Tuesday, February 28, 2017

DIY Costume Tail [Dinosaur, Alligator, Monster, etc.]

Whether it's for Halloween or just everyday play, a tail is always lots of fun and not difficult to sew. This tail has a belt so it is independent of any other costume/clothing piece. You can adjust the size to fit your kids or even yourself.

- fabric (I prefer heavier stuff like fleece, denim, etc.)
- thread
- sewing machine, notions
- tape measure, ruler
- marker
- Velcro
- poly-fill stuffing

1. Cut two triangles of fabric that have two 20" (50 cm) long sides and one 8" (20 cm) short side. You can fold your fabric right sides together and use the folded edge as one of the sides.

2. Sew all three sides (fabric right sides together), leaving a 4" (10 cm) gap on one long side to turn the tail later.

3. Measure around your kid's waist and divide that measurement in half to determine how long you need to make your belt pieces. For my 5 year old, I used two 12" (30 cm) long strips. Cut the strips 3" (7.5 cm) wide, fold in half right sides together width-wise (so it's long and narrow), and sew one end and along the long side (makes a tube with one end closed). Turn right sides out. Top stitch around to help the belt lay flat. Sew a 3" (7.5 cm) piece of Velcro to one side of the stitched/closed end. Repeat for the second strip. (I used a different color fabric for the belt but you can use whatever color you want.)

4. This part is a bit tricky. Flatten the short side of the tail (not the pointy end) opposite of the seam, so that the corners become triangles with the seam down the middle. Take the unstitched/open end of one belt strip and tuck it inside the tail and into one of the corner triangles as far as you can. Pin through the triangle to hold the belt strip inside. Draw a line on the tail corner where you can feel the end of belt strip inside. Use the line you made as your guide and sew across the triangle, making sure you sew over the end of the belt inside.

Repeat for the other belt strip, making sure that you have both Velcro sides facing the same way so that they will line up properly once everything is done.

5. Cut the corner triangles off where you drew the guideline earlier.

6. Turn the tail right sides out.

7. Stuff the tail with poly-fill stuffing. The firmer you stuff it, the more the tail will stick out from the wearer's body. Sew the opening closed.


Have fun playing dinosaur, dragon, Gekko, lizard, monster...

Monday, February 20, 2017

Super Easy Hero Cape

Whether it's for you or your kid or your dog, there is never a bad reason to have a super hero cape around, and they are surprisingly easy to make. Older kids can make their own and younger kids can decorate theirs, so it could be a fun party activity. I do HIGHLY RECOMMEND attaching a Velcro closure to the neck, especially for kids and pets, to reduce the risk of choking in the event that the cape becomes hooked on something, but you're welcome to skip that for teens/adults if you don't feel it's necessary.

- sharp scissors or fabric scissors
- old t-shirt or sweatshirt that is the length you want the cape with a neck opening large enough for the wearer's head to fit through easily (raid the closet or visit a second hand store)
- long ruler or straight edge
- pen or marker that will write on fabric
- Velcro and fabric glue or needle/thread (RECOMMENDED)
- ribbon, iron-on patches, fabric markers, etc. for decorating (optional)

1. Decide whether you want to use the front or back of the shirt as the cape portion. The majority of whichever side you choose will be visible.

2. Turn the shirt inside out and lay it on a table or flat surface with the side you chose for the cape to the top. Smooth the shirt as much as possible, making sure you have it centered.

3. Use the ruler to mark a line from the bottom edge at the very left side up to the left side of the collar where it meets the shoulder seam at the top of the shirt. Repeat for the right side. 

4. Cut on these lines, BUT DON'T CUT THE COLLAR.

5. On the opposite side of the shirt, carefully cut around the collar, leaving it attached to the cape portion. You'll be left with the round collar and the cape attached. NOTE: If you think that the collar will be too tight, cut a strip of the t-shirt just below the collar instead, then cut the entire collar off.

6. To attach the Velcro, cut the collar and attach Velcro to both sides of the cut. (Sorry the cape color changes here, the teal one was easier to photograph for these steps.)

