Christmas Ideas

I couldn't spoil the surprise for my family so I'm posting these ideas after Christmas.  Tuck them away for next year...

Christmas pajamas are a tradition with all the cousins.  This year I got plain red t-Shirts at the craft store and decorated them with white fuzzy trim then folded black knit fabric for a belt.  Simply made the buckle by folding gold ribbon into a rectangle.  Added a touch of lace for our one little lady, and Voila!  Instant Santa!  I was going to make Santa hats out of felt but found these at Walmart for less than I could make them.  Perfect!

For the table...  I made Christmas Crackers.  (Well I must confess that the "cracking" part we had to do "manually" with that popping sound kids love to make with their mouths.)  I did find a resource for cracker snaps but didn't have time to order them.  The kids were really just as happy to make their own noises.

I collected TP tubes, stuffed them with tiny trinkets from the party store... erasers, necklaces, tiny booklets, etc.  I also made tissue paper crowns to include.  The most fun however was making the covering.  I used the computer to make red and green designs and dots and each person's name.  It was fun and easy but you could also use colored pencils and get very creative or just take the easier route and use wrapping paper or scrapbook paper. I used a standard 8.5x11 paper, trimmed it down a bit to fit the tube and taped it together candy roll style, tying the ends with curling ribbons. Not as fancy as the ones that crack but really.... just as much fun!

One of the biggest hits was personalized candies.  I got miniature chocolate bars, measured the wrapper and made assorted designs using the computer, cut them to size and just wrapped them around the candy and secured with double stick tape.  I presented them in these little "popcorn bags", also from the party store.  Cute, Fun and Easy.  And best of all... a big hit with the kids!

We love guessing games so I found these little cone shaped bags and filled them with candies, nuts and coins.  Made a chart with each person's name and a grid to fill in their guess.  Didn't just do "how many".... but added to the fun with "how many grams of protein in the almonds", "how many RED candies", "how much money".  They had fun guessing all Christmas Eve and into Christmas Day - a great game for all ages.


Choose the Right Pair of Scissors

Good quality craft tools are an investment in good quality crafts!  But that’s not all they are… they are an investment in the pleasure you derive from your creativity.  Choose your tools wisely, take proper care of them and store them appropriately.  Good quality, well chosen tools can last a lifetime!  Some of my favorite tools have served me well through decades of crafting and sewing.

Choosing the right pair of scissors for a task is important – but first you have to own the right pair of scissors.  Actually, you need a whole wardrobe of scissors.  I have 5 favorites…

My pride and joy scissors have been my steady companion for longer than many of you have been alive!  WOW!  I guess I am that old!  I recall gulping a bit at the price I paid for them but little did I know then how valuable they would be over my years of crafting and sewing.  These babies can slice through THIRTY layers of fabric with ease!  My Singer Kut-Nit Shears are now considered “Vintage” and unfortunately are not made any more, so if you come across them at a yard sale or thrift shop, scoop them up.

The good news is that modern technology and materials have come together to provide some very nice choices in clean cutting, light weight, ergonomically correct shears.  

Even better news is that you can get an excellent pair of heavy duty shears like the WestcottExtremEdge at reasonable prices.  My favorite place to shop for the best selections at the best prices is Amazon.com.

I couldn’t be without my basic 8” Fiskars!  They are a great all purpose scissor.  Comfortable in the hand, well aligned, sharp, great for paper and single layers of fabrics and a multitude of craft projects.  

Also from Fiskars are my small 4” detail scissors.  Perfect for tight jobs and snipping.  Like the 8” Fiskars, these scissors have a long lasting quality for a very reasonable price.

I would probably cry if something happened to my Slip-N-Snip Folding SafetyScissors.  I LOVE these!  They have a very nice sharp edge, great point and best of all, when they are folded up, very safe and secure.  I really should wear these on a ribbon around my neck for as much as I use them.  I can toss them in my knitting bag, my cosmetic case, purse and more knowing that I will have an excellent pair of scissors with no worries about any “incidents”.  

