Hazy Days

the shadow of the life to come

Hazy Days

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Tutorial: Microwavable Bean Bags

aka happy huggers! 

Kiera landed up at the physio on Monday (Kath Greathead – highly recommended!) with muscle strain on her shoulders.  Most likely from long hours at the computer typing up her story.  The treatment included direct heat applied to the sore areas. 

‘Problem was that I could not find one of our happy huggers in the house at all.  You know – those microwavable heat pads made of fabric filled with dried barley?  Well, we couldn’t find ours.  Not even one!  I figured, instead of tearing up the house, we could quickly make one.  Well one became a few which became one for every family member and, before I knew it, we had personalised bean bags!  

The personalised idea was all Katie’s.  While I was deliberating about which fabric to use, Kates suggested using some of their old t-shirts.  She is definitely an out-of-the-box thinker!  Of course, I loved the idea of repurposing some of their favourite t-shirts that were no longer fitting them.

So, that’s what we did.  And, since I remembered some step-by-step photos, here is a mini tutorial for ya!

Microwavable Heat Pads / Bean Bags aka Happy Huggers!


You will need:

  • old t-shirts
  • and/or thick, but soft fabric (we used track-suiting fabric)
  • sewing machine and thread
  • dry pearl barley
  • scissors or cutting board and rotary cutter


1.  Turn t-shirt inside out.  Lay out on the cutting board and measure cutting area, as large as required.  I measured 22cm by 24cm for these bean bags (that includes a 1cm seam allowance) – measuring around the front motif of the t-shirt.


2. cut another two pieces of 22cmx24cm fabric for the inner pouch.  Sew a 1cm seam all the way around (right sides facing) leaving a 3-5cm gap to turn the pouch right way round.




3.  When it’s the right way around, sew a 1.5cm edging all the way around, except for the opening.  Then, using a funnel pour 1 bag of pearl barley into the pouch.



4. sew the inner pouch shut. 

5. Sew the outer pouch as per step 2.  1cm seam, leaving a gap open.  Stuff the finished beanbag-inner pouch into the outer pouch.  Work the edges of the inner bag/pouch so that it meets the corners of the outer pouch.  Pin all the way around so that the edges of the inner pouch are well tucked up into the outer pouch.


6. Sew a 1cm seam / edge around the entire bag, closing off the opening of the outer pouch/bag.  Tada!


You do not have to double the pouches if you have sturdy fabric to start off with.  But, with t-shirt material being so stretchy, I figured it would be better to double up for longer-lasting’s sake.


The final products:  Katie’s (t-shirt was a buy from Craig, I think, and she grew out of it when she was 5!) …


Micah’s (he has just grown out of this one from Australia!  So glad it gets to live on in this way!) …


Kiera’s (she got this t-shirt from her grandparents one Christmas and wore it to death) …


Sam’s (poor kid could not find a t-shirt to use, so ended up using a hand-me-down (across?) t-shirt from his friend, Ben.  (I hope that’s ok!!)


I also made two others – one each for Craig and I – in stripy fabric.  And one  larger (longer) one in soft muted tartan colours for Johanna our wonderful housekeeper!  She has never seen these before, so what a treat it was to give her one to warm her bed at night.

If you’re wondering what on earth these things are, then here’s the skinny: they are the best alternative to a hot water bottle, if you have a microwave to warm them up.  Pop it in the micro for 2-3 minutes and it comes out hot, retaining its heat for hours afterwards.  Perfect for soothing a sore tummy, sore ear or aching muscles.


In retrospect, I would have…

… tried to make the outer covers removable so that they can be washed – the white t-shirts will get grubby quickly and I don’t think that the barley washes!

… sewn the white ones with a white edge – the navy didn’t work so well on Katie’s.

And the disclaimer of the day – in case you’re thinking “wow! did those kids all sew their own bean bags??” – the answer is, no!  Smile  Katie and Sam were super interested in sewing, while Micah and Kiera weren’t at all!  So, just Katie and Sam sewed, and then only the straight lines and not the fiddly bits!  Sadly, those wonkily-sewn edges are all mine.

