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I made Jack’s Halloween costume yesterday! It cost me almost nothing and was super easy.

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Please tell me it’s obvious that he’s a shark.

I started out with this gray hoodie from Target ($9) and a few sheets of white felt that I already had (originally $1.25 total).

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The sheet that already had a piece cut out was thinner and softer and, according to the sticker on the back, only 25 cents. The other two were more stiff, had glitter on one side, and were 2/$1. They’ve all been hanging out in my craft stash for the better part of three years, as you can see by the label!

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First, I cut an oval out of the soft felt to serve as the shark’s belly.

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Then, I cut two strips from the stiff felt and used a sharp pair of scissors to cut out triangle shapes.

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I trimmed them to length and, voila, shark teeth.

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I folded the remaining sheet of felt in half (glitter sides together) and sketched out the shape of a shark fin. I was a little nervous about getting it right so I googled it and found a few examples online to emulate.

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Once I’d cut out my fin I actually trimmed it down to a considerably smaller size, so you could definitely get a much bigger fin out of one sheet of felt if you felt so inclined.

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I top-stitched around the two sides of the fin, leaving the bottom open and stuffing the inside with a few scraps. I actually stopped my stitches a few centimeters from the bottom of the fin so that the two sides could splay out and attach to the hoodie (this may make more sense when you see it attached). If you don’t have a sewing machine you could totally stitch the fin up by hand or even use glue.

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Next step: sew on the shark belly. My first attempt left something to be desired.

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My idea was to sew on the belly, then cut a slit down the middle to accommodate the zipper. But when I saw how lopsided things had gotten I decided to try again with pins holding it in place, in which case I might as well go ahead and cut the zipper free right then. It was a lot easier to sew with the hoodie unzipped.

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I actually laughed out loud when I saw what it looked like the second time. I mean, come on! What did I do wrong this time?

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But no worries, a little strategic trimming around the edges got things looking much more symmetrical.

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I’d had so much trouble with the belly that I decided to stitch the teeth and fin by hand. Bonus: this way I didn’t have to re-thread my machine with gray thread. This was an easy task to knock out while watching The New Girl with Nick after Jack was in bed.

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I was thrilled when I saw how cute it looked on Jack! Rarely does a project actually turn out like I’d hoped, so this is a special treat.

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I paired the hoodie with a pair of gray pants that we already had, but I think it would look just as cute with jeans, sweatpants, whatever.

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As you can see, it’s plenty comfortable for playing. When he lays on his back the fin just flips over to the side.

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This is his vicious face: “I am an apex predator, now fetch me a snack!”

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Using a gray hoodie as the basis for the costume made it really easy to DIY. I’ve had this on my to-do list for weeks and kept putting it off, thinking it would take me a whole afternoon, but even with the trouble I had sewing the belly on it still took me under an hour total (including the hand-stitching I did in front of the TV). I’m thinking of ripping out the stitches and continuing to use the jacket as a regular piece of clothing after Halloween has come and gone, but I bought it in size 12 months and I’m not sure how much longer it will fit him, so we’ll see. I just can’t get over how stinking cute he looks in it.

This is a costume that I think would work equally well for boys and girls (just add some pink or glitter if it’s not girly enough for you, but I tend to prefer gender neutral stuff anyway). I always hate the idea of spending money on a costume that is poorly made, probably uncomfortable, and will never be worn again, so this one’s definitely a winner in my book! If you’re not much for sewing you could definitely use hot glue or some other adhesive, but stitches are easier to rip out so that the hoodie can resume normal use. You could use the same concept (hoodie + felt or other embellishments) to make all kinds of stuff, like a cat, monster, dinosaur, little red riding hood, unicorn, frog, etc.. The possibilities are endless!

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. -William Morris

Once or twice a year I get the urge to go through and purge our home of all the clutter. Where does all this stuff come from? It seems everyone I know has huge piles of unwanted crap in their homes. And yet still we shop–I’m guilty of this myself! I don’t have a solution to offer, but the quote above is one that guides my efforts to simplify my home. I don’t hold onto anything out of guilt, and sentimental items are limited to what fits in the chest at the foot of my bed (I go through every few years and purge what’s no longer meaningful), My big problem these days seems to be greed–if I hold onto all these outgrown clothes I can save them for the next kid (who may or may not be able to wear them based on gender, size, and season anyway), and if I sell these unwanted items instead of donating them I can use the money to buy something I really want or need. But because I don’t always have time/inclination to sort through everything to store or sell, I end up with piles. I’m considering setting a deadline–whatever I haven’t stored or sold by Thanksgiving goes to the Goodwill, no exceptions. Thoughts?

More than a year after embarking on this gig called motherhood I am still struggling with the task of keeping my little man organized. Poor Nick can’t keep up with all the new systems I put in place to try to streamline the clothes, the toys, the diaper bag, etc. We’ve reached a breaking point and I am on the verge of a big purge. The guest room is packed with piles of stuff I need to sort through to store or donate, but before I tackle it I want to make sure I’ve got everything in his room exactly how I want it. No sense in storing away all those outgrown clothes only to find something I missed at the bottom of a drawer, right? Leave it to the perfectionist in me to rationalize why I should be making cute closet dividers instead of sorting through the pile of crap in the spare room.

