Just Plain Sweet

knitting, sewing and crafting by Kendra Turner

Author: kendradenae@yahoo.com (page 1 of 2)

Recycled School Uniform Keepsake Ornaments

So, initially, this seems like a Christmas craft idea (and perhaps it ultimately is), but it actually began as a back to school project and turned into a school fundraiser.

If your kids wear school uniforms, you probably have some kind of “used uniform swap” before the year begins. Our school’s parent group collects any unwanted uniforms and then sells them on the cheap in early August. We generally sell all the pricey plaid and nicer skirts, but polo shirts are a little too plentiful. We literally had hundreds.

While we’d like to donate everything we don’t sell, the school has a policy about NOT donating clothing with the school logo. It really felt like a waste to have these old shirts piling up. A significant number of the polo shirts had our “old” logo on them, and were less desirable to students… we started brainstorming how to rid ourselves of this burden.

The shirts themselves have buttons down the middle, so pillows and quilt squares were a fail. On top of that, the red, navy and white cotton was often faded or stained… not great for large projects at all.

That’s when I came up with this idea that really requires only a corner of the shirt. These little embroidered hoop ornaments are all the rage on the craft circuit right now (I own a couple of cool designs by local crafter MaeDay Threads www.etsy.com/shop/MaeDayThreads). Personally, I don’t have the patience for embroidery, so this is as close to “hoop art” as I get.

I think this ornament would also be a great way to preserve your baby’s most memorable clothing or even frame up the logo from an old tee for your fave team. SO VERSITILE!

First off, figure out what size of hoop will best accommodate your logo. I used a 4” hoop. At your local craft store, these are generally stocked in sizes 3 to 12 inches. Online, the possibilities are pretty endless. They sell them as tiny as 1 inch! SO CUTE.

I live in a mid-size city, and none of the stores here sell more than 5 of any given size hoop. I needed dozens, so I ordered mine on Craftsy.com. I bought every single hoop they had in stock. 114. Of course, the hoops were much cheaper to buy in bulk (just 91 cents each YAY).

I got Darice brand hoops simply because I knew the quality would be fine. My only complaint: they had really sticky barcode stickers on them which were a pain to remove from the wood. Ohhh yeah… I had to bust out the Goo Gone!

Since the fabric I was using was rather stretchy, I wanted to back it with some sturdy quilting cotton, just to give it a nice smooth face that wouldn’t warp over time. Nobody is going to see this fabric, so just use whatever you have laying around.

Now for cutting! I found this very therapeutic. Something about destroying over a hundred shirts was so liberating LOL.

I simplified this with a stencil. If you’re making a lot of these, it’s worth making one. If not, just find something with a round base to trace. You want to give yourself an extra 1.5” diameter on top of your hoop diameter. 4+1.5= 5.5” diameter circle. You’ll need one cut from the shirt and one cut from the scrap cotton fabric.

Now time to assemble! Lay the inner circle of your hoop down on your working surface and place your scrap cotton fabric circle on top. Next put your logo fabric on top of the cotton and fit the outer hoop last. Make sure you have the pin closure as close to “top center” of the ornament as possible. Tighten the outer hoop and pull any loose fabric taught until your ornament looks the way you want.

Now we’re going to glue everything shut. Turn your ornament over so it’s face down on your work surface. With your glue gun, glue your excess fabric down onto the inside of the inner hoop.

I like to have a super “finished” look to anything I sell, so I went ahead and cut some circles out of cardstock for the back of these ornaments. I have a Silhouette cutting machine, so this was easy-peasy, but of course you can just trace your finished ornament and cut this out by hand. For a cutting machine, I recommend a 4.378-inch circle for a 4” hoop. So, we need to push the outer hoop back just a smidge so that we can see close to 1/8 of an inch of the inner circle coming forward with our T-shirt on it. Now we’ll apply hot glue to the back of the outer circle and stick our cardstock on.

Last, we move on to trimmings. I bought some decorative swirl ornament hooks and 3/8” satin ribbon in a contrasting color. Tie the bow around the pin closure posts at the top so it’ll be nice and secure and burn the ribbon ends with a lighter so they don’t fray. Then loop your hook under the pin itself. You’ve just made a super simple and cute ornament 😊!

If you want to go a step further, decorate the hoop itself! Self-adhesive gemstones are easy and give a nice sparkly effect. Decorative paper trims and pearls are great too! The possibilities are endless! You’ll need about 12″ of trimmings for a 4″ hoop.

