Monday, March 18, 2013

HANDMADE GIFT IDEA #15


If you haven't noticed yet, we LOVE to give handmade gifts.  We especially love giving gifts that are not only handmade, but are also useful.  Which is why we LOVE these cute reusable fabric lunch bags.  Plus, they're quick and easy to make.   If you're feeling adventurous, you can make them without a pattern - it's just one big long rectangle (front, bottom, and back) and two small rectangles on the sides.  If you're not feeling so adventurous, have no fear, there are tons of great patterns for these available.  Emmamae on Etsy sells a pattern for a bag identical to this one, and it includes two sizes.  Great gift for working moms, dads, and kids in school!

Resources: Classic Lunch Bag pattern by Emmamae
Skills Requiredeasy sewing
Approximate time to put together*: 1 hour 

Approximate cost for supplies*: $5
*Please remember that these are just approximations. CopyCrafts makes no guarantee of their accuracy.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

CAMPFIRE CENTERPIECES


As promised, here are the little campfire centerpieces I made for the Blue & Gold Banquet last month.  I started by cutting "flames" out of red, yellow, and orange tissue paper.  Even with 10 centerpieces to make, this hardly took any tissue paper, maybe a quarter of a sheet of each color.  I then used Modge Podge to glue the flames to the glass votives.  As you can imagine, this part is very messy - I had glue all over my hands, but thankfully the Modge Podge washes off hands, and it wipes of the glass if you make a little mistake as well. 

Next I painted the part of the pot that holds water (sorry, I don't know what it's called - the little dish piece that goes underneath the pot, help me out if you know what it's real name is).  If you're buying these new, you probably don't need to paint them, but as I was reusing mine, and they were royal blue, I thought a little brown paint was in order.  Then I glued the glass votive to the pot dish turned upside down, using craft glue.  You could use hot glue, which will dry faster, but there is a chance they will break apart if they get bumped or dropped (which is how I took the old centerpieces apart in the first place). 

Now comes the tricky part - the rock ring.  I started by wadding up pieces of newspaper into  little balls and taping them with masking tape so they kept their shape.  The great thing about this is that you don't have to worry about making perfect shapes or sizes, because they're rocks.  I made about 8 for each centerpiece, though some needed 9, depending on the size of the rocks and how closely I glued them together.  Then I cut grey butcher paper into strips big enough to wrap around the rocks.  I took each strip and crumpled/uncrumpled it several times to give it texture and make it easier to work with.  Then I dipped each paper rock into glue, placed it in the center of the butcher paper strip, and wrapped the paper around it like a hot dog bun (sorry, this is one step I should have taken a picture of, but I was in a major hurry - hopefully you get it).  Scrunch the paper around the sides of the paper rock, and then repeat with another paper rock close to the first one.  You should get something that resembles Wilma Flinstone's necklace.  I let these dry completely before moving on. 

When the rocks were dry, I hot glued the bottom (which was originally the top) of the water dish to a piece of grey paper.  Starting at one end of the rock necklace, I hot glued each rock, half on the paper, half on the dish, with the seam of the rocks facing down.  Once those were on, I just cut 5-6 sticks into short pieces and hot glued those around the fire.  Voila!  Cute little campfire centerpieces that are perfectly safe to keep indoors. 
 
Approximate time to craft*: 30 minutes each
Approximate cost for supplies*: $2 each (buying new supplies)
*Please remember that these are just approximations. CopyCrafts makes no guarantee of their accuracy.

Monday, March 4, 2013

BLUE & GOLD CAMP OUT


Last week I was in charge of decorations for our Cub Scout Blue &Gold Banquet.  If you are unfamiliar with the Blue & Gold, this is a big dinner for all the boys (8-10 years old) and their families to celebrate the founding of Cub Scouts.  Our Cub Scout Committee (currently comprised of 5 men and 2 women) started with good intentions to plan early, but planning meetings kept getting pushed off, so it was exactly one week before the Banquet that we did any planning at all.  So with one week to go, I actually volunteered for this assignment.
The old centerpieces.

Why would I do such a crazy thing?  To fully understand this, we'll have to go back a year to the last Blue & Gold Banquet.  It was one week before the Banquet, and we had finally gotten around to planning (do you sense a theme?).  Decorations came up, and the Cub Master with a wave of his hand said they were "taken care of" and we moved on.  As this came from a man, I should have asked more questions.  When we came to set up for the Blue and Gold Banquet, out of the Scout closet came black tablecloths, and these little beauties were stuck in the middle of the table.  The end.

Now I have no problem reusing old decorations.  These could actually be really cute filled with candy (which I think they originally were), or taking off the lid and having balloons coming out the top.  But by themselves?  Add to this that we ran out of tables and food, and the only thing I could do was hope that everyone realized I was the only woman on the committee with six men, and blame it on the men.

So this year, with one week to go, I found myself compelled to volunteer for decorations in the hopes of making up for last year.  I had a budget of $40, which sounds like a lot until you consider that I had to buy plates (we had none), and 9 round table cloths (regularly $3 each). Our theme was "Camping," and my favorite parts of camping are looking at the stars at night and sitting around the campfire, so that inspired a lot of the decorations.  Here is what I did, and the breakdown of the budget (in case you ever find yourself with a week and $40 to decorate for a dinner for 72 people, in which case I will deeply sympathize with you):

Blue Plastic Tablecloths -  This was the biggest expense.  It would have been about $30, but as they say, "drastic times call for drastic measures."  No, I didn't steal them.  I went to a local craft store (Hobby Lobby) that has a daily 40% off coupon that you can print from home.  I went twice a day for five days.  Was it worth it?  The final expense was $17.10 for 9 tablecloths, giving me some needed wiggle room.  I also bought 2 dollar store rectangular tablecloths for the food tables.  We had one white tablecloth in the closet, and I knew how sheer the dollar store tablecloths are, so I grabbed one more white one for the second table, and a blue one which I cut in half and used as table runners over both tables, adding another $2.12 to the total.