Bedroom Redo: Boys’ Room

This post encompasses a few of my favourite things: 1) decor make overs 2) budget saving ideas and 3) internet tutorials of said budget-beating make overs.  Usually, I am on the other side of the computer screen – gathering ideas and filing away options for potential projects.  This time I get to give back!  Feel free to skip this post if bedroom decor is not your thing!  Or keep reading if you’re like me and love to share ideas.


Since I did the girls’ room earlier this year, the boys have been begging for some redo action in their own room.  I kept putting it off – there is just too much on my plate to get stuck into a bedroom makeover.  But, then they begged again on the Easter weekend.  That Saturday I spent quite some time sorting through their clothes in their room.  Well, needless to say, all that time in said bedroom got the creative juices flowing.  And, when that happens I find it extremely hard not to execute The Plan. 

The result?  A complete-and-long-overdue bedroom makeover. 

And so, without further ado, here is my Budget-Beating-Boys’-Bedroom-Makeover Walk-Through.  (Photo quality not so hot.  Misplacing my SLR camera’s battery charger means my iPhone is my sole camera at the moment).



The boys’ room consisted of two broken bedside tables, one chest of drawers and two beds. I had made them pirate bedding about two years ago with the plan of redoing their room entirely. Well, I never quite got that far. But I guess 2 years’ late is better than never!


Two lonely shelves didn’t manage to hold much other than a couple of lightweight crafts.  And brick-bookends were in danger of crushing little toes for the weight of books mashed between them.


And they had the remnants of mis-matched wall decor stickers peeling off the walls:






The Redo Walk-Thru

The redo started with the bedside tables.  I needed to fix the bedside tables, but I also needed a bookshelf solution.  On that Easter Saturday, Craig suggested ditching the bedside tables in favour of the lovely basket chests of drawers that sell on the side of our Cape Town roads.  And so the ball got rolling.  Perhaps I could get some cheap guttering too?  Then we can make gutter bookshelves.  And what about the plethora of toys that usually covers Sam’s bed, so much so that he can barely find a space to sleep?  A toy hammock, perhaps?  And artwork?  And, that is how the ball picked up speed. 

Cushions (R5/60c)

Over the course of the next two weeks, I got sourcing and sewing.  I bought some cheap fabric with ships and boats on it, turning them into cushions (R5 / $0.60) each – cushion inner was an old threadbare couch cushion).  I kept the frayed selvedge, sewing a kind-of French seam to secure it.


Floor Mat (R100/$11)

The boys’ room has a horrible iron burn on the carpet, slap-bang in the middle of the room.  It was time to find something to cover it.  Mr Price is a wonderful store – full of beautiful decor and, usually reasonable prices.  But, the size mat that I wanted was R200, while two smaller mats were R50 each.  So, I bought two mats and sewed them onto some red corduroy fabric that I already had.  R100 ($11) = new mat.


Block Canvas paintings (R40/$4.50)

Four new canvas blocks were a bit pricey at R40 ($4.50) each.  But, they were such a joy to paint – the boys’ sense of pride in their contribution to their room is priceless!  Here they are, hard at work:




Button Curtain Tie-backs (R0, $0)

The boys’ room used to be the girls’ room until 2009.  So, it still had the metal curtain tie-back hooks.  They’re great, actually.  They are white with a hole at the end, allowing you to add decor to it.  The girls used to have big starched pink bows (!!) in the early days.  But the boys’ have just had bare tiebacks, with nothing to decorate them.  Here’s a really blurry picture!


After some thought, I remembered the blue, red and white buttons I had from when I made the boys’ duvets 2 years ago.  The buttons didn’t stand the test of time, but I managed to collect (most of) them when they came off the bedding.  Some fluffy red pipecleaners from the craft cupboard plus bright buttons = tie-back decor for FREE!  Yay!


