Category Archives: Crafts

Crafts: Autumnal Alphabet Wreaths

This week it has been dry, crisp and decidedly autumnal. During a walk around my local park I filled a bag with fallen leaves to do autumn leaf crafts with the boy, but as I’d gathered so many I wanted to make something by myself, for myself. So whilst the boys were out feeding the ducks, I spent a happy hour at the kitchen table making autumnal alphabet wreaths.

autumnal alphabet wreaths

These autumnal alphabet wreaths are really easy to make. I’m really pleased with how mine turned out. You can make whichever letter, or letters you want. I chose an A because our surname begins with an A. You could also do any shape you wanted. I’ve got plans to do a few more, maybe a heart and a circle.

You will need:

  • A piece of thick cardboard
  • A pencil
  • Scissors
  • PVA glue
  • A paintbrush
  • Lots of leaves, a variety of shapes and sizes is best
  • A piece of ribbon

To make your autumnal alphabet wreaths:

With your pencil, sketch the letter or shape you will base your wreath on. You can make this as big or small as you would like, mine was around 30cm tall. Carefully cut out your shape, taking care not to lose any fingers. If a child is making this, ideally an adult should do this part.

Before you begin sticking your leaves to your wreath shape, it’s easier to fix on your ribbon. As I knew my shape would be covered in leaves I chose to staple my ribbon to the wreath, but you could tie the ribbon to the top, or make a small hole and thread it through if you prefer.

autumnal alphabet wreaths

Once you are happy with the cardboard base of your wreath, pour some PVA glue into a bowl and in sections paste glue onto the cardboard. As you start to stick the leaves on, dab a little extra glue on each leaf and stick the leaf to the shape. Try and choose an interesting mixture of leaves and cover any gaps. 

I found it useful to stop every so often and leave the glue to set a little before starting the next section. You may also find it helpful to lay a plastic tray or board on top of the leaves for half an hour or so, this will apply even pressure whilst the glue dries a bit and it shouldn’t crush the leaves too much.

autumnal alphabet wreaths

Once you’ve covered your alphabet wreaths, leave them somewhere to dry, preferably overnight. Once dry you can hang them up indoors. I’m really pleased with how mine turned out. It was really effective and would lend itself to lots of different and rather interesting shapes.

Autumn leaf crafts are some of my favorite things to so, I think the colours and textures are so lovely, it’s a shame not to make the most of them whilst they’re so vibrant.

autumnal alphabet wreaths

 

Easy Ideas for Halloween Crafts

One of my favourite things about Halloween, apart from being given an excuse to dress up, is Halloween crafts. It’s one of those occasions when you and the kids can go all out on the spooky stuff.

Last year me made a few different Halloween crafts, but our favourites were the Spooky Lanterns from Baker Ross which you can find out how to make here. They are still available this year on the Baker Ross website and they do look really effective.

halloween crafts

This month we’ve been starting to look at some more easy Halloween Crafts. We were sent a selection of Halloween and autumnal themed crafts to try (we will do the autumnal crafts in a separate blog post).

The Halloween crafts we were sent were –
  • Day of the Dead colour in mini gift bags
  • Halloween Dotty Art
  • Halloween Pom Pom Decoration Kits

halloween crafts

Day of the Dead has been very much in fashion for the last few years and is gaining in popularity. Indeed, last year I dressed as a Day of the Dead style zombie bride for Halloween. The little colour in gift bags (there are 6 in a pack) would be a great craft activity for a kid’s Halloween party, then they could fill their bags with sweets and take them home afterwards. 

halloween crafts

The Halloween Dotty Art kits would also be great for a Halloween Party (we are going to take ours on holiday with us over half term). The pack contains eight different Halloween designs (Monster, Spider, Cat, Ghost, Pumpkin, Owl, Bat & Skull) and packs of coloured stickers. You then stick the stickers on the spooky design and bring your Halloween picture to life. This kind of thing is great for strengthening little fingers and increasing dexterity, as well as being a fun activity you can do together without creating any mess.

halloween crafts

I love pom pom crafts, so I was pleased to find these Halloween Pom Pom Decoration Kits in my box of seasonal crafts from Baker Ross. The pom pom kit contains everything you need to make a spider, a bat and a pumpkin. 

