Author Archives: Stephanie

The Nine Minute Pencil Bag

The Nine Minute Pencil Bag
My little man is turning 5! He’s very into his Wii and anything Super Mario, so it was easy to pick his party theme. I always like to include a handmade party favor for our guests. This year, I’m making pencil bags! Since I am making 12 of them and my free time has been so limited lately, I had to make them quickly. And so, the Nine Minute Pencil Bag was born!

I used fabric that I custom designed and ordered through Spoonflower. (If you like my fabrics, you are welcome to order them too! I think I get about $1/yard to spend there if you do.) I made a question box tumble is three colorways: red, green and blue. I ordered one fat quarter of each. I needed a dozen 9″ zippers, so I ended up buying this zipper assortment. It came with a good assortment and only one of them was the wrong size out of 54. I also bought three additional fat quarters in coordinating colors. With 6 fat quarters (3 outer fabric and 3 lining) you can make 12 bags.

The Nine Minute Pencil Bag

What I Used:

  • Two 9″ x  5″ rectangles in my outer fabric
  • Two 9″ x 5″ rectangles in my lining fabric
  • One 9″ zipper
  • Matching thread
  • Iron, sewing machine (with zipper foot) and scissors

The Video:

I don’t talk in this video – turn on CC if you’d like written instructions. And enjoy one of my favorite classical pieces – The Blue Danube!

The Basic Overview:

You start with a “zipper sandwich” – take one rectangle of each of the fabrics and lay then stacked, right sides facing. Place the zipper inside the sandwich facing the outer fabric. Line its edge up with the long side of the fabric on the inside of the sandwich. Sew along the zipper with a zipper foot (moving the zipper pull partway). Flip the two rectangle so their wrong sides are facing and the zipper is sticking out of the sandwich. Make a new sandwich around it, right sides facing in, putting the lining on the lining side and outer fabric on the outer fabric side. Sew the edge with a zipper foot (moving the zipper pull partway).

Open up the rectangles so right sides are out and the zipper is in the center. Iron it smooth, then flip the sides so the linings are together (right sides facing) and the outer fabric pieces are together (right sides facing). Press the zipper/seam towards the lining. Open the zip halfway. Starting on the short side of the lining near the bottom of the zip, carefully sew across the zipper. (Make sure you do not sew over the metal crimp at the base of the zipper. It will break your needle!) Sew all the way around until you get back to your starting side, then stop when you have 3″ left to go. Leave that open for turning.

Clip the tails at both ends of your zipper, then clip all four corners. Flip the bag right side out through the hole, unzipping the zipper the rest of the way when you are able. Make sure you poke all the corners out. With the outer fabric and lining on each side, iron it smooth. Fold in the hems of the lining opening and iron it to crease it. Stitch it closed close to the edge. Push the lining into the bag and iron it inside and out, making sure to iron the fabric away from the zipper.

All done! I’ll be filling ours with Dollar Tree pencils, sharpeners and faux mustaches.

The Nine Minute Pencil Bag
They turned out super fun!

The Nine Minute Pencil Bag
If you make some Nine Minute Pencil Bags, I’d love to see them! Share them on my Facebook page or mention me on Twitter or Instagram ( @iolstephanie ). Enjoy!

Felt Gumball Machine Ornament

I love sewing felt ornaments every year to hang on our tree. This year I picked the theme of sweets! This simple but colorful gumball machine sews up in just one evening but will make a big impact!

Felt Gumball Machine Ornament
I used wool-blend felt and colorful sequins from American Felt and Craft. I chose a color palette that was slightly retro with honeydew, poppy, pink and teal.

Felt Gumball Machine Ornament
What I Used:

Step 1: Layer the honeydew felt dome between the two vinyl dome pieces and sew from A to B with a blanket stitch. Fill each side of the dome with sequins as desired. Sew the top closed.

Felt Gumball Machine Ornament
Step 2:
Sew the curved top to the two poppy cap pieces together with a blanket stitch, then place it over the top of the dome and sew across the cap’s bottom.

Felt Gumball Machine Ornament
Step 3:
Sew a row of red sequins down the side of each poppy machine piece. Sew a pink heart to each side and add sequins. Sew the hatch to the front machine piece and add a silver sequin.

Felt Gumball Machine Ornament
Step 4:
Sew the machine together from C to D with a blanket stitch and fill with stuffing. Stick the dome inside the open end and sew the machine pieces closed.

Step 5:
Thread a large needle with baker’s twine. Attach the center of the twine to the top of the cap then run the tails through a felt ball or pom. Tie off and enjoy!


Gingerbread House Advent Calendar

Last year I had so much fun sewing Jax a Christmas Tree Play Set and 24 Mini Advent Ornaments, but I didn’t have time to make a calendar to put them in. This year I started off my Christmas sewing season by creating a hanging gingerbread house advent calendar.

Gingerbread House Advent Calendar
Thank you to American Felt and Craft for all of the beautiful supplies used in this project!

What I Used:

I started sewing this project before I had the brown background felt, so I began with all the smaller pieces. I will list the tutorial sections in an order that makes sense, but there is definitely some flexibility.

