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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: We R Memory Keepers Sew Easy

Reported by Morgan Novak
I think that I can speak pretty confidently when I say that we all love the look of stitching on papercrafts projects. I know that every time I see a layout or card with stitched elements it makes me want to take my mother’s old sewing machine out of storage and get to stitching! But, I’m not quite ready to commit that much table space quite yet. Enter the Sew Easy from We R Memory Keepers! The Sew Easy utilizes interchangeable piercing heads which enable you to pierce and stitch a wide variety of patterns easily and without a lot of storage space needed so that you can easily incorporate hand stitching into your projects. Check out this great how-to video from We R Memory Keepers.
After that helpful little video I was excited to get going on my projects with the Sew Easy. The Stitch Piercer Heads really are as easy to change as the video says they are, which is awesome when you want to use more than one stitch on a project. The piercing part of the Stitch Piercer is sharper than it looks, so be careful! Also, be sure to use the Piercing Mat with the Sew Easy or you will ruin the piercers on your tool.

I love that the top of the Stitch Piercer Head shows you exactly where the holes will be pierced so it’s easy to line-up when you are aiming for a specific place on your project. Also, using the lines on the piercing mat make it easier to aim for a straight line on your project.


My first attempt at piercing went a little wonky. I was asking a lot from the Sew Easy on this part of the project, it was piercing up to 3 layers in places and I don’t think that I applied quite enough pressure. As you can see, I attempted to line the Piercer back up and go over it again, but I was a little off, so I would suggest that if this happens to you, to go ahead and push the holes all the way through with the sewing needle or a paper piercer instead of trying to line it back up.

The holes look nice and clear from the back of your project, which makes it easy to see what you are doing when you get to the stitching!

I’m a total sucker for intelligent product design, and one of my favorite things about the Sew Easy is that the end of the Stitch Piercer has this handy hinged compartment to store your needles in so that they are always easy to find!


The needles themselves have a fairly large eye and are easy to thread. The stitching went pretty smoothly through the holes made by the piercer, but even smoother through the holes that I also used the needle to push through after piercing.
One thing I noticed is that because the patterned papers have a white core, on the stitches where you are coming up through the paper it also pushes the edges of the pierced hole up with your needle and thread, giving you little white edges around your stitch. When I noticed this was happening I tried using the Heart Attack tool, also from We R Memory Keepers, to sand down the back of the pierced holes before stitching, so that there was less paper to get pushed through to the front, but I didn’t notice enough of an improvement to make it worth the extra step. The problem is obvious this close-up, but not so bad when you are looking at a full project and I think that the overall look is worth it!

To finish my stitches I just used a piece of regular tape to flatten the tail against the paper. It’s important to try to keep everything as flat as possible in the back so that it’s only minimally bumpy when you are adhering your finished project. The back may not be very pretty, so make sure you are only stitching your card front so that when you are all done, you can simply adhere your card front to your card base and the back of your stitching is no longer visible! The same goes for pages of a mini album. With a layout or hanging item you don’t really need to worry about what the back of your project looks like anyway!

Voila! I really love the impact of the hand stitching on my final project. As you can see, I used the Straight Stitch that comes with your Stitch Piercer to outline my moon. The Sew Easy works great around curves, but I suggest practicing a bit on scrap paper first, as there is just a little bit of learning curve associated with how well it handles shapes. We R Memory keepers also provides an awesome downloadable PDF of Tips and Tricks to help you out. Lastly, to make my stars I simply used the needle itself to pierce 6 holes in a circle and stitched my own little asterisks!

For my second project I decided to make a new, Springy apartment number for our door. To make some “grass” I used the Zig Zag Stitch Piercer and mixed 2 of the 3 different shades from the Green Floss Card to give it a more natural grassy look. I love how the mixed floss effect came out, just a subtle little touch for a fun look.

Next, I decided to make a banner using the brand new Banner Large Stitch Piercer, which is about 1.25 inches wide, whereas the original Piercer Heads are about 3/4 inches wide. Be aware that on the new Large Stitch Piercers, the pattern on the top of the Piercer Head is not the actual size that the pattern will pierce.


The Banner Stitch Piercer pierced very nicely through the single layer of patterned paper, and even with the wider Piercer Head I still had a lot of control that allowed me to easily give my banner a little bit of a curve.

When I pierced the holes I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to make sense of them when it came time to sew, but We R Memory Keepers had me covered! On the back of the packaging for the Large Stitch Piercers they show you exactly how to stitch, you just follow the numbers! The backs of the original Piercer Heads show you the stitches that each Piercer Head can make, but don’t give you these step by step instructions, but We R Memory Keepers thought of that too. They have provided a printable PDF Stitch Guide for the original Piercer Heads that will quickly clear up any confusion and show you additional stitches!

A whole assortment of Fancy Flosses made their debut appearance at Summer CHA: Baker’s Twine, Glitter Floss and Variegated Floss; I’ve been really excited to try them ever since, especially the Baker’s Twine! And really, what could be a cuter than a Baker’s Twine striped banner?

The Baker’s Twine Fancy Floss is visibly thicker than the regular floss, so I was a little worried that it would cause problems coming up through the pierced holes, but it actually helped because the thickness of the Baker’s Twine covered up any white edges that were pushed through to the front.

