Monday, August 31, 2015

The Odd Bods: No Sew Sock Dolls

So you want to make some sweet little sock dolls with just one sock that you don't have to sew or cut? Well then, say hello to the Odd Bods...the cutest one-sock no-sew sock dolls you ever did meet. Some people might think these little fellows are...well...just a little odd looking...I guess they are... but hey they're family:

What You Need:

Wiggley eyes
Elastic band (optional)

How to make an Odd Bod:

First fill your sock with rice as in the photo above. Secure the sock with a knot or elastic band.

Then cut a nose, arms and legs from felt. Glue into place. Glue on wiggley eyes.

Last of all, flip over the top part of the sock to make the beanie. That's it!

And when you make your odd bods I'd love to see them...just pop over to my Facebook page and post on my wall.

Have fun with your strange new friends, Trixi.

Monday, August 24, 2015

An interview with craft and sewing book author Jane Bull

I remember seeing some of Jane Bull's books many years ago and loving them… many of the craft books for kids that I'd come across seemed either too simple or too complicated or too boring…her books were like finding a little oasis of colour and fun and life. Jane lives in London with her husband and three children.

What do you think makes a project something kids love to do?

My rule of thumb has been anything with a face . There’s nothing like it for grabbing their attention and engaging them.  

Your books cover lots of crafts. Do you have a favourite craft activity?

I don’t have a particular favourite. I’ve always enjoyed having a go at different things whether it’s paper mache, pots or knitting dolls. Trying new things too, just recently I attended some workshops on ribbon embroidery and needle felting. It’s the process of making as much as the finished thing that I enjoy.

If you could only keep one book you’ve published what would it be?

I am really pleased with the way Made by Me turned out. I think the 8 year old me would have loved it. If I could sneak in another book it would be The Halloween Book. It was the first one that all my children were involved in with their friends.  They all became regular models and inspired me to make the books that followed.

What do you like most about your work?

I’m lucky. The best bit about my job is that it doesn’t feel like ‘work’. 

What advice would you give to parents who want to interest their kids in crafting?

1. Spark up some ideas – What are their interests? Find reference for inspiration – there are lots of craft books, kids magazines and online sites. Look out for workshops where they can join in to give them a taster.

2. Be prepared – Keep a craft box to hand, gather up materials and equipment such as scissors, sticky tape, paper and pens. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a youngster enthused about making something and you don’t have basics ready.

3. Join in – To get things started it helps if they see you having a go too. More often than not you’ll be needed to help with cutting and sticking and figuring out instructions.

4. Getting messy – Being crafty can generate a bit of mess but don’t freak out. Cover up tables, floors…and children if necessary.  Things can soon be packed up and tidied away. 

5. Encouragement – Be positive, nothing needs to be perfect. It should be fun.

What do you think kids learn from crafting?

They can learn so much. There are all the developmental things like co-ordination, dexterity, reading and comprehending instructions. There are new skills too, understanding how materials work, confidence with using equipment. And above all for the kids themselves it’s creating something of their own and having a sense of achievement. 

How did you get into publishing books for kids?

I come from a family of teachers going back generations. Although I didn’t want to follow the family tradition I was interested in information and how best to show it. After studying Graphic Design I got a job in publishing. This gave me the opportunity to design books about all sorts of subjects that would teach and inspire kids. As the years have gone by I’ve been fortunate to combine my love for craft with book design.

Do you remember the first craft project you made?

The project that feels the most fully formed is when I was 6 years old. I learnt to knit at school and we made a beany hat with bobble and a scarf with fringed ends. I used the exact same pattern for the teddy in The Crafty Art Book.    

Is there one craft project you’ve made that people seem to come back to again and again? 

There’s such a variety to choose from that I get to see pictures of all kinds of things people have made. My favourite at workshops are the glove toys where kids can bring along woollen gloves and make any creature their imagination allows. It suits all ages and abilities and they are way ahead of me with ideas.

What was your best crafting experience?

Doing workshops with kids making projects from my books. The best feeling is seeing the sense of pride they get when they’ve made something and go off clutching it showing their Mum or Dad what they’ve been up to. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

DIY Back-to-School Owl Locker Magnet

It's back-to-school time in the northern hemisphere and this DIY Owl Locker Magnet is a fun and easy way to personalise your locker.