All said and done we spent less than $2 on the plain ornaments and $3 on our bling-ed version. Consider selling these for $5 to $8 each for an endearing winter fundraiser! These make great family keepsakes and your school’s families will love them!



Back at it again with the white Vans!

Have you ever completely abandoned a project? And not because you weren’t excited about it, but because everyday life just quashed it? Well, let’s just say that’s what happened with this blog LOL.

For the past two years, my son has attended a private Catholic school in our community. I used to work at said school and I became overly involved very quickly. I am now president of their parent organization “ACE” and their licensed (and free) substitute teacher.

Please don’t think I’m unhappy about being involved, I am glad to be so active in my son’s school. Said school relies heavily on volunteers to keep tuition affordable, and very few parents have the luxury of staying home, as I do. As you might imagine, though, it leaves little time for things like writing on the internet for fun.

The blog isn’t the only thing that’s been put on the back burner. Although I’ve still been running the Etsy shop, the number of new projects I’ve listed has dwindled. Good thing Rachel keeps churning out fun products to keep us going!

On the plus side, working with the school has been a great opportunity to use my crafting expertise! So many times, I’ve thought, “I should really share this new school project on the web!” But alas, the day has too few hours.

This year, my second born starts full-day Kindergarten. That means, even though I’ll be swamped with school obligations, I’ll be ALL ALONE for 7 hours a day. For the first time in seven years!!! I figured this is the perfect time to resume the blog. (We’ll see if it sticks 😉)

ACE (that parent organization I mentioned) hosts a fall festival, Christmas party and a dinner auction each year. GREAT crafting opportunities! This past year, for the first time, we built a float for the Parade of Lights… SO FUN TO MAKE! We also like to give the teachers little appreciation gifts each month. Often these cute presents are Pinterest inspired, and super fun to put together.

Even though the group is open to both moms and dads (and grandmothers and grandfathers), we rarely have a male in attendance. Really, truly, the women of this group are the most supportive and fun bunch I could ask for. And we all know how hard it can be to get along with a random group of women… I was quite nervous when all this began.

Well, having said all of that, I can’t wait to start in with some tutorials on random little projects! Where shall we start?!

P.S. I love that “Damn, Daniel!” video.

Halloween Treat Bags … Lined Fabric Bags with a Drawstring Top

IMG_6593Now that fall is upon us, it’s time to talk about HALLOWEEN! I know it’s more than a month away, but when you’re a crafter, and an enthusiastic costumer, you have to start early!!!

Each year the children, my husband and I select a family theme for our costumes, and it takes me a whole month to get things together. Last year we did Mario Brothers characters, the year before it was Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and before that we were farm animals. Before Emilia, when there were only three of us, we dressed up as a family of gnomes… and my personal favorite, a lion, a tiger and a bear — OH MY!

This year however, the children haven’t been able to decide what they want to do. Emilia is debating a pink kitty, a ballerina, about a dozen different princesses and Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6.

Everett has thrown out mime, astronaut and magician. We may not be able to pull off a theme this year… and I’ve accepted it.

Additionally, we’ll be out-of-state for the holiday this year, which means we won’t be home to decorate. SAD FACE.

Since everything is so “up in the air” I’ve decided to start with something practical, simple and not dependent on anyone’s costumes… Trick-or-treat sacks. Normally, the kids use plastic pumpkin buckets, but I can tell you I’m not stuffing those in a suitcase and I also have plenty of cool Halloween fabric in the stash (which I keep telling myself I’m going to use).

Recently, and by that I mean a few months ago, I found this awesome drawstring bag tutorial online. If you’ve searched Pinterest, you know these tutorials are a dime a dozen, but this one IS FAR superior! The reason? It’s made by a quilter who comes at this design from a time-saving and fabric-saving angle. The lining and the exterior are sewn together at the start and everything is nice, neat and enclosed. IT’S AWESOME! This pattern/tutorial makes a small-ish box-bottom bag, which I followed exactly to use up my Lorax fabric. I love how they came out.


But I’ve also modified it to make this toddler backpack. All I did was add an inch of width to all the pieces and three inches of height to the main exterior and lining pieces. Then I skipped the box bottom and added two fabric loops to the exterior bottom to anchor the straps. So versatile!!!


