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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Crafts, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Get Crafty For Easter.

With spring finally here, and Easter and Passover right around the corner, there are lots of ways to celebrate the season with crafts and egg decorating. Some of the easiest and festive kids crafts can be found on the RED TED ART sight.  There are 40 Easter crafts using eggs, pompom balls, and readily available materials.  http://www.redtedart.com

When I was a kid, we died eggs by dipping them into cups of colored water.  You can still  do that, but now there are many other ways to decorate eggs for the holiday. You can use non-toxic water color paints to create works of art.  Try paint daubers to make dots, Crayola or other non-toxic markers to draw designs. The Red TED sight has many other ideas for egg decorating.  If you wish to try the Polish art of PISANKY egg dying, you can order your own kit from: http://www.chinaberry.com

I decorated this egg at a workshop on how to do PISANKY.

I decorated this egg at a workshop on how to do PISANKY.

Here’s a unique way to give out chocolate treats for the holiday:  Create egg-shaped baskets out of balloons and dazzle family and friends with your talent.  Check out the how-tos for MAGIC BALLOON TREATS  at: http://www.thewhoot.com.au

Happy Easter and Happy crafting!


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2. Mixed Pattern Tank Top

Mixed Pattern Tank Top

This was another little experiment playing around with pattern mashups. I traced a favorite T-shirt to make a pattern, then played around with the shoulder width (the original shirt had sleeves) until it felt right. I finished the arm and neck holes with a banded treatment. I especially like the floral edging with the stripey part.

I’m pretty happy with the results, though there are plenty of imperfections. I’d like to try another using a walking foot on my machine. I think I can get a smoother finish that way.

Unfortunately the color didn’t come out so great on these photos, so I don’t think they quite do it justice, but what can I say? There are only so many hours in a day a girl can spend on modeling, am I right?

My nine-year-old wants to steal this shirt, so that makes me feel pretty successful. The fabrics are once again from Girl Charlee, and I love their softness and fun prints, but I’d also love to see more fabrics that are over 90% natural fibers and am willing to pay. It gets too hot so quickly around here to be wearing fabrics with a fair amount of poly. My two cents.

Okay, back to work. I have to prepare a presentation I’m doing with some fifth graders next week about writing an early reader.

Hope you have a great weekend. I finally have plans to see The Grand Budapest Hotel. Yippeee!

If you want to see more of my sewing adventures/ experiments, click here.

Colorblock Tank Top


2 Comments on Mixed Pattern Tank Top, last added: 4/7/2014
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3. Mixed Pattern Playdress

Mixed Pattern Playdress

This is one of my favorite sewing projects ever. It’s simple, was really fun to sew, and my daughter’s face just glowed when she put it on the first time. It’s just so her, but I love it, too.

As I’ve mentioned before, she pretty much refuses to wear anything but knits. I’m always trying to find knit play dresses, and I fell in love with some from a certain British catalog that rhymes with Odin. I’m sure they would rather me write “catalogue,” am I right? Their prices are pretty steep for such simple dresses, though, and I thought, hey, I could make that! I’m kind of famous for saying that, but in this case, I actually did it.

From the catalog, we borrowed the idea of mixing patterns (which is also a big part of my daughter’s style) and went to the half-yard clearance section on Girl Charlee. Little Miss picked out the fabrics. I tried to get her to go with a contrasting color mix, but that was a non-starter. She specified no sleeves and a higher waistline with a full skirt.

For the bodice I traced another dress’s bodice. The skirt part is just a gathered rectangle. I used to be so scared of sewing with knits, but really, it’s not so bad once you get the hang of it. I definitely do better with slightly weightier knits. I used a regular machine (not a serger) and used zig zag, serger-ish-like, and triple stitches, depending on the seam/ application.

For some great tutorials on knit finishes, check this and this out.

This time, there are no booty issues (like here).

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For more of my sewing adventures, click here.


4 Comments on Mixed Pattern Playdress, last added: 3/19/2014
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4. Brazilian Bracelets

Brazilian Bracelets
Author: Florence Bellot
Publisher: Schiffer Books
Genre: Crafts
ISBN: 978-0-7643-4557-9
Pages: 64
Price: $24.99

Buy it at Amazon

Friendship bracelets are fun to create, and there are so many interesting patterns. Knowing the technique makes it easy. In this book, Florence Bellot provides helpful instructions and colorful pictures as a guide to getting started.

Beginning with the basics, she shows us how to make the traditional knots along with several variations. Colorful wraps are explained, as well as how to add charms and beads to the bracelet. A 5-thread starter pack is included.

