Tag Archives: crafts

Whatever Floats Your Boat

No matter how many times it happens, I am always amazed what a group of young children can come up with when left to their own devices.

Yesterday afternoon, we made boats.

Other than providing materials, and the direction to make a boat that floats (of course!) I left them to discover on their own.

And as they worked, they discussed the merits of different materials.

They talked about what a boat should look like.  They wondered if they made a boat a different size and shape if it would still float.

They debated whether a cardboard boat would remain afloat.

And rather than answering their questions, I asked a few of my own.  Like “If you think a cardboard boat would get too wet, what could you do to protect it?”

In the midst of all this boat-talk, there was also learning about working with materials.  Puzzling over how to get pieces to stick to one another, how to make holes in the middle of a box, how to balance one object on top of another, how to work with plasticine.

And as I guide them to learn and discover on their own, I know the learning runs much deeper than the things I simply tell them.

And then, with twelve brand new boats in hand, we headed outside to test the waters!

“It floats!”

“It floats!”

“It floats!”

“Shipwreck!!!!!”

“Hmm…what happens if I put water inside my boat……”

“Hey!  This yellow tape floats!”

And then the bowls of water became vessels for all sorts of floating things on the playground.  And then sand from the sandbox.  And lots of stirring with fingers and squishing and scooping of mud.  My young scientists were still at work discovering long after my job was done and the after school program began.

Taking it Further

  • Older children could test out materials and models before designing what they feel to be the “best” model
  • play an advanced game of “will it float?”  Go beyond the usual items.
  • Learn about different types of boats and build a boat for a specific purpose
  • Take water exploration in new directions.  Provide funnels and tubing and containers and see what they can come up with (I once did this with a small group of seven and eight-year-olds who spent several days designing elaborate water-moving machines.)
  • Have children find ways to make their boats move in the water (and maybe even have a boat race!)

Don’t you just love it when learning is so much fun?

Sweet Little Fairy

Another little miss had her birthday last week.  This young lady loves fairies, so when I saw a tutorial for fairy bendy dolls, I knew what to do!

Isn’t she cute?

The birthday girl aslo enjoys making things, so I also included all the materials so that she can make a family of fairies on her own, and a few things to create a fairy house, too.

I might just have to make a few more of these…. :)

10 Easy Ideas for a Handmade Valentine’s Day

I admit that I am often a last-minute person.  Although I have great plans for holidays that might start months in advance, the bulk of the work is usually done a day or two before.  And so, Valentine’s day is almost upon us, and I have been busy preparing both a meaningful way to share the day with my hubby, and some fun ways to celebrate with my students.

If you are like me, and your holiday planning happens last-minute, here are some fun and easy ideas for a handmade holiday that you still have time to do before Tuesday!

1.  Take advantage of some of the beautiful printable Valentines available in blogland (this site is a good resource) for unique cards for all of the people on your list. 

2.  Make cute origami hearts (found here.)  One year I made one for each of my students!

3.   Make heart-shaped cookies.  You could even write the Valentine message in icing and skip cards altogether!

4.  For the love of your life, make a set of Valentine coupons.  Take little slips of paper and write things such as “Good for one back massage” or “Redeemable for watching a movie of your choice together” or whatever you think your love would like the best.  You could staple them into a book or fold them and put them into a glass jar tied with a red ribbon.   

5.  Create a video telling your Valentine how much you love them.  Use your camera, or create a slide show of pictures with a favourite song in the background.  If you have never done this before, Windows Movie Maker is an easy way to put together videos of this type. 

6.  Make a personalized card by printing out photos of things you and your Valentine have done together and pasting them onto a heart-shaped cut-out.  (Hubby made one of these for me one year and I LOVED it!)

7.  Create “Heartbreaker” Valentines  from stapled paper stuffed with treats!  

8.  Make heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast.  (If you don’t have a heart-shaped mold and find it hard to pour the batter in a heart-shape, just use a cookie cutter to cut out the shape once the pancakes are cooked.)

