4.27.2016

DIY Tutorial for Making a Stroller Organizer

Most strollers I've seen don't come with an organizer - I'll show you how to make your own in this tutorial!



Having my keys, phone, drink, wallet, binky, snacks, etc. handy has been such a stress reliever with my kids in tow.  These organizers are great because the Velcro straps allow you to get a good fit on almost any stroller and you can take it off easily for washing - I just throw mine in with a regular load of clothes!

The first one of these I made was about 7 years ago!

I changed the organizer a little bit adding Velcro dividers rather than permanent ones - this makes it easier to sew, it looks nicer, and it's more versatile!  You could also sew more Velcro strips inside the organizer for more divider positions as well!

For this tutorial I am going to give you a supply list for an organizer with the inside and outside shell made out of the same fabric, with black dividers and black straps for attaching to the stroller.  Feel free to make your divider how you wish and buy supplies according to your wishes!  For simplicity sake I'm not going to show how to add a zipper or gathered front like the green one pictured above (but feel free to customize yours however you'd like)!

Consider using a waterproof fabric for the inside - easy to wipeout spills!  Also consider using a medium-weight to heavy-weight fabric for the outside shell so the organizer holds its shape and is more durable.  TIP: keep in mind what your sewing machine is capable of sewing through when you choose your materials - a layer of vinyl, heavy-weight fabric and Velcro can be difficult to sew over, especially on the seams.

SUPPLIES:
15" Fabric (at least 45"-wide) 
1 yd Black Elastic (2"-wide)
28" Black Velcro (3/4"-wide)
28" White Velcro (3/4"-wide)
Yardstick and Marking Tool
Cutting Matt & Rotary Tool (Highly Recommended!)

CUTTING LIST:
TIP: Because we're working with thicker materials, the lining is 1/4" smaller on two sides so it will fit nicely inside the outer shell.

FABRIC:
(follow the diagram below for cutting fabric)
Outer Shell: 14" x 14"
Lining: 13-3/4" x 13-3/4"
Outer Ends: 5"-wide x 5-1/2"-tall (x2)
Lining Ends: 4-3/4"-wide x 5-1/4"-tall (x2)
Pocket: 6"-wide x 5"-tall

ELASTIC:
2 - 10"-long pieces
2 - 6"-long pieces

VELCRO:
Black:
4 - 4"-long pieces of hook & loop (Straps)
6 - 2"-long pieces of hook (Dividers)
White:
2 - 14"-long pieces of loop (Attaches Dividers to Organizer)

 Create the curves on the bottoms (on the short ends) of your end pieces by measuring 1-1/4-inches inwards and connect with a curved line.  Trim along line.

 Here you can see all 4 ends are cut and ready to sew!

POCKET & VELCRO:
Sew the top edge (long edge) of your pocket with a 1/4-inch seam.

Fold pocket in-half with right-sides together and make a 1-inch long pleat from the bottom edge, 1/4-inch in from the fold.


 Measure 5-inches down from the top of your lining fabric and create a horizontal line that is centered (6-7/8-inches is center; mark as well) and about 5-inches long.

While you have your yard stick and pen, mark where to place the Velcro by marking 3-1/2-inches towards the center from both the top corners and bottom corners.

 Place your pocket along the bottom side of the line you created, with the wrong side facing up and the pleat centered with your center mark.

 Sew the pocket with a 1/4-inch seam.

 Flip pocket up and pin so pocket edges are 90-degrees with the bottom seam you just made.  TIP: the pocket will pucker at the top because of the pleat on the bottom.

 Pin your white loop Velcro along your 3-1/2-inch markings, having the Velcro on the inside of the markings.  The Velcro should cover the open sides of your pocket.

Sew along the edges of your Velcro strips.

PIN & SEW SIDES:

Find the center between the curved corners of your end pieces by folding in-half and clipping 1/8-inch into seam allowance.  You'll also want to find the center of the 2 sides where you will be attaching the end pieces to your outer shell and lining pieces (hopefully this should is self-explanatory); clip 1/8-inch.

