DIY

Christmas Gift Bags

We are all about reducing waste whenever possible here at Little Family on the Big Lake. With the holiday season fast approaching, I have been thinking about Christmas morning. This year, Little One will be 18 months old, and we are so excited to be experiencing Christmas with him. I wonder what he is going to think of what Santa brought him and all the fun we will have…then I turn to the cleanup. Sure, watching Little One rip off wrapping paper may be fun, but I can’t help thinking about all the waste the wrapping paper has created. So this year, gone is the wrapping paper that only lasts a day. Introducing Christmas gift bags!

On average Americans go through 4 million pounds of wrapping paper each year. To put that into prospective, that is 5,787 football fields! Obviously, this is waste that can be greatly reduced. Gifts can easily be wrapped in alternative materials that could be recycled instead of wrapping paper that sits in a landfill. I have seen brown paper bags and newspaper be cute wrap ping options. But after a trip to Joann’s and seeing all the cute Christmas fabric I decided to go with Christmas bags. Brown paper bags or newspaper is still a good option for those larger packages, though.

There are of course some cloth fabrics bags available on line, you can find them here. However they are really easy to make!

Materials Needed

I got 100% cotton fabric from Joann’s’ and 100% recycled cotton yarn to be used as the draw string. These bags can be reused over and over again. We got a couple of prints that matched well and creates a cohesive look under the tree.

From one yard of fabric I got 8 bags that are around 15” * 10”. I did change sizes to bigger and smaller for different sized gifts.

Process

Step One

The first step in this process is to cut the bags to size. You will need two even pieces of fabric cut to your size of choice to make each bag. A fold in the fabric can be utilized as one of the sides, too. That way you would only need one piece of fabric.

Cutting Christmas bag fabric
Step Two

Next, finish the edges of the fabric to prevent unraveling. I choose to do this by using a serger, but a zig zag stich along the edge or a French seam could be utilized.

Finishing seams
Step Three

If using two pieces of fabric, stitch the two pieces of fabric together using right sides together along the long edge. If you are using one piece of fabric, start with this next step. Along the top edge fold the fabric down between ½” to 1 inch and press it with an iron. This will form a case for the yarn to go in to form the draw string. Stitch down the folded piece, back stitching at the start and end of the fabric.

Creating casing
Sewing casing
Step Four

Then line up the two pieces of fabric right sides together. Stitch along the edges of the fabric, avoiding the top of the bag and the casing that was created so the casing isn’t stitched closed. Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and the end.

Christmas bag
Step Five

Next using a safety pin, tie the end of a piece of yarn. Cut the yarn a couple inches longer then the bag opening. Thread the safety pin through the case opening and push it through until the other end takes the yarn with it. Line the end of the yarn up and tie it off around 1 inch from the end. I like to fray the ends up to the knot.

Inserting draw string
Finished cloth Christmas bag

Repeat the steps for all other bags that you would like to make. These bags are a simple design and there fore can be made relatively quickly. If you can spare 10 minutes this is a great project!

I hope you liked this Christmas gift bag! I loved matching the fabrics and creating a cohesive look for under my Christmas tree. For close family I plan on using the Christmas gift bags, because I can probably get them back. For those other gifts, like the secret Santa at work, I plan on utilizing brown paper!

Have you thought about implementing Christmas gift bags too? Let me know in the comments below.

Check out my other zero waste swap here!

Beeswax Wraps

Plastic wrap is one of the easiest things to eliminate from your home on the journey to zero waste. When you really think about it, there are alternatives to everything that plastic wrap can be used for. One of the more obvious is just using containers instead. But for those items that need to be wrapped, try beeswax wraps.

There are so many beeswax wraps on the market, like these. They are a great choice, but did you know that you can make your own? I know, pretty cool! Instead of purchasing a pack of 3 for $18.00, you can make your own for a fraction of the cost. Also, you can use left over fabric that you already have…truly zero waste!

***Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.

Materials Needed

Fabric – It’s best to use 100% cotton and a looser weave. Also, it works better with fabrics that are dyed instead of printed. I personally like gingham fabric.

Beeswax Pellets

Grape Seed Oil

Jelly Roll Pan

Oven

Pinking Shears

Parchment Paper

** I linked the supplies needed, but if you already have the supplies needed, use those instead of buying new.

Beeswax and grape seed oil

Process

First, press the fabric with an iron and cut it to size using the pinking shears. I normally use 12 inch by 12 inch squares but the beauty of this is that you can custom make any size you need.

Pre-heat the oven to 175* F.

