DIY: Halloween Puppets

There’s a chill in the air, jack o’lanterns and ghostly decorations are everywhere. Yes, Halloween is near! This year we wanted to try making something different other than the usual paper plate masks and construction paper cut out bats. We love those, don’t get me wrong but we came up with our own project and we love it. We made puppets with foam balls, wooden dowels and my husband’s old shirts (sshhh! Don’t tell!) The best part of this project is that you can make any character you want and make them as crazy as you want them to be.  This is how we did it:

1. Make the heads:

You’ll need 3” smooth foam balls (or approximate size),  gesso, wooden dowels, pencil, craft paint in the colors of your choice, brushes in different sizes. For the optional steps you’ll need school glue, water, tissue paper, mod podge or finishing spray.

Cover the foam balls with a couple coats of Gesso. You need to do this in order for the paint to stay on the surface later on, that way it won’t peel off. After the gesso is dry, use a pencil to draw your puppets’ facial features. Draw eyes, mouths, big ones, small ones, anything you like, this is Halloween after all! Use your craft paint to paint the ball all around, making sure you can still see the pencil lines through the paint. Trace the features with a thin brush. Insert the wooden dowel at the bottom of the head. Because the foam ball is soft, it won’t be hard to get the dowel in there but you may use the tip of a pencil to get a hole started and then push the dowel. 

Optional steps:

* If you would like to make three-dimensional features such as ears or noses, you’ll need to make a quick mix of papier maché. Simply mix equal amounts of school glue and water and dip shredded pieces of tissue paper in it, mold into shape and place on the foam ball, where you want it. It will be very wet, you will need to let it dry overnight. This is what I did for the cat’s ears and nose and the pumpkin’s stem.

* You may add a special touch by adding the year on the back and making it a family keepsake. 

* After painting the head and facial features, you may add a layer of mod podge or finishing spray. That way you’ll be able to show off your puppet for years!

2. Make the clothes:

I kept this part very simple. I used sleeves from old men’s shirts. Cut off the sleeves and cut off the cuffs. Then gather the narrower end at the base of the puppets’ heads and glue gun it to the dowel, at the base of the head. If you don’t have shirts to cut, simply use old scraps of fabric to glue on the dowel, at the base of the head.

Optional steps:

Make a couple of fancy items to add to your characters! I used felt to make a little witch’s hat and cape. You can use ribbons, buttons, pom poms, etc to glue onto your puppet’s clothes or heads.

The kids loved working on these puppets, I think we’ll keep them around even after Halloween passes. They’re making up their own little stories and using their imaginations to play and be creative. They also loved being involved in the making process. From brushing the gesso onto the balls, to painting and cutting off the shirts, this project is kid friendly. My oldest is learning how to use the glue gun but you be careful with the little ones around as they can get easily burned with the tip of the gun or the melted silicon. Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Natasha K.

ETSY // FACEBOOK // INSTAGRAM

DIY: Upcycled Skirt

It is that time of the year again and we find ourselves transitioning into Fall. We go into our closets,  take out the sweaters and start wearing layers. As I went into my daughter’s closet and found a few things to donate, I found a couple of pants that still fit her at the waist but are short at the ankles. So I thought to turn them into a skirt, which became the idea for this post! Note that you can do this project with your own, adult size pants. You will need:

A pair of old pants

Your sewing machine

Fabric scissors

Seam ripper

Coordinating thread

Basic sewing skills

1.a. Decide where you would like your hem height to be (above or below the knee, etc) and mark it. Lay the pants completely flat on a flat surface. Cut the legs off where you marked the leg. Be careful to cut in a “curve” and not straight across (image above)

1.b. Use your seam ripper to take apart the seam on the inside leg.  When you get to crotch area, carefully rip the seams as close to the zipper as possible. It may take a little time to do this but it will be worth it.  Keep the bottom part of the legs that you just cut off for the next step.