With right sides together and clipped-centers matching, pin lining ends to lining and outer ends to outside shell just along the first edge (see below picture).

 Clip into the seam allowance 1-1/2-inches to either side of your end pieces to allow the bottom fabric to contour to the curved corner - make clips about 1/4 to 3/8-inches deap into the seam allowance.

Next, match up the corners and pin.  Pin along the flat side making your way to the corner.  Once at the corner, take your time aligning and pinning.

 Your pieces should look like this for both the outer shell and lining (lining is pictured).

 Sew your ends with a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

 Trim seam to about 1/8-inch.

 VELCRO STRAPS & COMPLETEING ORGANIZER:
 Baste your 4-inch long black Velcro pieces together on one end by having the hook side facing up on the bottom and the loop side facing up on the top.

 Baste your Velcro straps so the soft-loop side is facing down against the right-side of your outer shell.  Have them about 1/4-inch from the seam (so it's not too bulky to sew over the seam AND the Velcro later on).

 Have the outer shell right-side IN with the lining placed inside so right-sides are together.  TIP: it's important to do it this way because the outer shell is slightly bigger to accommodate the lining :)

 Pin around the top, matching edges and seams.  You'll want to leave an opening for turning and the best spot is in-between the white Velcro on one of the long-straight edges (I marked with blue so I wouldn't forget)!

 Sew around with a 1/2-inch seam making sure to backstitch really well at the start/end.  Clip seam to about 1/4-inch but leave the opening fabric UNCUT (this allows you to sew the opening closed easier because you have more fabric to work with).

 Turn your organizer right-side out very carefully!

Pin around the top edge, rolling the fabric in-between your fingers as you go to get the seam out as much as possible.

I top-stitched around the edge about 3/8-inch, closing the opening as I went, however, you can slipstitch it closed with a needle/thread if you prefer not to have a seam showing - or there's always the chance that your sewing machine won't even be able to go through all the layers to do a top-stitch, too! :)

ELASTIC DIVIDERS:
 Fold one of your 10-inch long elastic pieces in-half and fold the raw ends over 1/4-inch together.

 Sew a 2-inch long Velcro piece over the folded ends, tacking them down and hiding them at the same time!  Do this for your other long piece.

 You'll do similarly as above with your 6-inch elastic pieces, but with only one layer of elastic (not folding it in-half) and you'll do it to both ends (having Velcro on the same side of elastic).

 With Velcro facing up on all pieces, slide your 'shorter' elastic through the folded elastic.  You'll want the shorter elastic centered with and pushed up tight against the fold; pin in place.

Sew a box around the elastic with a 1/4-inch seam to keep the pieces together.

I like to attach the dividers by first centering the Velcro on the bottom and then attaching the sides.

If you want your 'cup holders' to be smaller you can flip your dividers around like this!

DONE!

3.21.2016

Chicken Coop Watering System - How To

My previous post was about building a "hen house" and this post will give you enough details on how to make a gravity fed watering system using watering cups.  I can't take credit for coming up with this system because I was inspired by "Homesteadonomics" to give it a try.  A huge bonus for me was that I already had a barrel!


This is what my system looks like.

The biggest difference from what I did was adding a PVC 'tee' to my watering cups outside so I could route one to the inside of the coop.  I worried about this being permanently attached on either side of the wall because I was originally going to make it so I had PVC fittings that screwed the 2 sides together so I could undo it if needed but I went with the more permanent solution in the end and am very pleased.  I also considered splitting the rubber tubing with a 'barbed tee' and having 2 hoses, one for outside and one for inside but that would add more tubing to worry about.

I'm making this post because I spent nearly 2-3 hours over several trips to Home Depot in the plumbing section, being completely overwhelmed with 2 kids in the cart and a gazillion options for creating different outfittings.  Hopefully this post saves you from wandering up/down the isle like I did (I wasn't able to find the same parts as Homesteadonomics).

To start I'll say that I spent $75 total for this system (not including the water barrel).  Is it worth it?  YES!  Our hen's are about 10 weeks old and changing/cleaning their water dish has been the worst daily chore for me.  No amount of elevating the dish kept it from getting pine shavings and poop in it.  I tried the nipple waterers only to be frustrated.  They leaked or dripped when the chickens pecked at them and got the pine shavings wet which would STINK!