Like most pom pom crafts they are a little fiddly to make and probably need a grown up to get it started and help tie it off at the end. Making pom poms is lots of fun and once you’ve snipped your threads you can start to see your spooky pom pom creature come to life.

The Baker Ross website has hundreds of easy to do craft kids for children and adults alike. Their kits are almost universally well designed and thought out, and there’s something for all ages, abilities and craft interests, often with minimal mess and fuss. For easy Halloween crafts, have a look at Baker Ross for inspiration.

We are Baker Ross Ambassadors.

Review: Travel in Style with a kids Pipity Activity Case

Whenever we go out anywhere, even if it’s just to a local cafe I always shove an activity book and some pens in my bag to keep the boy entertained. He likes to draw and colour in. It is something he can do by himself or something we can do together. We were sent an award winning Pipity Activity Case, Pipity Portfolio and some Pipity Activity Books to try out on our holiday. But what did the boy think?

Pipity Activity Case

There are three different colours to choose from, red, pink and blue, all have a lovely star pattern. We chose the blue stars because blue is his favourite colour. The Pipity Activity Case is a fold out case full of all the stationery a child would need to colour in or create things. It includes a pencil, colouring pencils, a ruler, scissors (not sharp), glue, a pencil sharpener and a little pouch to keep your activity book in. 

The Pipity Activity Case folds out and has an easel/board you can lean on to use if you’re not sat at a table. This is a great idea, especially if you need to keep them entertained somewhere like the airport where they are likely to be sat on the floor.

Pipity Activity Case

The Pipity Activity Case has a carry handle and a strap you can sling over your shoulder and carry it with. And this is what the boy did as soon as he clapped eyes on it. Wherever we went, Pipity had to come too, and the best thing was he was carrying it for once. He was so proud and excited to have his own swanky activity case, he showed it off to anyone who would listen.

We were sent three different activity books to try, so we eased ourselves in gently and just chose the book which had blank pages to write and draw on. These are just the right size to slip inside the activity case. The pages are perforated too – a nice touch, so when you’ve finished your masterpiece you can tear it out and stick it on the fridge.

Pipity Activity Case

Pipity is very portable. It’s light, is around A5 size and is in a waterproof oilcloth case. It’s well made, stylish (I would love a similar one for adult crafting things) and it is suitable for children aged 6+ (though it’s safe for ages 3+). The activity case costs £24.99 and is currently available online via the Pipity website.

Pipity Activity Case

We were also sent the Pipity Portfolio, a handy case with expandable compartments to store your masterpieces once you’ve completed them. It’s the ideal companion to the activity case and costs just £7.50. I really liked this, the boy has a habit of gifting me his drawings and I never have anywhere to store them, so I liked that we could keep them safe in the portfolio. 

Pipity Activity Case

The Pipity Portfolio has its own handle so you can carry it. It’s made from lined board and is around A5 size. The portfolio has an elastic fastener to keep your treasures safe and sound. I think this is a lovely idea and a great price. I’d like to see it also available in a larger A4 size for bigger pieces of artwork.

Pipity was designed by Kate, a Mum of 3 from Devon.  The range has been designed at her kitchen table and was launched in May 2015.  The Pipity Activity Case recently won Right Start Best Toy Award 2016, which is very exciting. The Pipity range is all available on the Pipity website.

The Pipity Activity Case is absolutely perfect for taking on holiday, on days out, or just to the local cafe. It has been very widely admired by everyone who has seen it (or been shown it by the boy) and I can see this becoming a real essential for us whenever we leave the house. 

We were sent these lovely Pipity products for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Crafts: Making simple bunting cards

As a crafter I count myself as an enthusiastic complete amateur. I think often, especially with the crafts I make, simple is often better. I needed to make some fairly quick and simple cards to thank some people who have helped me out lately and I thought I’d make some bunting cards. 

I was sent some card making goodies from Create & Craft TV. They sell online as well as running a popular crafting TV channel – if you’ve not seen it and are interested, you can watch it on their website at http://www.createandcraft.tv/tvschedule as well as on Sky, Freeview etc.

