Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hoppy Halloween: Handmade Frog Costume

My 7 year old son loves frogs. He raised frogs from tadpoles this summer and he has been fascinated with them ever since. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would create a frog costume. Believe it or not, I do have some frog costume creation experience. During college I was a Budweiser frog (along with two of my girlfriends). My 7 year old makes a much better frog than we did.

To make his costume I used: 
  • forest green sweat suit (body) 
  • brown and green fabric paint (body) 
  • forest green baseball hat (hat) 
  • 3 styrofoam eggs (hat)
  • floral wire (hat) 
  • black spray paint (hat) 
  • silver deco mesh (hat) 
  • white opaque nylon stockings (hat)
  • 2 black pom-poms (hat) 
  • 2 black pipe cleaner (hat) 
  • scraps of red and black felt (hat) 
  • 1 1/2 yards of green felt (hands, feet, and hat) 

There are 3 components to this costume 1) the body, 2) hands and feet, and 3) the head with buzzing  fly. 

The body was the easiest part. I used the fabric paint and cardboard stencils to paint a random pattern on the sweatsuit. My son helped with this part of the costume. Although this part took a while, my son enjoyed getting to help and it makes the sweatsuit look like more than just a green sweat suit. 

The hands and feet were the only part of costume that required sewing. To make them I cut out two pieces of the pattern I created for each (see sketch below), sewed them together (leaving an opening - like you'd do if you were sewing a pillow) turned them inside out and topstitched them to close the opening. I added velcro to secure them to my son's wrist and ankles. After adding the velcro to the hands I figured out that I didn't really need the loop sections of velcro. The hooks stuck to the felt really well.  

On the underside of each hand, I sewed a little felt loop for my son's finger. The loop helps to keep the hands in place but enables him to use his hands to grab candy etc. 

completed feet
completed hands
loop on underside of hand
The hat looks more complicated than it was to construct. The first thing I tackled was the eyes. I cut two domes off the ends of two styrofoam eggs (I used a serrated knife to do this) and covered them with sections of opaque white nylon tights that no longer fit my daughter. I used short sewing pins to secure the nylon to the bottom of the eggs. Next I used hot glue to attach the eyes to the hat. I cut out crescent shaped pieces of felt and secured them to the top and bottom of the eyes. This gives the hat a more professional look and makes the eyes look more like frog eyes. I used a scrap of black felt to cut out the black pupils. 

To make the fly, I sprayed a styrofoam egg black. I used silver deco mesh to make the wings and attached them with sewing pins. I used piper cleaner to make the legs and black craft pom-poms to make the fly's eyes. I attached the fly to the top of the hat with a piece of floral wire. I wrapped one end of the wire around the little bottom thing on the top of the hat and poked the other into the side of styrofoam fly. I love the little fly!

Lastly, I used a scrap of red felt and a pipe cleaner to make the tongue. I cut out two pieces of felt shaped like a tongue. I sewed them together leaving an opening at the base. I inserted the pipe cleaner in to the opening then attached the tongue to the under side of the hat with hot glue. 

My son can't wait to wear his costume to school and trick or treating on Halloween. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Wild About Halloween

If you follow this blog, you know that I love Halloween. And that I especially love making Halloween costumes. Over the years my kids have been a buffalo, dinosaur, old school Batman, recycling truck, recycling bin, chipmunk, zebra, Rainbow Dash, Pirate, and a Jedi. This year they both chose animals. My 4 year old is going to be a penguin and my 7 year old is going to be a frog. I love that they selected totally unconventional costumes. 

That thing floating above the frog's head is a fly. I promise how-to posts for both costumes before Halloween. Even if you don't have time to make them this year, you can always pin them for next year. :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Nature Party Table Runner

I used my Silohuette Cameo to make many of the items for my son's recent nature themed birthday party. One of my favorite projects is the table runner pictured below.

The boys are playing "guess how many critters are in the jar."
 Since its a bit hard to see the runner with all of the party decorations on top of it, I took a couple of pictures of it at home to share with you. 

