Mar 22

Paint Chip Setting
Karen over at Sew Many Ways has come up with nine great napkin and place setting ideas. My favorite is pictured above. The best part of that one? The supplies are free! And you can customize the colors to match your party theme! Check out her other napkin and place setting ideas, such as using an empty Capri Sun, a hose clamp or even an eyeglass case! [Tool Time Tuesday...Napkin and Place Setting Ideas]

Oct 31

Wreath Hanger

Jamielyn at Make and Takes has come up with yet another great project. She has created a simple and easy-to make DIY Wreath Hanger for $3! Now you don’t have an excuse not to create and hang cute wreaths for every occasion. Jamielyn saw one in Pottery barn last year for $80! Crazy huh?! [How to Make a Simple DIY Wreath Hanger]

Project estimate:

  • Wooden Base (circle or square), around $1
  • Finial Topper (found from HD), under $1
  • Large wooden Dowel (I cut mine down to 20 in), $1
  • Wire hanger, on hand
  • Wire cutter, on hand
  • Spray paint, on hand
  • E-6000, on hand

Total cost: $3.00

Jun 10

memory2

Are you planning your summer activities with your kids already? Here’s a fun little project they will have fun making: memory matching cards! My kids love to play Memory–my preschooler plays the official version at Grandma’s house, but we don’t have that game at home, so we decided to make our own with readymade stickers and cardstock. Such a quick and easy project!

The stickers that come with many stickers to a sheet, with repeating images are ideal, like the ones sold in the education/teacher aisle at your local dollar store. Or, buy two packages of identical stickers. Any kind of unmarked cardstock will work. The heavier, the better!

Project Materials:

  • Stickers (you must have 2 of each image), $1
  • 1-2 sheets of cardstock or heavy paper, $.50 or less
  • Paper cutter or scissors, on hand

Total cost: $1.50

memory1
To Make:

You will need one card per sticker. Determine how many cards you will need.

Cut cards from cardstock. To cut 16 cards from one sheet of paper, cut paper in half from both directions. Cut resulting rectangles in half again in both directions. This is easiest if you have a paper cutter, but you can also do it with scissors.

Stick stickers to cards. Your child can help with this (my two year-old did a pretty good job! The images weren’t perfectly lined up on the card, but he didn’t care, and he had a ball sticking the stickers on the cards).

Note: it is best if stickers are different-looking enough to not be confusing to little ones. In other words, two different shots of the same doggie might be a little too similar! We used these stickers that all have a different baby animal on them!

Play the game!

To Play (ages 3 and up):

  1. Mix cards up.
  2. Lay all cards face-down on table (in a grid pattern).
  3. Youngest player goes first and turns two cards of her choosing over. If cards match, she takes the cards and has another turn. If cards don’t match, move to the next player.
  4. When all cards are matched, the player with the most sets of matching cards wins.

To Play Simplified Version (ages 2 and under):

  1. Limit total number of cards to 8, or four sets (you adjust for your child’s skill and interest level).
  2. Youngest player goes first and turns two cards of his choosing over. If cards match, she takes them, but does not have another turn.
  3. Next player takes a turn.
  4. When a match is made, everyone cheers.
  5. When all cards are matched, start over again.

The Not-Ready-For-Organized-Games version (younger 2s and under):

  1. Turn 4 sets of cards face up.
  2. Take turns looking at each card and trying to find its partner.
  3. Cheer when child finds a match.

Other tips:

  • You can also use these cards to play other games like Go Fish!
  • If you don’t have stickers that match, how about making your own? Print photos of your family (faces are good) on labels and stick onto cards. Avery has free label-making software that makes it super easy to print straight to labels! This would also be a fun handmade gift for a birthday boy or girl.
Dec 15

mittens2

Have some felted sweaters on hand? Make some quick & cozy mittens. You can find wool sweaters at the thrift store (just make sure the tag says it is mostly or 100% animal fiber such as wool, alpaca or cashmere). Need to know more about the process of felting? Check out this post by Diane Gilleland at Craft Stylish about felting your sweaters.

Project Materials:

  • Felted sweater
  • Scissors
  • Sewing stuff (sewing machine & thread)
  • Paper and pen

mittens-07

To Make Mitten Template:

Trace your hand (or your child’s hand) on a piece of paper.

Add a seam allowance line about 1/2 inch around the outside of your traced area.

