Monday, January 30, 2012

Groundhog Day Finger Puppet

Groundhog Day is coming up this Thursday, and although I'd like Punxsutawney Phil to predict an early spring, it seems more likely that we'll be stuck with six more weeks of winter. (Winter never ends early in Minnesota!) Abe's a little too young to grasp the concept of Groundhog Day, but he likes finger puppets... I made this little groundhog finger puppet for him. The groundhog sits on a stick that is used to pop him in and out of his hole. Pull him off the stick and he can be used as a finger puppet. 

For the groundhog, I used a brown felt called "copper canyon," and "apple green" for the grass, both from Michael's. For the stick, I used a tongue depressor (instead of a popsicle stick) since they're longer and wider. You can find them in craft stores...or at your doctor's office.

Abe loves his little groundhog, probably because he looks a bit like Goldy Gopher... 

Only his favorite rodents get kisses!

Now as legend has it, if Phil comes out of his hole and sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. No shadow means there will be an early spring. Download the pattern and instructions here, to make your own groundhog and find out how long winter will last in your area. Then be sure to look for his shadow (or lack of) on February 2nd!

For step-by-step instructions on how to sew finger puppets, check out my holiday finger puppets pattern here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Recycled Pants

I have a hard time getting rid of pants. I mean, it's easy to donate pairs that don't fit or that I never really liked in the first place, but the ones that I love and wear until they're falling apart are the ones I tend to hang on to. Once they've reached that point - where they're unfit to pass on to somebody else - it seems a little sad to just throw them out. 

My pants usually wear out at the knees first, but these guys had a couple tears around the pockets and a huge rip up the back of the leg. Luckily, baby legs are considerably shorter than full grown ones (even short legs like mine), so I was able to turn my much loved corduroys into a cute pair of pants for my little guy!

Since I was making these for Abe, I decided to throw caution to the wind and use contrasting orange thread, instead of a boring beige that would blend in (and hide my mistakes). Luckily, there weren't too many mistakes, and the orange thread looks adorable on the back pockets. I love a little baby butt with pockets!

I basically followed this tutorial (from MADE) for sewing baby pants, which even shows you how to create your own pattern from an existing pair of pants - which is what I did.

One of the places I strayed from her directions was in cutting out my pattern. I decided to keep the outer seam intact, so instead of cutting out four pattern pieces, I lined up the outer edge of my "pattern", with the outer seam on my corduroys, and ended up with two pattern pieces that were exactly the same. 

I also wanted to add pockets, so I cut two small pieces for pockets and hemmed the top. Once I had the back seam finished, I folded the edges of the pocket under about 1/4 inch, pinned, and sewed them directly to the back of the pants. I eyeballed the placement so they're not perfect, but who's going to notice on a toddler who rarely stops moving.

Keeping the original outer leg seam made my job that much easier, and makes these pants look almost professional. Notice the raw edge on my hem. If it's not going to show, or fray too much, I usually just leave my edges raw. I'm sure he'll outgrow these before my laziness becomes issue. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Heart Stamps

Last night Abe had his first swimming lesson. He loved it so much he's been asking me for a bath ever since! I don't mind letting him splash in the tub to his heart's content, but I figured we should get a little messy first, so...I grabbed an empty toilet paper roll, some red paint, and a handful of blank cards, and we were ready to make Valentines!

I started by flattening the cardboard tube so it had a crease on two sides.

Then I pushed one crease inward to make a heart, and wrapped a piece of tape around the tube to help the heart hold it's shape.

I poured a little red paint on a plate and dipped one end in the paint...

...then I handed it to Abe and let him have fun!  

He really enjoyed seeing the "schips" (shapes) appear on the paper.

We ended up with four cute cards to send to family and friends, and enough paint on his hands, face, and in his hair to require a nice long bath. I'd say mission accomplished.

Abe tried fingerpainting for the first time last Valentine's Day when we made cards for his grandparents. For those cards, I made a heart stencil from construction paper and laid it on top of a blank card. I poured some red and white paint on the card and let him mix them up. When we pulled the stencil off there was a pretty painted heart on the card. Super easy (and super cute) Valentine's Day craft for babies!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

DIY Photo on Canvas

I have a stack of canvas and stretcher bars in my basement that I bought back in college. I've been meaning to do something with them, and have been looking for a good tutorial on how to transfer photos to canvas. Most of the tutorials I found required special materials I don't normally have laying around the house (and will never use again), or needed an image printed on tissue paper. Printing on tissue paper wasn't the kind of living-on-the-edge experience I wanted to try, especially since I just got a new printer that actually seems to like me! (More about my love/hate relationship with my old printer here.) Then I realized that I also have a bunch of iron-on transfer paper. Canvas is fabric, right?

