Tuesday, 20 June 2017

A Classic - Painted Butterflies

We did an old favourite at Toddler Group yesterday. We painted, folded, squished and printed onto A4 paper before cutting the wings out and peeling the paper open. We stuck the bodies on with double-sided sticky tape then added a couple of Baker Ross' finest eye stickers. These make an excellent alternative to googly eyes when working with young children. They're always incredibly popular at Toddler Group. Everyone loves a sticker!

Jess made four of them! This one is my personal favourite...

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Adapting a Favourite

I have raved about these suncatcher kits from Hobbycraft before but we gave them a twist today. There was some great fine motor skills going on here as Jessica used pipettes to paint the mandala suncatcher.

She delighted in the sound effects and the bubbles. Her delicate squeezes meant, unlike me, she didn't pick up and expel all of the paint in one go so the craft wasn't over in a flash either. It's almost certainly not what was intended by the designers but I love it. 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Ice Cream Anyone?

I took this idea from a very good friend of mine a while ago (thanks, Preet!) and Jessica has played with our set so much that we thought we'd make a set for her preschool. Each scoop of ice cream is a scrunched up A5 piece of construction paper. The flakes are straws wrapped in construction paper and the strawberry sauce are lengths of wool. I made cones from brown construction paper and then covered them in self-adhesive gold foil, which I love, from Home Bargains. We have also made them a set of ice lollies like the ones I shared last week too. So cheap yet there are hours and hours of fun to be had with them.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Toilet Roll Dragon Marionette

Introducing "Fire", Jessica's fire-breathing dragon marionette made from two toilet roll tubes. I wanted to give her spikes on her back but Jessica would not sanction it. She's too friendly for spikes apparently...

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Tacky Tie Cards

We're making Father's Day cards at Toddler Group tomorrow. Having used quite a lot of paint and glue recently I thought we'd go mess-free this time so we're going to be making tacky ties using sticky-backed plastic and tissue paper. I've double folded each card and cut out a tie aperture in each. The children will cut or rip the tissue paper and stick it onto the contact paper before mounting it in the middle of the card. I love them. Here are Jessica's attempts...

Tuesday, 6 June 2017


When I collected Jessica from preschool today I was told that she'd been making pretend lollipops and delivering them to everyone this afternoon. This reminded me of a lovely activity I had seen someone do with their kids back in March (thanks for the inspiration, Liz!). I'd made a mental note to do it with Jess back then but somehow never got around to it. With the rain pounding down, today seemed to be a great time to give it a go.

I cut out the shapes and then left her to decorate them while I got on with dinner. Unusually, she didn't go too over the top on this occasion! She does love her stickers.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Simple Pinafore Dress

I won't attempt to explain how I go about making these pinafores because I don't follow a pattern and I essentially make it up as I go along but I do enjoy making them and Jess is always thrilled with the results. I fully line her dresses and use snaps on the shoulders as fastenings. 

As usual I have managed to make this significantly too big but last year's dress still fits at the moment so I should imagine that she'll still be wearing this crazy cat dress next year.

One day I will tackle a pattern and learn how to use those dreaded paper templates. One day...

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Painting with Allium Seed-heads

This was SO much fun! I couldn't sit and look at the wonky allium seed-heads any longer so we cut them down between storms yesterday and played. These wonderful things were wands, hockey sticks and finally paint brushes. So much fun!

She rolled, smacked, rubbed, you name it. I know it's all about the process and we did have a lot of fun but I love the finished piece of artwork too.

The used seed-heads are beautiful and we've put them to dry in the conservatory. I'm hoping that the whole thing will dry out without wilting but I've never grown them before so we shall have to wait and see. 

Friday, 2 June 2017

Toddler skirt

Jessica chose this fabric from a lovely little shop in Wanstead and it's been sitting around waiting for me to do something with it. At a loose end last night I decided to make her a skirt so I sneaked into her bedroom, took a few measurements and then hit the sewing machine. 

