Thursday, December 30, 2010

airplane wall hanging

I haven't been in my sewing/craft room for over a week and I am going through serious withdrawals! 

I became very ill last week and have been on the mend ever since. Friends empathized with me and said "it's the worst week to be sick," but secretly I thought if I had to get sick, it was a great time. 

Most of my shopping was done early but I still would have spent that last week before Christmas running around the city collecting last minute gifts and taking on more sewing projects than I could possibly make. So, instead, I was sick and couldn't get out of bed ...and it was great. All those errands didn't seem so important anymore and I just made do with what I already had. Of course, my husband was a great help too. And you know what?! In the end, everything was perfect for the big day and it was the first year that I wasn't exhausted by Christmas day! Sure I tired easily, but I was able to rest and recharge often. We just took it easy and it was relaxing and wonderful.


Okay so I couldn't indulge quite as much as I might have liked but this Christmas meant a much needed break from a very busy year and I'm thankful for that. It's just what I needed (in a strange sort of way).

But needless to say, I'm behind on all sorts of projects I have planned. I thought I'd share with you a little something I made for my youngest son a couple of months back - to give to him as a Christmas gift.

I am the only girl in this house and all of my boys LOVE their airplanes. So when I saw an airplane applique pattern from Patch Abilities - I couldn't resist giving it a try.

I wish you all a very happy new year, and may you find some rest and relaxation as well (even if it means playing hookie)!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Today, I wanted to share with you a gift that I received last Christmas from my mother-in-law.
This wall hanging is one of my favourite Christmas decorations so it hangs in my front entrance way. It's about 2 feet wide by 3 feet tall. I love that it's homemade and the faux fur really adds some beautiful texture to it.


She used the 'Santa the Joy Bringer' pattern by Jan Kornfeind for Country Appliqu├ęs.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

just add snow

This Christmas, I had to find a quick (and inexpensive) gift for my 7 year old nephew.
We, along with so many other families, are on a tight budget this year so we decided to limit our family's Christmas gift exchange for all of our nieces and nephews to $5 or less per child. And I have to admit, I was excited to take on the challenge of getting a great gift for so little money. I knew I'd have to get creative.
So this is what I came up with:

Can you guess what it is?

I cut out some felt shapes, bought a long carrot and a black hat. I cut a piece of scrap fleece and made it into a scarf and voila - a kit to build a snowman! I wrapped all the items up in a snowman gift bag and wrote a note saying: 'Just add snow!'
This is an idea that you can really run with and add to year after year. How about real coal for the eyes and mouth? Full lady lips, or a necktie instead of a scarf? 

...Oh! And as for the $5 gift exchange - I had money left over to buy a small book to go with it!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas lights garland

Here's a simple craft idea that the kids and I made last week. The best part is that you can make it with your kids in a pinch AND it's a fun way to get into the Christmas spirit. 

You don't need many supplies and they are things you likely already have on hand.
You'll need: a glue stick, some ribbon, scissors and construction paper.

I made a light bulb shaped template and layered my construction paper so that I could cut a bunch of lights at a time. Because I was working with small children I did all the cutting, but if you are doing this with older children you could cut out a template and have them trace and cut each one out. It depends on their skills ...and attention spans. Once the light bulbs are cut out, your child is ready to glue them onto the ribbon any way they choose!
Here's a picture of my 7 year old's string of Christmas lights... 

So cute and festive! I hung them up around our playroom entrance.
And for all the keen mums out there, if you are doing this with school-aged children you can easily incorporate some patterning/math lessons with this craft too!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

on-the-go car mat

I have a confession to make: I am no Fashionista. When it comes to clothes I really don't know what I'm doing. I dress plainly and avoid taking 'fashion risks'. For the most part, I dress in browns, blues and lots of black. I know it's boring but those are my 'comfort' colours. When I want to wear a bold colour, I put on a black shirt and bring in some fun through my accessories. I love how so many colours seem to 'pop' next to black.

When it comes to dressing and making things for young children though, I tend to avoid black. Well, today is the exception. I wanted to use this really great race track fabric but had a tough time finding a coordinating fabric out of my 'stash'. Because the fabric has black in it, I figured the thin black corduroy I had would be my best choice. This project is going to be for a special little busy body in my life. It's bound to get dirty so I figured, why not black?!

Here it is. It looks like a bag, but this really isn't just any little bag. It has pleated pockets to hold little cars with some fun car prints (love that Riley Blake fabric) blanket stitched onto them. 

Outside of the bag

Close-up of the pocket

 ...but it's when you open it up, that the magic happens.

Inside the bag

And there you have it. A compact, travel play mat that's washable!
It also has vecro closures for when my little one needs to pack it all away and bring it to his next destination!

