Thursday, October 31, 2013

Last-Minute Halloween Costumes

DIY Quickest Halloween Costume Ever

It won't win you any contests, but at least it counts!

Maybe you (or someone you're married to) left your Halloween costume to the last minute, and maybe Halloween is a big deal at your (or someone you're married to's) workplace... maybe in that case you'll need a super last-minute costume.

Or maybe you're just not a big Halloween person, but you're going to a party and you'll seem like a big party-pooper if you don't dress up at all.

Well, my friends, this may be the costume for you. Not exactly sure which category Ben fits into... probably a little of both.

Nope, I can't take credit for this not-sure-if-I'd-even-consider-it-clever idea, but as Ben was furiously googling last-minute Halloween costume ideas last night, this was the only option that was practical (it was 9:30 pm, and we only had my craft supplies at our disposal) and appropriate (sorry, covering him with wrapping paper and making a tag that read "To: Women, From: God" wasn't going to make the cut).

Now while the original idea suggested "Draw seven C's on your face. You're the Seven Seas," going into work with letters drawn on his face isn't really Ben's style, so I suggested we simply cut the letters out of leftover felt and tape them on his regular workday attire. And it worked.

Really, that's it. No need for a tutorial here.

Not a crafter? Don't have a stash of felt or fabric? Got any paper? Use that. Cardboard from a cereal box? There you go! Look around your house and see if you can cut anything into C's. Or if you really don't have time, draw seven C's on an old t-shirt.

Still too much effort? Then grab a marker and draw seven C's right on your face.

Whatever works for you, good luck, and Happy Halloween!

Got a little more time? Make an adorable DIY Witch Costume or a Ferocious Shark Costume from a Hooded Sweatshirt.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Candy Free Halloween

Who Needs Candy on Halloween?

Well, certainly not my kids...

Ok, ok, so I'm not that mean. I would never deny my kids the ability to participate in the Ol' American tradition of collecting obscene amounts of sugar on Halloween. Because although candy has a different meaning to me now (read: my children becoming clones who lose the ability to synthesize anything spoken to them by an adult, running around like mad, until the inevitable crashes and subsequent temper tantrums), as a kid, being able to go house-to-house and collect FREE candy was like a dream come true. I can't deny my children that experience. So by hosting a Candy-Free Halloween, it doesn't mean I'm going to lock my kids in the house and make them eat spinach (not this year, at least). This is what it's going to mean to me: I'm not giving out ANY candy to trick-or-treaters. That's right! NO. CANDY. FROM. ME.

So what will I do when those adorable little dressed-up munchkins come to my door, singing "Trick or Treat?" in their sweetest voices and most genuine smiles? How will I deny them that which they've been dreaming about for months? Aww, it'll be simple! I won't let them leave empty handed... I just won't give them any candy! I'll just give them a slightly-healthier snack bag!

The manufacturers have made it really easy to stock up for Halloween in candy-free style this year. There were so many choices (in Walmart at least), and my favorite thing about all of them is that they designed the packages up in "Halloween" style. So while it may not be candy, it still looks fun!

Now don't get me wrong, it's not like these alternatives are exactly Superfoods, but they at least allow a break from the endless amounts of pure sugar they will also be ingesting over the next few weeks. And, for moms like me, they can be used as one less snack to plan for (or purchase) when packing lunches! Plus, if I have any leftover, I won't have a problem using them for my own kids.

So, what'd'ya think? You in? The more, the merrier! After Hurricane Sandy cancelled Halloween here last year, we're in for a big crowd of trick-or-treaters that is, unless any of them read my blog :) LOL!

Happy Hallowen!

Looking for a last minute DIY costume? Here are two easy ideas: DIY Witch Tutus and DIY Shark from a Hooded Sweatshirt.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A New Twist on an Old Children's Seat

A Year Ago I Got These Chairs For Free and They've Been Sitting in My Garage Until Now

So, that's my title (not much room for interpretation there), but I'm really not sure what to subtitle this post... I'm wavering between these bi-lines...