Lay the fabric down on the jelly roll pan over a piece of parchment paper. It’s best if the fabric is completely flat. However, if the fabric is bigger then the jelly roll pan, then just fold the fabric over on itself.

Place 1-2 tablespoons (depending on the size of the fabric) of beeswax pellets on top of the fabric, spreading them evenly. Next, add 1/2 teaspoon of grape seed over the fabric.

Place the pan in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until all the beeswax is melted. Once done, take it out of the oven and check that the fabric is covered. A basting brush can be used to move the melted beeswax around. More beeswax can be added at this point if needed, and then pop it back into the oven. Once this is done, take the fabric off the jelly roll pan and gently wave it through the air until it’s dried This should only take a minute or two.

Repeat as needed.

beeswax wrap before heating
beeswax wrap after heating in oven

Care and Maintenance

Beeswax wraps can be used in place of what you use plastic wrap for. However, you shouldn’t use it for raw meat.

Beeswax wraps can be hand washed with soap and water, then laid to dry. The wraps are good for 6-12 months. When they are showing some signs of wear and tear, they can be placed in the oven again with more wax. If it gets to the point where they cannot be used anymore, they can be placed in the compost bin (I strongly recommend cutting the fabric into small pieces first.)

Notes

The beeswax is not easy to get off the jelly roll plan, so use an older pan or one designated just for this project.

I have tried the ironing method to making the wraps. Place the fabric with beeswax on a piece of parchment paper and fold the paper over the top. Next, iron until the wax is melted. This worked well to make the wraps but I did get beeswax all over my ironing board.

Beeswax wraps are a great zero waste switch. Have you tried them? Let me know your thoughts down below!

Next, check out my zero waste switch to produce bags.

DIY Chair Update

DIY Chair Update

If you have read my past posts, you probably know that I am all about the 5 R’s: recycle, reuse, reduce, rot, and refuse. We have been wanting to replace our dining chairs for a while, but didn’t want to purchase anything new. I wanted to reuse and recycle some chairs that needed a new home. I have been looking on my Facebook shop and swap page for a while now and finally found some. These were originally from IKEA (similar to these ones) but I got them from a community member whose daughter happened to go to the same day care as my son – gotta love small towns! These chairs were in somewhat rough shape when we got them but with some TLC, we made them much better! Continue reading for my DIY chair update.

Cleaning Them Up

The first thing we did when we got the chairs home was give them a good scrub with our DIY all-purpose cleaner. We also took the slip covers off the chairs.

I love the construction of these chairs. They have four screws on the bottom, which makes popping off the chair pads really easy.

Dirty Chair
DIY Chair Update, Dirty Chair Leg
DIY chair update, Cleaned Chair Leg

A couple of the slip covers were marked up and way beyond repair. With a toddler, I also didn’t want white chair covers for the reason you see below!

DIY chair update, Messy slip cover
New Chair Covers

So the chairs I got have slip covers on them. I wanted to replace them so off to the fabric store once again :). I found this lovely blue fabric in the outdoor section of the fabric store. It was 50% off and I also got 20% off at the register. Yay for sales!

Upon getting the fabric home, I ditched the idea of making slip covers for just reupholstering the chairs. I got extra fabric so if I ever need to update the chairs, I can. I also purchased outdoor fabric in a dark color. This will be more durable then the canvas fabric that was previously on the chair. They are also easier to wash off.

To upholster the chairs, I first removed the chair covers. I then laid the chair cushion on the fabric. Next I cut the fabric to have a 3 inch edge all the way around.

Working from the middle of the edge, I stapled the fabric to the underside of the chair. I did the middle on each of the 4 sides pulling the fabric tight. I then worked around the other sides. Next I finished the corners, pulling them tight so there were no folds.

Assembly

Finally I placed the chair pads on the chairs and flipped them upside down. I screwed the pad back on the the chair and just like that we had a finished chair.

This chair update was really quick and made a world of difference in our dining room. These chairs are sleeker then our old ones and take up way less space. With space at a premium in our small dining room, we improved our previous situation in a couple big ways.

Attaching the chair pad

So what do you think of this chair update? I think they turned out pretty good. I always encourage you to take a look at resources around you and see what you can reuse and turn into something new!

Next, check out my my post on Eco Friend Rules to Live By.

How To Find Stress-Free Kids Crafts

I have always loved crafting. As a kid I was doing projects literally every day! My mom had an in-home daycare and she did a fantastic job of facilitating fun craft projects focused on learning letters, science, animals, space, shapes, colors, the list goes on and on. I often reflect back on this time and now that I have my own Little One I think of how much work that must have been! Little One is not quite to the crafting stage yet and just thinking about it stresses me out a little bit. So in this post we explore a resource on how to find stress-free kids crafts.

