Friday, June 28, 2013 1 comments

Fun Find: Tote Bags and Backpacks for the Dolls!

My sister and I caught Tuesday Morning's annual clearance sale last week when she was here for Cousin Camp, and we scored some fantastic items. You may laugh when you see some of my "fantastic items," though:

Pick-up bag dispensers for dogs!

You should have seen my excitement when I found these. I'm sure anyone else looking on must have thought I was insane to be getting so excited over bag dispensers, but these are the perfect size for our 18" dolls. I found a black one for Alex and a pink one for Paige. I plan to cut off the carabiner thing and just make a regular zipper pull for them.

Did you notice the yellow price sticker? $2.49. I didn't even pay that much. No, they were 80% off, so I got them for $0.49 each. Now are you beginning to understand my excitement?

But this was definitely the find of the day in that department:

A backpack for Alex, with functional zippers! And I didn't even have to mess with sewing all those tiny pieces. It was the same price.

I looked all over, but I couldn't find a girl-colored one. In fact, I couldn't find any more of them at all because any color would have worked at that price.

I think the clearance event is over now, but if you have a Tuesday Morning store nearby, the backpacks are a fantastic price even at $2.49.
Thursday, June 27, 2013 0 comments

For my Google Reader followers ...

As you probably already know, Google is ending the Google Reader as of July 1st. I don't know all the technicalities of it, but check out this post for more details. I've signed up for Blog Lovin, and I hope to still "see" you all after the switch-over! :)
Wednesday, June 26, 2013 2 comments

DIY Fancy Doll Undies + Dollar Tree Find

I've been on a sewing kick the last few days, and I've sewn almost a whole new wardrobe for my daughter's American Girl doll. (Does anyone need doll clothes? I want to sew a lot more!) This has been my first experience with jersey knit fabric, and it's not nearly as finicky or scary as I had always imagined.

I bought 1/4 yard of this knit fabric at Hobby Lobby and made a doll long-sleeved t-shirt and skirt out of it. I had just enough leftover to make two pair of these undies. Aren't they cute??

If you notice the seam on the front, it's because I originally made the front too short and had to sew a small strip onto it. I didn't have the luxury of matching up the print, but it's barely noticeable. I'm sure my 7-year-old daughter isn't going to care.

Here is the back with no unsightly seam. :) I just used the original AG panties that she came with as a guide to make my own pattern. It only has two seams - the side seams.

What really makes these stand out is the fold-over elastic that I used on the leg holes and waistband. If you're like me, this stuff is almost impossible to find locally. Hobby Lobby carries it in white, but it's quite expensive. I ended up buying 10 yards in white from an Etsy seller, and I can't wait for it to get here. (Alex needs some real boy underwear.)

In the meantime, I stumbled across these headwraps at Dollar Tree yesterday:

I found a pack with brown and black (3 of each) and these six pastel colors. Each wrap is around 14" long once it's unknotted, so this was like getting 2 yards of fold-over elastic for $1. That's a better deal than I got on Etsy, once you figure in shipping (which I always do).

I didn't find many, though. I bought both of the six-packs that I found, and then I found these three-packs. The price isn't quite as good per yard (about $1/yard), but check out the tie-dye one. These just screamed "doll clothes" when I saw them, so I bought two packs.  It was all they had.

These go a long way with doll clothes. I was able to make a doll skirt waistband and two pair of panties (as shown) with three of the black headwraps. I was pretty happy with that.

I'll show you some of the other pieces when I can sneak the pictures, since these are all still a secret.

I'm linking to many of these parties.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 1 comments

Camp Doll Diaries 2013: Table, Plates and Food

If you're going to have camp, you have to have a place to eat, right?

As I mentioned before, I'm trying to go low-impact on the doll accessories, so I was looking for something that wouldn't take up a lot of room.

This table fits that mindset perfectly: it's a folding bed tray that we already had!

I have my husband to thank for this idea because I was gathering supplies for another kind of table when he gave me this idea. It was perfect!

If you look at the first picture, you can see that we're using plastic shoeboxes for bench-style chairs at the moment. I'm trying to find just the right idea for our chairs, but these will work for now. The great thing about them is that they can actually store things, too. They also slide right under the table when they're not being used.

The tablecloth is a pillowcase that works without any modifications. I just draped it over the table, and it's a perfect fit.

My kids wanted their dolls to have breakfast, lunch and supper foods. After looking up all kinds of tutorials for making my own play food, I happened to think about checking the play food stash that my daughter already has. Wouldn't you know, we had just enough appropriately-sized foods to fit all three meals! (Shhh ... I'm still working on the drinks.)

