Upcycling for Kids: Tie-dyed Muslin Squares

During the course of the Queen of Konmari challenge, I’ve realised that I have accumulated a sizeable stack of muslin squares which I am no longer using since Thumper has outgrown them.

These muslin swaddles were one of my best baby gear investments and they have lasted through three kids and have been washed multiple times and are still in fantastic condition. They are too old to be given away (I mean, who wants used muslin nappy cloths, really), so I decided to see if we could give them a new lease of life as multipurpose kitchen cloths or dishtowels!

I decided to see if we could dye the muslin cotton squares, to make them prettier to look at. I roped the kids in to help me, and I think the final product turned out rather nice!

How to Make Tie-Dyed Muslin Squares

Materials:

  1. Plain cotton muslin squares, washed
  2. Fabric dyes (I got mine from Spotlight)
  3. Rubber bands
  4. Plastic forks
  5. Water
  6. Optional: Plastic ziplock bag

Instructions:

  1. Wet the entire cloth in plain water and wring all of the water out so that the cloth is damp but not sopping wet. This will make the dye soak through evenly later on.
  2. Spread out the cloth flat and place the fork in the centre of the fabric (or any random part of the cloth, depending on where you want the centre of the swirl to be)
  3. Twist the fork round so that the cloth wraps itself around the fork tightly.
  4. Secure the swirled up cloth tightly with several rubber bands. I used four rubber bands to divide up the cloth into 8 equal triangle shaped sections
    tie-dye-kids-crafts-home-tutorial
  5. Using the fabric dye, fill up one of the triangle sections on one side, then flip the cloth over and fill up the same section on the other side.
  6. You can choose contrasting colours for the other sections, use the same colour or leave them white. Try not to colour two adjacent sections the same colour – leave some white gaps or the swirls will not be so obvious.
  7. (Optional step) Place each cloth in a separate ziplock bag
  8. Put the cloths aside and leave them to ‘set’ overnight. I let them set for 24 hours.
  9. Remove the rubber bands from the cloth and rinse each cloth separately in cold water a few times, squeezing out the excess dye until the water runs more or less clear (or until you get bored. Whichever happens first).
  10. Wash cloths as per washing instructions in your washing machine with an extra rinse, making sure to separate them from the rest of your laundry for the first wash, in case the colour runs!
    tie-dye-swirl-diy-kids-baby-shower
  11. Ta-dahhh! Enjoy your new and beautiful cotton multipurpose cloths!

P.S. This turned out to be such a simple and fun craft, that I suggested it to the Aged P who was throwing a baby shower for one of her friends! The Aged P got together with the mom-to-be and her friends to make these gorgeous and unique tie-dyed muslin swaddles for the new baby in a variety of patterns and colour ways. I think tie-dye teeshirts would make a fun kid’s party activity too.

Upcycling for Kids (Using Teeshirts) Part 4: No-Sew Braided Rug

Perhaps you have got a few Teeshirts that are very worn out and not even worth giving away. You could rip them up and use them as cleaning rags, or you can try extending their usefulness by braiding them into a nifty rug, old-school style!

I actually tried making a similar rug earlier this year using old towels, but sewing the towel braid together hurt my fingers – and the rug didn’t hold together as well as I liked.

Using old teeshirts for this braided rug worked better for me, because the braid was easier to work with, and I could weave the rug together – no fussing about with needles and other pointy hurty things. This craft turned out to be straightforward enough for Little E to do it on her own! We ended up with a lovely, soft rug which made a great bathmat – and it’s washable too.

In this tutorial, I use a four strand braided technique (like a ‘fishtail’ braid), because I feel this gives a wider and flatter weave, but you can use a three stranded braid if you feel that a puffier rug works for you.

How to make an Old-School Braided Rug from Old Teeshirts

Materials:

  1. Old Teeshirts (I used about 3 large men’s tees to make a round floormatbut you can use more if you want a bigger rug)
  2. Scissors

