Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Crafting a Cowboy Party: Goodies

I'm not sure when or where the Goody Bag tradition started, but it seems that no modern child's party is complete without the little sack of treats and toys. Usually, this bag would contain a few pieces of candy, some cheap plastic toys, and maybe some stickers, but for my son's Sweet Baby James Cowboy Party, I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to put together a goody bag that had something in it that the kids would love and their parents would want them to have, want them to keep, and wouldn't break in the first 2 minutes. I decided to make a goody bag that contained a horse hand puppet and what I dubbed "Smores Trailmix." (At the last second I did find some simple wooden cowboy and cowgirl masks at my local JoAnn Fabric store, which I threw in as well.)

I started by making the bag. I used Photoshop Elements to add stars and each child's name to a picture of a boot. I then printed the boot on cardstock, cut it out, and glued it to a coordinating small gift bag from Target.

Next, I made the horse hand puppets from felt. To make these horse puppets, I followed the horse pattern and tutorial from the Old MacDonald Puppet Tutorial and Pattern over at Just Another Day in Paradise.

It took a while, because I had quite a few to make.

Last, I made the incredibly simple "Smores Trailmix." Here's the recipe:

1 Large Bag of Mini Marshmallows
2 Boxes of Honey Teddy Grahams
1 Large Bag of Chocolate Chips

Stir to combine and divide into individual snack size baggies.
(Really, that's all there is to it!)

The Goody Bags and their contents were a big hit with the kids and parents alike, and made for the perfect end to a fantastic party!

Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

From Cowboy Town to Bible Town

I'm back! Sorry for the lack of posting lately, but I really needed to take some time off for the holidays. They were a busy, hectic, and all around wonderful time! In fact, Christmas was so especially fantastic that it is still on my mind, and in the Christmas spirit, I will be sharing with you this nativity themed project.

If you're thinking that the shape of those buildings looks familiar, you're right! This "Bible Town" was once the Cardboard Western Town from my son's Sweet Baby James Cowboy Party. I really didn't have room to keep the Cardboard Western Town after the party was over, so I gave it a makeover and donated it to my church. It is now a beloved fixture of the 3-4 year old Sunday School classroom.

Happy Crafting!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Crafting a Cowboy Party: Cow Ring Toss

I loving taking something classic and giving it a new twist. There is just something so satisfying about blending a timeless and traditional idea with modern and whimsical elements. That is why I decided to create a new Western twist on a classic childhood party game: the ring toss. Instead of just tossing rings around pegs, the little cowgirls and cowboys at my son's Sweet Baby James Cowboy Party would get to "lasso" some "cattle." Yeehaw!

To make each cow:

1. Fill an empty 2-liter soda bottle with sand. I used playground sand from my local hardware store.

2. Measure the height and circumference of your 2-liter bottle. Add 1/2 inch to the height and 1 inch to the circumference. These will be the dimensions of the piece of white felt that you will use to cover your bottle. For example a 2-liter Pepsi bottle is approximately 12.5 inches tall and 13.5 inches around. So, if you are using 2-liter Pepsi bottles, your piece of felt would be 13 inches long and 14.5 inches wide.

3. Cut a piece of white felt to the dimensions determined in the above step.

4. Cut out the cow face parts in the appropriate colors of felt from the pattern found here.

4. Cut out free form "cow spots" in varying sizes from black felt. You will need at least 2 per cow.

5. Pin the cow face parts and cow spots to the white felt rectangle that you cut out in step 3.

6. Sew around the cow face parts and cow spots 1/4 inch from the edge of each piece using thread of a coordinating color.

7. After all the cow parts are sewn on, fold your fabric vertically (hot dog style) with the right/good side facing in. Pin the edges together.

8. Sew the two edges together using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

9. Turn your cow right side out.

10. Using white embroidery thread, do a running stitch approximately 1/2 inch from the top edge.

11. Pull your thread tight and tie the ends together. Cut off any excess thread and slip the finished felt cow cover onto your 2-liter bottle that has been filled with sand.

To make each lasso:

1. For each lasso you will need one inner ring from a wooden embroidery hoop, hemp cord, and hot glue.

2. Hot glue the end of the hemp cord to the wooden embroidery ring.

3. Tightly wrap the wooden embroidery ring with the hemp cord until the ring is completely covered.

4. Once you are done wrapping, cut the hemp cord and glue the end to the hoop. Your lasso is finished! Repeat the steps to make another one.

