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Archive for December, 2011

Here it is- busy book number 3!

Drumroll please…

The end of the busy bags has come.  As of Tuesday evening I’m out of time to craft- I must clean and pack for our trip.  I’ve got lacing cards in progress that are quick, so I’m sneaking them in, but can’t write about them yet.  Look for them after the New Year.

This last busy book is mostly a collection of some of my favorites I’ve seen from other sites.

Page 1: Chalkboard fabric with mini eraser (4 layers of felt stitched in several lines and the outside 2 layers snipped between the stitch lines.)  Pocket for chalk and eraser, sample drawings of shapes to practice/copy.  I saw it here at Testy Yet Trying.

Page 2:  Paint pallete with brush (and pocket for the brush).  They can pretend to paint things in the book (or out of it) with the paint brush and “paint.”  I saw the ideas here at Serving Pink Lemonade.

Page 3- counting beads- just beads on ribbons with corresponding numbers.  I originally saw this from an etsy listing pinned on pinterest.  My pin of it is here if you want to see it/see if it’s still listed at Etsy.  I’ve since seen other versions.  Mine goes to 17 because that’s what I had room to fit, and ribbon and bead colors to make.

Page 4:  Weave the lattice pie crust.  I saw it at this blog devoted to quiet books and immediately knew it had to make it into the book.  It’s actually from over at The Daley News.  The lattice pieces are sewn on one end and snapped on the other so they can be detached and woven.

  

I’ve made peace with my snap setter on this project- finally!  Now I don’t have to be afraid to use it anymore!  Almost every time I use it the spiky piece gets offset and sticks through funny and doesn’t hold the snap piece on.  But did you know the plier style setter will HOLD the spiky side for you?  Mine is a red flexible ring.  The outie snap side fits into the hole on the other side of the pliers (I knew that already).  I finally took off the silly yellow ring that was too large to do any good for the innie snap, and the circle that’s left on the pliers is actually the same size as the snap (go figure!) and lines up with the bottom side.  Sorry if that’s something you already knew, but I wish I’d known that YEARS ago while I was trying to make my first diapers.  So I thought I’d share in case anyone else has been too long defeated by their snap setter.  Sorry for the tangent!

Page 5:  Put your hand in the glove.  Mine is 2 scraps of sweater left from my little girls sweater dress upcycle.  My inspiration is from a pin of an Etsy listing where they used a mitten.  My pin of it is here if you want to see it/see if it’s still listed at Etsy.  But how much more to little kids need the practice of getting their fingers in all the right holes of those gloves?!  Hours of frustration may be saved by this page alone!  I did a generous tracing of my hand and zig-zag stitched around the edge.  The cuff is a folded over piece to leave a nice clean edge on the bottom.  My hand ALMOST fits, but not quite.

Page 6:  Decorate the Christmas tree.  I came up with this one all by myself (I am not totally dependent upon pinterest!)  Flaps on the side of the page conceal beads on green ribbon that can be slid over (as many as you choose) to decorate the tree.  The top ribbon has your choice of a star or an angel to top your tree.  Those are just cut out of felt with a bit of fabric paint.  A felt layer on each side sandwiches the bead that slides on the string.

    

Page 7:  A clock.  I saw one on pinterest that was on Etsy.  Not because I love clocks, but because it’s a valuable learning tool, and it was a fairly quick page to make to fill out this book! My pin of it is here if you want to see it/see if it’s still listed on Etsy.   The hands are more of that ketchup bottle (from Flat Franny’s feet in the Baby Fran busy book) covered in fabric.  They are free to move.  There’s an eyelet at the base of each clock hand and in the center of the clock.  The button in the front is threaded through to a shank button behind the page so nothing is actually stitched to the page- just button to button.  That holds it in place and lets it spin.

Page 8:  The hair page- my version.  I saw one over at The Daley News again.  Mine is just a large size back of a head.  The hair is sewn down in 4 layers.  I made the hair by putting a layer of tape (sticky side up) on the edge of a scrap of wood (roughly 8″ wide by 12″ long).  I wound the yarn around the wood, but another layer of tape over the top of the yarn, snipped the bottom edge free, and sewed over the yarn sandwiched between the tape several times.  Then remove the tape and you have a weft of hair.  with a seam down the middle.  That seam I stitched at the top of the head (more T-shirt from Baby Fran) and divided the bottom and top portions in half.  The bottom porton was sewn at the base of the neck and the next row up.  The top portion was sewn at the row just down from the top and the rest left at my original stitch line.  A band at the side will hold clips.  I don’t officially have anything for bands, and I haven’t stitched in a comb yet, but may at some point in time.

