Tag Archives: make your own

Fabric wall mural


So being renters I’ve never set up a nursery per se for my kids. They end up in our room until 2ish anyhow, and it would be for me not for them. I still kind of wanted to, but wasn’t really in a place where we could. I always felt like I’d do it when they were old enough to know what they liked and help me pick it out. That day came for kid 1 while I was pregnant with kid 3. We made an effort to buy a house, but our local property market is unfortunately too insane. So after being disappointed that we couldn’t paint the kids room or paint a mural like I had always intended I had an idea. I saw the tutorial from Spoonflower to make your own shower curtain and I thought….’hey I could make a wall mural out of fabric’.

So I did.

What you will need:

Paint.net or some other paint/photo manipulation software. I like paint.net, but there’s also GIMP and others that are free. Bully to you if you have Photoshop.

A Spoonflower account.

As recommended in the shower curtain tutorial  I used the fabric ‘Silky Faille’ for my mural. It has a 52 inch width, so I made a canvas in Paint.net that was about 52 inches wide by 36 inches high. Mine ended up being 50 by 33 or something.

Put your image in there. I put something together out of some other images and image filters and basic digital painting. I also found that big images like desktop wall papers work well to being scaled up that large. Once it was kid approved I uploaded it to Spoonflower (make sure it’s at least 150DPI) and chose the center orientation. (see screenshot)

Screenshot (4) crop

Here is the finished product out of the wash (because it was all creasy from being shipped to me). Still a bit creasy


For best result I would recommend hemming the edges, and making a large hem on the top that you can thread a dowel through. Then you can attach a string to the dowel and hang the whole thing from that (only one hole in the wall, again, renting, yay).

Here is the finished product.



Also it was pretty cheap. The fabric, printed, alone was less than $25.


Easy maternity clothing hack


Why this sort of thing isn’t standard in maternity wear I don’t know. But it’s pretty easy to DIY, even if you don’t sew.

Because when I get to a certain point in pregnancy my shirts ride up. Or generally get too short. Perhaps I’m disproportionate, but I’m also short with a short torso, so you wouldn’t think that maternity shirts would be too short.

Anyhow. Here’s what you do:

Take any shirt with a bottom hem. Cut a hole. If the shirt has side seams I cut one small hole near each side seam.


Measure yourself a piece of elastic. I like this thinner type, but really whatever fits in your seam. I pull a piece from hip to hip making sure it has enough tension. Basically not loose.

Insert elastic into hole and thread through the seam. A good way to do this is to use a safety pin. I’ve also used crochet hooks and seam rippers. Safety pin is probably easiest though.


Sew the holes and elastic up on each side.


You should now have a elasticated hem in the front of your shirt.

Look, it stays put! (on my not even 30 week belly that has outgrown some shirts already)


I have made several undershirts like this as well as altered some other maternity shirts. No riding up here!

Fighting the woo


When you, or especially your child, has one of those problems not well recognized or treated by modern medicine there is a strong push to retreat into woo. Woo? Woo is pseudoscience, anecdata, do it yourself remedies and non-mainstream treatments. Frustratingly some treatments and procedures that work go strongly hand in hand with woo treatments that may or may not work. When no one you initially go to for help takes you seriously, or gives you any kind of help and you hear about some thing that worked for some one, you get desperate.  You wander off the beaten path looking for anything that will help.

I’ve been there for several conditions. Related to the same issue, but two different modes of treatment, one for me and one for my kids. When I presented with my issue I was desperate and after asking for help and getting none of the professional variety, I tried whatever I could find. Some of it worked, some of it did not. I tried to be objective and not waste time and money. When I was later told that my issue might be related to something about my children I actually spent a fair amount of money getting one of them treated.  While I think it helped, it disturbs me that there is a lot of woo that goes hand in hand with the treatment. It makes me feel like what is probably a highly valid and useful procedure is some kind of scam. Mainly because of the beliefs of the people buying into it. I feel that though I think I can see some difference, that the procedure or talking about it or doing it puts me on the edge of reasonable. I don’t want to be on the edge of reasonable.