The plates are from a long-ago set that I don't even remember now, but they're the perfect size. I picked up the spoons and forks at Dollar Tree around Christmastime. They were small cocktail-sized. They're a tiny bit big in comparison to the doll's hands, but they're close enough to count!

Alex even found some steak! (There's more food on a tray that you can't see in this picture, but I just shared the highlights.)
Monday, June 17, 2013 1 comments

Fun Find: A Flashlight for Alex!

I was out shopping last week when I came upon a really fun find - a flashlight for Alex!

I read somewhere to check keychains because they are often the right scale for 18" dolls, so when I saw these mini flashlights on carabiner clips (Target Dollar Spot for just $1), I knew I had a winner. Before I bought it, though, I made sure that I could get it off the carabiner clip. It slid right off, no tools required.

The clear thing you see in the picture is the clear hairband that I used to help him hold it.

Of course, Alex (and his owner) was especially thrilled that it's a real, working flashlight!

I've found a few fun things for the dolls lately, but I'm being very picky about what I actually buy. I just finished decluttering and reorganizing their bedrooms, so I don't want to go overboard with doll things and end up back where we started.

While it might not have much practical use, I knew my son would love his doll having a real, honest-to-goodness flashlight that works. Boy accessories are a bit harder to come by, so I decided to buy this one.
Friday, June 14, 2013 1 comments

Camp Doll Diaries 2013: Real Beds!

First of all, let me tell you upfront that I am not a good woodworker. I may get better with practice, but I'm not going to make real people furniture any time soon.

I found the plans for these beds on Ana White's fantastic site. The supplies for each bed cost me around $2.15, plus tax.

At that price, you can afford to scrap a whole bed if it goes wrong ... if you have easy access to the cutting tools to make another one. I had one of our church men cut these for me, so I couldn't just whip out new pieces any time I wanted to. So when I did one or two things wrong, I looked for ways to salvage it.

I said all of that to say this ... I had originally planned to make these so they could stack as bunkbeds (with the pencil idea on the website) or stand alone. But after I made a few mistakes, they are never going to stack perfectly. I'm okay with that, though, because you can see that they stack just fine - albeit a little "off" - and no one falls out of bed at night.

Here is what you end up with after you've followed the plans. However, if you follow the plans correctly, your bed rails will be flush with the the outside of the headboard, not attached to the inside (one of my mistakes).

I needed a mattress support, but I didn't have any MDF board or even cardboard lying around. I did have foamcore board, though, so I used it for my mattress support:

Then you need a mattress. Technically you don't need a mattress because the dolls won't ever complain, but we all wanted a mattress for the beds.

So I used about the same measurements that I used for the foamcore support and made a mattress loosely based on a picture I saw on another blog.

And now you see why I should have taken the time to actually look up the tutorial - the mattress shortened a bit, thanks to the fiberfill stuffing. I hadn't thought of that. Oh well, we were in a nasty thunderstorm at the time, and I just wanted to do it while I was in the mood. Lesson learned. (The second one went much better.)

The next thing we needed wanted to make was a cute pillow.

I started out with two 5x8" rectangles and used 1/4" seam allowances.

Yay! It helped to fill in the gap that the mattress left.

Once you get the bedding on, you'll never notice the imperfections!

I'm thinking about making proper sheets and pillowcases for the beds, but I'm leaving well enough alone for the moment. My kids were thrilled to pieces with the beds just the way they are.
Monday, June 10, 2013 2 comments

Camp Doll Diaries 2013: Doll Toothbrushes

Paige is so happy with her new toothbrush!

Thanks to Doll It Up for cluing me in to these perfectly-sized, perfectly-styled mini toothbrushes at Dollar Tree.

You definitely want to find these at the dollar store. The off-brand ones are way cuter and more realistic-looking than the name-brand ones (Wisp, I think).

Alex is thrilled that this accessory comes in a boy color! (If you're wondering, he's borrowing the camo pajamas from the Bitty Twins until I get to make him some of his own.)

These mini toothbrushes come four to a pack, so there's plenty to go around. You can't beat the price for doll accessories, either!
Friday, June 7, 2013 1 comments

Camp Doll Diaries 2013: Some Cabin Upgrades

Our cabin got a few decorations over the last few days, and I thought I'd share them with you.

At the top left is our camp Welcome Banner (courtesy of Doll Diaries).

At the top right are three mini paper "lanterns" (without lights inside) that I picked up in the $1.50 section of Michaels. They're with the circus-themed things and are on clearance at the moment, so I got two in a pack for $0.50. I read about them on another doll blog, but I can't find the post again to know who to credit.

I made the fireplace using the excellent video tutorial from MyFroggyStuff. I used a small cereal box for mine (about the size of a cracker box), and it turned out a bit small. It's still cute and will definitely get used, but I would use a larger box next time to be scaled to 18" dolls. I still have to add the twigs to the fireplace, but the kids like it anyway.