You'll need:

Ink Jet Printer
Staple Gun
Paint Brush

I opted to use dark transfer paper this time around, but I'm sure this would work equally well with regular transfer paper. (I'll let you know when I try it.) *** Update - see the canvases I made using regular transfer paper here.*** Read all directions that come with your paper carefully before starting!

I started by printing a photo (this one was taken with my phone using the free Retro Camera app for Android) directly onto transfer paper. My printer can print borderless prints, so after trimming I ended up with an 8½ x 8½ inch print. I used 9 inch stretcher bars, but 8 inch bars should give you similar results if your printer doesn't do borderless prints.

Lay a towel or pillowcase on a wooden cutting board or other solid heat-proof surface. Peel the backing off your printed image (if using dark transfer paper) and lay it on the canvas. Cover it with a piece of parchment paper (comes with the transfer paper), and iron for 3 minutes.

Let it cool for 2 minutes before slowly peeling off the parchment paper. If any of the image peels up with the paper, lay it back down and iron a little bit longer.

Once the image is transferred to the canvas, put together the frame. Wrap the canvas around the frame centering the image on front, then flip it over and start stapling.

Staple the canvas to the back of the frame, pulling it taut as you go.

Do the corners last, wrapping the fabric around the edge and laying it as flat as possible on the back. 

Trim any excess fabric on the back. I went a little overboard with staples. One every 2-3 inches should be plenty!

I used a 9x9 inch frame which left a white border around my 8½ inch print. Since the decorative edge on my photo was the same color as the canvas, I just left it to blend in with the border. If you prefer, use a smaller frame or acrylic paint to hide the edges.

Go over the entire canvas with a couple coats of Mod Podge. Not entirely necessary, but it dries clear adding brush strokes to your "painting" and a giving it a protective coating.

Hang it up and enjoy! This was so quick and easy I'm already planning to make a bunch more...

Friday, January 6, 2012

DIY Calendar

I've always found it fascinating to watch how kids' drawing and writing skills develop. They start by scribbling, and before you know it, are able to make carefully controlled marks and eventually shapes, letters, and more. I wish my mom had saved some of my early artwork, but it's too late for me. Not too late for my son though... 

Abe has finally gotten past the point where giving him a crayon meant wiping chewed up bits of crayon out of his mouth three seconds later, so he found a lovely box of crayons in his stocking this Christmas. He enjoys scribbling, and finding this calendar for my calendar post the other day gave me an idea.

I printed out a blank calendar and let him scribble on the first page. Every month I'll give him a new page to color on, and by the end of the year we'll have a sweet collection of his little drawings...and a record of how his drawing skills have changed and progressed. 

My little brother used to draw faces where the smile went from eye to eye. When I was a kid, my E's had so many lines in the middle that they looked like little combs. For some reason I look forward to things like that.

Every kid is different, so I can't wait to see where Abe's little box of crayons leads him. Until then, we'll just admire his latest masterpieces one day at a time. 

I circled the date that he made this one, and popped the whole stack of blank pages into an empty CD case. When the year is over I'll probably tie them together with a ribbon to make a little book.

If you want to start this project on your own, download a blank calendar here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Out with the old, in with the new...

For the last few years I've gotten a desk calendar in my Christmas stocking (courtesy of Mrs. Claus). I love pretty little calendars, but feel like I'm wasting perfectly good artwork by only displaying one month at a time. By hanging the whole thing on the fridge, I add a nice pop of color to my small kitchen and have a calendar handy whenever I need to look up a date!

Last year I bought this desk calendar from Gallardoworks on Etsy. I wanted something bright and colorful again, so this year I went with another botanical calendar...

...this time from Modern Printed Matter by Anna Cote.

I cut little squares from a role of magnetic tape and stuck them on the back of the calendar pages.

Then I hung them on the fridge. Super easy, fairly cheap, and so pretty! Now I just need to hang some pictures on my walls...

Need a calendar for your fridge? In addition to the one I bought, I also liked this flora & fauna one from Modern Printed Matter. A gorgeous photo calendar (from Shannon Blue Photography) is never a bad option. Paisley Tree Press has this lovely letterpress one on sale for only $3.00, and this printable flower silhouette calendar from Paperchoke would look like letterpress if you print it on fine art paper. Ruby Red Design Studio has some gorgeous black and white calendars, including this one with vintage animal etchings.

Can't find one you love? Make your own with a DIY desk calendar from PaperSource!