7. Decorate as desired. DONE.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

DIY PJ Masks GEKKO Hoodie

If your kid(s) is/are into the Disney Channel TV show "PJ Masks", then you've likely encountered the same thing that I have: it's hard to find clothing inspired by the show. If you've been looking everywhere for a green "Gekko" costume and haven't had any luck, then here's a tutorial for you.

Surf over to the official PJ Masks website for a great 3D view of the characters, including Gekko. There are also downloadable masks, bracelets, and a tutorial for Gekko gloves.

- medium green hoodie that fits your kid (wash and dry as per manufacturer's instructions)
- dark green or black fabric marker (I used STAINED by Sharpie)
- light/lime green felt or fleece
- fabric glue
- green thread, needle (optional)
- scissors
- long ruler or straight edge
- glow in the dark fabric paint (optional)

1. Lay the hoodie down on a table and smooth the front out as much as possible. Use the ruler and fabric marker to draw lines across the front of the hoodie at an approximately 45 degree angle with about 1 inch (2.5 cm) between the lines. Once you have covered the front of the hoodie with lines in one direction, turn the ruler 90 degrees and repeat the process in the other direction, covering the front of the hoodie with a lattice of diamonds. Repeat this on the back, sleeves and hood until the entire hoodie is covered in the diamonds. Step back and admire your beautiful Gekko "scales".

2. From the fleece/felt, cut out the following pieces:
a. Gekko logo approximately 8 inches (20 cm) wide (I made a stencil by printing the logo off the internet and cutting it out)
b. three circles approximately 2.5 inches (6 cm) in diameter (trace a glass or other circular object)
c. two ovals (hockey rink shape) approximately 2 inches by 3 inches (5 cm by 7.5 cm) (I cut one out and traced around it to get the second one fairly similar)
d. two ovals with one short side squared off approximately 2 inches by 3 inches (5 cm by 7.5 cm) (I cut one out and traced around it to get the second one fairly similar)

3. Use the fabric marker to draw two lines across each of the four oval pieces the short way, evenly spaced. Glue the squared off ovals onto the shoulders of the hoodie with the straight edges towards the hood. Let the glue dry thoroughly. You can also sew around the edge if you like.

4. Glue the ovals onto the elbow areas of the sleeves, with the oval going lengthwise on the sleeve. Let the glue dry thoroughly. You can also sew around the edge if you like.

5. If the hood doesn't have a center seam running front to back on it, lay the hoodie on its side and flatten the hood so that you can find the center and mark it with pins or small marks. Lay the hood so you can see where the center line is and place a fleece/felt circle centered on that line. Sew and/or glue the circle to the center line ONLY WHERE IT TOUCHES THE CENTER LINE a little way back from the front edge of the top of the hood.

Leave a space and attach the next circle the same way. Leave another space and attach the final circle. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly.

6. Apply glue to the top of the circle and fold it in half onto itself. Sew the edge if you like. I used binder clips to hold it while the glue dried. Repeat for the other two circles and allow the glue to dry thoroughly.

7. If you want the Gekko logo to glow in the dark, paint the front of it with glow in the dark paint. If you plan to sew it to the front of the hoodie, it's probably easiest if you paint it after you sew it on. Glue (or sew) the logo to the front center chest area of the hoodie. NOTE: If the hoodie has a zipper, you'll have to cut the logo in half first.


Thursday, September 29, 2016


Inspired by Star Wars, I gave new life to an old throw pillow.

- pillow form or old throw pillow
- solid green fabric - any kind you like, large enough to cover the pillow plus ears and seam allowance (I used fleece)
- thread matching your fabric
- marker
- sewing notions, sewing machine, etc.
- Yoda photo or toy for reference

1. Lay out the fabric, double-layered and right-sides-together. Place your pillow on top. Draw a line on the fabric around the pillow approximately 1 inch from the sides of the pillow. Draw ears. (You can make a paper template if you want them to be perfectly even.) Remove pillow. Pin fabric layers together. Sew around on the lines BUT NOT BETWEEN THE PILLOW AND THE EARS. Leave an opening at the bottom edge for turning and inserting pillow.