Instructions:

tee-shirt-rug-braid-fishtail

  1. Cut the tees into 1.5-2 inch strips widthwise so that you end up with a bunch of loops
  2. Stretch the loops as far as they will go until the fabric rolls in on itself
  3. Cut the loops open on one end so that you are left with long strings
  4. Choose 4 strings and knot them together. I decided to go with 2 strings of contrasting colours to get a nice chevron pattern.fishtail-braid-four-strand-rug-tee-shirt
  5. Cross the outer (green in the picture above) strings over each other, right string over the left to form an X.
  6. Take the next set of outer strings (dark blue in the picture above). Cross them over the centre of the braid, right over left, to form a second X.
  7. Take the following set of outer strings (green) and cross them in the centre again, right string over left, to form a third X. You are now back to your original position, having done three layers of braiding!
  8. After you have done about 4-5 inches of braid, roll the braid into a spiral, with the original knot in the spiral centre. Now you can weave the free braid together to form the rug.
  9. Take the string that is closest to the centre of the spiral and pass it through one of the loops of braid that it is nearest to it (see the picture below).
  10. Pull the string tight to secure the free section to the rest of the rug.
  11. Continue to braid, securing each section every 1.5-2 inches.braided-teeshirt-rug-upcycle-recycle
  12. When the lengths of string become too short to braid, you can add another string to it by knotting the ends together. To make a less bulky knot, snip a small hole about 0.5 inches from the end of both strings that you wish to join together.
  13. Pass the end of the old string through the hole in the new string.
  14. Then, push the other end of the new string through the hole in the old string
  15. Pull tight and it should form a small, tight knot!
  16. Continue braiding your rug until it reaches a size that you are happy with
  17. To finish off the rug, knot the ends of the free braid to one of the loops from the braid next to it, securing the end of the braid to the rest of the rug. You can then trim off any excess string or tuck the strings into the rest of the rug to make them neat.
  18. Enjoy your soft new floormat!

    braided-rug-teeshirt-upcycling-repurpose

    Left: Eleanor braiding using two sets of contrasting colours to form chevrons, Right: Another rug that we made using four different colours

Upcycling for Kids (Using Teeshirts) Part 3: No-Sew Multilayered Necklace

Here’s a super quick and very simple no-sew tutorial to turn an old teeshirt into a pretty cute multilayered necklace or infinity scarf – and it’s an easy one to do with the kids too!

Materials:

  1. Old Teeshirt (a seamless tee is best)
  2. Scissors

Instructions:

  1. Lay Teeshirt flat
  2. Cut off the bottom hem of the teeshirt and put it aside.
  3. Cut your teeshirt into 1-2 inch strips across the width of the tee. I used 2 inch strips because it was easier for Little E to manage, but I think the necklace will probably look nicer with thinner 1 inch strips. You should end up with a bunch of loops.
  4. Stretch out each loop as far as they will go until the fabric rolls inward.teeshirt-necklace-kids-craft-upcycle-recycle
  5. Join all the the loops together, doubling them up if necessary to create that multilayered effect. Make sure that you can still pull the loops over your head easily. I used three loops doubled up to make a necklace for Little E but you can use more to make more complex-looking necklace.
  6. Cut the bottom hem of shirt that you saved in half to make a long flat ribbon at least 10 inches long.
  7. Using this ribbon, tie a knot around the necklace loops to hold them in place.
  8. Wrap the rest of the ribbon tightly around the loops a few times. I made the wrapped portion a few inches wide.
  9. Tie off the ends of the ribbon with a knot.
  10. Trim the ends to look like a little bow or tuck them under the rest of the ribbon to hide it.
  11. Enjoy your new necklace!

necklace-teeshirt-upcycle

If you are particularly handy, you can experiment with braiding or knotting the teeshirt strands together, or mixing loops of different colours and textures!

P.S. Check out our other Teeshirt Upcycling posts here.

Facing myself – Dream Factory by Inès Ligron (Part 2)

A visit to the Dream Factory

A visit to the Dream Factory

So, now that I have a better idea about how to choose clothes and accessories for myself, it’s time to figure out how to put my best face forward!

I have terrible history with cosmetics. I learned how to put on warpaint in secondary school during my choir girl days, which really means that I learned how to plaster my face with thick layers of foundation and powder, applied liberally with crumbling cosmetic sponges. Yum. Every episode was a sticky and greasy experience which I did not enjoy.

I had pretty decent skin throughout puberty but that stopped as soon as I turned 18 and moved abroad for University. My skin reacted to the change in climate by producing bountiful crops of acne. Since then, I’ve been wrestling with my skin and trying to get it under some semblance of control. Applying concealers, BB creams and foundation seemed to make things worse, which is why I avoided makeup altogether for many years, only wearing it on very special occasions (like my own wedding).

