tons of free patterns, for anyone

by Dana on November 6, 2014

It’s officially November!
Time to start thinking about Christmas, and presents, and handmade gifts?
Maybe not yet.
How about just sewing for fun!
For you….and for your man?

You see, you’ve heard me talk about the fantastic classes on Craftsy before (here and here)…but did you know they have patterns on there too?  Tons of FREE Patterns??
Where have I been?
I’ll chalk this up as one of those duh-Dana moments.

Cause who doesn’t love free stuff?   I’m sure I had you at the Simple Skirt pattern and Men’s Bow Tie pattern above?  Yea.  I need those in my life.

And I probably need some Polka Dot Nighties for my girls and an Ethel Tote Bag.
Cute + Cute.

If you want to search for FREE patterns on the Craftsy site, it’s easy.

I clicked the pattern tab at the top of the site. Then you can click on whatever category you’d like—-sewing, crocheting, knitting, jewelry, etc.  Then I clicked Top 20 FREE Sewing Patterns, and all sorts of fun things popped up!  You could also type in “free patterns” in the search box for more than 20 options, or type in some of the pattern names I’ve mentioned here.

Cause you might want to sew a Union Jack
to your bag or purse.
Or make a Simple Sunny Top for your little girl?
So many darling things to try!
And it’s free, for anyone.
You just need to open an account on Craftsy and start searching.

So get going!
Visit Craftsy’s FREE Pattern gallery HERE.

This post is sponsored by Craftsy.


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Halloween 2014: Life in a Fishbowl

by Dana on October 31, 2014

I asked Owen for a month what he wanted to be for Halloween.
A fisherman….something MineCraft……O-bot the Robot??
I was out of ideas.
Then finally on Saturday he looked at me with a straight face and gave his final answer—-
a Goldfish.

Okay!  Fun!
Do you want to be a bass fish, or a beta fish like you have in your room?
Nope. I want to be a goldfish.

You mean you want me to make a costume out of orange and yellow felt???
With circles and big eyeballs??
(happy sigh)

This costume was really fun and easy to put together.  And I’m so happy he thought of it—I like a creative challenge.  It’s sorta like a crossbreed of a fish and a bird.  But overall I think it works.
So if you’ve got your own big fish in a little pond,
Here’s how to make a Goldfish Costume…..

In my mind I thought—I’ll either make him a fish face hood out of felt, OR  I’ll find an orange hoodie and embellish the scales out of that thing.  Of course where are you going to find an orange sweatshirt 4 days before Halloween?  Um….apparently at Joanns!  Woohoo!  And for only $6. What??
Fishy fate.

Now, they only had adult size hoodies which I thought was a problem at first….but then it ended up being a huge help. Heh heh.  Huge.  Puffy?  Round fish?
Here’s what you do….

• Cut some length off the sleeves and hem them under, which actually works well because it makes the arms big and wide, sort of like fins.  And if you’re making this as a bird costume, they can be wings!
• Cut off the bottom of the sweatshirt, remove the pocket, then sew the ribbing back onto the sweatshirt hem, just to make it a little shorter (and tighter)

• Grab felt in a variety of orange/gold shades and trace/cut circles.  I cut out 3 circles at a time and it went pretty fast.

• Arrange the circles on your sweatshirt to see how it looks—and the more random they are, the better.  I also left spaces here and there since most fish are missing a few scales.
• Start at the bottom of the sweatshirt and at the bottom of the sleeves and glue each scale to your sweatshirt with a hot glue gun. Then move your way up to the top of the sweatshirt and do the same thing on the back. I didn’t do any scales on the hood.

• Use a bowl or cup to trace eyeballs and pupils.
• Sew the black circle to the white.
• For added fun, cut a circle of clear vinyl and sew it on top of each eyeball, then sew the eyeballs to your hood.

I love love LOVE how the vinyl looks on the costume!  It’s hard to see the full effect in these photos, but it adds that perfect touch.

