Mary-ed Life

Thoughts on love, marriage, children, and random trivia.


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How to Sew a Card Table Play House: A Free Tutorial

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Recently, on Pinterest, I saw a picture of a card table play house. Essentially, the house was an embellished table cloth supported by a foldable card table. “What a great idea!” I said and immediately searched the internet for one to give to my two-year-old daughter. Sadly, the play houses for sale on Etsy were too expensive and there were no patterns available that I liked. Then, I stumbled on a blog written by a crafty mom. She took it upon herself to sew her own play house and took lots of pictures to share it with the world. (If you are interested, here is the link to her post: http://www.naptimecrafters.com/2012/01/card-table-playhouse.html) This crafty mom inspired me to sew my own play house. Inspired by her design, I created my own.

And I am giving it to all of you.

This post includes step by step directions and pictures. You are welcome! Now let’s get sewing!

Materials:

4 yds fabric for outside

4 yds fabric for inside

1 yd fabric for door

1 yd fabric for roof

colored felt (amount depends on what you make)

craft glue (I prefer Tacky Glue.)

wax paper (for making patterns)

Note: The amount of fabric is based on a standard 28 inch by 34 inch by 34 inch card table. You will probably find it easier to have the card table set up while you sew. It makes checking for appropriate sizing quick and easy. It also gives you an additional work surface.

Directions:

1. Iron all fabric. I used broad cloth for the walls and roof because it is light and inexpensive, but any cotton or cotton blend will do. For a little flair, I used blue flannel for the door. I just wanted it to look different.

2. Cut the four yards of outside fabric into four separate yards. The rectangular pieces will be longer and higher than the sides of the table, but we will trim them later.

3. Cut a door pattern out of wax paper. It should be 24 by 14 inches.

4. Center on your first panel and pin. Allow a one inch seam allowance at the bottom.

5. Cut the height of the door on either side, but do not cut the top (width).

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6. Pin back the edges of the door and door frame on the wrong side of the fabric and zig zag stitch.

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7. Use your wax paper pattern to cut a piece of the door fabric and sew that fabric to the door (right side of fabric).

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8. Decorate the front panel. I made a flower pot and a mail box.

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IMG_03259. Cut a window pattern out of wax paper 14 inches square.

10. Mark the center of the first side panel and cut out the window. Zig zag stitch down the edges on the wrong side of the fabric.

11. Cut strips of felt for the window panes and pin and sew them to the wrong side of the fabric.

12. Decorate the panel however you like. I made a climbing rose on this side. I made the roses myself by hand. Here is the tutorial for the roses if you are as crazy as me: http://www.howjoyful.com/2011/06/felt-rose-tutorial-and-pattern/

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13. Repeat steps 10-12 for the other side. I chose not to embellish the other side because the roses took so long.

IMG_036814. Hem the base of all four outside panels. I used a one inch seam.

15. Decorate the back panel. I made an apple tree. The apples can be picked and put into a basket pocket.

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16. Cut out the basket and sew it on.

17. Cut out and glue on the tree.

18. Glue on the basket handle.

19. Sew felt apples.

20. Sew velcro to the apples and the tree.

That is all the work for the outside. Now we begin the inside. I made the inside a different color, but it is up to you.

21. Cut the inside fabric into four separate yards and hem the bottom edge of all inside panels.

22. Line up the bottom hems of each inside panel to an outside panel and sew across the top wrong sides together. Do not sew the bottom hems together. (They remain separated so that you can repair the play house if it is damaged during play.) Now that the hems are lined up, you can easily cut the door and windows out and be sure they will line up.

23. Cut out a space for the interior door and zig zag sew down the edges.

24. Cut out spaces for the interior windows and zig zag sew down the edges.

Now it is time to decorate the interior of the play house. I made a kitchen, a book shelf, and a dresser. The book shelf and dresser are just sewn pockets. I also made little “clothes” for the dresser.

The kitchen is more complex so I took the time to take lots of pictures of it.

25. Piece together and sew the refridgerator to the back interior panel. Sew the back of the fridge and the bowls, then the velcro, then the fridge doors.

