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Handmade Holidays: Tutorial for Sweater Pants

Pants made out of sweater sleeve is a classic in our house. They are comfortable, cheap and easy to make. I always get compliments on them when my little guy is wearing some. When I explained how easy it is, they all say : What a great idea!

This is a very easy and quick project that the even the I-barely-ever-touched-a-sewing-machine beginner can do.

You’ll need:

  • Sweaters
  • Thin or wide elastic for the waist.
  • The recipiant children’s pair of pants for a guide.

Cut out the sleeves of your sweater. The older the child, the bigger sweater you’d like to use.

Fold guide pants in half and place over sleeve. Cut.

Turn once sleeve inside out. Put the right side out sleeve into the inside out one.

Sew along.

For the waist, Method 1:

Serge the waist or double fold it. Sew along leaving a place to insert the elastic.

The elastic should be the circumference of the waist. Insert, sew both ends of the elastic and close the whole.

Method 2 : this one is less pretty, but it’s useful when you know there won’t be enough room for the butt if you fold at the waist. Some might want to use a coordonating color one. You can easily dye elastics. Ultimately it doesn’t show when there’s a shirt over it.

Take a wider elastic and sew ends together. Place wrong side facing elastic over right side facing pants and sew or serge around.

Now you know what to make of that pile of sweater people always give you ( I know I’m not alone! Someone even gave me only the sleeves…) I always make a pair of those for the Winter Solstice morning and they are always a hit.

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The Halloween Sugar Fairy

So, you’ve gone trick or treating with your kids and you have gobs of candy!  As parents of little ones we have some choices.

  • Do what my parents did and let the kids have free reign.  This usually involves eating mounds of candy and getting a whopping stomach ache.
  • Or, let them choose a few pieces, put the rest away and then be the candy police until Thanksgiving!

Either one of these choices are fine but they do have their drawbacks. My favorite thing to do is to have the Sugar Fairy come!

The Sugar Fairy is a little fairy who eats nothing but sugar.  Her family, her whole community relies upon the candy that falls on the ground on Halloween to see her through the long winter months.  Now, the luckiest children know of the sugar fairies’ plight and choose to give her their Halloween candy.  In return the sugar fairy will bring them little (handmade) gifts and leave them on their doorstep.  (The handmade is my addition.) Check out this more detailed story of the Sugar Fairy, to tell your little ones.   Last year the Sugar Fairy brought my kids, age 6 and 2, little needle felted monsters and a fun Halloween story dvd. The cute thing is that my six year old saw his monster’s wool roving in my stash and said, “ha, the sugar fairy stole your wool to make our monsters!”.  I giggle every time I think of it.

 

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Make a Jacaranda Seedpod Gnome

It’s the time of the year where the Jacaranda tree is starting to get its summer blossoms here in the Southern Hemisphere and the seedpods are starting to fall.  The Jacaranda Tree is a beautiful subtropical tree with gorgeous purple flowers that bloom two times in a year, in early spring before the leaves return, and then again in summer after the leaves have grown.

The seedpods are perfect to craft with and create cute little gnome ornaments.  They are perfect for the Nature Table, Christmas tree, or just as a playful ornament around the house.  Here’s a brief tutorial for a craft you can do together with your kids.

 

Items needed: jacaranda tree seedpods (remove the seeds if the pod is opened up) that have some of the stem still attached, wooden beads (14/15mm), felt, thread/embroidery floss, needle, scissors, craft knife and craft glue.

 

First, select a seedpod that you want to work with and check if the bead fits over the little stem.  Shave some of the stem off with the craft knife in case that the joint is to think (be careful though!).

Cut a piece of felt in shape of a triangle that will be the gnome hat.  We made a long pointy hat, but you can shape it as you want.  Thread a needle with embroidery floss or a few strands of thread and sew the hat.  We used the blanket stitch to do this.

Put some craft glue on the stem of the seed and slide the bead on it.  Let it dry.

 

Take another piece of thread – this will be the loop from the head on which the gnome hangs – and thread the needle.  From the inside of the hat, find the top and stick the needle through, pull the thread through and then stick the needle back into the top of the hat again – a loop had formed on the top of the hat.  Take the two ends on the ‘inside’ of the hat and knot them securely together a few times so that the knot is large enough to not slip through the top of the hat.

