Embellishing Store-Bought Halloween Costumes

It was with great sadness that I’ve come to terms with not making The Cuties’ Halloween costumes this year {read more about that here}.

However, I will not go gentle into that good night!

So they have each enthusiastically agreed to allow me to embellish our store-bought costumes with a little crafting magic.

Big Cutie is going to be bag of original flavored M & Ms, so I made her this headband to accessorize her look ~

This was a fast and easy project that only took hot gluing the candy to a basic headband.  We saw lots of different candy-themed Halloween costumes, so this would apply to many costumes: Skittles, Starburst, Tootsie Rolls, etc!

Little Cutie’s obsession with Greek gods continues, and so she is going as Aphrodite this year.  But I thought she also needed a little hair piece, and  since she read about the original Olympic games this summer, it had to be a laurel wreath!

This project involved twisting some floral wire into a basic circle shape {I first twisted two pieces together to make mine a little sturdier since what I had on hand was slightly flimsy}.  I then took some clearance fabric leaves from Michael’s we tossed in the suitcase this summer and wrapped them around the circle form.  At each end, I used small pieces of fine gauge wire to secure them properly for 8-year-old Halloween party hijinks!

A good compromise, don’t you think?

Now stay tuned to see what I made for my husband and me for the costume party we have this weekend.  The Cuties are already negotiating over who gets to wear mine next year.  Clearly my plan to convert them back to homemade costumes is working!

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Wild for Washi

After much brainstorming, Big Cutie decided on a Washi Craft Birthday Party this year.  Our goal was to incorporate washi tape into as many parts of the party as possible, especially when we discovered that so many of her friends really hadn’t ever used it, despite living in Japan, too.

We set the tone for the party with our birthday cake invitations made from washi tape.  They were quite the hit and I’ve even had a few Moms tell me they’re planning to try it for future parties.  {Yay!  I love real paper invitations, and would love to see more of them!}.

Our cake, of course, needed some washi flair, so we did a simple white frosting with a shell edge and stars, and then took two wooden skewers, some baking twine, and made washi tape flags to swag between the skewers.  I LOVE how this turned out, as did all the girls.  There were many requests for the banner, so I quickly taught them how I did it.

The paper goods were chosen specifically because the stripes reminded us of washi tape, and then we took clear plastic forks, and wrapped them in more tape for added pizzazz.

We had the food table at one end of the apartment building’s party room, and in the middle of the room we set up the main event:  washi craft central!

Each girl had six different projects {composition notebook, frame, pencil, ring, treasure tin and an animal figurine} available to them, in addition to more rolls of washi tape than I’m willing to admit to having purchased.

 This was seriously the BEST party for 10 and 11-year-old girls!  They were too cute for words, and completely focused and into it.  For more than an hour and a half, they intensely created the coolest projects.  They were talking and working and I pretty much sat back in the corner, chatting with my husband doing almost nothing, while everyone was happy.  Especially me!

There were very busy girls.

As the girls finished each project, they had a large shopping bag ready in which to place their projects and I had made up little labels that said Designed by XXX for the girls to put on each of their creations.

Big Cutie went to bed telling me what a great time she had.  I kinda think they all did. ;-)

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In the Bag

When we pulled the Halloween bin out last weekend to put up our decorations Big Cutie gently asked me if there were any stores in town that sold “different” Trick or Treat bags or if I might have supplies to make her a new one.

Even I have to admit that her Pottery Barn Kids pumpkin bag is rather toddler-esque with her 11th birthday just around the corner.  But I appreciate her tact in handling me with kid gloves since I’m still fragile from the whole no more homemade costumes blow.

I started with a very simple bat shape I cut by folding my felt in half for symmetry and then gave him two little fangs.  He originally had felt eyes as well, but we found my jar of googly eyes and thought they were much more fun {True story: on more than one occasion, I have received a semi-frantic phone call from a neighbor in search of googly eyes, who just knew I would have them, and of course they were right….in multiple sizes}.

Now here’s the part of the story where I made my life unnecessarily complicated.  I was worried that the sheets of eco-felt I pulled from stash might be too flimsy to support an evening’s haul of candy, so I thought I should double-up the fabric in order to make it thicker.  This all sounded perfectly reasonable in my head, but let’s stop and remember what a complete and total novice sewer I am, the fact that I was doing this without any sort of pattern or direction, and that I refused to stop and regroup and perhaps simply purchase the proper materials in the first place.   As always, I reiterate, I’m not as put together about things as some of you tend to think.

So I glued each piece of my bag to a second piece of felt with my hot glue gun.  I did take care to glue fairly far from my edges so that I wouldn’t have to contend with sewing through solidified hot glue.  Score one for the lazy crafter!

The front and back of my bag are each a standard sized piece of felt and the sides measure about a third.  The bottom is essentially the distance left.  I really just eyeballed this all since I knew I’d be sewing my seams inside out and then flipping it so it really didn’t have to look that lovely.  I sewed my sides together first, and had one long piece of fabric.