I used basic quilting techniques to trim the green fabric with the brown and chevron fabrics. If you have never sewn something like this before, this is an easy to follow tutorial.  If you are not a sewer, you could use seam tape to hem the edges of your runner. Although the fabric border looks nice, its not necessary. You do not need to know how to sew to apply the animal tracks. You will need a Silhouette Cameo or similar product. Before cutting the tracks out of brown fabric with my Silhouette,  I ironed Heat'n Bond Ultra Hold to the back of it. I left the paper backing on while cutting. 

After cutting I peeled the Heat n'bond paper backing off and ironed the prints on to the runner. That's it. It was super easy and the kids loved trying to identify the tracks (deer, bear, bird, and raccoon).  

If you love this runner, but don't feel like or have the tools to make your own, you can purchase this one via my Etsy shop

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Campfire Cake How-to

There was lots of inspiration for this cake to be found on Pinterest. These two were my favorites:

via Shower of Roses 

via Hostess With the Mostess
Instead of candy or cookie, I used fondant to make my logs and fire. The rest of the cake (two stacked 9" rounds) are covered with chocolate buttercream icing. To make the logs, I baked a box of Betty Crocker cake mix (my cake making go-to) in my meatloaf pan.  I am sure there is a more technical name for this pan, but you get the idea. 

After taking the cake loaf out of the pan, I cut it in half - lengthwise. Next I trimmed the edges with a serrated knife to round it out a bit. I cut four 3 1/2" long logs out of the two long peices. I wrapped each log in fondant colored with brown food coloring gel. Quick tip: I've found the best way to color fondant is to mix it with food coloring in a stand mixer using a pastry hook. I trimmed the fondant on the ends of the log using a utility knife. After the logs were placed on top of the cake - in an "X" shape with a hole in the middle - I painted on the lines of the log using a paint brush and food coloring gel slightly diluted with water. 

I also used fondant to make the flames. This was a total experiment - thankfully it worked. I rolled out white fondant to approximately 1/4" thickness - maybe a little thinner. I used my utility knife to cut out flame shapes. I cut each flame individually. Unfortunately I didn't take a picture but the illustration below shows what the flames looked like. I laid the flames on a cutting board dusted with corn starch and let them dry for a couple of days. 

To color the flames I used Wilton Color Mist. I had never used this product before so I didn't know what to expect.  I'm please to report that it worked really well. I used red, orange, and yellow mist to color my flames. I used multiple colors on some flames and as promised the product created an airbrushed look. 

I did not insert the flames into the cake until the party. I was afraid that the moisture from the cake would cause the fondant flames to soften and droop. This did not happen and they stood up perfectly.  to stand up the flames, I simply pressed them in the cake between the logs. 

The cake looked really cool when I lit the candle and dimmed the lights.  You know you've made something cool when you can instantly quiet a room of mostly 6 and 7 year old boys.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Nature Themed 7th Birthday

My little nature loving boy was super excited when I asked him if he wanted to have his birthday at  Brookside Nature Center, one of the many fantastic nature centers in the DC area. He was even more excited when I told him that he and his friends would get to meet and touch real live frogs, snakes and turtles.

I had a lot of fun creating the decorations, cakes and favors for this party. I plan to post how-to posts for some of the more complicated projects (table runner, cake, trail sign, and backpacks) in the next couple of weeks.

The nature center has a great mural in the party room that provided the perfect backdrop for the party decorations. They also provided the cute bird tablecloths (below).

Other than the cake, the food was very easy to prepare. Since the party was at 10 AM, I decided to serve "heavy snacks" including trail mix, marshmallows dipped in semi sweet chocolate, little sausages, and strawberries. Because the party was at a nature center I tired to be as green as possible by using biodegradable or reusable products. 

I made little fact sheets to add to the educational value of the party. They also added some color to the big party table. 

Although, the nature center provide a very educational and fun program!

Before leaving each guest received a little backpack containing a pencil and a nature journal. 


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