Sunday, August 22, 2010

Covered Button Ponytail Holder: How To

It's back to school time! Once you've picked out your wardrobe, it's time to get crafty and make coordinating hair accessories. If you stash fabric or are holding onto small scraps this project is just for you. Making fabric covered buttons is a cinch, if you haven't tried it before follow these easy steps. It's a great crafty trick to have up sleeve.

Purchase the desired sized button covers and tool kit at your local sewing store. I used 11/8" covers which are too large for toddlers and preschoolers but are perfect for school aged kids and adults. The kit comes with two plastic pieces, a white base and dark blue insert. You'll also need: fabric, thin hair elastics, chain nose pliers and scissors.

Use the template on the package to cut out a circle of fabric. Make sure the center of the circle features the portion of the fabric design that you want to appear in the center of the button.

Place the fabric right side down into the white plastic base.

Position the button back rounded portion down over the fabric and press it down into the base.

Curl the fabric edges down into the curved button. Place the wired button back down over the fabric covered base.

Push the dark blue piece down over the button cover and press down until you hear the top and bottom pieces snap together.

Remove the finished button from the white plastic base.

Flip the button over wrong side up on your work surface. Grab the wire shank with the chain nose pliers and push down against the button back to widen the shank. Pull the elastic halfway through the modified shank. Loop one end of the elastic through the other and pull tight.

There's no end of possible button sizes fabric and elastic combinations, have fun!

While I've been booking Holiday Craft Fair dates I've been brainstorming ways to keep inventory throughout the season. This bright and colorful ponytail project is easy on the hands and should be popular stocking stuffers. I just placed a bulk order for button blanks.... maybe I'll have to go fabric shopping to find some irresistible smaller print fabrics.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

DIY Throw pillows for teens

I wrapped up my summer teen program with this sensational teen DIY throw pillow craft . Creativity was on the loose and Polyfill stuffing was flying through the air.

Last spring I was gifted a beautiful selection of fabrics I pulled out a stack of 1/2 yards for the teens to use. Our wonderful teen librarian Melissa had the kids select their favorite patterns. She borrowed my rotary cutter, cutting mat, and straight edge to pre-cut the fabric into pairs (fronts and backs) of 16" squares.

I cut Muslin into twelve inch squares, two for each crafter. One for drawing and the second to use as a backing to block the intensely saturated patterned fabrics.

I set the teens loose with fabric markers and some Tulip Multi-Surface Stencil tm the peace, skull and cupcake images were all very popular. The stencils have a tacky backing that grips the fabric while you trace around them. One note of caution be sure to use scrap paper under the fabric as the markers will bleed through. Check the package instructions, some varieties of markers need to be heat set with an iron.

It was exciting to walk through the room and see the range of styles, the markers sparked creative freedom.

These artist didn't use stencils!
I asked the teens to stack their drawings over the plain muslin backing and pin them to the center of a patterned squares. If I ever repeat this project I'll demo how insert a straight pin, its easy to forget that the majority of kids aren't familiar with basic sewing techniques.

We had a large group, one sewing machine, and a time limitation. I quickly seamed the edges of the drawings to each pillow fronts. With a smaller group I'd encourage the kids to use the machine themselves. Placing the pillow front and back right sides together proved to be another conceptual challenge.

After they pinned them together I seamed the four outside edges together leaving a four inch opening to turn the pillow right sides out and stuff.

I was happy to let the teens hand stitch their openings closed, for many it was their first experience with a needle and thread. Thank goodness Melissa was on hand to help, I was tied to the sewing machine the entire second half of the program. They left with stunning creations, pride and a sense of accomplishment. What a great way to spend an hour or two with a group of teens.

Melissa Orth super teen librarian in action!
This afternoon we're getting together to brainstorm more DIY teen crafts for the fall, I can't wait to get started again.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How To: Mermaid and King Triton Craft

If you spend time with little girls you've already seen first hand how tales of mermaids capture their imagination. This easy mermaid craft project is inspired from the flower fairies I created for my Fairy Crafts book ten years ago. There's nothing like creating magical beings to ignite a child's imagination. I've been eagerly anticipating this workshop all summer long and was excited to share it with my library friends this week. The best surprise was watching how much the boys enjoyed making the Triton variation, arming the merman with a shiny trident was key.

Books are the best way to bring a group together, I began by reading Mermaid Sister by Mary Ann Fraser, it's the perfect read aloud full of fishy humor and entertaining jabs at sibling relationships. It's one of my daughters favorites, I can almost recite it by memory.

