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Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY – American Girl Craft Kits

Reported by Christian Tamez


Like any crafter who likes American Girl dolls, I was pretty excited to find some American Girl Crafting items at Michaels, and even more excited to get to try some of the crafting kits available. The American Girl Card Making Kit was one that I received, and it wasn’t long before my kitchen was filled with stickers, glue squares and very cool American Girl cards.


The card-making kit is advertised as being able to make 21 cards, but I found that if you really wanted to do a good job decorating the cards, you’ll really be able to make closer to ten. There’s fourteen doll punch-outs you can use; the first one I chose was Addy. I used some of the included glue squares and placed them right over the purple marks on the back of the punch outs to securely adhere them to the card. Following the purple marks, I placed my adhesive squares and placed the Addy punch out right over the area as directed on the card. Then I proceeded to decorate the front with some of the stickers included.


As I moved on to the second and third cards I wanted to make, I realized it would be a good effect to layer some of the flat stickers with the included bubble stickers for texture. Most of the bubble stickers were round and fit nicely into the center of some flower stickers for Kit’s card, and then I used the same idea with the stars stickers when I created Molly’s card.


Each character is divided into a theme, with different coordinating collections of stickers, even though they all can be used interchangeably with any of the characters or cards. One of the nice things about this kit is the included message sticker you can use on the inside of a card to create a personalized message for the recipient.


For Molly’s card I used one of the included punch out messages which included things like: Thank You, Happy Birthday, Good Luck, Thinking of You, Get Well Soon, and a few other little sayings along those lines.

Putting these cards together was simple enough to not even need to read the directions, and the cards are fairly small, so they can be completed quickly without become boring to an easily distracted child. If you want to add a personal touch, put in a picture of one of your own beloved dolls in place of a punch out! Plus it’s all stickers, how can you go wrong?


Pros:

  • Nothing extra needed to complete this kit, other than a pen or pencil to write something in the card. No glue, or messy adhesives, markers any of those dangerously messy kids crafty things.
  • High quality stickers and materials included, the cardstock is firm, and the flat stickers have a nice matte finish. The bubble stickers add a cool dimension when layered on
  • Envelopes are included so you can send these out, if you just happen to be using these on a trip with your kids, or you could make them in advance and send them out, either way the envelopes are handy.

Cons:

  • The cards are made to be used for specific characters and even have a little saying on the back of them about this intended character. I’m not a fan of Rebecca Rubin(she replaced my beloved Samantha) and I didn’t use any of the cards SHE was on the back of.
  • Some of the stickers were really stuck to the page they were supposed to easily peel off of, this resulted in a few torn stickers. If I had problems with them a child definitely would.
  • I would have liked more stickers or fewer cards, because you can’t decorate all twenty one and have them all decorated enough with the included amount of stickers. More bubble stickers please!

I was lucky enough to get another little craft kit a try, and did a video demo to show you just how fun these kits can be! I hope you enjoy it!

GIVEAWAY
The folks over at EK Success are giving away a kit 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 ever tried any of the American Girl Crafts items? Do own an American Girl doll? Are you excited to give one of these kits a try? Be sure to write a comment and let us know!

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

Disclosure

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

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: American Girl Crafts Wrap & Roll Bracelets

Reported by Heather Strenzwilk

As the parent of an American Girl OBSESSED tween, my daughter and I were eager to review the American Girl Crafts Wrap and Roll Bracelets kit from EK Success. The kit contains materials to make 150 paper beads and includes supplies to create up to 13 bracelets.


The kit includes:
– project and idea book
– 150 paper strips (to make cylindrical and oval beads)
– 150 wooden beads
– 1.5 fl. oz. (44 mL) clear craft glue
– foam brush
– clear string
– 20 rolling tubes
– foam block (used for holding the beads as they dry)

The kit is pretty inclusive, but you will need a ruler, tape and scissors. We also used a non-stick craft sheet and some small bowls to sort the finished beads (although they made the project easier, these two items aren’t necessary.)