Create & Craft TV

My bunting cards are really simple and quick to make, they’re great for kids to make too and they can create all kinds of designs depending on what kind of scrap paper triangles you use.

Create & Craft TV

You will need –
Blank cards
Scrap paper cut into bunting triangles
Foiled & Die Cut Sentiments
A black felt tip
Glue, I used Pritt Stick

To make your really easy bunting cards –
With your felt tip, draw a slightly downward curved line across your card. Cut your scrap paper into small triangles, mine were about 2cm long. Glue your triangles along the line and decorate with a sentiment, draw a little picture, add whatever embellishments you want.

I kept mine really simple as I think the bunting looks effective enough without too many other things on the card.

Create & Craft TV

As you can see from the two cards I made, the less wiggly line of the two worked better and for future bunting cards I will use a straighter curved line.

Create & Craft TV

There are a full range of craft products on the Create & Craft TV website including papercraft, sewing, baking, jewellery, knitting and much more. I know if you’re anything like me when it comes to craft products, I’m always on the lookout for interesting and versatile new things to use. 

I am particularly taken with the big book of Hunkydory Sentiments, all die cut and foiled ready for popping out and using on your cards. The book contains 620 individual sentiments in a range of styles and colours and I know I’ll be using them for lots of cards this year. 

You can never have too many blank cards to hand and the pack sent to me by Create & Craft TV were great quality and included a mixture of finishes. I was impressed with the variety of card making kit which I received and it’s got my creative juices flowing again.

I enjoyed creating my really simple bunting cards, they’re ideal if you want to make and send a homemade card but you’re short on time or confidence to do anything more elaborate. But honestly, I always think simple is better and I’m pleased with how they’ve turned out.

Note: I was send some papercraft products from Create & Craft TV to make some cards with. All images and opinions are my own.

Our first Craft Class at Little Miss Bee Designs

This year I made a promise to be a bit kinder to myself. One of the things I’ve chosen to so is join a local craft group. I’m no great artist, but I really enjoy doing crafts. When you are crafting or doing something creative you can’t, no matter how hard you try, think about anything else. I come back from my monthly craft group feeling refreshed and like I’ve switched my brain off for a few hours. I know it’s unlikely that I’d ever sit at home by myself and do some crafts, so craft groups and classes are for me the way forward.

Last week a couple of my crafty friends and I booked a craft class at Little Miss Bee Designs in Failsworth in Manchester. The craft classes are run by Bernadette, a teacher and major craft enthusiast. The sessions are held in a lovely summer house in her garden which is known as “Bee Cottage”.

Little Miss Bee Designs

We booked to make paper flower wreaths. This class cost £10 per person with everything included. Generally the Little Miss Bee Designs craft classes cost between £10-£15 per head. The classes include everything you’ll need for the session, plus refreshments. Little Miss Bee Designs offer craft classes for all levels of expertise and experience. 

Bernadette talked us through every stage of the wreath making process, from covering the hoops with decorative papers, to constructing the flowers and curling the petals. She let us make all of our own design decisions, and gave helpful tips and advice every step of the way.

Little Miss Bee Designs

We all had a really good natter and agreed it was the perfect way for our group of busy working mums to wind down a little in preparation for the weekend. I totally switched off from all of my worries and concerns and just focused on making my wreath and chatting to my friends.

Bernadette at Little Miss Bee Designs is really knowledgeable and lovely, she gave us a little tour of the studio and talked us through all the crafts she does and the classes that she runs. I ended up buying some of her jewellery because it was so pretty and unique.

We thoroughly enjoyed the class and we think the Little Miss Bee Designs craft classes would be great for groups of friends looking for something crafty to do. There are lots of different craft classes to choose from and Little Bee Designs are releasing new class dates all the time. 

For more information and to find out more about Little Miss Bee Designs visit their website.

Win an Instant Flower Press from Interplay

Earlier this week I got my own Instant Flower Press from Interplay. The flower press is really easy to use and great for crafting whatever age you are (suitable for ages 8+). It takes less than a minute to press a flower using this kit and we had a lot of fun gathering the flowers, pressing them and then crafting with them.

