Nov 24, 2013

3 + 100 = Fun!

It's a landmark moment. Little Wild Man has turned THREE! When did this happen?? I swear it was yesterday he was a pudgy little wiggle worm, happily sloshing pureed prunes and avocado chunks all over himself while babbling incoherently. Now he's a slim, coordinated pre-schooler {I think he's officially now a pre-schooler and not a toddler?} who can feed himself a sandwich and speak to me in full sentences. I'm so proud of him, and thrilled we survived another year, but it's bittersweet too. Will every birthday feel like this for us mamas and papas? It's amazing to watch your kiddos grow into little people, but oh so hard to let go of the notion of them as snuggly, needy newborns.

Little wild man is coming into his own as he strides into his third year. Here's what I know about him right now: he knows what he wants and is great at communicating those needs. He is intense, smart and observant. You cannot slide anything by this kid. You have to earn his trust (my mama bear instincts tell me this is a great personality trait). He is intuitive, empathetic and feels things deeply. What an honor that he's let me peek into his beautiful little soul and get to know him. I can only hope he'll continue to let me do so as the years go on!

The other landmark news? This is my 100th blog post! It took over a year to get here, but I'd still say it's cause for celebration! In honor of this momentous occasion, I thought about doing a giveaway - but then I realized I'd need something to actually give, and enough readers to warrant a drawing, ha! Instead I'll just share a quick tutorial with you on this rad teepee Ben and I made for Max's birthday. Seriously. Ben and I sat inside it and drank wine for an hour once it was assembled; it's fun even if you don't have kids. {In the interest of time, these are all unedited iPhone photos. Perhaps I'll take some better photos one day. Or perhaps not.}

A few notes: This project took several naps and several evenings (and glasses of wine) after the kids were asleep. If kids being asleep isn't an issue for you, I imagine you could knock it out in a weekend. And if you actually know how to operate your sewing machine - yeah, that would speed things up, too. This involves quite a bit of sewing, but the sewing is basic and once it's assembled, the teepee is very forgiving of squiggly seams and uneven fabric panels. Since we had a free corner in our living room, we opted to go big. This teepee will easily fit our whole family and then some, but you can scale down to suit your own space.

These are the two tutorials I leaned on most heavily (these people clearly know how to actually sew), but there came a point when I veered too far from the instructions and just started making things up, so I can only take you so far in this process!:

Makes Me Smile blog : Check out the AWESOME sketch of how all the pieces go together. I also loved the hilarious commentary.

Smile and Wave blog : This is what I used for all my measurements.

Here's a rough idea of how this all went down:

1. Gather supplies.

* 6 - eight foot 1" x 2" x 8' pine "poles" from the hardware store
* 1 - 9x12 canvas drop cloth
* Around 3 yards cream colored ribbon
* 12 inches of 1/4" elastic
* small role of rope or strong leather
* 1 yard extra fabric for door flaps

2. Assemble poles. You can make your teepee shorter, but we stuck with the 8' height of our poles. We measured 12" down from the top and Ben drilled a 1/4" hole in each pole. Stack the poles on top of one another and thread your rope straight through (a piece of tape around the end of the rope helps keep it from fraying as you work it through). At this point, we stood up the poles and tied the rope loosely where we thought we'd want them to stand.

3. Congratulate yourselves on being "half way done." Enjoy the small victory, because you're really not even close to half way done.

4. Create five fabric panels. {The sixth panel will be the door, which I made larger than the other sides.} After draping up the drop cloth and playing around with it, I decided to follow all of the measurements given at the Smile and Wave blog tutorial: 4" at the top, 38" at the bottom, and 80" tall. I thought it seemed huge, but thank goodness I stuck with the suggested dimensions, because they gave me plenty of wiggle room to correct my mistakes. I used Max's sidewalk chalk, a yardstick, and a patient hubby to help double check my measurements and hold everything in place while I drew out my panels (they look like a triangle with a flat top, for lack of a better description). Then I cut them out and, before going to bed, congratulated myself once again on being half way done. This time I was much closer, but still not half way.

5. Stitch panels together, along with inner ribbon ties, leaving the ends open for the door panel, which went on last. I won't pretend to have any advice on sewing, other than trying to avoid losing your sewing machine manual and wasting precious time watching out-of-focus youtube videos about how to thread your needle. I loved the suggestion from Makes Me Smile blog to fold over about 12" of ribbon and tuck it into your seams before sewing. (These ribbons tie around your poles to keep things in place). You end up with little tabs in the front, but Ben and I thought they looked cool. Plus I saved tons of time because I didn't have to stitch them on by hand at the end. This is the only photo I snapped in the midst of sewing, but you can kind of see the tab sticking out between the panels.

6. Create the door panel. This is where I went renegade and thought I could toss my tutorials to the wind. Oops. I measured and cut a canvas triangle for the upper portion of the door and sewed that on. Then I cut my owl-print fabric in half, hemmed the inside edges, and pinned them onto our set-up teepee to make sure I got the flaps where I wanted them. I eventually got things reasonably lined up and sewn into place, but I'm pretty sure there's a simpler method in either of the tutorials above. (Like maybe sew the entire front panel together FIRST, then attach it to the teepee).

7. Elasticize. Fold the top edges over about 1/2" or more, and stitch all the way around. Attach elastic (I think we used less than 6 inches after testing it out on the poles) to a safety pin and work it through, sewing at the beginning and end to secure.

8. Hem the bottom.

7. Set up, embellish, and snuggle in with your favorite people! We added these twinkly LED lights from Amazon. I love that they are cool to the touch, so completely safe for stringing against fabric. I also snagged this 2'x3' faux sheepskin rug from Home Decorators Collection, and threw in some pillows that had been sitting in storage.

Total Cost: $87 (way less than buying a pre-made one, AND this price included our fun accessories)

Poles & Drop Cloth from Hardware Store: around $36
Ribbon, elastic & Extra Fabric (from around $12
Rope: $7 from Amazon
Twinkly Lights: $13 (price has since gone up on Amazon)
Rug: $19

This project took some legwork, but it was seriously so much fun. And how cool is it to give your kiddo something you made with your own two hands? It's a great feeling! Max seems to love it. He wants to nap in it, sleep in it at night, and has brought many of his favorite books and toys in there to live. At his birthday dinner last night, much of our evening was spent rotating family members in and out of the tent to snuggle and/or read with him :)

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