Put some craft glue on the top of the bead and place the hat on it, let it dry thoroughly and you are ready.

 

 

In case you have no Jacaranda Seedpods available, you can also find the ready made gnomes in the ziezo shop

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Felted Wool Cell Phone Case Tutorial

My cell phone is forever getting lost at the bottom of my purse.  I wanted to make a pretty cell phone case that would make it easier to keep track of.

 

First I knit a rectangle with easily felt-able wool yarn.  Knit it larger than you need because it will shrink when felted.  I simply guess-estimated making it about twice the size as I needed on size 8 needles.  I knit 30 stitches across which ended up being too wide. Make sure it’s a wool yarn that can be felted.  Stay away from yarn that says “machine washable” or “superwash” as it will not felt.  You can knit it or you can upcycle an old wool sweater by felting it in a hot wash cycle.

HOW TO FELT OR UPCYCLE WOOL:

To do this, take your knitted wool rectangle or wool sweater and add it to the washer tied in a pillow case.  (this is to save your washer from wool fuzz.) Wash on hot with other sweaters or a few thick towels or pairs of jeans.  These will help agitate the wool.  Add a small amount of detergent.  Wash once or twice in hot water.  Check your sweater or knit piece to see if it’s tightly felted.  If it it’s felted well then dry it on high. Check often to make sure it doesn’t wrinkle while drying.  Once it wrinkles it’s wrinkled for good.  Now, when you cut your wool the stitches won’t pull apart or fray. If it does fray then repeat the felting process.

My felted rectangle ended up a little large so I cut it to size.  Use one long rectangular piece.  The bottom of the case will be the folded edge.

 

Now the decorating begins.  I used some scraps of wool yarn I had on hand.  I needle felted a single strand of green wool to make a leaf design.

 

Needle felt it well so that it does not pull off when rubbing against things in your purse.

 

Next I chose a brighter peach/pink wool for my flower.  I simply started in the center and wrapped it around and around to make a spiral or circle.

 

Then I needle felted the stem.

 

Blanket stitch the sides together.  Begin by hiding the knot inside at the bottom of the case.

 

 

Blanket stitch all the way up on both sides.  You can add a string so you can wear it by finger knitting the string and sewing it on.  Or you can finger knit a latch and button. Mine works well without a button and surprisingly doesn’t slip out in my purse.  I wanted to be able to easily pull it out in a hurry with out having to fumble with a button.  Though if you want to add a strap to wear it a button might be wise.

I think I’m going to have to make another with a strap for when we go on our walks.  How decadent of me!  Enjoy your lovely, new cell phone case!  And if you make this please link back to us here at Natural Kids so we can see.

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What’s New, and, Well, Natural from the Natural Kids Team on Etsy

Welcome! I continue my trek backwards through the alphabet to bring to you the most wonderful and imaginative treasures. They are all handmade with natural materials from…yes! the NaturalKids Team on Etsy! This week, we feature wonderful variety of artist from who have one thing in common – they all work with natural materials!

Chimera   is the home of wool felt toys, roving and handspun yarn, accessories for knitters and spinners. Great gifts for your fiber loving friends!  Hailing from New Jersey, Kersin says, “I’ve been playing with fiber and crafting my entire life. Wool is my favorite material because it is so versatile. With wool I can make a silky scarf, spin colorful yarn, sculpt a landscape or felt a durable rug. Adding to the fun is the ability to dye wool any colors I choose, and to add in other fibers to create something truly unique.” Here is her latest…The Secret Cave Needle Felted Playmat.
 
 BostonBeanies specializes in practical and whimsical baby hats from, well, beantown. Rebecca is of course from Boston, and in her words, “I started knitting in grad school to keep my fingers busy so I could concentrate on the lectures. My friends got sick of me giving them scarves as gifts all the time, and then they started getting married and having babies, so I started making gifts for the next generation. I love the creative outlet of designing my own hats, and as a children’s librarian, I love the connection of wearable art and picture book art. So take a look, and enjoy a bit of whimsy!” Here is her Boston Beanies Knit Lavender Blossom Hat.

Wendy, of Birchleaf Designs in Michigan, offers you whimisical, natural wood and fabric playthings and some housewares as well. Everything from silks to swords…her shop is a real treasure trove of natural goodies from a business run by a family that literally lives off the grid! Here is her newest offering…the Reusable, Replayable, Rewrappable Trio of Playsilks for Spring!  
  