Perhaps my most favorite (and remarkably my least used) scissors are my stork scissors.  They are just so CUTE!  They actually have a nice sharp point and work very well.  They are a joy to own and admire. 

As you can see, most of my scissors have been my constant companions for many years.  If you buy good equipment, use them for the correct purpose and take good care of them they will serve you well through years of crafting and stitching.

Where can you find the best scissors for the best prices?  I am a big fan of Amazon.com.  The prices are very competitive, they have a good reputation, and you don’t even have to leave your craft room – well I guess you will have to get to the front door to pick up the package. Ha Ha!  If you want them TODAY try your local fabric store or Jo-Ann is a good choice.  They have a nice selection, fair prices and if you have a coupon so much the better.  Another resource is Ebay and Craigs List.  I have seen some great prices on the Vintage Singer Kut-Nit on Ebay, so check that out.

If you aren’t lucky enough to score a pair of Kut-Nits, I suggest you try WestcottExtremEdge Adjustable Tension Titanium Bonded 9” scissors.  They have many good features and will cut through multiple layers of fabrics – even tough fabrics.

Keep your scissors in great condition…
1. Use fabric scissors ONLY for fabric!!!  NO PAPER.  This is probably my strongest admonition!
2.  Keep your scissors clean.  Wipe off glue, lint, dirt and any other crafting residue that may try to cling to your tools.
3.  Keep the blades closed when not using them.
4.  Whenever possible, store your scissors in a sheath.
5.  Be sure your household is well stocked with multi-purpose scissors so you and your family members will not be tempted to use the “good” scissors for a “not so good” task.


DIY Halloween Costume

This little cup cake is ready for Halloween!  It's easy to make this cupcake costume for Halloween. It was a fun project that we did together.  NO SEWING either!  We found most of our supplies (like the laundry basket and the perfect ribbed sweater) at the Thrift Shop or around the house.  You might want to make some adjustments based on what you find but the basics would be the same.

• Small Round laundry basket
• Ribbed sweater large enough to stretch over the laundry basket (it will need to be cut up- so none of Momma’s good sweaters please)
• 2-3 yards tulle
• 2 pieces of ribbon or strong string to use as straps over the shoulders to hold the basket up.
• Stapler
• Safety pin
• A piece of elastic large enough to go around the chest

1. Cut the bottom off of the laundry basket
2. Cut the sweater across the chest at the armholes
3.  Stretch the sweater over the basket.  Fold the raw edge over the cut edge of the basket and use a few staples to secure it.
4.  Tie the ribbons on to the basket ‘front’ about 4-6” apart
5.  Adjust the length of the straps so it fits the child.  The straps will go over the shoulders, cross in the back and get tied on to the back of the basket.

Now here is where you can experiment and make changes based on the supplies you want to use.  This is what we did.

As an alternative to the laundry basket and sweater, a pleated lampshade might work well also.

Slip the basket on.  Pull on a color-coordinated shirt, covering up the straps.

We folded the tulle in half, then placed a colorful, “sprinkle like” knit scarf in the center then folded it again (this makes 4 layers) encasing the scarf.  This will make the bottom edge of the “icing”.  Now wrap it together creating a large tube.  I simply stapled the edges together – could be sewn but heck…. It’s a costume!

Now we pulled the tulle piece up over the basket.  Bunched it up. Stretched a piece of elastic around the chest over the tulle and secured it with a safety pin.

Fold the top edge of the tulle OVER the top of the elastic and arrange it so it looks nice and CUPCAKEY!

At first we thought we would make a cherry for her head but we had another colorful scarf and she liked that just as well…..

If you want to try a cherry, here is how I was going to do it.