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26. Piece together the oven, lay it out and mark where you want the pots to go. Sew on the pots. Then, glue on the rest of the oven pieces.

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27. Decorate the side interior panels if you wish.

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Now this is the tricky part.

28. Sew the walls of the house together. I did this by laying them on the floor and lining up the hems. As you get two walls together, then three, then four, the house will get heavy and harder to manage while sewing. I suggest having a helper to support the weight of the fabric.

29. Sew on the roof. I sewed two opposite walls to the roof before the other two opposite walls. This worked well for me. Trim excess fabric if desired.

30. Show off your creation!

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Potty Play By Play: Part Three – Roll Up the Rugs!

Disclaimer: I have never potty trained a child before in my life. I have no clue what I’m doing. All I know is what I have read from literally countless articles on the internet or in books, and what I have been told by experienced mothers.

So we are in the thick of it now. Here’s how things are going:

Sunday – Potty Training Begins

Due to errands in the morning, we didn’t get started until after nap time. Around three o’clock, my husband and I rolled up the rugs in every room in our house. We are blessed with hardwood and tile. Ariana woke up from her nap and I removed her diaper. Then, we started putting her on the potty. She wore a shirt, but no pants of any kind the rest of the day.

Ariana likes sitting on the potty. We kept it in the bathroom to start so that she wouldn’t be distracted by all of her toys around the house. We brought books, blocks, and a portable DVD player into the bathroom and just focused on getting her to sit on the potty. It proved quite easy. She really loves her potty. Of course, we never forced her to sit or to stay, we only suggested and praised her when she did.

Since we got such a late start, Ariana only peed twice between her nap and bedtime, neither time in the potty. It wasn’t a big deal. We put her in a diaper for bed (cloth, of course).

Monday – Potty Training Really Begins

Monday morning I jumped out of bed as soon as I heard Ariana stirring. I wanted to get her on the potty before she had the chance to pee in her diaper. My husband had gone to work early that morning and was due home later, but I was on my own for the moment. I scooped Ariana up out of her crib, pulled off her pajamas and diaper, wiped her up quickly, slipped on a clean shirt and rushed her to the potty. Then we sat, and sat. I put one of her Baby Einstein movies on the DVD player and after about fifteen minutes it happened! Ariana peed in the potty. I showed her how to clean up and lavished her with praise and then sent texts to my entire family announcing the news.

The rest of the day was a blur of cleaning up accidents and small successes. We moved the potty to the living room after my husband returned later in the morning. Again, we never forced Ariana to sit on the potty, but, as luck would have it, all she wanted to do was sit on the potty. At the end of the day, she had five successful pee deposits and one poo. They were all accidental, since she happened to be on the potty anyway, but progress is progress. Each successful time, we praised her, danced, and clapped. Then we let her wipe up with toilet paper and flush the big toilet. (Ariana is a big toilet paper unroller, so she has never been allowed to use toilet paper before. Flushing is also new. She thinks both things are the coolest!)

The biggest moment of the day came near the end. Ariana walked over to the potty, but noticed the DVD player wasn’t playing (we had switched to Elmo’s Potty Time for the occasion). She pointed at it and whined, so I turned it on and she sat down on the potty and peed almost immediately.

Tuesday – A Dry Day

Tuesday came and I was completely on my own. I decided not to get up and rush, but got a shower and took my
time while Ariana played in her crib. After all, she had been quite successful the day before, so I didn’t need to fight for any opportunities. Well, I got her out of bed at about eight o’clock. Two hours later, not a drop. I felt bad constantly suggesting she sit on the potty and constantly asking if she needed to go because she honestly didn’t need to. Then, around ten thirty, we had a miss. Less than a minute after leaving the potty, she had an accident. Ok, no big deal. There will be plenty of other opportunities today. No. At twelve thirty, I put her down for her nap and she was completely dry. At three o’clock, she woke up and I put her right on the potty expecting her to be bursting. She pooped in the potty, but remained otherwise dry. Another hour went by and then she finally peed, but on the floor, several times in about fifteen minutes.