Those are the featured new items for this week, from one of a kind needle felted treasures, to lovely baby hat to play silks, all from natural materials and from the hands of folks who love nature, children and open ended toys. This is just a small sample of the quality and variety our customers enjoy from the fine crafters and artists of the NaturalKids team.

Thanks for joining us this week and please do return again next Monday as we continue to feature all the wonderful members of the Naturakids team on Etsy! Til then, I invite you to browse all our wonderful shops.


Warmly,
Rebecca aka Nushkie
Nushkie on Facebook

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What’s New, and, Well, Natural from the Natural Kids Team on Etsy

Welcome! We may be past Valentine’s day…but we’re not finished with the love! In this case, the love of making handmade treasures created with natural materials from…yes! the Naturalkids Team on Etsy! Today I’m going to continue my trek backwards through the alphabet to bring the stories of our members and their newest listings.

The Fairies Nest is the home of OOAK (one of a kind) art dolls, fairies, Waldorf toys, and textile treasures from the Lands of Enchantment. All dolls found there are designed and handmade by Cynthia Toy, using her own patterns and eco-friendly natural fibers and fabrics.

Cynthia’s dolls require many hours to make as she designs and creates each doll completely from her own imagination. Many of the dolls are made from the inside out without patterns, and each face is carefully drawn and painted by hand using no patterns or stencils. Because of this, no two dolls are EVER exactly alike, they are all one of a kind; like people, each has its own distinct personality.

Speaking of personality, here is a new and incredibly adorable rat! This rat is not cute just once…but twice…proving two heads are better than one! Two headed Rat Art Doll

The Enchanted Cupboard: “You enter a quaint gift shop…You see a large old enchanted cupboard with a vast amount of drawers and doors; you walk to it as sweet, whispered words fill your ears, ‘Inside you will find your heart’s desire!’ “

Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard is an award-winning artist from the age of eleven, when she picked up some oil pastels and began to draw everything she saw with her eyes and in her imagination. Her parents signed her up for Art Class at a local Art Studio. She received many Gold Key Awards and donated many of her art works to charity for auctions. Beccijo sold her first painting when she was 17. She went off to study Art at college and was awarded The Most Outstanding Student of Art for 1991. Since then, she has let her heart and her art lead her. Beccijo continues to draw and paint but has now found great passion for toy making and personal custom dolls painted to the likeness of her subject…from wedding cake toppers to childrens’ toys. You just have to open the cupboard to find them! Here is her Rainbow Wooden Dolls and Mushroom Box

Sunshadow Slippers is a ‘from home’ business that Tracey runs with her three children. They make indoor shoes for Steiner/Waldorf schools, but they are just as fabulous to be worn as slippers around the house. They are soft and ‘snuggly’ for baby toes all the way up to older toes in need of some nurture.

All materials are natural fibers. The soles are leather, the tops are made of snug fitting cotton, and inside there is a pure wool felt insole – your feet will never feel more loved!

Each pair of slippers is uniquely created to be as individual as her customers. The motifs are from nature, butterflies and dragonflies, frogs and possums, dolphins and turtles, like ones featured here: Playful Possum Print Slippers – Hand dyed in pure cotton

Sheree, creator of Sheree’s Atelier is an MIT trained chemist. Now, instead of mixing up chemicals in the lab, she prefers to spend her days at home with her family mixing up fabrics and yarns and other magical ingredients to create the items in her shop.

Sheree designs and makes all of the lovely dresses, bags and other goodies from the finest natural materials, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here is Sheree’s Aqua Floral and Dots Emma tote for Girls

From wooden toys to woolen stuffed animals, slippers and accessories, this week’s selection from the Natural kids Team on Etsy offers you just a taste of the natural creations you can expect to find and make part of your life from our wonderful artists and craftspeople. Look here for a full list of our shops!

Thank you for visiting this week. I’ll have more shops to introduce you to next week as I showcase their recent creations. I look forward to seeing you then, in the meantime, our blog has interesting and informative entries each day. Enjoy!

