Thursday, August 20, 2015

Today's Homeschool Project - Decorated Canvas Shoes

Today Ethan was staying at grandma's house making it a perfect day for a special project with Celeste! (I find that 5 year old boys don't really have the patience for intensive artwork, lol). 

So today we decorated our own plain white (read: "cheap") canvas shoes with permanent marker (and glitter). 

I'd seen these pop up on Pinterest and other places on the web and thought it would be a great project if we ever had some big kid time (okay, so I'm really just a big kid too). I mean we had to do something with the HUGE pack of awesome permanent markers we got on sale at the beginning of the school year - we were just dying to play with them!

What fun! Very easy to do, even with little kiddos so I thought I'd share. We used Mod Podge (the miracle adhesive/sealant/craft glue) to affix the glitter. Celeste created the tie-dye blended effect on her shoes by coloring spots with a Permanent marker and then "bleeding" them by dropping rubbing alcohol onto the dots and rubbing them lightly. 

Of course there are TONS of Pinterest and other examples on the web too for ideas! I used a couple of different Dover coloring books for inspiration and Celeste stuck with her current love of rainbows, sparkles, and all thing bright and beautiful.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

New MamaBear Giveaway: Luxury Wool & Bamboo Nursing Shields

If you haven't already joined us on Facebook you might want to! I host frequent giveaways for my fans. To enter my newest giveaway simply click HERE!

Contest Open 3/18/15 to 3/24/15

Monday, August 17, 2015

Repurposing Clothes for Kids

I originally wrote this for the Etsy Cloth Diaper blog on Thursday, January 3, 2013 and have updated it here for you. 

Repurposing Clothes for Kids

Upcycled Play Pants
There are many words for it: "repurposing", "upcycling", "altering", but what we're really talking about is taking something that is no longer needed and turning it into something it wasn't originally designed for. There are a number of benefits to repurposing things, and with practice you will start to realize that you are seeing everything you own in a whole new light as you begin to see the other "purposes" an item may have after outliving its usefulness.

While just about anything can be repurposed, in this article I'm going to focus on repurposing old, worn-out, or poor-fitting clothing into adorable and useful items for children. 

Repurposing can be as simple as using an item in a whole new way, such as this tutorial for using an adult t-shirt as a no-sew, pinnable diaper just by folding it!

Or as complex as using large adult items to lay out actual purchased sewing patterns on to reclaim fabric. Personally, I prefer something in between, and I've included a few of my favorite projects with basic directions below.

Some of the benefits of repurposing to make new clothing items include:
~ Less trash, less waste
~ Give new life to loved articles
~ Your child's clothing will be unique
~ Great for play clothes! The fear of destruction is significantly lessened when you know the item was a t-shirt headed for Goodwill or the dump to start with!
~ QUICKLY make clothes, because you'll find creative ways to avoid hemming and other time-consuming tasks by making use of existing hemlines and garment structures such as pockets, pleates, and zippers.
~ Save money on kids clothes

So here are some quick ideas to get you started on the "repurpose" road:

Quick & Easy 5 Minute Play Pants:

~ An old turtleneck sweater or shirt
~ You could also use any old sweatshirt, long-sleeve t-shirt, sweater or other adult long-sleeved top made of stretchy material and 1/2 to 1 inch elastic, as long as your child's waist is around for a waist band
~ A pair of your child's pants, preferably loose-fitting
~ A sewing machine or serger (though I suppose you could do them by hand if you have the patience for that kinda' thing)

Optional: A cutting mat and cutting blade, which make this SUPER quick, but a marker and scissors will work too.

Sleeve on Adult Shirt Stretched Out
Lay the top down, stretching out the sleeves as shown. 

Lay the pants on top, folded in half and lining up the outer seams and cuffs (to avoid hemming).
Cut around the pants:
Existing Pants Used as Pattern
Using the pants as a pattern, cut or trace and cut around the outline of the existing pants, leaving a slight space for seam allowance. You can also easily upsize by laying the existing pants further up the sleeve and/or cutting with a greater allowance. If you are using a turtleneck you do not need to allow extra fabric for an elastic casing as the neck will serve as the waist for most children. If you will need an elastic casing allow an extra 1-2 inches of fabric at the top above the waistline of the existing pants so that you can fold that over and make an elastic casing. Another option, if the sleeves of your garment are too short, is to cut a casing from another area of the garment such as the hemline at the waist, and sew it to the pants.
Cut Out Pattern

Lay one cut sleeve on top of  other

Cut sleeve laid on other sleeve.