Curtain Block Out Lining (R400 / $45)

The curtains cost quite a bit more than hoped for – and, yes, they are actually the same curtains that were always in the room.  But, the lining was shredded.  Hey, they are the curtains from Uncle Murray’s boyhood room – and he is in his 40s now!  Well, block-out lining is not cheap and I needed 5 metres of the stuff!  That set me back about R400 or so.  ($45)

Gutter-shelving (R160 / $18)

But, where I spent on curtains I saved on shelving.  My friend Debbie S introduced me to the ingenious idea of gutter shelving last year.  I planned to do something similar.  Thankfully, I called her for some advice while in the hardware store (about to buy the stuff!) and she offered me her left-over guttering for free!  Thank you, Debbie!

The kids and I spent some time on Thursday morning sanding and re-spraying them a creamy-colour.  That’s my one big regret.  We spent R160 on plastic-specific spray-paint, when actually a good clean would’ve had those gutters looking just as good.  But, it was fun spray-painting and Katie particularly loved the hands-on learning.


What I love about these shelves it that it allows the books to be cover-facing.  It makes choosing books so much more attractive for the kids, plus it decorates the walls beautifully.  I love these!  We can fit SO many books inside them and with the three brackets, they are sturdy indeed.


Painted Wall (R120 / $17)

Thursday saw us painting walls too.  Truth be told, I had planned for our gardener-handy man to do all the heavy work of sanding and painting.  But he missed his lift back to Cape Town and couldn’t make it before Sunday.  With my parents arriving from Israel on Tuesday and needing the space in the playroom (that the furniture was busy occupying!) I had no choice but to finish the boys’ room.  It turned out to be a fantastically productive day.  The kids got stuck in and thoroughly enjoyed learning about taping off before painting, painting trims and all the other techniques required to paint walls.  Once again, my most enthusiastic contributor was my hands-on girl, Katie:


Kiera got happily stuck in too…


We managed to get away with just 1 litre of paint for the accent wall.  R120 ($17). 

2 Chests of Drawers plus paint (R1300 / $145)

We have some awesome things selling on the side of some of our main roads here in South Africa.  Curios to roll-on lawn to beautiful wicker and wood furniture.  I managed to get two discounted to R600 each.  (R100 savings)  But, the tops were quite rough, so the girls and I used Gaa’s sander (which we hadn’t yet returned, naughty!  Sorry Gaa!) to sand it down and applied a coat of white eggshell enamel (R100). 


(ours were already white, so we just redid the tops)  Those lamps were part of a discontinued line, so we got those at a discount too – R110 ($12).

chest of drawers

Daddy Drilling and other DIY (PRICELESS!)

On Saturday, when Craig returned from the St James Men’s breakaway, he also got stuck into DIY.  He drilled and drilled and drilled for about 4 hours straight!  What a star!


Chinese Lampshade (R30/$3.50)

He also hung the paper lampshade that I picked up at the local Chinese store – Yu Tom.  I discovered these lampshades when looking for a cheap idea for a “moon” lampshade for the girls’ room.  At R17 each, it was a bargain of note.  Along with the rose cup fitting, the lampshade cost about R30 total ($3.50).  It certainly beats the bare bulb we’ve had in that room since we bought the house in 2004!


Door Hanging (R0 / $0)

While Craig drilled, I put the finishing touches on the boys’ door hanging.  Sam had asked sweetly that week if he and Micah would also get a “door thing with our names and pictures” like the girls’ room.  So, on Friday night I got thinking.  The thing is that the boys’ door has horrible marks all down the centre from a botched double-sided-tape-removal process.  The options were: sand and re-varnish (at the cost of another tin of varnish).  Or … make a door hanging big enough to cover it.  That option sounded much better and since it cost me nothing aside from time, I was game.

Acrylic paints, plus scrap fabric, thick rope-string, left-over buttons, an old strip of wood, weathered pegs and freshly-delivered photos from an AWESOME photo-shoot we had with Susie Leblond Photography = door hanging.