Wrapping an oval bead- starting with the wide end of the triangle

The kit contains rectangular paper strips to make cylindrical shaped beads, and triangular strips to make oval beads. The rectangular strips are approximately 11.75 inches by 13/16 inch. Each individual strip is to be wrapped separately on a rolling tube (which is about 2.5 inches long). The instructions advise to roll the paper tightly around the tube, trying to keep oval beads centered or cylindrical beads straight and even. After you roll the entire strip dab a little glue on the end of the paper, hold it for a few seconds if necessary until the glue sets. Our finished cylindrical beads were approximately 3/8 inch in diameter.

We found it much easier to dab a bit of glue on the paper after we wrapped it around the rolling tube once or twice. Because we were wrapping tightly, the dab of glue would keep spreading forward as we wrapped and the whole bead felt tighter. If needed we would add an additional touch of glue as we wrapped. There is a short learning curve, but after 5-6 beads both of us had a feel for what was tight enough and knew when to unroll a bit of the bead to make it more even. Our attention span was about 30-40 minutes per bead rolling session and we would create 12-18 beads collectively. If I was alone watching a DVD as I wrapped, I could make 20-25 in a sitting.

A few beads drying on rolling tubs embedded in craft foam

The instructions suggested sealing the beads by brushing them more of the clear craft glue. This protective coating helps the bead keep its shape and adds a shiny finish. We carefully applied the glue coat to the beads after we rolled them. You have to be careful that you don’t glue the bead to the rolling tube so as a “check” we made sure we could move the bead on the rolling tube before setting it in the craft foam to dry. The craft foam is actually florist’s foam used for creating flower arrangements. After each of our four beadmaking sessions we allowed the beads to dry completely overnight. However, I think the beads are safe to handle after a few hours of drying time.

Just a few of the different styles in the kit. Notice the sheen on the beads from one coating of clear glue

Sharing the glue bottle turned out to be an issue for us, so we poured a puddle of glue onto a non-stick craft sheet and we shared that. The kit only included one foam brush so I grabbed an extra from my craft stash. You’ll definitely need a few extra glue applicators if you do this with a large group. We are almost out of glue (we used more than the instructions stated) and we have approximately 20 paper strips left in our kit.

I tried to exactly duplicate the stacker bracelet pictured on the package

The oval beads were easier and more fun for both me and my daughter. The cylindrical beads were more difficult to keep straight. Some of our cylindrical beads had uneven edges and this was an issue when I made the stacker style bracelet (my first time making this style bracelet). As you can see in the photo above the plastic string is not flush with all the edges of the beads because of the uneven bead edges (and because I might not have pulled the string as tight as I could have pulled it). You can also see that I left a tail of string.

Some of the wooden spacer beads that came with the kit had incompletely drilled holes

The kit comes with 150 color coordinated wooden beads that can be added to bracelets. Our beads were a mix of longer ovals and small spacers. We noticed that some of the holes on these wooden beads weren’t completely drilled through the bead. I was able to finish poking the holes through with a needle.

Our other issue is that the bracelets are finished by tying the ends into a square knot. Square knots are not too bad with yarn or non-slick string. Trying to tie them with the plastic in the kit is a big challenge. So was picking up all of the beads after a knot failure.

Paper beads + wooden beads = many combinations!

My ten-year-old daughter has seen various American Girl craft kits at chain craft stores. Although she was initially drawn to the brand (she loves anything American Girl), she was excited at the prospect of making her own paper beads and bracelets because she likes to make jewelry. We only used beads from the kit for these samples but my daughter immediately came up with ideas for future bracelets using some of her bead stash and some of my designer paper. With a retail price of $14.95, this makes an affordable gift or group project plus this kit can act as a springboard for girls to experiment making paper bead jewelry.

Pros:

  • Kit contains all of the critical items to create multiple bracelets
  • Illustrated instructions were well written and easy to follow
  • Enough paper strips to make 150 beads, which is enough to cover a few misshapen or beads gone wrong

Cons:

  • The clear string included in the kit is very difficult to tie
  • More string is required for a stacker style bracelet so you’ll probably need additional string in order to use all the beads
  • Some of the wooden beads in the kit weren’t drilled completely which made them difficult to thread

GIVEAWAY
The folks over at EK Success are giving away a kit 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.
Do you buy themed craft kits for children? Do you find children’s jewelry kits a good way for children to learn how to make their own jewelry? Have you tried any of the American Girl Craft Kits from EK Success? Please share your thoughts with our readers.