I then sewed the bottom piece to all the sides, and then finally sewed up the last side seam.  At times, sewing through four layers of felt was a challenge, but I was able to just manage to get it all underneath my needle.  I then evened up my top seams with sharp scissors {in hindsight, I could have sewn a nice neat top seam first, but since it’s felt and won’t fray, this works too}.

I found some lovely black twill ribbon that was quite substantial in my stash for handles.  I folded the twill over for a little extra stability and then sewed a square with an ‘X’ through it to really hold it well {the same technique used here}.  I did this in the same orange as the felt, so you don’t really notice the top stitching once the bag is turned right side out.

And here’s the finished project ~

Once, again, a project completely made from my stash of over purchased craft supplies.

I am simultaneously hanging my head in shame and doing the dance of joy.

It’s kinda hard.

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It’s a Small World, After All

About 11 year ago, my husband and I had just moved to Charlotte for him to start a new job after graduate school.  We were standing in line at the DMV and noticed another couple next to us.  He happened to also be reading the Wall Street Journal and she happened to also be rather visibly pregnant like me.  When you’re waiting in line for hours at the DMV, that’s more than enough reason to venture into an introduction and we quickly discovered that the men were starting jobs at the same company that week, that we were both due with our first babies within days of each other and that we’d bought our first homes within miles of each other.

Our first friends in North Carolina were officially made.

There were several corporate functions over the years, and many of us who happened to be pregnant together, and so we formed a little playgroup of sorts.  Except all new Moms know that “playgroup” for newborns means a lot of diapers, burping and occasional wine.  It was all quite nice.

Over the years, we both moved to different houses further away, and the husbands went to different groups at the office, but we’d all enjoy bumping into each other in town and catching up.  And eventually we moved to Connecticut.

And then, we both made the rather unusual choice to become Expats in Asia.  Us in Tokyo and them in Hong Kong.  And because our summer home this year was Kiawah, we also got to see them there, as it’s one of their Happy Places, too.  And suddenly, we were all back in each others’ lives again!

So last weekend, when The Cuties had a couple of days off school but my husband couldn’t get off work, I opted to take my first solo international trip and take our friends up on their generous offer of Hong Kong hospitality.

I can’t decide who had more fun: the kids or the adults.  It was so great watching our children together, giggling and playing and then stopping and asking each other serious questions about what each others’ lives were like in a similar but different foreign country.

The Cuties and I took a quick Bon Voyage photo to send to Daddy before the airplane took off!

When these two were infants, us Moms spent many hours at Starbucks with them snoozing in the strollers.  Now look how big they are on their own coffee date!  {OK, it’s really more of a hot chocolate and biscotti kind of treat, but look how cute it’s served}

After lunch and a visit to Stanley Market, we took all five kiddos and got a private room for foot rubs.  They were totally into it.

And for dinner, we had delicious Peking Duck at a floating restaurant.  I was blown away that Little Cutie didn’t even flinch when it was served with the head completely intact on the platter.

The next day, we went up to The Peak, where we saw an amazing view of Hong Kong and then rode the funicular down {we didn’t even know about funicular trams before moving to Asia and now we’ve ridden two of them ~ who knew!}.

And since none of us had ever been to one, we took all of the kids to the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum while there.  The kids had a blast checking everyone out and posing for pictures with all the statues.  This wasn’t necessarily the most realistic, but y’all know she’s one of my favorites!

That night we got an adorable shot of all the kids and began a tradition of asking all the waiters to sing Happy Birthday to Big Cutie at dinner since this is officially her birthday month.  Then we went around the table to see how many languages we could do it in between the group.  The kids definitely outshone the adults.

For our last full day, we crammed as much sight-seeing in as possible and made it to Man Mo Temple, a Wet Market, Hollywood Road and ate traditional Dim Sum.  Not bad with an 8 and 10-year-old in tow.

We had such a lovely time, and our friends were fabulous hosts and tour guides.  I hope we’ll get the chance to reciprocate in Tokyo soon as The Cuties have big plans.

Now, would one of you please come over and unpack the suitcases, do the laundry and hide the Shanghai Tang purchase from my husband?  ;-)

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Just Keep Swimming

Both Cuties tried out for and subsequently made their school swim team this fall.  It has been a terrific season so far, and they are getting so much out of being a part of this kind of team, working on their strokes, trying to improve their individual times, and most importantly, having a really great time.  Me?  I’m loving watching them swim hard, cheer on their friends, be a little silly with their tight caps, and learning just how frizzy my hair can get after five straight hours on the pool deck.

This past weekend was their first multi-school meet.  Their official team caps and warm up suits arrived in the nick of time and so we were ready to hop on the bus bright and early at 7:00 on Saturday morning to head out to school.

And after watching the swimmers at the Olympics this summer with their painted nails, we decided we also needed some spirited fingers for the big day.  A friend came over after school, and we set up a little salon at the table, and moved around and around until everyone was complete!

One of my favorite things about The Cuties’ school is that it goes from K-12, and so my girls have Kindergarten buddies they get to proudly help out, as well as middle and high school students that are mentors.  On the swim team, there are Varsity swimmers that serve as Lane Coaches as this is their off-season.  The Cuties really like their Coaches, and get very excited to see their names around campus or on the record plaques surrounding the pool.