Here’s the link for this detailed tutorial (Read it and give it some love. You can also find it on my Pinterest “sewing” board):


So, for the treat bags, I want to make large-ish sacks without boxing. I figure this will give it a pillowcase feel but with the added awesomeness of pretty lining and a closeable top! Making your own bag out of quality fabrics, even if you can get something for $1 at Target, means you can personalize it and get use out of it for years. So much more fun! Plus, because I added these fabrics to my stash when they were on clearance, these bags only cost me about $2 each to make! Keep in mind you can use fabrics that coordinate with your child’s costume to make things extra-special!

We’re going to work through this pattern in the following steps:

3stepCollagelast3step Collage

So first, measurements. (Keep in mind I’m making these for a 3 and 5-year-old) I think this size is plenty big for any child, but, to each their own. 🙂

Main exterior fabric (Cut 2): 14″ x 14.5″ (For directional fabric, it’s helpful to cut a piece 14.5″ x 28″, then cut that in half)

Exterior accent fabric (Cut 2): 14.5″ x 4″ ( You can also do 14.5″ x 8″, then halve)

Lining fabric (Cut 2): 17.5″ x 14.5″ (14.5″ x 35″, then halve)

Once you cut the fabrics, you want to align them, and sew each panel, right sides together, in the below order.

Check out my amateur illustration!

Scan_20150915 (2)

Just like the original tutorial, we’re going to fold this long runner-like strip of fabric in half and sew all the way around the bottom (main outside fabric side) and up the sides to our drawstring opening. Then we’ll sew from the end of the string opening (a 1″ opening in our accent fabric) up to the top (lining) side, where we leave a 3″ to 4″ opening for turning our bag.

Another amateur illustration:


Once you turn your bag right side out, you’ll need to sew the hole in your lining’s bottom closed. Then press your bag so that the lining and the outside have a nice crisp meeting point. Pin the top so that your lining and outside are nicely aligned. Now we’ll make the drawstring channel.

With a water soluble pen, mark two lines across your bag’s front and back that indicate where the drawstrings will rest. This should be a 1″ opening if you’re following the original tutorial and these illustrations. Sew along the lines, and be sure to check that the opening’s edges are tucked nicely inside so we don’t see any unfinished edges.

The last step: Add the drawstrings!

You’ll notice I chose parachute cord for the drawstrings on my Lorax bags and the mustache backpack. But, as the original tutorial suggests, you can also use ribbon, twill tape, or make your own fabric straps! For Everett’s bag I used a Halloween theme satin ribbon, and for Emilia, a satin purple cord. I like to pull the strings through with a giant 11.5mm crochet hook, but you can also use the old-fashioned safety pin trick to get them through the channel.

I hope this gave you some ideas! See you next time with Halloween costume fun!



Little Millie’s Rainbow Scarf

I originally saw this scarf on Pinterest as a crochet pattern… too bad I have no idea how to crochet anything! But it immediately made me think of my daughter Emilia – its sunny, adorable and a little bit MLP Rainbow Dash-y. So, I scrounged up some colors from my ever-growing yarn stash and made this little garter stitch scarf.


I didn’t want it to follow the traditional rainbow color pattern, and because it was for Emilia, I definitely had to include pink and leave out blue. Ultimately, I think these colors are all joyful shades that speak more to girls than the usual ROYGBIV.

I was so pleased with the simplicity and feeling of this scarf that I decided to add it to the Etsy shop and the winter craft show inventory. It’s just one of those projects you can enjoy making again and again AND it appeals to so many different girls and women. That doesn’t happen very often ;).


6mm circular needle at least 29” in length (I like Susan Bates Velocity needles if you’re looking for a recommendation)

6 shades of worsted weight yarn (color and order are up to you)

I used I Love This Yarn  in the following colors and order:

  1. Red
  2. Hot Rose
  3. Mulberry
  4. Turquoise
  5. Keylime
  6. Yellow

Gauge: 16 stitches and 32 rows = 4 inches in garter stitch.

Sizes: Little Girl (2-5)/ Bigger Girl (6-12)/ Grown Girl (13 and up)

Finished Measurements: 3” wide and 48”/60”/72” long

To Begin, with color #1, CO 190/238/286 stitches. I used a long tail CO, but you may use whatever you prefer. Keep your stitches nice and loose so you don’t warp this end of your scarf.

Continuing with color #1, knit two more rows. You should now be back at the side of your work where the leftover yarn from your long tail cast on is hanging.

Change to color #2. Knit four rows, until your back at the joined edge.