That is why I was so happy to find Green Kid Crafts. They have taken the stress away from me having to figure out projects. They are a monthly subscription box that delivers age appropriate, education-focused, and Eco-friendly crafts right to your door step!

I don’t know about you but I am busy. Both my husband and I work, and between getting dinner ready, keeping the house semi clean, and trying to have quality time with Little One, it doesn’t leave much time for planning out craft projects.

Just so you know – read through to the end for a special offer!

**Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As a Green Kids Crafts associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you buy from them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interest at heart

The Contents

Green Kid Crafts offers both subscription packages or single purchase boxes for the kiddos. All the boxes contain 4-8 projects and are developed around STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math).

The boxes range from ages 2 years to 10+ years. I wanted to try one even though Little One is still a bit young for the boxes. So I got one and did all the crafts myself…just kidding. But I did get one for my niece in the 10+ category and she loved it!

Why Green Kid Crafts

There are many subscription boxes out there, so why this one? I personally gravitated toward this box for a number of reasons:

First, they are very Eco-friendly, as I try to be with all my crafting. Green Kid Crafts is actually a carbon neutral company! There will be more on that below.

Second, there are multiple activities in each box. I have checked out some other subscription boxes, and while very cool they often offer one or two activities. Green Kid Crafts offer 4-8!

Third, every box focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math! The boxes are developed by child development experts, and you can click this link to read bios of the child development team. I think it is so important to know that the projects are thoughtfully created by a team of experts.

The Company

As my husband and I keep considering the types of consumers we want to be, it is really important that we know where we put our money. That’s why we support companies like Green Kid Crafts – they hold and implement so many of the values that my husband and I believe in, too.

Green Kid Crafts was started by a mom wanting to encourage learning, development and creativity in her own kids’ lives. Mom power! She is an environmental scientist committed to creating a product that has as little impact on the environment as possible. They also have a partnership with the CarbonFund, and, like I mentioned before, is a carbon neutral company.

They use 100% recycled materials for all of their packaging, as well as implement sustainability into the contents of their boxes.

Green Kid Crafts partners with One Tree Planted, and they plant one tree for every online order! Click below to find out more.

The Blog

The Green Kid Crafts website has a blog that is packed full of fun activities to do with your kiddos. You can easily do some projects at home by following their clear directions. So when you are wanting to plan projects, Green Kid Crafts makes it really easy. Just go check out their blog page and pick from all of the wonderful activities they have available.

Special Offer

For a limited time you can get 60% off your first STEAM box! By clicking this LINK here. I will also receive some credit when you use this LINK, so thank you in advance for helping keep Little Family on the Big Lake up and running.

Or you can click the Order Now button to check out Green Kid Crafts subscriptions boxes. And don’t forget to use the code SUMMER19 and receive 50% off your first order. I am not sure how long this sale is running.

But to get the 60% off use my special link!

See their site for full promo code details and terms and conditions.

I hope you like the Green Kid Crafts boxes as much as I do. Let me know if you got a subscription box and what you thought of it in the comments below!

Next, check out my post on how to make a felt vegetable garden.

How To Make a Rope Shelf

As part of my small bathroom makeover Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 I wanted to put some shelving on the far wall. I had originally made box type shelving but didn’t like it. So, Plan B is this rope shelving. Honestly, I was surprised at how easy it was to make! So join me in my latest post on how to make a rope shelf.

This rope shelf turned out great and was made in an afternoon. Luckily I had extra wood and the rope was left over from another project. I used 1*8 pine and 1/2 inch sisal rope. All I needed to get were the hooks and the O rings for hanging up the shelf.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Materials and Tools

Materials needed:

Tools needed:

  • Saw (electric or hand)
  • Sander and sand paper
  • Clips or heavy duty scissors
  • Drill and 5/8 inch paddle drill bit
  • Rag
  • Tape
  • Straight edge
  • Pencil
  • Tape Measure
  • Level
  • Clamp
Step One

The first step is to cut the wood to size. I chose to make three shelves using a piece of 1*8 cut to 20 inches. The great part of this project is that the shelving unit can be very customized to meet the needs of the space. The depth, length, and number of shelves can all be changed. If the length gets to long, add extra rope in between for stability.

Step Two

The second step is to drill holes in each corner of the shelves. Measure one inch from each edge, and mark with a pencil. Using the drill and paddle drill bit, drill holes though each corner.