  

Last page!!!!:  A memory game.  The idea is based on these that have felt fringe covering a bead and a corresponding bead at the top.  There’s one over here at Little Hands, Big Work, and another by a Flickr user here. Of course I had to make mine more difficult.  Mine has flaps to lift and 4 beads, each on their own ribbon under each row allow you to re-set the board differently each time.  So each bead can be placed in one of 4 spaces.  Once you find a match you have to pull the ribbon down to remove it from under the flaps so you can slide the matched beads to the side WITHOUT PEAKING (on accident, of course) at what else is in the row.  I should have left room on the right so if you’ve got two players, one could slide to the left and the other to the right if you want to keep score.

The flaps are a double layer of T-shirt that I sewed in a grid (double each seam and cut between them to make the square for each flap).  I cut my grid into 4 rows and didn’t completely cut through the top of the row when I cut the flaps apart so I could sew on rows instead of individual flaps.  It still took WAY too much time to do this page, though!  In part because I started out with skinny ribbon and got it done and realized the skinny ribbon let beads slide all over the place so they didn’t stay behind their flaps.  The wider ribbon is a good friction fit inside of the beads, so they’ll stay in place.  My ribbons are tied together in pairs on the ends, so at least instead of sewing over 32 little ribbon ends on each side it was only 16… Like I said, way too long, but I’m at least satisfied with the results.

The end of the busy books!  There’s so many neat ideas out there, though!

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So, I’ve had a ridiculous upsurge in the number of visitors to my blog within the past week.  Like, quadrupled plus every day (although probably not that many compared to what a lot of blogs get for visits every day, but since mine’s just a little, occasional thing, it’s a lot!)  It’s great, but I don’t have a clue why!   It’s just such an sudden, significant increase.  I’m trying to find out where everyone is visiting from.  The best I can tell is that my pinterest post of (I think) my half braid scarf tutorial is posted somewhere.  But for the life of me, I cant find it searching everywhere I can think.

Are you here because of this scarf?

Anyone willing to leave me a comment as to where you’re all visiting me from?  I’d appreciate it so much!

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I’ve got 2 of 3 finished and the 3rd is mostly  in my mind still…

Here’s pics of what I’ve got so far.  The first is from a vintage Vogue Pattern (#1959) “It’s a zoo full of teaching pets!”  It’s got some minimal modifications.  The second is mostly my own creation (at least, I haven’t seen anything else like it to acknowledge at this point).  The basic inspiration is from a “Close your Clothes” busy book, but I had baby clothes to upcycle and 3 little girls currently obsessed with all things baby- and I’m NOT ready for another one yet.  So I came up with Flat Franny instead.  She’s not beautiful, but she’s functional.

   

First, the critters (in no particular order).

A turtle- the shell snaps and when open it reveals a heart.

    

A kangaroo with a pocket to unclip (original pattern is a buckle) with a joey in the pouch.  The joey reminds me a bit of Ziggy.  He’s ugly.  next time I’ll use fabric paint.  Maybe I won’t bother attaching the string in hopes he gets lost and needs to be replaced…

   

A pelican with fish that can be hooked and unhooked from the fishing pole

A lion with a tail to braid

A hippo with buttons to close his mouth

   

A giraffe with 3 ties on his neck to practice tying.

An elephant with skates to button and unbutton

An alligator- the mouth zips open so the alligator can lick the ice cream cone with a tongue inside the zipper pouch.

Coach bear- with a lace up and tie baseball glove.

And the last page is my own addition- a zebra with a gift box that un-velcros to reveal a cake to celebrate.  (The candles are the velcro)

    

I made this book once before (wish I could find those pics!)  For a niece’s 2nd Birthday- 5 years ago now, I think.

Now for Baby Fran:

She’s an old T-shirt and some brown yarn, a dab of fabric paint, and a white E-bead for that little tooth.  She even has a mouth that recesses into her head.

Page 1-Change her diaper (can’t be without “goop” for that!)  These are the only remove-able pieces from the book- except for Franny herself.  The cloth and goop velcro on for storage.