She had several more accidents and no more successes and I was feeling a bit discouraged. Still, I reminded myself that this takes time and called my mother-in-law for a pep talk.

Wednesday – We Have a Connection!

I woke up a little afraid this morning. Wednesday is chiropractor day. I go once a week. It meant leaving the house with my potty training child for the first time. Ariana had worn nothing on her bum during the day for the last couple of days. I had cloth training pants waiting for her and had decided to only use them out of the house. After my mother-in-law’s pep talk, I felt like I had to see this through. So I got up, got dressed, let out the dog and cat, and got Ariana out of bed.

I brought the potty into her room so that we could start the day off with it. First, though, I had to take off her diaper so that she could sit on it. I went to lay her down on the floor to take off her sleep sack and she started squealing at me. “What? I have to take off your diaper.” No dice, Mom. So I let her go and she plopped down on the potty. I’m a big girl now and you will not be diapering me anymore. So I undressed her while she sat on the potty, quite amazed and very proud.

It was warm, so I let her go naked while she had breakfast and I packed the diaper bag and prepared to leave for the chiropractor. She sat on the potty on and off, but remained dry. When it was time to leave, I introduced her new big kid training pants and helped her slip them on. I took her to the mirror so she could see herself and gushed about what a big girl she was. Then we finished dressing and headed out.

I brought her potty with us and put it in the cargo hatch of my Prius. When we arrived at the chiropractor, I asked if she wanted to sit on it and she did. Then, we went to my appointment and she sat on it again before we left. She stayed dry all the time we were out and I praised her profusely for it.

When we got home, I made lunch. She sat in her booster seat and ate. Then she started whining. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, but she clearly wanted to get down, so I helped her to her feet. Then it occurred to me. “Do you need to go pee pee?” She whined again and we rushed to the potty. Success! We high fived, dumped the pee, flushed and washed hands. As I dried her hands, she started fidgeting and whining again. “Oh my! Do you need to pee pee again?!” We rushed to the potty again! Another success! It appears we have made a connection. All totaled, we had five successes today.

So what’s working?

Ariana loves being pants free. I like it too because I can’t possibly miss when she pees, making it much easier to learn her signals. It looks like the rugs will be rolled up for the next couple of weeks.

The potty works very well in the living room since we spend most of our time there. I just pick it up and take it with me if we go into another room for more than a minute.

The portable DVD player definitely helps my easily distracted toddler sit still. I only turn it on when she is on the potty so Elmo has become a small reward for sitting. Once she gets the hang of things, I’ll wean her off Elmo or perhaps replace him with a different reward.

I love the Flip training pants. They fit nicely and are easy to use. Since they are adjustable, I can use them for nighttime protection long after Ariana is potty trained in the daytime. They will more than pay for themselves in just a few weeks.

For accidents, prefolds are my best friend.. My swiffer is a close second. I soak up the mess with a prefold and then quickly follow with the mop.

So what’s not working?

I’m not working. What I mean is my life is pretty much on hold during Ariana’s waking hours. I have to be very vigilant. If I were currently employed, I don’t think this method would be feasible.

Also, I am already feeling sad that I will soon be giving up cloth diapers. They are just so cute.


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Potty Play By Play: Part Two – Ready, Set, Ready?

So Christmas has come and gone. Back in November, when I wrote Part One, I decided that potty training would officially start after the holidays. I travel a lot during the spring, summer, and fall, but very little in the winter, so it seemed like the best time. Since Part One, I have made many steps toward training readiness.

 

First, I bought Ariana a potty. I chose the Fisher-Price Cheer For Me! Potty because it looked the most like a toilet. I figured Ariana might be a little confused if I was going potty on a toilet and she was going potty on a frog. It just didn’t seem logical to me to get a potty that didn’t look like a potty. So I bought the Cheer For Me! Potty and put it in the guest bathroom directly across from the toilet. Then, I sat on the toilet and invited Ariana to sit on hers. She got the concept immediately and began sitting on her potty each and every time I sat on mine.

