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6 crafty things to do with your kids

24 July 2014 09:00

July!  School’s out!  (or very nearly)

I always enjoyed the summer holidays when my children were young.  No rushing to get to places, lots of playing outside, most of the mess outside!  (It always seemed easier to get them to clear up their garden toys than indoor mess!  Perhaps it had something to do with the threat of a fox running off with a prized possession – who knows?)

But ….  What to do when it rains?  Or those inevitable times when the freedom to do what you like begins to pall, and the cry of ‘What can I dooooo?’ rings out?

Here are 6 fabric-y craft ideas to keep your little darlings amused constructively.  I must confess to cheating slightly here – the first 3 ideas have appeared before.  But it doesn’t hurt to remind you of them, and you may not have seen them first time round.

Make a basket

So, our first suggestion is fabric baskets.  We first made these for Easter, but if you choose soft pastels, or vibrant primary colours, you can make a lovely summery basket.  Perhaps you could challenge your children to fill their completed baskets with dandelions off the lawn, or something beginning with each letter of the alphabet on a walk?

Design a tea towel

We recently suggested designing a tea towel using recipes.  You could rope the children in to help with this.  They can choose their favourite recipes – and even test them out if you’re feeling brave!  Or they can find recipes in cook books, magazines and the internet, maybe trying them out before they copy them out neatly to go on the tea towel.

Or, you can use the tea towel idea for something completely different.  Maybe a memento of your holiday (photos, kids’ drawings etc), or handprints, probably best done in poster paint and then scanned.  Or just a drawing or painting.  These would make great gifts for grandparents.

Paint-your-own pencil case

Earlier this week, we introduced our cut-and-sew ‘colour in’ pencil cases.  You could also use a similar idea to make shoe bags or reading-book bags.  (Instructions for making a draw-string bag can be found here.)

Make a seasonal wreath

My daughter’s friend made her a Christmas wreath a couple of years ago.  It was very simple but very effective.  I’ve since made them with Guides (aged 10 – 14), who loved making them.  They’re surprisingly addictive!  You may want to keep that idea for Christmas, but, as with the fabric basket, you can also make a wreath for any season by changing the colours of fabric you use.

You will need a wire coat hanger and lots of strips of fabric, about 13cms long by 3cms wide, preferably in different thicknesses and textures.  (This is a great stash-buster, or you can raid a jumble sale!  It’s probably best to wash jumble-sale fabric before use.)

Form the coat hanger into a circle, then wrap the handle and down to the main part of the hanger, with a long strip of fabric, completely covering the wire.  For a Christmas wreath, I would use a plain dark green.  I think for any season a plain colour is probably best.  Then tie your mixed strips onto the circle, pushing them close together.  You need lots on top of each other to give a full wreath.

                                                                                           This wreath is from A Beautful Mess


Teach your daughter to sew & make a skirt

If you follow Lynda from this year’s GBSB on Twitter (@SigningStitcher), you may have seen her tweet about helping her 4-year old grand-daughter to make a skirt.  If she can do it…..  Perhaps this is the year to start your daughter (or son) sewing.  This web site has printable designs for children to use to practise using a sewing machine.  When your daughter can sew a straight line, perhaps she could make a skirt?

You need a piece of fabric roughly twice her waist measurement and as long as she wants it, plus about 8 – 10 cms for the hem and waist.  (I used Adele Bradwell's 'Beach Huts' fabric)  You will also need elastic, thread and maybe something for decoration.  You may be able to have fun either shopping for the things you need, or raiding your stash.  (Or even designing your own fabric!)

Put the 2 short ends right sides together and stitch.  Press open and neaten.  Turn the top down about 1 cm and press.  Turn down again approx. 2½ cms.  The exact size will depend on the width of your elastic and the accuracy of your daughter’s sewing.  Stitch along the bottom of this turning, leaving a gap about 3cms wide.  Thread elastic through, check for fit, stitch the 2 ends of the elastic together and slip-stitch the gap closed.

Turn the bottom up about 1 cm and press. Turn again, so that the length of the skirt is right and stitch.  You can do this by hand, on the machine, or with a fancy stitch.

This is a very basic skirt, but will give a young sewer a great sense of satisfaction.  There are also lots of ways in which it can be decorated – with fancy ribbons or braid stitched round the bottom, with applique, fabric paint and stencils, by adding pockets, etc.

If your daughter doesn’t want to make a skirt for herself, or you haven’t enough fabric, you can use the same method to make a doll’s skirt.  Barbie dolls, and similar, are more fiddly to sew for than bigger dolls.

Make bunting

If you want a simpler sewing project, how about making mini bunting?

Cut out pennants from co-ordinating fabric. (I used Sarah Price’s Night-time Rhino collection).  Either use pinking shears to cut the pennants, using this template at the size you want (the bases of mine are about 7cms)

or cut them straight and pink them afterwards.  Remember that the point is at the bottom if you use fabric with a directional pattern!  Arrange them to your liking on a ribbon, pin and machine.  If you really don’t want to sew, you can staple the pennants in place.  If you want to make bigger or more finished bunting, there’s a tutorial here for making double thickness bunting.


Have fun with these ideas and let us know how you get on.  We’d love to see some photos of your finished projects – or even on-the-go projects – and tell us about any variations you come up with.

There are some more ideas on our Pinterest Crafty Ideas for Kids board; look out for more on our blog later in the holiday.