I was chatting with Amie Plumley the other day and she mentioned she was going to use my speech bubble magnet as a locker magnet project with her sewing club. I loved the idea so this little Owl is jumping on the locker magnet wagon. You can find the Owl tutorial here and the template here.

I met Amie by chance on Instagram...I'd heard of her famous Sewing School books, and after coming across an interview with her, thought it would be really interesting to hear her thoughts on teaching sewing to I interviewed her and published that interview on this blog last week...this week Amie turns the tables and interviews me on her blog Sewing School

I hope Amie's students have lots of fun with their speech bubbles and can't wait to see the results.

Monday, August 10, 2015

An Interview with Amie Plumley co-author of Sewing School

Amie Plumley is co-author of Sewing School: 21 Sewing Projects Kids Will Love To Make. With more than 63,000 copies in print, Sewing School is in Amazon's top ten for sewing. Her second book, Sewing School 2: Lessons in Machine Sewing, was awarded a gold medal in 2013 by National Parenting Publications. 

Amie is also co-creator of Sewing School Day Camp, oversees an after-school sewing programme, and teaches sewing workshops to both children and adults. She lives, teaches and crafts in Memphis, Tennessee and is the mother of two little sewers aged 7 and 10. She blogs at

The most popular sewing project you make with kids?

Kids love the Stuffie Project where they design their own stuffed animals based on their original drawings. Making huggable artwork is the best!

One piece of advice you’d give to parents who want to teach their kids to sew?

Take the time to get the right supplies for kid-friendly sewing before they start. It makes things sooo much easier. And I know you only asked for one piece of advice, but my second is don’t worry about the little mistakes and oopsies that will happen along the way. Just let kids explore and create, they will eventually begin to sew more correctly.

Why should kids learn to sew?

Oh my, where to begin! Besides the wonderful life skills and creative aspects of sewing, kids gain fine motor skills, concentration, patience, and self-esteem. It feels so good to say “I made it myself!” 

How did you get into teaching kids sewing?

When I began teaching kindergarten 11 years ago, I began to share my own passions for crafts, cooking, and gardening with the children. Luckily, my teaching assistant also sewed, so we jumped right into it. Our first attempts were so exciting! We made little pillows and the beginnings of the Stuffie Project. Over time, I began to find tools and supplies that were more kid-friendly.

What things have surprised you in teaching kids to sew?

The kids are constantly surprising me! I love walking around a busy room of sewers and seeing them at work. Kids use fabric and sewing as another art outlet. While they are learning valuable life skills, they are mostly just concerned about the process and making something new.  

I also love how many boys get into sewing. For them it’s just another way to create, plus they get to use sharp needles! 

Why do you like sewing?

Sewing is relaxing and a way to express myself. I can easily get caught up in the process and totally forget to make dinner!  When I sew for myself, it’s usually to make clothing. I am obsessed with fabric and love wearing skirts and dresses made from favorite fabrics. 

Best sewing experience? 

For me it’s watching my own children enjoy sewing. In fact, as I write this, they are sitting in my craft room making zippy pouches. Sewing with them, I have been able to share my love of the craft as well as learn from them. They are constantly suggesting new project ideas or ways to make things.

Worst sewing experience? 

Hmmm…..I can’t think of one right now. It’s all been pretty good!

Favorite sewing experience? 

This summer I had some sewing “alums” be my assistants at Sewing School Camp. It was so much fun to see these teens helping out the first-time sewers. One took such pride in showing a young sewer how to make the same project that she made for the Sewing School book. I knew exactly how she felt because it’s the same feeling I have every time I see a kid get excited about sewing.

You can find Amie's latest sewing tutorial The Never Ending Journal HERE.

Monday, August 3, 2015

An Interview with Kids Sewing Book Author Wendi Gratz

Over the next few weeks I'll be intervewing sewers from around the world...most teach kids sewing at home or at camps...all have written sewing books or craft books or's been so interesting hearing from people involved in an area that I've also been working in for the last two decades...and I see the same look in the kids' eyes...they just look so proud of their creations...hope you enjoy these interviews as much as I have. 