2.a. Use your scissors to cut open the legs (the pieces you just cut off) along one of the seams (side or inseam, it doesn’t matter). No need to rip the seams, just cut as close to the seam as possible. The top part of the pants (which will become your skirt) will have two sort of flaps, at the front and back, in what used to be the inseam of the leg and crotch. Lay the pants flat, overlap the crotch flaps one on top of the other and put one of the pieces of fabric from the cutout legs (legs you cut off) under the opening. Make sure the flaps are on top of that piece of fabric, laying flat, fold in the edges and carefully pin the layers together.

3.a. Time to sew! Top stitch along the pinned folded flaps.  You can use a thicker, contrasting thread color for fun - you gotta show off your work, right? I used a couple strands from a DMC embroidery floss. Cut the excess fabric on the wrong side of the garment (middle image above). 

3.b. Repeat steps 2.a through 3.a to finish the back of the skirt. Once front and back are finished, your skirt is ready! You can wash and dry it to fray the hem.

OPTIONAL:

Step 2.a. optional: Instead of using the cut out leg to insert under the opening at the front and back of the skirt, you could use a different fabric to add contrast. Maybe use a patterned fabric or different color fabric but you should find something that is the same fabric weight as the rest of the skirt.

Step 3.b. optional: You may decide to finish the hem differently. You can fold in the hem and top stitch it but you must remember to add an extra 1.5” to 2” hem height when cutting the pants on step 1.a. You can also top stitch lace or ribbon at the edge of the hem. However, it must be a narrow width as your hem is curved and the lace or ribbon will lay flat,  possibly producing a puckered effect.

Now that your skirt is ready, wear it, layer it with tights this Fall and strut it around next Summer. You will be so happy with the result and best of it all, you did it all yourself and reused a piece from your closet.  This is a great project to reuse your favorite pair of pants and to create a unique piece of clothing you can wear all year around.  Enjoy it, have fun and happy sewing!

Natasha K.

ETSY // FACEBOOK // INSTAGRAM

 

 

D.I.Y. Valentine's inpired PJ case

Valentine’s day is approaching fast! Just a few days and it’s here. I came up with a project inspired by Valentine’s but perfect to keep around all year long. It’s a PJ case, a case where you can store PJs  during the day. No more pajamas under the pillows or laying around the bedroom. It will lay fluffy on your kid’s bed waiting for bedtime to get emptied out!

You will need:

One 14” x 14” and two 14” x 8” pieces of fleece

Freezer paper

Acrylic or textile paint in color of your choice

Textile medium (if you decide to use acrylic paint)

A foam or spouncer brush

Exacto knife

Surface for mixing colors (I use the cover of a take out container)

Love heart stencil

1. PRINT THE DESIGN

Follow steps 1. though 6. used in April showers Tee project to make your stencil and print the design on the 14” x 14” piece of fleece. Note that you are NOT using the striped area in the heart stencil. Place the letters as you like. If you are using textile paint, you do not need to use the textile medium.

2. MAKE THE PJ CASE

I decided to use fleece for this case because it won’t fray and I didn’t want to finish the edges. If you decide you want to use a different kind of fabric and you want to finish the edges, you have to account for this in the measurements.

Overlap the two 14” x 8” pieces of fleece so that you have a 14” x 14” square. That will be your opening. Pin it down to keep it in place. Place the 3 layers of fabric so that the right sides are facing each other. Stitch all  around the edges using a ¼” to ½” seam allowance. Clip the corners and turn inside out. Press edges and enjoy!

TIPS:

* I recommend printing your fabric first. If you mess up, all you have to do is cut another piece of fabric as oppose to having to make a whole case again.

* You can print the design on a previously purchased pillow case and use that instead. Or print it on a Tee shirt too!

I made this one for my daughter and she loves it! You can make them as gifts for your friends' kids or your own. Have your littles give you a hand, they’ll treasure their PJ cases even more! Remember to supervise children while doing this project, specially while cutting, ironing and sewing.

Have fun and please share pictures of your projects!

Natasha K.

