raising creative kids

Our Homeschool Room and Play Room Tour

We’ve lived in our 1880s farmhouse for about two and a half years now, and in that time, I’ve rearranged the bedrooms about fifty bazillion times. Seriously. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen my sewing room shift from room to room. It had become pretty clear that while I wanted to have my own sewing space, it just isn’t the season for it. Our family needed and would get much more use from a playroom/school room. So my sewing space is once again shared with our master bedroom, like in our previous home. And the brightest room in the house is now our playroom/school room. It’s probably the best room swap we’ve done yet, and I’m excited to show it to you!

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

We recently got an IKEA, making all my organizational dreams come true. ;) I knew I wanted to have one wall with books, toys, and learning materials. We have other books throughout the house (because I’m a firm believer that reading needs to be part of your family culture), but here we’re housing our non-fiction reference books, my teacher’s manuals, and some picture books.

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

Since we have a toddler in the house, I put the learning materials that have small pieces up on the higher shelves. We used to have a lot of these items in bins, but I love having most of them in baskets now – they’re a little more open and easier to access. I kept some of the choking hazards in bins with lids, because of aforementioned toddler. ;)Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

This is nearly all the toys we have in our house. We have legos and a few Star Wars toys upstairs, since they have small pieces. Our play kitchen is in our family room, where we tend to do our Morning Time and read alouds. It’s nice to have some toys nearby for the littles who get easily distracted. We also keep board games in a closet and bring them out only when we’re playing them. I’ve been working hard to declutter and keep our home more minimal. To be honest, this isn’t something that comes naturally to me, but it’s definitely better for my mental health and for our family in general.

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

I knew I wanted some ALEX drawers from IKEA, and this size was perfect for all of our craft supplies, papers, coloring books, and blank books for story writing. Storage for papers and art supplies was the biggest problem I needed to solve. I love that this gives us a confined space for it (meaning, we can’t go crazy and buy all the things – we can only fit so much!) and it’s so nicely organized. Remember that storage cushion?? It’s currently filled with the boys’ sweatshirts, which makes it nice and comfy. :)

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

This room had some little shelves in this random spot when we moved in, and since we haven’t done anything to change this room (including the wallpaper… which I have mixed feelings about) they seemed like the perfect spot for our Nature Shelf. We spend a LOT of time outside and in nature study, so this was a must have. And yep…. those are skulls. Life with boys!

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

The other corner of the room has a table we found in our basement when we moved in, plus the rest of our art supplies and school books. In this smaller set of ALEX drawers, the boys each have a drawer for their personal school books. The top drawer houses things like rulers, erasers, tape, etc. The baskets hold chalkboards, extra paper rolls, dry erase boards, and clip boards. The shelf on the wall is my toddler proofing… markers, scissors, glue, and pencil sharpener. Basically a mom’s worst nightmare if a toddler gets their hands on them. ;) Having this dedicated creative space is awesome for my kids – they’re always creating, drawing, and writing. We tend to “do school” all over the house, so this won’t necessarily be used primarily for formal lessons, but it’s nice to have some options. I’m searching for some new kitchen chairs, and when I find ones I like, our current chairs will move in here to replace the hodge podge of stools. But hodge podge works well enough!

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

This sweet little spot is one of my favorites. I recently found a little vintage table and chairs, and it’s PERFECT for my youngest. The other kids actually like it too. I keep my vintage sewing machine here (next to my sad attempts at having a green thumb), mostly because I don’t have another place for it right now, and I hate to keep it hidden away.

Homeschool Room Inspiration and Organization

Someday I’ll have my own sewing room again, but for today, I’m happy to have this beautiful space where my kids can learn and play. I know this room will evolve as we use it, and I have some plans for some wall decor that will come eventually. But I really love how it turned out, and it’s actually becoming one of my favorite rooms in the house. When it’s clean, anyway. ;)

Advertisements

15 Gifts for Crafty Kids

If your kids are anything like mine, gifts that encourage creativity are always a safe bet. They love anything that allows them to express themselves. And I never have a problem buying them sewing and crafting supplies, because we are all about raising creative kids over here. Here are 15 gifts for crafty kids, that you still have time to get!

15 Gifts for Crafty Kids

15 Gifts for Crafty Kids:

(this post contains affiliate links – purchases through these links cost you nothing extra, but I receive a small commission, helping me to run this site!)

