Playing with Shrinky Dinks

The gold clover on Froo’s Kate Middleton Military Coat fell off the bar pin after just 3 wears. I remember reading this post on How About Orange, so I decided to make a clover out of Shrinky Dinks. I went to Michael’s and found Shrinky Dinks that can be printed using an ink jet printer–on both sides! I couldn’t stop the ideas from spinning out of my mind.

Froo & Boo is a one-woman show, with one supportive and handsome investor (a shout-out to my hubs). I designed the logo, created the content and now I have PIPPA. Packaging is a huge aspect of branding, so I’ve been thinking of ways to create unique packaging that would enhance the Froo & Boo brand.

I wanted to see what tags made out of Shrinky Dinks would look and feel like. I’ve never used Shrinky Dinks before, so this was really new to me. I printed on both sides of the Shrinky Dinks page and used a couple of punches to make my tags. The packaging says that it reduces to 1/3 of the original size, but in the photo below, you can see that the Shrinky Dinks reduced to less than 1/4 of the actual size.

I had my face glued to the oven door watching the Shrinky Dinks. Then I started to get worried because my Shrinky Dinks looked like this:

I pulled them out of the oven and tried to straighten them out, but they were pretty stiff. So I did what I did whenever I had needed to learn something new. I went on YouTube. It turns out that they curl first, before they flatten out. I put them back in the oven in the hopes that they would continue to automagically shrink.

Another 4 minutes, then using paper to press and flatten the tags further–this is what I got:

The tags are double-sided.

I’m not sure if you can see it in the photos, but the tags shrunk with an angled slant. They turned into little parallelograms, like the Pink Pearl erasers I used in elementary school. I’m not sure if it’s because I took the Shrinky Dinks out of the oven early, then continued to bake them after they had cooled down, but all of the tags were slanted, so I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Also, some of the red print from the Trader Joe’s paper bag rubbed onto the backsides of the tags. What I like about them: they are super thick with a nice matte finish.

Although I had a lot of fun doing some R&D, I don’t think I will be using these cute little tags. I am thinking of using Shrinky Dinks in my next art project with Froo & Boo. Oh the possibilities!



Once upon a time, I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from a Canadian university. I wore suits. I read the Globe & Mail. I applied for jobs. I went to Switzerland and worked as a web design intern. I returned to Vancouver in 2001, in the midst of a recession. I went back to the same university to get an Education degree. I taught Business Education at the high school level for half a decade. I did some freelance graphic design. My work history in a nutshell.

What is PIPPA? Business people love acronyms. PIPPA for me stands for Projects In Progress – Product Assembly. At this stage in my work life, I am working as a full-time mommy. I absolutely love it, but there is a part of me that needs to accomplish things and set goals for my own life. Moving to the San Francisco Bay area has given me the opportunity to start my own business. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, but I’ve just been too busy working. So I’ve developed a business plan (in my head), designed some products and now I have PIPPA. Hmmm, it’s definitely not going to catch on.

I’ve created a Facebook page to share updates. I also signed up for twitter, but I feel like such a twit because I don’t know how to tweet. This is the cover photo for my Facebook page, which acts as a sneak peek at my PIPPA.

So while I have PIPPA, I am going to blog about things that I have made in the past. I will announce my grand opening as soon as I have HUGS (Handmade Unique Goods for Sale). Oh dear, I need to stop with the acronyms.

As for pseudonyms, I came up with Froo & Boo one day when Froo came home from daycare singing a song about a little bunny Foo Foo. It was so funny, something about bopping mice on the head. Froo sounded more chic and Frenchie, so I stuck with Froo. As for Boo, well, it just fits.

I can’t believe it! (x2)

Last week, I participated in Project Run & Play’s sewing challenge to create a look based on a fashion icon. I created this Kate Middleton military coat for Froo. I saw some really awesome pieces in the Flickr group and was seriously amazed at the talent out there to create (rather quickly) designs from scratch. So imagine my surprise when my WordPress stats spiked (I think my mother-in-law and girlfriends are the only ones who visit, I don’t think my own mom has been to my blog yet) and bloggers I’ve been following have been leaving such lovely comments–eek! How exciting! Thanks for all of your positive feedback!

I am still in shock and took this screen shot to make sure it really happened:

Another thing that I can’t believe… Boo sat still through half of Froo’s 45-minute dance class! I have tried everything to keep him calm: videos on the iPad, crayons, cars, snacks, rubber stamps (bad idea)–nothing held his interest. All he wants to do is shake the gate until he can bust through and dance with the girls. Until I came up with a brilliant idea.