Pro tip – do not drill all the way through on the first side. Drill through enough that the drill bit has just broken though the bottom of the wood. Once this is done, flip the wood over and use the small hole to position the drill bit and continue from the other side. This will prevent the wood from splintering (see the second picture with my helper Samoa).

How to make a DIY rope shelving unit
Step Three

The next step is to measure and cut the rope. For this project, cut two lengths measuring 8 feet. I left plenty of extra rope because I would rather cut some away at the end then have too little to complete my project.

Next find the center of each rope. From the center, measure and tape the distance between each shelf. I used 12 inches between each. When I got it into the bathroom, I ended up wanting to change the distance. The great thing about this shelf is that it is easy to change.

Step Four

Before threading the rope through the wood, insert the O rings on to the middle of each rope. Next, line up the end of the tape with the top of the shelf. Then tie a knot under the shelf. Keep it fairly loose for now. The knot can be tightened when you’re checking that it is level during the hanging process.

How to make a DIY rope shelving unit
Step Five

Using a level and tape measure, determine where the hooks should be placed on the wall. Mark where the screws should be inserted with a pencil. Drill holes in the walls and insert dry wall anchors. Next, install hooks using the drill and screws. Hang the rope shelves using the O rings. Take the level and place it on each of the shelves, adjusting any of the knots that need to be adjusted and tightening the remaining knots. Finally, cut off the ends to the desired length and either rap the ends with string or fray the ends to the knot. Then decorate!

How to make a DIY rope shelving unit

I found this project to be pretty easy and it’s a great look for the bathroom!

What did you think of this post on how to make a rope shelf? Have you given it a try? Let me know in the comments below!

how to make a rope shelf

How To Make A Produce Bag

How to make a reusable produce bag.

One major but easy switch in helping us reduce our plastic use was switching to reusable produce bags. I found some great ones here on Amazon. What I liked about these ones are that they are 100% organic cotton. But, of course, instead of ordering them I thought to myself “I can make that!” So join me in this post on how to make a DIY produce bag.

This is a simple bag design with a draw string. I used some mesh that I had left over from a curtain panel that I got from IKEA. If you are an IKEA fan you have most likely seen these panels for about $4. I purchased these panels to decorate for my wedding and have been storing them for 5 years so I am happy to put them to good use now. While these bags that I made are not organic cotton, I feel better using something that I already had instead of ordering something new.

Any material could be used to make these bags, but a mesh like this or a sturdy cotton would be best. I used left over ribbon, shoe string, and cording for the draw strings. My goal was to reuse what I had, so although none of the bags match each other, that’s okay with me.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Step One

Step one for making a DIY produce bag is to gather the following materials and supplies:

  • Fabric
  • Draw string
  • Rotary cutter or scissors
  • Straight edge
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Safety Pin
Step Two

The second step is to decide how big the bag needs to be. I did a variety of sizes for different types of fruits and vegges. A large size would be 12 inches by 17 inches, medium would be 10 inches by 14 inches, and a small bag is equal to 8 inches by 12 inches. These are great sizes to start with but what’s great about making these yourself is that the bags can be customized to meet your needs.

Measure out the size needed for the bag. The width of the bag should double the size that the bag needs to be. So if making a 12 inch by 17 inch bag, cut a piece of fabric 24 inches by 17 inches.

Cut out the bag using the straight edge and a cutting tool.

Step Two, cutting DIY produce bag.
Step Three

Next, fold the top edge of the fabric down and pin it. Fold enough fabric over to contain the chosen draw string.

Then stitch down the folded fabric using a straight or small zig zag stitch, back-stitching at the beginning and end. When stitching mesh, go slow and try to keep the fabric from stretching.

Step Three sewing casing on DIY produce bag.
Step Four

Fold the fabric in half and pin along the open sides. Do not pin or sew over the area stitched for the draw string. Sew along the edge, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance and back-stitching at the beginning and end.

Step Five

Using the safety pin, pin it to the tip of the draw string. Feed the draw string through the pocket at the top of the bag. When the draw string is through, remove the safety pin. Tie the ends of the draw string together in a secure knot.

Step Five inserting draw string in to produce bag.

That’s it! You now have a draw string bag. This took me less then 10 minutes to make. I have now made 5 of these and take them to the grocery store every time we go. Our grocery store has a great foods section where I can get most of my produce without using plastic packaging! My next goal is to make a couple of bags that are solid fabric that I can utilize for the bulk food bins. We routinely get beans, rice, and seeds from the bulk bins and using jars can be challenging, so bags might be our perfect solution.

Check out my tips for zero waste shopping here.

