Monday, 22 February 2016

DIY Shopping Trolley Safety Strap

Meet Archie... he's my littlest (expiring in 4 months)

What a little cutie! I bet you think butter wouldn't melt in his mouth!

Yeah right!

This little guy is a goer. He has some serious energy and determination. At 10months he worked out could get outside by crawling through the dog door ... he doesn't walk anywhere he runs ... everything is a climbing frame to him - drawers, chairs, stools, furniture ... not to mention he can barely sit still for a few minutes, unless he is eating and then even that's a struggle.

The other day while I was trying to buy shoes for my #2 Lillie, while my #1 Harry was at school, Archie decided that the strap on the shopping trolley no longer restricted his ability to stand up in the seat. I spent the next half an hour, looking slightly like a crazy person, pushing a trolley around the shopping centre with Archie standing up in the seat holding onto my neck and Lillie skipping around getting in everyone's way. Not to mention I'm 5 months pregnant, so I was getting a few sympathetic looks.

I thought it might have just been a bad day. That perhaps he would forget this new skill, but sadly no such luck. Now it's an hilarious game every time I strap him into the trolley seat to see how quickly he can manoeuvre his way out.

I can't be the only person out there with a part Houdini baby right? So of course I went straight to Google for a solution. Well you'll be happy to know that I'm not the only one. Here I was thinking I could just find what I needed, pop out and buy one, and problem solved - Mum=1 - Archie=0. But no I came up blank as to an actual product that did what I needed it to do. 

So I decided that it was going to have to be something that I made myself.

What I wanted was an adjustable backing piece that could wrap around the back on the trolley seat and then another adjustable strap that wrapped around Archie's chest/waist, that I could Velcro on tightly so he couldn't slip out of it.

Here it is...

I was so surprised how quick, easy and cheaply this was to put together. I was even able to make two so that I could keep one in the baby bag and wash the other one when needed.. Not only has it solved the problem as Archie hasn't found a way yet to get out of it, but I have discovered that there are so many other benefits to it.
  • It is so convenient that you don't have to be looking for trolleys without broken straps
  • You can washing this super easily and you don't have to use those disgusting straps, which have who knows what on them
  • The backing makes riding in the trolley so comfy for your baby,
  • And for those who are only just starting to sit up it provides extra support around their chest to keep them upright.
So let's get into a tutorial so that you can whip one up for yourself.

So what you will need is ...

Fabric (I used a quilting fabric)
Cream or White Fleece (or any light colour you wont be able to see through your fabric) - this just makes for some nice padding on the inside of the strap.
5cm (2inch) Width Sew On Hook and Loop Velcro

Cut your fabric as per the pattern measurements below. Don't forget if you are using a fabric with a pattern or picture, make sure that you keep all pieces with the pattern the same way up.

Start by creating your back strap. Pin the 2 fabric pieces right side together on top of the fleece . Sew around the edge with an in-seam of about 1cm or 1/4inch. Leave a 5cm/2inch opening at one of the shorter edges so you can turn in right side out.

Now clip your corners and turn right side out. Make sure you poke the corners out with a pencil or chopstick. Iron flat.

Pin the smaller pieces of Velcro, one on the end of one side, and one on the end of the opposite side. Picture it wrapping around and Velcroing together...

Sew, using a zigzag stitch, around the Velcro to keep it in place.

Carefully tuck in the opening and iron the seam flat. To keep it nice, neat and uniform, sew a straight stitch border around the whole piece.

Set this piece aside and move onto making the front piece.

Pin one of the fabric pieces to the front of the fleece with the right side facing the front. Pin the Velcro onto the front of the fabric to the right hand side.

Sew, using a zigzag stitch, around the Velcro as you did with the back piece.

Do this again with another piece of fabric, fleece and Velcro. Make sure you pin the Velcro to the same side as you will need this piece to be the right way around on the back (a lesson I realised a little too late my second time around, so ignore the upside down print on the inside!).

Pin the remaining pieces of fabric, right sides together, and sew up the short seam. You should have two pieces now that look like this...

Place the two on top of each other, right sides together, pin and sew around the edge with an in-seam of about 1cm or 1/4inch. This time leave a slightly larger opening at the shorter edge (around 10cm/4inches) so that the Velcro will fit through when turning right side out.

Optional ... you can add some loops of ribbon to the top side of your fabric pieces for hanging toys or dummies ect. on. I try to make sure that I reverse stitch a few times over these parts so that they stay put.

Again clip your corners, turn right side out, poke out your corners, tuck in the opening and iron flat.

Sew around the border again and you're finished with your front piece.

Now it's time to sew the two finished pieces together. Fold your back piece in half and mark the centre with some pins.

Match this up with the centre seam on the front piece and pin the two pieces together.

Sew a square evenly around the centre to secure the piece in place.

And there you go. It's done. Your very own Shopping Trolley Safety Strap.

Super quick, easy and useful. The perfect solution to those Houdini children out there who seem to be able to bet all those shopping trolley straps out there.

Here it is in action at the shopping centre. Finally Mum=1 Archie=0. Thumbs up from me!!!