   

Page 2- the onesie.  All the outfits have an outline of where they’re supposed to be in the book, and velcro or snaps to keep them there when not in use.  All clothing except for the diapers have a ribbon to keep them with the book, but let Fran go from page to page to do her other baby activities.  Outfits are miniaturized versions of the original garment.  It’s fairly easy to do once you get started.  Here are some sites with tips on how to make a larger garment into a kid or doll sized garment.  Adult sweater to kid sweater tutorial can be found at Dana Made It (which is also helpful if you want to make a little girls sweater dress.)  Baby clothes to doll clothes can be found at Obsessively Stitching.  She’s got more than one tutorial for different garments.  Take that and run with it and you’ll have some cute outfits for your own Flat Franny in no time!

      

Page 3 is socks and booties.  Fran doesn’t have much in the feet department, so these baby socks and booties are on her um… “stand in” feet.  They’re made from the same T-shirt that she was, but they have a ketchup bottle cut out to keep them in the proper form.  The socks are tied at the toe, the booties at the heel.

    

Page 4 is the feeding page- perhaps the favorite for my girls.  This is also the page that’s most likely to get tangled since Fran will probably have some clothing on (1 string) and there’s 3 strings on this page- one to the spoon, one to the bowl, and one to the cloth to clean her up when she’s done.  We’ll see.  The spoon has a pocket for storage, the bowl and the cloth snap on.  The bib is sewn on one side a couple inches above the snap, so it can go on Franny and then she sits at the page to be fed.  The other side of the bib has velcro to keep it in place in the book.

    

Page 5- a different outfit for Franny.

Page 6- her scarf and hat.  They’re sewn on, but minimally so the hat can still be flipped up and down and tied on the top, and the scarf can wrap around and tie on baby Franny.  Doesn’t she look silly with just a diaper and her scarf and hat?  THAT is why I needed her outfits to move to other pages!

   

Page 7- Bath Time!  The top of the tub is open so she can go in and out of the tub.

Page 8- PJ’s

   

Page 9- a blanket to swaddle her.  It  will velcro shut to either side for the last flap that’s folded over.

       

That’s all for now!  I’ll add the other busy book when it’s done- but it may not get posted ’til after the New Year- we’ll see how busy things get!

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I’m only doing one set of these for my Busy bag project since it should be something that can be an all-play.

The idea I saw here at My Magic Mom.  She drew on hers.  I could draw on mine (with some mistakes, I’m sure) but if it’s got possibilities of a MOPS craft, I have to look different directions.

My blocks are 3/4″ cubes from scrap wood- thank you my wonderful carpenter husband!  If you don’t have one of those, you could also cut a square wooden dowel into cubes or buy the pre-cut ones at Michaels or another craft store or online.  My backup plan was to use the little square tiles at the hardware store/Home Depot/wherever and do 2 sided tiles, but I like the cubes better.  Another cute way to do it I’ve seen is story stones, seen over at Red Bird Crafts.

I used free clip art images from free clipart pictures and Arthur’s clip art  and a few objects are the odd texts on my computer sized to a 48 or larger font and the color changed.  I’m sure there’s other free clip art available if you search.  I had trouble finding much that didn’t require signups or yearly membership fees when I searched under images.  You might have better luck just searching for “royalty free clip art” in general, rather than in images.

I finally gave up getting pictures at 80.  I also wanted to put our family’s names on some of the blocks.  I made a total of 14 blocks and only had one of my images that I didn’t use.  If we use this for MOPS I’m figuring on 10 blocks and they can pick and choose their choice of images and if they want to do names.  I’m not sure of the details yet- our steering team is tomorrow and I should finalize some details then.  Here’s what 10 look like instead of 14.

I copied and pasted pictures onto a word/pages document and shrunk each image so it was only about 1/2″ at it’s largest dimension.  They easily all fit on a single page to print.  If we do this project for MOPS I’ll either make color copies or have them printed off at the church- 1 copy for each lady.

Cut out all those little squares.  You could do stickers, stamps, or drawing to get your images onto the blocks.  I glued on my little squares then did Mod-Podge over top.  It was the easiest way for me to find images I liked without buying a gazillion packs of stickers.  I have seen where you can get your images and print them on adhesive paper in a craft over here at Creative Holiday Gift Ideas.  I may still go for that with MOPS- yet to be determined.  I’d just have to print the images I found onto the sticker paper, I think.  Either way, it will get a coat of Mod-Podge for a clear, durable coating, and so the kids can’t peel off the stickers, since I know mine will otherwise.  There are other sealers you could use, too.  I did 3 sides  of the block at a time and set each aside as I completed it.  By the time I got through 10 blocks this way, the first ones were getting dry and easy to handle again, so the other 3 sides were done then.  You may need to do a brief wait for things to dry, or get out the hair dryer to help them dry more quickly if needed.

