2.23.2015

Laptop Case Tutorial {or one stylish ride}


I first shared this tutorial over at The Ribbon Retreat. I was provided with materials in exchange for a tutorial. Please see my Disclosure page if you have questions.

I was fortunate enough {and very surprised} to get a Macbook Air from my dad for Christmas. I take my computer to work with me every day. So, I knew it needed a cute, safe ride. I couldn't find a laptop case I liked, so I decided to make one. Making your own laptop case takes about 2 hours and opens up a whole world of fabric choices!

Want to make your own? You'll need:
1/2 yd exterior fabric
1/2 yd lining fabric
1 yd double fold bias tape that coordinates with the exterior fabric
3 inches 3/4 inch sew on velcro
Basic sewing supplies
Padding {I used thin Neoprene padding bought off the giant rolls from Joann's.}

First, we need to cut everything. I'll give you the measurements for my 13 inch Macbook Air as well as give you instructions for figuring out your own measurements.


Let's start with the padding. Measuring your computer's width {the short side}. Mine is 9 inches. Then, lay your laptop on the padding and wrap it around it. You'll make a computer sandwich between the padding along the length. You'll cut your padding out 9 inches by however much padding it took to make that computer sandwich {mine was 29 inches}. I cut two rectangles to double the padding.

 On to the fabric. For the width of the fabric, you'll add two inches to your computer's width. For my computer, that was 11 inches. Then, take your fabric and wrap it around the computer and padding, length wise. You'll want to measure how much fabric it takes to wrap around the length of your laptop. Add 1.5 inches for seam allowances and wiggle room. For me, that was 31.5 inches. So you'll go ahead and cut out a 31.5 inch by 11 inch rectangle from both your exterior and lining fabrics. 

Now for the tap. Cut two 4 by 6 inch rectangles of your lining fabric.

Don't forget about your velcro. You'll need a 3 inch strip.

On to sewing...


We'll start by attaching the velcro. Grab one of your tab rectangles. Center your velcro 1.5 inches down and sew. Use white thread to hid the stitches in the velcro. 


Then, you'll want to place your velcro on your exterior fabric. Center your velcro 2.5 inches down on the exterior fabric and sew. Again, use white thread to hide the stitches. 


Place the tab rectangles right sides together and pin. Sew three sides using a presser foot seam allowance. Don't sew the bottom. Clip your corners and turn inside out. Press well. Using a coordinating thread, top stitch the three sides a close to the edge as possible.

Now, place your exterior and lining fabrics right sides together, with the exterior fabric on bottom . You'll be sewing the top and bottom seams {the short sides}. 


But first, you'll want to insert your tab. Arrange your fabrics so the velcro on the exterior fabric is on the bottom. Then, insert the tab on the top side, between the exterior and lining fabrics. You'll want the velcro side of the tab facing up. You'll cover that up with the lining fabric, leaving about 1/2 inch of the tab pointing out. 

Pin both the top and the bottom well. Sew both sides using a presser foot seam allowance. When you go over the tab, sew back and forth a couple of times. This will reinforce the tab. 


Flip your tube right side out. Press your newly created seams well. Then top stitch close to the edges. 

Now, slip your padding into the tube you've created.

You're going to use the double fold bias tape to finish your side seams. Cut two pieces of bias tape about an inch longer than your side {for me, this was 12 inches}. 


Looking at your bias tape, one side of the fold should be slightly wider than the other. That's the bottom. Open that side up and line of the edge of the bias tape with the edge of one edge's bottom side of your laptop case, right sides together. You'll want to leave about 1/2 inch overhang at the beginning {the bottom of the laptop case}. Pin well. You should also be leaving about 1/2 inch overhang of bias tape at the end.


Sew along the crease in the bias tape.


Now, you're going to attach the bias tape to the top of the case. Fold the overhang at the bottom of the case in, encasing the raw edge of the bottom of the case. Then, fold the bias tape over the edge to the top of the case. 


You can pin this part. For me, its much easier just to sew very slowly and adjust as I go. Make sure you fold in the overhang of bias tape at the top as well.

Repeat for the other side and you're all set!


Now my laptop is ready to head to work in style!

I actually made this case more than a year ago. Bad DIY blogger! But, I can report that it's held up beautifully and my laptop is as safe and cute as ever!

 

Here's some places I like to party at:

2.18.2015

Cloth Diapering 101: Washing Cloth Demystified


Washing cloth diapers was intimidating at first. It seemed like if I looked at the wash machine wrong I was going to ruin my investment. It turns out I worked myself up over nothing. Yes, there are things you need to know. But, it really is a straight forward process.

The general wash routine is simple.

1. Cold rinse
2. Hot wash with detergent
3. Extra rinse
4. Dryer or line dry 

See, easy peasy. Some of the fancy new wash machines out there will even let you program special wash routines like this one!