Change to color #3. Knit four rows, until your back at the joined edge.

Continue this way for colors #4 and #5.

Now change to color #6. Knit ONLY two rows. Bind off loosely.

Weave in all your ends.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?!


Everett’s Toddler Snuggler

I know. I’ve been gone for almost two months. I guess I was enjoying summer vacation a little too much LOL! I’ve got about a dozen projects made during that time and none of them blogged!!! So, first one from the summer: Everett’s blanket.

He kept pestering me to make one and I didn’t want to (I know he’ll out-grow it soon enough). But who can say no to this face?


First, we went shopping. Everett picked out a few colors from Lion Brand’s Vanna’s Choice line – I figured if he chooses, he’s much more likely to actually USE the blanket. I think he was drawn to them because they’re very “boy.” I like that they’re really rich colors, combined with serious wash-ability at a reasonable cost. I used 8 skeins total (The original pattern uses 7, but he wanted the blanket to be taller than he is). Each stripe used virtually a whole skein. I generally ended the stripes with only 6-7 yards remaining. Because I was able to use my Joann 50% coupons for this yarn, I paid only $16. YAY! You’ve gotta make good use of all those e-mails they send you!

The original pattern for this blanket is from The Purl Bee. They always have the cutest modern blankets! But because I used a yarn with more body and structure than they did, I used 10mm needles instead of 8mm needles. The larger needles and extra stripe increased my blanket size to 31”x 45” (the original pattern is 26”x33”). If you’d like to use a Lion Brand yarn with the smaller 8mm needles, I’d recommend their Heartland line. It’s also worsted weight, but nice and delicate so it won’t stiffen up on you. If you’re making this for a spring/summer baby, and you want to use cotton, I’d recommend I Love This Cotton… great colors, great texture for this project and not too pricey.



The great thing about this pattern is that there are only 2 rows to memorize and it yields a beautiful design! Also, big needles = FAST.

blanketyarnIf you’re wondering what colors these are…

  1. Kelly Green
  2. Fern
  3. Sapphire
  4. Dusty Blue
  5. Charcoal Grey
  6. Silver Grey
  7. Rust
  8. Mustard

I’m definitely thinking I’ll make another of these one day… but baby size. It’s just a fun project and it’d make a fabulous baby shower gift! If you try it, I’d love to see pictures!






Forrest the Moose-Deer is Live!

forrestnew5Here he is! My first stuffed animal! Truthfully, I’ve never even made a stuffed animal, let alone designed a pattern for one. It was so much more fun than I could have imagined! I’ve knit through this pattern six times, so I’m confident you’ll find it workable. Also, I’ll say it’s a pretty simple pattern, in that any beginner at knitting in the round can probably accomplish this guy! I wanted to link to some helpful tutorials on a couple of techniques I use for Forrest.

First up, the increase:


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I love TechKnitting’s awesome illustrations! One of these days, I’m going to figure out how they make these! LOL

The other tutorial I want to leave you with is a simple “pick up and knit” on a cast on/bind off edge. I really like pick up and knit, though I know not everyone uses it as frequently as I do. Maybe this is because I use it for hats quite often… so I feel the need to use it in other applications. Anyway, If you’re not as comfortable with this technique as you’d like to be, this is a pretty good link for you. It really is the same for knitting in the round as it is for knitting flat work.


You can find Forrest the Moose-Deer on Ravelry.com as well as the Etsy shop:




Thanks for checking him out!!!

Attack of the Giant Squid!

squiddoneSo, this past week I was “invited” to make a giant 8-foot squid pillow. My cousin’s 14th birthday was fast approaching (two days away to be exact) and her father posted this tutorial to her Facebook wall. Since I was probably going to be phoning in her present, because, let’s face it, who knows what a 14-year-old girl wants, I decided bring this thing to life before she or her mother could get around to sewing it themselves. They have mad skills.


I would like to point out that this pillow earned a “best gift EVER!” from said teen. Internet for the win!

To make this pillow you’ll need:

  • 2 yards of solid color fleece
  • 1 yard of printed fleece for the “suction cup portion of the tentacles”
  • A yard stick for drafting the pattern
  • A large sheet of paper (at least 4 feet long) for patterning
  •  5 pounds of poly-fil
  • A sewing machine
  • Matching thread
  • Something to wiggle stuffing down into the tentacle ends (I used a 15 mm knitting needle)

The original blog post is from build-a-diy and it provided great measurements and instructions for assembly. (See the full post below!)