Now repeat on the other sleeve, using the half you just cut and cutting on the line so that they are the same size.

Test neck sizing, turtlenecks.
Measure Turtleneck Opening
If you are using a turtleneck (and the neck is large enough for your child's waist), you can simply cut it off at whatever height you'd like your waistband to be. I like high-rises on my little guy to cover up his fluffy cloth diaper butt so I used the whole neck.
All 3 pieces laid out

 This is the only "tricky" part of the whole process - you want to be sure that you do not sew one sleeve inside out and the other right side out or end up with the seams on the outside of the pants.
One "sleeve"/"leg" inside the other.
To assemble, turn one sleeve inside out and leave one right-side out, shoving the right-side-out one into the inside-out one and lining up the area cut for the crotch of the pants. 

Crotch seam sewn with serger.
Sew seam at crotch from front to back: Starting at one end sew or serge along that seam from one end to the other, being certain that the seams in the middle (if there are any from your garment) line up with one another. You will end up with a big "U" shaped seam. If you use a stretchy material and do not have a serger be sure to use a zig zag stitch to provide some easing for the pants.

Now, turn the pants so that they are inside out. Line up the neck (I hate pinning so I just eyeball it, but pinning would ensure a good even stretch all around), with the raw edges on the same side and the neck INSIDE the waist of the pants. Serge or sew, stretching the neck to fit the waistline and gather the material lightly.
Turn right-side out and voila!

Other Possibilities:

Cutting out from adult pants.

Cutting out from a T-shirt
You could also easily make these from a wool sweater to use as a cloth diaper cover!

Some other great repurposing ideas:

Dress from a women's sweater. Found at:
Child's skirt from T-shirts. Found at:

                                                    Or how about UPSIZING?
Turn tiny newborn clothes into something usable. Found at:

Friday, August 14, 2015

All AboutWool Diaper Covers

From Sweaters to Diaper Covers

Why Wool?

Wool diaper covers have been around for hundreds of years, but are only now regaining in popularity as more people become concerned with the environmental and financial impacts of disposable diapering.

Wool is a renewable, and healthy alternative to plastic or PUL diaper covers. Wool breathes great keeping baby cool and dry and preventing diaper rash. When cared for properly (occasional lanolizing and gentle washing) it is a great moisture barrier since it is able to absorb up to 40% of its weight in water before feeling wet. High performance athletes have chosen wool because of it's great temperature and moisture regulation properties.

Wool diaper covers do NOT need to be washed every time they are used. The natural properties of wool prevent odors and bacterial growth. They only need to be washed every week or two or when they are soiled. Simply hang damp covers to dry and use them again! The lanolin in wool neutralizes urine leaving a fresh-smelling, leak-resistant cover time and again.

A great thing about wool wraps is they enable you to use ANYTHING as a diaper, save money by laying in soft absorbent dishtowels, folded receiving blankets, old t-shirts, any absorbent material you have on hand! Snap, velcro, or pin the cover and voila! The cover holds the soaker in place.

Because MamaBear covers are one-size fits all you could potentially spend less than $100 on MamaBear wool wraps and take care of all of your little one's diapering needs using soaker materials from around your house! With care these covers have been used on two or even three babies, tripling your savings!

All MamaBear wool items are washed and lightly lanolized upon completion so that when you get them they are ready for your BabyBear to wear right away.

Wool Weight/Thickness

The "weight" of the cover refers to the thickness of the wool. Because of how wool works, in general the thickness of the wool determines it's leak protection: the thicker the cover, the longer it will last and/or more liquid it will hold before it leaks. Some lightweight or midweight covers made from very dense, finely knit or woven wools can provide the same level of protection as much thicker, bulkier covers.

Thick/heavy covers are really great for very heavy wetters, overnight, long car rides, etc. any time compression leaks (leaks through the cover from a SOAKED diaper) are likely. They are generally too thick to go under fitted clothes but work great under pj's, skirts, and sweats.