Gingerbread House Advent Calendar   Gingerbread House Advent Calendar

The Roof
I created the advent calendar with the ability to come off the hanger. The roof is a separate piece that sits on top of the hanger like a hat with a hole for the hook. I cut my roof pieces out of 9: x 12″ sheets, so each side is made of two halves sewn together. On the front half, I decorated it with crystal sequins. When sewing the two sides together, I only sewed the tops, leaving a 2″ hole at the center-top for the hanger hook.

Gingerbread House Advent Calendar
The Calendar & Pockets

There is a diagram in the pattern showing how I cut and laid out the calendar body. Once you cut two rectangles that are 31″ x 17″, lay your hanger and the top and trim off the corners, leaving a 0.5″ seam allowance. Set aside one calendar piece to use as the back. (Optional – leave an extra bit at the lower right corner if you want the Christmas tree to extend a bit past the edge. Once the tree is on, you can trim it down. Otherwise, just cut off the extra tree.)

Attach your numbers to the pocket squares. I used adhesive numbers, which saved so much cutting time. If you are cutting them yourself, gluing them on with felt glue will work just fine. On pocket 1 (a rectangle), layer white swirls on top of a red circle to make a peppermint swirl candy. Sew it to the pocket and add red sequins. On pocket 19, sew on the red heart and add some red sequins.

Gingerbread House Advent Calendar

Take your time laying out and pinning all the pockets. I’ve provided measurements for between each row. Unless you have many hours to fill, you probably want to use a sewing machine for all the pockets. I got mine done in under an hour that way. One pocket without a number goes at the center bottom of the calendar. It will be behind the door. (The tree pocket – 23 – is sew separately.)

Snowy Sills
Cut out 8 snowy window sill pieces and sew sequins on them. Using felt glue, tack them on to the bottom of the blue pockets. I glued mine on before sewing on the pockets, but you can do it either way. Sew down the tops of the snow pieces, leaving the bottoms hanging loose.

Gingerbread House Advent Calendar

Fruit Slices
For each fruit slice, tack down the white rind with a light layer of glue (too much and it is hard to sew though) then sew it down. Add matching sequins to the colored parts, then sew them down directly over pockets 3 and 5.

Candy Sticks
For the red and white candy sticks, tack down then sew on the red stripes, added red sequins. Sew them down above pockets 8 and 10. For the pink and red candy sticks, tack down and sew on the thinner red stripes. Using a back stitch, sew a stripe on each side of the red felt stripes. Add a few pink sequins, then sew them down above pockets 18 and 20.

Gingerbread House Advent Calendar

Jelly Beans
I tacked down the jelly beans directly onto the calendar. White sewing them down, I alternated their direction and added matching sequins. Four jelly beans go over pocket 13 and pocket 15.

Gingerbread House Advent Calendar  Gingerbread House Advent Calendar

On the front piece of the door, sew on a green peppermint swirl candy (using the same technique as the red). The number 24 goes below that with room for a pearl button door knob on the right. I added yellow sequins to the door. On the back door piece, I sewing on a piece of hook tape. I sewed it on high enough to be above the pocket on the calendar. On the calendar, I sewed down some loop tape lined up to close the door. I sewed the two sides of the door together starting at the left side of the curved top. When I got around to the straight left side, I stitched both layers down to the calendar to make the hinged side of the door.

Gingerbread House Advent Calendar

Candy Canes
The candy canes are sewn the same way as the red and white candy sticks. I provided a pattern for all of the stripes around the cured part, then one stripe you can repeat down the straight part. I sewed the candy canes down on either side of the door at a slight angle.

Christmas Tree
The tree sticks out a bit past the lower right edge of the calendar. You can either cut your calendar to have a matching bump-out like I did, or trim your tree to fit the corner. Using felt glue I attached my glitter ric rac down and folded the ends behind the tree. It held really well once dry. Once I decided the position of the tree’s pocket, I glued on more ric rac to the pocket square to match what was under it on the tree. I added assorted sequins to the tree and the pocket, stuck the number onto the pocket, then sewed on the pocket and tree by hand. The tip of the tree extends a bit onto pocket 21.

Gingerbread House Advent Calendar

The stack of gumdrops overlaps the right side of pocket 22. I tacked them down in a tospy turvy pile, sewed them down and added sequins.

The lollipop stick is glued down to the calendar. If you plan to sew it as well, use a light layer of glue. I didn’t bother sewing mine. On the lavender circle, sew a purple sequin to the center. Add sequins in a line making a spiral. (To add sequins in a line, bring your needle up through the felt beside your first sequin and through the hole of sequin 2. Come back down through sequin 1. Repeat, coming up beside sequin 2, through sequin 3 and down through sequin 2. Repeat. The last sequin gets a second stitch to tack it down.]

Gingerbread House Advent CalendarConstruction
When sewing the back on, I used a sewing machine. I sewed the left, bottom and right sides completely, but only sewed halfway up each slope at the top. On either side of where the hanger hook goes, add some hook and loop squares. The snowy roof just slides on top.

Gingerbread House Advent Calendar

All done! I hope you enjoyed this free pattern. You can find the rest of my Christmas projects here. If you make one of my projects, please share a photo! You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you follow me on Facebook but are not getting my post, I apologize! FB is only showing my posts to 10-15% of those of you who have liked the page, and wants me to pay to show it to more. I can’t afford that, but feel terrible that many of you miss out on advanced copies of patterns, sneak peeks and polls for new projects. You can set your account to get notifications when I post (no more than once per day) by clicking the “like” button a second time and setting your notification preferences. Hopefully that will help.