Place template on sweater and cut out two pieces for each hand.

mittens-08

Place pieces right sides together and sew around the edge. Be sure to reinforce the seam at the cuff of the mitten by backing your stitch up a bit.

Clip any excessive extra fabric (pay attention to the area near the thumb), and turn mitten right side out. Try on mitten to see if it works. If you need to, you can turn it back inside-out and adjust.

Smile because that was so simple and quick!

mittens

Visit me at Dollar Store Crafts for more great holiday ideas and tutorials!

May 21

It rains a lot in Oregon (until July 5th!), and I have to come up with rainy-day activities that expend little people’s energy without making me completely crazy. Here’s another quick and easy activity that will keep them entertained for quite awhile: a recycled grocery bag punching bag. It works more like tether ball than a punching bag, and if you have more than one child, they can play with it together.

Project Materials:

  • Plastic grocery bags, about 10
  • Piece of yarn, twine, etc.
  • A nail or hook for the wall

To Make:

Stuff one grocery bag with all the other bags (alternately, stuff a bag with recycled paper, newspaper, etc.). Knot top of bag, and tie a piece of yarn around it. Hang string on nail or hook on the wall (or in a doorway).

I would love to try this with a fabric cover (an old t-shirt? an old ruined piece of kiddo’s clothing?).

**REMEMBER: because this activity deals with potentially hazardous items, do not leave your child unattended with this toy. Do not leave it hanging after s/he is finished playing with it.**


Alternate Option:

Tie a stuffed animal or another soft toy to a string. Kids will enjoy batting this around as well!

May 19

If you need to occupy your toddler for 15 minutes, give her something to work on! In this simple activity, you have two cups and something to pour. I used rice (although, don’t be alarmed if it makes a mess!) If you’re concerned about the mess, try something bigger like cotton balls or larger dried beans.

My 16 month old had fun with this. Once your kid gets used to the concept of pouring, you can move on to pouring water! If you dare…

Jan 21

Kids love to play Memory, the matching card game. My toddler plays
the official version at Grandma’s house, but we don’t have that game at
home. No problem! We decided to make our own with readymade stickers
and cardstock. Nothing could be simpler!

The stickers that come with many stickers to a sheet, with repeating
images are ideal, like the ones sold in the education/teacher aisle at
your local dollar store. Or, buy two packages of identical stickers.
Any kind of unmarked cardstock will work. The heavier, the better!

Project Materials:

  • Stickers (you must have 2 of each image), $1
  • 1-2 sheets of cardstock or heavy paper, $.50 or less
  • Paper cutter or scissors, on hand

Total cost: $1.50


To Make:

You will need one card per sticker. Determine how many cards you will need.

Cut cards from cardstock. To cut 16 cards from one
sheet of paper, cut paper in half from both directions. Cut resulting
rectangles in half again in both directions. This is easiest if you
have a paper cutter, but you can also do it with scissors.

Stick stickers to cards. Your child can help with
this (my two year-old did a pretty good job! The images weren’t
perfectly lined up on the card, but he didn’t care, and he had a ball
sticking the stickers on the cards).

Note: it is best if stickers are different-looking
enough to not be confusing to little ones. In other words, two
different shots of the same doggie might be a little too similar! We
used these stickers that all have a different baby animal on them!

Play the game!

To Play (ages 3 and up):

  1. Mix cards up.
  2. Lay all cards face-down on table (in a grid pattern).
  3. Youngest player goes first and turns two cards of her choosing
    over. If cards match, she takes the cards and has another turn. If
    cards don’t match, move to the next player.
  4. When all cards are matched, the player with the most sets of matching cards wins.

To Play Simplified Version (ages 2 and under):

  1. Limit total number of cards to 8, or four sets (you adjust for your child’s skill and interest level).
  2. Youngest player goes first and turns two cards of his choosing
    over. If cards match, she takes them, but does not have another turn.
  3. Next player takes a turn.
  4. When a match is made, everyone cheers.
  5. When all cards are matched, start over again.

The Not-Ready-For-Organized-Games version (younger 2s and under):

  1. Turn 4 sets of cards face up.
  2. Take turns looking at each card and trying to find its partner.
  3. Cheer when child finds a match.

Other tips:

  • You can also use these cards to play other games like Go Fish!
  • If you don’t have stickers that match, how about making your own?
    Print photos of your family (faces are good) on labels and stick onto
    cards. Avery has free label-making software that makes it super easy to print straight to labels! This would also be a fun handmade gift for a birthday boy or girl.
Jan 8

I love hoodies with ears. Adding ears to this baby hoodie took about two minutes, including cutting the ears out of felt. (Note: if you want these hoodies to really hold up, use wool felt instead.) Now that I know how easy it is, all the hoodies in the house might suddenly sprout ears!

