Don't worry, be happy! How to make your own Guatemalan worry doll

Worry dolls are an ingenious Guatemalan craft that help ease troubles of parents and children who are working together to cope with stress associated with sickness and poverty. The idea is to make a likeness of the child and place it under their pillow at night. The belief is that the doll will take away the worry or sickness as they sleep. Like a dream catcher the act of making the craft is soothing.

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Flower Power - How to make giant tissue paper blooms

I loved watching the tables filling up with colorful blooms during this tissue paper flower project. In this post, I provide a step-by-step tutorial so you can make your own! Don't hesitate to try this with younger children or even adults. It's a great project to liven up a rainy summer day. 

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Follow my tutorial to watch these creative kids turn a paper tube into a beautiful instrument during my first 'One World, Many Stories' craft workshop at Curtis Memorial library. Rainsticks originated from Chile and are traditionally made with dried cactus that are spiked with thorns or small nails. Our rainsticks are child friendly and recycle paper tubes!

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Flower Crowns for May Day!

Happiness is watching children joyously dancing around the May pole. A symbolic ritual that chases away cold winter winds and welcomes springs blooming flowers and trees. As the mom of a kindergartner this was our first time celebrating May day at our local elementary school. 

Learn how I made these easy crowns made from lightweight garland!

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Tweet Sachet tutorial

The woods surrounding our Maine home are covered in a dense quilt of snow. The early mornings are especially quiet, if it wasn't for the sounds of the woodpeckers and chickadees I'd be convinced that the whole world was sleeping. The last few morning robins have covered our crab apple tree filling their bellies with fruit. I'm hoping these red breasted birds are a harbinger of warmer temperatures and birdsong to come.

Just after the holidays a local patron had asked me to make a couple of the bird sachets that I had stocked over the holiday fair season. She was willing to wait until I'd wrapped up the copy and illustrations for my latest book 'Stitched Whimsy'. I finally delivered the finished sachets this morning, just in time for her to mail them as Valentine gifts. I took photographs while I made them so I could share the instructions with you.

You'll need scraps of muslin and cotton. Use a cutting mat, clear rule and rotary cutter to cut a 7 1/4" x 4 3/4" rectangle of muslin for the front and the same sized printed cotton for the back. While you're set up go ahead and cut multiples. When you're in stamping mode you'll be happy to have a stack of muslin ready for printing.

Cover your work surface and mix up Simple Spray (Duncan) fabric paint with brown acrylic paint. I find the loose liquid of the simple spray dilutes acrylic and helps the fabric absorb the paint. Brush the mixed paint onto the fabric stamp. I purchased this gorgeous hand carved wood stamp from Nest, its a fair trade product that is also available online at Connected. Match your brushstrokes to the form of the stamp. I started at the head and worked my way down the body increasing the length of the stroke on the wings and tail.

I found that laying the fabric over the painted stamp works better than conventional stamping. Rub your fingers over the entire surface of the fabric covered stamp. If you prefer to press the stamp down onto the fabric, layer a folded old towel under the muslin. The padding will allow you to press down on the stamp and push more paint into the muslin. 

Allow the printed fabric to dry before continuing.

Placing right sides together pin the printed muslin to the printed fabric backing.

Align the outside edge with your presser foot and machine stitch around the outside of the sachet. Leave a one inch opening to turn the sachet right side out.

Trim away any excess fabric and clip the corners.

Turn  the sachet right side out, using a stuffing stick or knitting needle to push out the corners. 

Pour a cup of dried herbs into the opening. I used a 1/2 cup each of Balsam and Lavender over the holidays. I filled this new batch sachets with a cup of lavender. It's time for me to place a new order at San Francisco Herb Co. and experiment with spring and summer scents. Tuck the raw edges of the opening into the sachet so it matches the seamed edges on either side. Instead of hand stitching the opening closed I machine stitch a second top stitched seam around the edge of the stuffed sachet. The opening will be stitched closed in this seam.

Hand stitch cut felt leaves and wooden beads by the foot of the bird. You'll be happy that you cut and stamped extra birds, this sweet sachet makes a great gift. It's too pretty to hide in a drawer enjoy it out in the open until spring arrives. If you're not in the mood to whip a sewing project I'll be stocking these sachets in my brand new Etsy Store.

Holiday Craftiness - Simple Gifts

This weekend I had the pleasure of crafting with some wonderful teens at our local library. I planned three quick and easy projects that used materials I had on hand to keep costs down. We made wreath ornaments, lavender sachets and beaded choker pendants. The girls were thrilled with their creations and had friends and family in mind for each gift.

Crafting wreath ornaments was a great way to work through my giant bag of scraps. You'll also need to gather: 18 gauge galvanized steel wire (hardware store), jingle bells, scissors, pliers and wire cutters. Start by cutting the scraps into 'uniform' one inch square pieces. Fold each piece in half and clip a small slit along the fold line.

Once you've prepared enough pieces String them onto a 14" length of wire. Continue stringing until you have enough felt to encircle a wreath. String a jingle bell and/or two felt holly leaves onto one of the wires.

Bend the wires at a ninety degree angle where they meet at the top of the wreath. Coil one wire end around the other, use wire cutters to trim the coiled wire end. Use pliers to form the other end into a large open spiral hanger. Give your wreath a hair cut, use scissors to trim away stray felt ends.

This simple beaded choker pendant was a very successful group beading project. Making a beaded pendant is just like making one half of an earring set. It also allows you to showcase one of a kind beads. Rubber Silkies necklace cords are my favorite new beading supply. They're manufactured by Pepperrell and are sold at our local JoAnn's fabric store. The smooth rubber clasp is built into the cord and is very comfortable to wear.

I purchased a bulk bag of glass beads and divided them in bowls for easy selection. You'll also need small bead caps, head pins, round nose pliers, and wire cutters.

Simply string three beads onto the head pin, add a bead cap into the mix if you want to highlight a bead or narrow the opening of a large bead. Use round nose pliers to turn the end of the head pin into a loop. Open the loop laterally and then slide it onto the center of the cord. Be careful you don't pinch the rubber in your pliers as it breaks apart when squeezed with metal. Use the pliers to carefully close the loop back to it's original shape.

These sweet little lavender sachets scented the room as we crafted. You could easily substitute great smelling Balsam or make use the fabric pouch as a small gift bag. You'll need two different colors of purple fabric, straight pins, lavender buds (San Francisco Herb Company), thread, hemp cord, card stock labels (I cut my with my Sizzix Big Kick), stamps, chalk ink pad, black pen.

Cut the fabric into 4" x 7" rectangles, placing right sides together stack one color over. Pin the two layers of fabric together. Because I had a nice small group I was able to help each girl machine stitch three sides of the fabric together. For many of the girls it was the first time they'd used a sewing machine. Trim the top off the bag with pinking sheers then clip the extra fabric off the corners with regular scissors.

Turn the fabric right side out and used a pencil point to push out the corners. Pour a half cup of lavender buds into the sachet.

Stamp and write messages onto the tags before tying them around the top of the sachet with a section of hemp cord.

Fa la la la la ...Crafty girls with their creations!