I have some familiarity with making these bracelets, and I found it easy to follow the designs presented. But if you’ve never tried this fun craft, it might be helpful to have an experienced friend show you the basics. Once you’ve mastered the technique, you can have lots of fun following these patterns.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


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5. Crafty Chloe: Dress-Up Mess-Up - Picture Book Review


Crafty Chloe: Dress-Up Mess-Up (Crafty Chloe #2) 
by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Heather Ross
Publication date: 13 August 2013 by Simon and Schuster
ISBN 13: 9781442421240
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Category: Children's Picture Book
Keywords: Picture book, crafting, art
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library


Synopsis:

The Parade of Books has arrived, and it’s Chloe’s chance to showcase her crafty costume talents. Leo wants Chloe to be the Frankenstein to his Dracula, and Chloe can’t wait to dress like a monster. But when Emma wants to wear Fairy Club costumes instead, Chloe is torn like a scrap of fabric. She doesn’t want to disappoint her friends—but how can she possibly please them both? Luckily, a little glitter and a lot of imagination just might give Chloe the answer!

Thuy's Review:

The annual book parade is around the corner and Chloe and her friends must prepare costumes based on their favorite book characters. But trouble arises when Chloe promises to be a monster with her friend Leo and then promises to be a fairy with her friend Emma. Chloe doesn't want to disappoint either friend, so what is she going to do?

First of all, what a great premise. We never had anything like a book costume parade when I was Chloe's age but I think I would have loved it. This is a really cute book and I loved that Chloe was so crafty and creative when it came to her costumes. I like that the book encourages kids to use their imaginations and make things. The story itself wasn't super original or exciting but it was cute and I think kids will like it. It was a bit predictable but I think that kids will like it.

As a crafty person myself, I think Crafty Chloe: Dress-Up Mess-Up is an adorable book to read to kids and get them in the crafting spirit. It would be fun to read this with a child and do some crafts to go with it. Definitely worth a read if you have children in your life.
 


Visit the author online at www.kellydipucchio.com, Twitter and follow her on Twitter Facebook


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6. Marco Polo and the Explorer Book

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At the recommendation of a friend (thanks, Catherine!) I bought Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air for my six-year-old boy for Christmas. It’s a beauty of a book, written by Stewart Ross and illustrated by Stephen Biesty (of Incredible Cross-Sections fame). Each chapter follows a different explorer and includes a gorgeous fold out map and diagram of the explorer’s route and travel style.

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 I highly, highly recommend it. Reading it straight through from beginning to end isn’t something my son is ready for (the text is geared toward a slightly older audience), but he likes to pick a small section for me to read at a time, and he always chooses a fold-out to study. He wants to read every label for all the parts (not unlike his fascination with Richard Scarry’s books).

I love that feeling of just sort of soaking in the book, meandering through and getting to know it bit by bit, landing on favorite parts and coming back to them again and again on a nonlinear journey. It reminds me of my own love for the Oxford University Press story collections as a kid. Beautifully illustrated by Victor Ambrus, they were these great kid-friendly versions of the Canterbury Tales, the great ballets, and King Arthur’s tales, among others. Sadly, they look to be out of print now, but I think I’ll have to chase down some copies to have as our own. Click here for a few cover images from Victor Abrus’s website.

I didn’t understand everything about those tales at the time, but when I re-encountered them later in school, it was thrilling to realize I already had a framework in place. The stories were familiar and felt like they were already mine. I’m always hoping to give my kids some experiences like that, and I hope Into the Unknown will be one of them.

The elementary school had its book character parade last week, and my son wanted to dress like Marco Polo. We didn’t find a picture of him in the book, but we found an 18th century illustration online:

 We found a silk jacket at the thrift store (100% real! reversible!), along with a faux fur shrug we could use for the hat. I made the hat (two U-shaped pieces sewn along the curve) from an old T-shirt with a double-thickness of sweatshirt underneath for body. I tacked the fur band around the bottom.

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Marco Polo costume

Since I’m working on a nonfiction children’s book myself, I have a new appreciation for just how much research goes into something like this. I can’t imagine how long it must’ve taken Mr. Ross and Mr. Biesty to create this handsome book. Bravo!

Speaking of nonfiction for children, I just ordered a couple from my favorite local indie, Park Road Books. Amy Karol of angry chicken recommended two comic-type books, one about the presidents and another about the Greek myths: Amazing Greek Myths of Wonder and Blunder, and Where Do Presidents Come From? They sounded so good that I called up Park Road right away. I’ll be there tonight for the spring author line up, sponsored by the local chapter of the Women’s National Book Association.