To make:

Cut 2 ears out of felt. Make them wider than you want them to be when they are finished. Fold over in the center, as shown.

Pin to hood. I pinned them so that the seam on the hoodie would act as a guide for where I would sew on the hoodie.

Sew across the ears, as shown. Use the same color of thread as the ears if you have it. (I actually couldn’t find white thread, so I used the oh-so-cheery red).

Flip the ears up. Put the hoodie on your kiddie. Take pictures because they’re 10% cuter now. Bribe them with candy when they won’t pose for you.

Post about it on your blog even though the candy bribe didn’t work.

Dec 29

advent-detail2

My family tries to exchange primarily handmade gifts whenever possible. We’ve found that it has helped us focus on what Christmas is really about and get away from feeling trapped by all the consumerism that surrounds the holidays. I love to see what my parents and siblings come up with to give each year, and I enjoy plotting and planning my own handmade gifts. It’s also interesting to see which ideas are hits (duct tape wallets), and which are misses (the homely crochet-altered t-shirt I made for my mom this year – she actually laughed in my face when she opened it. Strangely, it entertained me rather than offended me.)

advent-nativity

I hit the jackpot this year with a great advent calendar my mom made for me. It’s a nativity scene theme, and is really cute! I’m sure we will get decades of enjoyment out of this gift!

portlandtea

My sister made these adorable little packets that are filled with her own blends of loose tea. She sewed sturdy gift wrap into bags, and then sealed them with buttons and added a custom label to each. I LOVE the packets – so creative and cute!

wrap-spool

My sister also got lots of mileage out of trinkets received in the Sampler, by attaching them to gifts as gift tags and baubles. I love this handspun yarn on a spool… I’m so sorry, I didn’t get a photo of who the sample is from, and this gift wasn’t for me!

lootbag-e

One of my handmade gifts to everyone were monogrammed loot bags. I made about eight of them the day before Christmas Eve, and seriously, the entire project took me two hours or less to sew. I assembly-lined the whole thing (cut everything at the same time, sewed all the monogrammed letters on the corduroy, sewed up the bags, etc.) and it was amazing how quickly the whole thing came together. Oh, and I got to burn through some of my stash fabric! I bought a whole bunch of holiday/winter fabric several years ago when it was on super-sale. It felt SO GOOD to use some of it up!!

lootbag-applique

The loot bags were also very useful for everyone to put their Christmas swag into. You know how all that little stocking stuff gets all over the place! In my imagination, everyone will put the loot bags in their Christmas boxes (or their stockings?) to use for next year, so I hope it comes true! Or, if they want to keep them out to use all year, that would also be fine! (Not that I attach any strings to gifts I give – do what you want with them, or not, y’all!)

tractorsheets

My mom was so nice to fulfill a gift request I made: to make two crib sheets, two pillowcases, and two curtains for the boys’ room. She complied and used some adorable construction vehicle fabric.

tractorcurtains

Now I just need to paint a mural on the wall, and they’ll be all set!

What did you make or receive this year?

Dec 18

These are nothing near as exciting as the chenille stem wonderment that’s going on over at Craftypod, but here are some ten second pipecleaner ornaments for you to make. Or, more probably, for your kiddos to make! This would be a great scout or classroom project. Or, these could make cute package tie-ons.

What you need:

  • Cookie Cutters
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Ribbon (optional)

To make:

Bend a pipecleaner along the edges of a cookie cutter, paying special attention to each crease and corner of the cookie cutter. When you have bent around all edges of cookie cutter, fasten ends of pipecleaner together to finish shape. Tweak the shape of the ornament, if needed.

You have to hold the pipecleaner with both hands simultaneously while doing this, but I was taking a photo

You have to hold the pipecleaner with both hands simultaneously while doing this, but I was taking a photo

If your cookie cutter’s sides are longer than one pipecleaner, you will want to start by bending two pipecleaners together (leave a loop at the top, if desired, as in the star ornament shown in the photo at the top of the page).

I think it could be cool to do a couple pipecleaners twisted together to make a sturdier frame, and then wrap some fabric or ribbon around the pipecleaners (wrap-style) to make it a little less, uh, tacky-lookin’.

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