I did one coat of Mod-Podge.  Another coat might make them look nicer, but they’re fine as is.  I’m thinking for MOPS to make the bags first, then do blocks, and send a small container (like the cheap 10 for a dollar at the dollar store) of the Mod-Podge home with everyone if they want to do more.  We’ll need little containers to put it in for everyone to use for this project anyhow, so they might as well go into a container they can take home.

Now for the bags.  I like a sewn bag, but I sew so that’s not intimidating to me.  For those who don’t get along with sewing machines, this is a bag for you.  Just a simple circle cut from T-shirt fabric (I have LOTS of scraps from this and other projects)  Fleece would also be ideal- either are fine since the edges won’t fray.  I traced a circle a bit bigger than a saucer and cut out.  Little snips near the edge give easy holes to thread a safety pin on the end of some ribbon through the holes for an easy drawstring bag.  It will lay flat when it’s opened (unless your ribbon is too short- spread it all out before you cut if you’re not sure!).  So it can also be the place where you roll your story dice.

    

So what do you do with them?  Roll the dice and use what images come up to make up a story.

ETA:  We did these for our MOPS creative activity for January.  There’s a few more details on my MOPS 2011-2012 Creative activities page.  I used mailing labels to print on for a cost effective way to speed up the process a bit.

I also just ran across 2 more ways to do these over at Stitch-Craft.  One way is a package tape transfer (warning- this way would take even longer than cut out from paper and glue on like I did above) and the other way is with temporary tattoo paper (although it’s much more expensive- she found it at Michaels for $10 a sheet, less with a coupon).

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Our “gold” Christmas gift for the girls this year is a busy bag for each of them.  If you don’t get what I mean by “gold,” see my posts here and here.

I bought a bunch of little stuff from the dollar store (and other places) like stickers, bubbles, little light ups, coloring/activity pads, notebooks, balloons, chapstick, small toys, noisemakers, and other goodies.  That was the easy part.  Now for the bags themselves and the home made items to put in them!

I’m including the “I-Spy something I’m Thankful For” craft we did for Children’s church that I wrote about here.

Here’s what else  I’ve gotten done so far- and everything is done in triplicate since I’ve got 3 little girls to make this stuff for.  My sister came over on the day after Thanksgiving and we did a “Craft Friday” instead of going out shopping for Black Friday.  That day I got my neck pillows made (finished actually, I had one mostly done the night before, and pieces cut for the other 2).  My inspiration came from here at U-Create with Infarrantly Creative, but I didn’t put the cool animal heads on mine.  I made up my own pattern, but there is also a free one you can print at the U-Create/Infarrantly Creative link.  Mine are  a cute flannel print on one side and fleece on the other.  If they drool on them, the fleece side wont feel wet, so I hopefully wont get as many whiny complaints that way.

   

I made marble mazes, as seen here at Serving Pink Lemonade.  There’s a start and stop spot stitched on.  It’s just 2 layers of fabric with paths sewn.  A marble inside gets pushed between the layers of fabric to navigate it through the maze.  Quick, easy, and contained entertainment.

I also got all the pieces cut and almost everything sewn for 3 composition book covers with crayon rolls.  My inspiration on this one came from here at Moda Bake Shop, but I didn’t take the time to make strips of fabric to piece a cover or stitch on a nameplate.  Mine also has 10 chunky crayons on the front, that just barely fit.  I enlarged the crayon pocket to 11 inches long and gathered it to fit all that crayon.  I finished the last one of the covers a few days later.

   

I tried to start the bags to put everything, and didn’t get far before I needed to hunker down on the last MOPS project (melt and pour soaps- you can see what we ended up doing at this post).  No pics yet, but I’ve got some neat plans for this bag!

I got back to business once that was done on Wednesday.  Thursday I made button snakes; inspiration from here at The Rigneys.  I was going to stop at 12 shapes, but my kids (helping me) thought I should make more.  (Yes, they’re seeing a lot of their gifts as I make them.  They don’t nap and seem to require less sleep than I do, so I must craft when they’re awake.  And they’re nosey, so not much escapes them!   I gave up trying to hide stuff, so they’re selecting some things as I make them, like ribbon and button colors, fabric choices, and shape suggestions.  They are not happy they don’t get the things I’ve made yet.  They break into my stash of Christmas gifts at least once a week, including just a few minutes before I typed this.  I need to get this done soon!)

