Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Call for Pattern Testers! Sanity Saver Training Pants Pattern


Ever since I first shared the Sanity Saving Training Pants I created for my daughter (back in 2012), I've gotten lots of emails and comments asking for a pattern for them.  Of course my project load was always heavy with other priorities, but every time I'd get a new comment or email on it, it would remind me it was still desired and I should get on it.

Earlier this summer I asked readers to help choose the next Sew Can Do pdf patterns and, once again, my training pants were among the top picks.   It told me it was time to stop procrastinating and make it. In-between running the kids around, being annoyingly sick on & off and busy with necessary house/yard work this summer, I've been working on them, little by little, and am now ready to open it up to pattern testers!



This PDF pattern is for a customizable leak-proof training pants for toddlers.  It offers pull-up style, easy open sides, as well as a pocket opening to add absorbent inserts as needed. 



Sides can have snap or velcro options:



It also provides instruction for adding an optional applique embellishment to the backside that won't leak either: 



The lining fabric is flannel to be easy to clean and also retain the wet feeling to help recognize accidents.  



The pocket opening at the back allows for the addition of inserts (microfiber, hemp or cotton) to vary absorbency as needed.




Want to be one of my testers?  Read on!

What does a pattern tester do?  Simply put, I would like to have a handful of testers try out the pattern and each sew up a pair of training pants.  

What does a pattern tester get?
My PDF pattern & instructions for free, and a chance to make these trainers before the pattern is available to everyone else.  With your permission, I would also feature your finished photos (with crediting to you), to promote the pattern.

What materials are needed?
- The ability to print out the PDF pattern
- PUL and flannel fabrics, Fold Over Elastic, snaps or velcro
- Basic sewing machine & sewing notions

How are testers chosen?
On a first come, first serve basis by size/age range.  I will need at least 2 testers for each general size range 2T, 3T, 4T.  Since toddlers can have very different sizing & body shapes, and the training pants are designed to "custom fit to measure", I'd like to have a variety of sizes tried to be as accurate as I can in the body range the pants will fit. 

What does a pattern tester need to provide and by when?
Testers will need to supply their own materials for making the trainers, fill out the feedback form and provide 2-3 images of the finished training pants.  The deadline for feedback and photo submission will be 2 weeks from your receipt of my PDF pattern (I'm aiming to have it ready to send out next week).

What level of sewing experience does a tester need?
For this particular pattern, an intermediate level or above.

Would I be able to sell training pants I make with this pattern?
When the pattern is finalized I will offer the option of licensing my Sanity Saving Training Pant design for a small one-time fee.

UPDATE: What a great response to my call for pattern testers!  A full panel of testers have been chosen and emailed. If you weren't chosen, stay tuned for the Sanity Saving Training Pant Pattern release and an upcoming pattern giveaway for it in the coming weeks:)

If you're interested in testing this PDF pattern, email me at info@sewcando.com with what size & age of child you would plan to make. I'll confirm if you'll be one of the testers needed and when to expect a copy of the pattern in your in-box.  Thanks in advance for the help!!



Sunday, August 24, 2014

It's The Craftastic Monday Link Party!


Hi Everybody!  This week I've got a great mix of end of summer & start of fall party features to share & a  Sew Can Do pattern testing opportunity coming at you later in the week.  I'm also looking forward to seeing what wonderful things you have to share with us this week, so come on and link 'em up!

And I've also got my Groovy Lab in a Box Giveaway going on through Sept. 8. This STEM activity set for kids is full of fun, crafty, scientific goodies & is open to be US & Canada!

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FREE advertising for  your blog/crafty shop!

After linking your latest project posts below, head over to the Sew Can Do Facebook page to join in the Craftastic Monday Mixer.  It's a way to let even more people see your site or its FB page and find some new sites you might love at the same time.