I spent my first two years washing diapers in the oldest, worst top loader ever. That puppy did a great job. You don't need a top of the line washer to get your diapers clean!

Now, there is a great debate out there about which laundry detergent to use. Some say that diaper companies have made special, more expensive detergents just to make money. They swear by bargain brad detergents. Others are insistent that you use a cloth diaper "safe" detergent. 

What's this all about? Different detergents have different enzymes, scents, and brighteners in them. Some of these things are bad for your diapers. They can break down the material. Some diaper companies have warranties that can be voided if you use non-approved detergents. So basically, there is a large camp out there that says the only want to go is to use cloth safe detergents.

Well, here's my two cents on the matter. I started out using the cheapest safe detergent that I could find at Target. I determined it was safe by this chart from Pinstripes and Polka Dots. My diapers seemed a bit dingy, but didn't smell. This is when a cloth diapering friend swore to me I could just use Tide Free & Clear. When I ran out of the first stuff, I bought the Tide on sale. No bueno! The diapers started to stink and they weren't very absorbent. 


After stripping the diapers, I started washing with Rockin' Green. That was when Emma was about 5 months old. We never turned back. Rockin' Green comes in classic, hard, and soft based on your water. I think this is what made the real difference for us. We have incredibly hard water. Using a detergent that is specially formulated for our awful water seems to keep everything running smoothly.

Rockin' Green costs about $20 a bag and lasts about three months. With Rockin' Green, we've had no problems with our cloth that could be attributed to the detergent. It has a light scent when you scoop it into the wash but it doesn't end up making fruity smelling diapers. I also use it for things I want to be very gentle with, like first washes on quilts. If I could afford it, I'd use it for everything. 

Anyone else totally afraid of washing cloth before they started? Has anyone avoided cloth based on washing fears?

Don't forget to check out the rest of Cloth Diapering 101:






Here's some places I like to party at:

2.15.2015

How to Clean a Pack 'n Play {with a JBF Fort Worth giveaway}



This post is brought to you by Just Between Friends Fort Worth. If you have any questions, check out my disclosure page.

With our first, our Pack 'n Play was amazing. We used it as a bassinet in our room for the first couple of months. It had a great little sleeper that was prefect for our itty bitty. The diaper changer was perfect for that roughly 1,000 night time diaper changes I'm pretty sure we did that first month. This thing was more high tech than me. There was a vibrate function which we used a lot. It also plugged into your iPhone for white noise/music.

Now this bad boy runs around $150 new. Worth every penny as far as I'm concerned. But, thanks to Just Between Friends Fort Worth, We snagged ours for only $70! It was in perfect condition. It was also one of the best steals I've ever scored at a consignment sale.

Now, being a new mom, I was totally paranoid about making sure it was clean. While JBF Fort Worth sanitizes anything that cannot be wash (and won't sell things are are obviously dirty), I wanted extra assurances. I'm so glad I deep cleaned that bad boy!

The Pack 'n Play has been sitting in our garage for more than three years. With baby number two on the way, I knew it was time to put it through another deep clean. This is such an easy process that you can use on your pack 'n play that's been in storage or the new to you awesome deal you scored at a consignment sale!

Start out by pulling out all electronics. For me, that was wiring and the vibrator system.

WARNING! Some pack 'n plays have mattresses made from cardboard. I would not recommend soaking a cardboard mattress. 

Wash the newborn sleeper in your wash machine. Air dry.


Fill your tub with the hottest water possible. Add soap (I used Basic H). Dump in all your "fabric" components into the tub. Soak for at least 30 minutes.


After 30 minutes, flip everything over and give it all a good shake to dislodge any ickies. Soak for another 30 minutes.

While the main pieces are soaking, wipe down the mattress with a Clorox wipe (or other color safe, antibacterial solution). Make sure you get the top and bottom. Also, wipe down any metal bars that aren't being soaked.

After the soak, drain tub. Use your shower head to help rinse out the pieces. You might want to let them sit in the the tub for 15 minutes to let them drain well.


Head outside with your pack 'n play pieces. Assemble to allow for drying in the sun. The sun will help get out any stains that might be in the fabric. 

Make sure everything is dry before collapsing. You wouldn't want to start growing something new after all that hard work! 

Want to score you're own awesome deal? The Spring Sale for Just Between Friends Fort Worth is right around the corner. JBF Fort Worth is Texas' large children's and maternity consignment sale. It is a massive, one stop shop for all your clothing and gear needs! The Spring Sale will be held at Will Roger's Center in Fort Worth and is open to the public from March 5th to March 9th (check out the full sale calendar for more details).

Want to get in before the public? There's a couple of different ways. First, check out if you're eligible for the first time parent/grandparent sale. JBF Fort Worth relies on the awesome work of volunteers. Volunteers are rewarded by getting into the sale early (as well as making a larger commission on their sales). Learn more about how to volunteer if you're interested in getting in during prime shopping times!

