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Craft Apparent

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Posts by Vickie Howell


Teacher's Pot: Tiny Treat Gift Jars

Posted by Vickie Howell on May 4, 2010 at 11:05 AM in General CraftsGreat Gifts!
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Sometimes it's the small gestures that make us feel the most appreciated.  This week you can show your child's teacher a little love with these mini, mementos of gratitude!  A spice jar filled with a single serving of solitude--whether it be to eat, drink or soak in--is an easy way to give a bit back to the molders of our wee one's minds.

General Materials 
Spice Jars or Other Small Containers 
Glue Fabric, Ribbon, & Trims 
Buttons or Other Trinkets
Treat Fillings

  Bath Time Bottle DSC00948

  • Got 5 minutes (not including dry time)?  Then you can make a deserving teacher this treat. Fill container with bath salts--spice jars hold the perfect amount for one, luxurious bath!
  • Using hot-glue or other strong adhesive, affix an over-sized button or brooch onto the lid of  a spice jar.  Let dry. 
Note:  If the button or brooch you choose has a shank or pin preventing it from laying flat on the lid, just break that part of with a pair of pliers or jewelry snippers.

Kudos Candy Jar DSC00949

  • Be sweet to "Teach"; create a candy container just for him or her!  Fill a small jar with a colorful, sugar-y treat.  
Psst...this project is a also a great teaching opportunity-- encourage thoughtfulness by getting your child to ask teacher what their favorite candy is!

  • Cut a circle of fabric about 2" larger than the container's lid.  Using regular ol' glue, cover lid with fabric.  Glue on a bit of trim around the lid sides; add an optional trinket embellishment to top it off.
Nuts-About-You Notion DSC00945

  • Go nuts for the teacher who prefers salty snacks.  Fill a small jar with gourmet cashews--the perfect, healthy solution for the mid-day hungers!
  • Tiny treasures don't have to look feminine.  A recycled buckle embellished lid that's been wrapped with twine, give gift jars a more rustic style.  Print out a name or message on paper, glue or sew it to a strip of cotton and attach it to the buckle for an extra, personal touch!
As the daughter of a teacher, I just want to send an extra loud shout-out to all of you amazing educators out there who tirelessly enrich the lives of our children.  Your hard work and dedication are something that the students you've encouraged, will carry with them for the rest of their lives.  Thank you!


Recycled Container Plant Pots

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Celebrate the Earth everyday and say, "Yes I CAN" to planting by upcycling cans, bottles and jars from your recycle bin to your garden!  This is a great opportunity to work with your kids on not only embracing nature, but showing them how one man's trash can be another man's planters.  Paired with sweet, colorful cacti and succulents, salvaged containers can put the "eco" in your patio dECOr.  Here are a few ideas how you and your family can make plant pots with a (re)purpose!

Soda Bottle, Jam Jar or Soup Can
Different Trims (Twine, Bias Tape, Ric-Rac, etc.)
Fabric Scraps
Drill  (For kids, I recommend a Craft Drill)
Tiny Cacti & Succulents

Pop (Horta)Culture

  • Cut a plastic, pop bottle in half; make slits in the bottom for water to escape.   
  • Cut out fabric appliques (I chose flowers from some oil cloth scraps I had).  Glue appliques and bias tape or ribbon trimming around bottle.

Owl Can

  • Drill hole or holes in bottom of can.
  • Cut a piece of fabric long enough to wrap around a soup can, adding a 1/2" to overlap.  Cut 2 pieces of ric-rac trim the same length.
  • Spread a thin layer of glue around can; lay fabric on top.  Add an additional dab of glue where the fabric overlaps.  Glue on ric-rac trim.

Twine Bottle

  • Cover a jam jar (or other glass bottle) with a thin layer of glue.  Starting just below the jar's rim, wrap twine around until completely covered. Snip off excess.
  • If you're using a jam jar then you'll have a lid with a removable top.  Ditch the top and glue a length of ribbon around the lid.
Once the glue has dried on all of your repurposed pots, fill each one with soil, a tiny plant and water.



Strawtastic Jewelry!

Posted by Vickie Howell on April 5, 2010 at 4:49 PM
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Chain is charming and beads are beautiful, but for kids, a plastic-petal necklace can be jewelry at its finest. Let this week's Craft Apparent project be the final straw towards getting your kiddo to accessorize. Sip, sip, sup--here's how to whip these baubles up!