51Ad2jt-gtL._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_

Crafty Chloe – this book is ADORABLE. My boys absolutely love how Chloe makes gifts and clothes and all sorts of fun things!41cRbnczNrL._SX450_

Janome Mini – I highly recommend this sewing machine for kids! It works really well (I’ve used it in a pinch ;) and it’s built for even young kids to use safely.

91pY07RoRdL._SL1500_

My First Sewing Kit – this kit has all your kiddos need to hand sew crafts!71fIRkDbHPL._SL1500_

Self-healing Cutting Mat – protect your kitchen table from scissors and scratches

716JzDIV2JL._SL1100_

Sewing Kit – a must for any kiddo learning how to machine or hand sew

81TUTiaX7yL._SL1500_

Yarn Craft Kit – your kiddo can learn to knit, crochet, and make super fun accessories!

510oGSjbJ6L

Easel Accessory Set – this art set is perfect for many ages. I love sets like this where everything comes all together. These paint cups are so great too and prevent a lot of messes!

61w9xEJ7tXL._SL1050_

Double-sided Easel – every artist needs an easel!

71yKRI714eL._SL1000_

Drawing Set – I like how this set has different mediums for drawing, giving your littles the opportunity to use many drawing methods. Perfect for all ages!

81LHjC9SW+L._SL1200_

Sketchbook – this is the sketch book that I use to plan out new designs and ideas, and I get them for my boys as well. They like having their drawings all in one spot, and I like not having a thousand different papers lying all over the place. ;)

51DCliRMUzL

Craft-A-Day – this book is FULL of ideas for your crafting kiddos!51+2PgDb4TL

Felt – this is a must for crafting! There are so many things you can do with felt: sewing, crafting, gluing, cutting…

81AiD2m1kNL._SL1200_

Stained Fabric Markers – my favorite fabric markers! Pair these with some plain t-shirts or aprons for hours of entertainment.

81+y2mahcOL._SL1500_

Assorted Craft Supplies – pretty self-explanatory ;)

A1yL7J0Fp0L._SL1500_

Embroidery Floss paired with Embroidery Hoops for hours of stitching fun!

Happy crafting, friends! :)

15 Ways LEGO Encourages Kids to be Creative

As a creative mama, I think it’s incredibly important to encourage creativity in my kids. There are so many ways to do this, but in our house, LEGO is one of the biggies. Rarely a day goes by without the sound of my boys digging through the LEGO bins (parents, you know the sound!) and bounding up the stairs, creation in hand, with a loud chorus of “Look! Look, Mom! Look at this!” If your littles have yet to discover the joy of these colorful bricks, here are 15 ways Legos encourage kids to be creative:

15 Ways LEGO Encourages Kids to be Creative

1. Endless possibilities – There’s no end to what can be made with LEGO. Whether they’re using a kit or a box of random bricks, if your kiddos can think of it, they can make it. Creations can be however elaborate or simple as they wish.

2. Open-Ended Play – unlike toys with buttons and screens, kids can play however they want. They can tap into their imagination to create an elaborate battle scene, an enormous mansion, or simply play with their Lego guys and have them talk to each other. There isn’t just one direction their play can take, it can follow their whims and interests wherever they go.

3. Teamwork – Not everything can be built alone! Sometimes you need a brother or a friend to help you out, find the right piece, suggest a different way. Or occasionally (ahem, every.single.day.) your brother wants to use the piece that you want, and either have to cooperate and build something tougher or compromise and change your design.

4. Problem Solving and Perseverance – When something doesn’t work, when what you’re building isn’t turning out the way you want it to, you try it another way. Or start over and try something different. In sewing (and life!), there are so many times that I have to try something two, three, or more times before it turns out the right way. This allows kids to brainstorm and come up with new ways to solve problems.

5. Improvisation – Sometimes life doesn’t come with directions, and not every design can be found in a LEGO kit. The LEGO Master Builders who built the incredible large-scale model of the U.S. Capitol didn’t say “Hey, let’s make the Capitol Building!” walk into the LEGO store and come out with a kit. They worked for hundreds of hours, designing and building, making mistakes and changing their plans along the way I’m sure.

IMG_1373

6. Follow Directions, but Make it Your Own – When I’m following a pattern, I don’t always want to make it exactly the way the designer created it. So I’ll add my own twist and take it in a new direction. This is the beauty of creativity! My kids have gotten quite a few LEGO kits, but after they build them once or twice by following the instructions, they get an idea of how they could make it better or taller or faster or cooler. They get ideas and inspiration from the kit, but their creativity makes it their own.