Toy Hammock (R10 / $1)

With Sam’s soft toy collection consisting of hand-me-down toys from his sister, numerous claw-machine toys (a la Uncle Cam), and various other bits and bobs collected as gifts and freebie finds over the years, it was a wonder he ever actually managed to climb into bed at night.  Usually, he would scoot his toys over just enough to sleep on his side, teetering on the edge of the bed.  Well, it was time to change that.  But I don’t have the heart to cull his toys down to just one or two for his bed.  Enter: toy hammock!  I have seen these online over the years and always liked the idea.  I had an old strip of blue fabric – fabric that I’ve used for two play mats and various other sewing projects over the years. It just keeps giving and giving – and it was simply a matter of sewing a hem in either side and looping some rope through it.  Craig did the job of securing hooks to the wall and voila!  Toy Hammock!  The R10 cost of the hooks was well worth it.  Now Sam and Micah have decided to choose one toy to sleep with each night.  Ah, how my mother-meets-control-freak heart sings!  It’s not often that the two gel so nicely!


Toy Mat (R0, $0)

One of my bug bears – and most moms’ bug bears – is little pieces of Lego All. Over. The. House.  They have drawers.  But they usually get mixed up with the Duplo and I find Lego in all sorts of crazy places.  I decided they’d need to live across the room from the rest of the toys in the boys’ room.  And a good toy mat may help.  Enter this useful tutorial at FabricMill.  All the boys’ Lego fits into a beautiful draw-string bag that doubles as a playmat.  Loosen the string and it becomes a circular play mat.  Tighten it and becomes a tote-bag.  Lovely!

It was the first thing the boys played with when they entered their room on Sunday morning.  And Sam has the hang of packing it away already.


I keep the bag loose in the bottom drawer of Sam’s chest of drawers, to make it easier to get in and out.  But, if we transport it anywhere else, the tote-bag function will come in handy for sure!


Both lots of fabric consists of stuff I already had.  The lovely blue, red and white patchwork fabric I bought about 6 years ago, with my American Memory Picnic Blanket in mind.  Well, I guess I’ll be sourcing more fabric for that project, because I’ve all but used it up!


Bunting (R10/ $1.50)

I’ve been on a bit of a bunting kick lately – I think it’s a lovely, striking decor idea that’s fun and inexpensive and easy to make.  I had all the fabric already, so it was simply the cost of the binding that made this project R10 / $1.50.


After stringing it along the top of Micah’s wall, I had a small piece left over.  On a whim, I popped it on Sam’s book gutter.  I may well move the rest onto the gutters – it looks so sweet!


Hanging ships (R100 / $11)

These guys I bought at the beginning of the year, knowing that I would probably stick with a ship theme for the boys’ room whenever I finally got around to doing them.  They were a total impulse buy which I almost regretted.  But, they are so sweet and I’m so glad I did buy The one set hangs from next to Micah’s curtain. The other on the pinboard. 


This one covers up a big hole left over from a bad drilling job a few years’ ago.


Pinboard (R100 / $11)

That trusty blue fabric I referred to early?  I still have some left over, even after covering this pinboard.  My friend Charise introduced me to soft wood – perfect for a pinboard.  This 900mmx900mm board cost me +- R100.  It’s a quick job if you have a staple gun and a handy hubby to drill it into the wall.  The screws didn’t look too beautiful, so the hanging ships cover some, while the pieces of fabric cut-outs cover the others.  


Bedding, blankets etc (R0)

I already had the boys’ bedding and I did find some other bedding, but I’m not crazy about it, so it’s probably going back to the store.  So, for now, bedding is the same stuff and costs us nothing in terms of this bedroom redo.

The best part of the redo is always the Great Reveal.  The boys slept in our bed for the past three nights as their room was in the various stages of readiness.  When we head to bed, we transfer their lead-weight sleeping bodies to the couch.  They woke at the crack of dawn and couldn’t wait to see it all.  Walking in, this is what they saw…


And these are the faces that I got to see:


Absolute and utter delight.  Micah couldn’t stop jumping up and down, clapping his hands.  And Sam, with his shy smile of delight – priceless!