      

So there’s 18.  These are the shapes I made- the same for each girl except for the letter for their first name.  Each shape is a different color except for two repeats- snowman and fish are both white, and moon and sun are both the same shade of yellow.  There is a heart, flower, star, circle, square, triangle, half circle, hexagon, butterfly, diamond, fish, splat, moon, snowman, tree, sun, raindrop, and letter for their first name.

It was a productive day on Thursday and I also managed to finish (late before I went to bed) 30 felt finger puppets.  I’ve seen a few different ones online.  For a quick version, do something like these monsters at Ohdeedoh that use fabric paint to decorate.   The nicest looking monsters I’ve seen since Monsters Inc.

These are super cute, and you can buy the pattern at The Idea Room.   I didn’t, because I’m too cheap and can figure most stuff out on my own.  Here’s mine- including a close-up of our mini-me’s:

   

Finger puppets are addicting!   I wrote out a list of what animals I wanted and separated them into base colors so I knew how many to sew of each color.  The bases are made so quickly and easily- just fold over the piece of felt (and pin so it stays straight) and start sewing!  I made them big enough so that adult fingers will fit, too.  We’ll probably be playing with them at some point in time.  Mark the felt if you like, I just eyeballed it.  And I didn’t do any thread changes.  I did have to go back and make a couple smaller- I could fit almost 2 fingers in a few.  Oops.  The 30 bases were done and cut in under half an hour.

   

Cut them apart when you’re done and decorate with felt cut outs and google eyes.  I used a glue gun for all my bits and pieces.  This is the time consuming part.  My final list of puppets include:  a mini of each of us (5 total), and an ark load of critters:  horse, bear, moose, monkey, rabbit, dog, pig, sheep, zebra, duck, chicken, penguin, cat, cow, bluebird, cardinal, giraffe, lion, hippo, elephant, rhino, tiger, fox, frog, and snake.  And here’s the list of more I’d love to make!  Panda, Polar bear, Raccoon, Deer, possum, skunk, snowman, gingerbread man, Butterfly, Bee, Dragonfly, Spider, prince, princess, baby, and more!  I figured I should stop at 30 since thats all the more little kid fingers we have and I need to move on to another project.

That’s all for now, I’ll try to put up the rest as it gets done and I have time (I’m linking as I post.  Click on what you’re interested in to see how mine turned out).  The list to do includes the bag, busy books, play dough filled balloons, lacing cards, little lanterns, story dice,  and if I get to it: a balloon cover, quick doll gowns and diapers, kid size fleece fold over sleep sacks and maybe some popsicle puzzles.  I may have forgotten something.  I’ll try to add it sometime if I did.  And I’ll include the links for my inspirations as I do them.  If you can’t wait, try checking my Pinterest page of crafts and sewing for the kids.

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I made sweater dresses for the girls since I didn’t have a lot of cold weather dresses for them.  I really liked how quickly these went together, since you don’t have to finish any edges- they’re all salvaged from the original garment!  Here’s the three I made.  Please ignore the unfinished floor, and the lower quality pictures- I couldn’t get them to stand still!  And the first one looks big because it was supposed to be for one of the twins, but she decided after it was made that she didn’t want it, she wanted the one I made for her little sister.  It was a battle I decided not to fight.  They’re only 16 months apart, so the sizes they wear aren’t that different, right?  Okay- wrong for this garment.  I’ll try to persuade them to wear different ones next time!  For size reference, my girls are in size 2T and 3T.

          

The first dress (pink) is based on the peasant sweater dress up-cycle I saw here at Make It and Love It.  Hers (brown) is definitely better picture quality and better fit!  This was my least favorite of the three dresses I made as far as how it turned out for me, but it’s still cute and warm.

  

My sweater was either a medium or large, I think…  and it didn’t have any fold over seam to re-use.  So I combined it with making a tube for elastic on the top- a method I’ve used before (and maybe someday will get those projects up).  I cut a strip of fabric longer than the top of the dress pieces add up to be.  I finish sew one edge, then sew the other raw edge onto the top neckline of the dress and sleeve pieces- I start in the middle of the back so that’s where the seam will be when I’m done.  Leave a bit un-sewn on the end so you can sew the strip together.  Once you’ve sewn all the way around, sew the two ends of the strip together.  Then sew the edge you finished earlier down onto the dress to make a tube.  leave a bit of a hole at the end so you can thread your elastic.  I pin and try on for size before I sew the elastic and stitch the hole closed.

Note that sweater fabric is much lumpy bunchier than others, so the peasant style top of each sleeve and dress body piece shouldn’t have as much extra length as you’d have for a lighter weight fabric.  I had to cut portions out from the sleeve and body of the dress after I’d sewn on the tube and it got to be a bit of a mess.