Have you tried this how to make a DIY produce bag tutorial? How did it go? Let me know in the comments below!

Finish DIY produce bag.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

Little One’s first birthday is just around the corner, I can’t believe it! He is just growing up way too fast. So, as well as planing a birthday party, I wanted to make something special for him as a gift. During our brainstorming for gift ideas a swing came up. Of course, trying to rid ourselves of plastic, I didn’t want to get him a traditional baby swing. So off to the craft store I went with plans for a DIY toddler hammock swing. I had found a couple of tutorials online; however, I wanted to make some changes to those plans.

The biggest issue was safety. In addition to gathering supplies that could safely hold 200 pounds (a little overboard for my 20 pound baby, but still), I also added a safety strap to the hammock swing using a couple of D rings. All the supplies I needed were found at JOANN Fabrics and Home Depot. (I linked all products that I was able to on Amazon since I know some people don’t have access to the same stores). Some additional changes I made included doubling the fabric and adding a layer of batting for added comfort.

You can see my post on basic sewing terminology here if needed for this project.

I do have this hammock swing available in my store, click here to find out more!

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Supplies for the DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

Found at Craft Store

  • Outdoor fabric 1 1/2 to 2 yards, depending on how much extra you want
  • D rings
  • Batting – I had some left over from a quilt that I used. Remember, reusing is one of the 5 Rs of sustainability
  • Poly-fill – I also had some left over from another project. See, craft hoarding can save some money!
    • Find Batting and stuffing here I would use this instead if I did it again. I happened to have some old poly-fill and batting, but in the future I would go 100% cotton.

Found at Hardware Store

Additional supplies

Step One – Preparing Pieces

Each of the following pieces need to be cut out of the outdoor fabric. If the fabric you choose has a pattern to it, double check that it matches up. While the fabric I chose has a pattern, it is a little more random and allows for more flexibility. Cut the following pieces out of your fabric (and then proceed with the other cuts and measurements for the other materials that follow):

  • Fabric
    • 37″ x 12″ pieces for the seat – cut 2
    • 12″ x 11″ for the back – cut 2
    • 6 1/2″ x 11″ for the front – cut 2
    • 15″ x 3 1/2″ for the front strap – cut 1
    • 27″ x 3 1/2″ for the long strap – cut 1
    • 8″ x 3 1/2″ for the strap with D rings – cut 1
    • 12″ x 12″ pieces for the pillow (optional) – cut 2
  • Batting
    • 1 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ – cut 1
    • 6″ x 10 1/2″ – cut 1
    • 36 1/2″ x 11 1/2″ – cut 1
  • Dowel
    • 4 pieces that are 15″
  • Rope
    • 2 pieces that are 11 feet long

When starting to stitch the DIY toddler hammock swing, I wanted to make sure that every seam was very secure. So technically I sewed them twice…a little more work but so worth it. (Check out basic sewing terminology to help with following this tutorial.)

Step Two – Stitching Base

Start out by using the 6 1/2″ x 11′ pieces, placing right sides together and pinning. Starting at the base of the long side, start stitching up the side. Back stitch when first starting out using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Stop stitching 6/8″ from the edge of the fabric.

You will now have to turn the fabric; however, there is a neat trick I learned to make a crisp corner. Instead of making a 90 degree turn. stitch one stitch at an angle, then turn the fabric again to begin sewing straight as shown in the picture below.

Stitch along the 11″ side to the 6 1/2″ side and back down the 11″ side, back stitching when done. This should leave the 6 1/2″ side open. Clip the corners before turning. Use this side to turn the front piece right side out. Next, press the fabric with the iron. The outdoor material will be hard to get to lay flat. Try using a pin to pop the seam out (note that it will want to collapse inward) and steaming the fabric. Once complete, insert the piece of 6″ x 10 1/2″ batting between the two pieces of fabric.

Once complete, stitch around the edges again. This time stitch on the right side of the fabric with a 1/4″ or 3/8″ seam allowance. When turning the corner on the right side of the fabric, use the traditional 90 degree turn. Continue to leave the one 6 1/2″ side open – we will deal with it later.

Follow the same procedure for the pieces that are 12″ x 11″, leaving the 12″ side open for turning.

Step Three – Assembling the seat

For this next part, use the 37″ x 12″ pieces and the front and back that had already been finished. It’s a bit tricky so please stay with me. Find the center of the 37″ side and mark either side. Next, find the center on the front and back piece on the open side. Lay the back piece on top of the right side of one of the 37″ x 12″ pieces, lining up the center marks on each side. The raw edges should be together and the back piece should be on top of the seat piece. Next, line up the front piece with the center of the other side of the 37″ x 12″ piece and pin it down.