7. Explaining your DIY – Let’s be honest, it takes a lot of creativity to be able to explain how you made something to someone else. It’s a skill that needs to be developed, and it doesn’t always come easily. My kids love to tell me why they put a specific brick in a certain place or how they got the front of their rocketship to look that way.

8. Don’t Worry About What Others Think – You love to build with only red bricks? Awesome. Your friend likes to build the tallest towers he can? Sweet. Your brother only wants to build race cars to see which one is the fastest? Fantastic – everyone can do their own thing, because that’s what building with LEGO is all about.

IMG_1412

The car racing ramp in Mayfair Mall at the Lego Americana Roadshow

9. Make What You Don’t Have – Isn’t this the backbone of every DIY-er? If my boys don’t have clothes for a wedding, I can make it for them. Can’t find pants that fit over baby’s cloth diapers? Design and sew them! The other day, my oldest said to me, “Legos are awesome, because if I don’t have a certain toy, I can just make it!” Thank you, LEGO, for helping my kids to love to DIY even before age ten.

10. Step Out of Your Box – Sometimes it’s hard to take apart the pieces of a kit and make something new. But after awhile, kids get brave and realize that if they use the piece that came with the camper kit in their flying car, it would make it even better.

11. Aesthetics and Design – It’s not always about function. Sometimes you really want something to look good. LEGO gives kids so many opportunities to practice symmetry and patterns and color blocking – all things I think about when I’m creating a garment or thinking up a new design. I don’t just want clothes that cover my body, I want them to flatter me and look good!

12. Builds Confidence – Don’t you love that feeling when you made something really awesome? And you get so excited to show everyone, and they’re all excited and amazed? It builds your confidence and gets you super pumped to do it again. When your littles make a car that really moves or a building that is taller than they are, it gives them the guts to try it again and to try something even harder next time. One of the first landmarks we saw at the Lego Americana Roadshow was the Statue of Liberty, and my boys were.in.awe. They couldn’t wait to go home and try their hand at something so jaw-dropping.

IMG_1369

13. Concentration – Have you ever tried to build something intricate with Legos? You need a lot of patience and concentration. Same goes for sewing, knitting, hand lettering, building furniture…. you need to focus on your craft to get good at it. LEGO teaches kids to sit in one spot and work on something for more than five seconds.

14. You Can Entertain Yourself – I have to say, I’ve never heard my kids tell me they’re bored. They know how fun it is to entertain themselves and stretch their imaginations and make something outstanding. They’ve had a lot of practice. The more freedom you give them to just build and play however they want to with their bricks, they’ll blow you away with what they can do.

15. Build and Understand What You Can’t See in Real Life – We’re not all lucky enough to be able to travel around the world or even across the country. We can, however, build a miniature version. And if you can’t figure it out? You can look at someone else’s creation. If you’re local and you haven’t checked out the Lego Americana Roadshow yet, there’s still time. It is AMAZING, and I’m not one tiny bit exaggerating. If you’re not local, you should find out if it’s coming close to you – and it’s even worth a drive! If it weren’t for naps, we could have spent all day there, discovering all the tiny details on all the phenomenal creations.

IMG_1385

You can still see the FREE Lego Americana Roadshow at Mayfair Mall through this Sunday, June 28th.

Mayfair Mall
2500 N Mayfair Rd
Wauwatosa, WI
Mon – Sat: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Sun: 11:00 am – 6:00

Disclosure: I am being compensated for this post, but all opinions are my own.

Why Creativity Matters to Motherhood

I come across a lot of people who are astonished that I sew. Sometimes they’re amazed because they think sewing is a hard skill to learn (it’s not!). Usually, though, they’re baffled that I can find the time. They see me with my four kids, homeschooling, and they say – “Wow, how do you do it all??”

But in reality, I don’t do it all. I do a lot of things – some of them better than others – but I’ve made it a point to prioritize the things that I love. And creativity is a priority in my life. In fact, I think it’s a crucial part of motherhood. Sometimes I have a sink full of dishes, three laundry baskets of clothes that need to be folded, and floors that need to be mopped, but still I sew. I believe that creativity matters to motherhood.