4. FIN
Now this didn’t execute as well as I’d hoped.  It looks kind of like feathers.  But you could improve the process on yours.  I think it’s the initial shape that was wrong—I should have angled it down more.  But here’s what I did….
• Cut a few layers of felt and sew them down the middle back of the costume.
• Fold the layers up and sew them together.
• Fringe the edges.

Finish off the look with an orange T-shirt underneath and some orange shorts or pants.  Can you believe the mileage these KID Shorts have gotten over the last year??  I’ll pretend I saw the goldfish future when I selected that orange fabric….

And finally….

To get a nice round goldfish, throw a bit of batting inside.
I took about 1 1/2 yards of quilt batting and just folded it up inside the costume, so it’s like there’s a blanket wrapped around his abdomen.  I didn’t even attach it or glue it; it just kind of sits in there.   And if you live in a cold climate, it adds extra layers of warmth.

Of course if you live in a hot Texas climate…’re sweatin’ scales.  Good thing we’ve got those shorts on.

Oh little Owen, you make the cutest fish.
Thanks for the fun idea!….and for bringing this fish to life.
Every time I caught a glimpse of this on my cutting table, I saw a big dead fish.

“Owen are you a dead fish?”
“No. I’m just sleeping.  Fish sleep with their eyes open!”
(and their lips puckered)

Happy Halloween!


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I hate making cake pops

by Dana on October 29, 2014

There I said it.
I’m sure I’ll say it again.
In fact this is all very reminiscent of a clay Angry Birds post….

I guess that although I like to craft, and make, and do stuff, I just really hate uncontrolled messes.
And that’s exactly how these feel!… until the bitter end,  when they do end up looking kind of cute.  And then it sort of seemed worth it.
Because I actually don’t mind the cake baking, crumbling, rolling-balls steps.
That works out fine.

It’s when we get to this blasted part of the process that I want to throw everything away!….

…..and treat my kids to a plastic container of those neon-colored sugar cookies at the grocery store instead (you know, those ones that your kids ask you to buy every season, because they come in a different color for every holiday?  That might have been easier.)
Don’t mean to melt and complain on you.
Bear with me and we’ll trudge through the bowls of hardened chocolate together.
I mean, Why?
Why did I use so many bowls?!
Dishes. For Days.

Okay. Here’s the deal with the cake pops.
My mom got me the Bakerella Cake Pops book a few years ago.
It’s adorable.

Maybe you remember the Rudolph pops I made for Owen’s birthday a couple years ago?   With cake poop oozing out the back?
Owen loves looking through this book.  It’s in my pantry and every once in a while he pulls it out and just studies all the pictures and schemes in his mind how he might make them.  It really is the cutest thing.

And for the last month he’s been flipping through the Halloween section and asking if we can make some (btw, I just noticed on the Bakerella site that she has an entire Halloween book out!….better not show that to Owen.  Heh Heh)

So in the midst of October craziness, I told him that the week after I finished shooting videos we would make some.
And then he did the cutest thing my amateur cake-pop heart had ever seen.
He drew me a picture of the steps for making jack-o-lantern cake pops.  Ahh!

He even drew the pictures in a little mosaic, similar to her photos at the beginning of the book.  And he included a section for packaging and sending a pop off in the mailbox to a friend.  Oh Owen!
How could I say no to something like that?

So.  I baked two cakes.  I made the balls.
And when the kids came home from school we invited 5 friends over to help decorate the pops.

Bad idea.
Not because of the friends….but because of the delicate process (please share any tips you have for making it easier!)  The balls were falling apart in the chocolate, the chocolate wasn’t melty enough, tic tacs were bounding on the floor, kids were running wild.
So we quickly made some disaster pops to appease the masses—covered with more sprinkles than chocolate—and most of the kids were happy.  Owen still wanted to make his special jack-o-lantern pop and was dying to try out the edible pen.