In the last couple of years, I have been working on improving my complexion and I find that my attitude towards makeup has been changing   Right now, I have reached the stage where I feel that I can use cosmetics intelligently. I like the idea that I can use makeup to explore and portray my own individuality and femininity. One of my good friends from school, Yva, has perfected the art of the winged eyeliner, and she gets excited whenever Urban Decay releases a new eye shadow palette. I have to say that I am envious of how she uses her own face as her canvas.

Anyway, it is with this in mind that I decided to return to the Dream Factory pop-up store at Isetan for a makeup and hairstyling session with Inès Ligron.

Since I know virtually nothing about cosmetics and the techniques of makeup application, I decided that this would be my chance to ask ALL THE QUESTIONS!!!

I also asked Inès to give me an easy breezy day-to-evening look for a busy mom on-the-go.

makeup-dream-factory-makeover-ines-ligron

20 minutes later…

Here is Ines Ligron’s advice for RAWKmoms (and all you busy ladies-on-the-go):

1. Less is more – for an everyday look, concentrate on 3 main areas: brows, eyes and lips only.

2. Foundation and concealer is absolutely not for daily wear – not only does it settle into the fine facial lines, making a woman appear more aged as the day wears on, but it is also not very good for the skin if worn consistently. Save it for special occasions lasting a few hours only (e.g. occasions like weddings or fancy dinners), and spend your efforts on improving your skin quality instead.

3. A good moisturiser is as good as a facial. If you’re going out to dinner or lunching with friends, give yourself an extra skin boost by applying a hydrating shimmer cream like M.A.C Strobe Cream instead of foundation.

4. If you are preparing for a special occasion and you are using foundation, instead of spreading it directly onto your face, put a small dollop of foundation (about 1cm in diameter) on the back of your hand and use the tips of your fingers to pat, smooth and blend it on your face in a very thin layer. This small amount should be enough to cover your whole face (including eyelids), neck (including the back of your neck) and ears.

5. When applying foundation or shimmer cream, always make sure that you cover any exposed skin from the elbows up with the same stuff to keep it even and natural-looking (another small dollop will suffice). You don’t want to look like you’ve photoshopped a mask onto your head.

Inès recommends: For young ladies who are still schooling, remember that your beauty is in your youth. Makeup for students should be subtle: Eyebrow liner, mascara and lip gloss only. Nothing else.

6. Perfectly groomed eyebrows frame your face and give your features definition, giving you a polished appearance without the use of expensive cosmetics. Keep your eyebrows tidy and well-shaped by following these guidelines or (if you’re a first-timer who has no clue what to do) a quick visit to a professional salon like Browhaus would be a good beauty investment.

7. Eyeliner helps to draw attention to the eyes in a very subtle manner and provides a visual anchor for eye makeup.

8. There are no ‘correct’ colours for eye makeup – wear whatever colours make you feel good that day! Dark eyes especially look very good in all sorts of jewel-tones and bright colours. Try to pick colours that contrast with the dominant colour in your outfit, so that you don’t look like you’re wearing a uniform.

9. Mascara is a cheap and easy fix for tired eyes – drugstore brands like Maybelline are good enough! Apply two strokes to the top of the eyelashes, and one stroke underneath. Try to add some mascara to your lower lashes too.

10. Avoid applying too much blush by shaking the brush vigorously to remove excess powder before circling the brush on the apples of the cheeks. Brushing a line of blush on the cheekbones gives a weird striped appearance.

11. A tinted lip gloss provides a subtle lustre and finish, and is quick and easy to apply.

Inès is a brand ambassador for Avon cosmetics and has created her own line of cosmetics suitable for asian women. She also uses many different cosmetic counter brands such as M.A.C., Urban Decay, NARS, Stila and Sephora. Experimenting with different cosmetic brands is part of the fun!

So much to choose from!

So much to choose from!

12. To finish off a look for the evening, part your hair a little bit lower than usual to make your overall appearance much more edgy.

13. Give body to your hair by backcombing the top sections then add a quick spritz of hairspray to the roots of your hair. Use a hairdryer to give a 2 second blast of warm air to the roots of your hair, followed by a two second blast of cool air to lightly set the hairspray. Use a brush to smooth the hair out gently and tidy away flyaways strands.

Left: Before doing my hair Right: The Hair Is Done and Inès LIgron is pleased with it!

Left: Makeup done, time to fix the hair Right: The Hair Is Done and Inès LIgron is pleased with it!