Monday, December 6, 2010


Here in Canada the cold weather is here to stay. And we've all had our young ones lose a mitten (or two) here and there. By the time Spring finally rolls around, you've bought about 10 different pairs of mittens and they're all missing their partner! So I wanted to share with you an easy solution to help keep those little mittens stay on in the cold winter months.


These mittens have a stretchy tube sewn to the opening that fits over the child's coat sleeves. Can you guess how I made them?

You can make some too - all you need is a pair of mittens, matching thread, a sewing machine, a pair of scissors and... a pair of child-sized socks! The socks need to have a fair amount of rise to them - not ankle socks.

Infant mittens and girl socks

First, cut the foot part of the sock off, and keep the top portion. If you are using knee-high socks, cut about 5-7 inches down from the top edge - leaving the top seam as a finished edge.


I serged all around the unfinished edges of the sock where I cut, but this is optional. 

Turn your sock tube inside-out and place it over top of the mitten so that right sides are together and that the raw edge is at the opening of the mitten. Then you can use your sewing machine's zigzag or stretch stitch to sew around the circumference of the two pieces.

Turn over the sock so that it is right-side-out again and there you have it! Repeat steps for the next one.

This should help save your little one's mittens this year, and save you money! The options are endless - think fun socks, argyle, or funky stripes!
Of course, I'm working on a 'boy' pair too and will post a picture soon.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

child silhouettes

It's less than 3 weeks until Christmas and my head is spinning with all of the projects I have on the go right now. Many of which are not ready to show you yet so I thought I'd post a picture of something I made with my boys for Father's Day earlier this year. 


It was easy to do - and best of all - inexpensive.  I love how each one is so unique that you can identify who it is. 

To make a silhouette of your own, there are just a few supplies you need: 
- a digital camera (with basic editing software and printer)
- computer paper
- glue
- decent scissors
- a frame (I bought these ones at the dollar store)
- two pieces of cardstock in contrasting colours

You can really play with colour here, like for example, you could use white paper on blue for a Wedgwood effect, or maybe black on cream for an antique look. My oldest son's favourite colour is green so that's what we went with. The only suggestion I would make is to avoid papers with busy graphic prints, because you want the focus to be on the little details around the edges of the silhouettes. A subtle pattern could work as well.

It's also worth noting that if you spend a bit extra on the paper, it shouldn't fade with time.

In my experience, the simplest way to create the silhouette is to take a picture of your child's profile against a blank background or wall. Upload the picture to your computer, resize it, and print out a very low res. copy onto regular computer paper. It might take you a couple of attempts to print the exact size you want so play around with it. Then cut the child's profile out very carefully along the edges. Include stray hairs, eyelashes, and eyebrows - the more details the better!

I recommend leaving a bit of the torso in the image (see the silhouette pictured on the right hand side above) so that you avoid the 'head floating in space' look as in the one pictured on the left.

Once you've cut the profile out, you are ready to trace it onto your piece of cardstock. If you used a lighter colour of cardstock, you could have printed the profile picture directly onto the cardstock, cut it, and turned the page over to skip a step. 

Cut the cardstock silhouette out, again, paying close attention to the details. Then glue it to your contrasting piece of cardstock and stick in into a frame. And you're done! Easy peasy! You might want to hold onto the profile print-out in case you want to make more because this not only makes a great gift for parents, but for grandparents as well!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

paper wreath craft for kids

We're getting into the Christmas spirit here and I'm always looking for age-appropriate crafts for my kids. Most of the children I work with are toddler and preschool-aged so these crafts need to be fairly simple and I prefer them to be 'open-ended' crafts. This means that I don't show them what the end result 'should' look like, they are free to create what they want.

There are SO many beautiful papers available at craft stores now and I was just waiting for an excuse to buy some. I don't know what it is with really young children and glue sticks but they just LOVE to glue so a paper wreath seemed like just the right thing for them. I bought 4 or 5 different kinds of paper in varying shades of green. I also picked up a sheet of shiny red paper for the berries (but this is optional). We went with greens and red because these wreaths are for the holiday season but this craft lends itself to so many different looks. For a more modern twist you could use black and white bold prints. Or for an Easter wreath you could use pastel colours, etc. 

It's fairly simple - the rest of the supplies you'll need are paper plate(s), a glue stick and scissors. Because of the age of children I was working with, I went ahead and cut all of the fancy papers into leaf and berry shapes, and cut the hole in the center of the plate.The kids were free to choose which papers to glue and how they were going to glue them.

Easy and festive! Here are the wreaths that my own children made that day:

Try it with your kids and you'll be amazed at how different each one turns out. 

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