09 August 2011

Everything's Better When It's Homemade

Welcome to the August Carnival of Natural Parenting: Creating With Kids
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they make messes and masterpieces with children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I’m pretty big on homemade things. You may or may not have noticed, but I like to make things for my children as often as I can and I accept homemade gifts for them as I would a gift of solid gold. They’re not quite at an age where I can create thing with them (although we have made a few attempts) so in the mean time, I will make as much for them as I can and hope it will last through to the next generation.

Heidi's doll on the left, Piper's on the right.

I have always appreciated items made by hand, but having children has caused my appreciation to quadruple. My mother made a lot of things for me as a child, many of which I still have, and she has already continued that tradition by making things for Heidi and Piper. For their last birthdays (Heidi’s 2nd and Piper’s 1st), my mother took two doll bodies and painted their respective faces on them, sewed matching hair on each one and dressed them in semi-homemade clothes. Although the dolls spend more time naked than clothed, they get a lot of love. The hair on Piper’s doll has already seen better days and needs some refurbishing, but I love knowing that these gifts are already so appreciated.

After I discovered Mama’s Felt CafĂ©, I decided to try my hand at making homemade toys and haven’t looked back. I already made some “numbered felt squares” for them and have gone on to make a plethora of felt photo frames as gifts. I plan to make my own felt food to give to them for Christmas when they may or may not get a kitchen from Santa. Naturally, plastic food is often easier to wash, but, well, it's also plastic. Since I've been trying to rid my house of as much plastic as I can (a long and tedious process), I prefer to give them some homemade food because to me it holds much more value.

But I didn't stop at felt fabulousness.

I love skirts and have always loved them in one sense or another. Watching my children play, I've noticed that their movements are often restricted by their pants, mostly because they do not have any pants that were specifically made to fit cloth diaper butts. I thought to myself, "Self, how hard can it be to make a skirt? It's just two pieces of fabric sewn together, right?" Well, almost. While I was relatively successful at making Heidi a skirt for Christmas, it was only because I used elastic for the waist. I'm pretty bad at hems and wouldn't have a clue how to do a proper waist without the elastic (I'm working on it). Nevertheless, I have sewed two play skirts for her that allow for plenty of movement and are sufficient enough to withstand multiple washings and rough toddler play. I long to make more, but every day I resolve to sit down at the sewing machine, I am repeatedly distracted for some odd reason.

Nothing is going to stop me from making more and more homemade items for my children. As they grow, I will include them in whatever practices they find interesting and I will always reinforce the notion that homemade is better than anything found in a store. I look forward to making many Halloween costumes, toys, dresses and whatever else they fancy. After all, what could be better than having an infinite catalog of goodies (mom) at your disposal?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Family Draw Time Art ShowKate Wicker shares art (and inspiration!) from her family's cherished tradition of family draw time.
  • The Rules of Creativity: Learning to Create with the "Non-Creative" — Zoe at Give an Earthly shares how she learned to accept her "non-creative" child and claims that anyone, child or adult, can be creative given the right handling and environment.
  • Creating With Kids: 4 Ways That Work For Us — See how Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings nurtures creativity with her kids through craft projects, outdoor creative play, celebrating the creative process, and setting up "little spaces of beauty."
  • Creating memories, not things — Mrs. Green from Little Green Blog reflects on life with a ten year old and how 'creating together' has evolved from 'things' to memories.
  • The Gift of Creation — It may be hot, but Kellie at Our Mindful Life is already thinking about winter.
  • Hidden Talents — Sylvia at MaMammalia describes how providing the opportunity for creativity sometimes means learning to look for hidden talents in unusual places.
  • Creating Joy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she and her one year-old son create joy for their community.
  • How to do Crafts with Kids — Gaby from Tmuffin guest posts at Natural Parents Network and describes how to keep things simple when doing crafts with kids for magical (easy-to-clean, and tantrum-free) results.
  • Sugar & Spice & Baking on the Kitchen Floor — Carrie at Love Notes Mama enjoys making a mess in the kitchen with her daughter.
  • Young Scientist Makes Purple Potion — Hannah at Wild Parenting loves being a lab assistant for the young scientist in her life.
  • Making a butterfly house — Lauren at Hobo Mama demonstrates the proper way to build a wooden butterfly house with a preschooler.
  • Nurturing Creativity — Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares the enjoyment she feels in nurturing the creativity of her children.
  • Home School Music - Sparking A New Generation Of Musicians — Based on her musical background, Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she creates with and teaches music to her children.
  • Creating (im)perfectly TogetherMudpiemama shares some of the highlights of a summer spent building everything from ships to hoops but most of a lesson on letting go of perfection.
  • Family Soccer Kick Around — When her children wanted to play soccer, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children helped organize something that would work for her family.
  • Creating Memories Together on Skype — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how you can create memories online with adult children or anyone who lives in another city or country.