Midweight covers are great all-purpose covers. They are trim enough to go under most clothing but thick enough to work for overnight and naptime for most babies. These are what I generally recommend for first-timers to wool unless they know they have a very heavy wetter. Even if you're babybear generally leaks through covers, you can still use midweight and just bolster the absorbtion of your diaper by adding a soaker layer down the center.

Thin/lightweight covers are just that. These fit best on little babies and newborns because they are not bulky. In general they require frequent changes to prevent leaks although some trim wools actually provide very good protection. These include Merinos (which are ultrafine wools and so are densely knit yet lightweight) and Meltons (a dense, spongy, felted wool similar to what you find in outerwear like Pea Coats).


How often do you have to wash wool diaper covers? Is it true that if they get a little wet it is possible to simply dry them and then reuse them? 

How frequently you have to wash wool covers depends on a number of factors such as how often you change, the weight/thickness of your wool cover, the absorbency of your diaper material, the chemical strength of your child's urine, and how heavily you lanolize. 

Lanolin is the natural sheeps' oil in wool fiber that makes it so great as a diaper cover. It helps the fibers keep moisture locked inside, and also combines with urine in a chemical process similar to saponification - leaving the urine neutralized. However, this process also uses up the lanolin, so that it has to be replaced from time to time - this is the process called "relanolizing" in diaper-speak. It generally involves using a soap that contains lanolin, or melting pure lanolin in water and forcing it back into the wool fibers. Some people prefer a light lanolizing and more frequent washing, others like to actually get the fibers "greasy" (you can actually see and feel the sheen of lanolin) so that they rarely have to lanolize and can go longer stretches without lanolizing. It's really a matter of personal preference.
Overall, if you use a good, absorbent diaper with sufficient soaking power (the harder the diaper works, the less hard the wool has to), have a decent mid-level application of lanolin, and change every 2-4 hours, rotating your wool covers so that they can dry completely, you can use one for about 2 weeks before having to relanolize. If you are using a woolen for overnights - a great choice - you may have to lanolize a bit more frequently, like every 3-4 uses. Again, having good diaper material underneath and a thicker/heavier weight of wool will reduce how often you have to do this, even for overnight. 

If the diaper is soiled with feces you should wash it before reusing. You may not have to lanolize again yet, but a good rinse with some baby shampoo in the sink would be suggested.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Diaper Closure Systems

On Diaper Closure Systems:

Cloth diapers don't come with the little sticky tabs that disposables have, so you gotta' have some way to hold those babies on your baby. Some diapers have their own closures already included, others require that you use a separate closure or diaper fastener.

Some options include diaper fasteners, ranging from the good-old long-familiary safety pins to fancy "grabby/stretchy" options such as snappis (TM) and boingos (TM). 

Other diapers come with closures on them: velcro/aplix and snaps are most common, though you can also find some that tie on or even button on. All of these different closure options have benefits and drawbacks, and like with all things parenting - it really comes down to personal preference and what works for your family. 

If you are comfortable using pins or snappis than I would definitely recommend getting diapers without closures when possible. You get much greater sizing flexibility since you can fold down the rise to exactly where you need it and close them at the waist exactly where the best fit is. They are also simply the CHEAPEST option, and may allow you to avoid diapers altogether since you can pin, snappi, or boingo on just about ANYTHING absorbent: t-shirts? sure. Socks? Why not? Towels and washcloths? You bet! They may also make some diapers reversible, allowing you to get two looks for the price of one. Throw some extras in your diaper bag and you will NEVER not have a diaper for your kiddo (even if you have to literally use the shirt off your back).

However, if someone other than you (hubby, grandparents, daycare) will be changing many of the diapers, you will want to be sure they are ok with pins or snappis too, most prefer velcro or snaps. Or if you have arthritis or some other difficulty with your hands or fingers, or you find your baby too wiggly for a good fit that way, you might prefer something with
closures built in.

Hook and Loop Tape, (also called Aplix and Velcro which are specific brands) makes diapers go on just like disposables so it is very familiar to people, and it does allow more accurate waist adjustment than snaps since you can adjust it infinitesimally. It is very quick and easy to use and can be great for squirmy babies who hate to have their diapers changed.

