03 December 2012

Recyled Christmas Tree Ornaments

More Christmas ornaments made from recycling:

A stellated dodecahedron using the printable from Mini Eco. I started by gluing two sheets of the junk mail paper together to give it extra strength. With Mr 5 helping it took us less than an hour.

I love the patterns from the inside of the old envelopes on these ones.

So simple even a 3y/o can manage this one.

And the link to my tutorial on chocolate wrapper pompoms.

30 November 2012

Recycled Christmas Pompoms

Mr 5's school class are making a Christmas tree decorated entirely in things made from recycled material. Here's a tutorial for some chocolate wrapper pompoms I came up with.

Take 2 empty chocolate wrappers.

 Cut them in half.

Pile them together and use a small piece of sticky tape at each end to stop them from getting away from you.

Carefully cut small slits on each side of the wrapper. The slits need to stop just before the centre line (so that you don't end up with many small strips of wrapper).

Roll the wrappers up.

Tie them up with a piece of string or wool, pulling them together as tight as you can.

Fluff them up, and they're ready to hang!

25 November 2012

Christmas Tree Craft

I needed something for the kids to do last week, and so we made our own paper Christmas tree which the kids decorated with stickers. They had such fun, I thought I'd draw one up that I could use for playgroup craft. I thought I'd share the printable tree for anyone else looking for a super easy Christmas craft. Just print it off and find some cheap little Christmas stickers. Alternatively draw your own on a large sheet of paper.

Free printables:

25 October 2012


Anyone searching for a great rainy day boredom buster for the kids, I have to recommend making a kaleidocycle folding paper toy (MiniEco has ever so kindly posted a free printable, instructions and a little movie of how it works). It's absolutely mesmerising, and so easy to make, Mr 5 and Miss 3 had a great time colouring in their own versions.

23 October 2012

Felt Super Hero Armbands

I wanted to make a present for Mr 5's teacher who is going on maternity leave. I had planned to make a taggy toy, but then I saw her receive a half a dozen soft toys from other people in the class, and decided that something for her 3y/o son would be more useful. These were super simple to make. In total designing, cutting and sewing took 45 minutes.

 I measured around Miss 3's wrist and left a gap of about 3cm for the elastic. This gave me a fabric size of approx. 12cm x 8cm.

I cut two rectangles, one of felt, and the other of fleece. The fleece square was half a cm bigger on each side, this meant that when it got a bit misaligned due to stretching when sewing, I could just trim the fleece and it looked neat again. The fleece should be nice and soft on little arms.

I cut a few other felt shapes to make them look interesting and then sewed everything together. The elastic (about 5cm long) was a little fiddly to sew on the second end, but I just pinned it in place and took extra care I wasn't sewing bits together that weren't meant to be sewed together.

Here's hoping the little boy likes them!

14 October 2012


I was looking for some ideas to use for craft at Playgroup. It had to be mess free due to our venue for the week. I melded a couple of ideas, and came up with this:

It's very easy. Cut a circle in a paper plate. Punch holes around the edge of the circle. Tie a length of wool to one hole. Put some sticky tape around the other end of the wool (makes it stiffer and easier to thread). Colour around the edge of the plate. Thread the wool through the holes.

The by product is the circle cut from the middle of the plate. That can also be used  for some more threading and drawing as Miss 3 showed here:

At playgroup the kids (ages 1 to 4) all seemed to enjoy it. Some only wanted to colour, others only wanted to weave. Some even turned their masterpiece into a kite (tied a string onto it).

05 October 2012

Airplane Activity Tray, Take 2

So I thought I'd have a second go at the airplane activity tray to go on the tray table of the plane. This should help the kids keep occupied on our upcoming long haul flights, and help to stop toys, pens, pages, forks etc. making a dash for the floor.

I had been eying off the vinyl table cloth in the shop with roads on it, but it was so expensive, and I already had perfectly good plastic at home... so I decided to turn the trays over and draw my own road. My own? Well, a bit of a co-operative effort with the kids.

Here's how I did it:

A piece of vinyl (I used an old kids splash mat) 32cm x 50cm.
4 pieces of something more firm (I used some laminated paper). 2 need to be 3cm x 24.8cm, and the second 2 are 3cm x 21cm.
Some elastic and some velcro.

Measure 2 cm from the corners, draw a triangle and cut it off. This makes the corner less bulky when folded.

Turn the plastic over, measure half way along the long edge. Place the two shorter strips of laminated paper 1cm from the edge and close to the centre line (but not overlapping so you can fold the tray in half to store/carry). Use sticky tape to hold it in place.

Sew it down, folding over the plastic as you go.

Position the longer laminated paper strips on the short side of the plastic. They should be about 1cm from the edge, but take care that they are corner to corner with the strips you've already sewed on, without overlapping. See the fine read lines in the picture above for my attempt to show this. If they overlap, you won't be able to neatly fold up the sides of the tray.