Gingerbread House Advent Calendar

Thank you for all the well wishes for Jax as he recovered from pneumonia. We are finally back to normal here! If you’d like to support this site of send a little surprise to Jax, you can find his wishlist here. We are saving up to surprise him with a Wii U from GameStop.

Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book Page

Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book PageThis is a fun quiet book page that would be a great addition to a holiday, seasonal or month activity book. The free pattern comes with 4 mix and match costumes, and you can easily make you own. There is a jack-o-lantern pocket for storage and two ghost friends that snap off.

Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book Page

Children can sort the costumes into their matching sets or have fun making silly combinations. This page would work great with my Halloween Jack-o-lantern page!

patternWhat I Used:

Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book Page
Are you ready to sew a fun Halloween costume match page?

Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book Page

I started by cutting a 12″ x 4″ strip of denim blue felt into a sloping hill, then I sewed it down to the background. (When adding details to your page, be mindful of the way you bind your books. My way requires 2″ of width on the binding edge.) I then sewed down the moon and two clouds. Sew two snaps down where you want the ghosts to be. Pin the body and undies in place and sew them down. If you’d like to add snaps or Velcro to the backs of your costume pieces, sew them to the head, torso and groin of the body. (If you use Velcro, I recommend the snag-free kind for use with felt.)

Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book PageGhosts
For each ghost: Sew the other half of the snap onto the back of the ghost. On the front, make two French knot eyes and sew down the mouth. Sew the front and back together with a blanket stitch.

Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book PagePumpkin
To make the pumpkin pocket, I cut a scrap of yellow felt large enough to go behind the cut-outs of the pumpkin face. I tacked it behind the face with a bit of felt glue, then sewed it on around the eye and mouth holes. I then layered another pumpkin piece behind the yellow to hide it, and sewed both layers together across the curved top with a blanket stitch. I positioned the pumpkin onto the page and sewed through both it and the background the rest of the way around. This makes a pocket that is open at the top.

Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book PageCostumes
To finish each costume piece: cut out a piece of backing felt to match the shape of your final piece, then sew it on with a blanket stitch, matching your thread colors to the felt. (If you are adding Velcro or snaps, do it before the blanket stitch.) I used the same “wild blueberry” dark blue felt as my costume backings.

Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book Page
Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book PagePrincess:
I started by stitching on her face. I made aqua French knots for her eyes with tiny stitches beside them as shown. I made two peach stitches together for the nose. I used red-brown for her eyebrows and made a long, loose stitch and tacked it down into a curve with a tiny vertical stitch. Using pink I made two small stitches together for the bottom lip, one longer one for the upper lip. On the upper lip, I made a small “v” of stitches in the center as shown. Using a light layer of felt glue, I tacked down her hair and crown. I stitched the hair down around her face. I took a small piece of gold trim and stitched it down to the crown with the ends tucked under. Then it was ready to attach the backing.

For her blouse, I made a series of French knot pearls, then attached the backing. On the skirt, I stitched the skirt puffs on, then stitched more gold trim along the hem. I glued the feet to the back of the skirt after confirming their positions by laying it on the body pattern. I tacked down the shoes with glue then stitched them on. I then attached the backing.

Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book Page
Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book PageWitch
: I started by stitching on her face. I made purple French knots for her eyes with tiny stitches beside them as shown. I made two peach stitches together for the nose. I used lavender for her eyebrows and made a long, loose stitch and tacked it down into a curve with a tiny vertical stitch. Using pink I made two small stitches together for the bottom lip, two longer one for the upper lip. Using a light layer of felt glue, I tacked down her hair, hat and hat band. I stitched the hair down around her face and stitched down the hat band and where her hat meets her hair. Then it was ready to attach the backing.

On her blouse and skirt, I glued and sewed down the two patches using large, uneven stitches. I continued on with the skirt by positioning her stockings using the body pattern and gluing them and her shoes into place. On her stockings, I made long horizontal stitches to add stripes before attaching the backing.

Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book Page
Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book PageCowboy
: I started by stitching on his face. I made brown French knots for her eyes with tiny stitches beside them as shown. I made two peach stitches together for the nose. Using the same dark peach, I made teenie stitches for freckles. Using pink I made two small stitches together for the mouth. Using a light layer of felt glue, I tacked down his hair, hat and hat band, then stitched all the inner edges. Then it was ready to attach the backing.

On his shirt, I tacked down the vest and then the scarf. I sewed down all the inner edges, then attached the backing. On his pants, I layered the jeans and shoes behind the chaps, using the body pattern for positioning, and tacked them with glue. I tacked down the belt buckle, sewed all the inner edges, then attached the backing.

Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book Page
: For all parts of the skeleton, I tacked the bones down into place with a light layer of felt glue and them stitched them down. I added the red heart on top of the ribs because it was easier to see. I then attached all the backings.

Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book Page
And there is something that makes it even more fun… Flocked pumpkin felt on the back of the page! The jack-o-lanterns are fuzzy and a little glittery. Super cute!

Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book Page
I hope you enjoy this free pattern! The commercial license for selling completed products from this pattern will be available in my Etsy shop.