On top of the mantle is the homemade camping lantern that I found a picture of on Pinterest. I have no idea who to credit here, either, because the pin didn't lead me to a website - just a picture. If you know who this originated with, please let me know so I can properly credit them.

I tweaked the lantern just a bit for what I had on hand: a battery-operated tealight, a small medicine measuring cup, and a milk jug lid instead of the pill container lid. It's still very realistic-looking, and I didn't have to paint a thing. The only problem I had with making the lantern is that the bottom of the medicine measuring cup was extremely difficult to remove. I'm just thankful I still have all my fingers. This is definitely not a child's craft.

We have enjoyed a campfire every night, followed by a long time sitting by the light of the fireplace and lantern.

Speaking of the campfire, we added two more things to that "scene":

First of all, I finished covering the outside of the cabin. Since we're using the firepit outside the cabin, it made sense for us to make the outside look just as realistic.

I added a bulletin board trimmer of grass along the bottom for a neat effect.

Then let me draw your attention to those string lights. Aren't they neat? They look just like miniature patio lights that some people string up. I couldn't pass them up at Dollar Tree the other day. I chose the multi-colored flower lights, but there were also blue butterflies, white dragonflies, and green leaves. There are ten mini LED lights on a string, and they are absolutely perfect for doll-sized projects.

The lights brightened up our campfire quiet nicely! (This picture was taken without flash, to give you an idea of how bright they are.)

With all of these decorations, I found an added bonus of making this cabin out of foamcore board: I am able to push small pins into the foam part of the very top to attach things like these string lights (being careful not to push through the actual cord, just between the cords where it's twisted), the paper lanterns, and the welcome sign.

I hope you've enjoyed a peek into our doll camp this week!
Thursday, June 6, 2013 2 comments

Camp Doll Diaries 2013: Firepit and Marshmallows

What would camp be without a campfire? Since we're doing a pretend camp inside, though, I had no desire to start a real campfire. We improvised with a few supplies from Dollar Tree and a few things we had on hand.

Can you guess what forms the base of our firepit?

These salsa bowls from Dollar Tree come two in a pack. As soon as I saw them, I knew I had to make a firepit. They would also make a pretty neat kettle to cook over the fire with, too, so I may do that at some point by adding the pretend fire under the pot. For now, though, it went inside. Just what makes the actual fire? You've probably guessed it: a tealight that flickers like real flame! (2/pack from Dollar Tree)

Here is where it gets tricky to illustrate, simply because we buried a tealight with black marbles and a few strategically-placed red marbles to mimic the red-hot embers.

My only dilemma was how to switch the light off and on without rebuilding the whole firepit every time. It turns out, it's quite easy. We just pull out the tealight to shut it off, then re-bury it by holding it against the side of the bowl and sliding it to the center bottom. This way, no marbles get stuck underneath it to make it show. You could also wrap the base in black duct tape or glue black foam over the top to make it easier.

To turn it back on, we do the same thing. It may sound a little fussy, but it's not. Both of my kids are proficient at it by now.

Of course, you can't have a campfire without roasting at least marshmallows. I used bamboo skewers cut down to fit the dolls' proportions and hot-glued white pony beads close to the pointy end to be the marshmallows. My kids are fine with pointy objects, but you may need to caution younger children in the use of these marshmallow sticks. :)

Alex is enjoying roasting his marshmallows!
Wednesday, June 5, 2013 2 comments

Camp Doll Diaries 2013: The Cabin

If you've browsed around much online for American Girl things, you've probably seen the concept of folding play rooms for the dolls from foam core board. It's not a new concept, and I didn't come up with it. I'm so pleased with how this turned out, though, that I wanted to share it with you. And since I didn't run across any detailed tutorials for how to make these (maybe I missed one), I decided to create my own to clear up any misconceptions you might have, like I did.

This is the finished inside of our Camp Doll Diaries 2013 cabin. This is going to be our doll's vacation retreat, too, so we'll get plenty of use out of this cabin.

The great thing about these rooms is that you can fold them up and store them under the bed or behind furniture when the kids are done playing. The other great thing is the cost. I made this one for right around $10, not including duct tape. You could skip the carpet (and thus make the room larger, if you'd like) and decorating the outside for a savings of about $4, making it just $6 for this fantastic little cabin.

So let's get started with the how-to pictures.

First of all, you'll need three sheets of foamcore board. I got mine at Dollar Tree where they're 20 x 27-1/4". I think they're slightly bigger elsewhere, but these work fine.

You'll also need duct tape. Any color will work, even the original gray style. Just don't scrimp on this because the sturdiness of the room depends on the strength of the duct tape. This is one of the few projects that I wouldn't buy the "duct tape" for it at the dollar store, unless your store happens to carry a name brand.