On the down side, it does wear out over time (generally 12-18 months) and has to be removed and replaced. It also has a tendency to snag on EVERYTHING in the laundry, even WITH fold-back laundry tabs the velcro still finds ways to grab things at the edges. In addition, some kids readily figure this stuff out and LOVE to take off their diapers (whether full or not), and hook and loop makes this an easy and fun game for them.

Snaps are a relatively new cloth diaper closure option but have the benefit of being attractive and
simple. However, they do limit sizing flexibility somewhat since they adjust incrementally. These are probably the most durable option, and if you want to use the same diapers on multiple children may be your best bet. Pins, snappis, and boingos will wear out the corners of diapers over time. Velcro will need to be removed and replaced between children, but with high quality polyacetal resin snaps (such as KAM) your snaps will likely outlast the fabric of your diapers itself.
Another benefit is that because there are only a few options (three that I am aware of at the time of this article) for purchasing snaps nearly all snaps on most diapers made today are interchangeable. They can also usually be replaced if you find you do encounter one that doesn't function properly for some reason.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Early MamaBear Creations

Early MamaBear Creations - From the Humblest of Beginnings...

For those of you who have only recently discovered my store it might be interesting to you to know that I have been sewing cloth diapers since 2006! Although most of my early creations were experiments, particularly with wool, while I attempted to find what worked best for my family and learn more about cloth diapering, I had GREAT help and support from the get-go!

Mostly I was just looking through some of my older pictures and marveling at how my small dining-room-table company has come so far! 

What started as a hobby and way to share my passion for attachment parenting and sustainable diapering has grown to support my family and homeschool through tremendous and unforeseeable life changes including the death of my husband, moving away from our farm and family home, and a complete shift in career and life focus!

In 2013 I almost completely shuttered my private mental health practice to focus more exclusively on homeschooling my growing children and growing my business. 

While I miss working in the community at times, it is a journey that has brought us incredible freedom and amazing time together as a family. 

So to thank you all for your support, your choice to cloth diaper, and your warmth and compassion!

And to honor MamaBear's humble beginnings (as well as to, admittedly, brag a bit on my beautiful early model who is now almost 9 years old!!) I thought I'd share some early photos. :o)

Monday, August 3, 2015

DIY: Make at Home Laundry Detergent

A repost of a blog I wrote for Etsy Cloth Diaper Team on Tuesday, January 15, 2013

DIY: Make at Home Laundry Detergent

Quick, cheap, safe for cloth diapers!

Whether you are concerned about being ecologically sound, worried about skin and allergy sensitivities, or just cheap like me (my dad would say "frugal"), making your own household cleaning products just makes sense (and cents)! One of the easiest places to start saving money and help protect sensitive skin is with laundry detergent - a natural choice if you cloth diaper!

Here is a great recipe for making your own inexpensive, effective laundry soap. This is a low-sudsing soap, perfect for HE and front loading washing machines. All you need are a few easily found ingredients, a food processor, and about 10 minutes.


1 - 14 oz (or 2 - 7 oz) Bar of Zote, Ivory, or Fels Naptha soap
2 cups Borax (found in the laundry detergent aisle of most supermarkets)
2 cups Washing Soda (NOT baking soda, though I've heard you can make washing soda by baking baking
            soda on a shallow tray at 425 degrees) also available in most supermarkets in the laundry or
            household cleaning products

1 mL Essential Oil of choice.
            I recommend lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, or orange oil


Cut bars of soap minimally to fit in food processor. 

Process soap lightly to big chunks in Food processor. 

Add other dry ingredients 1 cup at a time (order doesn't matter), process each addition for about 30 seconds. 

Add essential oil. Process to desired consistency. 

Pour into moisture-resistant container. I use a coffee scoop to measure it out.

Great for HE washers!! Use 1-2 Tbsp per load. If using for cloth diapers you might add 1/4 cup of vinegar or 1/4 cup of baking soda to every other or every 3rd load (I find it works best to alternate between the two as each seems to have different properties) to "strip" the diapers, keeping them at their freshest and most absorbent.

Cost Breakdown:

Cost: about $1.50/batch
1 batch = approx 40 loads
= about $.04/ load