CD Case Calendar

April 28, 2011

I love kid-created crafts.  While my usual philosophy for kid-art is that it is about the process, not the product, Mother's Day is an exception.  As both a teacher, and the orchestrator of gifts for Grandma, it's a challenge to come up with projects for Mother's Day presents that are both kid-created, and nice.  This project is one that is super easy, and contains just the right balance of kid-made and worthwhile end product.

In searching for a Mother's Day gift to make with an elementary school art class I teach, I came across this idea at dollarstore crafts.  It is a perfect project for those millions of cd cases that just aren't useful anymore.  Because I wanted the gift to be kid-created, I made a simple calendar template that can be printed and decorated.  Click here to download the template.  My version is a 12-month May 2011 to April 2012 Calendar.

If you prefer to make your own calendar, you can do it easily with either Photoshop or Word.  I made mine in Word, with each month measuring just smaller than 120mm x 120mm.

Once you print off your pages, just cut them out and decorate.  You can use crayons, paint, markers, stickers.... the sky is the limit!  I cut my pages too small, so I mounted them on black construction paper which works too.

When your kids are finished, simply open up the cd case, and slide in the new calendar pages.  Ta-da! 

This little gift can sit on a desk, and cheer up any Mother's workspace.  As an added bonus, it is small and flat, perfect for mailing to (grand)mothers who happen to live far away.

Happy Mother's Week everyone!

Hanging Oven Mitt

April 26, 2011

I know it's common to give gifts of jewelry or perfume for Mother's Day, but these types of gifts are not my mother's style.  It's not that she isn't womanly, she's just not girly.  Growing up, we always defaulted to buying potted mums for her to put in her garden.  I'm much too far away to bring by potted flowers, but this year I had an idea for something I could make.  In the interest of full disclosure, I gave this gift to my mother for Christmas this year, and made another for my mother-in-law for Mother's Day.  

Over a year ago, my friend Alison left her awesome Orla Keily Oven Mitt at my house after Thanksgiving Dinner.  I returned it eventually (it may or may not have been 3 months later), but before I did I traced the shape so I could make my own.  I've had mine for about a year now, and it's one of my favourite kitchen things.  It looks cute hanging on my oven door, but mostly it's so convenient for pulling hot things out of the oven.  I've been known to burn myself often, but this mitt offers pretty full coverage, and has decreased the number of burns on my wrist (that and my pizza peel).  

In the past year I've seen a few tutorials for making this type of oven mitt, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel on this one.   I used one layer of insulbrite (a heat resistant batting), and one single layer of cotton quilt batting.  You'll want to avoid using polyester batting on this one.  I like to quilt the main body because I think it looks nicer, but be warned that it's tricky to keep things looking tidy without a walking foot.  I don't have one, and I wish I did. 

I made this oven mitt with fabric all from my stash.  Everything is either a heavier cotton, or home decor weight.  I have been known to hoard thrifted fabric, and this was my first time to cut into the cute green, white and orange print.  I don't know anything about this fabric other than that it's a soft cotton and was made into a small table cloth.  I wish I had more of it, since I love the vintage Scandanavian feel of it.  The green and white striped bias tape was handmade from an Ikea print (sadly I think they've stopped making the striped prints).  For this project I like my bias tape to be all cotton (the packaged stuff is usually 50/50), and about 1 3/4" wide.  This is the perfect width to sew the first side at 3/8" and gives you lots of space to sew the other side down by machine.

Sometimes I like to sew down the second side of my bias binding by hand, because I love how neat it looks,  but it's much faster by machine.  Even when you take into account having to go back over the spots that didn't get caught the first time, it's still faster with my machine.  My gut reaction is to avoid showing you the stitches that aren't perfect, but I was reading a post yesterday about how it can be intimidating for new sewers to see only perfect projects on blogs.  So here are my stitches in all their imperfect glory.

The pockets are lined with some awesome orange textured fabric.

When it's all said and done, this is a really simple project, and a great addition to anyone's kitchen.  I made this one all in an evening, and if you were making multiples, it would be faster for each one.  I'm sure your mother (and mother-in-law) would love one!

