Posted by: practicalbean | May 16, 2014

Gluten free

Hi there, It’s been a while since I wrote. I nearly forgot about you, wordpress! Lots if things have been changing. But here are some of my “yay! it worked!” finds related to nurturing two young children – gluten free.

May 2014

quinoa banana bread — worked well with substitution of soymilk for the dairy. i also didn’t have coconut oil on hand so used earth balance and canola oil. Baked one loaf in my glass pan in the toaster oven. Kids and adults ate it up!

Play dough — you wouldn’t guess but it’s wheat flour based. But you can make some gluten free at home, and it really was easy.

Option 1: ( the one I used with great results)

Easiest Gluten-Free Play Dough from the Celiac Disease Foundation— (

Here is a photo of my dough!

Option 2:

Gluten free (cooked) playdough

You will need

  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tarter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • Food coloring

First, take all of your ingredients except the food coloring and mix them in a large pot over low heat.

Keep stirring as the mixture turns from liquidy……to pasty……to a thick ball of playdough.

Grab your food coloring and a piece of parchment paper. Let the playdough sit until it’s cool enough to handle.

Once the playdough is cool, roll it out into a log.Divide it into four equal parts (or however many colors you have). Add 2-3 drops of food coloring to each piece.Squish the playdough until the color is worked all the way through. (Wear gloves if you don’t want the food coloring to stain your hands. We obviously got a bit messy).And there you have it! Start playing!

Option 3:


  • ½ cup rice flour
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil
  • Food coloring, if desired

Mix ingredients. Cook and stir on low heat for 3 minutes or until it forms a ball. Cool completely before storing in a sealable plastic bag.

This one works nicely, but the color is more of a pale cream. If you don’t need to make white, it should work fine.

Posted by: practicalbean | October 16, 2012

Up cycled tee shirt toddler pants

Bokbok really needed new pants. Over the summer he got by with a combination of shorts and 18-24 month size knit pants which basically became capris (including the grey pair I made him, which we already let out the hem of once.). But now that it’s cooler we need new pants!! I find store bought pants don’t adequately cover bok bok’s bottom when he squats or sits on shoulders. So off to make some pants using some old logo tee shirts!

1) traced a pattern from a pair of pjs that fit well and were close to the same fabric weight as a tee shirt. Some tips: match inseam lengths, Back is more generous than front. Can make back of pants higher. Don’t trace too close to the edge of your paper- Leave room for adding seam allowances when tracing! After tracing, smooth lines and add seam allowances ( i like 1/2 inch). Add 1.5″ for waistband and 1.5″ for bottom hem.
2) prep tee shirt : dark color, barely enough for a med size tee, better with large or xL.
3) cut right sides together will save time, use tee shirt hem for bottom hem of your pants! Then don’t need extra 1.5″ unless you plan to lengthen then when needed. Downside is that this usually moves the logo of the tee shirt into an awkward spot.
4) sew seams: two halves of back together (only the top part!) and two halves of front. Then front to back inseam and outsides of legs.
5) waistband elastic about 1″ less than waist. ~18-19″. Make casing slightly wider than elastic. Leave opening to sew. Add tag to identify back. Topstitch 1/8″ (ie very close) to top gives a nice look and also helpful if your casing is too wide.
6) try on for length and waist fit
7) finish

Knit fabric won’t unravel so I didn’t finish seams, but did double stitch the crotch area.

Photos to come:
AgaMatrix tee, buds too (both size m!)



Posted by: practicalbean | September 28, 2012

More burp cloths!

You can never have too many burp cloths. Finally I finishes off the extra ones I had cut while making a gift, and then cut a few more. Terry cloth+snuggle flannel. Not quite as absorbent but softer against the skin- good as washcloths too.

Latest tips for sewing them:

For 45″ fabric, just fold and cut 11-12 inches, then in half. This is a nice size (22″) and quickly cuts 2 at a time. When laying out the other fabric, align it right sides together so that you can just cut the matching size without needing to measure again. Then one piece is already matched up to sew!

Clip corners. It makes a difference.

Now I have 5 more and now I think that is adequate.