For some reason, both Froo & Boo love to play with buttons. Froo likes the shiny ones, Boo likes the big ones. He will hold one in his hand all day. At the end of the day, there will be one clenched in his fist. I bought a big bag of plastic buttons at Michael’s to use for Froo’s quiet book, so I filled a pillbox (from Daiso, the Japanese dollar store) with buttons of every colour. I gave it to him when we arrived at Froo’s dance class and he had so much fun moving buttons from the small compartments into the main box. He is even starting to sort the buttons! There is one special button and he picked it up and said, “heart”. I asked him where the blue one was, but he didn’t know until I said, “where is the Cookie Monster blue button?” He picked up the blue button and was really happy. I know I shouldn’t compare, but when Froo was Boo’s age, she knew the difference between dark, regular and light pink. I took the box and put it away in my purse as soon as we left so he won’t get bored with it. I hope it will work next week!

A Birthday Quiet Book

Dress: Janie & Jack  /  Hairpin: H&M  /  Handmade Apron: “Girl’s World” by Paganelli  /  Fabric: Tula Pink

For Froo’s birthday, I decided that I would make her a quiet book. With an upcoming plane ride, I am only prepared to deal with disasters coming from Boo. Last week at Whole Foods, as I was reaching to grab something, Boo stood up from the front of the shopping cart and fell into the back of the shopping cart, right ontop of Froo. The seat belt was tightly fastened–I have no idea how he wormed out of it so quickly. I had both boogers crying their eyeballs out. I wanted to cry, too.

Anyhoo, I had a lot of fun making the quiet book! There are so many ideas from Pinterest, but I really wanted to make this one specific to Froo’s interests.

I started off with a plain black 2″ ring-binder, a non-standard 9″x6″ size that I found at Office Depot. It fits half of a felt sheet perfectly. (At 5 for $1, plus an additional 20% off at Michael’s–I bought 55 sheets! That would have been almost $30 in Canada at $0.49 each. Yikes!) I made a fabric cover based on this tutorial, but added an inside pocket and handles. The pocket is elasticized and expands at the bottom to fit felt letters. I made the felt letters by using Heat’n Bond Ultra Hold to fuse 2 pieces of felt together, then ran the felt through my die-cutting machine. I did this to make the felt letters thicker and also to indicate which side was up. I made extra vowels and commonly used consonants.

The front of the binder cover has a flannel patchwork piece to make the felt letters stick. I sew in a bit of corded elastic to wrap around the flower button on the front as a closure. The grey floral fabric is backed with a medium-weight fusible interfacing.

1st Page. This is a fun one. I created a curtain that opens up to reveal a stage. A girl and costumes are hidden in the pockets of the curtains that are held back with snaps. Backdrops are tucked away in the floorboards.

There are 4 different hair options, 3 dresses, a mermaid outfit and 2 scenes: the ocean and a castle. There are so many add-ons that I can think of to add to this page in the future. I started off using fabric glue, but it took a long time to dry and it didn’t adhere very well, so I ended up using a glue gun.

Pages 2 & 3. I like to call these pages “Girlie Monsters in the Closet.”

There are 5 monsters and 15 (+1 spare) googly eyeballs with eyelashes and pink eyeshadow. They are backed with the poky side of velcro.

Here is the page in action. Monsters are counted individually and eyeballs are placed on the monsters, the number of eyeballs corresponding to the number on the page. Counting happening in 2 different ways.

Page 4. This one is inspired by The Quiet Book Blog. I made my buttons a different colour to make it a matching exercise as well. The flowers are all tucked away in the flower vase. The vase was sewn with a decorative heart stitch using my sewing machine. I usually only use about 2-3 different stitches, so it was nice trying a different one.

Page 5. You’ve Got Mail! Froo loves sending and receiving mail. Sometimes she draws a picture for my hubs and me, folds it into an envelope, drops it into the mailbox and tells us we have mail. There is a lovely tutorial here.

Here are a couple of photos with detailed shots. I think I got the Chinese character horribly wrong and it might be upside down(?). My husband is Chinese-Canadian and I asked him to write the character for our last name. I love the Chinese tradition of gifting lucky red pockets of money–it somehow makes it special to receive money as a gift, no matter what the amount. I am Korean-Canadian and my parents gave us money as gifts too, but always in plain white envelopes. Lucky Froo got a red pocket with Hello Kitty on it for her birthday this year–thank you Mama & Yeye!