ETSY // FACEBOOK // INSTAGRAM

 

 

DIY: Advent Calendar Banner

It seems as if the year flew by and yes, the holidays are already so close!!! For those who celebrate, here’s an easy DIY advent calendar. It can be adapted for both Christian and Jewish celebrants, just change your colors a bit. Best of all, it’s so easy, kids will enjoy working on it with you! So gather your supplies and start working, you’ll need:

* Scrapbook paper with two different patterns

* Mini paper bags (the amount depends on how many advent days you celebrate)

* Baker’s twine (or some sort of thin cord)

* Hole punch

* Paper scissors

* Glue

* Printer

* Odd and even number designs

1. Print out the 2 designs, odd and even numbers, on your scrapbook paper. Make sure your scrapbook paper fits your printer (you can cut it to about 8.5’ wide) and that you place it correctly in order to print on the patterned side of the paper. Cut each number along the dotted lines.

2. Use your punch hole to make two holes on each paper bag, one hole at each top corner. If your bags are too long, you can simply fold them back to make them a bit shorter (that’s what I did for mine as I wanted each to be square) Glue the numbers to the bags, here’s where the kids can start to help!

3. Put the banner together by threading the baker’s twine through each hole. Hang, fill each bag with a small treat every day and enjoy! By the way, what favorite treat would you stuff in these little bags? Comment below!!!

This is a perfect project to work on during this coming Thanksgiving weekend. Have fun and as always, keep an eye on the little ones as they use scissors. Happy holidays!

Natasha K.

ETSY // FACEBOOK // INSTAGRAM

 

DIY: upcycled pencil case

Fall is at our doorstep and we’re getting ready to welcome it around our house. The kids are back in school so I have more time to clean up their closets. As I’m putting their outgrown clothes aside for donation, I decided to keep a couple of zippered sweatshirts to experiment with for this project. I ended up making this little pouch, perfect for my daughter’s crayons, here’s how I did it:

1. Use an old zippered sweater to upcycle. Turn the sweater inside out and place it on a flat surface. Decide the final length of your pencil case by marking the zipper at two points (blue dots on picture). If the sweater has a front pocket, try to avoid it to facilitate sewing.  Machine stitch on the marked points to close the zipper, making sure the zipper pull is between the points.

2. Hold the sweater (still inside out) from the center front zipper, fold it and lay it flat as pictured. Use a water-soluble pen or chalk to mark the shape of the pencil case (blue dotted line on picture). The shape can be anything you want, rectangular, square, rounded corners, etc, depending on the size of the sweater. Mark a seam allowance of about ¼” (red  line on picture).

3. Pin down the two layers of fabric and cut along the marked seam allowance (red line) Make sure the zipper pull is pulled to the middle of your work so you can turn it later. Stitch along marked stitch line (blue line). At zipper points, make several stitches to reinforce.

4. Turn your pencil case right side out and tidy up the edges with a pointed tool (pencil, chopstick, etc). Voilà! You’re done… start using to store school supplies, even cosmetics or electronics!

TIP: When stitching along marked stitch line (step 3) you may want to add a second stitch line just next to the first, using your machine’s zig-zag stitch. This is helpful reinforcement, specially because you’re working with a knit and your straight stitch may brake after a while.

Have fun and please share pictures of your upcycled pencil cases!

Natasha K.

*on Etsy*    

*on Facebook*    

*on Instagram*

Father's Day Printable Cards

It’s almost here, Father’s Day is around the corner! We still have a few days to prepare and to make things easier, here’s a pair of lovely printable card designs. If you already have a card have no fears, this can be a project that your kids can enjoy and make it their own. So, all the do-it-yourselfers and unique seekers out there, get your cardstock ready and let’s get to work!

You’ll need:

* Letter size cardstock in your color of choice.

* Cutting tools (cutting knife, surface and metal ruler)

* Your trusty printer!

* My printable Father’s Day card design.

* Photographs or kid’s drawings (optional)

1. Use your chosen cardstock to print out the card design. Make sure you pick a color  that is not too dark so that the design is visible. Separate the two cards by carefully cutting  across the horizontal line, right on the middle of the paper. Fold the cards down the dotted vertical line. Now you have two cards and you can write a message in the inside or proceed to step 2 (optional)

2. There are 4 angled lines on the back of the cards. Carefully use you cutting knife to cut over those lines. Make sure you don’t cut all the way to the corner edges! The cuttings will hold any picture or drawing that you insert in the card measuring 3.5” X 5” approximately. 