How It Works:
Instead of a specific post, share your blog, crafty shop or Facebook page link on the Sew Can Do FB page.  More exposure for your crafty site every week!  Click HERE to go link up now!
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Now let's see some Craftastic picks..

Huckleberry Love made these seriously cute, back-to-school pencil hair bows:


An Extraordinary Day showed how she made a beautiful coastal embellished frame:


What's Mummy Up To had a great free pattern + tutorial for making this cute lace-embellished sweatshirt top from scratch:


Pink Recipe Box shared these yummy raspberry lemonade bars.  Two of my favorite flavors together!


Check out this cute pumpkin scented loofah soap from Bacon Time with the Hungry Hypo:


If you're one of this week's features, be sure to grab my Featured On button over on my Buttons Page to share the good news.  

I also feature these projects on Sew Can Do's Craftastic Picks Pinterest board 
AND share each of them on Twitter too for even MORE exposure!

Follow me there to see more great projects (and see if yours is one of them)!   
  
Follow Me on Pinterest



Ready to link up your crafty creations?


 
Party rules are simple:
  • As long as it's crafty, and made by you, it's Craftastic (no links to giveaways, shops, link parties or other people's work).  Add the link to your specific post (not the main page of your blog).
  • Grab my party button & put it on your post or blog somewhere.  The code can be found HERE.
  • Check out some of the other fabulous links and share some crafty comment love.  We all love getting comments!!



   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Crafting STEM Fun: Groovy Lab In A Box Review & Giveaway


Today I've got a special crafting goody to share - a new concept for kids that is creative, educational and all about creating, exploring & inventing: 
Groovy Lab in a Box is a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics)-themed subscription box developed by a team of educators and scientists.  It guides kids through the scientific inquiry & engineering design process to hone their imagination skills + learn critical thinking.  In each box, STEMists receive materials for fun, hands-on projects and an engineering design challenge – all focused on that month’s topic. All STEMists receive a Lab Notebook, where they can read about that month’s topic, perform investigation activities and document their findings. They will investigate, brainstorm, plan, build, test and redesign their own creations.  


Groovy Lab in a Box asked us to try them out and see what we thought.  The timing was great since I'd been struggling with how to handle homeschooling science and creative thinking this Fall.  My oldest loves STEM-related things, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to pull things together by myself or how to encourage my younger two who aren't quite as interested.  I told them a bit about it beforehand, so we were all pretty excited when this showed up in our mailbox:


The box we tried was the "Here Comes The Sun", all about Solar Energy.  It gave us everything we needed for 4 experiments AND a bonus item (solar paper) to use as we wished:

"Here Comes The Sun" Groovy Lab Box contents
Beyond the specific lab supplies we needed, there were other materials that could be used again as craft supplies, like a glue stick, ruler and several rolls of tape.  We also discovered that all these themed boxes are put together by employees of Eggleston.  This terrific non-profit trains and employs disabled individuals to make the most of their abilities in the job force and enjoy earning their own living.  So just as much good work going into each box as is coming out:)


After reading about solar energy in the Lab Notebook, we used the special password to access the Beyond in a Box online portal.  There we could access LOADS of enrichment videos specifically related to our theme, as well as printable extension activities, a reading library with book descriptions, a themed Pinterest board - even where to find solar fashions! It would have taken me ages to try to find just a few of those things on my own, so it was fantastic to be able to have it all right there, ready to go.  We watched several videos about being an inventor, the STEM process and uses for solar balloons.  My 8 yr old doesn't always love doing science, but seeing those got him fired up to get out & make his own solar balloon and see it in action:


For our next activity I grabbed my 11yr old, who learned how to use these materials to make an audio conductivity sensor. I sometimes found projects like this kind of confusing back when I was a kid, but the lab notebook gave really clear, step-by-step instructions. Though the boxes are recommended for 8yrs+, I think my almost 5 yr old will be able to do a lot if they work as a team next time we do a box.  It was also nice that it gave room for the budding scientist/engineers to really think through what they were doing and understand the purpose.  I wish I'd had something like this when I was in school - I'd have enjoyed lab work a lot more! 