Lay the other 37″ x 12″ piece on top, right side down, and line it up and pin. Sew around using a 1/4″ seam allowance while leaving an opening to flip right side out. It is best to leave the opening on one of the 12″ ends. Use the same method as listed above for the corners. Flip the seat right side out and press with an iron. When flipping the seat, the back and front pieces should now be hanging out of the seam.

Next, insert the batting and stitch around the seat again. Fold in the open part and stitch closed. This is the basic seat structure.

Step Four – Creating Pockets

Next, on each of the sides, front and back, create pockets for the dowel. Using the dowel, estimate the pocket size needed by folding the top part of the fabric over the top and pinning it down. Make sure the pocket is even all the way across and is snug enough that the dowel doesn’t easily move, but still loose enough that you can easily insert the dowel into the pocket. Stitch a straight line where pinned, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and the end. Repeat these steps for each of the sides and the front and back. Measure each side to ensure that all the pockets are the same width and make changes if needed.

Step Five – Create Safety Straps
  • 15″ x 3 1/2″ for the front – strap cut 1
  • 27″ x 3 1/2″ for the long strap – cut 1
  • 8″ x 3 1/2″ for the strap with D rings – cut 1

For the next step use the the above pieces and iron press each of the straps in half the long way. Next, fold in the raw edge on either side and press with the iron. Fold in the ends to from a clean edge and pin. Stitch all the way around the strap. Fold down the shortest strap to create a pocket for the other straps to sit in. Stitch the edge of the pocket down. Using the medium strap, place the flat edges of the D rings on the strap. Fold over the fabric and stitch down.

Attach the two longer pieces to either side of the back piece (not the side that has the D rings attached). Make sure they are evenly placed on the center of the back side piece and pinned down. Back stitch at the beginning and the end. I chose to sew in a square around the tab of the strap to ensure it was secure. Next stitch the smallest strap to the center front of the seat in a similar manner.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
Step Six – Sewing The Pillow

This step is optional but adds a whole lot of comfort. It’s also really cute. Create a simple pillow using the 12″ X 12″ pieces. Pin the pieces right sides together. Leaving a small gap for flipping, stitch around the pillow using the corner method as described above. Flip the pillow right side out and press with an iron. Next, stuff the pillow with poly-fill (or cotton stuffing if able) to the desired amount. Then hand stitch the opening closed using a needle and thread. There you have it – a cute little pillow! The pillow is especially great for little ones because it gives extra support and helps them sit better in the swing. The pillow can be removed for older toddlers, which makes this swing versatile for a number of years.

Step Seven – Making Supports

The next step is to cut the dowels to the length of 15 inches. Then using a drill bit, drill a hole 1 1/2 inches from each end. Using sand paper, sand the dowels down and curve the ends to take away any sharp edges.

Step Eight – Finishing The Dowels

At this point I wanted to finish the dowels, but didn’t want to use a product like polyurethane because I know Little One will end up munching on them. Instead, I used coconut oil! This is a natural alternative and is something I keep in my cupboard. Using a small glass bowl, melt the coconut oil in the microwave. Next, apply a small amount to each dowel with a rag. The dowels will remain wet feeling for some time, so give it a day or two to dry completely. I think the coconut oil brings out the natural beauty of the wood and gives it a really nice shine.

Step Nine – Securing The Rope

Cut the rope into two 11 foot long lengths. Finding the middle of each piece, combine and tie around the metal rings. Create a loop through the metal rings and pull the remaining length of rope through the loop that was created. I added an additional knot for security.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
Step Ten – Inserting the dowels

The next step is to insert each dowel into the pocket on each side, as pictured below.

Step Eleven – Tie the Dowels Together

Layering the sides over the front and back and dowels. Insert the rope through the top hole and then through the second. Tie the rope with a secure knot and repeat with the other three sides. Burn the ends of the rope using a lighter.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing
Step Twelve – Hanging The Hammock Swing

Find a good place to hang the hammock swing, ensuring that it is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the swing and your baby. We used a thick tree branch, but plan to use a C hook in a beam in our basement playroom for winter time. Using the left over rope tie around the tree, use the other O ring and tie to the bottom of the rope. Using the carabiner attach the two O rings together to hang the swing.

DIY Toddler Hammock Swing

While the fabric is weather resistant, the hammock swing will last longer if it is not left outside for extended periods of time. The carabiner makes it really easy to put up and take down. We store ours in the bin that holds our outdoor cushions.