Paper Flower Crafts for Kids

April 21, 2011

Although it is officially spring, flowers are not yet blooming in my garden. Despite (or because of) the yucky weather outside, flowers have been the craft project of choice for the past few days. This week we made two different versions.

We made the tie-dyed flowers first.  Here's a simple how-to:
1. Start with a bunch of strips of white cardstock (mine were left-over from a different project). 

2. Use washable markers to color on both sides of the strips. 

3. Use a spray bottle to soak the paper strips with water.

4. Once the strips are dry, take three strips, and lightly fold each one in half (don't crease the paper).  Staple your three "petals" to another strip of green cardstock for a stem.  Repeat until your bouquet is complete!

The idea for the circle flowers came from the Made By Joel blog.  Click on over to the website to find his Standing Paper Flowers Craft.  Joel makes his with wire so they can stand alone.  (Super cool!)  I didn't have any wire, but thought some cardstock would do the trick.  The stems on my version use three strips of cardstock glued together for a strong stem, and two circles glued together for the flower middle.  (We sandwiched the stem between the two circles so it looks the same on both sides.)

I think these flowers thrown into a small vase or glass jar would be great as an easy Spring or Easter decoration for your little ones to create.  Hopefully the real kind of flowers will be appearing on my table soon, but until then, these paper ones look pretty cheerful too!

Bow Ties on the Bias

April 19, 2011

Last week after sewing dresses for my nieces, I started feeling a guilty pit in my stomach for not making anything cute for my own kids to wear.  Sometimes I get discouraged with boy sewing, since my boys wear really basic clothing (jeans and striped t-shirt), and as my Mother-in-law put it,
"You really need a little girl to sew for. It's pretty sad when you have to get excited about sewing boys underwear, although they did turn out real nice."  
Well, she is right.  Dresses are more fun to sew than underwear.  But, little man dress clothes are pretty fun, too.  Over the last year, I've seen lots of images and tutorials of handmade bow ties for kids.  I finally jumped on this bandwagon, and made two matching sets for my boys.

Recognize this yellow fabric?  Emily and her girls are coming to visit us in a few weeks, and I'm excited to take the matching children thing to a whole new level.

These little bow ties are such a gratifying project.  They are quick to make, adorable, and really wearable.  I make mine using button hole elastic, so they are easy to get on and off, and are completely adjustable.  In case the term button hole elastic leaves you confused, it's really commonly used in toddler's pants to make the waist band adjustable.  It's like regular elastic, but it has evenly spaced horizontal slits, that make it perfect for this project.  I bought a giant roll of it online several years ago, but I saw a small package at my local Joann's last week.  I think lots of local stores now carry it.   

Bow Ties on the Bias - Tutorial
What you need to get started:
  • Bow tie pattern.   I used the tutorial from Delia Creates to make my pattern.  Her instructions are awesome! 
  • 1/2 yard of fabric (a fat quarter will also work).  Choose something lightweight with nice drape.
  • 1/4 yard of lightweight interfacing
  • 4 3/4" of 3/4" Button hole elastic. 
  • Button (needs to fit through the holes in your elastic).  
  • Thread
  • Hand sewing needle

Real bow ties are always cut on the bias, because it gives the tie a little stretch for comfort and ease in tying, makes it drape better overall.  I think you can really notice the difference with striped or plaid fabric.  

Draw a line through the center of your paper pattern, and add several lines at 45 degrees for reference (to help you line your tie up on the bias).  Cut out the pattern from light fusible interfacing.  You need two pieces for one bow tie.  Iron the interfacing on to the wrong side of your fabric, carefully lining it up on the bias.  Use the bias lines you drew earlier on your paper pattern as a guide (you can iron on the interfacing with your paper pattern on top).

Cut out your pieces (following the lines of the interfacing).  Line these pieces up on your fabric with the right sides together, keeping everything on the bias again.  Cut out your second set of pattern pieces.

Pin and sew together leaving a gap at the square end for turning.  I recommend using 1/4" seam allowance.