I hope that this tutorial has helped someone else out there who was pulling their hair out trying to work out how to keep their baby in the shopping trolley, or someone who just has issues with those germ-filled straps!!!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

How To... Painting Wooden Peg Dolls

I don't know how long these little guys were around before I found them floating around the world of Pinterest.

As soon as I saw these I knew that my kiddies would love them, and I knew that I would be able to do it myself. Their designs are so simple and understated that it is easily achievable - even for someone like me who has very little artist/painting skills.

Wooden toys are classic, and they are great for allowing children to use their imagination to grow their own play. Not every toy has to light up, talk, sing, move, back flip. These toys are coming back into fashion, and for a great reason. They are made from natural resources and THEY LAST... They are not going to break or rust or run out of battery. I thought, what a great idea for Christmas presents, especially since they look just like something the little elves have been working on in Santa's workshop.

The possibilities for these little wooden dolls are completely endless. You can create their favourite characters from movies (Disney, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lego), superheroes, simple rainbow versions for learning colours and matching, animals, you could even make a family to match your own! You are only limited by your own imagination as these are truly so easy to make.

I love that they are so simple (even the fact that their faces are clean). Children are able to imagine with them, create their own views on the emotion that the doll is feeling during their play. It is such a difference from the toys you will find lining the shelves nowdays.

So today I'm going to show you how you can replicate these gorgeous little peg princesses at home. I hope you then have the confidence to go off and create your own. First gather your supplies.

Step 1 – Gather your supplies

Wooden Peg Dolls* - Acrylic Paint* - Mod Podge* - Paint Brushes* - Pencil

Head on over to my website if you would like to purchase ready made DIY kits, which contain everything you need to create this little peg people at home without have to spend a fortune stocking up.

Once you have all your supplies you can get to work. As you can see I like to store my paints upside down so that I can easily see which colour is which. Also you can buy as few or as many colours as you like. .

When you have everything you need you can get started. I have made a set of 7 Disney Princesses and a set of 2 Frozen Princesses.

Step 2 – Preparing the dolls

Using a light pencil draw the pattern directly onto the wooden peg doll. Remember that it doesn't have to be perfect and you can fit bits up as you paint over it later. This is just a rough guide to help you to keep everything looking even. I find that using a small piece of cardboard (such as a business card) wrapped around the doll will help you to get really nice straight lines.

I’ve included some patterns to help get you started on the princesses. You can embellish on them later to give them as much detail as you like. This is just the base sections for each colour.

Here is my Elsa doll all ready to be painted...

Step 3 – Painting the hair

These little dolls do not need a lot of paint at all, so a little trick that I do is I give the bottle a shake and use the small amount in the lid. Also, the paint dries very quickly, which means that you can easily go over and do your second coat almost as soon as you have finished the first.

I always like to start with painting the hair, as they are yellow, brown or black.


Sorry about the quality of the last photo, it is the only one I have of all the hair finished. I do like to do my painting at night after the kids are tucked up in bed, and I can sit watching TV on the couch.

Step 4 – Painting the body

The next step is to start filling in their clothing. It’s easiest not to just work with one doll at a time but the set as a whole. Using one colour at a time, for example light blue, you can fill in parts of Jasmine, Cinderella, Ariel, Elsa and Anna, before switching to your next colour.

Don’t forget to paint the bottom of the doll for a completely finished look.

Step 5 – Adding details

Once sections of your paint have dried you can start adding any extra details you like. Highlights in Rapunzel’s hair, Anna’s white streak of hair, Elsa’s snowflakes on the back of her dress, any other embellishments to their clothes… let your imagination run wild.

Step 6 – Painting the face

Once you are happy with your dolls you can finish by adding their face. Again you can do as little or much as you like. I always find myself umming and arring about adding a mouth. With these ones I didn't think that they needed it. When my children play with them I wanted them to be able to decide on their current emotion.

To do the face you can use some black paint and the end of your paint brush to carefully dot them into place.

However, my trick is to use a paint marker (like this one) to simple draw the eyes on. WARNING … if this is the way you go I suggest that you first paint a layer of mod podge onto their face and let it dry. This will stop the paint marker from bleeding into the wood and leaving you with sad looking dolls!

Step 7 – Sealing

Now that your gorgeous dolls are finished it’s time to seal them so that your little ones can play with them. I use mod podge as it is non-toxic so I know that it’s safe for little kiddies who may put them in their mouths.

You just need to paint a coat on top and leave them to dry.

You’re done.

Aren’t they so cute? And they take practically no time at all to do.

I love that that can be adapted to suit anyone all you need it a little imagination.

Now you can go off and make some for yourself. You can check out my Pinterest page for some more inspiration and ideas, head on over to my Website to purchase your own DIY kits, and comment below if you have made some of your own peg dolls I would love to see them.

Looking for an easier way???

Check out my new WEBSITE, selling DIY wooden peg doll kits. Everything you need to create the adorable little figures at home. We have so many different sets to choose from so be sure to head on over and have a look!!!

Check out my YouTube tutorial below: