Monday, January 31, 2011

More Sewing!

Here is another project from the sewing class.  This was HAND-SEWN!  Look at those beautiful, straight stitches.  Even if it is for UNC - ha, ha!  :)

You really don't even need instructions for this one, but in case you are brand-new to sewing like me, this is a fantastic project for beginners.  Choose fleece in your favorite sports-team-pattern or other pattern.  Cut it twice the size you want your pillow to be, plus a few inches for seam allowance.  (About 24" x 36" works well for a bed pillow, or you can make a smaller throw pillow.)  Fold the fabric in half (with the "right side" inside) and sew straight stitches around two of the three open sides.  Turn the pillow cover right-side out, fill it with poly-fil stuffing, and whip-stitch the remaining side closed.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Here's one we did a while ago.  My older son adapted a "4th of July" project from Disney's Family Fun Magazine.  He used "Buzz Lightyear" colors to help my younger son recycle materials and make this cool robot for holding plastic utensils and cookies!  Family Fun called it a "GR8" project, and so my kindergartner decided to name his robot "GR8"!

Used:  2 cans of canned fruit
  empty clear plastic jar
  2 empty toilet paper rolls
  empty "Ovaltine" can
  colored duct tape
  2 bottle caps

For detailed instructions, click here.

Doll Dresses

Practice, practice, practice.  Practice makes perfect.  Oh, how I remember those long hours of practice doing various activities when I was younger, and how I couldn't wait until I could actually apply what I'd been learning.  You know, when you practice piano scales for hours on end, and how you long to play a real song.  Not "Farmer Tom Plays the Scales" or "Up and Down the Keyboard We Go," but a REAL song, one that will impress your friends.  One they play on the radio.  I remember in junior high school when my friend, Jenny, first broke out of playing classical music for her piano teacher, and learned to play the "Flashdance" theme on the piano.  We were all so inspired!!  (OK, I'm dating myself!)

Well, my kids are the same way with instrument practice and with other activities, like sewing.  So, now the sewing lessons are paying off.  My daughter made her first doll dress for her American Girl doll.  (Actually, I think this one is an "Our Generation" doll from Target, but we like them just as well!)

For this dress, she used a kit from Wal-mart that her brother bought her for Christmas.  They also carry these kits in fabric stores.  The pieces are pre-drawn on the fabric.  You cut them out and follow the instructions to sew them together.  This was supposed to be a nightgown.  It has long sleeves and elastic in the neck, so these were a challenge for a beginning seamstress, but she did a fabulous job.  She decided she wanted to use this as a dress rather than a nightgown, so she added the buttons for interest and designed the hat.  She hasn't hemmed the dress yet.  She explained to me that she tried the dress on the doll to see how it fit, and the doll loved the dress so much that she wouldn't let her take it off to hem it!  Hemming must be boring to my children, because my son also has not hemmed his Jedi robe yet.  They seem to think these projects are "finished" enough, and they just want to use them!

Before sewing these pieces together, I had my daughter trace them onto paper so that she has the pattern for future use.  She has already cut them out of another type of fabric as well, and has another dress just about ready to sew together.

Here are some more patterns we will be working on in the near future:

Some free, not-too-difficult patterns from

And we just found this TREASURE!!!  The actual American Girl Doll historical outfit patterns that AG used to sell but has discontinued.  Some collectors got together and scanned them in, and now you can download them all for FREE.  These are, of course, more difficult, but my daughter can't wait to try her hand at them!

In the meantime, she is filling our house with throw pillows, which are easy and FUN to sew!  Both of these pink pillow covers and the little stuffed dog, if you can see it there in her hand, came in the kit with the nightgown.  She sewed and stuffed the small pillow and the stuffed dog.  The large pillow was designed to be a blanket for the doll, but she decided to stuff it and make a pillow for herself to match her doll's.

Toy Story Blanket

Well, the big kids have all been sewing and making fabulous projects, so my kindergartner wanted to make one, too.  He wanted to sew, and he started going after needles and straight pins, but I thought a knotted blanket might be better for starters.  Some of you might have kindergartners who can handle things like needles and pins and sharp scissors, but we're all a little bit afraid when the kindergartner in this house gets hold of anything sharp!

This is a simple project that has been around for a long time.  My kids have knotted blankets that my sister-in-law and nieces made for them when they were younger.  Now Wal-mart and some of the fabric stores carry easy kits with the pieces all pre-cut for you.  We happened to find this "Toy Story" kit, and I knew he would love it.  The kit comes with the printed piece of fleece and a solid (red, in this case) piece of fleece for the back.  You trim the image and trim the other piece to the same size, cut about a 4-sq-inch square out of each corner of both pieces, cut fringe all around the edges, and begin tying the fringes of the two pieces of fleece together.  This particular kit even had dotted lines where you cut the squares and fringes, so it couldn't be easier!

When we were done, we had a nice, reversible blanket, and one very proud little boy!!!

Scroll down my blog to see the ponchos my girls made using a similar kit.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Back to the Manger

I should have posted this a month ago, but I would be remiss if I got much past Christmas without putting in a plug for Back to the Manger:  A Caroling Adventure Through Time by Christy & Daniel Semsen, published by Word Music.  This was simply the best children's Christmas program I have found anywhere, and my children's choir kids did a fabulous job with it!  The plot was interesting (and had an unexpected twist), the music appealed to upper-elementary children, and there were plenty of speaking- and solo-parts to go around.  This is a hard combination to find, and our church has been blessed with a number of children who enjoy and are capable of doing solos well.  Some of you are thinking, "Christmas, why is she still talking about Christmas?"  But if you direct children's choir or plays for a church or homeschool group, I know you are already considering what you might do next year!  I highly recommend Back to the Manger, and I might even have some second-hand music for you to purchase!

Life-Saver Men and Marble Maze Game

Well, I'm still doing after-Christmas cleanup and collecting all the little projects my kids did.  As they get older, they are doing more and more crafts on their own, and these make great gifts.  The girls made life-saver-man Christmas ornaments for their friends.  I had made these as Christmas gifts for my friends when I was their age.

1) To make each set of arms and legs, wind about 20 lengths of red or green yarn length-wise around a six-inch ruler.  
2) Slide the yarn off the ruler, tie shorter pieces of yarn around each bunch near each end, and cut the ends so that all of the yarn ends are loose.  
3) Cut one long piece of yarn for each life-saver man and tie one end of it around the middle of the leg piece, forming two legs.
4) Thread the long piece of yarn on a long needle and push it through the center of the life-saver candy roll.  We used the large life-saver candy rolls, so we actually had to tie the yarn around a crochet hook or knitting needle to get it all the way through.
5) Tie the long piece of yarn around the middle of the arm piece, forming two arms.
6) Thread the long piece of yarn on a long needle again and push it through the center of the styrofoam ball for the head.  For this one, we used a plastic kiddie-needle for plastic canvas.  It was long enough to go all the way through and had enough of a point to go through the styrofoam.
7) Keep the long piece of yarn on the needle and push it through the center of a small shape cut from cardstock or felt for the hat.
8) Tie a loop for hanging in the top of the long piece of yarn.
9) Use markers to draw a happy face on your life-saver man!

My son built Marble Mazes for some of our family friends who have children for Christmas, and of course he made one to keep for himself and his siblings!  I found this craft in a magazine - I believe it was Disney's Family Fun magazine several years ago - along with an article describing how these were popular games for children in the late 1800s and early 1900s, long before the age of DSs and PSPs!  Unfortunately, I can no longer find the magazine or the article.  You can rearrange the rubber bands in countless ways to make various mazes to roll the marbles through, then challenge your friends or siblings to roll the marble all the way to the end without dropping it.  Add more marbles for extra fun.

1) Have a piece of sturdy plywood cut to 1' x 1'.  
2) Use a pencil to draw a grid of 1-inch squares.  Paint each of the 100 squares in the center (10x10) different colors.  Paint the one-inch border around the edges a solid, dark color.
3) Hammer nails into corners of the squares.  The nails are a little close if you place them every inch, so you could place them every other square or make the squares themselves bigger - 1.5"x1.5" or 2"x2".  My son painted one-inch squares but then placed nails haphazardly in the corners of various squares, wherever he felt like putting them!
4) Stretch multi-colored rubber bands around the nails and add a marble.

My son is 11 and made 4 of these by himself, except for cutting the original piece of plywood, which my husband did.  If you have a boy who loves to get into Dad's tools and hammer anything in sight, this is a great project!  It also gave him a very simple application for all that geometry he's been doing.  He's the type of kid who doesn't care much to learn it if he doesn't see any useful application!

Happy crafting!

Curious George Lapbook

My kindergartner did his first lapbook this week, on Curious George.  Obviously, he had a lot of help putting it together, but he did all the little activities inside.  He colored, cut, stapled, folded, glued, and used the paper trimmer.  It was right up his alley.  He, like my older son, is NOT a workbook kid!!  My girls used to take workbooks when they were little and color every page and trace every dotted letter; then they asked for more.  Not the boys!  They need hands-on projects.  When my husband got home, I showed him the lapbook and said, "Our son had fun today."  He said, "Looks like Mommy had fun, too!"  Well, yeah, it was a nice way to spend a morning!

I laminated the puzzle pieces and matching cards below, so he can play with them again and again.  This is a nice book to take in the car, to the doctor's office waiting room, etc.

You can get the templates used in this lapbook at  A lot of the letters are missing from the alphabet cards, so you may have to make some of your own.  You can also find an excellent "Curious George" unit study at Homeschool Share.

American Girl Lapbooks: Kirsten & Kaya

My girls have been charging right through the American Girl history program, and I completely forgot to post the last couple of lapbooks they made.  After Felicity from Colonial Virginia and Josefina from 1820s New Mexico (then part of Mexico), we moved on to Kirsten, the pioneer girl from the 1800s.  We also began reading the "Little House" books by Laura Ingalls Wilder - those were my favorites growing up!!  Here is the Kirsten lapbook (they each made one but they were very similar):

We went back and picked up Kaya, whose books were actually set in 1864, ten years before Felicity, in the western part of the country, but which were written much later and had not been included in the "Portraits of American Girlhood" study.  We used the unit as an opportunity to tie together all the different things we had learned about various Native American tribes.

If you would like to use the American Girl books as a history curriculum, see Portraits of American Girlhood.

You can find the templates used in the above lapbooks at Homeschool Share.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Be Mine" at Sprouting Seeds Studio!

Sprouting Seeds Studio just posted a great new freebie kit, "Be Mine," and I made you a QP!  P/U only.

Here's my LO:

Click image below to download the QP, in both iRemember format and PNG format:

And click this preview to go to Sprouting Seeds Studio and download the kit!

Happy Scrapping!!  :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Heirloom Boutique

For beautiful heirlooms that will be cherished by your family for generations, visit The Heirloom Boutique.  Custom-made children's apparel, gifts, and accessories.

(The owner is also our sewing teacher.  She offers private or group in-home lessons for children or adults!)


I'm not one of those crafty people who has time to make all my kids' clothes or enter a lot of craft fairs.  In fact, I do not sew.  But my favorite items and my favorite gifts are the hand-made ones.  As the kids get older, they are learning to do more and more of their own projects.

The girls made matching ponchos for themselves and their dolls:

And if you want to get a boy interested in sewing, download a pattern for a Jedi Robe!

For the ponchos, we got a kit to make a knotted blanket at Wal-mart.  They have them at fabric stores, too, I think, or you can use two scrap pieces of fleece.  The kit we got had a large hot pink piece of fleece with a "gymnastics" theme, and a solid, lighter pink piece of fleece for the back.  I cut each piece in half and gave one half of each piece to each of the girls.  They then cut fringe on the two short ends of their rectangles (you may want to pin the pieces together to hold them in place while you cut and tie the pieces).  They tied the fringes from the top piece and bottom piece together, and we cut a hole through both pieces in the center for their heads.  For the doll ponchos, we only used the top (hot pink) piece.  We cut small squares, cut holes in the center for the dolls' heads, and cut small fringes and knotted them on the edges.

If I can find the link for the Jedi robe pattern (which my husband downloaded quite some time ago), I will post it.

Happy crafting!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Win 3 STS Mega Collabs!!!

Creative Busy Hands is turning 2, so head over to CBH to find great giveaways!

Today's fun Giveaway is sponsored by Stuff To Scrap. Stuff To Scrap will let the winner get ANY 3 STS Mega Collabs of their choice. Yes, you read right: 3 Mega Collab Kits!!! Depending on what you select, the value of this giveway can be more than $20!!! Is this awesome or what? 

Take a look at some of the kits you can get:

So click HERE to enter the contest at CBH!!!

Quickpage Freebie!

Here's a quickpage from "Everyday Fun" by Sprouting Seeds Studio.  P/u only.  iRemember template and .png quickpage both included.  Click image to download.  Click here to download free kit from Sprouting Seeds Studio.  I hope you are enjoying the new year!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"Everyday Fun" at Sprouting Seeds Studio!

Pick up the first January Freebie, "Everyday Fun" over at Sprouting Seeds Studio!

Here's the page I made with the kit:

Click on image below to go to Sprouting Seeds Studio and pick up your free kit!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Apps School!

Hey, Homeschooling Moms (and any mom who teaches her kids anything at home, which is probably, um, all of you)!

Did you know that you can use Apps on your iPhone, iPad, or your child's iPod Touch as an alternative to textbooks?  My son is really angling for his own iPod Touch right now.  "But, Mom, I want it for educational reasons!"  Yeah, right!

Check out these possibilities!

Monday, January 3, 2011

It's My Birthday! (Freebie)

It's my birthday!  (We won't say which year!)  I made myself a little kit to scrap my birthday photos, and you may download it by clicking on the image below.  PU/S4H/S4O.  The "Happy New Year" kit's color palette was a little brighter, but many of the elements could be used with this kit as well.   Hope you are enjoying January and not letting the after-Christmas-blues get you down too much!