Handful of Drinking Straws (2 colors)
Yarn or String
Large-Eyed Needle
Large Sequin (Optional)

  • Cut straws into 1" pieces.
  • Thread needle with a length of yarn (as long as you want the necklace plus several extra inches for safety.)  Alternate stringing straw pieces and sequin until the necklace is long enough to fit over the wearer's head.  Tie two ends in a knot; cut off excess.

Flower Pendant:
  • Cut 3-1/4", 3- 1" and 6-1 1/4" straw pieces; cut length of yarn.  Thread needle.
  • String the 3 smallest straw pieces and knot in a circle to create flower center.  DO NOT CUT YARN.
  • String long-medium-long straw pieces onto the yarn end coming from the center; tie back at center to create petal.  Repeat for 3 remaining petals, ending with a knot at the center. 

  • Tie flower to necklace.  Cut yarn.

  • Cut as many 1/2" lengths of straw as needed to create the bracelet length desired.  Make as for necklace.
For less razzley-dazzley accessories, skip the sequin.


 This is a great project for birthday parties or classrooms!


Chiming In

Posted by Vickie Howell on March 15, 2010 at 3:05 PM in Eco-Conscious CraftsGeneral CraftsNature Crafts
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Spring has (almost) sprung which means it's time to get our outdoor craft on!  With just a spoonful of creativity, your family can whip-up an eco-friendly wind chime out of recycled utensils -- so, clean out those cabinets for a D.I.Y. clapper made from everything but the kitchen sink!


Wooden Spoons
Small Colander 
Indoor/Outdoor Spray Paint
Spray Sealant (optional)
Clear Jewelry Cord or Thread
Colorful Bead (optional)


  • Thoroughly coat wooden spoons with spray paint.  If desired, also coat with an all-weather, spray sealant.  Let dry.


  • Drill a hole in each spoon handle, about 1/2" down from tip.


  • Knot a piece of jewelry cord through a spoon's hole.  Feed the opposite end of cord up through the inside of one of the colander's holes and back down through another.  Pull until desired length; knot off and cut excess.  Repeat for as many spoons as it takes to create the look you're going for.
  • Tie a hanging loop of cord onto top of colander; slide decorative bead onto an additional piece of jewelry cord, knotting to keep in place.  
  • Hang and enjoy the clickety-clack.  What's that?  It's the sound of craftiness!



P.S.  Don't forget to share pictures of your crafts in our Flickr Pool!

I Spy a Shamrock

Posted by Vickie Howell on March 1, 2010 at 12:37 PM in Parent/Child CollaborationPhotosSewingSt. Patrick's Day
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I Spy A Shamrock Album

It's true, crafts are often a great diversion for kids while us parents are working on something else.  Sometimes though, a project that rallies the whole family for a little quality time, is just what the crafty doctor ordered!  Enter, the I Spy A..., photo softie book--a journal of pictures taken by you and yours, of themed items from your own town.

Here's the concept:  Choose a theme; sit down with the kids and make a list of items that go along with it.  Since it's March and we're gearing up for St. Patrick's Day, we focused on Irish items.  Here's what our list looked like:

Pot O' Gold

Now, depending on how adventurous you are, you either load everyone up in the car and start driving aimlessly or, do a few internet searches for businesses and streets with names that match the words on your list first.  Either way, don't forget to bring your digital camera with you when you go!

Encourage your kids to get their spy eyes on and point out any items they see that might fit the bill.  Whenever you spot something, safely pull over the car and snap the shot.  If you have older kids, let them handle photography duties--it'll nurture their appreciation for details!

Once you have at least 6 photos taken, head on home and get them printed out.  Then, you'll be ready to start book making.


How-To Make Photo Book Softie

6, 4"x6" Ireland-related photos taken of signs and monuments around your town.
1/2 yd. Gold Felt
1/8 yd, or 3 sheets, White Felt
Sewing Machine
Contrasting Thread
Marking Pen
Shamrock Cookie Cutter or Template

I Spy A Shamrock Album 2

  • Cut four, 7"x14" pieces of gold felt (these will be the pages) and six, 4 1/2" x 6 1/4" pieces of white felt (these will be photo mats).  Cut a Shamrock out of remaining white felt, using a template or cookie cutter as your guide.
  • Sew a photo mat with photo on top each, on both the right and left sides of three of the gold pieces.  Avoid using pins to keep the photos in place while you sew, as you don't want to create extra punctures in the photos--instead, just hold them in place as you go.
  • Sew Shamrock on the right side of the fourth, gold piece (this one will be your front and back cover).
  • With wrong sides facing and using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew two of the gold pieces together.  Repeat for the remaining two pieces.
  • Layer pieces so the the cover piece is face down with the other on top of it.  Using a zig-zag stitch, sew down the center of the pieces to "bind" your photo book.
No-Sew Option for this Project: 
Ditch the felt & thread for paper & glue; make a photo scrapbook!