Instant Flower Press from Interplay

You can read more of our thoughts about the Instant Flower Press from Interplay and get some ideas for easy dried flower crafts here.

The Instant Flower Press from Interplay costs £9.99 and is incredibly easy to set up and use, it comes with a detailed instruction booklet and everything you need to get flower pressing. It’s great for learning more about nature as well as being a pretty essential addition to my craft cupboard. 

For more information about the Instant Flower Press from Interplay, visit their website.

WIN an Instant Flower Press from Interplay

To be in with a chance to win an Instant Flower Press from Interplay worth £9.99, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5.The winner will receive an Instant Flower Press from Interplay RR£9.99.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 19th June 2016.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winner’s name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winners, and is therefore beyond my control. I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post although I will endeavour to liaise with the agency.
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12. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
13. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Crafts: Dried Flower Craft Ideas

This week I became the proud and excited owner of an Instant Flower Press from Interplay. Admittedly it’s designed for children, but both my son and I had great fun with it and we’ve created some pretty little dried flower craft items yesterday afternoon with some flowers we picked on the way home from school.

Dried Flower Craft Ideas

The Instant Flower Press is really simple to use and comes with an instruction booklet. You open up the press, put a layer of the felt pads and the pieces of cotton material in the plastic press, place your flowers inside. Put another layer of cotton and more felt pads (all supplied) and close the press. Pop it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and you’ve got dried pressed flowers. Slightly more moist flowers may take a little longer in the microwave, but once you start pressing your flowers you’ll quickly be able to judge what will take an extra ten seconds and what will dry more quickly.

As a child my Grandma had a flower press and I loved using it with her, carefully picking pansies from her garden and pressing them between thick parchment and screwing the press shut, then leaving it for months before seeing the fruits of our labour.

Dried Flower Craft Ideas

With the microwave flower press the whole process is done and dusted in minutes and perfect if you need some pressed flowers for some quick dried flower craft.

Quick and easy Dried flower craft ideas

Pretty Jam Jar Candle Holders

You will need:
A clean jam jar
A selection of dried flowers and leaves
PVA glue
A paint brush

These are so simple. Take a clean jam jar and some PVA glue and a paint brush, brush the glue onto the jar where you want to stick your dried flowers. Carefully press the flower onto the glued area to stick it on, then gently cover the flower with PVA glue to seal it in place. Leave to dry.

You can be as creative as you want with this, I’ve left mine quite simple, but I love the delicate little blue flowers and the daisies. It took hardly any time at all to glue on, but maybe an hour to dry properly. They look so pretty and I can see me using this idea on so many things around the house.

Dried Flower Craft Ideas

Pebble Paperweight 

You will need:
A clean stone
A selection of dried flowers and leaves
PVA glue
A paint brush

Again, this is very simple. We have a pile of lovely smooth pebbles in the garden, so I picked one the right size and gave it a good scrub and left it to dry. Then I selected a suitable leaf which I’d dried in the flower press and brushed PVA glue onto the pebble and pressed the dry leaf into place. I left it for a few minutes to stick, then I painted PVA over the leaf to seal it in place and then I left it to dry properly for a few hours.

I’ve now got a lovely paperweight, or a pebble to stop my napkins flying off the table when we eat in the garden. 

Dried Flower Craft Ideas

Dried Flower Sun Catchers 

You will need:
A laminator and pouches or some sticky backed plastic
A selection of dried flowers and leaves

Borrowing a laminator I arranged some dried flowers in an artistic way in the laminator pouch, I then put it through the laminator a few times until I was happy. I then cut my A4 sheet down into a circle and using a clear sticky dot stuck it to the window.

It’s really quite pretty and I’ve got a nasty window in the downstairs loo which needs replacing, which I’m now going to cover in these lovely dried flowers to pretty the place up a bit!

Dried Flower Craft Ideas

These are just three very quick ideas I had for dried flower crafts that afternoon. I’ve got a few more ideas up my sleeve including some nice thank you cards and other papercrafts.