Posted by: practicalbean | September 4, 2012

Favorite Sewing, Craft, and Upcycle Resources

Favorite websites and blogs for sewing, crafting, and upcycling:

  • MADE has THE BEST tutorials. Pretty much all you’ll need for easy kid’s stuff. I have used her 90 minute shirt, and also followed instructions for the kids pants (though I made my own pattern). See my previous posts.
  • Made by Rae is great for ideas too. I want to make these letters. (but i think I would use fabric, not felt).
  • She’s a Sergin‘ is by my (non-virtual!) friend and is how i found these sites to start with — her blog keeps me inspired, especially since she takes care of 2 little ones AND makes time and energy to make things! (Plus her kids are really cute, and it’s a reality check for me to see if the blog activities are practical).

whipstitch and Elsie Marley

Maybe interesting

Some online supply stores – discount stuff, not designer):

that’s it for now!

Posted by: practicalbean | September 4, 2012

10 minutes per day

Recently Finished —

9-12 months pink cardigan, using this Peaceful Cardigan pattern by Jammy Mummy from Ravelry.  The final buttons were sewn on the day before S. arrived! I learned several new techniques for this sweater, and relied heavily on youtube videos and other knitting blogs to learn them.  Especially helpful were TECHknitting, The Purl Bee’s Blog for their amazing Weaving in Ends Tutorial and Sewing a Vertical Seam by KnitPurlHunter.

4 Burp cloths, so I can tell them apart and know which ones to wash.  Loosely following multiple tutorials available on the web — like this fancy burp cloth tutorial at Our Seven Dwarfs, and this diaper burp cloth tutorial at Chickpea sewing studio. I used some snuggle flannel from Joann fabrics that I had in my stash that were in a contrasting color (i.e. not a white background).  The nice thing is that you don’t have to be very precise about measuring. Just cut about 1 inch longer then you need on both length and width, and then iron the folded in edges, using the actual diaper underneath (this will also nicely press the diapers at the same time).  I had already prewashed all the diapers and fabric so all were already properly pre-shrunk.

Little peasant top, sice 6-12 months, using this free printable pattern from Make your own Baby Stuff. Additions to the tutorial:  Cut 1/4 inch elastic 17″ for the neckline and 7″ for each armhole.  Overlap 1/2 inch to sew elastics together.  Hope it fits little C.  Fabric — white cotton with green dots plus a 2 inch lavendar border. Serged the bottom hem and left it showing as a decorative edge.

BTW, this post is called “10 minutes per day” since that’s my new method for actually finishing sewing projects. It’s possible to complete some satisfying projects a little at a time, while the wee one is napping between her frequent feedings without cutting into my own nap and rest time!  I was particularly happy to break out the serger for the second project. Fortunately it was already threaded with the right colors and I had a sample woven stitch already figured out.

What will the next project be? A knit hat with ear flaps? Comfy pants for big brother? Long Sleeve T shirts for BB (maybe i should call them BB — for big brother, and LS for little sister)

Posted by: practicalbean | April 6, 2012

List of what i want to try making

Posted by: practicalbean | April 6, 2012

New motivation: A nursing cover

I’ve found that spring has been inspiring me to sew again!  Or maybe it’s the new baby thoughts in the air :). My friend just had a baby girl and after finding this great tutorial Nursing Cover Tutorial at Sew Much Ado, I had to try making one for her.

I had a few rules:

  1. must use fabric I already own
  2. must not buy anything new until absolutely necessary to avoid ending up with more project supplies + unfinished project.
  3. no starting another project until this one is finished (since it’s a small one).

I’m happy to say it only took 3 sessions (sticking to my method of breaking it up into manageable pieces) and I love the result! I hope my friend does too!


I followed the tutorial with only minimal adjustments: instead of 28×40″ I cut 28×44″ , since 44″ was the full width of my fabric. Then I cut off two strips 28×4.25″ for the straps, which made the final fabric cut size a little smaller at 28×35.5″. I think this was a more efficient use of fabric. At least, my remaining fabric is a nice rectangle and still 44″ wide.