Use your finished book as an opportunity to chat with your children about the experience and about other, cool things they noticed around the city while you were on your drive together.

Wishing you the luck of the Irish in all of your crafting!


P.S.  Sign & monument photos also make great greeting cards--simply glue one onto the front of plain card stock!

Wrist Wranglers

Posted by Vickie Howell on February 15, 2010 at 2:54 PM in General CraftsTutorial
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Much like the Friendship Pins featured in a previous installment of Craft Apparent, Friendship Bracelets are a crafty staple in a kid's social life.  Making and trading these treasures encourages our children to place value on putting time, thought and effort into gift giving.

There are many different methods of making Friendship Bracelets but in my humble opinion, Japanese Braiding (aka "Kumihimo") is the simplest and most instantly gratifying of all of the techniques.  Since fast & easy= good and setting kids up for creative success is key, this craft is a win-win in my book!

Cardboard Piece
Cup (Any Size)
Pencil or Pen
Various Colors of Yarn Scraps
Measuring Tape

How-To Make Bracelet
  • You'll need a braiding disk before you can get started.  To make your own, trace around a cup onto cardboard.  Cut circle out; poke a hole in the center, and cut 8 slits, evenly around.
  • Measure wrist then cut 7 strands of yarn (in desired colors) that are at least double that measurement.  Hold strands together; poke them through the center hole of the disk.  Leaving a 2" tail, tie a knot to keep the yarn in place.  
Japanese Braiding Tutorial
How-To Japanese Braiding

  • Place yarn strands in 7 of the 8 slots of your disk.  Turn the empty slot to the bottom.
  • Move the third string from the empty slot, into the empty slot.
  • Rotate disk so the empty slot is on the bottom.

Underside View of Set-up

  • Repeat the last 3 steps until cord is the desired length.  Remove strings from disk.
  • Knot the 2 ends of the cord to create bracelet.

Kumihimo Friendship Bracelets

Keep in mind, Japanese Braiding is a portable craft so your son or daughter can make bracelets in front of the TV, while waiting in the doctors office, or in the backseat of a car.

Special thanks to the Craft Yarn Council and the Weavers of Orlando, for sharing this technique with me!


Hearts for Haiti

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It's that time of year when love & friendship are in the air!  As your children gear-up to give cards and chow down on chocolates remind them that nuthin' says luvin', like something handmade!  

This year the kids have the opportunity to open their hearts not only to their loved ones but also, the victims of the horrific earthquake in Haiti.  Encourage the kids to get crafty.  In addition to making heart-related projects for friends and loved ones, how about making some extras to sell to neighbors, relatives and other safe buyers? 

I've put together 3, love-inspired crafts: an embellished frame, plastic canvas pouch and recycled wreath--none of which are too difficult for a child under 10 to handle.  If you'd like, use these with your kiddos to start (or continue) a dialogue about charity, compassion and humanitarian responsibility.

Children often feel helpless in the face of tragedy but with the willingness to use their hands (and their hearts), they're really quite powerful!  Their crafts can make money for those who need it most and even if they're only able to raise a dollar or two, their efforts set in motion a universal, "pay it forward" plan!

Heartfelt Frame


Embellished Frame Materials:
Unfinished, Wooden Frame (You can find these for about $1 at one of the craft store chains.)
Pink Craft Paint
Gloss Varnish or Collage Medium
Sponge Brush
Pink Glitter
Scrabble Letters

Frame How-To:
  • Paint frame front and back, applying a second coat if necessary.  Let dry.
  • Apply a thin layer of gloss coat.  Let dry.

  • Glue Scrabble letters in place.
  • Apply a layer of glue around the edge of the frame opening.  Sprinkle with glitter.  Let dry; shake off excess.

