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Vendor Spotlight: Creativity for Kids Kits

Reported by Melissa Norris
Ever since I was young, I have loved crafting kits. And I love that my daughter already has an eye open for those kits whenever we go to the store (though my wallet might not love it!). The Creativity for Kids products by Faber-Castell can be seen all over the place, especially since they have over 300 products!
I received the Designed by You, Special Occasion Fashions kit. There are over 60 pieces in the kit, and it comes complete with a storage bag to keep everything together. The kit includes fabric, thread, embellishments, sewing basics, design ideas, a sketchbook, sample dress, mannequin, and much more!
The focus of the kit is fashion design, so the instructions just touch upon a few sewing basics. To begin, the kit tells you about how people in the fashion industry create their dresses, including sketching, picking fabrics, and sewing final designs. 
The sketchbook contains pre-printed pages with 10 different dress styles, from A-Line to Empire. I started by letting my daughter pick out the dress shape she liked best and make a design. She made quite the colorful design, but the kit didn’t include fabrics in those colors. So instead, we raided my scrap stash and found a great striped print that worked for her design. 
The next step was to go from paper to fabric, so following the tips in the kit, we began draping the fabric around our mannequin into the shape of the dress we wanted. I decided not to do any sewing as my machine is on the fritz and I didn’t want my daughter trying to “help” as I did hand stitching. Instead, we went with one of the helpful hints provided, and just pinned the designs into place on the mannequin. This worked quite well and we executed the design.
It was great that the kit included some basics, including needles, a threader, thimble, and tape measure. As a parent, this is great because the kids have their own supplies and we don’t need to bring out ours. The measuring tape (which has always been one of my daughters favorites in my supplies), was quite helpful in measuring the trims for our designs.
The kit also contains a white satin sample dress, that you can use bring one of your designs to life. My daughter wanted to go with lots of pink, so we used some of the embellishments and glue provided to add to the sample dress. I could have kept going, adding more and more to the dress, but was told, “That’s enough!”
Pros:
  • Great Value – There are tons of items included in this kit; it retails for $39.99
  • Everything is included, we didn’t have to pull anything out from my regular sewing supplies
  • The sketchbook includes a lot of pages, so kids can keep designing. Plus, there are blank pages on the back of the printed ones
  • There are lots of choices in the fabric, trims, and embellishments, as well as thread to match.
  • The sample dress is a great way to get started, or to use if you get stumped 
Cons:
  • If you are looking for a kit with a lot of instructions, this isn’t it. This kit has guidelines, but is more about using your creativity.
  • Basic sewing knowledge is a must, so you may want to find another way to teach your child those skills. However, it isn’t needed, because they can do the designing, and you can do the sewing.
  • The mannequin is a bit large, especially compared to that blonde doll we all know. The dresses created may not fit the dolls your child has.
Overall, I really enjoyed using the kit; we felt like designers on Project Runway, especially with all of the sketching and draping. It was a great opportunity to spend crafting time with my daughter, and since we have so many materials leftover, we look forward to creating more designs in the coming months.

So what do you think? Look like a fun project for your proto-designer? Leave us a comment and let us know! 

Disclosure

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

Vendor Spotlight & Giveaway: Crafters Companion (3 of 4)

Reported by Melissa Norris
Crafter’s Companion is a company that truly lives up to its name. They operate an online store that offers a range of products, but also have their own line. I received for review the CleverCut Mini, Spray and Sparkle Glitter Spray, and an S.w.a.l.k stamp.
The CleverCut Mini is a 3-in-1 paper trimmer with a pull out extendable arm. The arm extends the cutter to a full 12″ ruler that has centimeter and inch increments. The 3-in-1 refers to the cutting blade, which comes up with a straight blade, skip blade (makes a perforated cut), and wave blade. 

The three cutting options.

The blades are small and rotate on a dial which needs to be locked into place prior to cutting. The blades cut straight, and cut right next to the guide so that you can see where your cuts will be. The biggest difference for me compared to other cutters I own is that the blade and cutting bar don’t lift up, you just slide your paper in.
The cutter is very lightweight and doesn’t take up much space, perfect for taking along to crops. And the blade unit can easily be replaced once it is worn out. The cutter also has up to a 4 sheet cutting capacity depending on the blade. The cutter is quite durable, made of molded plastic (which also keeps it lightweight) but the runner for the blade housing is made of metal. The blade unit is small, which could be difficult for crafters with issues such as arthritis.
I did a test cutting several different materials using all 3 blades, here are the results:
  • Cardstock – Straight blade, 2 sheets; Skip blade, 2 sheets; Wave blade, 1 sheet
  • Thin Chipboard – All 3 blades cut through one sheet smoothly 
  • Thick Chipboard – None of the blades cut all the way through, even with multiple passes
  • Sheer plastic (i.e. KI Sheer Delights) – All 3 blades cut through one sheet smoothly, however the Skip blade doesn’t really work well with a material like plastic (for example, if you wanted to tear it apart)
  • Clear, thin acrylic (i.e. Hambly Overlays) – All 3 blades cut through one sheet smoothly
  • Paper – Straight blade, 4 sheets; Skip blade, 3 sheets; Wave blade, 2 sheets