The Instant Flower Press from Interplay is a cracking piece of kit and if you enjoy crafting and have kids that enjoy crafting, then I can’t recommend it enough. The small boy went to school today with a bag full of dried flower pictures for show and tell and he’s loving showing off his dried flower craft to anyone who will listen. It’s nice to do something a bit different with him and importantly he’s really enjoyed it and got something out of it too!

Dried Flower Craft Ideas

The Instant Flower Press from Interplay costs £9.99, is suitable for ages 8+ (though my 5 year old used it happily with supervision) and is available from a wide range of retailers.

Note: We were sent the Instant Flower Press from Interplay for review purposes. All images an opinions are our own.

Easy Father’s Day Crafts

The small boy is at that lovely stage in life where he’s always making us little cards and writing us little notes for no other reason than he loves us. Which is nice. With Father’s Day on the horizon the boy was keen to get crafting for his daddy. So when our Baker Ross box arrived, we delved deep and found some really lovely, simple Father’s Day Crafts to do together.

The first thing we tackled was the very easy Father’s Day Tie Bookmarks. These are made from soft foam and are cut out ready for use. I did the tricky bit, which was threading the ribbon through the tiny hole and he did the rest. 

Father's Day Crafts

The pack comes with a selection of stickers. His chosen one contained the letters which spelt “Top Dad”. I told him what the words were and he picked the right letters and stuck them on himself. He then had some design decisions to make, namely where to stick his selection of stickers. He was really pleased with his design and chose to “wear” the tie around the house himself for a while. We’ve now tucked his little gift away for Father’s Day.

The second of our Father’s Day Crafts were these lovely Father’s Day Wooden Keyrings. The pack comes with four different designs to choose from. Ben chose to make the trophy and I went for the guitar. The pack contains everything you’ll need for your keyrings.

Father's Day Crafts

This was actually quite a tricky little craft activity, threading the beads onto the cord made us both concentrate hard. I had to do the fiddly tying of the cord, but it was a real workout for his hand/eye co-ordination and his fine motor skills. 

Making Father’s Day Crafts to give as little gifts is a lovely gesture and we enjoyed making these really simple and easy crafts. I’m sure daddy will like receiving them too!

Father's Day Crafts

Father’s Day is on 19th June 2016.

How to Scrapbook – Project Craft at Paperchase

Paperchase (purveyors of beautiful stationery and arts and crafts materials) have recently launched “Project Craft”, a series of special crafting workshops for adults and children. The Project Craft sessions are currently only available in three flagship stores – Manchester, Glasgow and London, but they should be rolled out to a high street near you soon (check the website for details).

Being an occasionally crafty type, I was invited along to their Manchester store for an evening of crafting and cupcakes. The Project Craft workshops cost from £10 and include all the craft materials you will need for the session. Current Project Craft workshops include –

  • How to scrapbook
  • How to make a tissue paper pom pom
  • Card making with dye-cutting, lino print or foil
  • How to make kids crafts
  • How to make paper flowers
  • DIY stationery

A small group of happy crafters sat in a quiet corner of the store, next to the little cafe upstairs in an area set aside for Project Craft. We were there for the “How to Scrapbook” workshop, which costs £20 and includes a scrapbook and some materials. You are also advised to take along some photographs, old tickets, paper keepsakes and souvenirs that you might want to incorporate into your scrapbook.

project craft

If you’re a bit of a hoarder of tickets and little bits of paper, a scrapbook can be a lovely way to keep it all together and make something of your memories. At the workshop you create at least one double page layout and learn lots of useful tips including how to arrange your photos, layer pages and embellish your scrapbook with different products.

Sadly I’d forgotten to bring some things to scrapbook, but undeterred I rifled through some magazines and had a good rummage through the papers and embellishments they had. Thankfully I managed to forage enough nice things to make a few pages for my scrapbook.

project craft

There was expert tutelage from the Project Craft team at Paperchase. They gave an overview of the scrapbooking process, showed us some examples and sample templates and set us to work creating our masterpieces. There was always someone on hand to give advice and encouragement when required. I was the only scrapbooking virgin in the room, but I didn’t feel too far behind the others and whilst what I created was probably a bit basic, I was happy with the results. 

project craft

Whilst my crafting heart probably doesn’t lie in scrapbooking, I did enjoy the process and I think this would be a nice thing to do with my son. Something we can use to document our days out together and something we can use to look back on in later life. I really like the idea of scrapbooking holidays and visits to museums and such like with him. 

