Easy and Fun Valentine to Make with Kids

Arrow through the heart? Make that, Number 2 pencil through the heart! Our valentine project this year is totally old school: super simple, low cost, and homemade from stuff we have around the house.

What you need:
Washi tape or masking tape in different colors (we used Scotch masking tape from Michael’s)
Construction paper

Optional: Stamps and stamp pad

Step 1: Cut out hearts from construction paper (about 5 x 5″). Let the kids do this step. Lopsided? Looking more like a liver than a heart? Remember: it’s part of the charm!

Step 2: This is a step for a grown-up. Cut two 1.5″ slits with your X-acto, one in the upper left quadrant of the heart shape, one in the bottom right quadrant.

Step 3: Decorate with stamps, stickers. Go crazy, kids! Bedazzle!

Step 4: Wrap pencils in strips of washi tape. Don’t worry, your valentines will be able to sharpen their washi-covered pencils.

Step 5: Insert pencil through your valentine heart. Now repeat 24 times–fewer, if you’re lucky enough to have lower class sizes at your school. . .

VW Bus Printable!

VW bus nuts–this one’s for you! I’ve been meaning to post this VW Bus printable for a while. I used this freezer paper stencil to make pillowcases for my son last spring. If you haven’t discovered freezer paper stencils for creating crisp, silkscreen-like images on fabric, here’s the complete how-to. For impatient, lazy sorts (like me), they offer immediate craft gratification. Craftification.


I think this would make a groovy T-shirt, too. Tape the stencil directly to freezer paper. Cut out the gray areas–these will become the painted areas. Along the dotted lines, trim a sliver from the freezer paper–this will create a line of color to outline the white parts of the image. Please share your results!

Cute as a spare button

Buttons are cute. Even the word button is cute. So I figured I couldn’t go wrong printing an image of a button (using a hand-drawn and hand-cut freezer paper stencil) on this little muslin drawstring bag I had in my drawer. (Oh yeah, the bag once held the spare buttons to a sweater I had bought a while ago.)

Then I got really carried away and made this onesie. I realize the letters aren’t exactly centered, but I’m hoping you won’t notice. I don’t have any wee babies in my life, so if you do have one who happens to be 13 to 18 lbs., and who is verifiably as cute as a button, I will send this onesie to you!

Origami Ties for Great Guys

A few reasons why I love my dad:

1. Sometime in my twenties, he decided he didn’t need a special occasion to pick up the phone and call his kids. He calls whenever he feels like it, just to say hello.

2. He’s the kind of grandfather who volunteered to change diapers. Now he gets down on the floor and digs into the LEGO bin alongside his grandkids.

3. Every year, he dresses up as Kate Smith for the Fourth of July parade and sings “God Bless America” in falsetto, very, very badly.

In case these reasons make him seem like he’s not a high-achieving, productive member of society, let me assure you: he’s also that.

So for this Father’s Day, I’m giving him the most original gift . . . a necktie! But this one is made of paper, is 2-inches tall, and is completely impractical. Which makes it more original.

 I learned to fold an origami necktie at the web site, Origami Club, which offers a mad assortment of origami projects with step-by-step animated instructions. The animation doesn’t necessarily illuminate some of those tricky, ever-elusive folds, but it’s cool.

Have you always wanted to fold a spotted toadstool? (Origami Club calls it by its proper name–“fly agaric”–and helpfully points out that it’s a poisonous mushroom. In case you plan to eat your origami? I don’t know.)

I love this Japanese school bag & this polka-dot dress, too.

But back to neckties: I used 2″ origami paper, but you can also use other paper and cut out a 2″ square. Make sure to use paper that is appropriately garish–who wants a tasteful tie for Father’s Day?

The trickiest fold is the tie knot–first, you fold a little triangle up, and then reverse the fold, so that the triangle is now inside the knot. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you try it. Then glue your tie to a blank card (I chose mustard-colored stationery from PaperSource) and press.

If this cute card isn’t enough to please your dad, follow up with a homemade coupon good for 1 hug.

Freezer Paper Stencils: VW Bus Pillowcases

Punch buggy. (Or in this case, Punch bus.) Spring is here & so is the VW bus parked outside my house. (The sign in the window says: Hippies Use Backdoor.)

So in honor of the reappearance of spring and VW buses, I decided to give some old white pillowcases new life. Plus I wanted to make something for my 11-year-old who is easily embarrassed by T-shirts proclaiming anything, let alone T-shirts homemade by his mother, so I figured pillowcases were a safe zone, free from 5th grade peer review.

I cut a stencil on freezer paper from an image of a VW bus that I downloaded online. As I’ve mentioned before, freezer paper stencils are wicked easy & satisfying. Here is the complete how-to. To trim the pillowcases, I bought a half a yard of Happy Camper fabric from the Monaluna Circa 60 Beach Mod line for Birch Fabrics (available at Fabricworm). I should’ve bought a yard, but I was too cheap ($8.25 for half a yard!). It’s organic, alas.

 (The print is darker than how it appears on Fabricworm.)

No room for error. The pressure was on! I sewed the fabric directly onto the existing pillow trim (I split the seam for the trim–but not the rest of the pillowcase–to make it easier to sew). For the edge that you see on the outside of the pillowcase, I folded 1/4″ of the fabric, ironed, and sewed as close to the edge as I could. For the hem inside of the pillowcase, I folded 1/4″ over twice to completely encase the raw edge. Not sure if this is the best way to add trim, but it looks decent and adds a pleasing weight to the end of the pillow.