Set your cows up in a "pasture" and hang your lassos nearby. You're ready to play!

Just in case you missed the link to the pattern above, here it is again:

Cow Face Parts Pattern

Happy Crafting!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Healthy Lunch

For the crafty person, a fabric store can be a very spooky place. You walk resolutely through its doors determined that this time you will come out with that spool of thread you need and only that spool of thread. You grab the little basket by the door, stare straight ahead, and walk quickly toward the thread aisle. Then, it happens. Out of the corner of your eye you spot a beautiful piece of velvet and begin to drift toward it. You fall under the spell of the fabric aisle, and the next thing you know, you are pushing around a cart overflowing with bolts of jersey, bundles of fleece remnants, and yards upon yards of colorful felt. And, that, my friends, is what happened to me this weekend.

I was in the fabric store gathering up sprinkles and frosting for a pumpkin cookie decorating activity at my church. While I was scouring the store for every bit of sugar in orange, green, and white, I spotted it: a gorgeous bolt of orange burlap. And, it was on sale! How could I possibly pass this up? But, what would I do with it?

I decided then and there that I just had to sew something for my husband and myself that would go with my son's Simple Sandwich Costume. I wouldn't just dress my son up this year. I was going to dress the whole family up in a theme. Never mind that it was Friday afternoon and I only had a few hours until the Halloween Party at our local YMCA. Everyone. Would. Have. A. Costume.

I decided that we were going to be "A Healthy Lunch." James, of course, was of a sandwich, my husband was 2% milk, and I was a carrot. The costumes were quick, simple, and done just in time. Here's how they were made:

The 2% Milk Costume:

1. Cut out a 6 inch by 9 inch rectangle from white felt.

2. Cut the letters out of black felt. You can find the pattern for the letters here.

3. Pin the letters to the 6x9 rectangle.

4. Sew down the middle of the letters to attach them to the rectangle.

5. Pin the rectangle to the front of a white T-shirt.

6. Sew the rectangle to the T-shirt, making sure not to sew the front and back of the T-shirt together (Yes, this has happened to me before).

7. Put on your 2% Milk T-shirt and pick up an adorable sandwich!

The Carrot Costume:

1. Get 3 yards of orange felt and 3 yards of orange burlap.

2. Using spray adhesive, glue the burlap and felt together. Here's a tip for doing this. Spread out the felt on the ground. Roll up the burlap. Spray a section at the top edge of the felt with the spay adhesive and press the edge of the burlap onto this section. Continue to spray the felt with adhesive one horizontal section at a time. Roll the burlap down onto it until the entire length of burlap is adhered to the felt.

3. If one piece of fabric is wider than the other, cut off the excess.

4. Measure the width of your shoulders and add an inch. This will be the width of your carrot.

5. Fold the fabric in half (horizontally or "hamburger" way) with the burlap facing inward. Using a disappearing ink pen or chalk pencil, draw a carrot shape with a neck hole on the fabric.

6. Cut out the carrot shape and the neck hole. Be careful when cutting out the neck hole because you will be using the oval scrap that results from this to make a head piece.

7. To help prevent fraying, sew around the entire carrot and the neck hole 1/4 inch from the edge.

8. Using some of the left over fabric, cut four 1 inch by 18 inch strips.

9. Pin the strips to the carrot 15 inches down from the fold and approximately one inch in from the edge. Sew in place.

To make the carrot head piece:

1. Take the oval shape left over from cutting out the neck hole and cut a small circle in its center.

2. To prevent fraying, sew around the edges 1/4 inch in.

3. Cut out six carrot greens from felt using the pattern found here.

4. Fold each carrot green over and hand stitch to make a loop around a green hair tie.

5. Put your hair up in a very high ponytail using another green hair tie. Thread the pony tail through the head piece and bobby pin the head piece to your hair. Loop the carrot greens' hair tie around your pony tail and bring the carrot greens to one side of your head.

You're done! Now, go grab a sandwich.

Just in case you missed those links to the patterns, here they are again:

2% Milk Letters

Carrot Greens

Happy Crafting!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Simple Sandwich Costume

Halloween is just around the corner. Do you have a costume for your little one yet? No? O.k. Don't panic. There's still time. Really. I promise. Even if you are reading this post Halloween morning, you still have time.

