we were doing the tables and my overestimation on how much fabric we needed, we ended up with A LOT of leftover fabric (and a table with Batman napkins). So, inspired by Jen Hoverson’s blog post about her wedding quilt (made of leftover handmade napkins from her wedding), I decided to make a wedding quilt. Not that I had ever made a quilt before. As much as I loved the one Jen made, I decided it was too ambitious for my first quilt, so I used the Just Sweet Enough pattern from Joelle Hoverson’s Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts.

Wedding quilt

I started it on New Year’s Eve 2012 and finished it last week. Even though it took me more than a year, it was a pretty simple first quilt to make, and the white background was very forgiving of my sometimes crooked seam lines and slightly mismatched corners. The part I was most nervous about was making the quilt sandwich, but Hoverson has good instructions in her book. (Although, I tried to do it from memory and taped it down twice before I finally re-read the instructions and did it correctly.) I used packaged binding to save time, and it looks…OK. Next time, I think I’ll make my own.

I made this one to go in our teardrop trailer, to match the gingham curtains I made. But it kind of looks nice on our guest room bed, don’t you think?

Union Jack pillow colors | Apartment Therapy Spring Cure 2010

10 Apr

It is FREEZING today, so instead of going out and shopping for home items, I am sitting in my house figuring some home things out on my computer. I found some great wool felt colors on Purl Soho’s website, so I used a graphics program to play around with two color combinations for my Union Jack pillow idea.

Here they are with the quilt and sheets I bought for my bed.

Union Jack pillow colors: I'm leaning toward the two greys.


Now I have to decide what size pillows I’m going to make. I’d rather do rectangular than square, but the square pillow forms will be much easier to find, and it seems it would make it easier to get the angles right on the flag.

Oddly enough, the felt and sheets are almost the exact same shade as the color I’m thinking of painting my dresser, Sherwin-Williams Mythical.

Brilliant ideas: Union Jack throw pillows

24 Mar

The one thing I remember from the one episode of “Man Shops Globe” that I saw was artist Becky Oldfield and her gorgeous quilts made from reclaimed Union Jack flags. I have been a devout anglophile since my mom had me watching Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery as a kid, and I think the British flag is one of the most beautifully designed flags in the world. (I work at a travel magazine, I see a lot of flags.) I really, really, really loved those quilts. But did I really want to be sleeping under a Union Jack? Probably not. Though it would go nicely with the Penguin Classic print I would love to hang over my bed…* Rule Britannia.

When I started coveting the Rosette quilt at Anthropologie, I thought about buying the matching pillows. But at $58 each, I really could not justify it. Then I remembered Oldfield’s quilts. What if I made a Union Jack pillow in grey, purple, and white? Brilliant!

Union Jack pillow, from Henry Road

Molly's felt flower pillow, from

I’m thinking something like this (left), design-wise (so a true version of the flag). At first I was thinking of using some cool calico from Reprodepot, but now I’m thinking solids. Maybe even felt, like these felt flower pillows (right), from Purlbee, so I can layer the stripes on top of each other without having to quilt it all together.

Update: Oldfield herself has printed Union Jack pillows!

*Ouch! The 27.5 x 17″ version is 99 British pounds ($147). The much-cooler 55 x 35″ version is 299 pounds ($445)! Bloody hell.

No DIY Orla Kiely, but I did make curtains

13 Jan

Storage shelf curtainsMy apartment has no storage space. There’s one tiny closet with a shelf I can barely reach, and that’s it. And I have a lot of stuff. So not long after I moved in, I bought some shelves from IKEA and tucked them in a little alcove in my dining area. Only, no one really wants to eat dinner with rolls of paper towels, boxes of my band’s CDs, and camping equipment right behind their heads.

So I bought some great fabric on sale at Repro Depot, and decided to make curtains to get my unsightly boxes, etc., out of sight.

I was hoping to have some extra fabric to make a handbag, but alas, the project used it all up. Who knew you really do need the fabric to be 1.5-2 times the width of the shelves?

Tea Towel Bulletin Board

12 Jan

My friend Annie gave me a set of gorgeous tea towels for a housewarming gift. I kept them wrapped up in their ribbon for the longest time; they were just too nice looking to get dirty.Opening Up the Seams

At the same time, I had my old bulletin board leaning against a wall, waiting to be recovered. The pink and brown fabric didn’t match my new avocado green, yellow, and tomato red kitchen decor.

And then the chocolate dropped into my peanut butter. The prettier tea towel was the perfect size to use to recover the bulletin board. Well, almost the perfect size. I had to rip out the edges to get a little more width, then I used Fray Block to prevent the edges from unraveling. Stapling the Fabric Down

The pink and brown fabric was tacked on using upholstery tacks, so I pulled those out, revealing the original light green fabric stapled to the foam core and cardboard. I didn’t have the energy to rip all those staples out, so I covered that with some muslin (to prevent the green from showing through), then the tea towel, stretching the fabric and stapling it into place.

This also added some depth to the board, which helped it fit better into the frame. I took someTea Towel Bulletin Board old grosgrain ribbon, tacked it into the crossed pattern with the upholstery tacks, popped it back into the frame, and hung it up on the wall. Ta-da! Bulletin board and kitchen decoration all in one! I want to change it to all red ribbon, but this works well for now.


  • Thrift-store picture frame
  • Foam core and/or layers of cardboard cut to fit frame
  • Muslin (if using cardboard, to prevent brown from bleeding through)
  • Tea towel
  • Grosgrain ribbon
  • Staples
  • Upholstery tacks
  • Hanging wire or whatever else you want to use to hang it on your wall

DIY Orla Kiely

13 Nov

Vogue 7328 and Repro Depot fabricEver since I saw the first one, I’ve been slightly obsessed with Orla Kiely bags, especially the Etc. vinyl-coated fabric ones. My friend Lessley gave me the best birthday gift ever last year, a fabric Bungalow 360 bag. It’s super lightweight, has the perfect combination of pockets, and zips fully closed across the top. I love it. The only problem? It’s disgustingly dirty because it’s impossible to clean.

While eating breakfast one morning, I thought, “I could save up for an Orla Kiely bag.” But, honestly, I don’t want to. Then I looked up at the pinned-up curtains covering my storage shelves. Aha! I could use the extra from that to make a handbag! And I even have an old pattern (Vogue 7328) that has a similarly shaped hobo-style handbag pattern.

But how do I protect the fabric from stains? Scotch-Guard did nothing to protect my Bungalow 360 handbag. I’d have to find a coating, like a fusible vinyl, to protect it, which would also make it look more like the Orla Kielys. And then I found it online!

I’m going to make the curtains this weekend and see if I have enough left over to make the bag. Sadly, doesn’t have any more of the fabric.