Friday, January 29, 2016

Koalabu Natural Unfinished Wooden Peg Doll Bodies

Over the past month, I have had the pleasure of trying out some wooden peg doll bodies, made in America by Koalabu.
(Note: I received complimentary Koalabu peg doll bodies.  All opinions are my own).

From L to R: Koalabu Man, Woman, Angel, Boy and Tot dolls

I had always wanted to try making some peg dolls for my boys but the quality of the ones found at my local craft store were not fantastic. They looked splintery and made no mention of whether or not the trees they made the dolls out of were sprayed with pesticides or fungicides, so I was thrilled when I found Koalabu dolls on Amazon.

Koalabu's wood is not treated with chemicals. They make their dolls out of untreated, unfinished, non-toxic hardwood, in America!  They come in a variety of sizes and shapes:

Men - 2-3/8" tall x 7/8" diameter
Women - 2-1/4" x 5/8"
Angels - 2" x 7/8"
Boys - 1-11/16" x 5/8"
Tots - 1-3/16" x 5/8"

They also make XL Men and Angel doll bodies.

You can purchase the wooden peg doll bodies by clicking here for their product page on Amazon, or by clicking here, for their website, www.koalabu.com. 

Below are just a few of the fun dolls I have been able to make with these awesome wooden peg doll bodies by Koalabu.  I had so much fun I even purchased a couple more bags from Amazon of the Men and Angels. The quality is so great and the price is so reasonable, I couldn't resist, and now have a full-fledged peg doll making addiction.  I will post individual tutorials on how I made these over the next year so make sure to check back.



Here is the Koalabu Man Peg Doll Body.  I used this to make a blue butterfly gnome:



Here is the Koalabu Boy Peg Doll Body. 



I used it to make a blue butterfly pupa and gave the pupa a chrysalis to sleep in:



Here is the Koalabu Woman Peg Doll Body. 
I used it to make a mother doll.


And I used this Koalabu Tot Peg Doll Body to make a baby for her to wear, but since my youngest still mouths on toys occasionally, this cute little doll is going to stay out of his reach until he outgrows that stage. 


Finally, I used the Koalabu Angel Peg Doll Body above to make 7 weather and season Gnomes, 3 mushroom gnomes, 3 Indian-themed gnomes for Diwali (henna, peacock and lotus-themed), a sunflower gnome, and Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf.








The possibilities with wooden peg doll bodies are endless, and I feel great using Koalabu Wooden Peg Doll Bodies, knowing the bodies are free of chemicals for my kids to play with.


Check back for new posts, including more info on green products and DIY toys.
And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books, (including 3 Raksha Bandhan books, 12 Indian language books for kids, The Booger Fairy and Nishi Goes to India), and The Chosen One, my YA novel.   If you have a minute, I'd love some more reviews.
 You can also click here to see my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25




Sunday, January 10, 2016

DIY Busy Mat - Upcycle Jeans into a Busy Mat!

 

We don't do Time Outs in our house since so much research has come out showing that children's brains are still developing and they need an adult to help them process what has happened and how to correct it. So instead, we do Time Ins. We sit with our Threenager and refocus him before correcting the behavior when he is in a calmer state to receive the information. We refocus him with puzzles, books and this busy mat that I made out of felt and old pants.

Remember, I don't use clothes that are wrinkle-free, no-iron or treated with antibacterials/Microban/antimicrobials. To see the reasons why and where else these chemicals can be found, click above to read my earlier posts on the subject.

I used a large piece of felt that I had leftover from the no-sew ocean playmats I had made as the party favor for my child's birthday.

I then cut up an old pair of my husband's jeans and used a scrap of my old cotton pajamas that I had saved (the drawstring in the bottom middle part of the busy mat).

Here is what I did, section by section:

1.) To make the Hungry Monster, I cut out food from scraps of felt I had leftover from other projects, and eyes and a nose and a heart, and the gray face. I sewed the face down and drew eyeballs on with a Sharpie Stained fabric pen.

I then cut out the fly of the jeans to look like lips and a chin and sewed it down to the mat.


So kids can unzip his mouth and feed him like so:


2.) Next up was a Marble Maze. I would not use a marble if my kid was at an age where he or she could possibly choke on it.

I cut a back pocket out of the jeans. I sewed two hearts, one at either end of the maze, and then sewed my maze lines into the pocket. Before I closed it up, I sewed the marble into one end. So my child can push the marble inside the pocket from one heart to another.

And with that, my top row was complete.

3.) Next up was the washing machine. I cut out a side pocket in a circular shape, and cut a square of gray felt. I sewed along the border of the pocket, sewing it to the gray square and then sewed that square down to the blue felt mat. I wrote some laundry controls down on the "machine" with a black Sharpie Fabric Pen.

4.) Next I cut out socks, a shirt and pants out of felt. Using felt I made grass, a tree and a clothesline. And I found an old friendship bracelet from my childhood in my fabric scraps and sewed the two outer knots down to the clothes line. I bought small clothespins from a craft store (I wouldn't use tiny clothespins with kids who could choke on them) and clipped them to the line. Then I cut the other back pocket out, cut it in half, and sewed that down in the grass to be a laundry basket.