  • The "Reason I Desperately Needed to Upgrade my Glue Gun" Project

  • The "This is Probably a Great Time to Commit a Crime Because My Fingerprints Are All Burned Off" Project

  • The "I'm Really Sick of Home Depot" Project

  • The "Should I Just Decoupage Something Directly to My Floor Since I Knocked Over the Whole Jug Anyway?" Project

This project needs a little introduction, because I didn't acquire these beauties by my usual means (Craigslist, Flea Market, or Tag Sale). No, no, not these. These, my friends, were taken directly from a dumpster (previously I've been known to save furniture from a dumpster, but this time I went a step further). Well, to be fair, they were sitting next to the dumpster, but they were most certainly on their way to the dump (I know that for a fact because I called the establishment and asked about them. And the manager was more than happy that I was willing to take them). And I took them.

But why, you ask? Why would someone take all those ugly old classroom child-size chairs? What would anyone ever want to do with those? Well, the answer is simple: I didn't know. But I do know that at the time I was fantasizing about opening my own shop, and the thought occurred to me that I could create a cool little kids area and incorporate those chairs... maybe I'd spray paint the legs or something (in fact, I did try spraying the legs on a few of them, but the result was never what I was looking for). And, alas, my shop is still nonexistent, and the chairs remain in my garage. All but one, that is!

Bear with me a moment while I digress... a few months ago, when my husband and I were having a small argument discussion, he referred to all of my "projects" out in the garage as CRAP. Now, he's usually very supportive, but it was true that I was consuming more and more space in the garage... and I can see that as being a little irritating, especially since a lot of my "Projects-in-Waiting" are literally just taking up space until I'm randomly struck with some bolt of inspiration. And sometimes that takes a while... case in point: these 12 or so kids classroom chairs that have been sitting in our garage for over a year (yikes, when I put it like that, I kinda can't blame him).

Fast forward a few months, and I happen to inherit some more supplies for the "Inspiration Waiting to Happen" category (thankfully Ben wasn't around to witness it). My next-door neighbor, a fine seamstress, bestowed upon me a gigantic garbage bag full of upholstery-grade fabric samples. She told me I could toss them if I didn't want them, but she had no use. This bag consisted of 100+ fabric swatches, ranging in size from about 4"x4" to 1/4 yd. I had no idea what I would do with them, but I took them (in classic Thrifter fashion). I figured I'd regret it if I didn't.

And here's where this project all comes together. One day I sat on the floor of my craft room and decided to tackle the fabric samples. I began putting them into piles based on size and potential "usability." I was feeling scattered and disorganized and a bit defeated. Here I was, sitting in a mess of fabric swatches, paper scraps, tangled yarn, and fallen pushpins (ok so it wasn't just the fabric I was tackling, it was my entire disaster zone of a craft room), and as I looked over at the ugly orange chair in the corner of my room, I started feeling even worse. What was wrong with me? Why did I accumulate all of this CRAP (yes, I said it! Clearly, he had gotten into my head.)? Why do I do this? And, suddenly, it hit me: one of those fabric samples would make a much prettier finish than the bright orange plastic of that hideous chair.

And so it began; the process is explained (and shown) below for anyone who may ever want to replicate something like this... but be forewarned: this project made a mess of my craft room. Not that that's anything out of the usual, but it did. And it still smells a little funny... I'm not sure if it was the excessive amounts of hot glue or the rope itself, but it's going to need some more time to air out. And I just about burned my fingers off. I literally had to buy a bigger glue gun because I was having to replace the stick on my mini way too frequently. And I had to run out to Home Depot twice during the project. Oh, and I knocked over my whole jug of Modge Podge, too. But all of that could be avoided with a little more planning and patience :)

BUT, on the bright side, remember that guy {my loving husband who's getting a bad rap today} who called my Projects-in-Waiting "CRAP?" Well, when he saw the completed chair, he said, "Wow! This is incredible! You could sell these!" And I thought that was pretty nice. So even if we don't always see eye-to-eye on my incessant DIY-ing, it feels pretty good when someone you love genuinely tells you that they like what you did :)

DIY Kids Chair Makeover Tutorial

  • Plastic and Metal Kids Chair (although other sizes would work, too!)
  • Home Decor Fabric
  • Modge Podge / Decoupage and Foam Brush
  • Fabric Batting (like this one from Hobby Lobby. I happened to use this kind because I had it leftover from quilts, but you don't need to get the most expensive kind)
  • Hot Glue Gun and Glue (lots!)
  • 2 Widths of Manila Rope (I needed two of the 1/4 size and one of the larger;I got mine at Home Depot: Everbilt Manila Rope 1/4" x 50'). I used the 1/4" width and the next size up for the finishing pieces. This was the same type of rope I used for the Nautical Hardware Tutorial.