Creatively yours,
Rebecca a.k.a. Nushkie

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Friday Feature with Beary Organics

Tell us little about yourself!
I am a thirty something vegan mother of two wonderfully rowdy boys and a dog. Sometimes I mother my husband too, but he totally deserves it. I grew up in southern Mississippi, where my hometown is sadly now covered in tar balls and oil sheen. It was a lovely place to grow up; exploring marsh lands, bayous, and barrier islands. But… when the teens years hit, I couldn’t wait to leave. Alas, I got out and spent a couple of years drowning myself in college at the Maryland Institute College of Art. I was working hard towards that BFA in sculpture when I suddenly dropped out because I really just wanted to ride my bike. I worked and saved and pedaled some major miles in several different countries. Then it was off to Atlanta, where I met and fell in love with a small circus troupe who taught me everything they knew. Eventually the troupe fell apart and I fell in love again, this time with a cute tattooed boy whom I convinced to move to San Francisco, where I enrolled in circus school. I spent a year and a whole heap of dollars in that lovely city before getting sucked back to Atlanta. Then, I got married, had a baby, and made that baby an organic quilt. After my first one’s first birthday, we started looking at different cities. Portland, OR won the toss up and here we are, and I am finally “home.” I love this city. It’s got the good vegan food, the family friendly everything, bike trails galore, and is surrounded by nature nature nature. Baby #2 was born here and is a true pale skinned Oregonian. Our little family spends as much time as we can in the woods, rivers, and on mountains. I’d probably have more stuff listed on etsy if there weren’t so many dang waterfalls to find.

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
At this point in my life, I mostly make organic baby quilts. I do some wall-hanging quilts and clothes as well. I’ve been creating as long as I can remember, isn’t that how every artist/crafter is? There’s a picture of me, in a high chair, sleeping, with the outer crusts of a pb&j sandwich stood up in front of me. They are placed just so, my first sculpture.

What inspires you?
My children, Portland and all it’s grandness, and all that nature. Portland is a great city for artists, every business contributes a percentage to the arts. There are beautiful sculptures all over the place, as well as artists markets. The parks are amazing. The Willamette River and all the grand bridges, old and new, that bring it all together. The wildflowers, trees, and birds of the Northwest.

What got you started working with quilts?
When pregnant with my first child, I couldn’t find any organic quilts. Organic foods were really important to me, and when I got pregnant, I started thinking about how I wanted to expand to organic fabrics as much as we could. I couldn’t find one, not even on etsy, so I got a couple quilt books from the library, ordered some fabric, and did the best I could. I fell in love with the process, the textures, the way the cotton batting pulls everything in and shrinks and wrinkles the fabrics. It satisfied my love of 3D and 2D art all in one.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?

I think I started in ’05, when my little one was still little. My first shop was under the name crustychristy, an insulting childhood nickname I had embraced and stuck with. I started BearyOrganics in ’09 because I wanted a more refined shop, image, name. I love being a part of the etsy family. It hasn’t been extremely lucrative for me yet, but I spend far more time outside and playing with my children than in my sewing dungeon. It is a creative outlet for me, that’s there when I have the time, and doesn’t get jealous of my life when I don’t. One day, maybe when the kids are in school, I’ll have more than one page’s worth of stuff, and the sales will roll in.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?
I am so not the person to give advice here. My aunt though (Artsy), she’s full of great ideas. She’s been on etsy forever and makes wonderful things, and a decent living. She always says, use all your tags, take great pictures, use all your pictures, re-list occasionally if you aren’t making new things, and network.

  What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
I love being part of a group of mostly parents and grandparents who care about their kids and this world enough to pass by the cheap plastic beeping toys, and make great things. The toys, clothes, bedding, furniture, etc. that NattyKids members make inspire children, and they do so in a sustainable way. Eventually, I’d like to learn more about running the business more efficiently, and pick at the brains of those in the team that do make a living at it. As for contributing, I must admit that I’ve mostly been a bug on the wall so far. If anything is asked of me, I try to provide in a timely fashion. I’m sure that in that magical ‘one day’ place, where all the time that I don’t seem to have exists, I’ll become more involved.

What thoughts do you have for parent
s on the importance of natural toys for creative play?