Pass the (Love) Note Pouch

Plastic Canvas Pouch Materials:
2, Plastic Canvas Hearts (Available in craft store Embroidery sections)
1, Yarn Needle (The plastic ones work great, especially for younger kids!)
Red Yarn
Scraps of Turquoise Yarn
Scrap of White Fabric
Sentimental Stamp & Stamp Pad
Fabric Glue or Needle & Thread

Pouch How-To:
  • Using red yarn & needle, fill in plastic canvas heart with stitches.  Plastic canvas looks like a graph; you're stitches with be a series of diagonals.  To sew a stitch, come up through a square on one row then down through the square caddy-corner to it, one row above.  Once finished, repeat for 2nd heart.

    With wrong sides together and using turquoise yarn, whip stitch heart sides and bottom together.  Whip stitch around the tops of both hearts to create decorative edging.
  • Stamp a saying or lovey design onto a piece of fabric.  Cut out and glue or sew onto heart front.
  • Slip a sweet message into your new, cute pouch !

Love's Recyclable Wreath

Plastic Bag Wreath Materials:
1, Wire Coat Hanger
Wire Cutters
5-7 Plastic, Grocery Bags
Decorative Ribbon

Wreath How-To:
  • Untwist the hook part of a hanger, enough to separate the ends.  Bend hanger wire into heart shape; use pliers to re-twist ends to secure (see example here).  Use wire cutters to snip off excess part of hanger.
  • Cut plastic grocery bags into 1"-2"strips--they don't need to be perfect or pretty.  Fold a strip in half, then tie it onto the wire heart.  Repeat all the way around until entire heart is nice and packed with bag strips.  Give wreath a "hair cut" to make heart-shape more apparent.
  • Cut desired length of ribbon; loop through back of wreath; tie a bow.

Tips for Selling Crafts for Charity
  • Set up an online store through Etsy!  It costs pennies, there's no minimum for how many items you have to sell at one time, and you can upload pictures of your child's finished products right from your home computer!  Make sure you also set up a Paypal account so people can purchase from you (this will obviously have to be under the parent's name as a checking account is required).
  • Get permission from principal or leader to sell crafts at school or church. 
  • Ask a local business for permission to set up a small table in front of their store on a weekend day.
  • Set up a limited time auction on Ebay.
  • If you'd prefer to sell only to relatives & friends, upload pictures of their products to Flickr or other photo sharing program, so the goods are viewable when your child calls or e-mails people to tell them about what he/she's doing
Where to Donate Cash Raised
Here are a few suggestions of charities that are sure to get the money to Haiti as soon as possible.

Find more charities here.

Remember, Valentine's Day isn't the only time to show a little love.  The people of Haiti are going to need help for the rest of the year too, as well as the foreseeable future.  Even if your family can't afford to donate money of your own, consider offering some handmade help whenever you can.

Happy Valentine's Day from Craft Apparent!


Crowning Achievement: Fabric Birthday Toppers

Posted by Vickie Howell on January 15, 2010 at 7:58 AM in BirthdayGeneral CraftsSewing
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Make this year extra-special by creating a customized crown for your birthday boy or girl!  Metallic fabric & sequin highlight the royal awesomeness of kiddo's big day, while a contrasting cloth lining personalizes the piece with his or her favorite color or theme--my sons both chose linings to reflect their winter birthdays! 

With either sew or no-sew options this project is easily make-able, no matter your crafty level of expertise.  Put one together every year as a keepsake or simply, replace the sequin number as your child gets older.  Either way you'll have a reusable treasure that can be broken out for special occasions, or kept in the costume box for year 'round razzle-dazzle! 

1/8 yd, Metallic Fabric
1/8 yd., Contrasting Fabric (for Lining)
1/8 yd., Iron-on Adhesive
Sequin Trimming
Straight Edge
Measuring Tape
Sewing Pins
Fabric Scissors
Sewing Machine & Contrasting Thread OR Hot Glue Gun & Glue

Make It
  • Loosely measure child's head, allowing room for hair not to be too smooshed.  Add 1/4" to that measurement giving you your length,number, "L" .

  • Cut 4"x L" pieces of metallic fabric, lining fabric and iron-on adhesive.

  • Sandwich the iron-on adhesive piece in between the pieces of fabric (with right-sides of fabric facing out).  Following the adhesive's manufacturing instructions, iron the three pieces together.