Plates - This was next biggest expense.  The best deal I could find for yellow plates was $1.50 for 16 plates at Albertson's.  Totaling $7.95.

Cups and Silverware - We had plain white cups, napkins, and silverware in the Scout closet.  The silverware I decided to wrap up cute to make it easier to set out, and to give the tables a little something extra.  We had a stack of yellow paper with a quiz they done several years ago at a Blue and Gold on one side.  Deciding these would probably never be used again, I used a 1 1/4" circle punch to punch 72 yellow circles out of them.  Then I punched the paw prints out of the middle of the circles with another punch.  I punched 72 more circles out of 2 sheets of blue cardstock (which I had to buy).  I glued the two circles together, and punched them both with a regular hole punch.  Then I used some extra jute string from the star banners below to tie it all together.  They turned out cute, and I saw a lot of kids running around wearing them as bracelets after dinner.  Total cost was 74 cents for the paper.

The new centerpieces!
Centerpieces - Remember those old centerpieces?  Well they are no more!  I disassembled those to create these cute little campfires.  I'll explain in more detail how I made these next week (so stay tuned!).  The tea lights we borrowed, so the only expense on these was 60 cents for grey butcher paper.

Table Squares - I fell in love with this cute black gingham fabric.  I bought a yard and half to make 9 15" table squares (plus some extra which I used around the pots below).  It was $4.99 a yard, and of course I used a 40% off coupon, so the total expense was $4.76.  Rather than worrying about hemming 9 table squares, I just ripped the fabric to give the edges a frayed look, which worked with the "rustic" decor.  To rip fabric,  cut about 1" in where you want to make the rip, and then pull the two sides apart - sometimes you have to pull very hard, but it will rip straight.  The edges tend to curl when they've been ripped, so I ironed them flat, and pulled out loose threads.

Pine Cones -  These were free from an obliging school field nearby (I asked at the front office first).  One thing I learned is that when pine cones are wet or damp they close up.  So I brought home my bag of pine cones and washed them off (I figured I should make sure they were clean since they were going on tables with food), and even the ones that were open closed up.  I left them laying out in a single layer for three full days, and about half of them had opened up.  Luckily I had way more than I needed.

Pack Poster - I wanted to dress up the front area a little, so I made this poster with stars and our pack number "constellation."  I used 3 yards of black butcher paper, costing $1.81.  The letters I printed out on regular white paper (one letter per page), using a font that just outlined the letters so I could cut them out.  Then I  added about 35 stars (leftover from star banners below) to the letters and background to make our starry night.

Star Banners - I love hanging stuff across the ceiling - it gives an instant "wow" factor, for not much work.  I went to a local scrapbooking store that let me use their die-cutting machine to cut 120 stars out of 10 sheets of golden yellow paper, costing $3.71.  Then I cut jute string ($3.29 for 400 feet) into 5 pieces long enough to span the ceiling, which I had measured earlier.  Then I hot glued the stars to the string at random intervals.  Easy as that.  We used a staple gun to attach it to the walls on both sides.

Signs - After making the centerpieces, I still had the pots leftover from the old centerpieces.  I was originally going to paint them, but as I washed the glass vases, I noticed how easily the paint came off.  I had a hunch, so I put a pot in the sink, and I was right - they had used tempura paint which washed right off the pots, saving me a lot of time!  It left the pots looking a little dirty, but that went with our theme, so I wasn't complaining.  I tied some of the extra fabric from the table squares around the rim of the pot, and stuffed it with newspaper.  The sticks are paint stirrers I picked up at a home improvement store (we buy paint there all the time, and never take paint stirrers for some reason, so I didn't feel too bad taking them).  I painted them to cover up the lettering, and went over the top of the paint with stain.  The signs I made in Photoshop, using a picture of an old sign I found online, and printed it out on white cardstock.  I hot glued the sign to the stick, and then hot glued the stick in the pot.  The finishing touch was some green spanish moss, which I had lying around from a previous project, hot glued to cover the newspaper. Total cost - free!  I made six of these, one for the food table (pictured), one that said "Gone Campin" for the front, and 4 more to label the stations for after dinner.  In retrospect, I probably didn't need to do those last four.  It was very chaotic, and I don't they got noticed.  The remaining four pots I also washed and tied fabric around, and then filled them with pine cones and set them on the food table, and at the front.

We also set up a couple small tents and borrowed the cute fake pine trees for the front.  The lights were dimmed so it looked like night, and the flickering tea lights made the centerpieces come alive.  As a last minute touch, our very tech-savvy Cub Master found some "night sounds" (crickets, owls, etc.) that we played to add to the atmosphere.

Our after dinner activities included making campfire neckerchief slides, telling scary stories, playing camping games, and making ice cream (the kind you shake in a bag).  We had set up tents around the building for each station, but as I said before it was extremely chaotic, and I don't think they got used.  

Was there more I would have done with more time and money.  Sure - there always is!  But overall I was really happy with how it came together and I think everyone felt like we had made an effort to make it a special event.  As an added bonus, next time a Cub Master says, "decorations are taken care of,"  I'll sleep easier knowing there is actually something usable in the closet!