Page 6. This next page is for teaching Froo the colours of the rainbow in their proper order.

Page 7. Based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale, “The Princess and the Pea”. I read his (non-Disney adapted) collection a couple of years ago and felt that they were more like campfire ghost stories, rather than nursery stories. I explained the story to Froo and she didn’t get it. But she liked the stuffed pillow.

Page 8. This is the final page in Froo’s quiet book. It is a weaving page. All of the pages are sewn together and finished off with 3 small button holes to fit the 3-ring binder. It is completely stuffed!

Fewf! This is a long post. Lots of photos. Lots of fun. At first, Froo wasn’t sure about her new quiet book, it was the first thing she opened when she woke up on her birthday, but the next day, she said to me, “mommy, thank you for making me a book.” Then I had to help her get the mermaid’s bikini top on and I’m not sure how “quiet” this book is turning out to be.

Froo’s 4th Birthday

Today is Froo’s 4th Birthday. Last night the hubs and I decorated the kitchen with paper lanterns saved from her 1st birthday, balloons, pompoms and streamers. The day was filled with surprises and fun.

Here is a preview of the present I made for Froo. A detailed post to follow soon.

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Fashion Icon Week

Actually, it’s Froo’s birthday week. But over at Project Run & Play, there is a sewing challenge to create a look based on a fashion icon. My fashion icon: Kate Middleton. Who didn’t sigh at the sight of her in her wedding gown? The hubs and I stayed up past 1-something in the morning to watch the ceremony live and I just couldn’t stop talking about her dress. Ah-mazing.

So the cogs in my mind started turning and I really wanted to participate in this one. I googled Kate Middleton and the first thing that struck me was the McQueen military coat she wore last year. It’s fitted, yet modest, modern, yet traditional.

I wanted to create a very similar silhouette, so I decided on using a stretch French Terry for this coat. I bought a remnant at Fabricana because I knew I could make something for either Froo or Boo. The exterior is smooth and soft with a generous amount of stretch. After learning to use a double-needle for sewing knits from this tutorial, I have come to love sewing with knits. Navy blue is one of my favourite colours to wear; it’s also one of my favourite colours to dress both Froo & Boo in.

Yesterday, I started off by tracing Froo’s knit blazer, but ran out of tracing paper, so I improvised a bit. This is the first thing I’ve ever drafted myself, so I was a little nervous. After cutting out my paper pieces, I put them together to see if they would fit, then made some modifications. I used the Lily Bird Studio Mona Coat as a reference for construction and the Wiksten Tova as a reference for putting in a stand-up collar.

I may have said that this was the cutest coat ever, but this one could take its place. I tried to take pictures of Froo inside, but her eyes kept getting drawn to the tv, so I ended up taking pictures of her outside.

This was Froo’s first pose. The sleeves are a little long–I drafted my pattern based on a GapKids size small (6-7). Froo said her hands were cold.

After scrunching up her sleeves, she insisted that she was still cold. I was contemplating making the coat in a 3/4 length sleeve, as in Kate Middleton’s, but Froo needs the extra 1/4 for warmth.

I cut a clover out of heavy cardstock paper, painted it with gold metallic paint and stuck it on a bar pin to make a brooch. It is very flimsy–I don’t think it will last the elements. I will have to rethink this one.

A full-length photo of Froo in the coat. You can see the placket showing through. It is the same fabric that I used to line her Burberry-Inspired School Coat. I made the placket too narrow, so it didn’t end up reinforcing the backs of the buttons. It does give the coat stability and structure.

Some additional photos sans Froo:

A detailed look.

If playing princess dress-up meant wearing clothes like this, I would play with Froo all the time.

Coffee and Passports

May 28, 2012 – The day we left Vancouver to move to the San Francisco Bay Area

I had some fabric cut up awhile ago to make another gathered clutch, available as a tutorial from a great sewing blog called Noodlehead. I’ve made 2 previously, both as gifts. This next one was made for me. It is the perfect travel pouch for passports, frequent flyer cards/Nexus passes and foreign currency.

On Wednesday, after I woke up in the morning and prepared breakfast for Froo & Boo, I almost had a meltdown. I ran out of coffee the day before (Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend, my new favourite), but I knew we had a package of Kona coffee that the hubs’ cousin brought back from Hawaii. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I was frazzled. I may have barked at the kids. I was anxiously anticipating a pounding headache. So I rushed Froo & Boo through breakfast, got us all dressed and we went for a brisk walk to our local Starbucks. Mmm. All was right in the world.