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

Disclosure

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

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: American Girl Crafts- Funky Felt Pins

Reported by Maria Del Pinto

With summer quickly approaching it is a great time to plan some creative activities for my kids.  It is always wise to have some fun and easy kids crafting supplies on had to entertain the kids.  Since the American Girl dolls have always been popular in my household,  the idea of trying out the American Girl craft kits was met with enthusiasm by my girls.  The kit we tried out was the “Funky Felt Pins” which is recommended for children 8 years old and up.  The kit retails for $12.99.  

The packaging on the “Funky Felt Pins” is very colorful.  From the outside of the package, it does not look like you get much in the way of supplies.  However, I was happily surprised to find it was jam packed full of enough supplies for my girls and their friends to give this kit a try and learn some basic embroidery skills.
This kit comes with the following:
● Project & Idea Booklet
● 12 yards of embroidery floss in 4 colors
● 33 plain felt pieces
● 5 embroidered patches
● 12 adhesive pin backs
● 10 sequin flowers
● 1 piece of white practice felt
● 1 needle
● 1 needle threader
The instruction booklet does have some nice colored simple instructions for their versions of the following stitches and knots:
● running stitch
● applique stitch
● cross stitch
● french knot
● finishing knot
The kit is color coordinated with enough materials to create at least 12 pins.  Since it includes instructions and materials, it would make a fun scout troop project.  However, you would have to pick up extra needles for each girl; this kit only comes with one needle.

The first thing we did was to lay out the pieces and then pick out a few different shapes to sew together.

Then I sewed the small floral sequin onto the green felt flower using white thread to make the stitches stand out.
I then sewed the green felt flower onto the orange felt flower.

Which was followed by sewing those pieces onto the darker felt flower.
The kids took a vote and wanted to add some bling to the flower.   So I added beads to finish it off the piece.
As you can see, the steps are very simple and easy to follow.  However,  I did find that it was a little bit challenging for little fingers to negotiate the needle and accomplish the smaller stitches.   

However, even with that frustration, the project certainly kept her attention.

A different size needle did make the difference for her and she enjoyed making her project.
Here are some other projects we made with the die cut felt pieces provided in the kit.  The first is a felt owl pin.
The second is a funky felt ring.  A quick note on this one, my daughter sewed the different pieces together. However, since she wanted a ring we felt that adding glass beads would add some sparkle and interest the ring.


The third is a funky felt hair band.
The fourth is a funky felt  hair clip for one of their American Girl dolls.
These projects are so fun and easy for the kids to do.  They also provide a great surface for adding beads, buttons, rhinestones, and more.  I like this because it allows for creative self expression and personalization.  Since this kit was such a hit with my girls, I will be purchasing some of the other American Girl Craft kits this summer to keep them entertained.
Tips:

  • Lay everything out so you can pick your colors and shapes.
  • If you are using the kit for younger children, you can help avoid frustration by using white glue to adhere the pieces together.  Let dry.  Then sew together with simple stitches.
  • Use up those fun beads and charms you have around the house to use as accents for these fun pieces.
Pros:
  • Plenty of material for a fun party activity or scout craft project.
  • The materials in the kit are versatile, you can use the pieces to create more than just pins.
  • Kit appeals to more than just 8-year-olds.  My 20-year-old thought they were pretty cute and wanted to make one.
Cons:
  • The felt die cuts are a little difficult for smaller hands to negotiate.  I would recommend using a different needle for smaller hands and perhaps backing the die cut felt materials onto a slightly larger piece of felt.
  • Not enough needles, it would be nice if they included more than one needle in the kit.
  • Some of the accent stitches are little challenging for some 8-year-olds.  I would recommend sewing or gluing on beads or rhinestones, if the child gets frustrated.

GIVEAWAY
The folks over at EK Success are giving away kits to two lucky readers. To enter simply answer any of the questions below in the Comments section of this article on our website. One comment per person, please.
What are some of your favorite summer projects for your kids?  Do you have any hand sewing tips for kids or kid craft ideas?  We would love to hear from you.

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

Disclaimer

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