This simple sandwich costume can be made in an hour (maybe less if you are quick at cutting out patterns). You don't even have to sew if you don't want to. Just use fabric glue instead.

How to make a simple sandwich costume:

1. Start by printing out the patterns for the sandwich parts found here. Then, cut them out of felt.

2. Pin each "sandwich bread middle" to a "sandwich bread crust."

3. Sew the two pieces together 1/4 inch from the edge of the "sandwich bread middle."

4. Stack one piece of lettuce, the slice of cheese, the tomato, and one slice of bread so that each shows at least a little. Pin this stack to the front of a plain t-shirt in your child's size.

5. Sew the stack of sandwich parts to the t-shirt 1/2 inch from the edge of the "sandwich bread middle." Remember to push the back of the t-shirt out of the way, so that you don't sew it to the front of the t-shirt. While you are sewing, check frequently to make sure that the t-shirt hasn't folded over itself anywhere underneath the sandwich (This happened to me, so I got to spend some quality time with my seam ripper).

6. Flip the t-shirt over. Stack the second piece of lettuce under the second piece of sandwich bread and pin it to the back of the t-shirt.

7. Just like you did with the front, sew this stack of sandwich parts to the t-shirt 1/2 inch from the edge of the "sandwich bread middle." Again, remember not to sew the front and back of the t-shirt together and avoid sewing any folds into the t-shirt.

You're all done! Now, wasn't that easy?

Say cheese!

Did you order that sandwich to go?

Just in case you missed that pattern here it is again:

Sandwich Pattern

Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Crafting a Cowboy Party: Paper Mache Cactus

What is green and spiny and grows up to 62 feet tall? Why a cactus of course! The amazing ability of these plants to thrive in bright sunlight and punishing heat makes them an iconic element of the Southwest, and, therefore, a classic decoration for any Western themed party.

For James' Sweet Baby James Cowboy Party, a cactus was the very first decoration that I made.

The construction of this paper mache cactus is very similar in concept to the construction of the paper mache campfire from my previous post.

1. Tear paper into small strips and make a solution from 1 part Elmers White Glue and 2 parts water.

2. Blow up 1 large balloon to be the top of your cactus body and four slightly smaller balloons to be the tops of the "arms" and the "elbows" of your cactus.

3. Dip your small paper strips into the glue-water solution and use them to cover the balloons. Allow to dry, then cover with another layer.

4. When the paper mache is dry, pop the balloons and remove them.

5. Get a large piece of poster board (or two depending on how tall you would like your cactus to be). Roll the poster board into a cylindrical shape around the largest paper mache balloon to form the body of the cactus. Tape in place.

6. For the base of the cactus, cut out a cardboard circle that is approximately 18 inches in diameter. Tape the bottom of the poster board cylinder (your cactus body) to this cardboard circle.

7. Paper mache over the entire cactus body and cardboard circle base. Try not to get your pieces of paper too wet during this stage, because if the poster board gets too wet, it may get soft in spots and begin to collapse. Allow everything to dry.

8. To make the cactus arms, begin by cutting four long strips of poster board. Two of these should be about 8 inches wide to make the parts of the arms that attach to the cactus body. The other two will form the upright portions of the cactus arms and their width will depend on how tall you would like your cactus arms to be.

9. Rolling the poster board strips into cylindrical shapes and using the paper mache balloons and masking tape, form two L-shaped arms. Paper mache over the entirety of each arm and allow to fully dry.

10. Once the arms are dry, use masking tape to secure them to the cactus and paper mache over the area where they join. You will need to use something to support the arms while they dry.

11. Paper mache over the entire cactus once again.

12. To make the ground, soak a large quantity of small pieces of paper in the glue-water solution for several hours or overnight. This will make a type of paper mache pulp. Cover the circular base around the cactus with about a half inch thick layer of this pulp. Press your finger tips into the pulp to give it a ground-like texture. Allow to dry.

13. Paint your creation with acrylic craft paint.

14. Set your cactus up for your favorite buckaroos to enjoy!

I was really pleased with how the cactus turned out. I think it really added something special to the look of the room and the overall atmosphere of the party.

And, James' little guests loved it too!

Happy Crafting!