You’ll notice, however, that the crazy woman who made that 8-foot squid hand-stitched the ENTIRE thing! What the what?! I am soooooo anti-hand-stitching that I actually managed to machine stitch the WHOLE pillow.

Also, (probably because it was easier for hand-stitching) she used felt and printed cotton. Who wants to cuddle up with that??? Sounds itchy to me. So I used blizzard fleece to make mine. At first I was worried the fleece would warp, but I had no such problems. I did decide to cut the patterned fleece on the bias, just because it seemed stretch-ier than the solid fleece, but, all in all, it was quite easy to work with! Please note I did use some scrap felt for the eyes.

This pillow cost me about $20 to make in May (the same amount it would cost to produce with felt). I spent $14 on poly-fil (I bought 5 pounds and used about 4.5) and $8 on three yards of fleece. In December, it could easily cost twice as much. Fleece is seasonal, so if you have to make this in the winter, try to use a coupon.

Because the pattern pieces are too large to print out, you do need to draft them yourself. This will probably take a good hour. I used a roll of heavy brown kraft paper I bought from Home Depot in the paint department… you never know when old project supplies will come in handy! If you’re making more than one squid, this stuff will stand up to lots of tracing, so at least you reuse the pattern and shave some time off the second squid.

The pattern uses 8 total pattern pieces. Please see the illustration in the original post for complete measurements to the pattern pieces.

I would also like to note that instead of cutting one 9”x30” rectangle for piece #6, I cut two 9”x 15” rectangles. Why? To help with eye placement. The original post has you hand stitch the eyes on AFTER the pillow is completed. But as promised, my version requires zero hand-stitching. Therefore, I sewed piece #8 to piece #7 with black thread (my #8 is different that the original), then sewed one eye to each of the rectangles, precisely centered, with white thread. I then sewed one side seam to form a long rectangle, to which I attached the legs as described in the original post.


I took one extra step after attaching all the legs. I added a “topstitch” along the tentacle edge. Just fold the raw edges of the rectangle and tentacles over 1/4″ or so, and sew it down. Now we have a nice finished edge for when we close this baby up!

To orient the eyes with the sides of the body, I pinned and stitched the rectangle seams to align with the center of the body pieces (piece #3), and likewise the body seams to the center of head rectangles (piece #6). Man that seemed confusing, but you know what I mean, right?


So, anyhow, after you attach the fins to the body, and the legs to the head rectangle, and the rectangle to the body, you stuff the main cavity and…

If you’re like me, you don’t hand stitch.

First off, don’t overfill the head if you want to shove this thing through the machine, try to stop about an inch or two shy of the opening. Pin the oval in place (piece #5), raw edge of the oval together with your topstitched rectangle/tentacle edge. Yes the raw edge of the oval is on the outside of your work. This is where fleece is very forgiving. I set my machine to a blanket stitch and sewed through both layers (oval facing you, so that the straight edge of the blanket stitch hits right along the oval’s raw edge and the nice clean edge of the head/tentacle piece). You can always trim any excess fleece that pokes outside of the nice finished edge of tentacles. I think it looks pretty good this way, and it only takes a few minutes of blood, sweat and tentacle wrangling, compared to an hour of ladder stitching!!!

And done! That only took FOREVER!






Altering Costume Shoes! (with a no-sew option)

Ever bought your little princess a set of dress up shoes that were too big because the next size down was too small? Nothing’s worse than tripping in your glass slippers! If your kiddo has narrow feet like mine does, you may have come across this problem before. Luckily, we can easily fix any shoe with a custom fit strap!


These are a pair of Princess Sophia shoes purchased from Disney.com. Like most of their shoes, they have no elastic or leather bands over the top of the feet to improve fit. This trick will also work if you need to replace a strap that is too small and digging into your child’s chubby little foot.

First thing you need is a 1/4″ grommet tool kit. If you want a nice finished look, buy a good one!!! The Dritz kit at Walmart is NOT going to give you the results pictured here. But for a little more money ($9) you can order the Lorde & Hodge kit I use. I got mine on Amazon, because I have a Prime account and I can shop there in my pajamas. But I’m sure any leather shop in your local area would carry a good one!


The great thing about these grommets is that they work well with thin fabrics (like the lace on these shoes) AND thicker materials like denim and leather.

one eyelet

Place the shoes on your child’s feet and mark where the band should be added — one dot on each side of both shoes. Now you need to punch a hole through each marking. You can use the hole-making tool in your kit, or a fabric hole punch like a Crop-a-dile. I like to use my Crop-a-dile for projects like these simply because I can control the tool better.

Now set those babies! If you’ve never done this before don’t fret! It’s easy peasy. Follow the directions for YOUR kit to ensure the best results. Generally, you’re going to 1) set up on a solid surface like a heavy wood table or countertop, 2) put down the base piece first, then the taller grommet piece, 3) place your fabric hole over/around the grommet, then add the flat grommet piece, 4) place the metal hammering piece in the center of all of that and …whack it!

Now here’s where you can decide… to sew or not to sew. Any ribbon or shoe lace can be tied into a bow right here and you’d be done!

shoes with ribbon

My little girl can’t tie shoes though, and I foresaw many meltdowns over this issue. I instead decided to use a decorative elastic I had in the craft stash. An elastic band means she can slide these on and off all on her own. I originally purchased this elastic at Hobby Lobby for about $2 if you’re interested. First I cut an adequate piece (8″-12″), looped it through the grommets and pinned it while on Emilia’s foot. Then took the shoe to my sewing machine and used a stretch stitch to close the loop. If you’re as paranoid as I am, sew two parallel lines of stitching… I like to have backup! Because this stuff has a ribbon edge, I did seal the ends with the flame from a lighter.

That’s it! Now they actually fit. Best part? Looks like I bought them this way!


finished shoes



Fingerless Mitts For Everyone!

everett's mittJust when I thought spring was here to stay… SNOWFLAKES! Good thing I just finished these fingerless mittens for Everett! I had pulled out my old grey fingerless mitts during our last snowstorm, when Emilia took notice of them… I had to make her a pink set that night! Then Everett saw hers and wanted a green pair for himself. No one is ever happy unless they have what the other one does. *sigh*

I looked at almost every pattern Ravelry had to offer, and I found this adorable pattern for FREE! It’s very basic and can be easily customized (lengthened, cabled, or cinched with a bow). It beat out the other top contenders because it offers specific measurements for little ones ages 12 months to 7 years as well as adult small, medium and large. I made a set of size 2 and size 5-7 and found the measurements to be very accurate. Did I mention it’s free?


Myla Wilson’s Ravelry pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/alevins

You’ll notice that I knit the bottom of my mitts all the way to the kids’ knuckles to keep their hands super cozy (longer than pictured in her pattern). My children like these because they can still play with their iPads in the car or pick their noses whilst wearing them! Also, I think it’s nice that both mitts are exactly the same so they can’t put them on “the wrong hand.”

This pattern uses 4.5 mm needles, which are the smallest I can stand to use, and it calls for worsted weight yarn. (Which every knitter has tons of!) I used Lion Brand Heartland for both the pink and green set and carried them with a thin accent yarn… glitter for Emilia and lime wool for Everett.emilias mitt

Oh! And if you don’t like the way the thumb holes are written (casting off a few stitches and adding in the same amount later), you can always just knit up to the hole, turn your work and knit in back in forth rows (not in the round) for the desired length, then re-join your work! Even a beginner at in-the-round knitting can handle it!

Hope you give these a try! Or you can hit me up for a pair… *wink wink*


Emilia’s Rotating Dress Up Closet


Emilia didn’t want to pose, so my son, Everett, stepped up to the plate!

Little Emilia has lots of dress up stuff. There are always tutus, crowns, purses, princess wands and jewelry pouring out of the toy boxes. Last year I installed some hooks on her bedroom wall to alleviate the problem, but that’s no longer cutting it. I like to give my children a “practical” present for their birthdays (since they get so many toys from everyone else). So, this year, I decided to build her something to solve our little problem: a pretend play wardrobe inspired by a Pinterest project I saw about a year ago. Don’t worry… even though its practical, it was still her favorite gift this year!

The original wardrobe post was a stationary version made from an old bookshelf. It was painted purple, had a closet rod at the top, all shelves removed, and a fancy “princess” mirror on the outside.