For more posts about books, click here. For more posts about costumes, click here. (Boy! I seem to make/ assemble a lot!)

P.S. Family: I’d like to get this book (Into the Unknown) for the oldest nephews, so I’m calling dibs now. Sorry!


3 Comments on Marco Polo and the Explorer Book, last added: 3/11/2014
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7. Girl’s Waffle Knit Tunic

Thermal Knit Tunic

My girl loves knits. She’s nine now, but ever since I can remember, comfort has been her style priority. More often than not, this means knit fabrics. I really hesitate to buy her anything that’s made of wovens.

Occasionally, though, I have trouble finding as much variety as we want. (okay, there’s Mini Boden, which I love, but I’m not in love with their prices). This tunic was an experiment that started out as a dress in my mind. Until I ran out of fabric. Actually, I think if the pattern sizing was anywhere near the mark it probably would’ve made a dress, no problem.

I thought I’d try making a raglan T-shirt into a dress by lengthening the bottom, since raglan sleeves can be easier to deal with than the standard set-in kind. I used See & Sew B4322, which is really a pajama pattern, but that was the closest thing to what I wanted that I could find in the fabric store.

The directions are nice and straightforward, but like I said, the pattern sizing is off by a mile. I know my daughter is slim, but she’s not far off normal store-bought sizing. We ended up with, like, six inches of ease on the sides and a Flashdance neck.

But anyway, I made it work. I hacked off the sides, took in the shoulders, and gathered the neck (this was pre-finishing). I added a wide waistband what I had leftover, and I’m actually pretty happy with how it turned out. It’s long enough that she can wear it with leggings, which was the goal in the first place.

I realize I could’ve done a better job with the bow pattern (I’m pretty unexperienced with patterned fabric) but Little Miss doesn’t seem to care, so I don’t, either. Next time, I think I’ll just trace clothes she already has, rather than use that pattern (though the directions are still helpful).

The fabric came from Girl Charlee. I’ve been enjoying sewing with their fabrics. They are good quality and very reasonably priced, cute selection. If you’re a beginner with knits, I’d recommend going with medium weights. They are easier to work with. I do love these bows!

For more of my sewing adventure, click here. Hope you have a great weekend!


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8. Embroidered Wedding Portrait

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This is the story of a wedding gift (my contribution to it, anyway) for a dear friend. I thought you might like to see the process. The picture is of my friend Jamie and her husband, who got married last June. As a surprise to the couple, her mother asked friends and family each to complete a design on a muslin square. She collected the squares and then had them made into a patchwork quilt as a gift to Jamie and her husband.

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Jamie and I go way back, and a big part of our friendship has been about shared words. Books, movies, music, poetry, television. We have a lot of inside jokes about obscure quotes. So I sifted through our collective “library” of shared references, looking for the perfect quote to decorate the wedding square. Nothing seemed quite right.

When I saw the bride and groom, though, I knew nothing could be more Jamie and Jon than their fabulous wedding outfits.

I decided to make an embroidered picture and started with the best photo I had of the event. It’s blurry but gave me a good pose to work with. I used Picasa to play with the colors and then used the “posterize” effect to get the lines of the image to show up more clearly.

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I printed the picture, traced over the lines with a Sharpie, and then transferred these to the fabric with a temporary fabric marking pen.

Embroidery

I like the back almost as well as the front:

Embroidery backside

Here’s the final:

Embroidered Wedding Portrait

If you’re interested in seeing more of Jamie and Jon’s wedding, click here.

Meanwhile, I’m hard at work on my nonfiction project and just got some excellent notes on my novel from an old friend. A little sewing going on, which hopefully I can show you soon. Back to writing now!


8 Comments on Embroidered Wedding Portrait, last added: 1/23/2014
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9. New Year, New (ish) Projects

Dress Shirt Quilt

Happy New Year! Did you survive the holidays? Ours started out low key and then sped up after Christmas with the Colorado wedding of a dear friend, a couple of days of skiing, and 3 stitches in my lower lip after a minor fall.

Don’t worry, I’m fine! Luckily, nothing was broken, so I could go right back to skiing. Actually I can only find 2 stitches now. They are not the dissolvable kind, so I don’t know if I misplaced a stitch or if I just miscounted. Hmmm…

I’m finding, unexpectedly, that I kind of love January. Not for the weather. Who could love January weather, even in the South? But I love getting back into the routine and not having a bajillion outside actitivities to distract and exhaust me. And the days are getting just a tiny bit longer. So I’m told.

