24 September 2012

Restaurant Bag/ Travel Activity Bag

We are planning on doing some travelling this year, including a long haul flight or two, and a wedding, and a few more trips of 6+ hours, with a 3 and 5 year old. 

I previously made a tray to go on a plane tray table, and I'd been planning on making a bag that would hang on the back side of the tray. In the end I decided not to go with that for a few reasons: I think that doing a bit of bending and stretching for a bag under a seat every few hours would probably do our circulation some good, I don't think the passenger in the seat in front of us wants a bag full of books banging against the back of their chair, the chair is too far away for kids to easily reach, and I want something a bit more versatile that can be used as a restaurant bag as well.

What I did want:
A zip! So I can be sure that nothing precious is going to escape from the bag while it's under a seat.
A bag big enough to fit a large activity book or colouring book easily.
Potentially a bag that's big enough to quickly stuff every loose animal, car, and pack of tissues into it at the end of a flight.
A shoulder strap which can also be used to hook the bag over the corner of a restaurant chair.

I'm not an amazing sewer, in fact I'm very new to zips and they tend to scare me a bit. But here's what I did. If you've got a suggestion for how it can be done better, just add a comment. :)

1. Cut a piece of material a couple of inches bigger on all sides than the book or folder you want to fit in there. The zip in the picture is 30cm. Cut a strip about 10cm x 70cm for the shoulder strap.

2. Fold over the top seam and iron in place.

3. Fold over the side seam (both front and back fabric together) and iron.
 4. Fold the two sides in for the shoulder strap, and then fold it in half along the length. Iron.

5. Pin the zip to one side of the top and sew in place. Make sure the outside of the zip faces the outside of your fabric. 

6. Sew only up to where you earlier ironed in the side seam crease (mark this spot with a pin if it's a bit tricky to see)

7. Sew the other side of the zip on.

8. Sew up the side seams to the top

9. Sew the handle together on the open side, and then sew the handle onto the back side of the bag.

10. Admire your work!

In the end I couldn't resist adding a little pocket. It's just big enough for a little pencil box, but mostly I just did it for looks.

23 September 2012

Home Made Weather Station

This was a super activity to start the school holidays with. Mr 5 is doing lots of weather at school, and loving it, and so they were both very keen to make their own weather station . We got the free printables from Mr Printables, I laminated them (with the thought they'd be up for a while and probably revisited when Miss 3 does weather at school), and then I did most of the cutting out and assemblng while the kids ran around the house imagining all sorts of wild weather.

The chart leaves you with a pile of cards for the "Today is" section. The kids have been keen to learn how to use my sewing machine, so they both sewed super simple bags for the extra cards, and then stapled the bag to the chart.


Making a Thaumatrope is a fun little activity perfect for a rainy day or holiday. All you need is some paper, sticks (I used kitchen skewers) and a bit of imagination. 

The classic picture is a bird and a cage. Draw the bird on one piece of paper, a bird cage on another and stick them together around a stick. When you spin the stick, the two pictures seem to merge together and the bird appears to be in the cage.

I tried a few more, a face and some face paint, and a tree and it's leaves. Miss 3 concentrated on her passions: butterflies and rainbows.

16 September 2012

Nature Prints in Air Dry Clay

I had some air dry clay left over from another project and wanted to give some nature prints a go. I remember seeing them previously here. Now that I look at them and compare them again, I see that my edges are more rustic. But they were definitely fun to make, and should work nicely for a Christmas tree ornament or piece of jewelry. Next time I'd like to try this recipe for home-made air dry clay. Just as soon as I figure out what school glue is, and where to buy it.

Miss 3 also enjoyed this craft and had great fun making her own circles and impressions. We rolled a small ball of clay in our hands, and then pressed it flat using a milk bottle top. We put the leaf on the clay and again pushed it in using the milk bottle top. We poked a hole using a toothpick and then left them to dry.

Once dry they could be painted. They could also be used to make some interesting rubbing drawings.

Rose Headband

We had an artificial rose lying around, and I thought I'd make Miss 3 a new headband. Quick and simple. I made a tube of white satin to fit around some elastic (about 1.5 times as long as the elastic.) I turned it right side out and threaded the elastic into the tube. I sewed the elastic together and then tucked the ends of the satin in and sewed it together.

I sewed a small circle of white felt onto the satin (through the elastic). The felt bonds nicely with hot melt glue. I then cut the bottom of the rose off so it was flat, and glued it in place. A few of the layers of the rose seemed to be a little loose, and so I added some hot melt glue where ever it looked like it was needed.

Pretty, comfy and practical.

11 September 2012

Homemade Playdoh

So it's just home-made play dough, but I love how the colours turned out. At first I tried a jelly crystals recipe, but then I realised I was making something that was full of sugar, and so I started again using gelatin crystals instead (same idea but without sugar and flavour).

09 September 2012

Paper Houses and Paddlepop Stick People

These were inspired by the finger puppets from Teawagontales and the free print out house pattern from Inner Child Fun (both via Crafty Crow). Our versions don't look as elegant, but were heaps of fun to make!

05 September 2012

Flags of the World Project

Mr 5 has recently been interested in flags. And when he gets interested in something he tends to sit down and study it for hours. This month he was steadily learning all the flags of the world and the countries they belonged to, so I decided to give him a project to do. 

We printed out a free map outlining the countries of the world. I say we, as I got some technical help from Mr Crafty to print it A3 size. I got the map from here (map #3). I then used google images to find and then print out all the country flags on one A4 page (so they are nice and small), and gave Mr 5 his new "project".

He set to work immediately and cut and stuck in perfect happiness, using his kids atlas to identify the flags he didn't know yet, and find the country (or help me find the country). I'm not sure he'll stick with the project through all 260 flags, but really that hardly matters.

03 September 2012

Flowers and Snaps

I have been wanting to make something like this gorgeous bathing cap from Llevo El Invierno for a while. I looked for some brightly coloured flowers, but just couldn't find any, so I got some plain white ones instead. 

First the bathing cap. Because Miss 3 wears goggles, I decided the flowers all over would be a problem, so instead I put just 3. The white flowers with pink centres on a blue cap match the design on her new swimmers.

Next a t-shirt. I decided to make a flower garden with white flowers. First I laid out the ribbon until I was happy with the design.

I made some leaves using ribbon wrapped in a figure 8.

I wanted to put some buttons in the centre of the flowers, but I find sewing buttons on to be a pretty tedious job, so instead I decided to use up some snaps (the ones I bought years ago to make my own cloth nappies... in all that spare time I imagined I'd have with only a newborn baby to look after.)

I chose a couple of bright colours and pressed them on. T-shirt done.
And then I found the coloured flowers I wanted, so I made a couple of bright shirts. I cut a branch shape from scrap material, sewed it on (first with straight stitch and then with zigzag, I found this was easier to keep it in place). Finally I pressed some bright snaps through the centre of some flowers. It took me about an hour to make these two:

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