Monday, October 28, 2013

Spider Web Embroidery Tutorial: A Perfect First Embroidery for Kids

This Halloween, teach your child how to embroider with this super simple spider web embroidery.  The huge stitches on this embroidery gives kids the feeling of immediate success.

When teaching your child how to embroider, it's important to be right there with your child.  This will minimize potential frustration on your child's part and keep him safe from the sharp point of the embroidery needle.

So if you have 30 minutes to an hour, you and your child will love doing this project together!

Let's get started.

Before getting your child for this project, get all of your supplies ready.  This was Micah's first embroidery project so I wanted to make sure I had his full attention.  He's only four years old, so if I had him gather materials with me and get the embroidery hoop ready, I think he would have been done with the project before we even started sewing.

You will need:
cotton fabric (preferably black or white)
cotton embroidery floss (use black floss if your fabric is white and vice versa)
embroidery needle
embroidery hoop
transfer pen or pencil

Get Your Embroidery Hoop Ready

Unscrew the embroidery-hoop fastener and take out the inner hoop. Place the inner hoop under the fabric and place the outer hoop over the fabric around the inner hoop. Gently pull on the fabric until it is taut. Secure the fabric into place by tightening the fastener.

Make a Spider Web Guideline

Now you are going to draw dots on the fabric with your transfer pen or pencil that will be a guide for you and your child when sewing the spider web.

Each spider web is unique, but a similar method for the dot guideline is used for all of the spider webs. Decide if you would like a full circle spider web, or a portion of a circle.  Place one dot where you want the middle of your spider web to be sewn.  This dot is the origin of your spider web.  The origin of my spider web is on the edge of the embroidery hoop. Place the other dots around the outer edge or what would be the circumference of your spider web 1 to 2 inches apart.

I decided not to make my spider web a perfect circle.  So when placing the dots around the circumference of the spider web, I purposely misaligned several of the dots.

Thread your Needle

Thread all six strands of embroidery floss into the needle and knot the end of your thread.  I recommend using a long piece of thread (2 feet at least) because your child's stitches will be so big.

Now go get the kiddies!

Time to Sew 

Have your child push the threaded needle up through the origin or center of the spider web and gently pull until the thread is stopped by the knot at the end.  Choose one dot on the circumference of the spider web and have your child push the needle down through the marked spot and gently pull until the thread stops. That is your child's first (huge) stitch. Let's call these stitches the "runner" stitches.

Your child will now bring the needle back up through the origin pulling gently until the thread stops.  Choose another circumference dot and send the needle down through the fabric at this spot.

Help your child repeat this process, sewing large runner stitches from the origin outward until all of the spider web guide dots have been used.

When your thread runs out and you cannot make another stitch, just tie off your thread close to the fabric on the underneath of your embroidery and trim the extra floss.  Re-thread your needle and start your embroidery where you and your child left off.

Next, make back stitches with your child, going from one runner stitch to the next, starting on one end of the spider web. Make several rows of these stitches across the runner stitches all at about the same distance apart.  Repeat this process until your spider web is complete.

And there you have it.  In just about 30 extra large stitches your child has completed his very first embroidery! Hooray for kids!

If your child is not quite ready to embroider, you can still get him involved.  Have your child pull the thread through the fabric after you have make the initial poke with your needle.  Keep practicing until he feels confident to sew right along with you.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Homespun Homeschool: 3 Ways to Motivate Your Child to Practice Their Instrument

I've heard a lot of moms complain about their child's instrument practice.  Sometimes it's hard to motivate a child that just doesn't want to practice.  Here are three things that work for us in motivating our children to practice their instruments.

1.  Make it fun!
Making instrument practice fun, especially for young kids, is a great way to keep them practicing. Sometimes we turn practice time into game time.  We use spinners with different dynamics on them.  If Ev spins and it lands on "forte" she'll play the next song loud.  We use rhythm dice to switch up the rhythm of the songs that she plays.  We also have Ev draw the song out of a bag so the order of songs that she practices is different each time.