Currently I’m back to work on my nonfiction book for elementary-aged students. I’d taken several weeks away from it while focusing on my novel, and the break has really helped clarify things. It still needs a lot of work, but I’m excited to see how far it’s come since my initial brainstorm. I’ve been getting some feedback on both projects from writer friends, which is so invigorating!

The above picture is a sneak peek of a quilt I’m working on. It finally seems to be coming together, though it’s looking like spaghetti to me right now. For more sewing and quilting projects, click here.

What about you? What’s inspiring you this month? Reading anything fantastic? Stay warm, folks!


2 Comments on New Year, New (ish) Projects, last added: 1/13/2014
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10. Happy Birthday America!

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At Sylvan Dell, we have found it hard to keep focused with all the exciting holiday festivities on the horizon.   Whether you are 60 or just 6, July 4th is a holiday easily celebrated by the entire family. There are some timeless traditions that, in our opinion, just cannot be forgotten! These include: the annual summer cookout, flying the American flag, spending time with friends and family (preferably by the pool, lake, or ocean), going to a fireworks show or July 4th parade in the nearest town, and of course, Cooking/Crafting/Wearing the color array of red, white, and blue.

As most of you have probably been taught, Independence Day refers to the historical event on July 4, 1776 when representatives of the 13 original colonies signed the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, asserting their freedom from Great Britain. This declaration would come at a high cost. Soon followed the American Revolutionary War, where victory seemed doubtful. Yet here we are 237 years later as the fifty United States of America!

Today, July 4th is typically known for the amazing fireworks displays. Ironically, the first documentation of fireworks took place in China over 2,000 years ago! China still remains the leading manufacturer and exporter of fireworks, responsible for over 90% of the world’s fireworks. Fireworks originally were only made in orange and white, than in the Middle Ages new colors were made by experimenting with different salts. Blue is the hardest color to create. The largest recorded fireworks display happened in Portugal in 2006 which consisted of 66,326 fireworks.

The United States still has some pretty amazing fireworks shows across the country. The Travel Channel has put together a list of the “Best US Fireworks Displays” which highlights 17 different cities.     http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/holidays/photos/best-us-fireworks-displays 

If you can’t make it to one the locations on the list, don’t fret! Try taking some really cool pictures with sparklers in your own backyard. All you need is a few sparklers, a dark setting, and a camera recording a long exposure. Just make sure to put the sparkler in a cool bucket of water once you are finished (safety first!). File:Sparkler 3.JPG

Some cities want to extend the patriotic celebration all year long. 31 places nationwide have the word “liberty” in their name, 11 use “independence, 5 places adopted the name “freedom”, another 5 use “America”, but only 1 place in the US uses “patriot”. The July 4th celebrations in these areas have to be a blast! No matter where you are at tomorrow, you can always show your American allegiance through dress or fun crafts. One website we found offers a fun way to decorate your bike for a stroll around the neighborhood or small parade. http://www.bhg.com/holidays/july-4th/crafts/patriotic-crafts-for-kids/#page=3  Star-Spangled Bicycle

All of us in the office will be out celebrating our Independence tomorrow, what does your July 4th celebration look like?


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11. Summer Classes and More

Micheals Craft Stores are offering the PASSPORT TO IMAGINATION crafts program for kids 5 and up.  Children can explore all seven continents and learn about their landmarks.  The program runs from June 17 through August 2 and costs $@.00 per session.  For details go to: http://www.micheals.com

While summer should be fun-filled and relaxing, some children get bored or lose skills when they are out of school.  Others just do better when there is some structure to the day. If you and your family are looking for FREE summer enrichment for kids, check out these websites:

http://www.ixl.com   is an interactive math site containing more than 7 million activities and quizzes created by math teachers.  There are problems from Pre-K through high school geometry and algebra.

http://www.funbrain.com   was created fro children from preschool through grade eight.  It offers more than 100 interactive games fro math, reading and literacy.  There are also popular books and comics to read on the site, including “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, “Amelia Writes Again” and “Brewster Rocket”.

http://www.openculture.com  contains high-quality cultural and educational media from all over the world.  Children can find free online classes on topics such as English Literature, biology, math and film.

So while you’re having summer fun, check out some fun-filled learning activities as well.


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12. Mended Patchwork

Stained Patchwork

My first instinct, when I saw these stains, was to freak. No, I knew it wasn’t blood. But markers are NOT allowed in bedrooms in our house! Especially not in bedrooms furnished with handmade patchworks! Especially not with mystery markers that may not be washable!