 

I let Ariana take the potty apart and put it back together at least a hundred times over the next month. I kept a basket of board books in the bathroom near the toilet so Ariana could sit and read. I had Ariana’s favorite doll practice sitting on the potty too.

 

Next, I went out and bought training pants. True to my Mom-of-the-Cloth nature, I bought reusable cloth training pants. Luckily for me, my favorite cloth diaper brand Flip by Cottonbabies came out with a new trainer just last year. I went to my local cloth retailer, Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique, and invested in new, snazzy cloth trainers, patting myself on the back for being so frugal-chic. (I also went to Wal-mart and bought ONE box of disposable training pants for Ariana’s morning daycare. I hope I never have to buy another.)

 

Finally, I let Ariana wear her super cute overalls, one last time. They won’t work with potty training since they take so long to get on and off, but they are adorable.

 

So here we are. Potty training has begun. Stay tuned to my blog for updates.


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Toddler Wearing

Here it is almost Christmas and my daughter is twenty (gasp!) months old. It’s a busy time in parenthood. First of all, I’m carefully beginning potty training. Ariana has her own potty now that she sits on whenever she wishes. Secondly, I’m also weaning her off of her sippy cup. I swapped out her two-handled sippy for a generic plastic cup with a lid and straw during mealtime and I’m trying to teach her that cups don’t have to go everywhere she goes in the house. Progress reports on these two endeavors will be featured in later posts.

Perhaps the most exciting and draining development in recent months is Ariana’s mobility. She took her first step later than most of her peers at around fourteen and a half months and didn’t transition to walking full time until nearly sixteen months. Now that she is rapidly approaching two, her steps are purposeful, quick, and often totally without caution. Her personality and desire for independence are also growing. This has created many challenges for me, and toddler wearing has been a vital solution.

As I have written before, I started baby wearing when my daughter was two weeks old and credit this practice with saving my sanity on many occasions. Ariana was the baby that always wanted to be held, morning, noon, and night. Wearing her in a wrap or carrier gave me the ability to keep her happy and still have two hands free to accomplish little things that really needed doing, like laundry.

Now that Ariana is older, her desire to be carried has basically vanished. She much prefers going where she pleases when she pleases than just lounging in a pouch while I go about my boring adult tasks, like laundry.

So do I still baby wear? Not exactly. Now, I toddler wear!

Toddler wearing, like baby wearing, serves my sanity. I don’t have much need of it around the house, since Ariana happily shadows me, but out of the house it is essential. Walking into a supermarket or any store is like walking into Eldorado for a toddler. (Look! Something shiny!) One minute Ariana is obediently holding my hand and the next she is racing toward whatever thing caught her eye. I learned this the hard way a few months ago and have since fixed the problem by toddler wearing.

Now, whenever I go to a store intending to shop for more than five minutes, I first hoist Ariana into my Ergo Baby carrier on my back. She gets an excellent view of all the shiny things and I don’t have to worry about her getting away from me. This works particularly well when grocery shopping since I don’t have to make room for her in the cart and worry about her pulling apart grocery items before I pay for them.

I have a very nice Graco stroller in my garage that is largely collecting dust. I use it only rarely now because toddler wearing is just easier. If Ariana gets tired of riding, and the environment is conducive to a roaming toddler, I just put her down and stuff the carrier into her diaper bag, and I have no heavy, empty stroller to push around.

As an added bonus, I have continued to get stronger and build muscle as a result of toddler wearing. Ariana is now about twenty-six pounds and thirty-two inches tall. I went for a walk around the neighborhood (about a mile) with her on my back a couple days ago and didn’t feel tired at all. I regularly carry her for an hour or more before I feel tiredness in my legs from the extra weight.


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A Tale of Five Dozen Prefolds

Last night, while getting Ariana ready for bed, my husband realized that she had left her sippy cup on the lower shelf of her changing table. Milk had climbed up the straw of the cup and a small puddle formed.

“I’ll go get a paper towel,” he said dutifully and headed toward the kitchen, but I stopped him.