9.  Use a heart cookie cutter to create heart-shaped sandwiches for a special lunch.

10.  Make a “Sweet Memories” jar or an “I love you because” jar.  Find a pretty jar (or box or tin) and some small pieces of paper.  For a “Sweet Memories” jar, write a memory you have of being together on each piece of paper and then put it in the jar.  For an “I love you because..” jar, write things you love about the person instead.  I have been lucky enough to be a recipient of both of these kinds of gifts and still cherish them years after they have been given.

Here’s to another handmade holiday!

What do you like to do to make Valentine’s Day special?

Sock Snowmen

Is anyone else out there just a little addicted to Pinterest?  I have only been on the site for the last two weeks, but have found it to be an amazing resource for creative ideas, as well as a way to finally get my overloaded “Favourites” file under control!   And for someone who likes to make things, there is no shortage of things to add to my “to make” list!

It’s not often I come across something and make it right away, but I found these sock snowmen too cute to resist.  You can find the originals on “Then She Made…”

My versions are slightly smaller (I used one short white sock and one ankle sock to make each one.) 

This was a super fun and quick craft (I made two in under an hour) and I think it would be fun for older children to make, too (anyone old enough to handle a glue gun.)

Anyone else creating crafts for the holidays?  What’s on the top of your “to make” list?

 

Make Your Own Evergreen Christmas Wreath

Last year I shared with you how my mother-in-law taught me how to make an evergreen wreath.  This year we gathered with the whole family (my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, too!) to make them again.  We started our outing at our land to gather the evergreen boughs, and after a long (and somewhat wet!) hike we finally found the perfect branches.  After lunch we had a wonderful time creating our wreaths, and then going through the bags of flowers and pinecones that my mother-in-law has kept for just this purpose in order to decorate them.

Creating an evergreen wreath is super easy and fun!  Here’s how:

1.  Gather a bucket of fresh evergreen boughs.  We found fir trees to work best for this because their needles lie flat and aren’t prickly.  I think other branches would work, but you might want to wear gloves to keep from getting poked by the needles.

 

2.  Find or make a wire wreath frame.  You could make one out of a wire coat hanger, and the bonus is you will already have a hook for hanging!  You will also need some florist wire.

3.  Cut your boughs into lengths about as long as your hand.

4.  Gather these “hands” into a group of three or four (depending on how full your boughs are).

5.  Secure your wire to the wreath frame.  Wire the greens onto the front of your wreath frame by wrapping the wire around the wreath and greenery several times.

6.  Gather another group of “hands” and wire them to the back of your wreath frame, a small distance away from the group you just wired to the front.

7.  Continue to wire groups of branches alternately to the front and back until your whole wreath is covered.

8.  Twist the end of the wire to secure, and cut it off.  If you need a hanger, twist the wire into a hanging loop before cutting.

9.  You now have a beautiful evergreen wreath!  If the shape is a little wild, trim the boughs until you are happy with it.

10.  Decorate as you wish!  When I purchased wreaths in years past I only ever decorated them with a long velvet bow that I reused year after year.  I can’t resist my mother-in-law’s collection of decorations though, and love the way the flowers and pinecones look on the greenery.  These are attached with a glue gun, and they pull easily off the wreath at the end of the season to reuse next year.

Happy wreath making!

Inspiration

In this moment I have herbs that need harvesting, a project in half-completion in the sewing room, a book half-read whose story dances around my head even when I have decided I MUST leave it and get back to doing something more productive.  My to-do list extends well beyond what time and space will ever allow, as my creative mind dreams up 20 new projects to start before I have even finished the first on the list.

And yet, I can’t help seeking out new inspiration, dreaming new dreams, solving new problems.

Truth be told, I don’t think I’d want to live any other way.

Here are just a few things that have grabbed my attention lately:

Sew, Mama, Sew is posting daily holiday inspiration.  I want to make a neighbourhood of these and isn’t this one of the coolest scrap-busters ever?