Kids will love making special art for the card or helping you pick fun pictures to put in there. If the card is for a new dad, your can use non-toxic paint to stamp your baby’s hand (or foot!) in the insert. Whatever you do, they’ll enjoy being involved making something that dad will treasure.

Have fun and please share pictures of your cards!

Natasha K.

*on Etsy*

*on Facebook*

PS: Don’t forget you still have a week to enter our June giveaway for a chance to get a mini plush robot! Thanks to Susan Ng for her wonderful blog post featuring my shop Jumping Birds!

 

MEET the ARTISAN: Featuring Jumping Birds© + GIVEAWAY

"MEET the ARTISAN" is a blog series that spotlights Etsy New York Team artisans and their craft. In this feature, we learn more about Natasha, the creator of Jumping Birds©

Q: What is Jumping Birds? Can you briefly describe your business for us?

A: Jumping Birds is unique goods for children and babies handcrafted one by one, with love for charming yet minimal details and construction quality. I strive to design and make items that will be enjoyed by little ones for a long time and that will stimulate their imagination.

Q: Some artisans develop their products to meet consumer needs, while others craft products based on things and/or experiences that inspire them. What is the inspiration behind your business?

A: When I design I find inspiration everywhere. Vintage children’s clothes and toys or my own daydreaming, anything sets me going. My mind is always filled with ideas (it’s a bit chaotic at times!) and eventually one of them is realized and becomes a tangible item. Also, the fact that I have shipped all around the world and the dream that one of my goodies might become a family heirloom to someone, is so encouraging! Of course, my children - always “jumping” about - are an endless source of inspiration.

Q: Oftentimes, each artisan has a different strategy and objective for their business. What are the next steps for you and your business?

A: At the moment I’m very happy with the size of my business. It allows me to come up with new designs and develop new ideas, one step at a time. I’m also enjoying doing a few local fairs whenever I can. I love talking to customers and finding out what they like. I’m hoping to be ready for wholesale in the near future and explore that side of business.

Q: As many artisans look to grow and further develop their businesses, do you have some advice that you can share with fellow artisans?

A: Whatever your craft is, make sure you’re passionate about it and that you absolutely love the making process involved. Experiment with other mediums and techniques or take a class, if possible. I think learning new things feeds my creativity and brings new inspiration. This will ultimately keep you relevant and unique.

Special thanks to Natasha for sharing with us. You can find her products showcased on her Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/JumpingBirds. And, details of her special product GIVEAWAY are below. Please enter for your chance to win one of her beautiful plush robots!

Jumping Birds© June GIVEAWAY:

June 1st is Children's Day! And, Jumping Birds© is giving away a handmade, Mini Green Plush Robot! 

A sweet little robot sure to make a statement in any child's room. This cutie can be used as nursery decoration, as a huggable plush,  throw pillow or as a soft stuffed toy (kids really enjoy playing with them!) Backed with a chevron fabric in coordinating colors.

This Giveaway is for one (1) Mini Green Plush Robot. 

APROX. MEASUREMENTS
7.5" high x 6.5" wide

Handmade of cotton/linen fabric and gently stuffed with poly-fil in her smoke-free, pet-free studio.

Like Jumping Birds© on Facebook and enter to WIN here! 

Entry period ends at 11:59pm on Monday, June 16, 2014!

 

Published by Susan Ng of Naturally Susan's


DIY: Celebrate Earth day by sprouting your own seeds

Around this time of the year, kids get to learn a lot about recycling, planting and trash clean up in celebration of Earth day. I think it’s important to let them know we must do these things all year around and Earth should be celebrated every day.

So, it doesn’t matter if you do this project on Earth day, this week or next month as long

as your kids experience the joys and wonders of watching their own seedlings emerge. Plus, they’ll get a little lesson on recycling and composting on top of it all!