Trim your pieces close to your seam, and clip the corners. 

Turn your pieces right side out.  My weapon of choice is a chopstick.  Poke out your corners (for this I use a size 3 bamboo knitting needle), and iron everything flat. 

Turn the raw edges inside your tube, and iron flat.  In one, add a piece of 'button hole' elastic.  Turn the elastic under, and pin in place.  With the other open end, pin it shut.  Sew the openings shut with a straight stitch and secure the raw edge of your elastic under with a zig-zag stitch. 

Sew on your button to the inside of your bow tie (so that any extra elastic tucks nicely under the band).

Button it up, and tie your bow tie.  I think using you ankle is the easiest, since my kids are really wiggly, and you need to tie it around something to get the knot right.  Oh, and it turns out my ankles are unfortunately the same size as my kid's (normal sized) necks.

And here we are with a beautiful bow tie!  It's comfy to wear because it has elastic, but it's also easy on and off, and totally adjustable.  Perfect!

Now find your favourite little man, and don't be surprised if he refuses to take it off!

Easter Nest Treats

April 14, 2011

The other day I was dreaming of a dessert that would be: easy to make, made from basic ingredients, satisfying to my chocolate/sweet tooth, and spring themed (so I could share it for spring week).

Ta-da!  I found it!  There are quite a few nest treat variations on the Internet, but I'm loving this version, and I hope you will too. 

No-Bake Oatmeal Chocolate Easter Nests

(source: a no-bake cookie recipe from my mother-in-law, adapted slightly by me)

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup margarine or butter
2 tablespoons cocoa (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup coconut

1. Combine sugar, milk, margarine, and cocoa in a pot over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and boil 1 minute.
2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
3. Add oats and coconut and mix well.
4. Spoon out tablespoon sized nests onto counter or waxed paper and let cool 5-10 minutes.
5. Using your fingers or a teaspoon, push in centre to create a well.
6. Once cooled, add mini chocolate eggs or jelly beans and enjoy!

Easter Dresses

April 12, 2011

As much as I love making little things for my boys, sewing for girls is a lot more fun.  Boy sewing is all about details.  I feel like all my time is spent making fancy and functional pockets, adding belt loops, and top stitching.  When I sew for girls I finally get to use all the pretty prints that I have been hoarding, and try new patterns and tutorials that I come across while I'm reading blogs.

While I don't have any girls of my own, luckily I have tons of nieces.  My sister Emily has two little girls, and my husband's sisters have 9 little girls total.    I've also been known to give handmade dresses as baby shower, Christmas, or birthday gifts.  Basically what I'm trying to say, is that I'm happy to sew something girly given the opportunity.

A little while ago, Emily jokingly mentioned that it was about time I sew some new dresses for her girls.  Just the week before I inherited a pile of fabric, and one piece was calling out to me.     

No, not the crazy green batik, but the yellow piece on top!  It's a pretty, pale yellow, with textured stripes, and sort of a dull satin finish.  Now, as you all know, I love to buy fabric at the thrift store, but better than that, is to be given a stack for free.  I actually inherited quite a lot of interesting fabric from my Grandmother when she passed away, and three friends recently sent a few bags my way as well.

Lots of vintage fabrics and sheets are at least partially polyester, and I really prefer to sew with natural fibers (wool, leather, cotton, linen) but often I can still use it.  When I'm making clothing for kids, I try hard to make sure that only soft fabrics touch their skin.  This means more work for me, since I spend lots of time lining things and preventing exposed seams, but for kids, comfort is King.  Adults will tolerate some itchiness, or discomfort from their clothing for the sake of fashion, but most kids won't.

I have plans for two dresses (one for each of Emily's girls), but since I accidentally fell asleep at 6pm on Saturday night, I only have one to show you.  I'm making them the same, so you aren't missing too much anyways.  

I used Simplicity 4711 and I cut out a size M, hoping it would be an appropriate 12 month size.  It was giant.  I ended up taking about 2.5" off the bottom and 1" in from each side seam.  Lately, most of my sewing has been based on my own patterns, and I forgot how frustrating it can be to sew from a commercial pattern.  Am I crazy or is the sizing always weird?