“You are never too busy to make time for what you love. It’s just a matter of prioritizing — evaluating how you spend your days and dedicating time for what you value. If something is really important to you, you will find a way to fit it into your life.”
-Jessica N. Turner, The Fringe Hours

Why Creativity Matters to Motherhood

This post contains affiliate links.

1. I believe that we are designed to be creative, because God is creative. The Father made us with His own hands, and I think that He meant us to be makers. That means something different for each person. I create with fabric, but for you it might be music or baking or photography or words. No matter which outlet you choose, there’s a part of your soul that is itching to be creative.

2. I want my kids to know that art matters. Kids watch and learn. Even if you never tell them with your words (which, by the way, you should), they will see you doing that you’re passionate about and it will make an impression. They’ll watch you doing something creative, and it will help them believe that they can do it too. Kids are born to create – they need to feel things with their hands and make new worlds out of clay, paint, crayons, and paper. When they see their mama pouring her heart into something she loves, it affirms that natural creative desire they have inside themselves. If raising creative kids is a important to me, which it is, I need to model this to them and show them it’s a priority in my own life.

creativity

3. Creativity is energizing. Every time I sit down at my sewing machine, something happens inside me. As I take the fabric and make it into a dress, a pair of pants, a bag, whatever – my heart skips a beat. I can ride the “sewing high” of a successful project for weeks. When I’ve had a hard day, maybe the kids are sick or someone has flushed a mitten down the toilet (true story) or we’ve all been hibernating from the -40F windchill, sewing can turn my day around. It can put me in a good mood again and remind me that oh yeah, it was just a bad day… we’ll start fresh tomorrow.

4. Learning new skills keeps my mind active. Motherhood is a lot of repetition and sometimes it can make you feel like all your brain cells are slowly dying away. Between wiping booties and boogers and spending your days speaking to someone who can’t make conversation back to you about anything other than Daniel Tiger, it’s important to find something that sparks your creative side.

5. Kids need to see their mama doing something other than taking care of them. I spend a lot of time taking care of my boys. From the time they wake to the time the go to bed (and sometimes even after that), I’m caring for their needs. I’m teaching and training and breaking up brotherly squabbles. I pick up toys and wash dishes and make meal after meal. It’s hard work, and I’m so blessed to be able to do it, but I want my boys to know that being Mama is not everything that I am. When my boys see me sewing, not only do they see me working with my hands, but they notice that I’m doing something that doesn’t involve them. It’s good for them to see that they aren’t always the center of my universe!

6. Making time for me makes me a better mom. In the book The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner, she talks about how self-care is not a privilege, it’s a necessity. I agree wholeheartedly. Motherhood takes a lot of sacrifice, and it’s something I do willingly. But that doesn’t mean I should forget about who I am and the passions that drive me. Taking care of myself well means that I’m less cranky and more filled up inside, so I have more to give to my husband and my kids. I don’t need to feel guilty about the time I spend on myself. As Jessica says, “Choosing yourself is not wrong. The longer you go without taking time for yourself, the more resentment will fester, exhaustion will set in, and you will have nothing left to give — to anyone. Guilt has no place in the decision to take care of yourself.”

10352889_10103995017759267_8350055384016285195_n

The book The Fringe Hours releases today, and it hits the nail on the head. This book isn’t just for moms – it’s written for every woman who has a hard time believing that making time for herself is important. I found myself nodding along with Jessica’s words, agreeing with her that if I don’t prioritize myself and my creativity, it doesn’t make me a better mom or wife. In fact, it makes it harder on me.

Your creative potential will never be reached if you don’t make time for yourself. By spending your fringe hours – the time you have set aside just for you – doing something creative, something you’re passionate about, you’ll feed your soul and be a better mom, wife, sister, or friend. Creativity is a key part of who you are as a whole person – spiritually, mentally, emotionally. Your creative side matters because YOU matter.

10995899_10103995019690397_2948697822301938267_n

What are you going to do to make time for yourself? If you’re not sure where to begin, start by reading The Fringe Hours. Jessica gives you practical tips on how to prioritize yourself and take back your fringe hours. Motherhood is important work, but making time for yourself – for your passions and your creativity – is crucial. We need to model the behavior we want from our children. Show your kids that your fringe hours are a necessity. Your creativity matters, mama! Make the time. Do it for yourself and for your kids.

 

Disclosure: I was given a copy of The Fringe Hours in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are honest and my own.