You want to tape the boards short-sides-together so that it looks like this:

Be careful with the joins, being certain not to just bump them right against each other side-by-side. You want them to be able to fold like this:

I ended up with a small strip of duct tape showing between each of the boards, which is why I was able to fold it forward or backward.

Don't worry, though, if you do it my way you'll still be able to fold it out the proper way like this:

But it folds down to a nice, compact size:

To fold it like this, you fold one outside board one way, and the other outside board the other way. You end up with three boards "stacked" on top of each other, taking up just a tiny bit more space than one board would alone.

But how do we get that cute cabin look?

Get some wood-grain shelf-liner-type paper from your local dollar store. I used almost all of two rolls from my Dollar Tree for the inside. I don't have the outside finished yet, but it will also use two rolls. My store had this in a light color (which I used inside) and a darker color (which I used outside).

Since the rolls at my store were only 18" wide, I added a 2" bulletin board border trim at the top to make up the difference. They carry those at the dollar store, too, and one pack will do the trick. It's the perfect scale to look like wallpaper border.

My dollar store is carrying these carpet-type mats at the moment, and two fit perfectly inside the cabin once I trimmed off about 1-1/2"from one of them. The carpet is completely optional, though.

I may add a fake window or two, but for now I kept it simple because I wanted it to be versatile enough to play with after our doll's summer camp is over.

I can't tell you how much my kids enjoy this. I'll probably be making a few more rooms in the future. I'm thinking of a schoolroom for back-to-school, since they've already played school with these dolls.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013 6 comments

DIY American Boy Doll

My daughter's room re-do has been put on hold due to my local Wal-Mart still not restocking the sheets that I need for the canopy. I'm trying to patiently wait.

On to today's topic ... As most of you know, I have two children - a boy and a girl. There aren't many children around here, so they are often the only two children to play with. That might sound awful to some of you, but my children are very well-adjusted socially. They are able to play with other children and treat them kindly, but they are just as comfortable holding an intelligent conversation with an adult. Our church people can't believe how insightful they can be. :)

As you might have guessed, my daughter ends up sporting a (play) double-barrel shotgun quite often. We enjoy calling her Annie Oakley, since she's left-handed and a pretty good aim. But what you might not have guessed is that my son willingly plays with my daughter and her dolls and I'm not the slightest bit worried about it.

I want my son to know that he's not being a sissy by caring for people that are smaller than him. I want him to know that it's okay to love and enjoy his own children when he grows up. My own husband is one of those rare men that actually loves his children and shows it. I want my son to be the same way.

With all of that clarified, I have watched them play and often wished I had an 18" boy doll for my son to play with. He would identify with it so much more and could enjoy changing outfits that he might even wear.

Apparently my family isn't the only one to wish for an 18" boy doll. If you search online, you'll find quite a few tutorials for making an 18" female doll look like a boy. However, most of them involve creatively tucking the girl's hair into a hat so she can change back if you change your mind (or just because they paid so much for the doll that they're not going to do anything permanent).

There are a few exceptions that actually cut the doll's hair, and that's what I was after. Unfortunately, none of them actually tell you how to cut the hair. So I winged it, with a lot of fear and trembling. :)

Now before I go any further, I feel compelled to tell you that I wholeheartedly oppose real people changing their gender. However, there is no morality involved in making a girl doll into a boy. God makes people, but people make dolls. Just to be safe and not send mixed messages to our kids, though, we bought a brand-new doll (a rare thing for us, but a 50% coupon made it much better). They never saw it as a girl, and I'm not sure if they'll ever catch on. :)

So my doll experiment started with this Springfield doll from Michaels:

I was hoping for a lighter skin tone, but I didn't want to deal with precut bangs. They cut them in the most horrid style I've ever seen, and I'm not a good enough hairstylist to try to make that mess look good. So Maria it was - she was the only doll in the store with no bangs.

I must have watched 20 Youtube videos about cutting boys' hair. I cut my son's hair all the time, but I use clippers on his, so it's a piece of cake. I knew I would have to use scissors on this one, and the hair wouldn't regrow if I messed it up.

Well, it's not perfect, but here's the transformation:

This picture still makes him look a lot more girly than he really does, but it's the best I could do without my lightbox that I accidentally ripped this morning when my camera fell through the top. (Don't ask.)

As a surprise, I sat him at my son's breakfast chair and waited for him to come out for breakfast yesterday morning.

This picture says it all - he was absolutely thrilled with him! This look made the hour or so of haircutting effort worth it.

Here's another quick glimpse of him with my daughter's new American Girl doll. They are posing inside their Camp Doll Diaries cabin that we made yesterday, which I'll be posting more about later this week.