When I calmed down, I thought about my options. I could try to get the stains out, but with the mystery markers, there’s no telling what would happen. I saw visions of a splotchy pink stain covering half the duvet.

I finally decided to cut them out and replace them with appliques.

Mended Patchwork

I like the results. I’ve been interested lately in mending that’s meant to be attractive, not invisible. Annekata has done several posts about beautiful mending, like this one. There’s a word in Japanese (wabi sabi) for the imperfect beauty of objects with a history. You’ll get the idea from this wabi sabi Pinterest page. It’s full of the most beautiful mending you’ve ever seen. I love to watch fibers age and weather.

For more of my patchwork projects, including more pics of this one, click here.

I’ve been working on a new dress. So far, so good, if I can just master the zipper. Crossing fingers.

Still reading Quiet and also This One is Mine by Maria Semple. Looking forward to the Austenland movie next month!


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13. Fall 2013 Studio Update Part THREE - Drink Blots!



Today I am skipping PART TWO of this series until later in the week and instead I'm bringing you Part Three today. Today's video features the set of Winter Whimsy Drink Blots coasters I did with Studio M/Magnet Works! Take a peek. I share a couple of ideas for ways to use them, too. (They're the coolest and they are more than just coasters!)

Come back tomorrow for another cool Christmas treat!!

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14. The Cardboard Factory

Cardboard Crafts

I’m not exactly sure where it started (maybe with the rocket? maybe with this book?), but over the course of the summer, our dining room became piled high with cardboard creations.

I thought I’d share a few, in case they might inspire you or your kids. The center photo is the first guitar my son made. The others, clockwise from the top: a rocket, guitar  #2 and drum, shadow puppets, tube puppets, shadow puppet theater, and sword.

Summer’s over, and the factory had to be cleaned up, but we make sure to have a small cardboard stash at all times for building material. For more kid’s crafts, click here.


2 Comments on The Cardboard Factory, last added: 9/13/2013
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15. Semi-Homemade Halloween Costumes

Homemade Halloween Costumes

It’s that time of year again. Time to slap together a costume or two! I thought I’d list some of our past hits as inspiration for you.

I don’t put a lot of fuss into making costumes, but I do like them to be comfortable and reusable. My favorite method involves hacking items we find in the thrift store. It’s inexpensive, much of the sewing is already done, and the fabrics are often more comfortable than those used in store-bought costumes.

For details on these costumes:

Center: Turtle Costume

Clockwise, from the top:

Ninja (Ninjago)

Anastasia Romanov (Russian princess)

Knight Tunic and Helmet

Princess

Fireman

One more idea for you. My niece is evidently going to be a mermaid, and I loved the look of this simple costume her mom showed me.

I hope these inspire you. This reminds me, I have to get my kids to commit to their costumes now, too. If they had their way, they’d probably get 10 costumes and choose one at the last minute. Ha!


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16. Linen Lisette Passport Dress

Lisette Portfolio Dress

This dress is fairly Eastery for September, but that didn’t stop me from wearing it when I finished it last weekend.

It’s a whole lotta pink! A little girlier than I’d intended. I just can’t seem to stop picking up pink fabric.

Linen sundress

The pattern is the Lisette Passport Dress (Simplicity 2209) by Liesl Gibson. While it’s not a particularly intricate pattern, it’s the most ambitious one I’ve sewn so far, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s not perfect, but I’m proud of the finishing work and the fitting I did. Special thanks to my friend Amy G., seamster extraordinaire, who helped me figure out how to shorten the straps after I’d already completely finished them. That was the trickiest bit.

I had read that inserting the zipper as instructed was frustrating, so I ended up using an invisible zipper and this tutorial instead.

Besides the zipper part, the directions are very good, better than most commercial patterns I’ve used recently.

Pink Linen Sundress

The linen fabric came from the fabric market in Hannover, Germany from when we lived there. Silver necklace from silversmith Gaines Kiker in Blowing Rock, NC. Silver earrings from a shop in Brookline, MA—-they’re over 10 years old so I don’t remember the name, sorry. Belt from Marshalls.

I’m already cutting out another version of the dress—if I can just figure out how to line it.  For more of my sewing, click here.

In other news, I’ve really been getting into my nonfiction book project. So good to feel it finally starting to gel. A hint: it has to do with fashion.

Coming up on the blog: green beans! Craft books! All kinds of thrills.