“We don’t need a paper towel. We have these.” And I pulled out one of the prefolds sitting on the very same shelf. With one swipe, I soaked up the mess and tossed the prefold into the diaper pail.

As Ariana would say, “All done!”

There are few things as useful and versatile as a prefold cloth diaper. I’ve used them as diapers, burp cloths, changing pads, and rags. They are great for any cleaning task because they are so soft and absorbant. Best of all, they are extremely durable, and wash up fresh every time.

Recently, I’ve discovered other uses for prefolds. I love to sew and a few months ago I decided to make my own pocket diapers. I had no pattern and my goal was to make the pocket diapers as cheaply as possible, just to see if I could do it. I bought a yard of solid PUL fabric and a yard of fleece, plus a spool of thread, two packages of ¼ inch braided elastic, and two packages of sew-on velcro. Total cost: thirty dollars. If my calculations were correct, I could sew six medium size pocket diapers.

So what were the prefolds for? Inserts, of course! I took six toddler prefolds and trimmed the length and width to fit my new pocket diapers. Success!

But wait! There’s more! Recently, the sewing bug bit me again. I came across a tutorial for converting prefold diapers into fitted diapers. (Thanks Malia!) The result: all the absorbancy of a prefold diaper minus a lot of extra bulk, creating a great fit. Oh, and I got to add printed fabric to the diapers to make them pretty. How much for this new and improved diaper? One package of elastic (makes about three diapers) for $1.50 and old receiving blankets (free).

I’m still thinking of new and exciting things to do with my prefolds. I currently have two dozen small (infant) size cotton prefolds and three dozen large (toddler) size cotton prefolds. About ten of the toddler prefolds have been sewn into other things so far. I have entertained the idea of converting a couple into All-In-One diapers, but my daughter is a little too close to potty training for the expense of the PUL. I suspect I will be making more fitted diapers simply because they are just so cute.

We will have to wait and see!


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Cloth Baby Wipes: The Final Frontier

I wrote the following post as a note on Facebook in February 2011. My daughter was ten months old at the time.

Cloth Baby Wipes: The Final Frontier

“Cloth wipes? What? Are you nuts?”

I said that a few months ago. I was researching cloth diapers online and found more than one source that insisted cloth baby wipes are a must for cloth diapering. I refused to accept it. “I will not use cloth wipes. That is definately too much trouble.” I tried my hardest to resist! Yet, I found myself reading about them and researching. I watched youtube videos and read blogs. “Ok. I might consider cloth wipes if I can find a cheap way to use them” You see, buying presewn cloth wipes and premixed wipe solution would cost at least fifty dollars to get started. True to my stingy nature, I refused to spend that.

…..more research…more youtube videos….more blogs……

“Aha! I found a way to get us set with plenty of cloth wipes and solution for five dollars!”

Here’s how I did it. First, I sewed my own cloth wipes. I cut up old receiving blankets that my child has not used since she was a month old and sewed them into two-ply wipes. Then, I mixed my own wipe solution using baby wash, baby oil, and water. Put the solution into a cheap plastic spray bottle and Voila! The only things I had to buy were the baby wash ($1.50 for the Walmart brand), baby oil ($2.50), and the spray bottle ($1.00).

Want to make your own cloth wipes? Here are the steps:

1. Cut two 27 inch by 27 inch receiving blankets into nine inch squares. Each set of two blankets makes nine two ply wipes. (If you have any other soft scrap fabric or old soft t-shirt, that will work too.)

2. Machine sew two squares together. Straight stitches are okay, but more complex stitches work best. Trim away the excess fabric outside the stitching.

3. Repeat until you have the desired number of wipes. You will need at least 24. I made 36.

How to make wipe solution:

Combine:

1 cup water

1 tbs baby wash/shampoo

1tbs baby oil

1 tbs baby lotion (optional)

Pour into spray bottle (for the “dry method) or wipes container (for the “wet method”).

The Dry Method:

Take a dry baby wipe and spray with a spray bottle filled with wipe solution or spray baby’s bottom directly with wipe solution. Wipe clean.