Little Cutie’s first event was backstroke.  She actually won her heat, which was really exciting, especially because she’d never even done backstroke before last year, so she’s really come a long way.

Can you see her little fist pump as she checks the scoreboard?

I volunteer at the ribbons table and so even though I wasn’t actually assigned to heat ribbons I got to run over and award her this and give her a big wet hug.  Woo Hoo!

And Big Cutie.  Well oh my word.  For starters, strep throat is going around school and so a lot of the older girls were sick for the meet and she was asked to fill in for some events.  That meant she had to swim five events.  Yup, you read that right.

Here she is swimming freestyle.  Check out that right arm lifting nice and clear up and out of the water.  Hemiparesis, my butt!  I sure get why her doctors love the idea of all this swimming, don’t you!

And in just one short month she has progressed from a jump/belly flop off the blocks to this.  I’m blown away.  I’m pretty sure my shriek of excitement from the ribbon table was heard on the public address system throughout the pool since the announcer was standing in front of me.

I will share with you that I completely and totally lost it when Big Cutie swam her first 50m.  I teared up a little bit and thought I’d be able to pull it together and took one look at my husband and had to leave the pool, where I ran into my girlfriend L and wept big fat, ugly tears in her arms.  I was so overwhelmed watching Big Cutie do what I was once quite certain would be impossible ~ and then hop out of the pool with a huge grin and go get ready to do it all over again.  I am one grateful Mama, to say the least.  And my poor hubby who was sitting with L’s husband, who had no idea about things like strokes or Cerebral Palsy, and probably thought I was a completely overwrought wackadoodle, so they had a quick little chat, LOL.

Just keep swimming indeed my little Nemo girlie.

{P.S.  I’m proud of both of my girls for earning New Personal Records in this meet!}


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The End of an Era

With the click of an Amazon order just now it’s finally happened.

No one in the Felt So Cute household is getting a homemade Halloween costume this year {sniff! sniff!}.  I knew the day would come, but it still saddens me a little bit to think about ripping open a plastic package and tossing it on them October 31st instead of snapping photos of my Cuties in my labors of love.

Now talk to me again around October 29th without hot glue gun burned finger tips or an impending deadline circling like a coven of witches.  I’ll be the one giddly sipping yuzu mojitos wondering why I didn’t think of online shopping before!

So in honor of all the bolts of felt that bravely gave their lives to Halloween’s past I thought I’d share some of the costumes I’ve made the Cuties over the years.

Last year’s Jewel from the movie Rio ~

{You can see a tutorial on how to make this costume yourself here}

Our very proud peacock ~

{You can find a tutorial on this costume here}

My apologies that these next few costumes pre-date my blogging time, but now that you’ve seen my unconventional methodologies of excessive glue gunning and wire construction you pretty much know all my secrets.

A very specific request for a monarch butterfly in purple not orange, LOL ~

And our little purple crayon ~

All of these costume use less than $10 materials for construction and about an additional $10-$25 for any “clothing base” I may have started with such as sweatshirts.

So, which one is your favorite?  Can you guess mine?

Linked to:
Kellys Korner
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Washi Tape Takes the Cake

Big Cutie’s 11th birthday is just around the corner and so we are at about DEFCON 4, here at Birthday Central and in full party-prep mode.

She has requested a Washi Tape Craft theme, which I am gladly indulging as it affords me the opportunity to continuously sneak more adorable washi tape into the apartment {keep moving, my dear husband ~ nothing to see here}.

Big Cutie’s and my goal is to incorporate washi tape into the party in as many ways as possible, so of course the invitations had to be “washi’d!”  After searching the Internet and Pinterest, I settled on a simple birthday cake and line design.  These were easy and very simple to do.

In fact, they remind me of some of the very first line drawings I ever learned how to do, which came from the Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Faces.  I love this book so much and have used it for so long, that I even brought my original 1975 version with me to Japan {a sign of inflation is that my hardback version sold for $4.95 and the paperback one currently retails for $6.99 on Amazon, LOL}.  Can you tell it’s been well-loved?

If you don’t know of Ed Emberley’s books I highly recommend them.  Especially if you don’t particularly consider yourself artistic and are a Mom and might need to amaze your children with a drawing of a martian or a princess.  Each drawing is short and simple and shows you a few quick lines to create your finished product.

As usual, I digress.

We started with three strips of coordinating washi tape, each a little longer than the next, to represent the “layers” of our birthday cake.

Then I took a fine Sharpie marker and drew three straight lines with a little teardrop above each.  And now we have lit candles!

Under the bottom piece of washi tape, I drew a long line with a ‘C’ on either side and then lots of little ‘Us’ underneath.  Below that I drew three snails with a long tail to connect them up to the ‘Us.’  Voila!  You’ve now drawn a cake plate.

Then I just typed up the rest of the information, ran it through the printer and we were ready with an invitation!

We’ve got quite a few other washi projects up our sleeves to share soon!

Linked to:

Visit thecsiproject.com

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