Raising Creative Kids: 10 ways to encourage your kids to be creative

Today is the day we’re starting the Raising Creative Kids series! This isn’t going to be a “post every day for a week and then never again” kind of series, but rather something that’s on-going here on my blog. So you’ll find a Raising Creative Kids post popping up occasionally [perhaps once a month, perhaps more frequently].

raising creative kids // a series at if only they would nap

When I was young, I would spend hours writing stories and dreaming of publishing books. As I got older, I was super passionate about painting. These days my creative energies are directed toward sewing, cooking, and creating a cozy home. But I have to be creating, somehow.. it’s definitely part of my DNA.

My boys area lot like me in this way. They spend hours drawing, making, and writing. It took some comments from other mamas to realize that this isn’t always the norm. So I wanted to share how we do things in our house to encourage creativity and make it a priority in our home. Hopefully you’ll walk away with some ideas and a fresh perspective.

10 ways to encourage your kids to be creative

1. Read

Honestly, the former elementary teacher and homeschooling mama in me believes that this is one of the most important things you can do to encourage your kids to be creative. Reading sparks their imagination and gives them new ideas. It stimulates their brain and gives them the desire to learn more things. If your kids aren’t of reading age, read to them and keep picture books or board books all over the house. Encourage reading outside, in bed, or wherever.

 photo c5d6ff89-f6ed-42ac-a607-824ae2283d81_zps7fa76d70.jpg

2. Unstructured play

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
-Mr. Fred Rogers

Next to reading, this is a huge priority for me and one of the biggest reasons we homeschool. Now don’t worry if you’re not a homeschooling family, you can still have unstructured play time in your child’s day! Give your child open-ended toys and the time to create something with them – an imaginary world, a tower, a hospital.. toys that can be used in multiple ways are crucial to helping your child to nurture their creative side.

3. Have art and writing supplies readily accessible

My kids have free access to most of our art supplies. Since we have a baby and a toddler in the house, the scissors and paint are kept out of their reach, but the older boys can get to them. I never let the boys think they are wasting art supplies. I don’t ever want them to think that what they are creating isn’t important. So do we go through a lot of markers, tape, glue, and paper? Oh my, yes. But I’m okay with that. We don’t buy a lot of expensive art supplies. We hit up dollar stores or the Target dollar spot or even thrift stores. Let your kids use the backs of old papers that you don’t need anymore for drawing. Since most of the things they make aren’t things we’ll keep forever, I don’t want to freak out and see dollar signs flashing in my head every time they bust out the watercolors. There are a few supplies that are reserved for special occasions or parent-supervised activities, but because they have the freedom to create whenever they want to, they are more likely to do it.

 photo c8248186-6d5a-4c82-b79c-d403ec5fdf43_zps6c25b7b9.jpg

4. Model creativity

This one might not come as easily to you, if you don’t consider yourself a creative person, and that’s okay. Teaching your kids to be passionate about something is important – whether it’s fixing cars, running, cooking, sewing [ahem] or whatever it is that you enjoy. Let them see the creativity in that, because it’s there. Let them see you reading or playing an instrument or doodling on a page; it will make a difference.

5. Get into nature

Spending time outside can have an incredible impact on creativity – yours and your child’s. Most of my favorite memories as a kid revolve around sitting in the woods around my parents’ house. Whether it’s a state park, a beach, or your backyard, playing outside gives your kiddos a different perspective, not to mention all the health benefits of fresh air and exercise. I know that when my body feels good, I feel more creative!

6. Create instead of craft

My boys don’t do a lot of parent-directed craft projects. Every now and then, but mostly I give them free reign to create. Let me tell you, they come up with some weeeeird things sometimes. ;) And most of it is far from Pinterest-worthy. But it’s theirs and they’re proud of it, and sometimes they blow me away with their creativity. I don’t at all mean to say that parent-directed crafts are bad – they are so much fun to do, and can produce some super cute projects! Just don’t be afraid to let your kids just make weird, random creations.

 photo 3179804e-53b9-43d7-bd82-9e205afa8295_zpsaab2569e.jpg

7. Dress up and pretend play

“When we treat children’s play as seriously as it deserves, we are helping them feel the joy that’s to be found in the creative spirit. It’s the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.”
-Mr. Fred Rogers

[let me just pause for a minute and say how much I love Mr. Rogers. okay, had to get that off my chest]

If you’ve watched kids playing dress up or with a play kitchen or caring for a baby doll, you have seen how this challenges them to think outside of their world. Giving a child a silly mustache is more than watching them look completely adorable [which of course is absolutely true], but it’s about watching them pretend to become someone else for a few minutes, stretching their mind a little, and creating a whole new world to be a part of.