Halloween Costume Match Quiet Book Page

Do you have a special pattern request? Stop by my Facebook Page or my Instagram (@iolstephanie) and let me know! Happy Halloween!

DIY Montessori 3-Part Cards

I get a lot of questions asking how I make my 3-part cards. I’m a graphic designer, so I use Adobe InDesign to do mine. It works well for me, but I’ve had a lot of requests for something more universal for those of you who have your own ideas for 3-part cards.

DIY 3-Part Cards

I recently sat down and worked out a layout in Microsoft Word that is very similar to mine. The main difference is there is no spot for an image credit. Being a graphic designer, I am very big on not using photos without permission. For my free printables, I first look to my own personal photo library, then search on Wikipedia Commons. I always put the required attribution tag under photo I use publicly.

What You Need:

DIY 3-Part Cards

Start by selecting the box you’d like to add a photo to.

DIY 3-Part Cards

Right-click and choose “Change Picture…” I am on a Mac, so your view may be a bit different.

DIY 3-Part Cards

Choose your photo and insert it. If it wasn’t a nice square photo, no worries! We can crop it! I like to make mine square when I can, but sometimes I have to leave them as-is to avoid cropping something important.

DIY 3-Part Cards

Drag a corner of the picture to make it larger. Don’t worry about it getting too big. You want the main area to be a good size for you final square. (In this case, it is the sea turtle.)

DIY 3-Part Cards     DIY 3-Part Cards

DIY 3-Part CardsNext you’ll want to open the “Format Picture” window. You can get to it from the menu bar (“Formatting” menu), right-clicking or via the “Formatting Palette” that appears when an image is selected. You will want to go to “Crop” and use the arrows to gradually crop the photo down to a square that you are happy with. Pop over to the “Size” tab to make sure the width and height are the same. If you are going for the size of square I always use, you can set the width to 1.97″ once you have it cropped to a square.

After that, you are ready to change the text. You can also change the font. Do this for each card.

This file is for the cards you cut into two pieces each: pictures only and labels only. In most cases you’ll also want the full labeled card. I recommend you set up your whole sheet as instructed above and then either copy/paste it to a second page or save it as a second file. With that second page or file, you’ll take out the dividing line.

DIY 3-Part Cards     DIY 3-Part Cards

Select the two rows that make up a card’s table. In the Formatting Palette, choose borders. You’ll want to turn off the box with the middle horizontal line (highlighted green here). The line will still be there on your file after you turn it off, but it will be lighter. The light gray line is just to show you where the table is. Remove the line for each card to have a set of full cards.

Once you have your cards printed and cut, use a dab of glue to attach them to card stock. Trim the card stock to have about a 3mm border. I like to match the color of the card stock to the theme of the cards. For my continent cards, I used the color that represents the continent in Montessori. Then I’d make cards for each continent’s animals and use that same continent color for the card stock. Sometimes my choice is arbitrary. I chose gray for music. Whenever I make a new set of cards for music studies, I mount them on gray card stock.

This next step is really what makes the 3-part cards look beautiful and last for ages. Lamination! This is my favorite laminator. I bought it is June of 2013 and it is still going strong. I bought these laminating pouches. I have about a quarter left int he pack after all that time.

My hint for laminating: when laying your cards out on the laminator sheet/pouch, put a dab of glue stick on the back of them. That way, they won’t slide around when you are feeding it through the machine.

DIY 3-Part Cards

Once they are out of the machine, trim them down (I leave about 2mm of clear plastic border). All done!

Here are some links to some of my previous free 3-part cards:

DIY 3-Part Cards

Solar System 3-Part Cards

Find more Montessori-inspired ideas at Living Montessori Now’s Montessori Monday!

Montessori Monday

Recycling Quiet Book Set & Free Printables

Recycling Quiet Book Set & Free Printables
I’m always looking for ways to teach Jax about what we can do to help our planet. I knew a “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” theme would make a wonderful quiet book theme. Trash and recycle trucks are so much fun for kids to watch, so I had to add one in to expand the project into a fun recycling set.

Recycling Quiet Book Set & Free Printables
This is a pay pattern available in my Etsy shop. Purchasing my pay patterns will let me move towards making a living at crafting and give me more time to devote to both pay and free projects.

Recycling Quiet Book Set & Free Printables
The 6″ square quiet book features 3  double pages: Reduce teaches turning off lights and faucets to save resources. Reuse promotes using reusable cups and bags whenever possible. Recycle introduces sorting recyclables (and compost items!) into their bins. The cover has a recycle symbol and an earth with a heart.

Recycling Quiet Book Set & Free Printables
All of the sorting items can be used with the recycle truck that features a working back hatch. Pull the loop to open the hatch, then pull the ribbon to close it up again. There is also a recycle bin and a felt doll that is compatible with my other dress up felt dolls (fire station and dollhouse.)

I hope you’ll find the pattern files to be beautiful and helpful. A lot of time went into them! The pattern includes a stitch guide and full tutorial with photos and illustrations. You will also receive a coupon for $5 off at American Felt and Craft to help you get started on your felt stash.

Recycling Quiet Book Set & Free Printables
You can purchase this pattern for $8 in my Etsy shop, Imagine Our Life. If you would like to sell the finished product, you can purchase commercial licensed version for $20. This is a one time fee, and you’d be able to sell as many weather charts as you’d like after purchasing it.

