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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!

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: EK Success Perler Beads

Reported by Morgan Novak

I was really lucky to have a mother who always encouraged me to be crafty, whether it was latch hook rugs, 80’s style puffy paint or me cutting shapes out of the middle of her fabric for craft projects, she always kept me crafting. I definitely remember more than a few Perler Bead projects in my childhood. As much fun as I remember them being back then, Perler Beads have definitely grown over the years. Now there are famous cartoon characters, 3D objects like earring stands and photo frames, stand up playsets & those original craft kits I played with when I was a little crafter.

I don’t have any kids yet, but I definitely love to have a kid-at-heart crafting moment from time to time, so I jumped at the chance to review the Perler Beads and get to play with one of my favorite crafty items from the little Morgan days. I even roped my boyfriend into this review by enticing him with the “Emergency Vehicle Rescue Playset” (he’s a volunteer firefighter.)


Naturally, we had to start with the rescue vehicle set and stick solely to all things fire department-related, haha. I started off making a fire truck by laying the clear peg board over the Perler Bead “map” and placing the beads over the corresponding colors. The Perler Beads come unsorted, in big bags, which is probably great for kids to work on color recognition and sorting. Some adults, especially men (with big hands) helping their kids, may have trouble placing the Perler Beads, but we easily remedied this situation by arming my boyfriend with a pair of tweezers.

The vehicles in the rescue set are able to stand up when you are all done, you simply create little bases for them, which are also outlined on the Perler Bead “map.” Once you are all done with your shapes you want to very carefully place them on your ironing board (we learned the hard way that a little jostle can really send the Perler Beads flying!) Then you simply lay the included ironing paper over the peg board and iron over the shapes in a circular motion for about 20 seconds, then let it cool and flip it over (and off the peg board), put the ironing paper back on and iron the backside as well.

I was really impressed with how easy it was to get a nice, evenly-melted look while ironing. Just be sure to really iron the edges well. When everything is all cooled, I just stood the firetruck in its little bases and voila!

Next, while my boyfriend worked on “free handing” his own helmet front, I decided to morph the emergency cruiser into a Fire Chief’s vehicle. This is one of the shapes that you make with the truck shaped peg board. This definitely takes just a little more brain power since the board is not see through, and little ones may need some help now and again. But, I was able to easily change the cruiser into a Suburban pretty easily, and with a little tweaking from my boyfriend, a Chief’s vehicle it was!

One of the cutest parts of the “Emergency Vehicle Rescue Playset” is that the box folds out into a little emergency scene for your vehicles! I’m sure that this is an awesome way for kids to get a lot of playtime out of their Perler Beads, rather than just the time it takes to make them! We only made a couple of the vehicles and a Perler Bead version of my boyfriend’s helmet front (which will probably be used as a coaster or magnet) but you can make a ton of vehicles to play with from just this one kit; helicopters, police cars, tow trucks, ambulances and a bunch of other shapes like fire hydrants & road blocks.

Next I grabbed the “Jungle Safari Kit” and made myself a giraffe using the “map” included in the kit. While I was carefully placing my Perler Beads over the giraffe image I started thinking about what else I could make with Perler Beads just by placing the clear peg board over other images. So, when I was finished with my giraffe I decided to combine all of my leftover Perler Beads from both kits, which was a lot of beads, and go completely off book for my last project.

My mother had put these cute little fake mustaches in our Easter baskets and so I grabbed them and placed the peg board right on top to start making my own Perler Bead mustaches. Because of where the pegs lined up, I did have to get a little creative with shaping the mustache. But, once I had the perfect mustache shape figured out I made them in every hair color!

Once I had a big pile of finished mustaches I had to figure out what to do with them so I made a whole bunch of them into magnets for our refrigerator using adhesive backed magnets.

Then I used my very last little mustache to make a card! It was really easy to attach the Perler Bead shape to the card using an adhesive runner, and I could see using Perler Bead shapes as kitschy little embellishments for a few other projects too.

After we were all done with all the projects that you see above, we still had a ton of Perler Beads leftover and we will be hanging onto them for a rainy day. I was really pleased with just how much comes in these kits!
We had a lot of fun with Perler Beads, even if we are in our mid & late 20s! I definitely think that these make a great craft project for just about anyone, just as long as there is someone nearby who is responsible enough to wield an iron! I’m still thinking about all the fun images that I can turn into embellishments, Christmas ornaments, magnets, coasters or more using Perler Beads!
Pros:
  • Great activity for little ones to refine their knowledge of colors and hone their sorting abilities.
  • There is so much product in each kit that you will be able to create a ton of projects.
  • Even with the shape “maps” there is still a ton of room for creativity and imagination.
  • They really are fun for all ages!
Cons:
  • If all the boards were clear it might be a little easier for smaller kids.
  • You may want to stock up on a couple of extra boards so that you can fill a bunch of them before heating up the iron.
All in all, I’m really pleased that Perler Beads still hold up to my childhood memories, and I’m seriously considering making some gift tags and ornaments with them when the holidays come around.

GIVEAWAY
The folks over at EK Success are giving away Perler Beads 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.
If you had Perler Beads, what would you make? What else can you imagine your kids and yourselves doing with the finished shapes?

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!

CHA Scrapbooking: SMASH by EK Success

Reported by Sarah Moore, Founding Editor

It’s time to share something that we’re all really excited about! SMASH is an exciting new product line from EK Success. We’re so excited about it that we’re sure to prattle on and on, so we’ll let their catchy introduction video do the talking.

How adorable was that? Now on to even more eye candy. Here is the Mod SMASHfolio. We love how the SMASHstick fits right into the side of the book for easy access.

There are 4 different styles of SMASHfolio: Mod, Pretty, Doodle and Retro and these are just a small sampling of the awesome pages throughout them.
They had some great samples of finished SMASHfolios in the booth, and it was really fun to see them in action!
Here are some of the bits & bobs from what is sure to be an awesome product line. The SMASHpad is ideal for carrying around wherever you go so that you can jot down funny conversation, lists, songs you want to download and anything else you might want to SMASH into your book so that they stick with you.
The date SMASHstamp looked like a really big hit. With the fun phrases in addition to a date stamp you can’t go wrong.
The SMASHmarks will help you keep your place in your SMASHfolio or mark something you want to remember to show a friend.
Another product we were all oohing and aahing over is the SMASHtape, a designer washi tape that provides you with another neat way to add things to your SMASHfolio.
These metal SMASHclips are a great combo product; a way to mark your place in, and attach a memory to, your SMASHfolio. I mean, c’mon, that mustache one? Awesome!
Plus, there are flagged SMASHclips, SMASHpockets, SMASHtabs, SMASHstickies and SMASHbands to hold your SMASHfolio closed when it’s filled to bursting with all of your special “moments and musings that stick.”
We have a million possibilities running through our heads, but we’d love to hear what you would SMASH into your SMASHfolio!
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