This is a simple skirt made from a rectangle of fabric. Jessica's waist currently measures 20 inches so I cut a rectangle 40 inches by 12 inches plus a little extra for seaming on the length. I double folded and pressed the bottom seam before stitching. This ensured that I had no raw edges on the occasionally visible bottom seam of the skirt. At the top I made a single deep fold and secured it on the machine before feeding a 20 inch length of elastic through the length of the rectangle. I stitched the elastic at both ends of the skirt with the excess fabric ruffled in between. Finally I stitched the two short edges together to form the skirt and here it is...

I couldn't wait for the morning to see if it fitted so I sneaked back in (terrible mother!) and put it on her. Thankfully it was a good fit with plenty of room for her to grow in it too.

She doesn't look like it here but I assure you she was really excited to wear it today. She loves wearing dresses but she's only ever had a skirt once before believe it or not. I'm going to be making a whole lot more I think.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Painting Pots

When the sun shines but you fancy a bit of painting why not paint some plant pots? Who cares if they're old and are already planted up? The acrylics dried up super quickly mind you - I gave up using a palette in the end and just squirted straight from tube to brush! Jessica added some lovely colour to her pot that she's growing wild flowers in. As you can see, she was a little heavy handed with the seed so we'll just have to wait and see if anything manages to flower! I chose to decorate my Hebe pot with a cute little owl. Twit-twoo!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Paper Bead Necklace

In an idle few minutes on Friday afternoon when I had given in and finally let Jessica watch some telly I decided to make a handful of paper beads from some old Good Food magazines that I had lying around. I was very haphazard about it and didn't bother marking out or measuring; I just wanted something to keep my hands and mind occupied for a while. They worked just about as well as when I have measured them carefully and it was quite liberating to be less precise about it to be honest. So I cut out some triangles from two adverts in the magazine and rolled them up around a wooden skewer (start from the base of the triangle) before brushing some acrylic varnish on them to secure. 

Once Jessica was able to tear herself away from CBeebies she was very keen to commandeer my beads and make herself a necklace. I usually use a cocktail stick to wind around but the wooden skewers made it much easier for Jess to thread the beads with her elastic and plastic needle.

She definitely didn't order them as I would have done but it's her necklace so her choice. This is one of the things I find challenging, particularly when working with my own child. It's so tempting to meddle in the creative process of children but it teaches them nothing positive and potentially gives them lasting insecurities. As I have mentioned before, it's all about the process and not the end product. 

Besides, she thinks it's brilliant and I have to admit, it does look pretty good on her!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Fairy Wings and Wand (Home Bargains Kits)

At under £1 per kit I did not have high expectations for these kits from Home Bargains but they were brilliant. I have nothing to grumble about at all. The instructions were clear, the decorations were plentiful and Jessica loved having a tube of glitter glue in each. The body of the items are foam so they should last reasonably well too. 

The wings required no assembly and putting the wand together was very straightforward. I would happily buy these again and again. The kits contained a strip of double sided tape for attaching the jewels to the foam but this is fiddly and experience has taught me that toddlers usually think of glitter glue as more of a glue that a decoration anyway so Jess just stuck the jewels on top of her blobs of glitter glue and that worked well. 

 That's one seriously happy crafter!

Friday, 19 May 2017

Salt Dough Hedgehog

In amongst my substantial stash of seed beads I have a good number of bugle beads. While playing with the salt dough and beads making the snails that I posted about yesterday, Jessica pushed some bugle beads into the dough, which gave me the inspiration for this little fellow...

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Salt Dough Snails

Our garden is full of shells we've collected. I won't tell a lie, it's mainly my obsession but Jessica does help me out a little with the beach combing and then she enjoys playing with them at home. Yesterday afternoon we were sat in the garden wondering what to do when inspiration struck. We decided to try making a family of salt dough snails! 

