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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!

Curved Safety Pins

Reported by Susie Ziegler

“Why are they selling these broken pins? Don’t they have quality control?” This was the question my Mom asked when we were together recently at the fabric store. Those are Curved Safety Pins and they are really useful! Thus it occurred to me that many people don’t know about these unique little pins and why they are a great tool for quilting.


Of course these pins aren’t broken, they are curved so that it is easier to pin them through your quilt top, batting, and backing layers when basting a quilt in order to quilt it into a usable blanket. These little pins are found under various brands such as Fons and Porter by Prym, Dritz, and Quilt in a Day. You can find them hanging with all the pins and needles at the notions department at your local sewing and crafting store. They are also called Bent Safety Pins, or Basting Pins.

They cost about twice as much as regular safety pins, which are already not particularly expensive. I’ve been using the same package of pins since I first learned to quilt about 15 years ago. Prior to using the pins, I used long lengths of thread to baste my quilt layers together for hand quilting, but I saw these being used on a television quilt show and I quickly switched my method. Click HERE to see a tutorial on basting your quilt layers. Hers is exactly the method I use, although I tape my backing to the carpeted living room floor instead.

Take a look in my photos. On top is a typical straight safety pin. You can see that the fabric surface is puckered around the pin. Below it is the curved safety pin and the fabric lays flat. This becomes important when you are sewing your layers through your sewing machine, trying to avoid bunching and puckering:


Next is a different angle. You will be putting these pins in by hand. Notice how the ends of the curved safety pin stick up from the surface of the fabric? That makes them so much easier to open and close and puts less stress on your quilt fabric when manipulating them, a real advantage over the regular pins.


These pins are nickel plated to protect the metal from oxidation. You really aren’t supposed to leave pins in your work for very extended periods of time, because if the metal corrodes at all, you will have an impossible-to-remove stain on your quilt. However, I had this red quilt pin basted for at least 3 years before I ever got around to quilting it and I had no problems with marks. I’ve also had my set of safety pins for more than a decade and they still are like new.

Pros:

  • Prevents puckering on your quilt surface
  • Sturdier than thread basting
  • Easy to insert through quilt layers
  • Easy to find, durable product, relatively inexpensive, virtually lasts forever

Cons: (So many pros… hmm..)

  • Metal can eventually corrode if you live by the salty seashore?
  • Uh… maybe you prefer thread basting, basting gun, or basting spray
  • Thread basting is preferable if you are planning to hand quilt your project. The pins will get in the way of your hoop.

I hope that you give quilting a try! It is so very satisfying to play with fabric, and your project can by loved and used for generations.

A variety of Curved Safety pins are available at Amazon.com… HERE

Disclosure Statement

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