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Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY- Alex Crafts – Fab Badge Maker

Reported by Maria Del Pinto

My children and I got to spend time with our cousins this past holiday weekend.  The girls love learning new kids crafts, so we decided that testing out the “Fab Badge Maker” kit would be a fun activity for a hot summer day.
The “Fab Badge Maker” kit recommends the kit for kids 7 years old and up.  This is one of many project kits manufactured by Alex toy company. The list price is $21.99 and an online search showed that the actual retail price can vary.  What makes this kit different from so others badge (pin) kits, is that that it so easy to use and with a lot less parts.  Additionally, you can use fabrics and other ephemera with it.
The instructions have good simple step-by-step drawings on how to assemble the badge.  The “So-Easy Badge Maker” was a little tricky for my 8-year-old cousin to figure out.  There is a small learning curve for little fingers to learn to use it correctly.  However, once they play around with it for a bit, it gets easier.  The 12- and 14-year-old girls, did not have any problems figuring out how to use the badge maker.  It is not time consuming and will hold their interest for the short time it takes to create a fun little badge (pin).
The Box of Supplies includes:
10 Badge parts ( 10 each of the tops, backings, and snaps)
1 So-Easy Badge Maker
12 Fabric Circles
12 Glitter Stickers and Gems
1 Instruction sheet

For reference, here are some pictures of the different parts of the “Sew Easy Badge Maker” and the badge parts:

Badge Top
Badge Back

Badge Snap
So-Easy Badge Maker

Floral Planter Badge Project
For my first project, I decided to make a flower plant stick that one of my daughters could use to give to a teacher’s aide at school.  The supplies for most of it were in the kit, I just added some floral petals, a glass container, dirt, moss and a small plant.
The first step is to take one of the pieces of fabric circles and place onto the “So-Easy Badge Maker”.
You will push one of the badge tops like you see below into the “So-Easy Badge Maker”.
Then you need to push down all the fabric to flatten it a bit.  If any of the fabric covers the small center circle, just remove it and start over to get it centered. Watch your layers, if you cut things just right you can add layers of various materials to the pin. The snap will not hold if there is fabric covering the center circle.
Then add the floral petals. If the center hole on the petal is too small, just cut a hole big enough to fit.
The next step is to push the backing piece into position and hold the layers of material in place until you
can put the back snap piece in place and snap it in securely.  Listen for the snap sound to be sure the pin backing are on securely, otherwise it will fall apart when you remove from the “So-Easy Badge Maker”.
Next, you will carefully remove the badge from the badge maker.
And it will look like this.
The kids thought it looked a bit boring so they voted that we add one of the cute stickers included in this
kit.  They were right, it did look cuter.
Next I added a stick and placed into the planter.  This makes a great little gift for the teacher’s aide and was so easy and very fast to make.
Ribbon Accent Project
I saw some really nice gift box ribbons at the gift counter at my local department store, and thought how nice they were.  However, at $7 for one ribbon, that was a bit steep for my budget.  So when I saw these badges, I realized I could make my own version of those ribbons.
I took the ribbon and cut about a 3″ piece. Then I removed the wiring that ran on both sides of the
ribbon.  I also trimmed any excess from the ribbon.
The remaining ribbon fit well into the badge maker.
The ribbon was a bit stiffer fabric than the fabric circles that are included in this kit.  So I had to hold
them down until I could put the backing and the snap piece onto the badge maker.
I carefully removed the badge.
I made the rest of the bow with the same ribbon and pinned the badge to the bow. It looked just like the one at the store.
Bunny Pin On Hat

My daughter loved the bow idea and decided to make the third project.  Her bunny needed a hair accent to go with her ice skating outfit.  So we looked at the supplies and figured out what we need and added to it from things we had in the craft box.
We added ribbon, lace, and a few other small items.  My daughter and her stuffed bunny were very happy with the final results of her finished piece.
Below are a few other pieces that the kids enjoyed making.  They went through my scrap drawer and found some different items to add to their badges.
We are still working on my daughter’s mini scrap book, so she made a badge (pin) to put onto the page below.  The pink and blue pin has some beads, ribbon, floral die cut, and a butterfly glued onto it.
The next badge is made with paper die cut flower, I had left over from a scrapbooking project.  The petals were added in the same way that I added the silk flower petals.
Paper Flower petal Pin
The black and white lace looking one is actually made from an old shirt I had cut up to use for a different project.
The pink ribbon ribbon bracelet made with some ribbon and rhinestones.
The black and orange flower stick below is made from an old black t-shirt, paper leaves, and folded paper.  Then just glued onto a stick.
This last one is made using a die cut, rhinestones, and a hair band.
All of these were easy to make.  As you can see, there was a range of different looks reflecting the different personalities of each girl.  There was a short learning curve for the younger girls but that did not stop them from having fun with these badges.  Another plus is that the pins spin, so you can easy add googly eyes or something similar to take advantage of the spin affect.
Pros:
  • Easy to make
  • Great choice of cloth colors
  • A good quick and easy scout project or party activity.
Cons:
  • Not enough materials (the average scout troop is 10 to 12 girls), it would be nice to package with that in mind, especially at this price point. Currently it is a cost of $2.19 per pin.  However, by including enough materials for at least 12, the price drops down significantly to less than $1.85 per project.  Which is more attractive to parents who have to plan for an affordable scout craft.
  • An idea sheet or a web page for customers to able refer to for inspiration and ideas on the potential for using this kit for parties and scout troop activities.
  • Might be a little challenging for a 7-year-old to do without some help.