• Stretch red fabric over a large styrofoam ball.  Old red tights would be perfect. 
• Bunch up the bottom and secure it on to a headband.  (Might want to sew just a few stitches here but try a stapler, hot glue, etc.)  Just experiment!
• Fold the pipe cleaner so it looks like a stem and stick it through the fabric and into the Styrofoam!

Stand back and admire this ADORABLE CUPCAKE!


Make Bunting with Maps and Ribbon

Isn’t it great when crafts for kids are also fun (and useful) for adults!  My favorite five year old crafter has been building an “angry bird house” with moving boxes, packing tape, decorative paper, paint, feathers, glitter and any other sort of found objects he can get his hands on.  We decided that his angry bird house needs some bunting.

I’ve been wanting to use the maps from my outdated road atlas and making bunting with it seemed perfect. 

The supplies:
1.  Old map book
2.  Curling ribbon (other ribbon or string will do too)
3.  Scissors (decorative edge scissors are a fun alternative to straight edge)
4.  Stapler

Cut the pages of the map into strips about 4-5” wide.
Fold in half – lengthwise
Fold the long cut edge (both thicknesses) about ½”
Cut into triangles

When you have a bunch cut out, start putting it together.  Cut a length of ribbon.  Use the ½” fold to go over the ribbon.  Staple it all together. 

This is a great craft for kids.  Lots of repetitions, practice with scissors and stapling.   These are all good ways to build strength in a child’s hands for handwriting.   If it isn’t all lined up perfectly – it still looks really cute.  Older and more sophisticated kids will enjoy it as well and can take pride in doing it a bit more perfectly.

Some alternatives….
Using magazines would be fun and colorful too.
Use double sided Christmas wrapping paper and make a bunting style garland for the tree.


One Thrift Shop Sweater – Three Decor Ideas

That’s right!  THREE home décor projects made from one sweater.  Storage cube, a lamp and a vase, all dressed up with a fun and easy DIY project.  When I picked up this sweater in a Thrift Shop, my sister said, “Why in the world do you want THAT?”  I smiled at her and said I wasn’t sure but I have a few home décor projects in mind.  She was NOT optimistic but she has now changed her mind.  Not to mention that she thinks I’m really clever. 

The first project evolved into a storage cube!  It could have also been an ottoman or an end table.  But the storage cube was just the right project for my sweater.  A cardboard moving box inspired me; it was just sitting there next to the sweater and I tried it on.  Just slipped the sweater over the box with the finished bottom edge just touching the bottom of the box.  My intention was to use it as an open box and line it with a woven fabric.  But I got distracted and let it sit for a few days.  That’s when I saw storage cubes on sale at Target, a rather nice microfiber for only $15. I brought it home and got to work.  (That is really an exaggeration since it was hardly ANY work at all!)
• Cut off the sleeves.
  Stretch the sweater over the box with the bottom hem of the sweater just at the bottom edge of the cube.  Line the seams up with the corners of the box.  That way they won’t show too much.
  Fold the neck edge into the inside.  This is where you will need to fiddle with it a bit based on the size and stretchiness of the sweater. 
• You will need to make some judgments here as to where to cut off the neck edge.  I found I needed to do just a little hand sewing to finish off the armhole edges. It was really very simple to do.
• Finally I turned the raw neck edge under and secured it with small tacking stitches.

Since the inside of the cube was finished, it worked out perfectly.  If you are using a cardboard box (or an unattractive inner box), consider sewing (or glueing) some lining fabric to fit around the interior of the box.  You could also use ribbon to decorate and finish off the raw edge.  Just glue or sew it on.

Well… now I had these sleeves left over.  So my next DIY design idea was to cover a lamp.  I had made a “sweater lamp” for my office a bit ago and I’ve been so happy with it that I decided to make another lamp with a totally different look.

With the next sleeve, I dressed up a plain glass vase and added some sparkly vines.  Check my blog "Make a Flower Vase Cozy from a Sweater Sleeve".  I had a lot of fun with these DIY home decor projects. I hope you have fun too!