Happy Halloween

Wheelchairs are the best at Halloween. I never have to worry about something being too awkward to carry around and I get to incorporate wheels in everything. Atti doesn’t even want to trick or treat, so he only puts up with any of this nonsense for my sake.

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And now? For yours. Happy Halloween friends.

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Make a Pipecleaner Spiderweb

pipecleaner-spiderweb

We’re only a few days away from Halloween, and that means that kids are excited, parents are frantically trying to get everything ready, nobody has time for a big complicated craft project, and kids have hands that need to be kept busy. So I have the perfect solution for you. These spiderwebs only take minutes to make, are easy enough for kids to make, and are adorable enough to display every year. In fact, you might be tempted to put your kids to work cranking these out for every corner of your house.

 

step-1Hold 8 pipecleaners tightly together in a bunch and twist their ends together. Fold that twisted end down on itself to create a tight little bundle.

 

step-2Those 8 pipecleaners become the “spokes” for your web, so pull them apart and arrange them into the web shape. The little twisted up bundle you made should be the back of the web.

 

step-3

Twist another pipecleaner around one of the legs and bend into a gentle arc to mimic the way the silk of a spider web hangs. Twist it to the next leg, being careful not to pull the legs too close together or out of shape.

 

step-4Keep twisting around each leg, creating that little arc that spans between two legs. It looks best if you vary the shapes of the arcs. Attach some a little higher on the leg, give another a little more sag, and when you finish one pipecleaner, twist another one in the same place and keep going.

 

step-5You’ll create three rounds of those arcs. As you get to the top layers your pipecleaner won’t make it to the next leg, so just snip it off with wire cutters or scissors and save all those little pieces to make up the spider.

 

step-6Gather up all those little bits you cut off as you were making the web and pull out four that are roughly 4 inches long for the legs, and another piece roughly three inches long that will tie the head and the body together. Take a bunch of the rest and squish them together in a tight little ball for the head. Use whatever’s left, plus a couple more pipecleaners if necessary, and wind them up together to create the body. Insert the leg pieces through the body, winding them around and through the body to get them secure. It works best if a couple of the legs are even longer than the others so they can hold the spider to the web later. Use the small piece we set aside and wind it through the top of the body and through the head, twisting it together to tie the two pieces securely together.

 

step-7Use the neck piece and a couple of the legs to twist around the web and get the spider to stick onto his home.

 

spiderwebThis project is simple enough that kids can help you make it, but they also actually look good. I have these scattered all over the house, anywhere my little Halloween decorations need a little something special to finish the look. They are surprisingly effective decor for being made out of pipecleaners.

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Make an Adorable Mummy Doll

mummy-dollThe mummy is my favorite of your classic movie monsters, because it isn’t plastered all over the place like you Frank’s and Drac’s. I love the underdog. But he’s also the one most frequently rendered in a way that grosses me out. My Halloween taste has a real sweet spot between too cute to live and too gross to die. So I had to make my own version of a mummy, who was exactly cute enough, and wouldn’t gross anyone anywhere.

 

step-1For the shape of the body, you just need two pieces of a gingerbread man. You can draw him or use an image from the internet, but I got my shape by folding the fabric in half and then just drawing one side of him, to make a perfectly symmetrical little man. Whatever method you choose, just cut two pieces. The fabric you use can be just about any kind at all, just in a color that will work for a mummy. I had this fabric leftover from my bedroom makeover, and I thought it looked sufficiently corpse-like.

 

step-2Sew the two pieces together leaving a 1/2″ seam allowance. Leave a portion of the outline open so you can turn it inside out and stuff it.

 

step-3To make sure the opening is strong enough to stand up to turning inside out and stuffing, it helps to reinforce each side with a few back and forth stitches.

 

step-4Turn your little man right side out and stuff him. I like to stuff on the full side, but I made sure to keep the part where his legs turn into hips a little on the soft side. That way I can sit him easily in my Halloween displays.

 

step-5You’ll need a whole lot of bandages to properly dress this dude. Tear strips out of a gauzy material by ripping it with the grain of the fabric.

 

step-6Sew one end of your strip onto the doll with a little running stitch and then keep wrapping, covering up as much of the doll as you want to. I ended up covering more than I would have liked, but I got very picky about getting the head covered. Same with the crotch and butt. I couldn’t stand to let those hang out. Which means my mummy ended up fully dressed. I probably didn’t need to overthink it so much.

 

step-7As you go around the head it can be tricky to get things to lay right. Just stitch down any edges that try and pop up, and stitch the ends of you wraps in place too.

