I got a job! A sewing “specialist” job!

Yesterday, I started work at an awesome kids day camp called Steve and Kate’s Camp. Along with one other instructor, I have the run of a large sewing studio and oodles of kids from kindergarten to 7th grade.  Lots of young minds to mold!  So, I will not be posting as much now that I am working when everyone else is working.  I’ll still have time to work on my stuff on the weekends, and I’m incredibly happen that my Etsy store is finally picking up.

One of my goals for June is to get lots of listings up, but to do that I have to take some great pictures.  Now that my work is getting bigger, I will work on setting up a tripod and “modelling” some carrots.  This is just a silly picture from right before I decided I’d rather take a nap:

Later this week, I’ll post some pictures of my “standard issue” camp t-shirts.  Since I’m a sewing instructor*, I’m allowed to show off my craft on my shirt, so I’ve done some tailoring (and tshirt massacre) that I’ll showcase here. If you’ve never gotten your hands on a copy of Generation T, go look at it.  Yeah, you’ll ruin a few shirts before you get the hang of it, but that’s why thrift stores are for.  Check it out!

*Actually, anyone can do this, because this camp is really awesome.


What We’re Making Today: Needle-felted Cloud Mobile

This was a perfect cloudy day craft!  Clouds can be any color, thanks to sunset and sunrise, storms and rain.  With some plain white wool and rolls of colored roving, we mixed colors together until we had lovely clouds of purple, blue and green (sometimes all three).

What you need:

  • plain (natural or white) loose wool
  • colored roving
  • felting needle
  • felting pad
  • thread (I chose blue, but get creative!)
  • 1 0r 2 dowel rods
  • beads (pony beads, glass, crystal, raindrop-like)
  • wire
  • floral tape

The needle-felting is the easiest part for kids– this project also requires lots of knots.  If that is something your child’s hands cannot handle yet, you can tie knots while they spend more time on the cloud’s design.

If you want to make a mobile with two rods that form a cross, make at least four clouds (for a single rod, 2-3 will do).  Start by mixing your cloud colors by grabbing a handful of white wool and bit of colored roving.  Mix until it looks pretty.

Roll the wool between your palms, letting the heat and pressure compound it a little into a ball.  Put the ball on the felting pad and poke at it from all directions, picking it up and turning it over to ensure even compaction.  The point is not to make a tight ball, but to form the cloud with nothing hanging off haphazardly.  You can lightly pull on sections of the cloud to fluff it up if it gets too flat.  This would also be a good time to talk about types of clouds, or look out the window and see what kind are already in the sky.

Once shaped as you like it, attach a thread at the top and one at the bottom of the cloud.  Thread a needle and attach the string by going through a thick part of the cloud, coming back through and tying  a knot.  The top thread will attach to the dowel rod, so leave enough length to tie knots and get creative with where the clouds hang.  On the other string, add a bead and secure it at the end of the thread with a knot.  Multiple “raindrops” can be added.  Note: too much bead weight could harm the structural integrity of the cloud (just like a real cloud!)

To make the cross-shaped base for hanging the clouds, you will need:

  • wire
  • dowel rods
  • floral tape
  • pliers (something that will cut wire)

Cut a piece of wire approximately 12 inches long.  Arrange the dowels in the shape of a cross and wrap the wire around the center of both pieces, alternating directions.  Try to keep the end of the wire from sticking out too much.

    With the remaining inches of wire, make a loop and tuck the end of the wire under the frame.  Twist the loop.
Cover the wire with floral tape, and tape up each dowel to make it more stable.  Tape sufficiently over the wire to hold down the ends of the wire.  Prevent pokes!  You’re done when the frame won’t wiggle.When all the clouds are done and have their strings and beads attached, and the frame is set up (you can paint that, too, if you have time) you can attach the top strings of each cloud to the frame.  I chose to put one cloud at the end of each dowel and one in the middle.  I tied the strings, but also used my scissors to make a small notch on the top of the dowel for the string to sit in.Note:  I would not recommend this as an infant mobile due to the small beads, fragility of the clouds and the wire.  Pretty much the whole thing would be a danger in a baby’s crib if it falls.  Put it somewhere out of reach and let it cast rainbows on the wall.