Back to the clutch. I bought a fat quarter of this coffee print fabric from Fabricana in Richmond, BC. I’m not sure who designed it–it was the last one left and I couldn’t find it on the bolt. One fat quarter is enough to make 3 clutches! For this one, I didn’t ruffle the front and I omitted the band because I wanted to be able to see the entire print on both the front and back. So I cut the band in half and stitched it to the bottom, giving it a modern, colour block effect.

The inside has 2 slots for cards and a divider. The aqua lining is a linen blend that I got on clearance for $2/metre at Fabricana. The grey with white floral print was leftover from a dress I made (Simplicity 2584). It was the first thing I made for myself after giving birth to Froo and I couldn’t get the zipper up from its lowest point. Yikes. It fits now, but it’s very short and I am thinking of shortening it into a shirt.

The card slots fit all 4 of our aeroplan cards and Nexus cards. All 4 passports fit with ease.

On the other side of the divider, Canadian bills fit lengthwise, without having to fold them. I still haven’t gotten used to American bills. It takes me a bit longer at the cashier, trying to distinguish 1’s from 20’s. Colour coding is much more effective. There’s also room for a pen to fill out customs forms and luggage tags.

The next photos show the clutch with everything packed securely inside. If you look closely, you can see that I forgot to topstitch the fabric close to the zipper. Oops. The huns said he likes it because it’s not girlie. I like it because it’s one less thing to worry about while traveling.

Boo woke up early from his afternoon nap while I was making the clutch. I tried to put him on our bed with the tv on to see if I could finish it. He sat still for one minute so I gave up and finished it in the evening. I ended up taking 84 photos: more than half were blurry, his head was cut-off in a handful and he fell off the bed once. He was laughing on the floor, so I think he’ll be ok.

I still haven’t found the Kona coffee, I even checked under Froo’s bed and in Boo’s toy boxes. I had tea on Thursday morning, which is not a good substitute. There is no substitute. This morning I really enjoyed my coffee.

My budding artists

Froo loves to do arts & crafts. Boo still eats crayons. My mom told me that I should get Boo to do more sit-down activities to focus his attention and to develop his fine motor skills. (What she really said: “Train him to use crayons so he won’t have ADHD in school.”)

We found these cute birdhouses in the $1 bin at Jo-Ann the last time we went. I think they look lovely in their natural state. Froo insisted that we paint them and put them in the backyard beside the birdbaths (bowls filled with water and leaves) that she put outside. So I told her we could paint them as soon as I made some art smocks. She’s been waiting patiently and now they are done.

The art smock pattern comes out of the “oliver + s little things to sew” book by Liesl Gibson. It is my favourite sewing book.

I’ve only made the explorer vests so far and they are worn almost everyday by Froo & Boo. I used fabric from the Sarah Jane “Children at Play” collection and lined the vests with fleece to make them nice and cozy. This next picture was taken in March 2012, in our old Burnaby home. I miss our floors.

The mornings in the Bay Area are quite chilly, so Froo & Boo wear the vests until they get dressed for the day.

The finished art smocks. It is surprisingly detailed for what seems a simple project. The seams are all encased French seams and everything is professionally finished. For both art smocks, I pulled out fabric from my clear tote bins and I had all the notions on hand. I think this means I have too much fabric.

The raglan sleeves were made with a Japanese Lecien print that was on sale at superbuzzy. I only bought half a yard of each colour, thinking I would use them in a future project. The next time I buy cute fabric to save for later, I think a minimum of 1 yard is required. I didn’t have quite enough for Froo’s pockets, so they were made from leftover fabric from her fly a kite quilt.

I still had second thoughts about using this fabric because I didn’t have quite enough for Froo’s sleeves, so the direction of the print on her smock is vertical, rather than horizontal, as on Boo’s. I don’t think Froo noticed, yet. That girl notices everything.

Boo’s art smock was made from a herringbone fabric that I used to make a Wiksten Tova dress. It is 100% cotton and much heavier than quilting fabric. It has a bit of sheen to it, adding texture and depth.

Froo’s fabric is from Moda Cross Weave. I bought a remnant at Peapod Fabrics in San Francisco after a day of exploring the California Academy of Sciences. Since it is woven with two colours, the fabric has almost an iridescent quality and it’s super soft.

I used leftover double-folded bias tape from the explorer vests for the neckline of the art smocks.

I made Boo’s in size small and Froo’s in size medium. They fit perfectly. Boo seemed to be really focused.

Froo was really happy to finally paint her birdhouse.

I think the focused concentration lasted for almost 5 minutes. Woo hoo! It can be done.