2.  Practice with your child
If you are lucky enough to have two of the same instrument or can somehow practice with your child, this can be motivating.  My kids get a kick out of teaching me a song on the violin or guitar.  They are pretty good to remind me that my playing is getting a little rusty and that I need to practice more.

3.  Occasionally a little prize or treat can help
Our kids are usually pretty good to practice their instruments without complaint, but there have been times when practice seems like a punishment (for everyone). I've found that a little prize or treat once in a while for a great job practicing can be really helpful.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

DIY Halloween and Day of the Dead Bunting Tutorial

When you decorate for Halloween don't limit yourself to just black and orange decorations!

Think "Day of the Dead."  This Mexican holiday seems to have been pulled into Halloween traditions, most likely because of the use of skeletons during Day of the Dead celebrations and the close proximity in Holiy dates.  Did you know that the Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st?

Day of the Dead is not so much a morbid holiday as it is a celebration of loved ones who have passed.  So it makes sense that tons of colorful flowers are used in celebration on this day.

This year, I chose neon colors to add to the classic black and orange used at Halloween. Here's how I made a bunting that combined traditional colors of Halloween and bright colors of Day of the Dead.

I started out by cutting strips of black and orange card stock.  I trimmed these and cut decorative edges on the end of each strip of paper.  The papers were cut symmetrically so that they could be folded in half over ribbon or cord and look the same on both sides of the bunting.

There was no order as far as the way I placed my paper flags on the cord.  I just grabbed from my pile of paper flags, placed the flag over the cord, and put a dot of hot glue between the two sides of the flag.

The Day of the Dead skulls were made from felt.  Each one was drawn free hand with neon fabric markers. The skulls were also made to be folded over the cord just like the flags.  After every five or so flags I placed a skull over the cord and secure it by hot gluing the two sides of the skull together.

I repeated this until I reached my desired length of bunting.

So when you decorate your home for Halloween this year take a lesson from this Mexican festivity and include all sorts of colors in your Halloween decor.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Dog-Themed Birthday Party

Micah requested a dog-themed party for his birthday this year and so we delivered (all on a budget of $20 too).

Since our party guests were all four years old, we decided to start the party right with some simple coloring. When guests arrived, we directed them to a table with dog coloring pages and a box of crayons.  After a bit of coloring we headed over to the next room for some fun doggy games.  With a pile of balls, a dog obstacle course, and some play tunnels, the party goers got all sorts of wiggles out.

This dog party also included a version of pin the tail on the donkey, but instead of tails on donkeys we were trying to get dog bones in the dog's mouth.

Our games didn't end there!  Each of our party guests attended doggy obedience school before having their dog treats.  The kids had a blast eating Cocoa Puffs out of real (new and clean) dog bowls.

After opening presents, we sang to Micah and he blew out his candles on his dog-food cake.  For this cake I used one chocolate cake mix, divided in half and baked in two pans.  One layer of the cake was placed in the bottom of a large dog bowl with wax paper underneath.  The other layer was turned into cake balls and made to look like over-sized dog food.

Each party goer was given an assortment of delicious dog treats for being such good dogs including a sugar cookie dog bone, Scooby Snacks, and chocolate cake balls.

And the guests left with their own bag of dog treats and a ball so they could practice their dog tricks at home!

Monday, October 7, 2013

DIY Preschool Halloween Decorations

Let your preschooler run wild with this paper folding activity that you can use in your home as Halloween decor.

It's as easy as it looks.  Cut different lengths and widths of orange and black paper.  Show your child how to fold a fan, making their first fold across the paper starting about an inch away from the bottom. Flip the paper over and help your child make the next fold about an inch away from the last fold.  Show your child how to repeat the process, flipping the paper over and folding, until your child runs out of room to fold.

You can hang your child's folded masterpieces by threading white embroidery floss through a needle, tying a knot at the end of a piece of thread, and poking a hole with the needle at the top of the folded paper.  Bring your thread up through the hole in the paper until you reach the knot at the end of your thread.