Little One is only 12 months old right now, and has room to grow with it. My three year old nephew can fit in it, too. I absolutely love how this turned out. I know that is it many steps but it was fairly easy to make. This DIY toddler hammock swing was definitely worth the time, and is so much cuter and softer then the plastic ones available in stores.

Have you tried this DIY toddler hammock swing? How did it turn out for you? If so, left me know in the comments below!

If you want one of these awesome hammock swing but would to order one you can do so by clicking the button below!

Note

Please check that all materials are intact and strong enough to hold your child before each use. While I hope you have success with this DIY toddler hammock swing. I am not responsible for any injuries. Ensure that you have tested all the equipment before using with your child and never leave your child unattended in the swing. While there is a safety belt, kiddos can be squirmy and get free. Use at your own risk. If you have any questions about the product or how to make this please contact me at maria@littlefamilyonthebiglake.com

Hammock swing

How To Make A Cedar Window Box

How to make a cedar window box for under $10

I have had this project planned for year – I don’t know what took me so long. These cedar window boxes were so easy to make and cheap, too! Ultimately the wood cost me about $9 and I used screws, wood glue, and sand paper that I already had. Check out this tutorial on how to make a ceder window box.

Before this project, there were two plastic window boxes here. However, over the years they became faded and cracked. Needless to say, if I would have planted them this year they probably would have fallen down! So it was time for an upgrade. Luckily there are existing brackets on the windows that were used for the plastic window boxes, so I was able to reuse them for the cedar window box. You can find a similar version here. You can also mount it directly, but I do find it easier to take the window box on and off for planting flowers. As the window is tall and I am short.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Step One

The first step is to purchase the wood and gather the other materials. I purchased cedar fence post boards from Home Depot. They are 6″ wide by 6′ long, with the ends dog-eared. I got these 3 for under $3 a piece. With that being said, supplies and price can vary from store to store. Other supplies needed for this project are sand paper, wood glue, and screws, which were things that I already had. I used my electric saw to cut the boards, but since there aren’t many cuts, a hand saw would work well, too. I also needed a tape measure and a pencil. With the fencing boards, there are other varieties that are available at most home improvement stores. These should work just the same because they are rated for outside use.

How to make a cedar window box for under $10
Step Two

The second step is to measure the window and decide how long the window box should be. I made mine to be 5 feet long. I measured each of the boards from the flat side, not the dog-eared side. Next, I cut the boards to length and gave them a light sanding. Save the ends that are cut off because they can be purposed for the ends of the window box. I positioned them together in a U shape and measured for the ends. Grab the leftover boards and cut the ends of the window box to shape.

Step Three

Assemble the cedar window box using wood glue and screws. An extra pair of hands could really help during assembly, but clamps work well, too. Next, place wood glue along the edges that meet and place together. Then screw the boards together with your drill. To ensure the window box has proper drainage, use a drill bit to place holes in the bottom of the window box. Place holes every 2 to 3 inches.

Step Four

The final step is to plant the window box! I chose mostly leafy plants this year with some white flowers. I am excited to see how it grows in. I’ll have to post a new picture at the end of summer.

For the first time this year I was able to use some of the soil we created from our compost bin. It takes a while when using a home composting system to create dirt but it finally paid off for us. Hopefully it will help these plants really take off! Check out my post on how to make the most out of composting.

How to make a cedar window box for under $10

I loved how this project turned out. Have you tried making a cedar window box? Let me know how it turned out in the comments below!

Tricycle Makeover

Tricycle Makeover

At Little Family on the Big Lake, we are all about reducing, reusing, repurposing, refusing and recycling. That is at the center of this tricycle makeover. It all started with my husband and I trying to figure out what to get Little One for his birthday. We were throwing lots of ideas around but one that seemed to land was a tricycle. We were considering buying a new one, but we had two old ones in the garage Therefore,. I couldn’t justify buying new when we had perfectly good ones. However, we both agreed that they looked faded and dirty. So it was time for a tricycle makeover!

Let me begin with a little history on these tricycles before we get into the makeover. They were given to us by my mother when she retired from her in-home day care. The tricycles are solid metal bikes with a plastic seat. They have been well loved over the years and it shows, but they’re still in good shape overall. My mother got them from a garage sale, so not only have these trikes been used by many kids over the years, they are now starting their third life with us. Talk about reusing!

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Step One

The first step of this makeover was to assess the bikes for damage. For example, one of the plastic pieces over the wheels was chipped. A little sanding with some low grit sand paper (we used 80 grit) removed the sharp edges on this piece. Then it was time for a good washing. Using soap, water and a rag, I washed the dirt off the bikes. This made them look better, so progress already!

