Saturday, October 5, 2019

Leafy Lanterns

Isn't this pretty? 

For me, it captures nostalgia: fistfuls of autumn brightness, collected and brought home to mother for pressing between sheets of waxed paper. I studied those carefully then, sometimes taping them to the window of my room so the back lighting of sunshine could enhance their collective beauty. But how much nicer to capture that translucency in a lantern! - a portable showcase of the season's finest - free to those who need only to stoop to pick them up.

Pinterest is awash with variations of this gentle craft. But few give exact measurements or simplify the cumbersome attachment of paper wall to base. And, to my knowledge, no one else involves assistance from a two year old grandson in the collecting and arranging process! But here it is! Teacher-ly bossiness at its best! I've outlined everything for you here, step-by-stepping your way to a successful seasonal project, utilizing items you probably have at hand - although the pint sized side kick is a strictly optional ingredient!

Here's what you'll need to make a 6" x 6" lantern exclusive of handle:

1. Assortment of leaves 3" - 4" preferably a colorful variety - 10 fit nicely here - best results if                pressed between paper towels in a heavy book overnight
2. Wax paper - 16" length from a 12" wide roll
3. Thin flexible cardboard - 4.75" diameter circle and 3 strips 3/4" x 16.5"
4. Narrow ribbon 18" (optional)
5. Tea light
6. Iron, glue, scissors, transparent tape

And here's what you'll do:

1. Fold wax paper in half horizontally to 6" x 16". Open. Arrange leaves on bottom half, fold top            down and press quickly with hot iron to seal.

2. Cut and attach 2" strips of tape (sticky side up!) all around cardboard circle as shown at left. This will serve as lantern base.

3. Carefully attach bottom edge of wax paper to base by folding tape up as you go around. This part is clumsy, but doable! See photo at left.

4. Overlap vertical ends and run tape from top to bottom along seam to close.

5. Run glue along bottom edge of wax paper. Wrap one 16.5" strip around lantern bottom, overlapping ends. Glue ends together so strip fits snugly against wax paper.
6. Repeat for top edge.
7. Glue handle ends to inside top edge of lantern. Adjust size as desired.
8. Tie ribbon into bow on one side at base of handle as shown in top photo.
9. Insert tea light.

And here's what will happen if this project includes a two year grandson!:

1. You certainly will get your leaves! But prepare to sort them! Wrinkled, torn, bug holes, mold....scooped right up like a manic vacuum cleaner!

2. "Pie-ders," not leaves, will take hunting priority. Those may not be evident, but a cute little tree frog might make an appearance!

3. Your little nature hunter will want to catch and hold it gently before you insist it be set free to go home to mom and dad!

4. Back inside, he'll carefully position his leaves, but won't be interested in a lecture on "dicot vs. monocot!" Just trust me on that one!

5. While you complete the lantern, he'll happily park himself, snack in hand, in front of Paw Patrol.

6. When mommy picks him up, he'll gleefully hand her the lantern and exclaim, "Look what I made for you!"- because, of course he did! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Sewing For Kids: Pudgy Pumpkin Potholders!

Pudgy potholder pairs - plump pumpkins and sneaky spiders - serve several purposes. They're a kids' learn-to-sew adventure introducing basic running stitching coupled with hand quilting basics. And, results make charming decorative gifts for mommy - so much fun to have on hand while easing mummy meringues out of a hot oven during this giddy season of anything-goes craziness!

I've just begun to sew with grandkids; six and nine year old girls are anxious to learn. But there's a surprise in the crowd, too! Four year old Austin doesn't mind one bit being the only dude to hone the trade. He's working on a small stuffed cat now, sandwich-stitch-inching his way around the perimeter of a simple felt shape. For that, he's earned his own post. And it's coming soon! (I'll direct it at his future mom-in-law saying, "You're very welcome!" in advance!) But for now, little ladies are sole producers of Halloween potholders - with some (okay - a lot!) finishing touch contribution from good "old-ish" grandma!

Here's how we made them, starting with a few tips to make intro sewing a fun first experience:

1. Keep projects small and appealing. Kids like to see results quickly, and the repetitiveness of sewing triggers boredom.

2. If possible, show a completed sample so kids see a goal worth poking along for!

3. Expect thread to tangle and pull off the needle. Have threaded extras ready to go.

4. Kaylee, (at left) handles holding and sewing quite well, but if needed, hold the fabric for your child while he/she moves the needle.

5. Avoid jumping in to fix every wayward stitch! (This is hard - sometimes I wait til they're not looking! 😏)

6. Don't worry about whisking the project off for finishing touches. Good results mean next time they'll want to do more for themselves.

I build my originally designed potholders over Dollar Tree purchases for reasons of economy and less work. The 2-in-a-pack ready-made purchase means there's no need to assemble an insulating layer. I found some (pictured below) with solid black backs, also eliminating a complimenting seasonal print back cover (more "less work!"). Here's the link to step by step instructions from a past post featuring turkey handprints on potholders gifted to mommy seven years ago! That's where you'll go to complete this project once you've assembled the hand pieced tops shown above:

1. Begin each potholder with a 6" square - orange or black. Cut 4 squares, 2.5" each, from contrasting color and position in all corners (one shown). Draw a diagonal sewing line on each one.

2. Sew each small square along traced line in a running stitch.

3. Clip corners and press open. This 6" square is now spider or pumpkin shaped and ready to decorate.

4. For spider:

a. Cut 8 ribbon lengths, about 5" each, and knot close to ends for legs. Pin them to sides of body, laying inward. Cut 2 lengths of contrasting fabric, each 2.5" x 6" and sew them to sides (right sides together) with a running stitch, enclosing ribbon legs. Press open. Cut a long narrow strip of ribbon about 12" long for web line (used for potholder hanger) and pin to center top, folded downward. Cut 2 more strips, each 2.5" x 8" and sew them to top, enclosing ribbon hanger, and bottom. Press open.

b. Make a sandwich of thin cotton batting between assembled square and an 8" square of scrap fabric. Use quilting thread to hand stitch, outlining triangles and body shape.

c. Iron fusible web to scrap of white fabric and cut 2 circles, approximately 1.5" each. Apply them to body for eyes. Sew black 1/2" buttons on top.

d. Finish potholder following assembly directions found here. Stitch a 5/8" ribbon bow to center top of completed potholder.

5. For pumpkin:

a. Cut 2 contrasting fabric strips 2.5" x 6" and 2 more 2.5" x 8". Sew 6" strips to sides with running stitch. Press open. Fold a 6" green ribbon scrap (5/8") in half for stem, and pin to top center, folded downward. Sew 8" strips to top, enclosing ribbon, and bottom. Press open.

b. Sew black buttons to face. Iron fusible web to scrap of black print or solid fabric and cut and apply triangle nose.

c. See step "b" above for spider to hand quilt the square, then sew a smile in running stitch through all 3 layers.

d. See step "d" above for spider to complete pumpkin potholder.

This original design, like all blog content, is intended for personal use only. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Thank you!