My big guy was excited when he got different sound results with the water samples he tested. He was pretty proud to build it by himself too.The saltier the water, the louder the result.


The lab notebook was set up to make it easy to record what we thought would happen, our actual results and what we thought of them.  My oldest loves building and doing experiments, but usually hates the writing/data portion. The question prompts and simple charts to record info made it more fun.



Our favorite activity was building a solar oven.  We were able to use the shipping box to make the oven framework and the color image step-by-step instructions were great.  In no time the guys were ready to cook some crayons: 



Through the portal's online videos we saw how the solar oven was invented in the 1700s, how many amazing things you can cook in one (even bread!) and how they are being used in developing countries as a cheaper and safer alternative to making fires.  We were pretty amazed at how well it worked - after just 20 minutes we turned some broken crayons from the box into a blended crayon cake.  


Our crayon "Before & After" in the DIY solar oven

All this built up to the main challenge of developing and building a mini-desalination plant with the remaining supplies.  They tested the results with the conductivity sensor they'd already made. The lab notebook & online portal taught them all about the Greenhouse Effect and water cycle.  Then they got to brainstorm and draw out on the best way to put their supplies together and record their results.  It was also nice to see the notebook reminding kids that failed results aren't something negative, but rather an opportunity to learn more and redesign an even better solution.  Instead of being disappointed their plan didn't work perfectly, they started thinking about what could make it work better.  Kids can get really frustrated when things don't work right the first time, so it was refreshing to have that built-in encouragement and confidence boosting to keep them trying.  



What I thought was most fantastic was that one box could be used just as easily with a single child or as a team - we tried it both ways.  Having several kids, at different levels, is sometimes a challenge for us in homeschooling, but Groovy Lab in a Box made it a lot easier.  It was also really nice to be able to just open the box and get to the learning, instead of me buying and having to set up a bunch of supplies ahead of time.  I've decided to buy a subscription and use this as our science for school this year.  I think it will be easier and cheaper than buying 3 totally different sets of science curricula + materials and I know it'll save time since they can all work on it at the same time.  My kids say it will be more fun since there's lots of hands-on activity and interesting things to see thanks to the Beyond a Box portal.  These boxes really offer a more rounded learning experience than anything else I've seen.    


Groovy Lab in a Box is offering Sew Can Do readers 
20% off their first monthly subscription box 
with the discount code: GROOVYNOW20


Now how about a chance at winning your own Groovy Lab In A Box?
One lucky Sew Can Do reader will win:

A Groovy Lab in a Box: 
Keep On Turning Box 
(all about hydro power)!






I was not financially compensated for this post.  I received a Groovy Lab in a Box to review.  The opinions are completely my own, based on my honest experiences.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Craftastic Monday Link Party & FREE Advertising Craftastic Mixer


Happy Craftastic Monday Everyone!  This week is going to be a great one - I've got a new pattern (in need of testers) coming your way, plus a special new review & giveaway to share.  I can't wait to see what you've been working on too!

Last week I shared my latest project - how I transformed our giant kid mess into an Amazingly Organized Homeschooling Haven.  And how it can be repurposed for my own crafty uses down the road.  If you have kids & lots of kid stuff (homeschoolers or not), you'll want to check it out!
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Advertise your blog/crafty shop for FREE!

After linking your latest project posts below, head over to the Sew Can Do Facebook page to join in the Craftastic Monday Mixer.  It's a way to let even more people see your site or its FB page and find some new sites you might love at the same time.


How It Works:
Instead of a specific post, share your blog, crafty shop or Facebook page link on the Sew Can Do FB page.  More exposure for your crafty site every week!  Click HERE to go link up now!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Now let's see some Craftastic picks..

Made by Chrissie D showed her beautiful QAYG Strippy Quilt and those her quilt class made - even more great quilts to see over in her post!