That’s it!  R2490 total by my count.  Add to that the cost of extras like hooks, gutter shelve brackets, light bulbs and such, we probably spent another R200.  Making this bedroom redo roughly R2700 / $300!  Considering that R1300 of it was bedroom furniture, all the little bits and pieces cost roughly R1400 / $160 in total.  Yay for budget-beating stuff!

A Bedroom Redo

There is SO much happening of late that I’ve taken an unintentional blogging hiatus.  I hope to get to sharing some of the month’s highlights soon, but before we get there, here’s a post about a make-over that has been long overdue.

Years and years and years ago, I made quilts for the girls.  They had a sweet, pretty pink bedroom.  And they loved it.

Here’s Kiera’s first one when she was 19 months old – she eventually shared with Katie in a cot when Sam came along and eventually the both of them had (labour-intensive-was-I-crazy?) bed quilts in soft pinks.

2003-12-05 011

Ever since, the girls have had a pink bedroom of sorts, using what they already had by way of decor.  When they swapped rooms with the boys a few years ago, their room got slightly less pink (read no more wall and curtain decor).  By that stage Kiera was morphing into her tomboy phase.  But, we just couldn’t afford a bedroom makeover, despite promising that we’d do one, sometime…

“Sometime” turned into two years.  By this stage, their quilts were threadbare, stained and, while radically faded, still too pink for Ms. Kiera’s liking.  Eventually, they packed their quilts away in favour of the old duvets we have, also in a faded pink colour. 

Enter – this year!  I promised the girls a couple of weeks ago that I’d look into finding some duvet covers that they both like – thinking to myself that we could slowly do something in their room.  Well, long story short: we ended up buying fabric.  (short story long – every single store had only garish pink stuff or totally baby boy stuff).  In the fabric store, the girls hummed and hawed and totally ignored my gentle and not so gentle urgings – what about this one?  and this one?  but this is not too girly?  They settled on something that looked like Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting.


Okay.  Well.  What does one do with that?  I had planned on a quick sew, but this fabric was going to be totally overpowering as a full duvet.  But, by then I was getting into the whole room redo thing and the ol’ creative juices – long time in hibernation – began working again and so a plan developed.  What started as a “we will look into a room change” became a fully blown two-week project.  It was hugely fun!  For once I had most of the things that I needed/wanted for the project and everything else was an easy find.  Two weeks later – the room went from this:


(blurry panoramic shots from my phone!)


to this:


Here is how:

The first great find were these two bedside tables.  The girls have had one bedside table between the two of them. It just wasn’t working.   I looked into a few options, until I found these selling on Gumtree for next to nothing.  They’re old hairdressing trolleys from a woman who closed her salon.  The girls got fully into the refurb experience – turning these guys into bedside tables with the same weathered look of our other furniture:


Finished!  I have wicker basket drawers on order to place on the shelf, as those little drawers probably won’t manage to contain all their junk (ah-hem – stuff).


Years and years ago, I found these old wooden block frames at a Biggie Best sale.  I tagged along with Kerry at the time.  She scored a bed and a few other things.  All I found were these frames, which they let me keep for free, since they were really just rubbishy pieces of wood, badly nailed together.  For the longest time I knew I would do something with them.  Here they are, getting sprayed with gold spray paint left over from a Busy Kids’ project in 2008!


After spraying, I sanded it down a bit to give it a more matte-weathered look.  Then,  I gave it some backing with blue cardboard and a beautiful piece of gold-flecked partially transparent paper.  A drilled hole, plus raffia made a useful hanging point.  The girls have a few favourite songs with the word “light” featuring in them.  Since the room was moving along to a stars and light theme, I chose an extract of one of the favourite songs and printed that on the transparent paper.  On the other block, I chose a special verse for each of them and popped it together with a picture of them when they were much younger.  To give it a raised effect, I glued them onto a disposable muffin tray cup like so: 


The result (horrid photos, taken with my phone sadly)… Katie’s


(song extract from God Girl, by her favourite artist – Jamie Grace)


And Kiera’s … (her song extract is from Light of the World, by Stuart Townend)


Here Kiera is checking them out – love her smile!