I used adhesive putty to attach the thread on the ceiling.  You can use tape or whatever you have.  Let the paper hang at different lengths for a great Halloween decoration made by your kids.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Leopard Print Wall Map

Need to spice up a dull wall in your home?  Leopard print will do the trick.

To make this leopard print wall map, I used an outline of a map I found online.  After printing, I cut out the basic shape of the map and traced it onto the back of this leopard felt.  You can find this kind of animal print felt in most craft stores. I found mine next to the sheets of craft felt.  This particular felt was thicker and more firm than craft felt so it held its shape nicely.

Once my map was cut out, I attached it to a piece of white cotton fabric that I had previously stretched across the back of a barn-wood frame and secured with staples. I just had to center my map and hot glue it onto the fabric.

For a personal touch, I added heart-topped pins to the map in places that are near and dear to our hearts. For the heart-topped pins I just hot glued tiny wool felt hearts to each pinhead.

If you feel a little nervous about putting something as wild as an animal print on a wall in your home, don't worry.  I heard that leopard is a new "classic" print.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Free Fall Pumpkin Embroidery Pattern

I stitched up a fall embroidery for the Mama Do That shop and decided to make a free fall pumpkin pattern similar to the embroidery that I am selling.  Want to make one?!

Just print the pattern at the bottom of the page and transfer it onto fabric using a transfer pen or pencil.

Place your fabric into an embroidery hoop and start stitching!  If you need help getting started on your embroidery, you can follow the instructions on this backstitch tutorial.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Homespun Homeschool: 3 Reasons Why We Don't Have a TV

Where we live we seem to be an anomaly.  We choose not to have a television.

Here are three reasons why we don't have a TV:

1.  Exposure: There are things on TV that I just don't want my kids to see or hear.  

We recently went to the dentist.  Our dentist, like most, has televisions on the ceiling to distract the patients while getting their teeth cleaned.  I was asked if Ev could watch TV while getting her dental work done.  I said it was fine, so the hygienist found a cartoon for Ev to watch.  That didn't seem like a big deal to me. We don't ban TV altogether.

However, in the 10 minutes that she watched TV at the dentist's office, she was exposed to about twelve words that we don't use in our home. They aren't horrible words, but words that we don't want our 7 year old and 3 year old saying.  

I want to be the one that filters my kids' world experience right now.  They are little and I want to protect them.

That being said, I do see the importance of my kids gaining their own filtration system.  What I mean by that is that I would like my kids to govern themselves when I'm not around. When there is something on TV or on the computer that is not appropriate, I want them to choose to turn it off.

We work on this skill right now even though we don't have a television.  We are honest about what is available on the Internet (I do let me kids play games online).  We have told them, even though they are young, that some people put inappropriate pictures, videos, and stories online.  We have also discussed with them that if they happen upon these things they close the computer, walk away and come talk to us (their parents).

2. Time: There are too many good things to do besides watch TV.

Television can be a huge time waster.  Believe me, I know.  I have been caught in the TV trap.  You sit down to watch TV just for a few minutes.  You just need a little break from reality so you can conquer the rest of your day.  Before you know it, the rest of your day has been conquered by the four reality TV shows you just finished watching.  Oh boy.

Especially now that I am a mom, and a home-school mom at that, there are too many things to do in the day to include television into my schedule. And there too many fun things for my kids to do and experience to have the TV going all day long.

Don't get me wrong, my husband and I will watch movies three or four times a month, but having some sort of show running half the day seems to fill life with unimportant things.

3.  Guilt: It's too much for me.

I won't lie, part of this no-TV thing is kind of selfish.  I feel so much guilt when my kids waste the day away watching TV or playing games on the computer.  If TV is not even an option on our home, then I don't have to feel an internal struggle wondering if my kids are rotting their brains out watching the adventures of a yellow sponge in short shorts.

So there you have it.  I'm not sure how long we'll go without a television, but we have lived without one for the last three years and have not missed it.