Thursday, December 31, 2009

Crafting with Kids

I have great aspirations of making 2010 the year of kids' crafts. They received a lot of cool stuff for Christmas - loads of construction paper, glitter glue (that I almost wouldn't mind using myself), pipe cleaner animal kits and more crayons than you can shake a built-in sharpener at. 

But the coolest thing I found - I didn't know they even made these anymore! - are Shrinky Dinks. If you are a child of the 80s like me (or even if you aren't) you remember these fun little ditties. 

I found these things at Borders, of all places, and during the Christmas season they were buy one, get one, I think. I should have bought them. I went back later and bought a box at the original price - $6.99 (my JoAnn's has these for $4.99 and you could use a coupon, but they were out of stock) - but figured we'd try them out and see what we could make with them. The box includes the special paper, several colored pencils, jump rings and chain to make a bracelet, and a tiny hole puncher (how cute!). You can get them in different themes, rather than just the "Make Your Own" box that I bought - which might be suitable for a little girl obsessed with butterflies or a boy who likes hot rods and cars. Whatever you like!

I saw some cute charms on The Nantucket Mermaid's blog site as well as other web sites that have interesting ideas. There's also a huge book of templates and designs - some easy and some pretty complicated - at AC Moore (although they don't sell the actual Shrinky Dinks themselves; go figure). I'm thinking Christmas ornaments, bus tags for kids' backpacks, charms, mobiles....the possibilities are endless. 
A charming charm bracelet, featured at

And here's a link to even make your own from plastic - but make sure you get the right kind or you could have a serious mess and toxic fumes on your hands. It requires eating a lot of cookies, but might be worth the effort. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Measuring Properly vs. Just Guessing (Improperly)

I found the cutest pink and white polka dot print to make a dress for my daughter. One of the reasons I love sewing for girls is all the frilly, pretty patterns and fabrics to choose from - but I think I need to do more measuring than guessing when I get to the cutting counter.

I chose this pattern (View D) and thought it would look so cute on her. Picture a blonde little girl with mary janes and tights, the works. Now picture this dress with no back, because that's exactly what it would look like since I didn't get enough fabric. Of course. And now, after visiting the store to find more, discover that they are indeed fresh out of it. Does this mean hitting every JoAnn's in the county to find less than a yard of fabric to complete this dress? Probably. I could just make the top version, but it just wouldn't be the same...

I guess that's where the old adage "Measure once, cut twice" comes from. Who knew? 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Robot Costume

For Halloween, my son wanted to be (or rather I gently persuaded him) to be a robot. I have been wanting to make this costume for so long, and while it wasn't cheap, it was a lot of fun!

After heading to Home Depot for the supplies, we came home with an assortment of switches, doorbell buttons, dimmers and other items. He glued on the reflectors and I also used a tap light for fun that doubled as a safety light on Trick or Treat night, which worked out great. Of course, in all that silver it was highly reflective and hard to miss him anyways...

Some of the switches in front:
I used Huggies wipes and diaper boxes for the head and body. 

To make the gauges I hot glued a pie pan on. In the back is a register vent painted silver and part of a foam pipe insulation, also painted silver, that looks like an air hose. The silver body is actually metallic-looking Contact paper.

We considered using dryer venting for the arms and legs but I was concerned it would be scratchy. It also cost more than I wanted to spend. But I think I made up for it in buying this pleather-like material from Jo Ann's for the suit. At least it was half off. I used the same jumpsuit pattern from last year's Super Hero costume.

And the cake - I used that same purse-shaped pan again, only I frosted over the handle parts and made it look like a ghost. I even managed to not stick my hand in it this time!

Fancy Nancy Birthday Party

When my daughter turned three in September, I knew there was one theme that would suit her perfectly: a Fancy Nancy theme. We read the book, the guests dressed up in their finest feathers and beads, and celebrated with the fanciest stuff we could find (made super-easy by the Dollar Tree!). Party favors included feather pens, play watches, party beads and feather boas (Jo-Ann Fabrics, $1 each). 

Party hats were revamped princess crowns whose original paper headpiece was ripped off and I traced a template for a new one out of plain white posterboard. (The original had a Bratz design, which I thought was inappropriate for our age group.) I used glitter glue to put the gems on and a hole punch with party ribbon to make the streamers. Voila! (Looks a lot better than my original design, which looked more like a toddler-sized Shriners hat.)

The cake was purse-shaped. I bought the pan online at Jo Ann Fabrics but realized later that AC Moore had the same thing in stock. Oh well, live and learn. I got my money's worth by using it again for Halloween.

Ooh la la! (Except for putting my thumb in the lettering at the last minute - not so nice. But typical.)

Welcome, Martha

I started this blog because, as a crafter, I wanted to share my stories, pictures and ideas with other people who could actually appreciate it. Right now I mostly hear how I'm "such a good mom" because I make my kids' Halloween costumes or their birthday cakes. Or they say "Oh, you're Martha Stewart!" I suppose I should be flattered, but right now I'm just kind of annoyed. Making homemade frosting and dresses is not a barometer of how good a mom I am - I just doing enjoy it!

I hope to upload photos of some of my many ideas (hoping that some of them will come to fruition) and the projects I've done over the years and continue to do. Hopefully my reader - if there are any - will enjoy them.