  1. Well done you for your homemade collections! I am just starting on the felt foods journey and loving it. I really enjoy making things for my kiddos and your post has inspired me to seek out some bigger projects.

  2. I cherish homemade things - some of my most treasured are afghans my grandmother made me years ago. And of course there are all of the drawings Kieran has made me over the years - plastered up all over my kitchen :) I need to figure out a good way to permanently document them!

  3. Thanks for the Mama's Felt Cafe mention! Obviously, I have been enchanted with toy making for a while now. Hand made is just more fun! I greatly enjoy stretching my creative mind with new, more complicated projects and a much needed hobby. Saving money, the environment and my own sanity are just happy biproducts :)

  4. Those dolls are awesome (what cool clothes!)

    Home-made things are so special. There is beauty in the simplicity. And a certain purity from the soul behind it. And for the creator, there is much fulfilment in making stuff. Plus, it is so much fun!

  5. I love that you made skirts just by eyeballing them and giving it a whirl. Why not!

    Also, I love those dolls. I was just thinking I'd like to make a stuffed animal for Mikko. Maybe a doll, too!

  6. I love Homemade, too! I also have purchased a good amount (not a ton, but more than a few sheets) of felt to make some felt food a la Mama's Felt Cafe but get distracted easily also. I love making handmade craft items and love receiving them, too. I can't wait for Niko to be old enough to help (or even be interested in) do some things, too. Those dolls are precious!

  7. Oooh, I may have to try a few felt squares of my own! Homemade stuff is awesome. Maybe I'll make Peter a kilt...? :-)

  8. I also love homemade items! Those dolls and skirt are adorable! I'm pretty crafty myself, but I find that time limitations are really the downfall of my spending time making things. I've got to get better at doing a little bit here and there, I guess. =)

  9. Wow - good for you! I wish I had some creative ability. I'm sure your kids will treasure the things you make them just like you appreciate your mom's handmade gifts.

    P.S. Your link from the Carnival code is not working.

  10. Thank you! I'm so glad to be in the company of so many people with the same values :)

    (Thanks Charise, I think it's fixed now :) )

    And Kirsten, if I can get my act together I can make you stuff... :)

  11. I love your sense of adventure in all of this! Regardless of how much your girls decide to follow directly in your footsteps I think that willingness to jump in will be quite contagious. :)

  12. "I long to make more, but every day I resolve to sit down at the sewing machine, I am repeatedly distracted for some odd reason."

    --Oh, right. Those two adorable kids. :)

    It's hard to take out material, pins, scissors, and a sewing machine when you have kids around. you've done a great job so far though! I love your projects!

  13. beautiful dolls and well done you for having a go at making skirts. I'm afraid I'm useless with sewing or knitting so I really admire you. Those dolls are precious!

  14. I love the skirt. Homemade stuff is so nice - something that can be cherished long after we leave this earth. I wish I had the guts to try sewing. Every time I've tried it has been a disaster.

  15. awesome! I'll make my list! lol ;-)

  16. Homemade toys are so much better and more unique, if you ask me. I still have some of mine that my Mom made me when I was little, and I love them so much more than any mass produced stuffed animal or gadget that she could've given me instead! :)


  17. Thank you! Yes, as much as I try to push all things sewing as far away from curious hands as possible, something usually ends up too close to the edge of whatever I'm working on. I wish I could knit! I think once I "master" sewing, I'll move on to that craft.