I found that with these larger patterns you should use about 3 times as much floss as you would think you would need because of all the backstitching necessary to create the banner. I love how the finished product turned out and the stripes in the Baker’s Twine translate really well with the larger stitches for an awesome, fresh Spring look.

I’m also a total storage and organization junkie, so I found it helpful to save the backs of the Piercing Head packaging, trim off the bottom parts with the barcode, put them on a binder ring and hang them on a hook next to my crafting area so that I can easily leaf through them and decide which Stitch Piercer to use.


Overall, I really love the finished look that the Sew Easy provides, and the impact of the final stitched product is totally worth taking the time to get really comfortable with the tool! I’m sure that the Sew Easy is something that I will find myself turning to again and again.
Pros:
  • Smart Storage – Needles store in the Stitch Piercer’s handle and the Floss stays organized on the cards so everything is really compact and therefore easy to store or pack up to bring to a crop.
  • Pattern & stitch options are awesome and the directions are easy to follow, even for someone like me who hasn’t stitched in years.
  • Flosses available make for an awesome assortment of colors and material (Floss, Baker’s Twine, Glitter Floss, and Variegated Floss) that cover all your bases.
  • End result provides a lot of impact in not a lot of time.
Cons:
  • Piercer has some trouble going through multiple layers.
  • Paper core can be visible when pulling your stitches through to the front.
  • Takes some practice to get precise placement of pierced holes, especially on curves.

Craft Critique recommends Susana’s Custom Art and Card Design as a vendor for Sew Easy products by We R Memory Keepers.


    GIVEAWAY!
    Our friends at We R Memory Keepers are giving away Family Keepsake paper collection and Sew Easy Kit to one lucky reader. Just answer the any of the following questions in the  comment section of this blog to be entered:

    Have you tried the Sew Easy yet? What do you love about it or what would you change? What new design heads or floss packs would you like to see next?

    You have until Friday, April 15th at 6pm CST to leave your comment.
    Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

    Aunt Martha’s Hot Iron Transfers

    Reported by Susan Reidy

    Last summer, my family and I visited a quaint little town in Missouri. And as I like to do when traveling, I visited the local craft stores. In one such store, I found a quaint, old-fashioned craft that I just had to try — Aunt Martha’s Hot Iron Transfers by Colonial Patterns.


    Along with my transfers, I picked up some flour sack towels. I already had the embroidery floss and hoop, so I was all set.
    The transfers are printed on an 18-inch by 24-inch sheet of newsprint paper. Each pattern is printed with black transfer ink, and each packet contains several designs. Here’s the pattern I bought unfolded.


    Colonial Patterns says there are more than 250 printed pattern packets, including angels, animals, birds, butterflies, cars, animated dishes, flowers, fruit, holidays, kitchen, monograms, nursery, religious, Southwest themes, vegetables and more.
    I opted for some cute kittens and wine country motifs. The transfers can be used for many kinds of craft projects — embroidery, fabric painting, quilting, wearable art, needlepoint and just about anything else you can iron onto.


    I started with the image above and a flour sack towel, also by Aunt Martha’s.


    Per the directions written on the back of the packet, I first cut out the image I wanted to transfer onto my towel. I ironed the towel first because the directions say hot fabric stamps more quickly.

    At first, I opted not to pin my image down. I was too lazy to find pins. Big mistake. As you can see from the transfer below, my paper slipped. No, you’re not drunk, you are seeing double.


    So then I decided to find those pins, and pinned my image to my towel. I moved my iron back and forth slowly, for five seconds.


    I lifted up a corner to check the image, and went over sections that hadn’t transferred completely. The whole transfer process took less than 15 seconds. On my second attempt, the image was very crisp and visible.

    I used the image twice, and had good results each time. According to the directions, each image can be used several times.

    Next, I busted out my embroidery hoop and some floss, and got to stitching. I had totally forgotten how fun and soothing stitching can be.


    I’m very pleased with how this turned out, and can’t wait to make one for each day of the week.

    I wanted to try something else with the transfers besides stitching. I still have some Roc-Lon Multi-Purpose Cloth left (read that review here), so I cut out some squares and painted them a neutral color. After the paint dried, I ironed on my images.

    The image was just as crisp and clear on the Roc-Lon as it was on the flour sack towel. At first, I thought about painting, but I couldn’t find the right colors in my stash. Instead, I used my Koh-I-Noor pencils (read that review here) to color in my images.


    After coloring, I outlined the images with the black pencil. I love the rustic, almost watercolor look of the final images. I attached three panels together with some jute, tied on some burlap strips for a quick banner for my dining room.


    I had fun with this quaint, old-school craft, which also happens to be very affordable. The Hot Iron Transfers are available at major craft stores for less than $2 per packet. The flour sack towels are inexpensive as well; I found individual towels for about $1.50 each.

    These images can be used for so much more than towels. I’m thinking of more possibilities — fabric painting, quilting or adding them to some cute, vintage aprons.

    I love all the different images available, especially the vintage look, which is so popular right now.

    Pros:
    • Lots of images available to suit every taste, from cutesy to vintage.
    • Super affordable at less than $2 per packet.
    • Very versatile, can be used for many different projects.

    Cons:

    • Image can slip during transfer if you don’t secure it in some way.
    • That’s all I got!

    Have you tried Aunt Martha’s Hot Iron Transfers? How do you like to use them?

    Disclosure

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