Most of the things I prepared/made over the past two weeks.  Then, last night (Wednesday) we sent the girls to sleep in the playroom, while Craig and I tackled the room.  Craig was a champ – drilling holes all over the place and troubleshooting my ambitious ideas to make them workable!  Two days’ earlier, our gardener kindly spent the day, not gardening, but prepping and painting the back wall with the girls’ chosen shade of blue. 


The it was up to Craig and I to pull all the pieces together.  Speaking of pieces – here are the rest of them:

I found these beautiful hooks at Mr Price. – perfect for towels and dressing gowns.


Again, years ago, Kerry gave me three beautiful wooden star hooks.  The idea was to decoupage or something like that – so they stayed in my craft cupboard, until now.  Perfect for the star themed bedroom!  And the left over gold spray paint from yesteryear kept on giving – a light spray and a quick sand, gave these beauties the weathered-gold look.


Two of the stars hook onto the screws holding the pin board up.  Further down this post are pictures of the pin board.  Thanks to my friend Charise for the pin board idea!  We were visiting last week when I noticed her son’s pinboard – beautifully covered in fabric.  Charise told me about this great soft board that Builder’s Warehouse sells that makes a great pin board.  So, off we went the next day – R113 for a 1.5m by 1.5m board; some left over fabric from making the duvet covers and my staple gun (thanks Mom for returning it!) = a 10 minute DIY project!  It took Craig and I about 15-20 minutes to screw it into the wall and voila!  A beautiful pin board!  Wish I had known about that when I made our other one laboriously with cork tiles, contact glue and old cardboard boxes!


Another Mr Price find were these push button night lights – beautiful!  And perfect for having to move around the room at night without disturbing sister.  I imagine they may contribute to some privilege-abuse, so we will see how long they last!


We’ve had star glow-in-the-dark stickers forever – so these made their way onto their ceiling:


The girls and I found beautiful voile curtaining at Sheet Street with stars embroidered on it.  Usually, voile goes underneath a heavier curtain.  But, while on holiday last year, I noticed the room we were staying in had the voile on TOP of the thicker cream curtains.  It really was so effective and so I recreated that back home. 


We also found these great tie-backs (moon, anyone?) from Sheet Street for R20 each.  They stay together with a magnet fastening.


Yu Tom, the junky Chinese store, totally helped us out with more stars and moon themed-accents.  Like this paper lantern for R17 (that’s about $1.80)…


…and these fairy lights which frame the girls’ window…


The beads are there to add some extra fun to the room and to detract from the ugly wires that are stuck to the wall in the corner.  I had a fat packet of blue and another of white assorted beads already in my craft cupboard.  I’d totally forgotten that I had bought these beads about 15 months’ ago on a trip to Knysna when the Ozzie Newills were visiting.  Yu Tom provided me again with the threading wire – R7 for 50 metres Smile 


Methinks I should make another string of them to hang down off the fan’s ugly wire, on Katie’s side of the room.


I love bunting – I think it’s so pretty and, since it is so easy to make, I thought I’d give it a bash.  Again, left over material (finally, my hording habits are paying off!) did the trick…



Empty frames!  The girls used to plaster their walls with posters of their latest craze.  It sometimes looked like someone had vomited magazine pages all over the wall.  But, I did want to give them an opportunity to personalise their bedroom beyond mommy’s over-enthusiastic decorating.  We have a bunch of old frames lying around the house, including a few from Craig’s old school photos (long removed to be scanned for easier storage and retrieval).  I ditched the glass, backing and even the little metal fasteners that keep them all in place.  I painted up a few with a rough white coat, while others I stained with a rough brown stain – both left over from old house projects.  Now the girls can plaster their walls to their hearts’ content – inside the frames! 


So far neither of them have made a move to do so – I think (hope!) the frames have them wanting to be more selective about what they put inside. Already Kiera is talking about getting photos of her friends to pop inside.