We used seed beads for eyes and baked the creatures for just over an hour at 150 degrees Celsius. They're a bit clumsy but they were fun to make and I have no doubt that Jessica will have a lot of fun playing with them. She already wants to make them a home (I have told her that snails live in their shells but she says these are special ones). These would be great decorated with acrylics too but we'll keep these one natural I think.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Masking Tape Mummy

Here's a nice simple one that we're going to be doing at Toddler group next week. It's a bit random but I like how easy it is. Even the little ones should get great results sticking the masking tape on as bandages. I came across this on No Time for Flashcards but it would appear to be a popular choice amongst kids crafters.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Buddleja or Lilac Collage

This piece of Jessica artwork was inspired by a beautiful card I received for my birthday (thank you, Katie!). I'm afraid to say that she liked it so much that she started writing her name on it (sorry, Katie!) before I could get a photo of it for here...

Katie's card is embossed and then she has filled each circle in the design with various jewels and studs. It's stunning and gave me the idea to do a collage with Jess. I can't decide whether we've created a lilac or buddleja flower but either way I love it! I drew the general shape and punched out a whole load of circles then Jess got to work with her glue and stickers. She decided she liked them overlapping so we have a really full head of flowers. It was a great preschool craft. Thank you for the inspiration, Katie.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Happy Birthday to me!

There is something incredibly indulgent about making your own birthday cake and spending a decent amount of time decorating it. I suppose that's only true when you enjoy doing it but I definitely felt like I was indulging myself when putting this together on Friday. Jessica helped me to make the cake and then requested that I decorate it with cats so I followed the instructions in my favourite cake decorating book by Debbie Brown to make the models of Queequeg and Monty (Dad's cats). The muzzles are a bit big but I think they're still pretty cute. 

I definitely struggled making two cats at the same time as the icing kept getting too warm and sticky. I use edible glue to put the pieces together and half a cocktail stick in each tail. The cake itself was a standard sponge filled with Tiptree's seedless raspberry jam and lemon curd and crumb coated with butter cream. Yum yum!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Batik Quilt

I decided to make a patchwork quilt from our batik printed pieces. It's only big enough for Jessica's toys but she is thrilled with it. This is only my second attempt at quilting and I used the offcuts of wadding from my first project, which made it slightly more challenging than it needed to be. There are four pieces inside and they don't quite cover the whole area of the quilt. 

I need to admit that I didn't measure anything and so there definitely are plenty of flaws in it but it's just for play and I'm quite proud of it. Here's a look at the unconventional quilting on the reverse and a closer look at the quilted details on some of the batik pieces.

Having said it's only big enough for her toys, here is Jessica trying it out. It seems it's just perfect to playing Sleeping Bunnies...

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Melting Bead Accessories

Meet Lenny the Ring-tailed Lemur. He came home with us from our holidays this spring. He's a lovely fellow, full of character but until this weekend he was missing something. What he really needed was a melted bead bow-tie. Wouldn't you agree?!

Actually, Jessica did not. She has confiscated the bow-tie and given it to Flopsy to wear as a hairband. I don't mind this but I do think she would have preferred a more feminine piece.

Ok, I shall be a little more serious now. This all came about because I fancied trying something different with my beads and saw a post about making bracelets on Red Ted Art from a few years ago. Maggy's tutorial is very clear so I won't go into too many details myself but because I was making these for a tiny 3 year old's wrist I used a small hexagonal peg board and shaped the hot beads around a toilet roll! Attaching elastic to the back of them is a great idea and they look brilliant on but Jessica's wrists were feeling camera shy I'm afraid.

I can't honestly say how long they will last before they get snapped but I did melt the beads pretty well on both sides so we'll see. I now fear that a whole host of Jessica's soft toys may start putting in requests for melted bead jewellery. Still, it's something a bit different!

In the interests of being honest, I should point out that I don't actually use Hama beads anymore. I source my melting beads from Hobbycraft these days. They sell their own version of "Picture beads" and I only ever buy them when they are half price (which is fairly frequently) when I can get 10,000 beads for £5. These are completely compatible with Hama peg boards and although the beads melt slightly faster than genuine Hama ones I have not been disappointed at all.

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