Three Easy Projects To Make With Kids:
Tassel Earrings, Hand Puppets and No-Sew Sleeping Bags
One of my themes for 2019 is creativity–and to be honest, I’ve been feeling more or less in a creative rut. I’m not writing poetry, not composing quirky ukulele tunes, not doing much of anything “extracurricular” except hanging out with Joss, going to the gym and trying to accomplish my goal of reading 70 books this year (55 and counting, woot!).
However, in the past few weeks, I’ve worked on three different craft projects that meet my criteria of being easy, fast and fairly mess-free. And any of these would make a fun summer activity to do with your kids.
In Joss’s school, each class picks a birthday project for the year: a special project each kid gets to create on their birthday. This year, his class’s birthday project was puppets, and, back in March, Joss designed a purple cat (“My cat, TV the Cat”) complete with a necklace.
More recently, I got to sit in while Joss and his friends designed and sewed a class puppet named Polkadot, who wears a blue crown and cape and has stinky green armpit hair, which the kids find hilarious. 🙂 And it is.
I enjoyed watching Joss get excited about sewing–he got to push the pedal–and I loved the idea of letting the kids design their own puppet that they can then play with. (Polkadot is currently starring in his own movie, a week-long project with the kids in Joss’s class plotting the film and playing various roles, most notably mustachio-ed “bad guys.”)
We may have made it home with a mustache….
Plus, you can make a puppet using my favorite, cheap, no-fray fabric, felt, so a quick trip to Joann’s later, I had replenished my stash of felt and was ready to make some puppets!
How to Make a Puppet (Simplified)
- Cut out basic body shape from two pieces of felt. I just free-hand this. Cut out any accessories as needed.
- Sew face and any other details on top piece of felt.
- Sew top and bottom pieces together. I did this by hand because my sewing machine is 1) heavy and 2) on a high shelf in the basement.
Elements kids can help with: picking out fabric colors; puppet design; sewing. Joss wants to sew more than I have the patience to let him, but we’ve worked on moving the needle up and down through the fabric, trying to keep stitches even, etc.
No-Sew Sleeping Bag or Blanket
When Joss asks for something I don’t want to buy, I usually tell him to remember it for his birthday, at which point, we will see. Recently, he started asking for a sleeping bag, so I gave him this line, as he has no sleepovers or other sleeping bag-requiring activities coming up. However, when we were at Joann’s buying felt, I realized that I could make a no-sew sleeping bag!
I’d made no-sew blanket before, and they’re incredibly easy. You take two large rectangular pieces of fleece, set one on top of the other, and cut slits (six inches deep, one inch wide) around the circumference of the fleece pieces. Then you tie the two pieces of fleece together by knotting the fringe together.
Joss has slept in his new sleeping bag every night since we made it!
No-sew sleeping bags are nearly that simple, with a couple extra steps. I’m not going to walk you through the process (because I didn’t take process photos and don’t want to purchase more fabric), but if you’re interested, I made mine after watching the following video:
Joss’s main contribution to this project was picking out the fabric. But older kids could certainly cut the fringe and tie the knots by themselves. (Which would be great because while this project is simple, it’s pretty repetitive!)
Recently, Joss and I attended the opening of this year’s Please Touch the Art exhibition at the TCC McKeon Center for Creativity. This exhibition features works that can be enjoyed with multiple senses, and although the focus is on creating an exhibition that can be enjoyed by people with vision loss, this makes it a very kid-friendly exhibition as well.
Pardon me while I share some selfies I didn’t hate…
At the opening, one of the artists was helping kids make tassel keychains, so I had the pleasure of watching Joss learn how to make a tassel! The artist was wearing a pair of self-made tassel earrings, which were so eye-catching that I’ve since gotten on a bit of a tassel kick.
All you need are earring apparati (I purchased something similar to these at Michael’s), embroidery floss (you can get a ton of different colors for around $10), scissors and a small book or cardboard square that you can wrap the thread around.
This video does a good job of taking you through the tassel-making process. Joss loved watching it–and after a couple views, started using some of the phrases from the video, such as “This may not be the best way, but this is how I do it.”
The video doesn’t cover the tassel-to-earring conversion, but if you can complete a tassel, you can probably figure out the rest. Also, it is easier to just make a snug square not at the top of your tassel since you don’t need the extra loop anyway (as opposed to making the square not, then later going back in and looping it around so that the top looks nicer).
My favorite things about this project are getting to mix and match colors, being able to make a wearable piece of jewelry that can be customized to match any outfit and the fact that you can complete a pair of tassel earrings in probably twenty minutes–while watching Netflix, no less! If you don’t need 20+ pairs of earrings yourself, they could make a great gift, too!
So there you have it. Please let me know if you try any of these projects (better yet, share pics!)–or if you have any favorite projects to make with your kids that Joss and I should try!