2. Trim the excess fabric and turn right side out.

3. Sew around inside the ears and between the ears and where the pillow will go.

4. Insert the pillow and sew the opening shut. DONE.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Keepsakes for Kids

When your baby is born, it's a lots of fun to start saving keepsakes for them. I suggest starting a box, although you may prefer to put some things I've suggested below in a scrapbook or binder. You may also want to start two boxes, one that is basically a time capsule and one for items for baby to use in the future.

First, you'll need a box with a lid. It can be cardboard, wood, or plastic. Here are some suggestions:
- box from a baby gift
- box from baby formula, diapers, wipes, etc.
- store-bought baby keepsake box
- family heirloom box or chest
- any sturdy box, decorated if desired

Add baby's name to the outside of the box, if desired.

Second, start filling the box. Here are some items to consider:
- baby cards, gift tags, and ribbons
- baby's first/favorite bottle, outfit, toy, shoes, etc.
- hospital bracelet, crib card, etc.
- newspapers from the day/week baby was born
- magazines from the week/month baby was born
- comic book from the month baby was born, especially if baby shares their name with a character
- souvenir from your favorite/local sports team(s), especially from baby's first game
- souvenir from sports championship for the year/season baby was born (hat, shirt, replica ring, etc.)
- CD with the #1 song from the week baby was born
- DVD/blu-ray/memorabilia from the #1 movie from the week baby was born
- personalized items that are for when baby gets older (pencil, key chain, jackknife, etc.)
- sports cards of athletes who share baby's name or birthday
- coins and postage stamps from the year baby was born
- mementos from the Chinese zodiac year baby was born

These are just a few suggestions. Please comment with your ideas. Have fun!

Monday, February 29, 2016

DIY TRANSFORMERS Rescue Bots Blades the Helicopter Pinata

My son loves the TV show "Rescue Bots" and has requested a "Transformers" birthday party this year. After some inspiration from Pinterest, I took on the ambitious project of building a helicopter pinata that looked like the character "Blades".

- images of "Blades" for reference
- balloon
- strips of newspaper/flyers
- lots of white glue (or a mixture of 1 part warm water, 1 part flour)
- two bowls/dishes (one for the glue, one for balancing the balloon while you cover it)
- tissue paper: white, orange, blue
- strong string
- candy (individually wrapped), small toys, etc. for filling pinata
- foam core board or sturdy cardboard
- acrylic paint: white, orange, blue
- optional: printed "Rescue Bots" logo, other metallic decal/stickers
- optional: orange plastic bottle lid

1. Inflate the balloon until it is firm but not so much that it might pop. Ensure it is tied tightly. Prepare to get messy (cover your work surface with plastic or newspaper if you like). Put some glue in one dish and balance the balloon in the other. Dip the newspaper strips into the glue and remove the excess with your fingers. Lay the strips onto the balloon, overlapping slightly. Keep them as smooth as possible. Cover as much of the balloon as possible with the first layer. I let each layer dry in between but some tutorials recommend just doing all the layers at once and then letting the whole thing dry for a longer time - your choice. I did 6 layers, alternating the direction of the strips with each layer. Once the balloon is covered with all the layers and is dry, you should just have a small hole around the end of the balloon. If the balloon hasn't already began to deflate on its own, puncture it with a pin or needle and allow it to slowly deflate. Remove the deflated balloon. Sections of the pinata may be pulled inwards by the balloon if it is stuck to the glue - use a pencil, ruler or stick to push the section back out.

2. Paint the entire pinata white. Use a pencil to lightly mark the areas that will be orange (the top 1/4 of the balloon, when on its side) and blue (WINDSHIELD: the front half of the balloon, far end from the opening). Paint these areas orange and blue. Allow all the paint to dry. Do a second coat if necessary.