Step Two

The second step was to decide on the color for the bikes. At first I was thinking that a little red tricycle would be very cute. My mother advised against it because red fades to pink. While I don’t really care about gender colors, I was looking at the trike and realized the red did look worse than the other colors.

So the colors we chose were blue and green. In the store I held up a couple of blue options and a couple of green options and let Little One pick his favorite. I purchased one can each of Rust-Oleum blue, green, and black. I purchased them from Home Depot but you can find them at most hardware stores or here on Amazon.

Step Three

The third and final step of the tricycle makeover is to prep and paint the tricycles. I taped off the areas that I didn’t want painted, such as the straps that hold Little One in. They are a rope-like material that bends easily and probably wouldn’t do well with spray paint. Before starting, I read the directions on the can of paint and laid down drop cloths on my garage floor. Using light layers I started painting the trikes. This process took me a couple of days because I would do a couple of light layers and turn the tricycles to get at different angles. Remember to allow for drying time between layers.

The Finished Product!

I am so happy with how these turned out! I am sure Little One will have fun with these for years to come. Instead of purchasing a new tricycle we spent $15 on paint and have breathed new life into these well-loved tricycles.

In general, instead of running to the store for new toys or bikes, among other things, I encourage you to look around to see if there is anything that can be repurposed or just fixed up. Garage sales are great ways to find kid’s items. With a little tender love and care, sad old toys can feel new again!

Have you tried any tricycle makeovers? Let me know in the comments below!

Check out my next DIY children’s projects, a toddler hammock swing and felt vegetable garden.

Tricycle Makeover

Felt Vegetable Garden

DIY Felt Vegetable Garden

When brainstorming for something to get Little One for Easter, I wanted something that was springy and educational. Obviously I didn’t want to give my 10 month old common Easter treats like candy. Then I stumbled upon a picture of a felt garden and I thought, “I could make that!”. It’s the cutest little felt vegetable garden and he loves harvesting the vegetables and munching on them!

For this project I got all my supplies at JOANN Fabrics. The felt is made from recycled materials, which is a great thing. I would have preferred natural materials, but recycled materials is way better than nothing. This project took me a couple of mornings and a lot less time to make than I originally projected. I would estimate that it took me about 3 hours total.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.

Check out my beginners sewing guide for terminology and some techniques.

Supplies
  • Felt
    • 6 pieces of brown felt
    • 1 piece each of colors needed for the vegetables ( I got 1 purple, 3 different shades of green, 1 orange, 1 tan, and 1 burgundy) (Amazon does have big pack you can find them here.)
  • Poly-fill
  • Wooden create
  • Thread
  • Tools
    • Sewing machine
    • Hand sewing needle
    • Pins
    • Scissors
Making the Garden Bed

The first step of this project is to create the garden dirt for “planting” the vegetables. Use the brown felt for this. I used 4 of the pieces for the rows and one piece for the bottom. The last piece is to create the sides of the rows, cutting 8 shapes that are flat on one end and curved on the other. Sew each of these pieces to the ends of the rows, creating 4 tube like rows. Then sew them to the bottom piece, leaving opening to stuff with poly-fill. I finished this up by sewing up the holes.

making the garden bed

It took a bit of maneuvering to get it all lined up, but the end result turned out great!

Making the Vegetables

The felt vegetables were very easy to make. I cut out two pieces of felt in each shape I needed for the vegetables. In the end I made 1 eggplant, 2 potatoes, 2 zucchini, 2 cucumbers, 4 carrots, and 2 beets. Use your best judgement to create the vegetables shapes. Using the sewing machine, I stitched around each of the vegetables, leaving a hole for the vegetable to be turned right side out.

I then stuffed the vegetable with poly-fill and used a hand sewing needle to stitch up the hole that was left. Using varying shades of greens to create leaves, I cut out basic leaf shapes and hand stitched them to the tops of the vegetables. Little One likes to munch on the tops…and they have held so far!

This is where you can get really creative with the types of vegetables or fruit. I plan on creating more when I get some free time (yeah, I know, like that will happen!).

Plant the Vegetables

Finally, plant the vegetables in the garden bed. I paired the felt vegetable garden with this TY bunny named Hopper, because every garden needs a bunny, right?

I’m happy to report it has been a little over a month since we gave this to Little One and he is still enjoying playing with it!

What do you think of this project? I thought it would take much more time so I was surprised at how easy and quick it turned out to be. Let me know your thoughts and/or results about the felt vegetable garden in the comments below!

DIY Felt Vegetable garden