Something for Boo

I make stuff for Boo, too. Just not as much stuff as I make for Froo. I find that I only sew him “useful” things, rather than “cute” things. This next project is both useful and cute. Score!

I bought another stroller. Right now, we have 2 strollers. A Joovy Caboose Ultralight Tandem stroller (awesome for 2 kids) and a jogging stroller. But I don’t jog. The wheels are as huge as bicycle wheels–it practically strolls itself. So why #3? I am flying back to Vancouver for a week in October with Froo & Boo, without the hubs. The thought of packing up the tandem stroller, putting it through security and making sure Boo doesn’t run off gives me angina. I refuse to put a leash on him, but the thought has crossed my mind. I decided I would get an umbrella stroller for Boo instead. I found a highly-rated umbrella stroller on Amazon for $36.94 with free shipping and no tax, so I made my guilt-free purchase.

At the price point, the Jet stroller offers exceptional value. However, the seat is not padded. Even though Boo is still in diapers and he has ample padding in his tooshie, I wanted to make him a padded stroller liner. So yesterday, I took the kids to Jo-Ann in the morning, then I started and finished the project in the afternoon while Froo was at preschool and Boo was napping.

Items #1-3 in the picture below are indispensable. A cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter save oodles of time! I was immediately drawn to the fabric; I love turquoise and how cute are the elephants? Orange isn’t my favourite colour, but it pairs nicely with the turquoise and gives it a mod look. The hubs said the fabric reminded him of Perry the Platypus.

The concept of the stroller liner is exactly the same as putting a quilt together, except I didn’t “quilt” it together (unless you count the buttonholes I made for the openings to accommodate the straps). I used this tutorial as a starting point for sewing my stroller liner.

I used a coordinating print for the backside; the stroller liner is now fully reversible.

A detailed look. I used the automatic buttonhole setting on my sewing machine and set it to a large size to fit the straps.

When I first started sewing with printed fabric, I could never figure out which direction the patterns were printed. Now I know that they are usually printed from selvedge to selvedge–which is important if you want the elephants to be marching the right way. To save on fabric, I measured the stroller before I went to Jo-Ann’s and realized that I could buy a half yard and sew 2 pieces of fabric together (one for the seat and one for the back), instead of cutting one long continuous piece. I also cut the batting in 2 pieces, which creates a nice crease at the seat corner.

Now the challenge will be to keep Boo in the stroller…

A Burberry-Inspired School Coat

My little Froo is starting Pre-Kindergarten tomorrow. I was worried she might have separation anxiety, being in a new city and country, but at the open house last week, she was off and away without looking back. I think I might be the one with separation anxiety…

Anyhoo, I saw this Burberry coat on Pinterest recently and it reminded me of when I used to obsess over clothing in magazines. Now that my daily destinations include the playground, Trader Joe’s and Target, I am more interested in what Froo & Boo are wearing and making clothing for them. I still love clothes, but I am happiest wearing a pair of jeans and my TOMS.

Then I started to obsess over the idea of making the Burberry coat for Froo. I found this pattern on Etsy and started my journey with the intention of making the cutest coat ever. The e-pattern is from The Lily Bird Studio; it is very detailed and well put-together. The pieces generally fit perfectly and the instructions are well-written. I have only started using e-patterns over the past couple of years and although it takes a long time to print, tape together, trace and cut the pattern pieces, the trade-off is worth the effort: you get step-by-step instructions with colour photos to guide you through the entire process. Awesome.

This was definitely a time-consuming project. There are a lot of pieces, the coat is fully lined and there are 2 rows of top-stitching that required a thread change throughout the project. I took some photos of Froo this morning and seeing her in the coat, I think it was a worthwhile venture. I made the coat in size 5, even though she is several weeks from turning 4 because she is a tall girl. I asked her to pose and this was her first shot.

I added pockets using this tutorial because Froo’s hands are always getting cold.

View of the back. I added belt loops and a tie to resemble the Burberry trench coat. I think it increases the cute factor of the coat.

I used the lining fabric to add contrast to the collar. The fabric is called “Aunt Edna” from the Denyse Schmidt collection for Jo-Ann. I love how the plaid is printed on the diagonal to give it more interest. The outer fabric is a 100% cotton for making pants (not sure what the technical name is). Here is the picture of the collar “popped-up”.

You can see glimpses of the lining here and there.

And a whole lot of plaid!

Finally, some photos of the coat, sans Froo.

Cutest coat. Ever. Made cuter by Froo.