 

step-8A mummy needs a face, and you can do that in any number of ways. I stitched a couple of french knots and a little mouth, but you could use markers to draw one on or even just glue googly eyes in place.

 

mummy-doll-in-actionI always love a little handsewing project and this is a great one. Especially for kids or anyone just learning how to sew. Any mistakes you make just become part of the look, since mummies are supposed to look decrepit and threadworn. They’re not mistakes, they are style choices!

 

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Make a Funny Halloween Sign

tombstone-plaqueEvery time I look at this sign I giggle. I am a hard core lover of puns and wordplay and this sign delights me to no end. But I have to admit, I got the initial idea from another sign I saw in a home decor store. It was one of those stores where everything is made to look a little distressed, edges are sanded, brown paint sponged on the outside of things to make them look older, birdcages everywhere, and lots of those little balls covered in moss or beans. I’m not knocking it, I was shopping there after all, I’m painting a picture. There are a lot of stores like that out there. And if you’ve ever been in a store like that you might have had the same experience I did. I saw a wood block. Just a block of wood. Painted black with the edges sanded, and a version of this phrase that wasn’t as funny painted on it. I didn’t know what I was more disappointed by, that the decoration was so uninspired, or that they hadn’t workshopped the saying so that they didn’t step on their joke. I had to solve both of those problems and make myself something adorable in the process.

 

step-1I found this tombstone shaped sign at my craft store in the seasonal section with all the raw wood shapes. If your’s doesn’t carry this exact item, it’s a simple shape to cut out of wood and the border is totally unnecessary. You could make this with any plaque you like, but I love how the tombstone shape adds to the humor. I used black spray paint as a first coat but acrylic paint will work just the same. The center will stay black but the back and edges I wanted to look more like stone.

 

step-2To make that happen, sponge some gray acrylic paint on top of the black. I like to use a few different colors of gray to give it some depth and really good mottling.

 

step-3To get a really good stone look, finish by flecking some white paint on top by running your thumb over paint covered toothbrush bristles, or using a paintbrush and flicking your wrist quickly to make the droplets fly. I wouldn’t recommend doing this next to anything that can’t afford to get painted, though.

 

step-4With your paint job done it’s time to add the letters. This can be as simple as using some vinyl letters, or stickers, or handpainting it. There are a million ways these days to get some letters on your plaque. I used my computer to find the fonts that I liked together and to get the sizing right, and then cut them out of vinyl.

 

step-5Arrange your words however you decide to do it, and stick them in place. I found that the vinyl lettering was having a hard time sticking to the glossy finish of the spray paint I used, so I used glue to get them stuck instead of just the vinyl itself.

 

step-6You know me, I can’t ever miss a chance for glitter. I brushed some glue on the front of the vinyl letters while I had it out, and sprinkled glitter over the top. Shake off the excess and then repeat until you get all your words covered. I even added an orange border by running a line of glue where the border meets the center of the sign and then sprinkling orange glitter on top.

 

halloween-plaqueEven when it’s not Halloween I call my guys my handsome devils, and I take great pride in following in the witchy footsteps of so many women who wouldn’t be controlled, so this sign just could not be more appropriate for us. Maybe instead of putting it away at the end of the season I’ll hang it in my bedroom.

 

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Halloween Countdown Calendar – in FELT!

felt-countdown-calendarI’m beginning to realize that looking forward to great things is a big part of my coping strategy. I am obsessed with advent calendars, countdown calendars, paper chains, and all manner of beautiful craft projects that help me mark time until something fun happens. I’ve done it since I was a kid and I’m only picking up steam. But my very favorite countdowns are hard to find. I love the ones that aren’t just a door to open with candy inside, or just a number to display, I love the ones that create a decoration. The ones with little ornaments behind the doors, or in the pockets, something that gets fuller and fancier the closer you get to the fun. And since they’re so hard to find, I had to make one myself. I love those felt boards you use as a kid, and felt is so much fun to hand stitch, I knew there was only one way for me to go.

 

step-1For the backing and the bottom I used a piece of orange flannel that measured 22″ wide by 37″ long. I wanted my backing to match my front piece, so I just had it wrap around to the front. But you could use any fabric you want for the backing piece, and it doesn’t have to be flannel or felt. You could even make your bottom front piece different than your backing piece. I just did it this way because I loved this fabric and got a great deal on it. The blue top part does need to be felt because that’s where everything will be sticking. That’s the “felt board” part of this calendar. Mine measures 22″ wide and 13″ tall. Sew the top piece to the front bottom piece, right sides together, and give it a gentle press, then lay it out lining up with the back piece.