Need some more tips? Check out my Consignment Sale Tips and Tricks board on Pinterest!

The wonderful people at JBF Fort Worth are giving away a $15 gift certificate to use at the Spring Sale.

<<Giveaway Closed. Winner is Jessica @ FunkyFinds.>>

Some rules:
* All entries will be verified.
* Gift Certificate is only valid at JBF Fort Worth's Spring Sale.
* JBF Fort Worth is hosting multiple giveaways for the Spring Sale. Winner can only win once per sale.
* Winner will be contacted via email. They must respond within 24 hours or another winner will be selected.




Here's some places I like to party at:

2.11.2015

Cloth Diapering 101: Cloth Diapering Essentials


Cloth diapering seems to come with a lot of stuff. It makes the whole process seem overly complicated. When it really comes down to it, you just need the diapers, somewhere to stick wet diapers, and some kind of detergent to wash them in. In reality, if you add a few more essentials cloth can be a simple process. Really, you need most of these things if you use cloth or disposables. 


Here's the 7 things we loved that made cloth a great experience for us:


You'll need a stash of diapers. We had 20 at the newborn stage and (because I found two cute new colors) grew to 22 a couple of months in. With this size stash, we were washing every day and a half in the first couple of months and every two to three days for the majority of her diapered life.


As I said before, Emma got far fewer rashes when she was in cloth than in disposables. But, we still needed a good rash cream. And this sucker was a miracle in a jar. I give Grandma El's as apart of every single shower gift these days. This stuff is just too amazing to keep secret. 


If you're using rash cream, you should be using a liner. Liners are disposable. They can be thrown in the trash or flushed after use. Liners add a protective layer between the goop and your diapers. Non-cloth diaper safe creams have been known to stain, cause build up, or even void diaper warranties. I found that even "safe" creams still caused a bit of build up. Liners are cheap and easy to deal with, so we used them whenever we used creams.


If you're going to use cloth out of the house, then you'll want a travel wet bag. Wet bags are used for dirty diaper storage while you're out and about. Mine holds three wet diapers. If we were going to be out longer than that, I tended to use disposables. Wet bags are also great for things like swim suits and swim diapers!


You'll need somewhere to contain all your wet and dirty diapers between washings. A simple pail with lid (or trash can with lid) worked well for us. Because we were washing every two to three days, there was little problem with smell. 


Pail liners are like wet bags for your home storage. They keep in the wet and help contain smells. I washed my pail liner once a week. Some people keep two on hand and wash the liner each time they do diapers. 


Laundry routines are one of the most unnecessarily confusing parts of cloth diapering. Ask three cloth diapering parents how to wash diapers and you'll get three different answers. We tried several different detergents and kept coming back to Rockin' Green. It made our wash routine simple and effective. A bag lasted us about three months. Not a bad price, overall.


Does anyone else have a cloth diaper product that they loved?

  

Here's some places I like to party at:

2.09.2015

January Reading


Hey! I'm posting about my reading list two months in a row. I'm pretty proud of myself. Without a doubt, my favorite read of the month was Still Alice. Check out my thoughts on my other reads below:

LegendProdigy, and Champion by Marie Lu

Ah dystopian societies, how I love you. The final book didn't end in the typical everyone ends up happy fashion. I always hate when that happens. And I greatly appreciate it. It's really a love hate relationship kind of thing. While this trilogy wasn't my favorite, its a worthwhile read if you love the genre.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

I was a big fan of If I Stay and Where She Went. This book was such a fun, quick read. There is something very comfortable about Gayle Forman's writing style. It's total fluff but very enjoyable.

Just One Year by Gayle Forman

I so wanted this book to be what happened next. Spoiler alert...it wasn't. It was what happened to Williem. While it fills in the gaps, I didn't want a whole book worth of his story. I wanted what happened between them next.

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

Ugh. That's about what I have to say about this book. I picked it up because of John Green. It's a loosely related collection of three stories that happen over Christmas. I liked the first one just fine. I tolerated the story by John Green. I barely got started with the third story before calling it.

Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman

The sociologist in me was so intrigued by the premiss of this book. Basically, its a look at how French parenting differs from parenting in the US. It is written by an expat journalist who is married to a nomadic British man and living in Paris. It was an ok read...nothing fantastic. I guess I just wanted a little more research and a little less color. Plus, the author was very whiney about living in Paris.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

This was just a beautiful book. Alice is in her early 50s and an incredibly accomplished psychologist. The book follows her journey to diagnosis and the aftermath of early onset Alzheimer's. While I want to smack the husband from time to time, it is such a genuine and raw portrayal of how life alters when you are diagnosed with a devastating disease.

Any suggestions for what I should be reading this month?