Wool roving for the hair - Portland Fiber Company
20mm Unfinished round wood bead
20mm and larger Colored wood bead - Darice
Felt - I use National Non Wovens Xoticfelt tm made from Bamboo for my kits
Beige chenille stem cut in half - one half for the body and the other half for the arms
Silver tinsel chenille stem for the trident, and an additional 3" piece section to make a crown.
Small amount of Poly fil stuffing
Colored pencils
Silk flower petals - pulled from small silk flowers for the mermaids collar

Wire cutters to cut the chenille stem (to save your scissors)
Hot glue gun and melt sticks
Needle and thread or Sewing machine

To make the merfolk tails you'll need to create a simple paper pattern.  Fold a sheet of paper in half draw half a fish shape 4 1/2" long tail that is 1/2" wide at the waist, 1" at the hips, 1/2" at the connection to the tail and flares out to an 1 1/4" at the tail. Cut along the line so that the paper unfolds doubling the measurements and makes a symmetrical full sized pattern. Use the pattern to cut two felt tail pieces, stitch the outside edges together, be sure to leave the top open for stuffing. For the sake of the workshop the librarians kindly pre-cut all the tails and I pre-stitched them.

The first step is to fold the chenille stem in half and trap a generous pinch of the roving hair in the fold. The mermaids hair falls in two long flowing sections, tuck in the ends of King Triton's hair to make it appear shorter. After you arrange the hair slide the unfinished wood bead head up the chenille stem ends, pushing it snug against the hair.

For the mermaid thread the petal collar over the ends and slide it up against the head bead.

Position the second beige chenille stem for the arms between the the ends and slide it up under the head bead/petal collar. Slide a colored body bead up the ends and push it up against the arms to hold them in place.

Bend the arms at the elbow and fold the ends over to make hands.

Separate the chenille ends under the body bead to create hips that hold the stacked beads and arms in place.

Use a pencil end to help push the Poly fil stuffing into the tail. Leave some empty space at the top of the tail to accommodate the body.

Carefully apply hot glue to the chenille hips and the base of the body bead and carefully pull the tail over the glued areas. This is an adult step, after years of crafting I still manage to burn myself with the glue gun!

Shape the short silver tinsel chenille section into a crown, and the long section into a trident. King Triton also needs a beard, carefully glue a small section of roving to his chin. Use colored pencils to color a face, avoid using felt tipped markers that will bleed into the unfinished wood.

This was my daughters favorite workshop of the summer, get crafty and spread some merfolk fun with your family! I'll be selling these handmade mermaid kits at Higgins Beach Craft Fair next Friday the 13th and Saturday the 14th.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Groovy Guitar Pick Bracelets: How To

Fridays guitar pick workshop was pure chaos. I found myself surrounded by thirty teens instead of the usual fifteen. The turn out was great, just wish I'd knew it going to happen. We avoid preregistration to encourage more last minute attendance, I brought enough supplies for twenty five teens which is ten more than usual. After a frantic head count and some quick math I switch the two banded bracelet design to a single band, and realized that I would have to limit the girls to two guitar picks each.

Buying guitar picks for a group can be expensive, I advise purchasing economical twelve packs. I took advantage of my son's employee discount at the Music Center to provide the group with a selection of brands and colors. If you're just making a couple of bracelets you can splurge and select individual picks with gorgeous graphics and textured plastics. Just remember to stick to the medium to hard varieties that can withstand drilling and wear.

8" length of Round Leather or faux leather Black cotton cord.
2 coil crimps
2 6mm jump rings
1 lobster clasp or spring coil clasp

Chain nose pliers
Drill with 1/16" bit

Working over a wood scrap, drill a hole straight down into the center top of the pick, 1/8" from the top edge. My husband Jon kindly pre-drilled all the picks before the workshop. Over the years he's drilled so many small items for jewelry making he's comfortable stacking them together and drilling through multiples.

Use chain nose pliers to open the jump ring laterally, slip on the pick and then close the ring. To read more on opening jump rings please see my 'Summer Earring' tutorial. Repeat the process until each pick is strung with a jump ring.
Thread one end of a 8" length of cording into the open end of the coil crimp. Grasp the wire end with your chain nose pliers and squeeze it into the center. The bent wire end should trap the cord in place. I won't lie many of the girls found this difficult. We had a two fold problem a shortage of pliers and the cording was on the thin side (remember I was planning on doubling it) it would pull out from under the bent wire. It would be much easier to trap a solid thickness of real leather.

At the end of the program I realized I could have avoided the frustration by simply threading the cord all the way through the coil and tying it into an overhand knot to prevent it from slipping back through.

Making decorative overhand knots down the length of the cord adds texture and help position the picks. Slide the picks onto the cord, then finish making additional knots. Check the size of your bracelet by wrapping it around your wrist. If necessary use scissors to trim away extra cord before crimping the second coil in place.

Open the round end of the coil crimp and slide on a spring or lobster clasp onto the wire and then place the ring in it's original position. The clasp hooks directly onto the round end of the first coil.

I hope your adventures in guitar pick jewelry are less stressful than running this workshop. The good news is that the girls were happy and proudly shared their creations with their parents. Some were even motivated to make matching earrings.

As always I'm grateful to Curtis Teen Program for their support and the great kids who put up with me photographing them and even hang around to help clean up!

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