Recycling Quiet Book Set & Free Printables
As a free add-on to this felt set, I am providing my matching 3-part cards and recycle sorting game free for educational use! Click here to download the pdf.

Recycling Quiet Book Set & Free PrintablesThe cards and game include the same sorting categories as the felt set, giving you an additional way to teach the new vocabulary. (I include both the North American spelling on “aluminum” and the world spelling of “aluminium”.) The game features illustrations that were hand drawn by me.

Recycling Quiet Book Set & Free Printables

Montessori MondayTo assemble, print out the cards and cut them out. Glue them to card stock backs, then laminate and trim. I use this laminator. To make laminating a bit easier, you can try adding a dab of glue stick to the cards when you position then in the lamination sleeves. It keeps them from wiggling and overlapping.

I purchased two 3-packs of blue drawer organizers from Dollar Tree to use as my sorting bins.

If you liked this free homeschool printable and want more homeschool ideas, visit Montessori Monday at Living Montessori Now.

I hope you enjoy this pattern! I can’t tell how much your support means to me. Big thank yous to all of you who are a part of our Facebook page. You have given me so much inspiration! Please feel free to comment here or on Facebook if you have suggestions for new projects. I am sketching patterns and ordering felt for all my fall projects this week. I’ll post some sneak peeks on Instagram. Come follow along!

Recycling Quiet Book Pattern

Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review

When Marie-Claire of SO Awesome reached out to us about trying out a few of her wallet card sets, Jax was so excited! He’s been enjoying their free iOS wallet app for some time, and immediately recognized their colorful, modern style.

My love of all things Montessori is well known, but what you may not know is that I am a graphic designer and have a BA in studio art. Combine beautiful art with Montessori-inspired educational materials and I’m in heaven! SO Awesome teams up with talented illustrators to create their card sets, so each one is a treasure.

Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & GiveawayMy Wallet Card Set

If you come over to our house for a playdate, one of the first things Jax will ask you to play is “store”. We have a beautiful wooden store set, and Jax is finally old enough to have play money. This wallet play set is a perfect addition to our role playing and pretend play.

Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & Giveaway

The wallet comes with play money, membership and bank cards – even a license! (To see what is included, click here.) At the moment, we are playing with this at home, but how great would it be to toss in your bag to bring along for a toddler to take apart – instead of YOUR wallet?

Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & Giveaway     Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & Giveaway

The cards all have reverse sides to explore and realistic details. If I could add anything, it would be a personalized license with Jax’s name and photo. But perhaps that would be a fun DIY project for us to do together.

Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & GiveawayAlphabet Card Set

Jax was really drawn to the colorful set of alphabet cards. One side features gorgeous illustrations, the other has a large lowercase letter, the word that was illustrated and pictures of other words that begin with the letter.

Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & Giveaway     Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & Giveaway

These cards would be great on a stroller or card seat for younger toddlers. The removable ring is an easy way to store the cards together and bring them on the go without losing any. (But if you do, they offer single replacement cards!)

Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & Giveaway
We have been pairing the cards with out Montessori movable alphabet to make a fun matching game. I put one of every letter in a bowl and Jax matches them up with the correct card.

Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & Giveaway     Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & Giveaway     Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & Giveaway

I asked Jax which card was his favorite. He said he liked them all, but P for Playground was his favorite!

Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & GiveawayNumber Card Set

The numbers card set features whimsical illustrations depicting quantity on one side and the number and corresponding Montessori beads on the other. The title card has a picture of the Montessori bead stair. Another card features the different base ten quantities in the golden bead materials.

Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & Giveaway      Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & Giveaway     Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & Giveaway

I’ve been working on DIY Montessori bead materials as a long-term project, so these cards fit in so well with our works! Click here to learn how I made my bead set and grab my free printables.

Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & GiveawayJax has always enjoys how colorful the bead stair is, so he was drawn to the small tray I set up with the number cards 0 – 9.

Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & Giveaway      Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & Giveaway

I made another small tray with the 1, 10, 100 and 1,000 cards to reinforce the golden bead materials he’s begun using. It is a quick activity, but it is always good to match physical objects to pictures and writing.

Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & GiveawaySO Awesome provides a handful of free printable resources and suggested activities as companions to their card sets. You can check them out here.

For free shipping on your next order from SO Awesome’s online store, use code imagineourlife.

Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & Giveaway


SO Awesome has generously offered a $45 store credit to the winner of this random giveaway. To enter, visit SO Awesome, then leave a comment here letting us know what your favorite product is. Then use the Rafflecopter widget below to let us know you’ve commented (email address or Facebook required). There are bonus entries available to anyone who enters. The lucky winner will be randomly chosen on Wednesday, September 10th.

Congrats to the winner, Andrea, L.!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About SO Awesome

soawesome_logojpgSO Awesome offers gorgeous, educational, non-toxic, extremely durable card sets designed for how kids play and work. Montessori-inspired. Made in the USA. Their cards are perfect to engage children in carseats, strollers, shopping carts, and long airplane rides.

Graphic Designer and mother Marie-Claire Camp created the durable, non-toxic card sets for her twin boys. Using the crowdsource-funding site Kickstarter, Marie-Claire produced five sets of cards and an companion iOS app.