Bedding!  (already rumpled in the photo from excited girls bouncing around!)  As mentioned, I couldn’t bear the idea of the dark blue fabric dominating the room, so I made myself a whole lot more work by sewing these instead.  Kiera’s:


Katie’s was actually a mistake – I cut the fabric too short by mistake, so I popped in a strip of blue to differentiate hers from Kiera’s.  I think I prefer it though.



I used button fasteners at the bottom – we found sweet pale yellow ones with stars on them that Katie chose.


Katie’s side of the room still has her touches of pink …


We have had this beautiful painting for years.  I did a terrible framing job of it some years ago – the frame broke and so the painting was relegated to a forgotten pile in the house somewhere.  Well, I figure that it doesn’t need a frame!  It’s beautiful as is…


Long may this shelf remain neat and tidy!  My mom gave us two horse pictures that used to be in my sister’s childhood bedroom.  They look beautiful gracing the top of the bookshelf.


All of these pictures were taken today, after the girls saw their room (aiming for better light than last night’s 11:30pm lighting!).  But, here are some shots of them during the grand reveal (again, totally forgot to take with my camera, so it’s fuzzy phone shots I’m afraid)…

First – the door!  This old frame used to contain sweet pooh bear pics and used to grace my babies’ rooms.  Well, out with the old and in with the new(ish).  Another gold quick spray (and the can of paint finally ran out half way – can you see?!) and some photos of the girls together over the years makes for a sweet door hanging.  Unfortunately, my printer is playing silly games and so I have to reprint these so that they come out the right colour and not half purple!  It says: “Welcome to Kiera & Katie’s Room”.


And here are their faces:  lots of smiles, laughs and giggles of delight.  Totally rewarding!


Look at that!  How cool!


I love my bed!


And minutes later, they got straight into personalising their pin board (divided with some hanging beads)…







This was by far the most fun I’ve had doing a kids’ room.  Now, to keep it neat and tidy!

Tutorial: Hobby Horses

My kids, thanks mostly to the influence of my eldest, are 100% into hobby horses.  So much so that they turned old sticks and beach buckets into temporary hobby horses.  Around Katie’s 7th birthday, I hunted the whole of Cape Town down for a hobby horse.  I came up with nothing, except a vague thought of making some myself.  Well, my mom came to the rescue at the last minute and solved the hobby horse problem for Katie’s birthday, but the boys wanted one too, and so did Kiera’s friend, Lea.  So the thought of making one resurfaced.  To cut a long story short, I made Lea one and then promised the kids that we would make more together as a hand craft project in the winter.

Well, the winter came and went. So, when Kiera came down with a case of Chicken-Pox-a-la-False-Alarm, we had two days left of our Spring holidays.  Two days where no one would come near us and we were all pretty much house bound.  It was a case of “now or never”.  So we went with now.  Turns out that it wasn’t as easy for the kids that I thought it would be.  Unlike their sewing projects last year, this one was a little more tricky.  So they did about 30% of the work, while I did the other 70%.  But we did take pictures for their school books and for this tutorial.  They have evidence that they were involved and I have all the tips and reminders for future.  If I ever make more of these!

Most of what I did comes directly from this video series you can watch in segments on YouTube.  The only big differences in our horses are the ears, nostrils, tails and stick covering.  Here goes our attempt at a tutorial!

What you need for one horse:

  • 1 metre of furry fabric (fake fur, fleecey fabric, even old towels work well)
  • 1 pair of teddy bear eyes
  • 1 ball of wool
  • stuffing
  • wooden dowel stick, roughly 2cm in diameter (or anything like pvc electrical piping, even irrigation piping works!)
  • heavy duty fishing gut
  • 60cm by 10cm of stretchy fabric that matches the horse to cover the dowel stick
  • 10cm square of felt (brown or another colour for the nostrils)
  • old pair of pantyhose or knee highs

Step One:

Draw the shape of your horse head onto paper for the pattern.