The Little Green Bean made these adorable birdies using chalk paint and a cola can:


Eliza Ellis shared this tasty how-to for making your own lemon cordial: 


Check out this eye-catching DIY clock and frame wall gallery idea from DIY Fun Ideas:


And 2Crochet Hooks made a stunning crochet beach hat and created this FREE matching swim tote pattern:


If you're one of this week's features, be sure to grab my Featured On button over on my Buttons Page to share the good news.  

I also feature these projects on Sew Can Do's Craftastic Picks Pinterest board 
AND share each of them on Twitter too for even MORE exposure!

Follow me there to see more great projects (and see if yours is one of them)!   
  
Follow Me on Pinterest



Ready to link up your crafty creations?

 
Party rules are simple:
  • As long as it's crafty, and made by you, it's Craftastic (no links to giveaways, shops, link parties or other people's work).  Add the link to your specific post (not the main page of your blog).
  • Grab my party button & put it on your post or blog somewhere.  The code can be found HERE.
  • Check out some of the other fabulous links and share some crafty comment love.  We all love getting comments!!



   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Crafting Up A Homeschool Haven: Our WorkBox Solution



Earlier this year I organized my very own Small Space Dream Craft Room and have loved the change it's made to my crafting life.  The key part to my craft space staying amazingly organized and lovely has been the specialty storage desks I bought from The Original Scrapbox:  


Now I want other parts of my house to be transformed in the same way - namely our kid areas.   I started thinking about how handy something like that could be for homeschooling. We've been homeschooling for 7 years now and every year we run into the same issue of how to keep things organized, not forget stuff we have tucked away or have the rest of the house overrun with their stuff.  I'd been using a bunch of cheap particle board shelves, bookcases and plastic bins, but they just weren't cutting it anymore.  I could kind of temporarily hide stuff when people came over, but it didn't mean I could find it again.

Contained clutter ≠ Organized
There are a lot of great things about schooling at home, but it's a real challenge to keep all the books, papers, materials & supplies under control and not have the house look like a disaster most of the time.  Especially now that I have a 3 kids full-time schooling from K-Middle School levels. If I'm honest, I was really dreading trying to keep it together this Fall. This is the kind of thing that would happen to our little "classroom" about 1 month into school time:
  
What I like to call the "Kidnado" effect

And the state of the learning materials wasn't much better.  Trying to find the right worksheet or notebook in just a few minutes was impossible:

One of many, "cram it in there" stacks

In most regular school there are whole rooms for things like art, science, foreign language, plus a library.  When you school at home, it's usually a tiny room or closet that's supposed to hold everything, so things get cluttered & disorganized quickly.  Multiply that by several kids and you're frazzled trying to be teacher, janitor and mom. 

Puppet area hiding boxes + sad overstocked school shelf = can't find a thing

The Original Scrapbox loved how I customized the EZ View and Helen Sewing Desks I bought and how much their Jack & Jill Desk sorted out our toy overflow problem, so they let me test out one of their WorkBox units to see how it could work from homeschooling. 


White Raised Panel WorkBox & our Turquoise Jack and Jill Desk
Instead of holding scrapbook supplies, our WorkBox has become a complete schooling station!


Our Homeschool WorkBox fully opened
Here it is with the table opened up so it's got a desktop surface too:


The shelf behind the desk is great for adding our own bins & boxes and the hole at the back means we can plug in a laptop or other device:



Each of my boys has his own set of drawers for each subject in the center section, as well as a spot right in-between for foreign language and math items they both use:



I added color coded labels so everything is simple to spot at a glance too.  All the books, workbooks, papers and other things for a single topic are easy to grab when needed and then quick to put away when done.  Even oversized materials fit (which was always a problem on our cheap bookshelf):

Roomy 12"x12" main drawers
The shelves underneath are the new home for our reference books, magazines and series items.  I used to have to tuck a lot of it away in tubs in the basement when my oldest finished them because there was no room to leave it out.  Then I'd hope that I'd remember what grade we used it in & then sift through the year's worth of schoolwork in that bin to find it when one of the next two kids was ready to use it.  Now it's all right here, ready to grab. 