3. Cut two inch strips of tissue paper (all three colors), snip along one long edge approximately every 1/2 inch and about 1 inch deep. You can snip several strips at once. Don't worry about precision. Starting at the back of the balloon (hole end), glue the strips of white tissue paper with the fringe edge towards the back (hole end), from just over the edge of the orange on one side around to the other. Overlap the strips approximately 1 inch, working your way towards the front of the balloon. Make sure you don't use too much glue and leave the fringe edge loose. Cover all the area you painted white and put one row of white over the blue. Continue with the blue tissue paper until you have all the blue covered and one strip over the front of the orange. Proceed to cover the orange area with the orange tissue paper strips in circles from the blue/white up to the center of the top.

4. Carefully poke two small holes approximately 1.5 inches on either side of the very top of the pinata. Thread a three-foot (1 meter) long string through (I used a stiff wire to guide it). I put a circle of white foam core board covered in white tissue paper on the top of the pinata, between the holes. (Cardboard will work too. Paint it white before applying the tissue paper.)

5. PROPELLER: Cut two long strips of foam core board or cardboard the same size (approximately 2 feet long and 3 inches wide). Glue them together. Once the glue is dry, paint them orange. Once the paint is dry, cover the entire thing with orange tissue paper strips. Once it's dry, poke a small hole in the exact center. Thread both ends of the string from the top of the pinata through this hole. Poke/drill a hole through the orange bottle lid and thread both ends of the string through it. Tie a large knot to secure the strip of foam core board/cardboard and lid down to the top of the pinata. (You can skip the lid or use a different color lid.)

6. Glue a "Rescue Bots" logo on the blue near the front underside of the pinata (optional). FLOATS: On the bottom of the pinata, poke two small holes approximately three inches on either side of the center. Cut 8 strips of foam core board or cardboard (paint white) about 1 foot long and 3 inches wide. Glue them together as two sets of four. Paint the top side orange.Cover the sides/edges with white tissue paper strips (hanging down). Cover the top with orange tissue paper strips. Once dry, poke a small hole in the exact center of each.

7. Thread the ends of the string from the bottom of the pinata through these holes (orange side towards the pinata). Tie large knots in the ends of the string to secure the pieces of foam core board/cardboard to the bottom of the pinata. Trim away the excess string.

8. Poke a small hole on either side of the hole at the back end of the pinata. Fill the pinata with candy, toys, etc.

9. Use some scraps of foam core board/cardboard that will fit through the hole. Poke holes through them and thread a foot-long piece of string through them. Put this assembly inside and pull the string ends through the holes in the pinata. (See picture.)

10. TAIL: Build a tail out of three layers of foam core board/card board (painted white), referring to pictures of "Blades". Make the end that will be attached to the pinata the same size as your hole. (You may have to trim the hole bigger for the tail to be strong enough and the right scale.) Paint the orange areas orange. Cover with white and orange tissue paper strips. Add the circular parts, covered in white tissue paper. Once assembled and dry, poke a small hole through approximately 3/4 inches from the end that will attach to the pinata. Thread one end of the string from the back end of the pinata through the hole. Apply glue to the edge/end of the tail and poke it inside the hole against your scrap assembly inside. Tie the ends of the string together tightly, pulling everything together to secure it. Add stickers to the center of the circles on the tail if you want.

11. Fill in around the tail with half-circles of foam core board/cardboard (painted white) and white tissue paper, covering the hole and the string/knot.

12. DONE! Whew! This took me a long time to assemble. Take your time, refer to your pictures of "Blades" often, and use longer strings than you think you need. 

NOTE: If your kid(s) want to help, depending on their age(s), they can fill the pinata with candy or perform any of the other steps that you feel they are able to, but be cautious about having them poke the holes or doing other cutting.

Also, you can alter the color scheme, logos, and tail design however you want and build any other kind of helicopter using this method. The key is reference photos so that you end up with something that looks like what you had in mind.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Art Journaling

Art journaling combines my loves of sketching, writing, quotes, and notebooks. I love how every art journal you see is so different, just like every artist. I was looking for a new notebook to start a special art journal in, with thick pages and no lines, but I realized that it doesn't matter what the journal looks like, I can glue the pages together to make them thicker, and I can either use the lines or ignore them. So I grabbed a journal that I've had for years and started having fun. Here are some of my pages.