  • Using a straight edge and pencil draw a zig-zag, evenly across the top of the lining side of the piece.  Cut along lines, creating crown points.

  • Using a 1/4" seam allowance and either a straight or decorative setting on your sewing machine, top-stitch around the metallic side of crown.  (THIS STEP IS OPTIONAL.  CROWN WILL STAY ASSEMBLED WITHOUT SEWING)


  • Layout sequin trimming (pinning if necessary) in shape of desired number, on the center-front of crown.  Either machine sew or hot glue in place.
  • With wrong sides facing and using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew or hot glue crown ends together.  Turn right side out.  If you choose the sewn option, top stitch over seam.

Birthday Crowns

Tristan's 8!

Hey, happy birthday to those beautiful, Craft Apparent kids!


Psst!  Make this craft?  We'd love to see a picture of it...and we're sure others would too!  Join the Craft Apparent Flickr group and upload photos of you're awesome Craft Apparent Crafts!

Artful Appreciation: DIY Thank You Notes

Posted by Vickie Howell on January 4, 2010 at 10:25 AM in EmbroideryGeneral CraftsParent/Child CollaborationThank Yous
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In the age of e-mail correspondence the paper "Thank You" note is often a lost art.  Raising grateful children however, definitely isn't.   Help your tots celebrate the gift of creativity while they give back some of the love and energy that's surely put into the presents they receive.  Handmade notes are a thoughtful (and fun) way to express that appreciation.  Here are three, simple-to-make cards to stitch, snap or glue!

Make it Sew!
Embroidered Card
It's easy to say it with stitching, when you start off with a basic note card!  Have your child write "Thanks" in pencil on the card front--their handwriting, no matter how messy, will add that extra-special touch!  Using embroidery floss, a sharp needle and the back stitch (see tutorial here), stitch over the writing.  Add little stitched dots or lines, for added embellishment.  So sweet, SEW simple!

Glued Greeting
Ransom (thank you) Note
All kiddo needs for this card collage is a glue stick and a dream!  Ok well, also a pair of scissors, a doily and recycled magazine letters--but you know what I mean.  They'll have loads of fun cutting up pages and piecing together their creation.  If you want to say "Thank You", why not just spell it out?

Picture Perfect
Photo Card
This one is the easiest and probably, most well-received (at least amongst the grandparent set) of all handmade hellos.  Whether it be Christmas, birthday or any other present-getting event; after unwrapping their goodies have the kids pose for a picture! Simply write your greeting on plain, white paper and have them hold those signs up.  Snap a shot; have copies printed up; glue them on card stock and embellish with a little ric-rac.  That's all there is to it!

How important do you think teaching kids to write Thank You notes is?  At what age do you think children should participate in writing (or signing) their own?
  Please post your answers in the comments section.

Thank YOU for making Craft, Apparent!


Psst!  Make this craft?  We'd love to see a picture of it...and we're sure others would too!  Join the Craft Apparent Flickr group and upload photos of you're awesome Craft Apparent Crafts!


Kids Home. Need Project?

Posted by Vickie Howell on December 27, 2009 at 8:31 PM in General Crafts
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Happy post, Chrikwayuleukkah!  Looking for a little something to keep your kids busy during the remaining days of their winter vacation?  I thought so.  That's why I'm jumping on for a quick "hello" in between regular articles, to share I project I used to occupy my own boys during a vacation past.

I don't know about you but when it comes to kid clothes shopping, I get many the request for one character shirt or another (Star Wars, Sponge Bob, Halo, etc.).  Recently however, I suggested that perhaps, my sons might want to draw their own versions of one of their favorites. This actually got them really excited--praise the crafty Gods! With a little persuasion and a pack of pens my boys created their shirts, their way: featuring Super Mario Bros. Ba-bomb guys. It was a good compromise if you ask me!


Plain, light-colored t-shirt
Tulip Fabric Markers
Cardboard (Recycled box pieces, work great!)
Clothespins and/or Masking Tape

1. Have your child sketch out their idea on a piece of scrap paper (optional).

2. Stretch t-shirt out over cardboard; secure with tape or clothespins.


3. Hand your little artist a pack of Fabric Markers and let him work his drawing magic, directly on the shirt.

With a little bit of time and almost no clean-up, your creative child has a wearable work of art that fits whatever his current, character fancy!


This project article was originally written for
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