To follow rule #2, the first night i selected, washed, ironed, and cut the fabric. I picked a cheerful yellow quilting cotton, and used some white terry cloth plus white cotton lining to make an inner pocket. Since it was just as easy I cut enough for two pockets — this might become my go-to gift for new moms! The next night i sewed and pressed everything possible (the folding over of the edges and pressing took the most time), skipping around in the tutorial since i didn’t have two items: boning and D-rings.  Then I let myself buy the boning and D-rings… I tried not to also buy other things but this Burda 9650 pattern was so cute i couldn’t help myself…it’s the first kids pattern that i’ve purchased… i can’t wait to make it but must follow my rules….

On night number 3 in less than 15 minutes I put in the D-rings and boning, and ta-da! Finished!

It’s exciting to sew again!


ps. Since there are a lot of opinions out there about this, I’m going to add this note: not everyone nurses their baby and not everyone wants to use a nursing cover. I liked having the option of using a pretty one that stayed put and allowed me to see my baby.

Posted by: practicalbean | May 6, 2011

Two-To-One Tee

My first shirt for bok bok is made from two to-donate tee-shirts of P’s. It is a raglan long sleeve tee modeled after a favorite maroon and white special delivery shirt (you can see he’s wearing it in the previous post about the pants I made him).

I loosely followed the 90-minute shirt tutorial by MADE, especially for the neckline and the parts where you re-use the existing tee-shirt hems, so you don’t have to do it yourself and also have it wash and wear well. But mine is a raglan shirt, and doesn’t have the envelope neckline. Though maybe that might hold shape better.

I like my color scheme, the length, and the stitching and finished look (yay for another serger project). Plus it was really quick to sew, and I didn’t buy anything (not even thread)!


For next time, I’d like to fix the raglan sleeve a bit, this one was a little big and puffy under the arm. Mybe it needs more of a curved shoulder line. It was hard to tell since I didn’t want to rip apart my model shirt.

I might try a different neckline. Using the original tee shirt collar looks nice, and I didn’t want to buy ribbing, but it seemed to flatten and stiffen under all the serging and top-stitching. It also took a relatively long time to rip the collar material out of the original shirt, but using it allowed me to really match the sleeve color. If I don’t want to match that for the next shirt, I could try some of the grey ribbed knit (left over from the previously sewn pants) instead.

And oh, I would LOVE to do a freezer paper stencil, but I’ve promised myself I wouldn’t buy anything, and I don’t have fabric paint. I wonder if fabric markers might work though….

Hooray for the two-to-one tee shirt! I did this one over the last weekend in april instead of catching up on sleep.  Too much fun! I’ve already started my next project…

Posted by: practicalbean | March 31, 2011

Yo peeps!

Here’s my first blog-inspired craft.

I thought these peeps by MADE were so cheerful, I really wanted to have some! So I found a scrap of sky blue felt and a brown fabric marker from bokbok’s baby shower, printed out the peeps pattern, traced it onto cardstock (actually a piece of junk mail, a great source of colorful paper of various weights), and cut out 5 peeps.  P joined in the fun and agreed to make the sixth. “A shy one”, he said.

Now they are all cut out and waiting patiently on my desk to be sewn together..

— pause … a few days later…. —

And they’re done!! I even followed the directions for making the “ribbon” from muslim with serged edges.  Can you spot P’s “shy one”? I think they’re cute, but I’m wondering what to do with them.  Clothing is much more practical….

For now they are draped over my sewing machine cover, as a nice reminder that YES I CAN finish projects!

yo peeps!

Posted by: practicalbean | March 28, 2011

Breaking it up into manageable pieces, part II

They’re done!  On the last weekend of the month I serged the waist edge, turned down to form casing (1.5″, then sewn at 1″) pulled the elastic through, had a fitting, and then took out an additional 1.5″ off the waist, shorted the leg hems by 1.5″, and voila!

Here are some photos showing the new pants (grey, on right) next to the model pair (brown, on left), and the standing and crawling hem lengths so bokboks cute toes poke out.

Hooray for a completed project, and many thanks to those who encouraged me!

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