Linen Lisette Passport Dress


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17. Cardboard Robots

Schuhe London cardboard robots-001

My friend Laurel, who is visiting London, sent me this photo. Aren’t the robots great? I love how the cardboard is rolled for the arms. This is the window of a shoe store called Schuh on Oxford Street.

In case you missed my earlier post about our own cardboard adventures, it’s here.

Meanwhile, I am still deep in research mode on my nonfiction book. It’s keeping me quite engrossed.

I’m looking forward to the Carolinas SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference here in Charlotte this weekend. Say “hi” if you’ll be there!


1 Comments on Cardboard Robots, last added: 10/18/2013
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18. Favorite Craft Books for Kids, Old and New

Craft Books for Kids

I love looking at craft books almost as much (okay, sometimes more) than crafting. In my house growing up, my mom and I always called these ”make it/ do it” books, after two of our favorites, her own McCall’s Giant Make It Book (1953) and my Great Big Golden Make It & Do It Book (1980).

Many happy hours were spent poring over those pages. Most of the projects I never made or did, but just knowing that I could, imagining them, and looking over the pictures and instructions was (is) very satisfying.

Kids' Craft Books

I still love make it/ do it books, and in the stack are a few more recent favorites.

Made to Play  by blogger Joel Henriques. This book, given to us by a good friend, inspired our cardboard factory last summer. The author’s blog is madebyjoel.

Sticks & Stones & Ice Cream Cones by Phyllis Fioratta is another childhood favorite.

Oodles to Do with Loo-Loo and Boo by Denis Roche, a Vermont College friend of mine. This one has great illustrations and fun characters who guide you throughout as you make arts and crafts with easy-to-find and recyclable items.

Things to Do Book by Jennie Maizels. I love, love this concept for a book. Each illustrated spread has a theme (“in the car,” “in the garden”) picturing various activities in a particular setting. There are little flaps to lift that are like secret treasures. In concept, it’s a little like a Richard Scarry book with activities to do instead of labels. Perfect for those “I don’t have anything to do!” moments.

I also remember loving A Boat, A Bat, and A Beanie: Things to Make from Newspaper from the library back in the day. It shows you how to make great stuff (sandals! a wig!) out of, yes, newspaper. I think I need to order a copy of it. I love getting copies of old library books I used to check out over and over.

Below: It was so well-loved, we had to re-cover mom’s copy of the McCall’s Giant Make It Book:

Recovered Book

Here are a few of the inside pages:

Vintage Craft Book

Vintage Children's Craft Book

Vintage Children's Craft Book

Ach! There’s just something about these glowing 50s illustrations that just gets me every time. Everything looks so fun! The clothes so quaint! I just want to jump into the pictures, like Mary Poppins’ chalk drawings.

There’s a little video about the McCall’s book here.

What about you? Do you have any favorite craft books of your own, or do your kids? I think craft books make great gifts.

For more kid craft posts, click here.

Hope you have a great weekend. I’m off to the Carolinas conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Lucky for me, it’s right here in town.


1 Comments on Favorite Craft Books for Kids, Old and New, last added: 9/28/2013
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19. Cardboard Robots, Take Two

Cardboard Robot

I’m sorry to have been away so long—I’ve missed being here in this space. I’ve been very busy on my writing projects and trying to use my days to work on them. But don’t worry, I’m still here.

My six-year-old made this robot, with just a tiny bit of help from his older sister on the hands. I love it! I think he must’ve been inspired by this robot display photo, sent to us by a friend while she was in London. The robot a continuation of the Cardboard Factory that hatched in our dining room over the summer.

I’ve been sewing a little, trying to screw up my courage to make some buttonholes (an Achilles heel of mine) on a dress. Also, I’ve been working on another Halloween ninja costume.

I’m a little stuck in the cooking department, having most days used my creative energy to write. But it’s got to change, because I get tired of the same old stuff. Any great fall ideas for vegetable dishes?

On the reading front: NEWSFLASH! It’s now scientifically documented that reading literary fiction promotes emotional intelligence. Read all about it here. I understand from a psychologist friend that Eleanor Estes’ The Hundred Dresses (not mentioned in the article) was used in this study.

I recently received Colette Sewing Handbook as a gift. I’m loving it. It’s so nicely laid out, and already there are so many little details that I’m learning about the sewing process that I never knew before. It comes with five patterns.

