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.


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.


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.




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


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.


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!


* 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.




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 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. 

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