The second dress (purple) is loosely based on the one here at Smashed Peas and Carrots.  Hers (striped) makes the neckline smaller in the back and has some cute leg warmers form the cut off sleeves.

   

This was either a size small or medium sweater.  I wanted to save the collar of the sweater since it had nice details.  I made the neckline a bit smaller by taking it in above the shoulders.  I didn’t want to loose the decorative sleeve cuff portion either, so I cut off the decorative part, shortened the rest of the sleeve from the cuff end, and sewed the cuff back on.  I took in the sleeve from the underside up to the armpit and then down the sweater sides to make it thinner- just like sewing the back to the front on the white sweater dress below.

The last dress (white) I figured out a way to do myself.  This was a size medium sweater.

I cut the basic A-line dress shape but left the collar and a bit below it uncut.

     

Sleeves were cut from the original sleeves to utilize the bottom cuff.  at the top, it’s tapered almost to a point, like the vintage look t-shirts. In the first pic, it was too wide at the top.  The second pic is what my final sleeve looked like when I cut it out.

    

I cut the seam on each side of the collar to free the back from the front.  Ignore the tag- it is not the back any longer, it’s now the front.  I sewed the sleeve to the front from the widest point to the top- again like the assembly of those vintage t-shirts where the color block sleeve goes up over the shoulder and meets the neckline. The sleeve here stops short since we’re salvaging the collar for the finished edge.  The first pic shows how it goes together.  the second pic shows the front side sewn and laying the sweater on for the seam between the back and the sleeve.  the extra collar I saved on the back got chopped off here.  I matched up the collar and sewed from the collar down the sleeve.  DON’T sew around the corner of the sleeve like I started to do or you’ll have to pick the seam back out.

   

Once both sleeves are sewn on, you can lay it flat inside out and it will look like this:

Now just sew the seam from the cuff to the armpit and down the sides of the dress.  You can take it in as needed- mine was taken in a lot since I didn’t like the shape once I was done.

On each of these, I draped/tried on my girls to figure out roughly how much needed to be taken in.  I re-draped sleeves after I cut them to make sure they were reasonably close in length.  I think that’s the trickiest part since it’s the hardest part to take in if you’re too long.  except for the purple dress, I would have to take seams apart to make the sleeves shorter.  Mine ended up generously long, but it was close enough that I didn’t want to take them apart to fix them.  It may be easier to just plan for 3/4 length sleeves.

I sewed all of this with a slight zig zag stitch to allow for some stretch.  Then I (large) zig zag stitched the inside seams that were raw sweater since I don’t have a serge machine.

I made an embellishments to dress up the sweaters since they were all plain colored- a bow or a T-shirt flower.  See the post here for more on the t-shirt flowers.  I stitched them instead of glueing for this application, since they’ll be washed a lot more and I prefer sewing to glueing.   I think it took as long or longer to do the embellishments as it did to make the dresses!

 

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Our December creative activity for MOPS was melt and pour soap.

I really wanted to do a snow globe, but figured out that the soap was too thick to see to the middle.  I think it would still work if your embedded pieces are near the surface of the globe.  I ran out of time to experiment!  Here’s my failed globe, and it sliced open to see the middle.  I also had originally tried a 3-D set, but my molds disappeared and I’m still looking for them- I think my girls got them.  The sculpey figures are still around, though.  I’m hoping I’ll find the molds someday…

       

Our creative activity in December as long as I’ve known it has been a “make one for us and one for our MOPPET workers” for Christmas.  I’ll share my basics for how we did this melt and pour soap, as well as the “extras” that were take homes for ideas and further directions if anyone wanted to try more at home.  And I’ll put in what worked do do this at a group level rather than an individual level.  I’ll also warn you that preparing for this activity was my first exposure to melt and pour soap, so my knowledge is limited to what I learned through trial and error and what I read on the internet.

I pre-made embedded soap figures of the nativity.  There are several options for embedding objects and molds to use- see below.  But here’s what I did, since I really wanted the nativity scene and didn’t have an appropriate mold.  I made the mold with Sculpey mold maker.  First I drew it, then I traced it onto sculpey rolled flat, then I cut it out with a knife and mended and fixed as needed.  I baked the sculpey form, then followed the mold maker directions- coating it with corn starch and pressing it into the sculpey mold maker.  It’s sticky and not easy to work with and hard to get your object back out- I suggest “handles” baked into your original form for easier extracting.  I had do do a good bit of repair work before I baked.