So the next day we gave it another go (after I had dipped the pops in a more controlled setting)

And here’s what I concluded this time around:

• Work in small batches.
• Keep all of the balls in the fridge and move about 10 at a time to the freezer so they’re only in for a short period of time.
• Melt the candy in small batches, and after you dip a few balls, melt it again.
• Plastic bowls work better than ceramic bowls.
• Dip the balls all the way under and use a spoon to smooth chocolate around the ball.
• Don’t get hung-up on the word “smooth”.  Most of us will never be Bakerella.  And if you are, please share tips!
• Do all the dipping at night, so you can be as neurotic as possible and let the kids help you decorate the next day.

That’s what we did.
And I gotta say, I love how they turned out.

We used a mix of edible pen drawings, frosting gel tubes, googly eyes (to make crazy eye balls):
And we made ghosts, zombies, anything Halloween-y.

And in the end the kids were really proud of their creations.

Owen’s favorite pop was his jack-o-lantern, which looked pretty close to the ones in the book.

My worst pop was a clumpy ghost, too bottom heavy to stay on his stick.

Of course the other silver lining to the crazy mess, is that when you’re done you have all sorts of treats to wrap up and share with friends, stuff in the kids lunches, send off in the mailbox as Owen illustrated (actually, that’s probably a bad idea)

And if you have any leftovers, they make the perfect late night treat (they’re yummy even with out the chocolate coating and whole lot easier to make!)

Ahhh. Okay.
My rant is done.
Till we meet again next month, cute little book….

I’m off to sew costumes!


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TUTORIAL + Free Printable: Candy Corn Masks

by Dana on October 24, 2014

Last year at Halloween time I was asked to share a craft with the kids in Owen’s class.
I always love a good kid-craft challenge!
So I thought about my two favorite things from Halloween—costumes and candy.
I combined them together….

And we made Candy Corn Masks!
It was a sweet success.

This project is great for kids of all ages, from pre-school kids up to….well, adults!  (although the masks might not fit as well).   AND I have FREE printable masks ready for you!
So let’s get started….

1. Print your masks:
• Click HERE to download the PDF file and save it to your home computer.
• Print it on white cardstock from your home printer OR email the file to your local printer (Office Depot, Staples, Kinkos, etc) and have them print to cardstock for fairly inexpensive.
• The file comes with many options: with the candy corns in two directions and even plain candy corns without faces.

Now when it comes to decorating, you can use whatever you want—crayons, markers, glitter, paint!  For our masks, we used paper squares to create a mosaic of color.

2. Prep the Project.
If you’re making this with young children or for a class project, it’s easiest to do these first steps BEFORE the kids get involved.

• Cut your colored paper into small squares so kids can glue the pieces to the masks.
• Cut out the eyes and mouth from each mask so it’s easier to trim them later.

3.  Decorate your Mask!

• Place a piece of paper under each mask so you don’t get glue on the table.
• Grab a glue stick and smear glue in a small area of your mask, arrange paper squares over the glue, and repeat till your candy corn is finished.  Be as creative as you want with the color scheme!
• When the mosaic is done, cut out the mask and trim any excess paper from the eyes and mouth (when doing this with the school kids we had adults help with this step).
• Attach skinny elastic (1/8 inch wide elastic works best) to one side of the mask with a staple and then tie a knot around it to keep it secure.
• Have the child hold the mask around their face and measure to the other side.  Staple and tie another knot loosely this time, on the other side.  Try it on again, make adjustments to the elastic, and when it fits well, tie the knot tighter.

Of course every mask needs some personality.
So add a mustache, a hair bow, a bow tie to your mask?!  Or give your candy corn eyelashes and glasses.

So many choices.

And I loved seeing the variety of candy corns that came out of Owen’s class.
This group was adorable!

And…they even wrote me thankyou cards with pictures of their masks on the front.
Does it get any better than that?!
Thank you kiddos.

For even more fun, use the same printable to make puppets.
Decorate and cut out your candy corn.  Then tape a painting stick on the back and you’re ready for the show!

It’s the perfect afterschool activity for all your corny friends.

Then hang your mask on the front door (with your spider web frame) so everyone knows where the party’s at.

Happy Halloween!

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