Process In Detail For Those Who Like to Read:

1. "Upholster" the Seat of the Chair

  1. Apply a layer of Modge Podge to the seat of the chair.
  2. Place the fabric batting on top of the Modge Podge. Trim around the ends.
  3. Put more Modge Podge on top of the batting.
  4. Place your fabric on top of that layer (come to think of it, this is sort of like making lasagna).
  5. You have a choice now. You can trim your fabric a bit (I would leave an extra 1.5" or so from the edge) or you can leave it as it is (and that's what I did because I was afraid this whole process might now work and I wanted to be able to preserve the fabric).
  6. Using a combination of hot glue, modge podge, and/or any other appropriate adhesive, wrap your fabric ends around the sides and attach them to the bottom of the chair. Just make it stick-how much glue or time you need will probably depend, so just see what works here. You can see how mine worked out in the LAST process picture below.
2. "Upholster" the Back of the Chair 
  1. Now you need to tackle the back side of the back of the chair, which is tricky because of that big metal bar. What I did was try to surround the bar with some bunched-up batting to try to even the size out. It worked okay. I'm sure there's a better solution, but that's what I did. After that, proceed as below.
  2. Follow steps 1-4 above (now, I had enough fabric that I was able to drape mine over the whole chairback and could work with that single piece. If you need to use two separate pieces, just apply them separately).
  3. TRIM around the ends. This got a little tricky because it was scary to trim too close to the chair for fear that there would be a huge gap, so I erred on the side of not trimming too close, which I regretted later because there was too much fabric to deal with. So don't be scared to trim closely. Remember, you can cover up little mistakes later with the rope.
  4. Once both sides have fabric applied, it's time to finish the chair-back around the edges with rope (I like this part because I get to hide my many mistakes). Using your wider width rope and your hot glue gun, glue along the edge of the chair where both sides of the fabric meet. Go all the way around.
3. Wrap the Metal Portions with Rope
  1. This is really just like it sounds. Simply apply hot glue, the start wrapping the rope. This is the spot where you'll probably end up getting burned a few times :). Wrap wrap wrap wrap and continue to wrap for a while. It was also somewhere around here I ran out of rope.
4. Find Your Mistakes and See if You Can Cover Them Up
  1. The cool thing about this rope is that it's really good at "smushing" together and covering mistakes. So at this point I just looked around the edges of the chair for gaps that weren't filled, and I just hot glued rope right into them. I did it A LOT. I think you'll be able to see in the pics. 


Process In Pics For The Visual Learners:

So if you have a weird DIY {and free stuff} obsession like me, this just may be the project for you! Take it or leave it, I hope this post gave you some enjoyment at least.

But that's not the last you'll be seeing of these chairs, I'm sure. Remember, there are at least 11 more! So here's where you come in. IDEAS! What would you do with them? Please, help! I need some more inspiration coming my way :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

DIY Shark Costume From a Hooded Sweatshirt

Easy DIY Shark Costume Using a Hooded Sweatshirt and Felt

Thanks to Lisa Storms for the Idea for This Costume!


Last year I needed a quick costume for my 6-month old. I didn't want to run out and pay upwards of $20 for a costume that would be worn once. Since his sisters were going to be mermaids, I thought a shark costume would add a bit of irony to the family pics. I found this adorable costume by Lisa Storms and didn't need to look any further!

Source: Lisa Storms
Unfortunately last year was the year of Hurricane Sandy, and we had to evacuate for Halloween, so although the costumes were ready, they never really made a proper debut, nor did I get great pics, but I did my best to replicate the process here this year.