Visit SO Awesome on: So Awesome WebsiteFacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram

num  abc  color  go  mywallet1

Thanks for entering, and good luck!

Montessori-Inspired Wallet Cards Review & Giveaway

We received these products in exchange for our honest review.
All opinions are our own, I promise! Have something for use to review? Contact me!

Sock Penguin Tutorial

Sock Penguin TutorialWhen I found an old pair of rainbow striped socks, I knew I wanted to make a sock animal. I asked Jax what he would like, and wasn’t surprised to hear him request a penguin. They are his favorite animal! I wasn’t sure how a rainbow striped penguin would turn out, but he’s really cute! This works up very quick and easy. It took me about 2 hours of hand sewing to finish.

Sock Penguin TutorialYou could use any size sock, but would need to scale the pattern pieces to match. One knee-high sock is perfect (mine were thigh-high and I had 7″ leftover before the cuff. (See my sock measurements on the pattern as a guide.) I can use two socks if yours are shorter.

Other materials needed are: the pattern, poly fill, felt (white, orange, black and an eye color) and needle/threads.

Sock Penguin TutorialThe tutorial is included in the pattern file, as well as a stitch guide. (The stitch guide is a new feature in my pay patterns. Let me know what you think of this sample!)

If you sew a sock penguin from my tutorial, Jax and I would love to see yours! Show us a picture via our Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram.

Sock Penguin Tutorial

Felt and Sequin Dangle Earrings

Felt and Sequin Dangle Earrings

I keep my sequins in a vintage canning jar beside my sewing area, and all the pretty, sparkly colors have been calling to me recently. I wanted to make a quick project with them, so I combined my love of felt and fun, dangle earrings!

Felt and Sequin Dangle EarringsNo patterns needed for this one – just have fun!

Felt and Sequin Dangle Earrings

What I Used:

Felt and Sequin Dangle Earrings

I started by cutting out shapes in my felt and laying them out with sequins to create a design I enjoyed. I then cut out a second set. Make sure you cut a backing piece for each earring body. Decorate the earring fronts by sewing down the felt shapes and adding sequins and French knots as embellishment.

Felt and Sequin Dangle Earrings

Here is how I made mine:

I cut my base out in a rounded teal diamond shape. I had a honeydew green circle the size of a nickel and a blue-gray square, slightly bigger than a sequin. I laid the pieces out and started by sewing down the center square. With the same thread, I sewed on the center sequin. I then switched thread colors and sewed on 4 contrasting sequins around the circle.

With the same thread color, I added a French knot to the center sequin. Switching thread colors to match the circle, I stitched it down. I then started alternating adding matching sequins and stitching French knots.

Felt and Sequin Dangle Earrings

Repeat everything for the front of the second earring.

I then created a tassel. I cut a length of three colors of floss, cut those in half and then tied then together at the midpoint. I then folded them in half and used one of the thread colors to tie knot loops around the bundle. After my last knot, I ran my needle up through the top of the tassel and let the tail stick out with the others at the top. I trimmed the bottom, then made a second one to match.

With thread matching my background, I stitched the tassels to the backsides of the earrings. I made stitches that were hidden by the sequin on the front. I then began sewing the front and back together for each earring. I paused at the top and sewed on a jump ring. Make sure the rings face the way they need to in order hang the right way from your earring wires.

Finish the earrings by attaching the earring wires. I had fun with the colors and made a bright pink and purple set that is slightly smaller.

Felt and Sequin Dangle Earrings

I really enjoyed making these and may design some more to give as gifts or sell in my Etsy shop. Let me know if you make some! Stop by our Facebook page or share a photo with me on Instagram or Twitter (username @iolstephanie). Be sure to share the project with a friend who sews!

Felt and Sequin Dangle Earrings

Pirate Island Tic-Tac-Toe Quiet Book Page

Pirate Island Tic-Tac-Toe Quiet Book Page

Tic Tac Yo-Ho-ho!

Jax has recently taken an interest in learning how to play tic-tac-toe (Noughts and crosses, Xs and Os, etc…) so I thought it would be a fun and quick page to sew up. This project would also work great as a stand-alone 9″ square felt tic-tac-toe set. We’ll be going to the beach in September, so I thought up a pirate island theme!

This page can be made as a stand-alone game by sewing it to a 9″ square background.

Pair this page with: The Treasure Quiet Book Page

Pirate Island Tic-Tac-Toe Quiet Book Page

What I used:

Pirate Island Tic-Tac-Toe Quiet Book Page

Sewing the Island

Following the template, sewing the tic-tac-toe grid onto the island piece.

Pirate Island Tic-Tac-Toe Quiet Book Page

Pin down the island with a bit of stuffing or batting underneath for dimension. Sewing it down, then embellish it with French knots and tiny stitches to show the sand texture.

Pirate Island Tic-Tac-Toe Quiet Book Page

Decorate the water’s edge with blue crystal sequins. Decorate the sand with some pirate’s treasure: gold sequins and pearl buttons.

Pirate Island Tic-Tac-Toe Quiet Book Page

Treasure Chest

Stitch two gold bands onto each side of the treasure chest. I used thick 100% wool felt, so I didn’t line the chest. If you are using regular felt, place a blank chest piece behind each side of the chest and sew them together along the long top side.

