Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sock Monkey!

I got it in my head last Christmas that Charlie needed a sock monkey. Not just any sock monkey but a PINK one. It's not perfect but it's cute (and a little scary) anyway.

Basic instructions

The socks to make the monkeys can be pricey but you CAN do this with regular old socks! It won't look like an "official" sock monkey, but your kid will probably like it better with personal flair.

Any old sock monkey

It looks like it takes a long time to do but it came together surprisingly fast.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Felt food, post 3

Felt food posts 1 and 2.

For mashed potatoes and gravy, cut 2 oval shapes from beige felt and machine stitch completely around the perimeter. Then cut a small slit in one side, turn the potatoes right side out, stuff with filling, and hand-stitch the hole closed, much like you do with the pizza from post 2. Then free-hand some gravy from light brown felt and hand-stitch it to the potatoes, covering the closed hole.

For strawberries, I used a tutorial like this one. The only difference is, I used a half circle, rather than one that extends a bit. It was easier to trace a large circle, then cut it out and cut it in half. I used french knots for the seeds.

I can't seem to find the tutorial I used for the popsicle, but it's pretty easy. You make two popsicle shapes, machine stitch all around, all but the straight edge at the bottom. Turn right side out, then stitch across bottom with the stick in place (stitch right through the stick!). You can turn the edges in for a cleaner look. The tutorial I used had a "creamsicle" made with orange felt and little white peeking through at the bottom. It was too cute!

Eggs are crazy easy. Just draw your egg shape and a small circle for the yolk. Cut them out onto white and yellow felt (cut 2 white pieces). Stitch the yolk to one white piece and stuff a tiny bit of filling in right before you finish so it puffs up a bit. Then stitch the white pieces together, stuffing with filling right before you finish stitching.

For "California mix" veggies, make a small clover-shaped pattern for the broccoli and cauliflower and cut 6 pieces each from green and white, then cut 6 small circles for the carrots. Stitch 2 pieces together for each carrot. When you do the broccoli and cauliflower stitch two pieces together, then stuff them just a tiny bit before finishing.

I Spy bag

I've made one of these for Adrian, but the picture is really crappy, so I'll spare you. Rest assured though, that this is tried and true...kids love them!

You can use poly fill beads, or anything like rice or small beans. Any type of dry food will get icky and swell if it gets wet though, so if you can, spring for the beads for durability.

A link

Another link

And another link

Yet another one

Sensory box

You don't have to be crafty to make this! You just need a box with a tight-fitting lid, some dry food, and some cups, spoons, shovels, ect. I went through my cupboards one day and realized I had a lot of old food, plus some regular pasta I didn't know what to do with (I was switching over to whole wheat pasta), so I dumped it into a box and let Adrian play with it. Eventually I gave him "utensils" to dig with. He was a happy little guy! Then I realized this is a "real" thing and even has a name....a sensory box! They use them at the daycare where I work, mostly just with dried pasta though (I used beans, barley, split peas, ect as well). It's good, messy fun so you may want to put down a table cloth, or be prepared to sweep afterward.


Tangrams are fun for everyone, not just kids. You can get a basic pattern here. Then you can look for printable puzzles online, or you can check out a tangram book from the library. For younger kids, giving them the "answer" sheet to begin with is a good start. It gets them familiar with how the pieces fit together. Then they can start trying to figure them out on their own. Adrian started playing with them at age 4 1/2 and now at almost 6, he's starting to try to do the puzzles himself, rather than look at the answer sheet. He also loves coming up with his own designs.

I made mine with craft foam sheets. I added magnets to the back. You could make them out of anything though, from simply cutting the paper you printed the pattern on, to crafting a fine set out of wood (I've seen these and they are gorgeous!). For a magnetic set, you need to make 2 parallelograms, one flipped, or else you won't be able to do all of the designs. Just don't forget to leave out the unneeded parallelogram when you do the design!

Here is Adrian and his favorite tangram, a cat! (You can see the extra parallelogram off to the left there)

Wall organizers

Now your kids need someplace to put all those cool toys you made! I'm sure it's cheaper just to buy organizers at the store (I recently found some small ones at the Dollar Tree for $1), but these are just too cute! The first one I've shown has see-through vinyl pockets. The second one has cloth pockets. Whatever floats your boat. This is a straightforward project. Use 2 pieces of fabric turned and top-stitched to create the main part (don't forget to add loops to hang it with!), then add pockets in any way you desire. If you use vinyl, you may need to put tissue paper in between the material and the foot of the machine. I added some binding around the edges of the vinyl to make it easier to sew on.

Character puppets

Character puppets are pretty easy. You can sew them or glue them together. I prefer to sew of course, although on the Cookie Monster and Elmo puppets, I did the face with glue. If you want to sew the puppets, it's nifty to know that you can sew right through the wooden sticks. I sewed the felt to the sticks with the machine, then hand-stitched the rest of it.

You don't have to be an awesome artist to do these. I can't draw to save my life but I was able to do these free-hand with a little trial and error. You could also print out basic pictures of the characters and use that as a template to get everything "just right".

I'm going to attempt Hello Kitty next and maybe Spongebob as well. I think the trick is to pick characters that aren't extremely detailed. Although, you could certainly attempt the detailed ones, if you are just that talented. ;-)