The white and pink polka-dot fabric is cotton with soft velvety spots, and my nearest and dearest will likely recognize it.  I've used it for several other girl projects in the last few years.  The piping was handmade and the buttons were covered using a pink swiss dot farbic.

Here is a close-up on those details.

Like I mentioned, the fabric wasn't the softest, so the dress is completely lined with cotton.  I am a bit of a crazy person when it comes to finishing things, so I'll also show you the inside.

Next up, sew the second dress!  Oh, and make something for my own children to wear for Easter as well.

Spring Fun List

April 9, 2011

This month's list will focus on Spring, things from the natural world, books, and Easter.  I'm giving you enough activities to last all the way to June, so I'm calling it my Spring Fun List.  Go here to check out and print off the full list.  I'd love it if you leave a comment saying that you are using my list so I know how many people are using it.
Here are some examples of what you'll find in the Spring Fun List:
Cornmeal Spelling

My daughter has had so much fun playing with cornmeal and drawing letters using her fingers.  "Look Mom!  I made another 'O'!"

Easy Art Projects

My daughter loves experimenting with glue and paint, but sometimes I want a new twist on her favorite art work.  In the Spring Fun List I give you lots of new and simple ideas that require very little (if any) prep. work.

We had fun making "track art" earlier this week.
Book Lists

I can't say enough about how much I love children's books.  We bring home a huge stack of new books from the library every week.  In the spring fun list I share favorite books, great activites to do with them, and a challenge to read with your child the New York Public Library's 100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know.

This week's library stack.
 Mini Book

Not only does the Spring Fun List include lots of ideas for books to read, it also gives a few ideas about making your own books.  I want to share with you a quick tutorial on how to make your own simple mini book without glue, tape or staples. 

This is a trick that I learned in University (see Elementary Education majors do learn something!), and I use it all the time. 

1. Start with two sheets of paper.  In my pictures, I use two different colors, but the book can be all the same color. 

2. Fold each sheet in fours, and cut each sheet in half so you have four sheets, each folded in half.  You can set aside one of the sheets for now.

3. Choose one sheet (the blue one in my image) to be the base.  Unfold the paper, and loosely fold it in half the long way (hotdog style).  Cut along the middle of your original fold, but not all the way to to ends (as shown in my image.  Cut only where the white line is.)

4. The other two sheets will be your add-ins. On these sheets (red in my image), unfold the paper, and then loosely fold in half the long way.  Cut the two sides of your original fold, leaving the middle uncut (cut where the white line is on my image).  

5. So now you will have your base cut in the middle of the fold, and your add-ins cut along the outsides.

6. Now, take an add-in sheet (red) and roll it up.  Open up the base, and slide the add-in sheet inside.
Repeat this with as many add-in sheets as you want.  The more you add in, the more pages your book will have.

7. You are ready to write a book!

There you have it!  There are lots more ideas in the Spring Fun List so be sure to check it out.  Now get off your computer, and starting having fun with your little ones.  Please let me know if you've downloaded and used this Fun List.  I hope you enjoy it!

Jack Rabbit Softie - Free Pattern

April 8, 2011

I love Spring! I love seeing new flowers, green grass, hearing birds outside my window, and being able to play at the park again. Spring naturally makes me think of Easter and that leads me to my Jack Rabbit Softie Pattern! One of the very first things I made for my son after I really started sewing, was a set of two rabbits for his first Easter.
Like I said, this was one of my first real projects, and my husband and I made it as a team. Before Mr. Carlee decided he wanted to get a PhD in Political Science, he was an Industrial Design student.  He took lots of design and general art classes, and learned how to use programs like Illustrator and Photoshop.  I love that he is creative, and we like to make projects together.  Our usual arrangement is that he will draw something, and I'll bring it to life.