I somehow stumbled across a new blog today and am in love with some of the cute crafts!   I am definitely inspired to do something creative with all of the buttons I own.

I was also reminded this morning that what I have is enough, I learned to use picnik and created my own banner for my new Etsy shop (more on that in a few days),  and I discovered this fun Halloween treat  and am busy trying to think of a way to make it without the chocolate.  (I’ll let you know if I come up with something!)

Isn’t it wonderful to be a part of a world-wide community of idea-sharers?   What is inspiring you today?

A Fabric Book (and an unconventional business plan)

This weekend I had the opportunity to stretch my sewing muscles, while at the same time doing some very necessary planning for my business.

The past seven weeks I have been involved in the Right Brain Business Plan Course and have loved this unconventional, visual, and creative way of diving into business planning.  (Check out the website if you’d  like to know more.)

After spending weeks in working through the steps of business planning, the final step is to bring everything together in a format that resonates with you.  (and artistic entrepreneurs have done everything from accordion books to mobiles to altered books.)  And just in case you  are wondering….no, this is not the type of plan you take with you to the bank! (although that is covered in the course as well.)

I had completely planned to put everything into a scrapbook-type format, and even bought a blank book to house it all, but at the last minute I changed my mind.

I am a sewer, after all.

So I started planning a book made out of fabric, instead of paper, that would incorporate all the elements in a way true to my business.   I discovered this page for inspiration and then I just let the rest develop out of my own imagination! 

Using felt for a base, I put to use my rusty embroidery and hand-sewing skills, and incorporated recycled fabric pieces, quilt cast-offs, and buttons and ribbon from my stash.

I love that feeling of trying something for the first time, that stretching and growing that happens when your brain has to solve new problems and think about materials in different ways.

All of the business elements are tied in or placed in pockets, so that they can be changed and updated as my business grows.

I think this is the perfect housing for my business plan, as well as a fun new way to experiment with sewing and fabrics.  I can definitely see myself making  fabric books or journals again!

How do you like to challenge yourself?  What new skill are you learning, or wishing you could learn?

Starting the Year with Giving

Do you ever happen upon a blog and something about the writer makes you decide you just have to add it to your daily blog reading? 

That’s what happened with me and Keri who writes Quaint and Quirky.   Three things in her bio caught my attention  – she lives in New England (so she’s not too far from here), she’s an Irish dancer (and I would love to be an Irish dancer!) and she used the words “kindred spirit.”    I have been reading her blog ever since.

She had a great idea she posted on her blog yesterday to start her year with giving, by paying it forward.   I decided it would be a great way to start my year too, and I am excited to pass my giving on to you.

Here is how it works. 

“Pay it forward” is the idea that random acts of kindness are given without expecting anything in return. It’s passing on a kindness hoping that your recipients will do the same, and forming a never-ending chain of goodwill , that’s what this is about. But it isn’t only kindness, it is also a means to connect with our fellow crafters, to network, if you will, and to share our enjoyment of crafting/sewing instead of just keeping it to ourselves or where only friends and family get to see it.
 This is how it works: You’ll have to comment on this post and the first three people who comment will receive a handmade gift from me within the next few months. But those three people will also have to post the idea on their blog (or Facebook for those of you I know who might like to participate but who don’t blog!) and commit to making a gift for the first three people who comment and so on and so forth.
 
SO, the first three people to comment here will get something handmade by me,  but you have to do this on your blog as well.  I’ll be reading your blog (or checking out your Facebook!) to figure out what to make you and to make sure that you have posted about your Pay it Forward!   

Have fun giving to others!

UFOs – Stopping the Invasion

Just about anyone with a crafty hobby knows what UFOs are (and no, I am not referring to an extraterrestrial invasion!).  They are the unfinished objects that were started and then abandoned in favour of newer, more exciting, more pressing, or easier (!) projects.  They lurk in hidden corners of the sewing or craft room, sometimes forgotten for years, but in their dark corners they multiply with their secret mission to take over the sewing room! 