What We’re Making Today: Spaghetti Art!

I got this idea from the folks over at Busy Bee Kids Crafts.  The idea is ever so simple: cook spaghetti, mix it with equal parts paint and glue, make a sculpture!  I always test crafts before I go to work, and I’ve been having a blast with this one.

What you need:

  • Glue (I used Modge-Podge)
  • Cooked spaghetti (let it cool, ok?)
  • Wax paper
  • Various colors of paint

Mix equal parts paint and glue.  I just plopped a small pile of spaghetti straight into it and mixed with my hands, because it feels great!  I tried to use poster paints first, since they are washable, but I didn’t get vivid colors.  I used acrylics, and everything popped (also stained my new dress).

Lay the noodles on one by one, and make sure every noodle touches another one, and there aren’t too many stray noodles that gravity won’t be able to hold up.  Let everything dry overnight on a flat and safe surface, and hang it in a window.  The wax paper should peel off easily.

It's a spaghetti sculpture made of spaghetti. So.. it's spaghetti.

Another good thing about this craft is that if the child gets bored or isn’t interested in making the shapes, she can skip the glue and use the noodles as paint brushes.  Here’s my Jackson Pollack rip-off:

Make sure you have plenty of plates to mix the noodles and paint on, and lots of paper towels handy.  This is a craft that absolutely hinges on the ability to get messy, so don’t fight it.

Now THAT is what I call nail art.


How-to: Make an Arctic Hare (Rabbit) and Scenery

What We’re Making Today is a series of posts about the Arts and Crafts projects I do with my young clients.  Every week I’ll post pictures and tutorials of lovely stuff to do with kids that use the simplest supplies.  Yesterday, I showed you how to make an adorable penguin out of a toilet paper roll, and the entire scene with penguin, mountains, clouds and a rabbit.  Today, we focus on the rabbit and the mountains.

Technically what we’re making in an Arctic Hare, but explaining the difference between rabbits and hares* may be too much for a four year old.  I had to look it up myself! A good lesson would be to talk about what color most Arctic creatures are, and why they are that way.

Today’s hare can easily be converted to a rabbit by just calling it that, unless your child is an expert in the Lagomorpha order of mammals… moving on.  Easter is just around the corner if you want to go that direction with it.  This craft lends itself well to Easter since the rabbits are made from egg cartons.  You can make a dozen out of one carton, and then use the rabbits to cover eggs in a hunt.  Here’s what you need:

  • Egg carton
  • White cardstock
  • crayons (any color, though Arctic hares wouldn’t do so well with bright green noses)
  • Scissors
  • Black market

Cutting the cups from the egg carton may be a big person’s job.  You will not be able to get a perfect cup, but as long as you have room for a face it will work.  Cut the cups out and set the child to decoration the faces and coloring the fur.  If you want to go full-Arctic, try some white paint.  For smaller children, you can go ahead and use the black marker to outline some facial features they can color in.

Cut out two ear shapes from the cardstock, making sure the base of the ears is less than 1/2 in across.  Bend these in half longways and unbend to give the ear a more cupped appearance.  The inside of the ear can be colored in.

More big person work: use your scissors to stab two slits in the top of the cup, making sure the slits are thick enough for the child to insert the ears.  Voila!

*Hares are larger, have longer feet and ears and are faster than rabbits.  So, hares are super tough, speedy champions and rabbits are cuddlier, tastier snuggle bunnies.

The mountains are very easy– have the child draw a series of triangles or a line with lots of up and down points.  Just make sure the mountain is longer than it is tall, so it won’t fall over.  Cut a slit about an in from both ends.  Cut out two small rectangles (tabs) from the cardstock and cut a slit in each middle.  Not all the way through!  Insert the tab into the slits on the mountain piece until they fit snugly.  Mountain time!

These can also be glaciers!  Try a little glue and glitter, or a light wash of blue watercolor.  You can make a large mountain range out of one piece of cardstock, or a huge glacier!  Did you know that the North and South pole are classified as deserts?  There’s something to talk about!