Pirate Island Tic-Tac-Toe Quiet Book Page

Place the two finished sides together and sew the right sides and bottom together, then place it on the page as shown and sew the left side together through the page. This will make a pocket that is hinged to the page. You can flip it out of the way when it is time to play. Add a snap to the back of the chest on the loose side, then sew the matching half to the page. This holds the pocket still while you flip through your quiet book.

Pirate Island Tic-Tac-Toe Quiet Book Page

Cross Bones

Using a light layer of felt glue, tack down two of the bones into a cross shape onto black felt. Once it is dry, cut it out and sew it all around the outside. Repeat so you have 5 X’s.

Pirate Island Tic-Tac-Toe Quiet Book Page

Ruby Rings

With on strand of pink thread, sew the gem lines onto each felt ruby. Start with a long horizontal line, then make two V’s above it and one large V below it. Use the template as a guide.

Using a light layer of felt glue, tack down a gold ring onto brown felt.  Glue a ruby on top as shown. once it is dry, cut it out and sew it all around the edges. Repeat so you have 5 O’s.

Arrrrh! Have Fun!

Pirate Island Tic-Tac-Toe Quiet Book Page


Learn and Play with the Learning Laptop

Learn and Play with the Learning Laptop

Quick Links: Purchase this pattern for personal use or commercial use!

A colorful, handmade invitation to learn & play…
The Learning Laptop!

Introducing the newest pattern in the Imagine Our Life Etsy pattern shop.

The Learning Laptop project makes a laptop-style quietbook with multiple activity sheets that pull out of a storage pocket and attach to the screen. The “keyboard” is made of letters attached by hook and loop tape. Activities include: the alphabet, numbers (quantity, addition & subtraction), colors (matching & mixing) and tangrams (two difficulty levels). The keyboard lifts up to reveal storage pockets for all the loose parts and activity pages. This book is perfect for a broad range of ages, but I recommend children under three have adult supervision due to small parts.

Learn and Play with the Learning Laptop   Learn and Play with the Learning Laptop

All the wool blend felt and vinyl in this project was provided by American Felt & Craft. The colors are all so beautiful, and I have a lot of leftovers to create more projects from. You do use quite a bit of hook & loop tape in this project. So much that I ended up not putting it on any of the loose parts beyond the alphabet. I used white Snag-Free Velcro for the screen and keyboard, then gray and black for the case. The only other special supply that is used is an assortment of colorful mini buttons. Mine were 7mm Favorite Findings Basic Mini Buttons in Ocean, Fun, Primary and Clean. I collected mine in craft stores, but I generally can find them online too. I have plenty leftover for other projects.

Learn and Play with the Learning LaptopAlphabet

The first thing you see when you open the Learning Laptop is the alphabet. It isn’t in qwerty, as it is meant to teach alphabetical order. (You would need to scale your letters down a bit to convert it to qwerty, as you’d need 10 instead of 9 on the top row.) The letters can all be pulled off and put back in the correct order, or used to make works on the screen. The basic pattern calls for one of each letter, but you can make extras and store them inside. I’d recommend extras if there are double letters in your child’s name.

Learn and Play with the Learning Laptop

I chose two shades of aqua for my letters, separating the vowels with a darker shade. You can change them to all the same, or perhaps the classic Montessori red and blue combination. I added a little heart to fill in our extra space.

Learn and Play with the Learning LaptopNumbers

There are two sets of number tiles that range 0 through 9. One set has buttons to show the quantity, the other has written numerals. I chose not to match the felt colors between the two sets so that a matching game will be harder for my 4-year-old. A younger child who is just learning number quantities might benefit from having the felt colors correspond.

Learn and Play with the Learning Laptop

Learn and Play with the Learning Laptop
A math page is included in the storage pocket to introduce addition and subtraction. It includes one line for each, with space to have up to two tiles as the answer (for example when using the 1 and 0 to make a 10.)

Learn and Play with the Learning Laptop


The Learning Laptop has three simple color puzzles. You could create additional pieces and add more button combinations if you wanted to. Included is a page that lets the child either sort the three primary colors into three puzzles, or they can follow the mixing equations to make the complimentary colors.

Learn and Play with the Learning Laptop

The outer pieces are the same primary color on each side. The inner pieces are primary colors (red, yellow and blue) on one side and complementary colors (orange, green and purple) on the other.

Learn and Play with the Learning Laptop


The tangram puzzle are Jax’s favorite! The pattern includes two sheets of full-size puzzles that have guide lines and two pages with smaller color examples of additional puzzles. This gives the child two difficulty levels to work through.

Learn and Play with the Learning Laptop

The tangrams are colorful and fun. Jax started out struggling with the easier puzzles, but after working out how to rotate and flip the pieces, he soon was able to move on to the harder puzzles. Now he is showing interest in creating his own!

Learn and Play with the Learning LaptopEverything tucks away into the storage section to keep it safe, though I help Jax clean up so we know nothing is missing.

Learn and Play with the Learning Laptop

Jax in his Montessori homeschool room. Learn more here.

Jax really adores this laptop quiet book and was so anxious for me to finish it! In honor of the tangrams being his favorite, I created a free pdf file with 12 additional puzzles in matching colors. Download it here.

