Thursday, March 1, 2012

DIY Growth Charts

I have been trying to get a lot of stuff done for the girls' rooms before Baby comes.  This week was my target week to get things done.  For various reasons, I haven't gotten as much done so far as I was hoping, but I did manage to finish growth charts for both Lass and new Baby Sis.  

Here is the one I made for Miss about a year and a half ago.  

I made this because I wanted a growth chart for her room, but I could never find one I liked or that would even remotely coordinate with her decor.  Frankly, I thought that most of the growth charts available for purchase were kind of gaudy.  At least those I looked at were.  I didn't find any kind of tutorial for making my own growth chart, so I pretty much winged it when I did this one.  It turned out quite well, so I just used the same process with the two new ones.  Read on if you'd like to know how to do it.

Here's what I used to make them:

Two yards of canvas duck fabric. For Miss's I used white.  For Lass's and Sis's I got the natural unbleached color.  This type of fabric comes in various colors, so you can use whatever color you like.

Gesso and a gesso brush (or maybe a roller?) - For Miss's, because I used the white canvas and wanted the background of the chart to be white, I obviously used white gesso.  You can also buy clear gesso, and that's what I used for the two I just made to keep the natural color of the fabric (you would of course use clear on a colored canvas too).  I think you can also tint gesso if you wanted a custom color, but I didn't try this.

Acrylic paint and paint markers to do the actual design, letters, and measuring "ruler" along the side.  Also a set of brushes.

12-inch wooden dowels - 1/2 inch in diameter (2 per chart).

Paint for the dowels - I used off white paint to match the canvas.

Ribbon for hanging the chart - I used 7/8-inch gros grain ribbon.

Two-inch stencils for doing the lettering of the girls' names.

I got all of the above items at our local Hobby Lobby, so none of it is that hard to find.  For equipment, I used a sewing machine, staple gun, measuring tape, large cutting mat, straight edge, and rotary cutter.

Iron the canvas and then cover an area with gesso about 52-53 inches long and 13-14 inches wide.  The canvas below has two gessoed strips around the same size.

Paint your dowels.  Let the gesso dry overnight and then use your cutting mat, straight edge, and rotary cutter to trim it to 12 inches wide and about 51 inches long.  You might want to make it a bit longer if you think your child will be taller than about 5'10".  That's the maximum measurement on each of my girls' charts, and the extra inches are to allow for folding over the edges to make pockets to slide the dowels in.

Speaking of which, fold the ends over about 1-1/2 inches at top and bottom and sew in place 1/4-inch from the end, leaving two pockets (one at the top, and one at the bottom).  Then slide the dowels into the pockets.  Cut 2 lengths of ribbon long enough to tie at the top and staple them to the back of the top dowel.  Make sure to staple them on an angle so they will be easy to bring together and tie.  Now your chart is assembled and ready to paint.

Use the measuring tape and a paint marker to mark the measurements along the side of the chart.  I started with 2 feet at the bottom and mark 1/4-inch intervals up to the top.  

Then I use the stencils to put the girls' names at the top of their charts.  I just eyeball the placement of the letters, starting in the middle of each name to get them approximately centered.  Be careful to not use too much paint so it doesn't bleed under the stencil and make sloppy letters.  I am no artist, but I added my version of "shading" by putting a bit of darker color in a few spots.

After that, the rest is just painting what you like.  As I said above, I am no artist, so I kept it simple with each chart and just did flowers in slightly different shapes and colors to match each girl's room decor.  Here's Lass's:

And Sis's.

None of them are perfect, but I'm okay with that.  Though I wouldn't be satisfied with a sloppy end result, I'm okay with some slight imperfections.  That's what I call "character" and it's all part of making things yourself for your kids, in my opinion.  If you make a mistake, just gesso over it and try again.  Of if you're using clear gesso, just find another way to paint over your error.  Lass's chart has a bumble bee in one spot where I accidentally slipped with some blue paint.  Sis's has a leaf strategically placed to cover a drip of dark pink.  When I made Miss's chart, I gessoed some extra canvas so I could practice what I was going to paint.  Do whatever works for you.

My next project was supposed to be making crib sheets for Sis's crib.  I found these beautiful fabrics when visiting my parents before Christmas.

The whole color scheme of Sis's room is planned around these fabrics.  Unfortunately, when I went to lay out the fabric to cut it for the sheets, I realized that this fabric is 44" wide, and the pattern requires at least 45" wide.  I'm quite annoyed with myself for this mistake.  I did the same thing with the first fabrics I bought to make Miss's crib sheets, so you'd think I would have checked the measurements before buying this time.  Oh well.  I'll get it worked out.  I found a few coordinating fabrics at JoAnn's to use for some other wall decor for the room, so I will head back there and to a local quilting store to see if I can find some fabric that will work with the color scheme and be wide enough.

I'll use the original, inspiration fabrics for window treatments or something.  Lots to do still with only three weeks until my due date!

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