Archive for the ‘tutorials’ Category

My son wears a Medtronic 522 insulin pump, and to fit that pump I make a pocket that is about 4.5 in tall and 3.5 in wide. I sew the pocket onto the back of an undershirt because he was only 1 when he started on the pump and I did not want him to push any buttons. He is now 4 and we still use this method because it works well for us. Sometimes he wears his pump in his pants pocket, but having it in his shirt is still easier because he doesn’t get tangled in the tubing.

I don’t have step by step photos right now, but the next time I sew some pump pockets I will update with more photos.

1. Cut two rectangles: one 6 in x 4 in and one 5 in x 4 in.

2. Place the rectangles on top of one another lining up one of the short  sides. They are the same width so those sides line up, but since they are different lengths only one of the short sides will line up.

3. Using a 1/2 ” seam allowance, sew along the matched short side, leaving an opening for turning in the middle. In other words, sew from the outside edges toward the center, but do not stitch the center closed.  I usually leave about 1 in open in the center.

4. Align the other short sides. This will make a bubble because the rectangles are different lengths. Flatten the fabric so that the short side seam is not at the edge of the rectangle anymore. The large rectangle now folds over and the seam connecting the two is about an inch from the edge. Sew the other 3 sides closed.

5. Turn the pocket right side out through the opening you left in the first seam.

6. Sew a piece of hook and loop tape (Velcro) to the pocket between the short folded edge and the first seam.

7. Decide where you want the pocket on the shirt and sew the other piece of hook and loop tape to the shirt. I have found that if the top of the pocket is at about the bottom of the arm holes it works best. Placing the pocket too low on the shirt makes it pull and stretch more.

8. Stick the pocket to the shirt with the hook and loop tape. Topstitch the pocket in place, again with about a 1/4 in seam allowance. Begin and end the stitching about 2/3 of the way down the hook and loop tape. If you stitch the pocket all the way to the top on the long sides it is hard to get the pump in and out. The hook and loop tape will hold the pocket closed so the topstitching is not needed at the very top.


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I am inspired by Maria Montessori and her materials. I love how Montessori encourages learning by doing, begining with concrete experiences and then moving toward abstract ideas. I love that children are allowed and encouraged to be independent, that they are taught how to approach one another if they are interested in another’s work, and that they can choose to work alone or with others. I don’t love the cost of Montessori preschool nor the cost of the materials. So I’m reading Maria Montessori’s books and making some materials myself. Here is a tutorial of how to make your own Montessori color cards.


11 color swatches, 2 of each color. I went to the paint store and got 2 paper paint swatches in each of the colors. My Montessori manual states the colors should be red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white, gray, brown, and pink. Those colors make sense to me, although Montessori can be a tad “this is the way to do it!”

white cardstock, scissors, pencil, ruler, glue

1. Cut 2 of each of the 11 colors you want to use.

2. Cut the cardstock a bit bigger than your color squares. I cut my cardstock 7 cm x 7 cm. You will need 22 squares of cardstock.

3. Trim the color cards to fit onto the cardstock.

4. Glue one color square to each white cardstock square.

5. Wipe away any excess glue and place your color cards under a heavy book so they will dry flat.

6. Ta da! Your own Montessori color cards.

I keep my color cards in a little box I found at a thrift store. The goal of the color card work  is for the child to lay out all the matches. I model this job by laying out all the colors from one pile. Then I take the first card from the other pile and find the match. After kids practice matching you can move on to the “three period lesson”. The first step is the teacher saying the name of the color out loud as you show it to the child and having the child repeat the name. The second period is to say to the child “Can you give me the red?”. The third step is to ask the child “What is this?” as you point to the color card. 11 colors may be too many for young children, and Montessori recommends first just introducing the 3 primary colors and letting children work on matching those. This may seem like a very simple task, but you might be surprised. My son knows the names of all the colors, but matching all 11 was frustrting for him. I thought it would be breeze and that he would spend less time using the color cards then it took me to make them. But that is the beauty of Montessori, giving kids really basic experiences that are important for them to move on to higher level thinking. Experineces that are so basic that as adults we sometimes don’t even see them as necessary. There is a lot more to the Montessori method and if you are interested in the details or really doing things her way I recommend you read Maria Montessori’s books.

When you child is proficient at matching all 11 colors, the next job is to present a set of color cards that is a gradient of light to dark of one color. When I was in the paint store I brought home 3 swatches of each color. I used two swatches for the color matching job above, and I will use the third swatch to make the color gradient cards. All the gradient cards can be arranged to make a color wheel. First the child works on arranging one color gradient set from darkest to lightest, and they progress to aranging the entire color wheel in a gradient of colors. I love how this builds to high level concepts!

Other jobs that are easy to make yourself that we have on our work shelf are:

spooning lentils from one bowl to another (my 2 year old loves this!)

pouring beans back and forth between a pitcher and a glass (another 2 year old fav)

embroidery in burlap with a tapestry needle (I got this idea from Amanda Soule’s wonderful book “The Creative Family“)

If you make your own set of color cards I’d love to see a photo of your child at work!

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