The various smaller drawers and cubbies are great for sorting out smaller supplies like pencils, bookmarks, small games and specific themes like our microscope slides, rock samples & flash cards and since all the shelves are removable and adjustable we can switch things up as our needs change:



And kits and small items we'd normally lose track of are right in plain sight in clear pouches that peel right off the velcro wall:


I also thought I could maximize it even more by adding some custom features to the WorkBox's blank inner doors:


Some of my WorkBox customizations

I put some double sided adhesive on the backs of my decorative clothespins and stuck them onto the left inner door: 


Now we have a place to display my little lady's artwork and special work:


Below that I added some removable dry erase circles for jotting down notes and reminders:


On the right side I attached a pair of cork squares to pin up latest projects:



Below is a sticky note weekly calendar I can peel off for whatever "to-do's" we have each week.  I also added removable chalkboard panels to the both lower sections for even more room for writing & some added drawing space:


Our early reader books and supplies used to be shoehorned into this drawer on a bookshelf. It took forever to sift through for a specific item:


Now the little books are shelved by level in the mini-drawers and all the larger sets are easy to spot in seconds in the bigger drawers next door:


Our math supplies were also jumbled up the same way.  Half the time we'd forget we even HAD flashcards buried at the bottom or to bring out our Valentin's Day themed counting set when February rolled around:


Now they're sorted into proper category drawers like telling time, manipulatives and counting tools down the left side of the WorkBox for my Kindergardener and separate multiplication & measuring small drawers on my bigger kids' right side.


And small things like jumbo crayons, markers, pencils & scissors are easy to find, but thanks to the velcro door panels, I can place them too high for my 4yr old to grab without assistance:


While things she can handle independently, like lap books and cards, are simple for her to grab on her own:


Even when I've got the box partially open like this, there's plenty of space in the room and things still look tidy:


And if we want to hide it all or keep curious hands from digging into things, I just close it up and lock the top.  Then it's all tucked away, with only the nice, raised panel, door fronts showing:

Ahhh, so clean!!

Plus, with the WorkBox taking in so much of the stuff and keeping it sorted, it's made the rest of the room is neat & orderly too, instead of its previous overflowing and chaotic state:
You can actually FIND things on the shelves now!
And our closet drawers have gone from stuffed-to-the-gills, to under control and easy to open:


The kids like that it doesn't take much effort to find what they need or put it away.  We can get school stuff done quicker because we aren't wasting time trying to find things again. And despite the room being fairly small, there's now an individual space for each of the kids to work:  


I like how simple it is to keep everything sorted, but still simple to see and access everything. I couldn't believe how much good stuff I had squirreled away, out of sight, that we've forgotten about.  I feel like nothing is going to waste now and it'll be easier to focus on learning since all our gear is ready to go.  



My very favorite part is a little less selfless...It's the fact that I'll be able to use the WorkBox long after our schooling days are over.  The old particle board cheap-y shelves & plastic containers usually end up too worn out to repurpose after a few years or have to be given away because they are too flimsy to use elsewhere. This piece has a classic look that can work just about anywhere in the house and is incredibly sturdy. There's a reason why their desks & storage pieces are worth investing in - they'll last.  I can reclaim it for my crafting use down the road, so it's a big long-term win.

Thanks to The Original Scrapbox, going back to homeschool this Fall is going to be a breeze!




I'm also sharing this with my FAVE LINK PARTIES.
Click HERE to check them out!

I was not financially compensated for this post.  I received a WorkBox from The Original Scrapbox to customize as I desired and review.  The opinions are completely my own, based on my honest experiences.  

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