8. Limit electronics

We are not a no-screen family, but we are definitely a limited-screen family. We have computers and tablets and a TV, but our boys have very limited time with any of these. I do not believe that any of these things are bad – in fact, I think they can be really great at times. [And how many mamas are thankful to Sesame Street for giving them the chance to take a shower? Can I get an Amen??] But when your kids are looking at a screen, they are usually not using a creative part of their brain. So if encouraging creativity is a priority, consider if you need to scale back the screens.

9. Embrace the mess

Allowing your kids the freedom to create what they want means relinquishing a clean space. If your kids are worried that you’re going to get upset that they spilled glue all over the floor for the fifth time that day, they aren’t going to have as much fun. Set aside a dedicated art space or fill a kitchen cabinet with all your art supplies so they can work at the kitchen table like we do. When we aren’t eating, our kitchen table is nearly always covered in art supplies. Pick an area that is easily cleaned or that is okay getting a stain or two… or a hundred. ;) Keep placemats, tablecloths, and painting shirts nearby to minimize the cleanup, and make sure your kids are able to put most things away themselves [don’t keep everything on a high shelf, or you’ll have to do all the work!]

 photo 83e9542b-5d40-40ba-97ee-4eae4a3aa415_zps8fe1664d.jpg

10. It’s not a competition, and it’s okay to make mistakes!

Part of being creative is learning and growing. That means making mistakes and not comparing my art with yours, one child’s artistic or musical talent with another’s. I know I can struggle with this for myself, so I don’t want to pass this along to my kids. In our house, we tell our boys that “everyone is creative in their own way.” You don’t draw “better” than him, you just do it differently or are older and have had more practice. When you take the competition out of creativity, kids are more likely to try something new without fear of comparison. In the same vein, don’t get sucked into the “Do it for me, Mommy!” game. While it’s a wonderful experience to create alongside your child and help them when they’re stuck, encourage independence when you can. Let them  make a picture of a tree that looks absolutely nothing like a tree. Someday it will probably look like a tree. :)

What are some things you do in your home to encourage creativity in your home?

Jumping in.

Happy New Year, friends!

It’s been pretty quiet around here – between family celebrations and traveling and winter illnesses, I’ve been laying pretty low. But probably like so many of you, with the new year comes a rejuvenation. A fresh burst of ideas and energy. Recommitment and resolution. In the past, I’ve shared my one word for the year or my list full of hopes.

This year, I’m all about jumping in. Taking a leap and not waiting for the perfect timing or circumstances. Because when is life ever going to perfect? [I’ll tell you, friends… never.] So rather than looking at my lists of somedays and things I want to do, I’m just going to do.

So hopefully you’ll see me taking some sewing chances – trying new things and sharing ideas I’ve been sitting on for awhile, afraid to pull the trigger. I want to be a risky sewer [not risqué…. risky… make sure you read that one correctly!]. I don’t want to be afraid of making – and sharing – mistakes, because I think that calls for even more celebration of our successes.

To start it all out, next week I’m starting an on-going series called Raising Creative Kids. I’ve had this one in my head for awhile, but it never seemed like the “right time” to do it.

 photo cb3c4a77-323c-49ff-9e08-00cb9f8df5ac_zpse497b1d0.jpg

 So here’s to throwing the idea of the “right time” out the window, hey? Thanks for following along with me last year, lovelies. I’m so excited for what 2014 has in store!

Handmade Gifts for Boys: embroidered kid art tote bag [a tutorial]

As I said yesterday, my boys love to do art. Their drawings and creations are seriously beginning to take over our house. Because not only do my boys love their art, they also hate to part with it. My oldest tapes it all over our walls, and the refrigerator is completely covered. I find myself sneaking papers into the recycling when the kids are asleep [I’m not the only one who does this, right??]

I wanted to come up with a creative way to keep my boys’ art, so the stitcher in me had to do some embroidery!