During the Sew, Mama, Sew Giveaway Day I came across Staci, at The Confused Quilter and have joined in her mission to stop the invasion!

More of a support group than sewing challenge, each of us have set a goal for the UFOs we will finish this year.  There is even a flickr group to post pictures and to keep us motivated. 

This year I have committed to finishing one UFO a month.   This seemed like a reachable goal and will clear up a lot of space in the sewing room (for all those new projects I am going to start this year!) 

When I cleaned the sewing room last year I confined all of the UFOs to a single bucket, promising myself that should the bucket become full I would finish what was in it before starting anything new.  You can imagine how well that worked…..  Here is the bucket now:

At least 3 of the quilts in this bucket I inherited as UFOs for my grandmother.  (You see what happens when you don’t get them under control?  They go on and invade other sewing rooms!)

I also have a pile almost as big piled outside this bucket of clothing and bags, and then there is this poor quilt, which has been sitting cut out on the floor so long that I no longer remember which colours I cut for which part of the pattern. 

And so, in 2011, the invasion will be stopped!   We will sweep the UFOs from all the dark corners and take back our sewing rooms! 

Do you have UFOs lurking in your craft space?  Come and join in the fun!

A Handmade Holiday

I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas holiday!  Hubby and I packed up the car on Christmas Eve (and boy was it packed!) and headed over the river and through the woods (literally) to his parent’s house where we spent the holidays with all of his family.  It was a wonderful Christmas full of love, laughter and lots of good food, we certainly could not have asked for anything better.

One of my favourite parts of the week-end was finally being able to watch everyone open their hand-made gifts, and now that they have all been received by their recipients I am equally as excited to share all of my “secret sewing” with you! 

For Hubby I made him a lunch bag using this tutorial.  I toyed with the idea of making a number of more complicated insulated bags, but none of them seemed big enough for the containers we often use for lunches, and because he stores his lunch in the fridge the insulation seemed unnecessary.  Plain and simple won the day!

It’s lined with NASCAR fabric to jazz it up a little. 

For my sister-in-law I made a sewing set. 

The big piece of fabric is a sewing machine cover based on this tutorial.  I had lots of fabric left over so decided to sew up a few accessories. 

A little pin cushion

A needle book.  I have seen several of these on blogs over the years but couldn’t find a tutorial to make one so just made it up!   I’m really happy with the way it turned out.

And finally I made a gathered clutch to hold it all.   This tutorial was a lot of fun, I now understand why everyone seems to be making them.   This was my first zippered bag and I have to say I am no longer afraid of zipper installation. Yay! 

My sister-in-law had also asked for some produce bags (I use them in my fridge instead of plastic) so I made a set of those, too.

For my mother-in-law I rediscovered the joy of paper piecing.  I had forgotten how much fun it is (and also how time-consuming – I was still sewing on the evening of the 23rd – yikes!)  This is my first paper-pieced quilt with such tiny pieces and I am really happy with the way it turned out – and I think my mother-in-law liked it too!

For Hubby and my father-in-law I made personalized mouse pads.  The pads were bought blank and then I used an iron-on-transfer to decorate them with a photo that reflects their interests.   (The canoe is for Hubby)

And finally, I made some handmade ornaments for a good friend of mine.  She has a nativity-themed Christmas tree but happened to mention that she didn’t have any shepherd ornaments.  I can understand why when I tried to find some and come up empty-handed!  Not finding any tutorials on how to make your own shepherd (!) I had to improvise.  Based loosely on penny rugs I rediscovered hand-stiitching and made a felt shepherd and sheep. 

It was a busy week before Christmas (I know, I know, every year I say I am going to start earlier but there I was on December 20th just getting started!), but definitely worth it! 

Did you make or receive any handmade gifts this year?

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