The BEST thing about this costume is that it is so incredibly easy, and all you need is a hooded sweatshirt, felt, and glue (and/or a sewing machine). I think it will be easier with a sewing machine, but if you're really averse to sewing, some good got glue/fabric glue should work out fine. And, if you're a savvy shopper, you can make this whole sweatshirt for less than $5!

You can see from my pics, I chose not to do the spot on the chest, but if you do, I'm sure it will look even cuter!

DIY Shark Costume from Hooded Sweatshirt Tutorial


-Gray Hooded Sweatshirt (I can't remember where I got mine, but Walmart has them for cheap. I found this link for a sweatshirt and matching pants for $10 here, but you could do better than that if you really look)
-2 sheets STIFF gray felt
-1 sheet STIFF white felt
-1 sheet soft black felt
-Sewing machine and thread OR Hot glue or fabric glue


  1. Cut out your felt pieces. You will need:
    -2 identical fin-shaped pieces from gray stiff felt
    -One (or two if you need more length) strips of white felt cut into teeth. One side of the strip should be a straight line and the other should be jagged for the teeth.
    -Two black circles for the eyes.
  2. Sew (or glue) the straight side of your white teeth strip onto the inside of the sweatshirt hood so that that teeth are poking out. You can see I made a mistake with the length and needed to add an extra tooth after. It was totally fine and you can't tell from the front. Don't forget, no one looks very closely at the costumes; really, you just need to capture the "essence," so don't be hard on yourself if you make some mistakes.
  3. Assemble the fin by sewing the two identical "triangles" together, but leave a 1"-1.5" opening at the bottom of the triangles to create the flaps that will soon attach to the back of the sweatshirt. The pics might help explain this better.
  4. Attach the fin to the back of the sweatshirt by sewing the flaps directly onto it.
  5. Glue the eyes to the hood of the sweatshirt.

Pair the sweatshirt with a matching pair of sweatpants, and you're all set!

He's ready to gobble up a couple of sequin-clad mermaids :)

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made in a day

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dollar Tree Kids Craft Supplies: Made in the USA!

What's Better than Finding a Bargain? Finding One That's Made in the USA!

I found these {domestic} kids craft and school supplies at the Dollar Tree!

My girls go through a lot of craft supplies because one of their favorite things to do is "projects." {Guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree on that one}. And as much as I encourage their creative pursuits, they go through craft supplies like crazy. Really. I mean, I give them a tube of glitter glue, and it's gone in about 30 seconds. They also go through a ton of paper (which I promise, I recycle afterwards!), so I'm always on the lookout for inexpensive paper packs that suit their needs.

Enter: Dollar Tree. I wandered in today looking for some storage bins (which I didn't find), but as I walked down the school supply aisle, I found these pads of paper and scooped them up right away. I loved that the Manuscript Tablet had the nice wide lines for them to practice their letters (and it also just so happens they're really into writing "letters" to people these days, too), and the 3-in-1 Activity Pad had three different types of paper, so, really, their project opportunities are limitless. Ok, maybe I exaggerate a little, but at $1 a piece, I was pretty happy. BTW I can't believe these are also available online. I just checked the site on a whim, and I found those links!

But that's not even the best part... they're made in the USA! Now I'm officially stoked, because my biggest issue with Dollar Tree products is that the vast majority of them are imported from China, so often I'm wary of buying things from there, especially from the kids section. But now that I know I may find more items that are Made in the USA, I'll be headed there more often to see what other domestic, useful, inexpensive "finds" will turn up.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Halloween Witch Costume Part 3: Bewitching Accessories

DIY Witch Costume Accessories

These inexpensive pieces help pull it all together

Earlier this week I posted tutorials for DIY Witch Costume Tutus and DIY Witch Costume Fleece Capes. I gathered a few more accessories to pull the costumes together, and I'm listing those sources and ideas here.