DIY embroidered kid art tote bag tutorial

Supplies:

  • 1/4 – 1/2 yard of woven material [depending on how big you want your tote]
  • embroidery hoop
  • embroidery floss and needle
  • scissors
  • water soluble transfer marker
  • sewing machine/thread
  • your child’s drawing

 photo 63e4dd47-de96-40db-be1f-ddab2f6f8869_zps711dc0ca.jpg

1. Stretch your fabric in your embroidery hoop. You will want to choose a fabric that is lighter in color and you can see light through – you will need to see your child’s drawing through the fabric.

 photo 44a565e3-9bee-4f5f-8e9e-a2c5c52b71c2_zps36770d27.jpg2. Hold your child’s drawing up to the light so you can trace the picture onto the fabric with your water soluble marker. If it helps, pin the picture to the fabric.

 photo f82e36f5-62bf-4e60-953a-875a10706f95_zpsc341a5f9.jpg3. After you’ve traced the whole drawing, stitch over it using your embroidery floss.

**If you stop at this step, wouldn’t this make a fabulous present for grandparents?? Just secure the fabric behind the hoop with glue.**

4. Make your tote bag, using this simple tutorial. By making the bag before you continue, you can make sure your pocket is an appropriate size.

 photo DSC_0073_zpse3b2039d.jpg5. Cut your embroidered fabric into a square and cut another piece of the same fabric in the same size. [the size you cut it into is your choice and will depend on how big your tote bag is]

 photo DSC_0079_zps07e6ba5d.jpg6. Put the two squares right sides together and sew along three sides, leaving the top open. A serger is not necessary for this step and can be easily done with a sewing machine as well.

 photo DSC_0097_zps0fa75b4f.jpg7. Fold the pocket right sides out. Fold the top edge down 1/4in. and press carefully.

 photo DSC_0109_zps5078a635.jpg8. Straight stitch across the top folded edge. Then place the pocket onto the tote bag and pin in place. [the bag is shown here without the straps]
 photo DSC_0127_zpse3c887bf.jpg9. Straight stitch around the three sides of the pocket, being careful not to sew through the other side of the tote bag. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitches!

 photo DSC_0142_zpsdad0301f.jpgNow throw some books or art supplies in there, and you’ve got yourself a personalized gift!

 photo DSC_0144_zps05c9ffaf.jpg

Head over to Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy to check out Stacey’s DIY Football Peg Dolls and to enter today’s giveaway!

Handmade Gifts for Boys continues tomorrow, so I’ll see you then!

 photo HandmadeGiftsbutton-1_zps797a83c5.jpg

Handmade Gifts for Boys: DIY Craft Kit

Hooray! It’s here! Day one of Handmade Gifts for Boys!

 photo HandmadeGiftsbutton-1_zps797a83c5.jpg

When I started thinking about gifts for my boys, I knew I needed to get them some arts and craft supplies. My boys absolutely l.o.v.e. to create. We go through art supplies super quickly, so a Craft Kit was in order! DIY craft kit for kidsThis one is a really quick and easy gift – and can also be inexpensive!

Suggested supplies to gather:

  • ribbon
  • pipe cleaners
  • markers
  • cardstock
  • pom poms
  • stickers
  • stencils
  • washi tape
  • fun hole punches [using discretion to make sure the child is old enough for these, of course]

 photo f6557d25-d181-4828-8466-1ceb7648e954_zps13bcd615.jpgWhen looking for supplies for a Craft Kit, try the Target dollar spot, dollar stores, or thrift shops. I also dug through my supplies from my wannabe-scrapbooker days and found some cool shaped hole punches and different colors of cardstock that I had but haven’t used in years.

 photo DSC_0015_zps5192a2ed.jpgFind a shoebox-sized plastic container [or larger, if you want to add letter-sized paper].

 photo DSC_0012_zpsea0dec9e.jpg
I like this one with an attached lid, because then it can’t get lost. And in my house, it definitely would get lost. You could even paint your child’s name on top to personalize it!

You could get super creative with this Craft Kit, depending on what kind of art your littles like to do. Think: paint and paint brushes, decorative edge scissors, stamps and ink pads, yarn, glue, etc. Anything your little one could use to get creative!

Now make sure you head over to Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy to see the amazing Angry Bird Pouches she has!

To top off our fabulous first day of Handmade Gifts for Boys, we have a fantastic giveaway. Bright Life Toys is offering one lucky winner a Memory Game Montessori Learning Toy. Plus, get 25% off your purchase with code BOYOHBOY, good through December 20th. photo il_570xN334132494_zpsc66bceff.jpg

Click here to enter the giveaway!

See you tomorrow for more Handmade Gifts for Boys!