GIVEAWAY
The folks over at Alex are giving away kits to one lucky reader. To enter simply answer any of the questions below in the Comments section of this article on our website. One comment per person, please.

Have you done any button or badge crafts? Tells us all about it! Is this a kit you or your child would be interested?

Winners are chosen at random. Contest closes Sunday, June 12th at 6pm CST. Good Luck!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Posi-Bendr Bow-Easy

The Posi-Bendr Bow-Easy is a simple yet handy invention for tying the perfect bow quickly and easily. Before I get into my review of the Bow-Easy, allow me the indulgence of a bit of reminiscing about the woman behind this tool. After all, the crafting industry is a personal one; paper and glue bond more than our cards together.

Valera Scott has been in the crafting industry for 40 years and has shaped the industry in amazing ways. She has so many wonderful stories to tell. In a brief e-mail interview she mused about the early days of crafting: “The first trade show we had shown the Bow-Easy at was the HIA (now CHA) show in Chicago in about 1982. They had a one day consumer show the Saturday prior to the Trade Show opening on Sunday. That HIA show was also the first show to introduce the use of using embossing powders with ink and rubber stamps. I remember it was extremely hard to get Ranger (then the predominant embossing powder house in the country) to even sell to us. They had no idea what this “Craft Industry” thing was and really were not interested in participating. As with many of our inventions, we were about a decade too early. Needless to say, we could not get the “craft stores” interested. It was just too different at that time.”

The invention of the Bow-Easy came about in 1980 when Valera was only 10 years old and crafting with her mother Betty Scott. As they sat making hundreds of very small bows for a charity project, the invention of the Bow-Easy dawned upon Betty.

Stamp by Toodles & Binks

How It Works
The Bow-Easy is a flat, plastic slotted tool about 4.5×4.5 inches square. It goes beyond dowel and fingers to not only be an extra hand for you as you loop ribbon into a bow, but also to help shape the bow into a perfect pretty little thing.


The original Bow-Easy, which retails for $6 US, can make seven sizes of bows: 3/4 inch, 1 inch, 1 1/4, 1 3/8, 1 3/4, 2 3/8, and 2 3/4 using widths of ribbon from super thin cord style to 3/4 inch wide ribbon.

I admit I had quite the time figuring the instructions out. I am a visual learner and the 2D illustrations and written instructions got me quite confused. I was ready to give up but then I saw Jerri Jimenez’s Video Tutorial, and Sharon Johnson’s wonderful Picture Tutorial. When you realize that each “leg” is a loop of your bow, and the middle slot is where the knot will be, it is a lot easier to understand. You are looping around the whole leg (both sets) then dividing the large loop into a bow by running a tail of ribbon through the center slot. As I make bows “rabbit ears” style, which starts with two loops, this concept was hard for me to grasp at first.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous Bows – even teeny tiny ones look perfect!
  • Double and triple loop bows
  • Inexpensive
  • Made of sturdy plastic that will last

Cons:

  • Legs not marked for size
  • Written instructions were difficult for me to follow

I do recommend practicing on some cheap ribbon that you do not mind ruining until you get the hang of it. Once I figured out how to use it, I fell in love with the Bow-Easy. I admit to being a previously bow-challenged kind of crafter. No longer do I need to tinker and pull and twist forever to make a bow look pretty. Yay! While the instructions say that you are limited to up to 3/4 width ribbon, I found that one set of legs allowed for 1 1/2 inch wide ribbon or even wider if you scrunch it temporarily. Posi-Bendr now makes a larger Bow-Easy that will make larger flat bows in 4, 5, 6 and 8 inch sizes.

The original Bow-Easy retails for $6; the larger Bow-Easy #2 retails for $10.