My scrapbooking might not be perfect, but it was very enjoyable and I learned a few things that I will take forward with me. I enjoyed my little taster of Project Craft at Paperchase and I will be booking in to try the lino print craft workshop soon.

Project Craft Workshops are available at Paperchase in Manchester, Glasgow and London, with more stores to follow soon. For more information visit the Paperchase website.

Note: I was an invited guest of Paperchase and I was not asked to pay for my workshop place or materials. All images and opinions are my own.

Creative Kids – Trying Out The BIC Drawy Book

I like to think of us as a family in touch with our creative side. We often spend an afternoon painting, drawing or crafting together and I’ve always encouraged a love of creative pursuits in the small boy. We were sent the new BIC Drawy Book to test out and it unleashed a new and exciting creative adventure for the boy and me.

All three of us had spent the week snuffling, wheezing and coughing, the small boy getting the worst of it with yet another ear infection. Friday was an inset day so I decided we needed a day of rest and some gentle crafting, so out came our new bag of BIC Drawy goodies and we set to work.

BIC Drawy

We were sent a BIC Drawy Book pack to play with, it contained a special colouring in book and a set of felt tips. The book is linked to the app, so you scan in the page to unlock a virtual experience. It is priced at £9.99 and you get the drawing and activity book , a packet of good quality BIC felt tips and access to the App. We didn’t get as far as trying that out, but what we did do left the small boy in wide-eyed awe.

First off, I should have read the instructions before we unpacked everything. I needed to download a free app (available from the Apple Store and Google Play) which did take a few minutes. Once the app was downloaded we opened it and followed the easy instructions.

BIC Drawy

We created a profile for the small boy and turned the volume up. There is only one story available at the moment, ‘Marty and the Alien’ which is suitable for ages 5+ and suited us down to the ground. There were three difficulty settings, but we chose the easy option to begin with.

The story opens with the engaging tale of Marty, a boy who wants to go into space, an alien lands in his garden and before you know it he’s in a rocket and zooming off to Planet X. Along the way the app has various activities which you need to complete, they’re all explained and my 5 year old soon got the idea and wanted to do them without my help. 

Throughout the story the app pauses and asks you to draw certain objects, photograph them with your tablet or phone and then it uses the images you’ve drawn in an animation. You can add stickers and embellishments to your drawings too.

BIC Drawy

They suggest that you draw the outline of your picture in black felt tip on white paper and then colour it in as you wish. The small boy could hardly contain himself as he saw the rocket he’d just drawn fly through space dodging asteroids and space debris, and he virtually rolled around laughing when the alien ate the cheese he’d drawn and did a cheeky burp afterwards. He was genuinely upset when we’d finished the story and we had to do it all over again from the start.

Despite being skeptical at first – I had to draw the first drawing for him and show him how it worked – he loved this BIC Drawy Book set. I loved it too, it was very well thought out, the story was engaging and it’s a great way to encourage creativity in kids. It can often be a little bit more difficult to encourage boys in particular to pick up a pen and get creative, but once he understood how it worked there was no stopping him.

I feel like we’ve only touched the surface of BIC Drawy and the app, there are several more levels of Marty and the Alien to explore, and we’ve not even really looked at the accompanying book yet. There’s a good deal of learning to be had from this too, for those interested in space there’s a part of the app where you can find out more about the planets in our solar system and there’s a quiz to test your space knowledge. On top of that it also develops their fine motor skills, concentration and creativity.

We were very impressed with BIC Drawy, we think it’s got so much potential. The boy is very happy with the existing story, but if they could develop a range of these then he’d be very happy indeed. I can’t wait for him to go to bed so I can have a go by myself – always the hallmark of a great product!

BIC Drawy

You can find out more about BIC Drawy by visiting their website.

Note: We were sent the BIC Drawy Book for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.