My first interview is with Wendi Gratz of Shiny Happy World who, together with her daughter Jo, is the author of Creature Camp: 18 Softies to Draw Sew, and Stuff and runs sewing camps in North Carolina.

The most popular sewing project you make with kids? 

Definitely the Snake Charmers! Oh my goodness - kids love this pattern so much! Sometimes when I teach a camp some kids just want to make snakes over and over again, and I let them. 

It’s a great way to get a feel for how the sewing machine pulls the fabric though, how to sew straight lines and turn corners, how to sew on buttons, how to embed the tongue in the seam and how to sew up the stuffing opening. So many skills in one crazy simple pattern. :-) 

Of course, the kids who make it over and over again often eventually change things up - making giant snakes and two-headed snakes and more. You can see some finished snakes here. And the free pattern is available here.

One piece of advice you’d give to parents who want to teach their kids to sew? 

Follow their interests! Let them choose the project and the fabric and the thread color. Let them set the pace. If they’re nervous about the machine but want to try it, let them control the foot pedal while you feed the fabric. Basically, let them guide the whole process. They may take you places you never would have imagined were possible!

How did you get into teaching kids sewing?

My daughter sees me sewing all the time and wanted to start using the machine when she was four years old - so I let her. :-) I’ve taught all kinds of things to kids - Mad Scientist Camp, Harry Potter Camp, and more. Sewing was just a natural extension.

What things have surprised you in teaching kids to sew?

When Jo was four it blew my mind how well she could follow a line on her sewing machine if I drew it on the fabric for her. She could sew RIGHT ON that line perfectly, right from the very beginning. 

I’ve learned that that’s the case with just about all young kids, so now with beginners I almost always draw the sewing line on for them. It’s almost impossible for them to follow an imaginary line, but dead simple to follow one they can see. It gives them a lot of confidence and really successful starter projects.

Why do you like sewing?

I love everything about it. The look and feel of the fabric, the satisfaction of watching a project take shape, the confidence of knowing I can make things that are exactly what I want them to be.

Best sewing experience? 

Making owls with 20 kids in a Harry Potter Camp I taught. It was complete chaos and the kids had an absolute blast! You can see some of the kids with their finished owls in this post.

Worst sewing experience?

My very first sewing project. It was a complete disaster! I had just bought a new machine and I had no idea how to use it. I had never sewn before, never took Home Ec in school, and had no clue. I made a tablecloth - which you wouldn’t think you can mess up too badly - but I did! 

I didn’t prewash the fabric, so it puckered badly along the seams the first time I washed it. I didn’t cut off the selvedge, which made the puckering even worse. I sewed a seam right down the middle of the piece instead of adding equally to each side - so there was an ugly, puckered mess of a seam running right down the center of the table. 

I didn’t know there were different kinds of threads so I just grabbed the first spool I saw in the right color at the fabric store. It was buttonhole twist - a very thick, bulky thread. And I used one of the decorative stitches on my machine to sew the hems, so it was basically just a mass of ugly lumps of thread all the way around. So much ugliness!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Crazy Garden Bugs to Craft with Kids

This easy garden bug craft is sure to be a favourite with your kids. It uses simple-to-source everyday items and is full of creative possibilities.

All you need to get started is a matchbox, some coloured felt and whatever odds and ends you have around the house or have collected in your craft box.

You can find a step-by-step garden bug tutorial guide HERE but once your kids have got into the swing of things they can let their imaginations run wild designing their own garden bug communities.

Here's a group photo of some of my own garden bug friends:

And if you want more creative matchbox crafts for your kids to create you can check out these links:

Matchbox Doll's House

 Puppet Theatre

Trouble in a Box

Sunday, June 7, 2015

An easy mess-free craft activity for kids

This simplified butterfly mobile is a really easy mess-free craft activity to make with kids of all ages. 

To make this pretty little fellow you only need some felt, a length of wire to place the butterfly on, an artificial flower stamen (which can be bought from a craft shop) to make the antennae from, a bowlful of beads and a little glue. You can find the complete step-by-step tutorial HERE.