     

My single mold held up well to make the 40 or so pours (a few repeats) to make the figures needed for the day with careful use.  There is a small crack starting off the end of the manger, but it will still be good for many uses.  Note the soap embed below- it was too hot when I poured- it has lighter brown bubbles at much of the surface.  I microwaved for embeds, since I had to do one at a time and it was such a small amount.  I just kept adding more cubes of soap and globs of dye to the same coffee cup and kept going- for about a day and a half.  They only take 5-15 minutes to set (the mold warms and they set more slowly), but you get doing something else and take care of kids and get dinner and whatever else, and they sometimes sit a lot longer before you make another!  I think you can put them in the freezer, but I didn’t want to chance a problem with that many.

     

I planned ahead and used coupons at Michaels to get 40 or 50% off a regular priced item and bought 2 of the 10 pound tubs to make it the most affordable possible.  We did not add any fragrance.

I also pre-cut “molds” from cereal boxes.  The ladies coated the inside of the mold with wide tape.  Then they folded it up and taped with masking tape to hold it’s shape for the pour.  Make sure the wide tape is put on smoothly, or you’ll have wrinkles in the surface of your soap when you’re done.  If you just fold the glossy side of the box in, it comes out pretty well.  But I did have a couple spots were the glossy pulled off onto my soap.   So I’d stick with the tape.  Corrugated cardboard can leave a print on your soap (even if taped) since it can squish. Plastic wrap will leave wrinkles  if it’s just set in the mold (unless perfectly smooth- not an easy task!  Might work if taped at the edges?)  See the wrinkles in the bottom one?  Plastic wrap.

        

To prepare the soap, I got it mostly melted in the microwave and then kept warm in my crockpot.  Mine held a little over 10 pounds of soap- just about right for the group we had that day.  Just know that the last bit (which is a fair amount in that size container) will solidify along with the skin form the top.  I dipped out soap with a ladle.  For small batches use the microwave or a double boiler.  (My second choice was to use an electric fry pan with water to melt the chunks in, but I think it would’ve taken too long for our group.)  I took the lid off a few minutes before we were going to use it and monitored the temperature- it was around 130 when I dipped it out.  If it’s too hot, it can melt the embedded soap.  The soap below is a cross section of one of my early tries at snow globe soap and it was too hot.  See the cute nativity figures?  Me neither.

Tangent:  I will point out that greenish stuff on the bottom- modeling clay.  It doesn’t come off soap well.  I tried to use it to seal the bottom of my mold to pour the soap (my first try upside down my figures floated).  It held the soap fine, but doesn’t come off!  What did work for a mold was the pop can top and a circle cut from a milk jug hot glued on the bottom to seal any leaks.  Pour a bit of soap on the circle and stick in your figures before glueing together, then pour the soap in the top of the bottle.  (Except you’d have to stick your figures to inside surface of the bottle if you want to see them).  Someday I may try again- with an un-ridged beverage container.

    

Back on task:  Put a small amount of soap in the bottom of the mold, then set the embed-able soap piece in.  Spritz with rubbing alcohol and let set up (it will do so very quickly).  Remember to stir as little as possible to minimize bubbles.  The rubbing alcohol helps to get rid of bubbles and helps the soap layers bond better.  The first pic below was stirred too much and not spritzed.  The second was stirred only minimally and spritzed.  Not sure if it shows well here, but it made a significant difference in the final appearance.

   

I ladled soap into tin cans and the ladies added a pinch of very fine glitter if desired.  a quick stir (we used coffee stir sticks) and it went into the mold.  I only checked the temp on the first one and since it was fine right away, I didn’t worry about the rest.  If it’s hot, wait for it to cool to under 140 or so before pouring.  Don’t pour the skin from the top in, it will look yucky.  Set it aside and re-melt.  I only had half a dozen cans to minimize mess, and we re-used them.  Spritz the top of the soap again with rubbing alcohol and let it sit until firm- 20 minutes to half and hour is good.  These soaps were around 1 inch thick, some thicker.

Undo the tape, remove the soap from the molds, and wrap in plastic wrap.  They turned out nicely!

The one “problem”- my embedded soap trials developed halos.  I’m not sure why- too much or too dark of food coloring?  Maybe I should have used a solid white base to add coloring for and need less?  Maybe you really need to use the official soap coloring?  Maybe they didn’t “cure” for long enough before pouring? (in my trials, I would make an embed and then pour it within a few minutes)    I’ll watch and see, and get some feedback from our group on what theirs do.  This is the same soap on day 1 and roughly a week later.  (This is almost the final, but I should’ve (and we did for our activity) poured a thin layer and set the embed-able in first.  That’s why there are patchy spots.)