In other completely random news, Trader Joe’s is giving me no money to say this, but I’ve found a couple of new-to-me great things there lately. Their Five Country Blend whole bean espresso is totally awesome, as good as Illy. And I found a Hungarian gruener veltliner wine (Floriana) that reminds us of minerally, grassy, Austrian ones we’ve had but can’t find here. In our TJ’s, it’s in the German wine section, but the shelf label is French, so it’s not so easy to find, but well, there you go. Good luck.

Have a great weekend! Oh, and I’ve been a bit more active on Instagram and Twitter lately, so meet me there if you want to see more of what I’ve been up to.


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20. Stick Chic

Painted SticksDo you ever feel like your subconscious is leaking out?

I was researching decorations for my dear friend’s wedding when I got kind of stuck on sticks. Here’s my pinterest page on stick decorating.

My kids never saw any of this, but somehow, they seemed to know about it, because later that day, after hubs had trimmed some bushes, they hunted down the paint and began decorating these sticks. I’m loving the Dr. Seuss vibe.

I also chopped (with the trimmer) a bunch of sticks into shorter segments for us to make into a new winter wreath. Our old one is kind of sad and decrepit.

I’m alllllllmost finished with a dress I’m making. Just three more buttons! I can’t believe I actually made 9 successful buttonholes. This is a new milestone.

Meanwhile, I hope a certain little ninja will appreciate his costume that’s nearly finished. Who am I kidding? Kids have no idea the work that goes into costume-making. That’s okay. I’ve had fun making it, and I’ve kept it really low-key. I may make a little tutorial about the tunic part of it.

I’m still plugging away at my writing projects. Trying to keep my nose to the grindstone. And made Foster’s Market Jamaican black bean soup last night. Also put up some pesto. Yum!


2 Comments on Stick Chic, last added: 10/25/2013
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21. LVMM Craft Fair

I LOVE planning events.  I do!!  Until the event is right around the corner and then ...AAAAAAAAUUUUGGGHHH!! 

And the Quaker Meeting Craft Fair is right around the corner.  Say it with me!!!  AAAAAUUUUGGHH!

So tonight I made my Special Chocolate-dipped Orange Sticks to sell at the "Bake" Sale table.  My craft this year is Paper Bead Stars.  I hoped to be able to make more but the planned-but-never-realized cruise and its destroyer, the-mother's-hospitalization sort of stole my crafty time and inclination.

One of our earlier craft fairs - beeswax ornaments!!


The Chocolate-dipped Orange Sticks are - need I say? - awesome.  And I priced them accordingly - as in not too cheap.

So, what are Orange sticks?  They are old fashioned candied orange peels.  But, when you dip them into a mixture of quality chocolate chips and candy melts - dark, of course - they become something so much more.

 I truly hope they all sell because I do not need them hanging around my house.  And my father, God rest his soul, is no longer here to help me eat them.  Hub is not a big sweets eater.

So, this event is October 26th from 10 am to 3 pm at Lehigh Valley Quaker Meeting - 4116 Bath Pike, Bethlehem, PA 1/2 mile north of Rte. 22 on Rte. 512.

Jewelry, pottery, glassware, miniatures, ornaments, knitted goods, soups and bread and baked stuff, delicious honey from our resident beekeepers, some vendor-y types like 31 Gifts and Tastefully Simple and a rather impressive used book sale - AND live music from 11:45 to???

Please come if you are in the area.  I will be there - thinking wistfully of Florence - but only if I have the time.

1 Comments on LVMM Craft Fair, last added: 11/11/2013
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22. Oxford Shirtdress

Lisette Traveler Dress

Here’s one of my best sewing creations yet, from this Lisette pattern (the Traveler dress). Yet another pink-ish dress!

Lisette Traveler Pattern

It took me a long time, but I did it! The buttonholes were the scariest part, but turns out my sewing machine salesman was right: if you practice twelve times (on the appropriate fabric) you can make them beautifully.

I made no alterations to the pattern other than to leave off the bottom pockets and to use two different sizes for the top and bottom (aha! That’s why I have trouble fitting in store-bought dresses).

Didn’t my kids do a good job with the photos?

Lisette Shirt Dress

Pattern: Simplicity 2246 by Liesl Gibson

Fabric: pinklish oxford cloth from an open-air market in Germany

Earrings: Ron Cravens

Belt: Target

Boots: Bruno Premi (no, you can’t have them!)


14 Comments on Oxford Shirtdress, last added: 11/5/2013
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23. Gift Cloths

Gift Wrap Cloths

Sorry for being away so long! I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. Ours was nice and low-key, and featured some gluten-free apple pie. There was a big to-do about who got the last pieces, and not just among the GF folks. It’s that good.

