Posts Tagged ‘Sewing’

Make a safety gate for stairs without damaging the bannister

09 Aug

Stair gate overviewGates at the top of a flight of stairs are essential to save toddlers from a nasty fall, and they are fairly easy to install in most homes if there is a wall on each side of the stairs. However, the bottom of a flight of stairs (and sometimes the top, too) often has a bannister on one side. In my house, we installed a traditional gate at the top of the stairs for safety, but at the foot of the stairs, one side of the stairs has a handmade wooden bannister, and the other side has a wall of faux brick; holes in either side here would be tougher to repair than holes in wood paneling or drywall. If you don’t want to drill holes and damage your bannister and walls, you’ll need a more creative gate.

My gates consists of two layers of cloth stitched together with a layer of cotton batting in the middle. The right and left edges have large grommets that can be attached to a post or hook with cable ties, carabiners, or other fasteners. I wrapped black cloth around our newel post to protect it from scratches, and I attached one end of the gate to the post using black cable ties. The other side is the side that can be opened; it attaches to the wall with a carabiner through an eye hook and with two removable Command Cord Bundlers ( They use a removable adhesive, so they will not leave a hole behind when they are removed. I used cable ties to create loops to connect the grommets to the cord bundlers.

Stair gate on newel postStair gate carabiner attachment

Please note that this gate is not a foolproof safety solution; it is a deterrent to keep children from entering the stairs unnoticed. Kids can learn to open the gate, and they can also peel the cord bundlers off the wall if they push the gate hard enough. My daughter did both of these things eventually…but by that point, she was confident on the stairs and didn’t need as much protection. The gate still functioned as a deterrent; it slowed her down enough that she couldn’t run upstairs without someone noticing.

Taking down the gate for good is easy: cut the cable ties from the newel post, peel the cord bundlers off the wall, unscrew the eye hook from the baseboard, and patch the single hole in the baseboard. This homemade gate leaves only one hole, which should be a lot easier and less conspicuous to repair than trying to patch multiple holes in the newel post and faux brick.

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Posted in Parents


Eyeball pillows to make your life cushier and creepier

05 Jul

Eyeball pillows on chaiseI have been dying to do justice to the eyeball-pillow concept ever since my list of decorating tricks for Halloween. Judging by the Wife’s obvious discomfort in their presence, my eyeball pillows were having the intended effect, but they weren’t practical for actual use as pillows. I like to prop up my head with a few pillows at a time; the tiny eyeballs would only have worked after some severe head-shrinking on my part. Solution: I needed BIGGER eyeball pillows.

Pillows are easy to make, as you’ll see. I had plenty of white fabric from old t-shirts and gray fabric from hemming some Ikea curtains, so I decided to make reversible pillows: eyes on one side, plain fabric on the other. That way, I could appease the Wife occasionally by flipping them over and thereby keep them in the living room all year long rather than just during October. Read the rest of this entry »


Friendly oven mitts

30 Aug

Happy oven mittsMost oven mitts are either utilitarian (functional but undecorated) or are decorated in some bizarre country farmhouse motif. I took plain oven mitts and made the kitchen a little friendlier by giving them an easy makeover with buttons for eyes. If you’ve ever made a sock puppet, you should be smacking yourself for not having thought of this one.

A cutesy, childish craft? Of course. Effective in producing smiles and chuckles from folk of all ages? You bet. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Art?, Kitchen


Making cloth napkins/handkerchiefs/dishrags from old clothes

19 Jul

Stack of napkinsLet me begin by saying that I have nothing against paper napkins or people who like them. I prefer not to waste too much on disposable personal hygiene, though, and I’ve always bought the cheapest paper napkins I could find (Target and Dollar Tree). Still, we can all admit that cloth napkins are softer, classier, and more absorbent than their paper counterparts. They are also reusable, and I much prefer reusable products over disposable ones, which typically leads to saving both money and natural resources. I’ll admit that the environmental benefits of cloth napkins are a bit debatable, but making cloth napkins from my own scraps of fabric should be a sure winner. Using my own castoff clothing would avoid any of the emissions associated with manufacturing and transporting a truckload of new cloth napkins. Plus, I like making things myself, so it’s a form of entertainment if you want to think of it that way.

You can make great cloth napkins out of old white t-shirts. I have a constant ecosystem of white undershirts in my home. When I buy new shirts, the oldest ones get turned into napkins or rotated to the kitchen for wiping up spills. I used to throw used napkins and worn-out shirts away, so making my own napkins reduces our trash output on two fronts while also saving money.

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