The Master List:
What We Used to Create Our DIY Witch Halloween Costumes

  • DIY Witch Costume Tutus
  • DIY Witch Costume Fleece Capes
  • Witch Hats (I bought these for $2 at Target in the Halloween section and used leftover tulle and ribbon, attached with a pin to dress them up)
  • Striped Tights (I got these at Joann's in the Halloween section for 50% off, so they ended up costing $3 each. I was originally planning to have the girls just wear black leggings that they already have, but these were too cute to pass up. But simple black leggings from Walmart would definitely work, too!) 
  • Black Long-Sleeved Tee Shirts (These are from the Granimals collection in the toddler section of walmart. They were $3.88/each. And they were certainly wear these again, especially for layering as the weather starts to get cooler).
  • Witch Broomsticks (Got these at Target for $3 and accessorized with leftover tulle and ribbon).
  • Black Sparkly Boots (These are not a necessity, but since I saw them and I know the girls will wear them again, I got them from Walmart for $14. Unfortunately they run really small, and they don't fit my 5-yo, so I'll be returning one pair and will have to come up with an alternative).





Halloween Witch Costume Part 2: Fleece Cape

DIY Witch Costume Featuring Fleece Cape

This bewitching accessory serves a dual purpose: it's cute and it'll keep 'em warm!

These capes were not part of my original plan for the girls' witch costumes (I really considered the Wicked Witch Tutus to be the pièce de résistance), but I'm so glad I decided to make them, because I like how they pull all the pieces of the costumes together. The only reason I even thought of the capes was because I was really just concerned about them being warm enough during trick-or-treating. Because it always goes like this in the Northeast: when you're planning your Halloween outfits, you're still basking in the last few weeks of Indian Summer, so your Halloween decisions tend to be made with those temperatures in mind. And then all of a sudden the last week of October rolls around and it's FREEZING. So layers are a necessity, especially for the little ones. In fact, I'm probably going to make them wear at least another two layers under their long-sleeved tee shirts. But, I know that this cozy cape will help a bit with the insulating factor, so in reality, Mother Nature was the "practical inspiration" for this piece.

In an effort to come up with a design, I did what I always do when I'm starting a new project: I Google. I think I googled "DIY Fleece Cape," or something like that. And my trusty friend Google never lets me down; as I expected, I was provided with a long list of cute blogs in which kids capes were showcased. But in this case, one blog stood out in terms of what I was looking for. I found my "creative inspiration" for the witch capes from these awesome Super Hero Capes at a pretty cool life... which, incidentally, is a very cool blog :) 

I followed her basic design to make the witch capes, but I made a few tweaks here and there (because super heroes and witches would never wear identical capes!).

Here's how they came together:

DIY Fleece Witch Cape Materials

  • 1/2 yard of fleece fabric (I used black fleece-$5.99/yd at Joann's; with my 50% coupon that brought it down to $1.50 in material for one cape)
  • 1 roll of 9' ribbon (I used the extra ribbon to adorn the hat and broom)
  • Hot glue
  • Flower pin (ours were $2.50/each in those discount bins at Joann's 

DIY Fleece Witch Cape Instructions (pics are below for the visual learners)

(I made these for a 4 and 5-year old, you may need to adjust lengths accordingly. I just lined the material up against their backs and decided how long I wanted it).
  • Cut fleece to 35" wide x 20.5" so you have a rectangle shape.
  • Fold fabric in half from the side so now you should have a double rectangle that is 17.7" wide x 20.5" long.
  • From the TOP OPEN SIDE, measure 10" and make a mark (I used tape).
  • Cut a straight, diagonal line from the 10" mark to the BOTTOM OPEN SIDE.
  • Make a jagged edge by cutting triangles out of the bottom. How big/how many is up to you.
  • Hot glue a strip of ribbon down the front sides of the cape. You could sew this down and it would probably look nicer and last longer, but I didn't want to bother with seeing the stitches.
  • Create a double-sided ribbon band by hot gluing the front and back sides together.
  • Sew or hot glue the band to the top corner of one side of the cape. You can see in the pics I sewed it on then covered my stitches with a cute button. I didn't do that on the purple one. I just hot glued it. This step may be completely unnecessary, because really you could just use the pin to keep it closed. I was just worried about it being too tight around their neck and hearing them complain the whole night trick-or-treating, so I wanted to build in a little padding :)
  • Use your pretty pin to hold the sides together. And try not to stab your child in the process :)


Wondering how to make the tutus? Check out Halloween Witch Costume Part 1: Tulle Tutu Tutorial

To find out more about the other accessories we used, check out Halloween Witch Costume Part 3: Bewitching Accessories