It’s a little bit difficult to describe the whole process and experience of being made up by a professional makeup guru and expert beauty queen wrangler, so I made a little video to show you how it was all done.

I really did learn a whole lot about how to use and apply makeup, and how to style my own hair from just this one quick session. At the Dream Factory’s ‘transformation classes’, Inès teaches exactly how to use various tools and techniques to create your own signature look for different occasions and also how to style one’s own hair in different ways. I think those are wonderful skills to learn and would really empower women, giving them the confidence to take charge of their own appearance!

Now I just need to actually go out there and purchase some warpaint!

P.S. Check out Part 1 of my Dream Factory experience here.

35 Simple Christmas Craft Tutorials and Free Printables

If you are looking to make something special for the Christmas season (and you want to get your kids involved), here are a bunch of super-awesome, super-easy craft tutorials and printables from all over the web!

These crafts are simple and pretty, and they don’t require complicated materials, so they are perfect to do together with the little ones.

If you’ve got an awesome Christmas-themed craft that you’d like to share – feel free to link to it in the comments section below!

free-christmas-crafts-kids

Awesome Advent Calendars – Free printables and tutorials

1. Welcome to Christmas Street! Printable by Mr Printables

2. Advent activity calendar by Whaddayalookingat

3. Advent Calendar icecream stick tree with origami boxes  by Crafty Nest

4. Snowflake activity advent by Eighteen25

5. Bunting Advent Activity Calendar by Lily Jane

Free printable Christmas cards, templates and tutorials

Free printable Christmas cards, templates and tutorials

6. Reindeer Christmas Card by Stephanie Locsei

7. Hand Drawn Christmas Card by Mufninc

8. Two Turtle Doves by Slug & Bull

9. Easy and Elegant DIY Christmas Tree Card by Rita Shehan

10. DIY geometric Christmas tree card by How About Orange

11. Pressed Christmas Print by Pressed in Brooklyn

12. Printable Christmas Card Kit by Shery K Designs

13. Customisable Christmas Photo Card by my.craft.affair

14. Last Minute Angel by Kirsty Neale

15. Joyeux Noel by Super Nattura

Free printable Christmas gift tags and labels

Free printable Christmas gift tags and labels

16. Yuletide Christmas Gift Tags by Kelli Murray

17. Letterpress tags by Shanty 2 Chic

18. Customisable Gift Tags from The Celebration Shoppe

19. Christmas gift tag printables from myheartcreative

20. Fine Print Holly Jolly gift tags by Avalon

nativity-scene-christmas-craft-colouring-kids

Nativity Craft Tutorials and Printables

21. Colour-in printable Nativity by Scrapbookscrapbook

22. Print and Build Nativity Set by Marloes Devee

23. Ice-cream stick Nativity Craft by MamaScientist

24. DIY Minimalist Nativity Set by Curbly

25. DIY Nativity felt puppets and printables by Pretty Prudent

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DIY Christmas Wreath Tutorials

26. Easy Christmas Ribbon Wreath Tutorial by Shelterness

27. Toilet Roll Holly and Berry Wreath Tutorial by Lavender Girl (Website in Hungarian!)

28. Paper Loop Christmas Wreath Tutorial by Crafts ‘n Coffee

29. Newspaper Scroll Christmas wreath by EcoEmpire

30. Vintage Paper Leaf Wreath by Emily Morris

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Easy DIY Christmas decorations – tutorials and printables

31.DIY Modern Paper Ornaments by Design*Sponge

32. Macaroni Snowflakes from Katy Elliott

33. Printable Christmas Bunting by Love Mae

34. Happy Christmas Party Flag Bunting by Team Kitten

35. Christmas star garland by Activity Bucket

P.S. If you’re looking for something more in the ready-made-with-heart variety for Christmas (or for any other special occasion), check out these gorgeous handmade paper cards from Little Blue Bottle! Every cent will go directly to charity and you can even have them personalised!

Weekend Special: Celebrate the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary!

I’m counting down the hours until the simulcast of the BBC’s 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who. *confetti* The kids are spending the weekend with the Aged Ps, so my friends and I are getting together to have a party and watch Dr Who because I do theme parties now. Theme parties are cool.

If you’re a Who-vian too, here is a collection of the most awesome Dr Who tributes on the web Youtube to get you all revved and ready! Just click the “continue reading” button below to enjoy all the awesome (or click here for the entire Youtube Playlist on OwlsWellVlogs )

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