I had intended to make a similar model and spent a couple of weeks looking for a good solid bookshelf on Craigslist and our local buy-sell-trade Facebook site, but found nothing. Tired of waiting around for the right post to come along, I decided to try out a used furniture store down on historic Union Avenue. As luck would have it, I didn’t find a traditional bookshelf, but instead found this superior little gem for only $35! You can’t beat that price. It has four sides, two with deep removable shelves and two with ledges designed for books. It had four casters and 6 shelves included. This wasn’t what I had envisioned, but the wood was in immaculate shape, it didn’t need any work, and it was the perfect size for a toddler.BOOKSHELF

Because I’m nosy, I looked up this exact piece of furniture online to see what it sells for brand new. The best deal I found was $214 with free shipping at this link: http://www.wayfairsupply.com/Guidecraft-Big-4-Sided-Library-Book-Display-G97012-EZ1234.html

It is made in America and constructed of solid Birch. I would give this product 5/5 stars for quality and durability.

As soon as I got it home, I realized the casters weren’t going to work on the high pile carpet in Emilia’s room. I could push it with some effort, but she couldn’t. Solution: turn it into a Lazy Susan. In order to make this spin, I needed a base. I got really lucky on this one, because my brother-in-law had gifted me a random giant wooden circle about a year or two ago; specifically a 32-inch diameter Rev-a shelf Lazy Susan shelf. It’s been collecting dust in my garage. “You’ll find something to do with it,” he had told me… and I finally had! As if by fate, the wood color matched my bookshelf! My point being, USE WHAT YOU HAVE!

I had never installed a Lazy Susan mechanism before and I will tell you it was a HUGE PAIN! But, it was definitely worth the effort and I can now see why, though very confusing, the instructions were written the way they were. Home Depot sells only one choice; a 6’’ Lazy Susan by Everbilt for $4.48. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-6-in-Square-Lazy-Susan-Turntable-with-400-lb-Load-Rating-49548/203661089

The packaging states that you should install the top plate of the Lazy Susan to the shelf (in this case the bottom of the bookshelf) first, then uninstall it. WHAT? WHY? I didn’t take this seriously and instead just marked the holes on the bottom of the unit and drilled pilot holes. BAD IDEA. The darn thing is so tricky to align once you screw the bottom plate to the base. I had to undo it and start over. If you follow the directions, installing it should probably take you only 30 minutes, even without experience. An extra set of hands is helpful for this part! A BIG THANK YOU to my husband for working through this with me!

The base piece from my garage. Pretty good match huh!?

The base piece from my garage. Pretty good match huh!?

Now for the modifications I made to the unit:

(For ease of construction, I would do these things prior to attaching the unit to the Lazy Susan. I found it much more difficult to screw things into the wood when it was wiggling all over the place!)

I removed all but the top two shelves, one on each side. Make sure your kiddo can reach it! You want to be sure you do this first, because we’ll need to install the closet rod in relation to the shelf.

top shelf

For the closet rod, DON’T use a tension rod. It WILL fall down on your poor kid every day. For $1.49 you can buy these plastic sockets at the hardware store. Allow at least 1” of space between the bottom of the shelf and the top of the socket. You want to be sure the hangers go on and come off the rod easily! http://www.homedepot.com/p/Prime-Line-Closet-Pole-Sockets-1-3-8-in-Plastic-N-6568/202636660

You’ll also need a wooden dowel rod (usually located right next to the sockets at the store) http://www.homedepot.com/p/Unbranded-1-1-4-in-x-48-in-Hardwood-Dowel-114-4EDC/100006905 $4.76 for 48”. I needed only needed two 15” pieces, so I cut it down with my miter saw when I got home. If you don’t own a circular or miter saw, the staff at Lowes or Home Depot can cut your rod down to size for you. Be sure to use short screws to install the sockets so they don’t poke out the other side of the bookshelf. Then just sit the pole down inside the sockets.

I didn’t want to waste any opportunity for additional storage so I also screwed in a double hook on all four panels flanking the curtain rod. I paid $2.98 for each of the hooks.




That’s all I did to it! Grand total: $25 in supplies.

Initially, I wasn’t sure if I was going to modify the two sides of the bookshelves lined with ledges, but as I sorted through Emilia’s things, I found these 2 1/2’’ pockets were perfect for purses and dress up shoes. She could also toss small things like jewelry in there. If you’re looking for alternate design ideas, I did consider installing four pretty glass knobs on the face of each ledge for more hanging space. The ledges could also hold Barbies and other small dolls!

I haven’t put any “decorations” on this wardrobe, but you can easily personalize it with removable wall decals featuring your child’s favorite princesses or little ballerinas. Perhaps I’ll get around to it… 😉



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