   

 

Here’s my gathered info for the hand out I gave- just copy and past in a document (and maybe make it look pretty if formatting doesn’t switch well) to print and distribute to your group.  If it doesn’t work, I can try to send you mine, just ask.  The pics are also linked to anything with a tutorial so you can go see it.

Melt and pour soaps

  • Bases come in clear, white, and different specialties, like olive oil, goats milk, or shea butter.
  • You can find many decorative molds for sale made especially for melt and pour soaps.  You can also use candy molds, popsicle molds, ice cube trays (including the decorative silicone ones), jello molds, and most any container that doesn’t leak the liquid soap when it’s hot.  Some containers (stiff ones) you may need to put in the fridge to help release the soap.  I found that modeling clay stuck to the soap.  Use a bread pan, pringles can, PVC pipe, or other container and slice soaps if you want to make several of one kind.  Mini bundt pans or muffin tins with a liner can make treat shaped soaps, and can be “frosted.”  Shells  or a rubber glove can be your soap mold.  You can do soap in a bag also!  For a custom embed soap mold, you can try making your own.  I used Sculpey (to make my desired shape) and Sculpey mold maker (to make a mold of my desired shape).  One more option is to melt and pour into a baking sheet then use cookie cutters to cut out shapes once the soap has cooled.
  • soap can be layered in different colors, just let one layer cool before adding the next.  the container can be tipped at different angles for separate pours to make layers go in different directions.  you may need to “score” (scratch) the surface of the previous layer before pouring the next, just to help it bond better.
  • Colors can be added to soap.  Use the paste food colorings or you can get special colorings for soaps.  Different colors can be swirled in.
  • Fragrances can be added to soap.  Use Essential oils or Fragrance oils.  Make sure they are safe for skin contact.  Make sure the soap is not too hot when adding scents, or they may be “Burnt” off.  The temperature should be no higher than 140 when adding fragrance.  It takes a fairly large amount of fragrance to make soaps scented.
  • Oils and butters can be added- shea butter, coconut oil, etc.  I’d suggest finding a recipe for proportions, though.
  • You can add mix-ins to soap.  Think about pulverized oatmeal, cinnamon, lavender (or other herbs, spices, or dried flowers, etc).  Coffee, tea, and powdered milk or other powdered foods are fair game.  Cosmetic clays can be used to make shaving soap.  Glitter (very fine) can be added (course glitter may be abrasive).  Photos and artwork can be embedded.  laminate or use permanent inks/laser printed paper.
  • Other mix-ins are embed-ables- cut, molded, curled (try a veggie peeler) or shredded soap.  You can also put objects in soap- plastic bugs or fish, small toys, etc.  Just know that if the soap is too thick, you wont see what’s inside, even “clear” soap.  If it’s thick, make sure the object/embedded item is near the surface.
  • stir or mix as little as possible.  It takes a bit longer to melt, but the bubbles are terrible on the surface of the pour if it’s been agitated too much.
  • How to heat soap:  Cut into smaller pieces/chunks for even melting.  Microwave in small increments or use a double boiler (or a can/dish in a saucepan of water).  You can also use a crackpot on low- cover for the start, then take the lid off and stir for even melting, and monitor temperature carefully- turn off if it’s getting to hot.  The key is to use indirect heat, as the soap can scorch if  you use direct heat.
  • Don’t over heat the soap.  Overheating can cause color changes to the soap as well as more bubbles in it.  For my embedded soap pieces, I microwaved in 5-10 second increments.  It shouldn’t boil and preferably shouldn’t steam.  You want it around 130 to pour.
  • If your soap is too hot and you have embedded or mixed in soap chunks/gratings, it can melt your mix ins 😦  Best to check with a thermometer.  The temperature with embed-ables should be no more than 140.
  • spritz the surface with rubbing alcohol to get rid of little bubbles right after you pour the soap, and to help deal with oils from your hands to allow better adhesion to the other soap.

  • grated soap in soap
  • add ins (no recipe for this one, but it’s available for purchase at magicsenses.com)
  • http://www.soapqueen.com- lots here.  Ideas are embedded shaped bracelets, oatmeal soap, and carmel apple soap
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  • Fun shapes:  (the first pic link is in another language, the second is at marthastewart [and I’m being lazy and can’t find the exact link right now]).
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