Natural toys are just so much more inspiring for children, not to mention safer. Natural Kids team members make quality non toxic products for children, as all products for children should be, but somehow aren’t. The closer the toy is to nature, the more they can just imagine themselves in the world, doing worldly things, or out of this world doing alien things. The possibilities are endless. Sticks, rocks, and dirt have always been the favorites around my house, but we also love blocks, books, and puppets. Kids imaginations are so fascinating and wonderful to watch at work. I guarantee the parents of children playing with natural wooden blocks is happier than the parent whose kid is playing with the sesame street tool bench that makes horrible noises all day long. Wouldn’t you rather listen to your child sing and talk out scenes while playing with toys, than those crazy recorded hi-pitched machine voices? Of course you would.

All you links:

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

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Friday Feature with Asperjasper

Tell us little about yourself!
I am a stay at home Mum to two little boys (Asher and Jasper). We play and read and visit friends and parks and dig in the dirt and sand a lot 🙂 There is also a large amount of train and car action around here.

I am originally from England and moved to the States to be with my Californian husband who I met on a painting trip to Italy. We fell instantly in love and 15 years later, we still adore each other.
I have a painting and drawing background. I completed my BFA in England and my MFA in the States. Since I started needle felting I haven’t picked up a paintbrush!


What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I make needle felted toys and collectibles for all ages and have been felting since October 2008. I began needle felting after watching a YouTube video on the subject and was instantly hooked.

What inspires you?
Anything and everything. Color and texture is very important to me and sometimes just buying a new color roving can inspire me to make a certain animal or egg set.

What got you started working with wool?
I was looking for ideas of natural toys to make for a friend’s little girl for Christmas. I came across needle felting and just took to the craft right away. I love the feel of wool and the many textures and colors you can find out there. I really see it an alternative to paint.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I signed up in April 08 as a customer and then started selling in October 08. It’s been a fun ride so far with crazy busy spells around the holidays!

What advice would you have for other Etsians?
Make the best most professional product possible. Be different from everyone else. Take great pics. Take care of your customers. Open up Facebook fan page 🙂

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
I love that I can be a part of a group of like-minded artists who have a passion for creating safe and wonderful products for our children. Being a part of this team gives the customer an easy go-to place to find those specialized things.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
The environment is completely different in a room with natural toys than in a room with battery-operated plastic toys – quieter, more beautiful, and inviting in a very different way, and the child is calmer because of it.

Your items can be found where:
http://www.asherjasper.etsy.com
http://www.flickr.com/asherjasper
http://www.faecbook.com/asherjasper

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

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Make a Strawberry Fruit Tart


Today’s recipe is by Cyn of FairiesNest (be sure to check out her lovely shop here). The timing for this recipe is perfect with so much local fruit just coming into season (can’t wait for our local organic strawberries in June). It would make a delightful Mother’s Day surprise too.

Recipe for a Strawberry Fruit Tart

The strawberries in our part of the world are coming in fast and furious. To make this fruit tart, you start with a pre baked tart shell, preferably a sweet shortcrust. My favorite one is from the book Festive Tarts by Sylvia Thompson. (This is a fantastic tart book that I highly recommend and although it’s out of print you can find cheap used copies).

1 2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
10 tablespoons butter
pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons cream

Combine the dry, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles cornmeal, add the wet and mix lightly until a ball of dough forms. refrigerate for 15-30 mins. Roll out and place in tart form. Stick in the freezer for 30 mins and then bake in a 400 degree F oven with pie weights (or dried beans) on a piece of parchment inside. After 15 mins remove the weights and bake for 12 more mins. Cool and fill!


photo via Flickr

Cut up enough fruit to fill your tart; peaches, berries, plums, all of one kind or a mix …whatever you think is yummy. Mix together 1 cup sugar with 3 cups of orange juise and 4 tablespoon cornstarch in a saucepan. Heat this stirring constantly until it thickens. Put about 1/3 of the mixture in the bottom of the tart. Now place in the fruit in a pretty pattern or all mixed up, it doesn’t matter. Then carefully cover all the fruit with the rest of the OJ sauce. Refrigerate for at least an hour, but not more than 4 or 5 because you don’t want it to get soggy…though it will still taste good! One little trick; if you’re using fruit that might brown, like peaches, toss them with the OJ first and then drain them and proceed. It also gives the OJ a great peachy taste… This works well for freezing peaches too!

Here‘s a sweet spring flower pixie from Cyn’s shop!