So, watering cups - AMAZING!  The hens got used to them right away and I could see it was easier for them to get water than from the nipples.  They're easy to install and I like that they can be attached to a horizontal surface, unlike the nipples that need to be attached to the bottom of a container.


SUPPLIES:
Water Barrel
-Everything else I got from Home Depot-
3/4" Pipe Strap (x4) and Screws
Rubber Sheet (making custom gasket)
Caulking
Teflon Tape
PVC Primer & Glue
Hacksaw
Step Drill Bit (recommended) (~3/4"to fit brass adapter in barrel)
Forstner Bit (fitting PVC through wood) (1-1/8")



My first concern was finding fittings that would be leak proof for my barrel.  They have large-ugly PVC ones specifically for rain barrels but I didn't want that - plus I'd need a lot of different adapters just to hook up my hose... so I rigged up my own with brass fittings. 

  You'll want to drill a hole just big enough to screw your brass adapter piece in from the inside.  Snug is better than loose. I really liked having a step drill bit for this because I could test the fit as I went.

 Because the brass adapter has longer threads than what the ball valve will accommodate I knew I would need to "fill in the gap" which was great because I could add gaskets as an extra barrier from the water leaking out.

I used the rubber sheet to customize 2 gaskets that would fit over the threads of the adapter (one will go inside the barrel and one on the outside).  I used my step drill bit for making the inside hole of the gaskets (putting the rubber matt over wood to stabilize it). 

I left the inside gasket square because you wouldn't see it but shaped the one on the outside so it was the same shape as the base of the ball valve.

You can't see the gasket here because I caulked around it already.  I also used teflon tape around the adapter threads before screwing everything together (it was dark and I couldn't take pictures, sorry)!

As a side note, I originally purchased this valve for the barrel but the base against the barrel was so narrow I didn't feel comfortable with it, plus the threads inside the barrel weren't long enough to put a gasket in between. 

Now you can attach your brass hose adapter to your ball valve, and put a steel clamp over your hose and attach securely.

Now time to work on the PVC fittings!
 You'll want to design and customize your PVC sections with what works best for your coop.  Dry fit as you go to make sure it's what you really want before gluing.  You can see on the right sides of my sections are the threaded caps with the threaded male adapters and on the very left of the large section is the female reducing adapter which fits the gray irrigation elbow (not pictured)... everything in between should be easy to see.  I was really careful to make sure the small section of PVC between the tee and elbow was the correct size to fit through my coop wall.

 I just HAD to paint my PVC because I really can't stand the way it looks.  I've read it's nearly impossible to get anything to stick to PVC but that wasn't going to stop me!  I filled the holes with cotton balls and taped the PVC section I still needed to glue then I rubbed acetone thoroughly over all surfaces (it dulled the finish) and then sprayed with an epoxy I had in the garage.  If you're wondering how my PVC is floating in the air, I screwed fishing string into the caps!

 The white epoxy was supposed to cure for about 9 hours but I was too impatient and sprayed it black while it was still tacky.

 It was fun to see this crinkle affect in just a few seconds!

I sprayed a few more coats of black and pulled out the cotton balls to add the watering cups.  Use teflon tape on all the threads of your PVC sections or it WILL leak.

 I used my forstner bit to make a hole in the coop.

 I screwed my small section onto the inside of my coop with the metal straps so that I could glue my other section without needing someone holding it from the inside for me.  Yes, I know I did a sloppy glueing job (I was nervous and there were chickens all around me pecking at my shoe laces)!

Attach your metal straps!

Now you can attach the other end of your house and you'll be up and running in no time!  Add your metal clamp BEFORE you push the hose on.

 I added a metal strap to hold the barrel to the wall just to be safe.  I used metal eye-bolts and the same galvanized wire I used for the hen door.

You'll want the bottom of your barrel above the height of your watering cups - if it's not high enough it won't work.

Did that help you?  I'd love to know!