The Wet Method:

Place baby wipes into a wipes container or wipes warmer. Pour premade solution over wipes and allow the wipes to absorb the solution.

Either way, the used wipes go directly into the diaper pail with the cloth diapers and get laundered the same way. There is no need to separate before washing. When you baby is no longer in diapers, use them again as rags.


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Cloth Diaper Revelations (Eight Months Later)

I first published the following post as a note on Facebook in February 2011. My daughter was ten months old at the time.

Cloth Diaper Revelations (Eight Months Later)

Here I am again writing about cloth diapers. I have now cloth diapered my daughter for eight months. In that time, I have had a few revelations about cloth diapering that I thought I would share. My intentions are still the same. I want to inspire more people to “stick it to the man” and cloth diaper their babies. I have so far converted a number of friends (and a few total strangers) just as a couple of my friends converted me.

Revelation #1: The laundry is no big deal.

My weekly laundry line up goes something like this.

2-3 loads of adult clothes.

1-2 loads of baby clothes.

2-3 loads of diapers.

I use the same detergent for all of the laundry. The only thing I do differently is skipping the dryer sheets on the baby clothes and diapers. There is slightly more folding to do, but a load of diapers folds in less than five minutes.

Revelation #2: Experimentation is important.

Since I started cloth diapering, I’ve had many conversations with people that otherwise would not have happened. (“Oh, you cloth diaper? So do I. What kind do you use? How does that work for you?”) These conversations lead to new and interesting ways of improving my system. You see, cloth diapering is not an exact science. There are dozens of options and lots of little tricks and tips. The only way to figure out which system best suits you is too try a few.

Revelation #3: Prefold diapers rock!

Speaking of tricks and tips, here’s a tip: Prefold diapers are a cheap, durable, versatile, and natural diapering option that often go forgotten. Now that you can buy cloth diapers that look just like disposable ones, nobody seems to want to try good old fashioned prefolds anymore. (And diaper pins are so scary!) The truth is, prefolds are still around because they work. I’ve used prefolds pinned, lying flat in a cover, as a burp cloth, as a wash rag, as a changing pad cover, and as a peekaboo cover (don’t worry, it was clean). I’m still discovering new ways for prefolds to be useful. Since they are so inexpensive, consider adding them to your stash.

Revelation #4: Versatility is important.

I’m talking about versatility in the parent this time, not the diaper. Understand that as your baby grows and changes, so will her diapering requirements. For example, a newborn does not wet as heavily as an older baby. As your baby gets older, you may need to alter the absorbant part of your diaper to adjust. Also, if you have a particularly stubborn child (like mine) you may find she just won’t tolerate one diaper versus another. Take this situation in stride and adapt.

Revelation #5: Cloth diapering at night can be a challenge.

Don’t get discouraged if cloth diapering at night doesn’t seem to work for you. I’m still using disposable diapers on my daughter at night. With the help of another cloth diapering mom, I am attempting to transistion to cloth diapers at night, but it is difficult. My child is very sensitive and I just haven’t found the right system for keeping her content all night long. I’m still searching though, and I haven’t given up.

Revelation #6: Disposable diapers are not worthless. They are just worth less than they cost.

I still use disposable diapers, just not very much. Currently I use them at night, on very long errands, and when I travel. I use anywhere from 1-4 disposable diapers a day. My daughter still averages at least ten diaper changes a day (regardless of what kind of diaper), so I still save a lot of money. I used to buy at least one box of disposable diapers a week. Now I need less than one box a month. My cloth diapers paid for themselves in less than three months of use.

Revelation #7: Do what works for you.

I picked the cheapest option available (prefolds and covers) and it worked perfectly for me. However, I have nothing against using more expensive or more complex cloth diapers if that is what you want to do. I’m told that all-in-one diapers and pocket diapers can last through multiple children if they are well cared for. I have no intention of doing this with my prefolds. After they are done doing diaper duty, my prefolds will morph into dust rags, swiffer pads, and garage towels.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you remember the most important thing:

Stick it to the man!