So my middle row was complete and my child could wash the clothes and hang them to dry.

5.) For the bottom row, I cut the button portion of the jeans out and sewed it down for my son to practice using a button with.


6.) I sewed the bit of my cotton pajama drawstring down for the middle of the bottom row to practice tying knots.


7.) And finally, I sewed down part of the belt loop section of the jeans and used a scrap of off-white fabric that I sewed down on one end to work on stringing or looping a belt.


All that was left was to cut off the extra blue felt on the mat and it was done!

The mat was so much fun to make and because half the components were already sewed, it didn't take as much time as if I had made everything from scratch. This is a great way to repurpose an old pair of jeans in a constructive way for my kids.





If you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books, (including 3 Raksha Bandhan books, 12 Indian language books for kids, The Booger Fairy and Nishi Goes to India), and The Chosen One, my YA novel.   If you have a minute, I'd love some more reviews.
 You can also click here to see my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25





Monday, December 21, 2015

A Living Tree for the Holidays and Easy DIY Felt Ornaments


While looking for a small, artificial Christmas tree for the holidays, I started to wonder what the trees were made of and whether or not they were non-toxic.  It turns out artificial trees often have lead or PVC or flame retardants in them. (To see why I try to decrease my family's exposure to phthalates and flame retardants when possible, click above for my previous posts detailing what they are and where they can be found).

I didn't want to get a tree that was cut down for the holidays either, so I tried to find a living tree.  While there were some companies that rented living trees for a few weeks a year, they were not on my side of the country. So finally, I decided to get a tiny living tree.

I opted for a rosemary plant that will hopefully last for years to come to give us a truly green holiday season.

I decided to make quick, tiny ornaments out of felt to decorate the little tree.  I turned to what little felt I had in my scrap bags and did what I could with what was available.



I cut the following shapes out:


I sewed the felt together with a quick running stitch and then found an old ribbon. I tied it into knotted loops like this and cut it up so that each ornament had something to hang them up on the tree with.



I sewed the loops to the ornaments and using a Sharpie Stained fabric pen, quickly drew faces on and my ornaments were done.


Here is our little tabletop tree. It is a great way to celebrate while being environmentally responsible and decreasing my family's exposure to certain toxins. For more information on what trees have lower levels of these toxins, check out the Soft Landing's informative post on this topic here.



Happy Holidays!

If you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books, (including 3 Raksha Bandhan books, 12 Indian language books for kids, The Booger Fairy and Nishi Goes to India), and The Chosen One, my YA novel.   If you have a minute, I'd love some more reviews.
 You can also click here to see my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Space Card Table Fort Panel 1



For Diwali this year, I made my kids a space-themed card table fort. I had made them an ocean-themed one and an Indian-themed one a couple years earlier.

To make the four panels of the fort, I measured the length from the floor of the north side of the table, going up to the tabletop and back down to the south side. And I measured the width. I then measured the length and width needed for the east and west panels (without having to go over the tabletop again). I then waited for a good coupon at Jo Ann Fabrics and used to it to purchase black Eco-fi felt by the yard. The felt-by-the-yard was wide enough for me to get all four panels out of the cut I chose.

When I got home, I folded the felt in half and draped it over the table. So I have the north and south sides covered, and the east and west sides are open.



After confirming I did purchase the right length, I put the folded felt onto the floor.


And then cut it.


I was left with two long pieces of felt.


It was now time to see what was needed for the east and west sides, without having to go over the tabletop again, since that was covered. So I placed my felt where it needed to be...

...trimmed the excess length...


...and figured out how much of an overlap I wanted on the tabletop for the east and west sides.


I then sewed the east and west panels to the tabletop portion of the long panel that covers the north side, south side and the tabletop.


And with it hand sewn in place, I used the sewing machine to go over the east and west panels on the tabletop portion of the felt, to secure them in place.


For the first panel, I decided to make the solar system. I thought it would look cute and be a great way for the kids to learn the planets in the correct order.





 I used Eco-fi felt from Jo Ann Fabrics to cut out my planets, trying to make them as close to their actual color and proportions as possible with the felt I had.  I sewed Earth, Jupiter and Saturn's pieces together before sewing them to the black felt. I sewed the sun and its rays together directly on the black felt.



Once I got the sun and planets in the right order onto the black felt, I took white thread and with a running stitch sewed the planets' orbit lines onto the mat and one panel of four was finally done!



Check back here for the other 3 panels in the coming weeks!

And if you like what you see here, check out my Amazon Author page for my picture books, (including 3 Raksha Bandhan books, 12 Indian language books for kids, The Booger Fairy and Nishi Goes to India), and The Chosen One, my YA novel.   If you have a minute, I'd love some more reviews.
 You can also click here to see my blog posts on The Huffington Post. 
Follow me on Twitter @soups25