For the bunnies, my husband helped me draw the body, and I made the rest of the pattern pieces. I also did all the sewing. We have made a few projects with this arrangement, and it's really fun to work on something together as a husband and wife team. I'm excited to share the Christmas stockings we made for our boys, but I think I'll wait until it's closer to December if that's okay with all of you. April is a little too early for me to start thinking about Christmas sewing.

We made two stuffed rabbits, but since we changed the pattern to make the neck shorter after sewing the first one, they aren't a perfect set. My son has had these bunnies for 3 years now, and we have moved across the country since then, and somewhere along the way one has gone missing. Luckily the missing bunny was version A and not the revised and final version!
Jack Rabbit Softie

The Jack Rabbit Softie, stands about 15" tall, and measures 24" from ear to toe. He's a great size to cuddle, and easy to love with his big floppy ears. Do you want to make one too? These cute and cuddly bunnies would make a great Easter present, or a lovely gift for a new baby or small child. Maybe your husband would even like one? Lucky for you, I have done a lot of the hard work already, and the pattern and step-by-step instructions are free! All you have to do is round up some fabric, and start sewing.

This pattern is free, but please be considerate of my work, and don't sell toys made with my pattern. Also, I decided to offer this pattern as a google doc so it would be easiest for all of you to view and download, but this means that I don't know how many of you have printed it. I would love to know how many people are using this pattern, so please leave me a comment if you have downloaded the Jack Rabbit Softie Pattern! Making a pattern takes a lot of time, so this helps me to know if I should keep making them to share with all of you.

Click here to download your own copy of this pattern.

If you are wondering how your own Jack Rabbit Softie will hold up, here he is after sleeping with my son for the last three year. He's been washed, dried, and loved, and he still looks great!

Soft Rattle Tutorial

April 2, 2011

I am in the stage of giving baby gifts to many of my friends for their second or third baby.  I wouldn't consider sewing my strongest skill, but I still like to make something handmade for those little babies.  My go-to gift for any new baby is a baby toy.  Today I'm going to share with you a simple, easy and quick soft rattle toy that anyone can make (regardless of their sewing skills).

This is a soft taggy rattle that includes all of the elements that babies love:  a jingly noise, lots of colors and patterns, and lots of ribbon to chew on.  It also appeals to parents: it's handmade, you can never have too many small toys, and it's soft, so little babies won't bonk themselves in the face like they always do with plastic baby rattles.

This rattle is super simple to make, but to make it every easier for you, I've created a pattern that you can print and use.  Find it here

This toy will take you good sewers 15 minutes, maybe.  Those of us with less sewing skills may have to allot half an hour, tops.  Okay, set your timer, and let's get started.

Wet Bag Tutorial

April 1, 2011

When it comes to giving baby gifts, I have made a ton of different things to give away: bibs, leather shoes, clothes, car seat covers, soother (pacifier) straps, and the list goes on and on.  I really love sewing for babies!

Lately, I have tried to focus my sewing attention, and make just one type of gift for new mums and babies.  Something fast, useful, and not too expensive to make.  My project: wet bags.  What is a wet bag, you ask?  It's a small zippered pouch with a waterproof liner that you can store in your diaper bag, car, or beach bag.  My version is the perfect size for just a few wet things, and has a handle for easy carrying.

Now, I use cloth diapers with my baby, so obviously I need a wet bag for on-the-go diaper changes.  If you are giving a gift to a mother using cloth, then this is the perfect gift.  And if not, then this is still the perfect gift.   Having a small waterproof bag to store wet, dirty clothing in is awesome.  It's also useful for wet swimming suits after a day at the pool or beach.  The finished size of this bag is also just right for a small case of wipes, a changing mat, a few diapers, and rash ointment, so it can double as a diaper clutch. 

Like I said, a wet bag makes the perfect gift, for someone else or for yourself.  Now that I've convinced you how awesome it is to have a wet bag, are you ready to make one?  It's easy, I promise.

*Update: a kind reader pointed out my error in listing the necessary yardage.  I originally listed 1/8 yard for both the PUL and outer fabric, but you really need 1/4 yard of each.  Sorry for the mistake!  The tutorial has been updated accordingly.  

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...