The closet dividers are necessary because until recently we’ve kept the majority of Jack’s clothes in his dresser. I don’t know why I ever thought that was a good idea. Especially as we move into the unpredictable fall/winter, I need to be able to see his clothing without rifling through piles. It’s not at all uncommon in Louisiana to be bundled up in October but wearing short sleeves on Christmas, so bring able to assess what’s warm and what’s not at a glance is key. The second problem is that I have had a hard time to date with keeping track of what’s almost too small, what fits just right, and what’s not yet grown into. Enter the closet divider. There’s a vast selection of cute ones on Etsy and The Container Store has some blank ones for only .99 each, but with no Container Store near me and no patience for waiting for shipping I decided to make some myself with supplies already had.

I’ve got a huge stack of these blank CD’s that I bought years ago because I needed just one. I feel certain I’ll never use them all, so I didn’t mind sacrificing a few to the cause. If you don’t have any CD’s you don’t mind ruining, you could use cardboard, foam core, or even thick cardstock instead.

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I used a set of wire snips to cut a slit at the bottom, then a circle from the center. If you don’t have wire snips some sturdy scissors or some sort of scoring tool may work even better.

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The metallic film came off in large chunks under warm running water, then I used a magic eraser to scrub away the blue-green coating and any bits of foil that remained.

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With the plastic all cleaned up, I used a nail file to smooth the edges that I’d cut. I’m not trying to win any beauty pageants here; I just wanted to remove any bits that might scratch me.

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I repeated this process on three disks, then used scrapbook letters to label them with the three sizes that are most relevant to us right now–the size he’s growing out of, the size he’s currently in, and the next size up.

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AND THEN I flipped them over and labeled the reverse with the next three sizes. When he completely outgrows all his 12 month clothes I’ll steal the 2 (I ran out of 2′s on my sheet of scrapbook letters), stick it next to that T, and put it at the other end of the closet to be 2T. Likewise, 18 months will become 3T and 24 months will become 4T. Genius, no?

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Here they are in his closet! I’m pretty sure this system will be easier for Nick to keep up with than “the ones I like best go on the right side of the drawer, the ones that are kind of ugly but I need for when I’m behind on laundry go on the left side of the drawer.” If he can just read the labels and put them in the proper sections I can pick out what’s cute/weather appropriate easily and also see when it’s time to go ahead and pack away that outgrown size. Here’s to hoping.

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If you have any tips for managing the chaos of kid clothes pleeeaaassse share. I’m drowning in hand-me-downs to-be-handed-downs.

 

toddler boy wardrobe

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Until recently we really haven’t had to buy much clothing for Jack–gifts and hand me downs constituted the bulk of his wardrobe and we just added in a few things for fun or necessity here and there. But as October loomed near I realized I had nary a long-sleeved shirt in his size, nor much else to fit him over the next few months (but once he gets out of the toddler sizes he is SET with hand me downs from every male member of Nick’s family dating back to the early 90′s. I have more boxes full of boys’ clothing than I know what to do with). I actually had a lot of fun doing some online shopping for his fall wardrobe last week. Is it just me or is boys’ clothing getting cuter? Or maybe I’m just getting better at finding what I like–simple colors and patterns that are easy to mix and match and not plastered in cheesy graphics (though I couldn’t resist that lettered hoodie).

Top row: I may have gone a little overboard with gray shirts, but they’re just so practical! Gray doesn’t stain as easily as white but still goes with almost everything, and with simple basics like this I can easily layer more colorful short-sleeve shirts left over from summer to make his wardrobe more interesting.

Second row: I love a good stripe. All of these shirts are casual enough for play but still cute enough for pictures, and in colors that I know will flatter Jack’s warm coloring.

Third row: I about died when I saw that Old Navy carried baby skinny jeans for boys. He’s gonna be so cute I could just eat him up. I may still pick up another pair of pants if I see some at a good price. And as for outerwear, it doesn’t get too cold in Louisiana but a light jacket and hat are necessary for outdoor play. I’m hoping to get some extra use out of that plain gray hoodie by incorporating it into a Halloween costume (more on that if I’m successful). The hat + mittens was a total splurge. I needed to get my Old Navy order up to $50 to qualify for free shipping and, as mentioned above, I’m partial to a cute stripe.

Fourth row: Old Navy pajamas were way cuter, but about $5 more expensive each and since pajamas are worn almost exclusively while sleeping I couldn’t justify the extra cost just for cuteness. We have a couple of pairs of soft pants that we’re hoping to match with some of the long sleeve shirts pictured above to stretch us to a week’s worth of pajamas.

After using a couple of coupon codes I was able to get all of this for only $153! It was actually $159 if you count shipping from Carter’s, but I’m still calling it a win. The first package arrived yesterday, just in time for the decidedly autumnal weather we’re expecting this weekend (low of 54° on Sunday, BUNDLE UP PEOPLE! Nevermind that the high will be 79°, haha).

Here are a couple of coupon codes to try out if you’re doing some kids’ clothing shopping of your own:

Old Navy: BDAYGIFT, ONSAVE20

Carter’s: GBS9131, SH813C15, SHOPSAVE

Have a great weekend, y’all, and thank for reading!