Pin and cut it out (don’t ask me what Katie is wearing – lately, she goes through about 6 changes of outfits a day – all having some specific character or theme reference. This, I believe, was the Little House on the Prairie look…)



Step Two:

Cut out two ear shapes from paper.  About 12cm across from the bottom and 12cm in height.  Make the second ear piece slightly smaller.  Place the ear pieces onto the doubled fabric.  Pin and cut.  You should have two large ear pieces and two smaller ear pieces.




Step Three

Sew the ears:  Place the large piece RIGHT side to the smaller piece’s RIGHT side.  The smaller piece forms the inner part of the ear.  For the kids’ horses, I used the wrong side of the furry material as the inside of the ear.  Sew the edges clean together.  This makes the furry side fold over a bit, keeping the inner part of the ear “inside”.  Cut a slit into the top of the horse head cut-out, about 10 cm from the top of the head, 3cm long.  This is where the ear goes in (the video tutorial hand sews the ears on later, but I didn’t like the way it look, nor the fact that it was easy for little kids to pull off).  Pop the ear into the slit and sew it shut from the underside.



Step Four:

A horse’s mane!  Find a firm strip of cardboard about 15 to 25cm wide and about 50cm length.  Or just use something that you have already that loosely matches the criteria.  This is what we used: my rotary cutter ruler thingymajiggy.  Then wrap the wool you’d like to use for the mane around and around and around and around until you have a nice thick mane.  Snip the mane through on the one side.



Then GENTLY ease it off the cardboard/cutter thingymajiggy and make it arch around side 1 of the horse’s head (right side up).


Make sure that the mane overlaps the head by about 1cm.  This ensures that when you sew it all together, the machine should secure it well and no loose bits should come out.  In theory that is.



Step Five:

Pin the head together.  Place the second head piece right side DOWN and pin the mane and both sides together.  Leave the neck part unpinned.  Sew all together, except the neck part of course.  It gets tricky because the fabric is quite bulky by now, especially if you use the fake furry material that I used on the girls’ horses.



Step Six:

Turn the head the right way round and put the eyes in.  I forgot to photograph this part.  Simply, buy some teddy bear eyes from a local craft store.  Decide where you are going to place them and then pop them on.  Quite easy really.  Then, stuff that head! 🙂


Step Seven:

The Tail! (Here is where the tutorial runs out of steam, because I forgot to take so many of the photos!)  Wrap the tail wool around a large book.  Make sure that it works out longer than the mane.


To secure the tail nicely onto the wooden pole (cut it down to size first) drill a hole in the top of the pole about 3 cm down and then a hole through the side of the pole about 3 cm down.  Tie the tail wool onto the pole using heavy duty fishing line (gut).




Step Eight

Cover the stick with a “sleeve” of stretchy fabric.  I cut two strips of about 3cm each in width, sewed them together, turned them right side out and then stretched it up over the pole like a stocking.  You can just see some of the fabric in the photo below on the pole.  These particular ones are made out of old stockings of the girls from when they were little.  It’s important to cover the top of the stick that is going to go into the head with more stuffing.  I used an old pair of pantihose to secure the stuffing to the top of the pole.  This prevents the pole from wearing away at the fabric inside the head and eventually popping out the top one day.


Step Nine:

Push the stick well into the head, push more stuffing in around the stick until the head is the shape and firmness that you would like.  Then, tack fishing line around the open end and gather the material together, tying it tightly around the neck of the horse.  The video tutorial explains how to secure the head well.

Step Ten:

Sew the last little embellishments on.  I added only nostrils made out of felt and shaped like an upside down comma, sewn on with small stitches.  Later on, I made halters out of rope and other rope-like material.

Step Eleven:

Step back and enjoy the kids’ faces when they see their horses.  They love them.


The kids have played with them non stop since.  While we were creating them, lots of thought went into their names.  When we eventually breathed the last bit of life into them, they were all ready to be named.  Sam’s is Black Coal (Coal for short), Kiera’s was Moonlight, but is now Winter, Micah’s is Fire (his favourite pet name) and Katie’s is Top Deck.


Two afternoons worth of work – I think the kids did well to cope with the anticipation and the more mundane parts of creating them.  Good going kids!


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