To make the front edge of the tray, take a small left over strip of plastic (about 3cm x 21cm) and roll it into a small roll (or something else soft, on my first version I used wadding, but it was a bit messy). Tape it in place on the front edge, again leaving a gap at the centre line for folding. Fold over the front edge about 1.5cm and sew it down.

Cut small strip of elastic about 5cm long. Sew one end on the inside of the tray, close to the end of laminated paper strip. I did it on the side wall, but it would also work on the back wall. Sew the other end to the back of the tray at the other edge of the laminated paper strip.

When you assemble the tray, pinch the corner into a triangle and tuck it under the elastic. 

On the front side of the tray, fold over the corner and sew down (it would have been slightly better to sew right down to the corner like I did first time). Sew a 3cm strip of elastic across the end of the laminated paper strip.

When you fold this corner it, it makes a little triangle that can be slipped under the elastic.

To attach the tray to the plane tray table, I sewed on 4 strips of elastic to the back side. I sewed them slightly inside the laminated paper strips. This makes them on slightly inside the edge of the bottom area of the tray when assembled. (This means if the plane tray table is slightly smaller than expected the activity tray should still sit nicely.) Sew the elastic strips so they are pointing outwards. Sew a rectangle of velcro (hook and loop) to the other end of each piece of elastic.

I decided this would be best because:
1. it seemed simple to do, 
2. it gave me two ends so I could adjust the length of the straps a bit to cater for different sized tables, 
3. I can open them up and twist them around the back arms to the tray table if needed and 
4. I can open them up and push them to the side if I want to use the activity tray on a train or table.

Finished the sewing, now to decorate.

First I roughed out the outline using lead pencil. I only had a black and a red permanent marker in house, so I used them (Mr 5 insisted the roads should be red on his). I then used an eraser to remove any unwanted pencil lines.

We then found (after trying all the felt tipped pens and finding they all rubbed off) that pencil coloured in beautifully, and wouldn't wipe off with a wet cloth (although can mostly be rubbed off with an eraser), and so the kids could add some extra colour to the pictures.

01 October 2012

Busy Roll Tutorial

I made a couple more busy rolls recently, and I'm really quite chuffed with how they turned out. These are an idea I came up with, sort of like a busy book or a quiet book, but only one page that can be rolled up and put in your handbag and then used when you're out for coffee or doing your groceries. You could put any activity you like on them, or have a couple of different rolls that you rotate through to keep your toddler interested. I filled the pockets with finger puppets, but you could put anything in that you think would interest your child; little cars, animals, dolls etc.

** Please note that there are small items on this, if they were to come loose, they could be a choking hazard.

So here's the tutorial:

1. Collect together some fabric scraps. 
I've used: 
a 20cm zip, 
2 larger rectangles of fabric, approx. 24cm x 30cm for the main body, 
2 smaller pieces of fabric approx. 24cm x 10cm for pockets, 
a strip of felt approx 24cm long and an inch wide, 
2 small pieces of felt to use at pocket flaps, maybe 3 x 1.5 inches. 
about 60cm of ribbon, 
3 buttons,
some velcro,
some string,
and some beads.

2. Lay the bits and pieces out and sort them until you're happy with the layout. Sew hems on the top of the pockets, and fold the bottom of the top pocket under and iron a crease into it.

3. Sew the zip to the top of the pocket.
4. Thread the beads onto the string and tie a firm knot in the string, making a loop long enough to go twice across your main fabric.

5. Cut slits on your long strip of felt. They need to be wide enough for your button to fit through, and should be spaced approx. 1 inch apart.

6. Sew a seam down the middle of you bottom pocket, fixing it to your large piece of fabric.

7. Sew a square of velcro/ hook and loop onto one side of the bottom pocket, and a matching square onto one of the felt pocket flaps.

8. Sew the two pocket flaps in place.

9. Sew a button onto the other side of the bottom pocket, and cut a slit through the pocket flap large enough for the button to fit through.

10. Sew a strip of ribbon on, sewing it down every inch or so. 
11. Sew the string firmly to the fabric, such that one half of the string winds its way back and forth under the ribbon, and the other half forms a straight line to the other side of the fabric.

12. Sew the top side of the zip down, and the bottom side of the zip pocket.
13. Sew a button firmly onto a piece of ribbon which is approx 30cm (i.e. longer than your fabric is wide).
14. Sew the ribbon and felt strip in place.

15. Sew a small strip of ribbon to the top of your fabric, with the loop pointing down (I forgot to do this before the next step, hence the shot looking inside the inverted busy roll).

16. Place your backing material over your fabric with all the activities on it, right sides facing in. Pin and sew together. leaving a hand sized gap at the bottom.

16. Turn right sides out, and roll it up to find the right spot to sew a large button on the backing fabric. The top loop will hook over this button to keep the roll closed.

17. Sew the bottom of the fabric together.

18. Finished!

If you make your own, I'd love to hear about it.
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