You will need:

* An empty egg carton (the

molded pulp

ones, not plastic or

polystyrene)

* Potting soil

* Seeds

* Plastic wrap or bag

* Pen or pecil

* Tooth picks and paper to make labels

Tip: to make the germination process a breeze, pick seeds that germinate easily such as beans, pees, carrots, squash, cucumber and pumpkins. Hard to start seeds might not even sprout and you’ll end up having a frustrated kid!

Get started:

1. Separate the bottom part from the lid of the egg carton. Take the bottom part and poke holes in each cell using the tip of a pen or pencil.

Those will be the drainage holes. Place the lid of the egg carton under the bottom part, nesting one under the other. Now you have your seedling tray.

2. Place small amounts of soil in each cell and plant the seeds making sure the seeds are lightly covered by soil (follow package directions)

3. Water each cell. Be mindful not to over water the seeds, a spray bottle comes in handy.

4. Use tooth picks and paper to make labels.

You can also use rocks or clothes pins to label the seeds.

5. Cover your tray with plastic wrap or a bag to create greenhouse conditions.

6. Place the tray by the window and watch your seeds grow! Keep soil watered and remove the plastic wrap when the first leaves appear.

7. When your plants have more than two leaves, separate each cell and plant it directly into the ground (or pot). The pulp that the egg carton is made of will decompose and become

compost

.

Doing this project is a great way to teach kids about the importance of planting and re-planting, recycling and composting. Explain to them why we should plant trees, how you are recycling the egg carton and how it becomes plant food. Let them have fun while you guide them.

Make a photo journal, they’ll enjoy comparing the growth of the plants and making observations later on.

 I know I did when I was little and now I pass the experience on to my kids.

Natasha K.

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DIY: April showers tees

“April showers bring May flowers” or so they say. Well, I say make April showers fun with a rain inspired D.I.Y project. The weather is slowly warming up and my kids are longing for those special hours of outside play. While the clouds resisted to cooperate, we spent some time creating these great t-shirts. Kids love getting crafty, so take your little ones, nieces, nephews or cousins (or just your inner child!) and gather your supplies!

You will need:

* A pre-washed t-shirt

* Freezer paper

* Acrylic paint in colors of your choice

Textile medium

* A foam or spouncer brush

* Exacto knife

* Cardboard

* Surface for mixing colors (I use the cover of a take out container)

* April Showers stencil

1. Make your stencil. Click on the link to get the April Showers stencil. Cut a piece of freezer paper to  fit the image's 8.5" x 11" size. Feed the piece of freezer paper through the printer manually as you print the image, making sure the artwork gets printed on the dull side of the paper. Carefully cut out the drops and cloud shapes with your exacto knife. You have made your stencil.

2. Iron the stencil onto your t-shirt. Place the stencil shiny-side down on the center of the t-shirt and press with your iron on the hottest setting. Do not use steam.

3. The part the kids love, mixing colors and printing! Mix 2 parts acrylic paint/ 1 part textile medium. Textile medium is great because you can use acrylic paints to paint, stamp or print on fabric without having to spend a big budget on textile inks and your project will be washable. Place the piece of cardboard inside the t-shirt, under the stencil, so that the paint doesn’t transfer to the back. Take your sponge brush and dab it on the cloud area. Make sure you cover the whole thing. If you’re letting kids do this part, let them have fun while guiding them.

4. Move on to printing the drops. Mix different colors and dab your sponge brush. For lighter colors, you may need two coats of paint. Let the first coat dry before doing the second one.

5. Let the paint dry for at least an hour or so. Gently remove the stencil off of the t-shirt. Your stencil can be re-used a few more times so don’t throw it away!

6. Heat set the design on the fabric. Using your iron in the hottest setting, iron over the printed area for 20-30 seconds. Do not use steam. Wear and enjoy!

My kids are very happy with the results and are proudly saying “I made this”. Now they’re thinking to make them as gifts for all their friends but I’m not so sure about that... Remember to supervise children while doing this project, only adults should do steps. 1. 2. and 6.

Have fun and please share pictures of your April showers tees!

Natasha K.

*on Etsy*

*on Facebook*