Learn and Play with the Learning Laptop    Learn and Play with the Learning Laptop

I worked hard to really make the pattern and instructions look beautiful. I’ve included a full tutorial and a brand new stitch guide! As an added bonus, there is a $5 American Felt & Craft coupon to help you purchase beautiful felt!

The Learning Laptop pattern can be purchased for personal use for only $8.00 here. Your purchase helps me towards my goal of making this site my full-time job so I can share so many more projects with you. And, don’t worry! I will be mixing in plenty of free patterns!

Plan to sell the finished product? Purchase a commercial license for $25 and sell as many as you like! You will also be listed on my Authorized Sellers page.

Our Montessori Classroom

I’ve been doing a lot of DIY and redecorating lately. Jax has begun sleeping in his big boy room at last and has earned a new mural. At the same time, I’d starting thinking a lot about our homeschool space. It was bright and beautiful, but as Jax (and our school supply collection) has grown, it has begun to feel cramped. We were also running into problems with the school room being upstairs off the master bedroom (his old nursery.) I needed to be downstairs to do my freelance work, and Jax has wanted increasingly more time for school work.

Our Montessori Classroom

The best solution? Moving the schoolroom down to half of the playroom! The playroom is the front room of our main living area. I suppose it is intended to be a formal living room. We have no need for two living rooms – the “den” area off the kitchen is plenty! By moving just a few things out of the playroom and adding storage, I knew the school room would work great there.

We have also been busy dealing with medial issues. Poor Jax had the bad luck of contracting Lyme Disease from his very first tick bite. We caught it super early and will have a near 100% chance of a full recovery with his month of antibiotics. It has been a rough time, with Jax having a bad reaction to Amoxicillin and having to switch to a new (more disgusting) medicine. We are in the home stretch, and so grateful for all your kind words and suggestions!

Would you like a little tour of our new learning space?

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have often seen pictures of the old room. I really love that room, but it was so small that half of the floor would end up covered by supplies. We can finally stretch out and breathe!

Our Montessori Classroom

I started by moving Jax’s hand-me-down playgym outside so the room felt more open. I also took his old plastic table out of the room. The thrifted Ikea coffee table we’d been doing schoolwork on was working really well, with one exception – it was getting too short! After a trip to the hardware store for some square wooden medallions, I quickly made it taller. We had a little chair from the thrift shop that had a lot of water damage and was close to falling apart. I tightened it up, glued some broken bits and gave it a paint job.

Our Montessori Classroom

From Walmart, we purchased two $17.99 white shelves. They are certainly not the best quality, but they are surprisingly nice for $18 each. One had a warped side board, but some tweaking and shim under one edge has them sitting flush together.

On the side wall, we already had two Ikea picture shelves that were were using to hold books. I placed the DIY shelves (painted boards on wood crates) from the old school room underneath. Then I painted a narrower scrap board and used it to widen the bottom book rack into a thin shelf. This makes a perfect shelf for smaller baskets and activities. I put the extra books in a basket.

Our Montessori Classroom

I needed to move our DIY chalkboard to have room for the new shelves, so that went between the windows on the side wall. I’m not in love with that area yet, but it is bright and functional.

On Our Homeschool Shelves

I don’t have any big study units going on right now, but let me show you around what is on our shelves.

Our Montessori Classroom

Starting with the left side of the shelves, we have Jax’s small movable alphabet, montessori globe, wooden shape lacing (Target Dollar Spot), and some glass bead spacers (Dollar Tree). Below that, we have our handbells and felt notes and a wooden tray (craft store) filled with sand. One the middle shelf, we have all the body organs and labels for Jax’s human body chart, his sorting fruit pie and a basket of magnets (a placeholder for now). On the bottom shelf, we have our letter construction set, spread out for now.

Our Montessori Classroom

One the right shelf, I have a thrifted wooden clock board, a thrifted Ikea abacus and our small wooden number cards. Below that, I have all our DIY math beads (still in progress). On the middle shelf, I have Jax’s math block set, geometric shapes and some felt sheets to use as work mats. On the back of the bottom shelf I have our letter sounds tubs. In front, there are our lowercase and uppercase sandpaper letters.

Our Montessori Classroom

To the side, I have our hanging picture line,. I also hung a thrifted peg hanger with chalkboard tin buckets full of art supplies (Target Dollar Spot). On the floor, I have a thrifted paper holder (Container Store brand) with construction paper (also thrifted!)

Our Montessori Classroom

On the side wall, I have books on the top shelf. Below that, I have our weather materials, a wooden rainbow, some CVC matching cards, our word spinners and our DIY color tablets. On the top large shelf, I have our solar system works (to coordinate with out Air & Space museum trip), some of our continent animals, two starting sounds matching trays (using sandpaper letters and starting sound objects) and a basket of CVC objects. On the bottom shelf, I have some colored craft sticks with shapes (thrifted) to make and label, as well as our piggy bank activity.

Our Montessori Classroom

To the left of those shelves, I have Jax’s chalkboard, some musical instruments and classroom plants. I don’t have a chalk holder figured out yet, but no rush!

What do you think of our new classroom? Do you have any suggestions for us? Jax adores it, and loves having access to all the item’s I’d had stored in the closet. It is so nice to spread out!

Our Montessori Classroom

For more homeschool ideas, visit Montessori Monday at Living Montessori Now.

Montessori Monday