There are variations in people looking for help. There are people like me who are told there is no treatment, or are brushed off with something to ameliorate the symptoms without doing any treating or diagnosing whatsoever and are seeking help wherever it can be found, then there are people who are seeking alternative treatments because of a mistrust in mainstream treatments for whatever reason. One can see how these might come to overlap. I think what I find disturbing is the lack of other people’s critical thinking. If something is not mainstream, but effective,  then that seems to open up the door for other, less effective non-mainstream methods. Because it’s natural, or herbal, or, yikes, homeopathic. The assumption that natural means harmless or risk free is particularly galling to me.

The people who encounter the first and find something that works and then plunge uncritically into the realm of the second is something I find upsetting. That indicates a failure somewhere in the system, either in diagnosing, treating or just basic helping of the patient. I think in most cases it’s not worth it to argue with the person who chooses natural just because (assumption of risk free or harmless).

Myself, when I use an alternate remedy, I am very careful to evaluate cost, perceived effectiveness, as well as any side effects.  I hope I’m doing a good job eliminating any placebo effect. There have been things I really really wanted to work, that simply didn’t pass my cost/benefit worthiness requirements. So I no longer use them. If something is low cost, with low side effects and only works minimally to moderately well I will still use it because there is not significant contraindication to me using it. Conversely, if something is costly (in either time or finances) it needs to work more than moderately well for me to continue using it. I try to feel better about using alternative remedies simply because there are no actual remedies (or none I have access to). But then I feel like I’m just doing it to do something, and that maybe nothing is better than something and I should just stop.  Oh, it’s frustrating.

I was raised on a plethora of hippy-science because my parents were poor, non-science educated, and also of the opinion that natural was better. So part of me finds it particularly galling and yet ironic for me, science educated, sort of critical thinking, to be relying on such natural methods. Not that I’m keen to be pumping my body full of pharmaceuticals, but I would like to have something beyond anecdata and folklore to go on. Clinical trials even, if not double blind randomized. Known side effects. Rates of effectiveness. Stuff like that.

I think the biggest grump for me is that I have to do this without guidance. There’s no one I can really talk to about whether something is working or not, or about any side effects I’m having. That I have to watch out for side effects, gauge effectiveness myself, and all I’m doing is adding to a hidden pile of anecdata that anyone not in the position to need or want to try alternative treatments can write off as an unproven remedy.

Musical animals


So my sister thoughtfully gave Thing 1 a musical bear when she was born. Now this bear doesn’t just play music, no, this bear was equipped with Cloud services. You could put whatever you wanted on this bear. You could share stories and song and all sorts of stuff. So the company advertised.

Being boring, we put some music of our choosing on this bears 2GB mp3 drive. It plays on repeat for about an hour then shuts off. It helps Thing 1 get to sleep. Unfortunately this bear is also a bit crappy. After 2.5 years the buttons sometimes don’t work. When I tried to buy a replacement to have on hand and an additional bear for Thing 2 the company couldn’t process my payment because I was overseas (a company that advertises itself as catering to spread out families. Boooo). I was a bit peeved. I also found that these type of products- customizable music playing stuffed animals or inserts for stuffed animals that play custom music are pretty rare or fairly expensive for what they are- to wit: an MP3 player and some speakers.

So I figured out how to make my own musical animal. We don’t care about the cloud services. If you did there are services like Dropbox and Google Drive and so on for that sort of thing.

So here is what you need:

An animal, pillow etc.



An mp3 player.


Pillow speakers or a 5W speaker (I found pillow speakers a cheap workable alternative. They are set up like headphones but have speakers on the end. Neat)




A stitch ripper.

Take your animal (this was a giggling monkey. He’s soft and all- a gift from my lovely boss, but I can’t be having with the giggling), and rip open the back. Do it neatly.


Pull some stuffing out


That’s stuffing and his giggle box.



Sew and hem a pouch big enough for your mp3 player and speakers.


Connect the pouch to the animal and sew velcro to the edges




Put your music of choice on the mp3 player. You can make an hour long playlist or more or less and leave it on repeat. We want to save batteries (this is a computer rechargeable model of mp3 player)

Connect the speakers and put everything in the pouch.



To turn on you will need to open the animal, but then away you go.




Alternately if you aren’t the best seamstress (really I had to haphazardly hand sew that velcro on there. It doesn’t look great in my efforts to make it strong), find some type of toy that is already designed to be opened up and stick your mp3 player and speakers in there. GloWorms and SeaHorses are good candidates.



Now I just need to put some better lullaby music on the mp3 player. Not that there’s anything wrong with using Siouxsie and the Banshees…