CleverCut Mini Pros:
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Multiple cutting options without having to change blades
  • Good, straight cuts
CleverCut Mini Cons:
  • The individual blades are quite small, and I think they would wear out quickly
  • You can’t just change one blade, the whole cutting unit (blue) needs to be switched out
  • Can be hard to adjust to if you are used to cutters that lift up to place the paper

I also received the Spray & Sparkle glitter spray. It can be used to create glitter paper, which can often be costly when purchased at stores. I received the Silver and Iridescent and put them to work on some blue cardstock.

Though it’s always hard to photograph sparkle, you can easily tell how glittery they are. I took them outside to spray, as the fumes can be a bit strong. The silver was very bold, where the iridescent was a bit more subtle. But if I wanted more shine, I could have gone over with another coat.

The paper did not warp and dried quickly, though the can recommended up to 30 minutes. The glitter didn’t flake off easily, I had to really scratch at it to get any to come off.  And the texture isn’t very strong, so it will still be smooth on your card and cut smoothly if needed. The glitter spray is also acid-free and non-toxic, so it is safe on projects and in your home.
Spray & Sparkle Pros:
  • Easy to use and dries quickly
  • Creates a very glittery finish and professional look
  • Durable and doesn’t flake off easily
Spray & Sparkle Cons:
  • The odor is strong, so use outside
  • Hard to see the coverage while spraying, so it’s easy to overspray

The S.w.a.l.k. stamp that was included is an unmounted, gray, rubber stamp. I trimmed it out and attached to a block I had with some double stick tape. The image came out very clean. I chose to leave it as one image, which is how it came, but you could easily trim out your sentiment and any elements you like.
Overall, all the products from Crafter’s Companion were of high quality and easy to use. I will definitely be using the glitter spray to make my own glitter papers in exactly the colors I need. And the trimmer will be a good portable one for me, as my standard trimmer is large. Based on the quality and usability of the products, I plan on looking into some of the other products they have to offer.
Giveaway! 
The kind folks at Crafter’s Companion have provided us with a CleverCut Mini, and some Spray and Sparkle Glitter Spray for one of our lucky readers. Just leave a comment on either of today’s articles, and answer this question:

What’s just crying for some glitter spray in your craft room?

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

Book Review: Creepy Cute Crochet by Christen Haden

Reported by Melissa Norris

I’ve been eying Creepy Cute Crochet by Christen Haden at the bookstores for some time. The fun little amigurumi creatures looked too adorable. I was really excited to get the opportunity to review this book and get to work crocheting.

The book is a small, hardbound book with bright colors and great illustrations and photos. There are some tips (like crochet abbreviations), resources for materials, and instructions for special techniques. However, this is a not a “learn-to-crochet” book; you will need to have basic crochet knowledge.

There are patterns to create 21 different creatures that range in difficulty from beginner to epic! The patterns consist of both the written instructions, and the illustrated stitch diagram.

There are instructions for the basic body parts, which are used to create most of the creatures. If there are special instructions, they are listed in the pattern for each creature. After you create the basic body parts, there are instructions for assembly, including adding any details like embroidery, felt accents, hair, etc.

I chose to make the ninja, which was a basic difficulty. I had a hard time at first, because all the patterns I had previously made had been from one author, so I had to adjust to the pattern style that Christen uses. There were also some stitches used that I hadn’t used before (I’m not an epic expert), but after observing some YouTube videos, I was all set. And it only took me two evenings to complete (and that was with plenty of child, husband, dog, and TV distractions).

Ninjas totally hide in plants you know.

Pros : 

  • Creative patterns, far from the traditional animals and dolls
  • Great photos and illustrations
  • Instructions are easy to follow, especially for advanced crocheters
  • Instructions for basic body parts can be used to create your own creatures
Cons :
  • Not a book for beginners, crochet/stitch instructions not included
  • Would love to have seen a spiral binding, because it’s hard to keep books open while you’re working sometimes
Overall, I’m quite happy with the book and look forward to learning some more stitches and techniques, so I can move up to more difficult creatures. The book has a MSRP of $14.95 and is available for purchase at any bookstore. Creepy Cute Crochet: Zombies, Ninjas, Robots, and More! is also available at Amazon.com

So will you whip up a bunch of Creepy Cute Creatures before Halloween? Leave us a comment and let us know!


Disclosure

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