We needed an easy, creative activity today. We had snow, but not enough to entertain anyone more than 5 minutes outside. Just finger nipping cold, nose chilling wet. I don’t wish to sound greedy, but can someone send us enough to make a snowman next time, please?
After a very short time, everyone retreated inside. Queue activity to head off the requests for screen time.
I love making patchwork bookmarks. It uses up teeny, tiny scraps of fabric, which I cannot bring myself to throw away. Also, there is no right or wrong with it. Perfect as a beginner project or one for children to do, or, to be honest, anyone who likes making fun, pretty things. So long as the scraps overlap each other and more than cover the piece of felt, practically anything goes. I like to quilt as I go and this is a brilliant way to practise the technique.
This is how we do it.
a bundle of little scraps of fabric
a strip of felt, cut 20cm x 5cm (8″ x 2″) approx
a piece of fabric 21cm x 6cm (8.5″ x 2.5″ ) for the back
small piece of ribbon
sewing equipment (scissors, sewing machine, pins, knitting needle, tape measure or ruler)
Each scrap of fabric needs to have straight edges to keep this project on the easy side. They also need to be at least 1cm wider then the narrow width of the felt piece.
Step 1: Arrange pieces of scrap fabric on top of the felt strip, making sure the edges of the scraps are overlapping each other by at least 0.5cm (1/4″).
Step 2: Take the first scrap of fabric. Right side up, position it overlapping the top of the felt by 0.5cm. Now this part is slightly tricky. Channel your inner school maths self and think rotations. Imagine a sewing line on the scrap (big, bold, arrowless lines in pictures above), 0.5cm from the edge. Now, flip the scrap on to the wrong side, along the imagined line. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
Step 3: Sew along the sewing line. As shown, above left. Fold the fabric up, so the right side is now showing, and iron the fabric in the direction of the arrow in the picture, above right.
It’s plain sailing from now on.
Step 3: Putting right sides together, and lining up the edges, sew the next scrap to the first one. As shown above. You are sewing through the felt as well. Flip the second scrap down and iron it.
Repeat for all the other fabrics, until the felt is covered. Overlap the lower edge of the felt by at least 1cm (0.5″)
Step 4: Putting right sides together, line up the bookmark with the backing fabric. Sew around 3 edges, just catching the edge of the felt. Leave the bottom short edge open.
(Tip: at the start and the end of stitching, sew back over your stitches. This stops them pulling apart when you do step 6.)Step 5: Clip the excess fabric around the edge and clip the corners.
Step 6: Turn the bookmark the right way round, by pulling it through the open edge. Use the blunt end of a knitting needle, or a stick, to push the corners into a point. Take care not to push through the corners and make a hole.
Step 7: Iron the bookmark and tuck the unstitched ends back into the opening, as if to hide them. Push the ends of the ribbon in too. Pin in place.
Step 8: Topstitch along each of the four edges of the bookmark.
Step 9: Iron, and then slip bookmark into your current book.
All three children (9, 12 and 14) loved this activity. They really got into the selection stage, and the chance to use my old sewing machine. The one aspect of this activity you can guarantee is, that no two bookmarks will ever look quite the same. Colour, fabric and wonkiness just add to the charm.
These make great gifts, especially when giving a book. Often thought they would work well as a Father’s day present or teachers thank you gift. So easy that several can be made in one afternoon.
Hope you have fun making one. I’m off to check if it’s snowing again. Fingers crossed.
There are two choices for how to entertain the children on a rainy day at this time of year. Either throw on the waterproof gear, go out and enjoy it, or break open the craft materials.
Here are ten of our favourite colourful rainy day craft activities to do with the children:
1. Make a fabric pom pom rainbow bunting. We used coloured netting, but any strips of fabric should do.
2. Paint a tshirt. Could use an old tshirt or a pre washed new one. We used bottle tops and fabric paint to create a colourful letter on tshirts.
3. Make a mini-beast. We love dragonflies. Used a peg and felt tips to make our own version, which to this day, still live on the fridge, thanks to the magnets attached.
4. Make a graffiti cake. Break out the icing pens and gels. You provide the cake and they provide the enthusiasm.
5. Gather up toilet roll tubes, paints, marbles and magnets to make a magnetic marble run. The more colourful the paint, the better. Hours of fun making and playing.
6. Paint feet or hands and make colourful prints. We made cards ready to send on birthdays.
7. Make a cardboard maze and paint some colourful characters to race around it. Ours are made from acorns, but it could be stones or anything that is small enough and round.
8. Have a fish race. Just need paper, felt tips, string and a straw.
9. Make an army of origami mice. Colourful paper and patience essential.
10. Make a circular snail racing board. As colourful as you like, although avoid textured surfaces as snails don’t like travelling over them. Easy to find snails on a rainy day. Just remember to return them from where ever you found them.
Hope you found something to brighten up a rainy day. Who knows. It may even scare away the rain clouds. No promises.
I think within an hour of finishing their tie-dye tshirts, I heard the first “Can I wear my tshirt?”
“No, not yet.”
This was repeated at regular intervals for the next 36 hours. I can hardly blame them.
(looking through the heart shaped window in the new chicken ark)
The kit we used, required the tshirts to be wrapped in clingfilm and left at least 6 to 8 hours. The longer it is left, the more vibrant the colours. Then the tshirts needed to be rinsed, washed and dried.
In our case, life delayed the process even more. Rain meant the outdoor theatre outing in the evening was cancelled, so a hastily arranged trip to the cinema was substituted. Leaving the tshirts forgotten and still wet.
Eventually, all nine tshirts were ready to be worn. Next amazing parenting feat, was catching all three children, as they escaped back into the garden after the torrential rain stopped. Challenging to say the least. I think I captured all nine of the tshirts.
The rain had brought out the baby toads, which are about three or fours weeks later than usual. There is an annual migration of these tiny toads through the garden. We had to watch where we walk and also catch a few for closer inspection.
Also an injured racing pigeon has been staying in our garden for the last week. It has become so used to us that we can hand feed it. Soon as the children sat on the bench it flew down and all thoughts of modeling tshirts were forgotten. How can I compete with a pigeon?
The kit we used contained everything we needed, including the instructions to make spiral and sunbursts. We only used half the dye, which means we will be doing this activity again next summer.
I need to remember that the most successful of the tshirts were totally coloured with minimal white space, as it turned greyish instead of white after washing. (Just like putting a coloured sock in with the white load.) I’d also leave the tshirts longer before I rinsed them out, as some of the colours faded more than I’d have liked.
In case like Fiona you are brave enough to consider doing this activity and would like to know which kit we used …… The kit was a hit with us, except for the cover picture (house rule, no whispering in front of others) and the gloves tore too easily. I would use my own rubber gloves next time.
Those apart, it contained enough dye and elastic bands for my three children to have lots of fun. The instructions are clear and easy for my 6, 8 and 10 year old to follow. Also the bottles used to apply the dye worked well. BUT do not underestimate the mess it will create. I’m still trying to scrub feet, hands and behind the ears of certain children! If you follow me on twitter, you’ll have seen the tie-dyed feet already.
(Should just add that this is a personal review and I’ve not been compensated in any way by the manufactures or suppliers.)