The hubs and I also took a trip just before Thanksgiving, which I’ll have to tell you more about in another post.

Here I wanted to show you a little holiday craft we did. Last year I made gift cloths with Christmas fabric and existing Christmas linens, but this year I decided to add to the collection by decorating and sewing up scraps of fabric I already had in my stash.

The red and green stripe in the back left corner was made with watercolor-type fabric paints by Deka. I’ve had that paint forEVER. I tried to find a link to a place you can buy it, but it’s looking like it’s not sold in the US anymore. Bummer. It’s good stuff.

We decorated the fabric for the center red-ribboned present with Target brand “slick” fabric paints (you squeeze the bottles to draw with them). My least favorite fabric paint ever. Really poor quality, but we made the best of it.

The blue-ribboned gift cloth is pale pink, and we drew on it with Tee Juice markers, which are great for quick and easy projects, especially with kids. They are totally permanent, though, so, as with all of these supplies, dress accordingly.

Lastly, on the red-spotted cloth with the dark green ribbon, we used stamps with cheap acrylic paints from Michaels mixed with textile medium. This is one of my favorite ways to paint on fabric, because mixing it yourself gives you a wide range of choices. And in the end you aren’t left with a bunch of fabric paint you may never use again.

Below are some pre-decorated and hemmed gift cloths: a thrifted plaid tablecloth and two tea towels from Target marked down to 88¢!

The kids loved trying to guess what all these fake presents were, the favorite by far being the pink one below that’s wrapped like candy. It’s a sack of corn meal.

Loving this free printable nativity the kids can color themselves at Made by Joel.

Hope to be back soon with some details of our trip.

Gift Wrap Cloths


3 Comments on Gift Cloths, last added: 12/4/2013
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24. Cardboard Christmas Trees

Cardboard Christmas Tree

This is just a variation on a favorite simple craft of mine. In the past, we’ve used lightweight cardboard (cereal boxes, tea boxes), but since corrugated is such a thing in our house right now, and I’ve fallen in love with this cheap gold paint, I thought I’d combine the two.

If you’d like a template for a tree of your own, click here. That earlier post also has pics of some of our other trees. If you’re using corrugated cardboard, though, the slits in the trees need to be a tiny bit wider. I painted our tree white before I used the gold, though next time I think I want the brown cardboard to show through.

Checked out a fun Christmas book from the school library this week, by my lifelong hero, Tomie DePaola. An Early American Christmas is the story of a German family who arrives in a New England town in the 1800s, bringing their Christmas traditions with them. According to the author’s note, the Puritan and Calvinist types didn’t celebrate Christmas at all at that time. The story is fictionalized but based on actual accounts of “Christmas” families entering New England. I love the descriptions of cookie and candle-making. Mr. DePaola has always had a knack for depicting hands-on creativity in such an earthy, tactile way.

Okay, that’s all for now. A few more Christmas-themed posts coming your way soon. Cheers!


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25. Quick Wreath from Back Yard Greenery

DIY greenery wreath

I got inspired to make a quick wreath after reading this blog post over on decor8 the other day.

I’d been planning to do something for our front door since our old wreath was so decrepit, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. I’d never considered using live greenery since the only ones I’d ever seen looked like they’d take a master’s degree in wreath artistry and a few months to create. Hello, Martha Stewart!

But the blog post made me see how pretty a quick, natural wreath could be, and I realized we had plenty of greenery in the back yard. I bought a form at Michael’s (about $4) and clipped various bushes: magnolia, Yaupon holly, rosemary, and wax myrtle.

Sadly, the regular floral wire was out at Michael’s, so I bought this stuff that’s kind of like a never-ending green twist tie. It’s not so bad. And I basically twist-tied the greenery on in a haphazard, overlapping circle. It took me about half an hour. The best part was not having to follow any directions.

Personally, I’m kind of smitten with its exuberant cowlicks. I would totally do this again. What about you? Have you made a wreath of your own?

In other news, with this being the last day of school for the year, I’m winding down my latest draft of my young adult novel and am readying it to send to a reader/ writer/ friend. Scary and exciting at the same time.

Hopefully I’ll be around a little bit over the break, but if not, Happy Holidays to you!

and p.s. We’ve been watching this hilarious show called Lilyhammer. It’s about an American mafioso-turned-informant who chooses Norway as his relocation destination. All kinds of funny cross-cultural issues come up. It stars Steven Van Zandt, of Sopranos and E-Street Band fame. You can find it on Netflix.


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