 

step-2You’ll need a whole bunch of numbers and the squares that will become pockets. I used an orange felt so that I could hand stitch the felt numbers on top and those beautiful fibers would just nestle up together and look gorgeous. You need 30 pockets cut to 2 1/2″ x 1 3/4″. To cut the numbers I used a font I liked as a template and cut out carefully. Stitch all those numbers on to the pockets until you have them all numbered.

 

step-3In this picture I still had a lot of hand stitching to do, but I wanted to show you how they would fit on the bottom piece once they were all laid out. Six across and five down.

 

step-4Once all my pockets were numbered I was ready to sew them in place. I really wanted to make my pockets neat and straight, so I used a ruler and a chalk wheel to draw a grid. I laid out my pockets so that they were 5/8″ apart in the vertical columns, and 3/4″ apart in the horizontal rows, and drew those chalk grid lines to those measurements. That way I could pin the pockets in place without fear of them shifting around on me. I just kept them lined up to the chalk line as I sewed. This method also let me sew the pockets on all at once. I could chain stitch down each row, pausing my stitching in the gaps between, but then continuing down to the next pocket until I had one side of the whole row sewn. It was so much easier to work a whole column, then a whole row, then a whole column, etc, at a time then trying to sew each precious pocket down all at once.  Remember to reinforce your pockets at the opening by doing a couple stitches, then a couple in reverse, and then finishing that side. These will be tugged on lots by little hands, so they need some help to not pop off.

 

step-5Now we need to decorate our felt board. As always I turned to a google image search and found myself a witches cauldron, but I thought it looked too much like a pot of gold. So I freehanded some bubbling potion and some pumpkins to fit the theme. The faces are just drawn on with sharpie. I cut out some more letters too and hand stitched all of this in place to take full advantage of how great felt is.

 

step-6I added a layer of batting – actually an extra piece of extra thick felt in this case – between the layers and added a binding to finish all those edges. If you need a little binding instruction, you can find that here.

 

step-7To hang it, just sew on a couple of rings. I had these in my beading pile, but you can find some in the notions aisle of your fabric store too.

 

step-8We’re not finished until we have all those little goodies to fill the pockets, and eventually our witches cauldron as the month wears on. I cut a bunch of candy shapes out of different colors of felt, jellybeans and gumdrops, squares with pinked edges for candy bars, round pieces with triangles on the side for wrapped candies, and cut two pieces for each candy. On one of the pieces I sewed on a teeny tiny piece of velcro – the hook side only – sewed three edges together, stuffed with a teeny tiny bit of stuffing, and sewed the last side closed.

 

step-930 pieces of candy takes a while to sew, but I think it’s worth it. I love how it looks with all those candies peeking out of the pockets…

 

step-10And I’ll love it even more as all those candies fill up the cauldron and show how close we are to the big day. Atti is so excited for Halloween this year, and this countdown calendar is a great way for him to celebrate that excitement every day. Even if he has a mom too strict to ever let him eat 30 pieces of candy.

 

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Make a Halloween Ghost Family Display

Ghost Family Display
Atti has been really into ghosts lately. He saw a SuperWhy episode with “The Ghost Who Was Afraid of Halloween” and ever since then that’s the only thing about Halloween that interests him. This year he’s begged to dress up as either a ghost, or Papa Drac from Hotel Transylvania, which breaks my crafter heart. But, Halloween is all about giving the kids what they want, eh? So I figured I better incorporate some ghosts into our plans.

I’m kind of obsessed with this little ghost family. It’s one of those rare projects that actually turned out even cuter than it was in my head, and DOES NOT take drawing or painting talent. If you can draw a blob or paint a smiley face, you can make this project.

Step 1
I used a piece of plywood I had sitting in the garage and drew a bunch of blobs on it. I wanted a Bear ghost, a Me ghost, and an Atti ghost, and you can see from all my rogue Sharpie lines that it was not done in a first try. I couldn’t figure out if ghosts would have hands, and then how I would draw those hands with my laughable drawing skills. A little googling for inspiration showed me that ghosts are just blobs and don’t need hands. They don’t even need arms if you want to get down to it. You really just need a few blobs with smiley faces and that will be enough to get the job done.

Step 2
Cut out your ghost family only on the outermost line. The inside lines you’ll put on with a Sharpie after you paint it. You just want to cut out the silhouette. A jigsaw is the way to go for this, just remember that you can’t make right angle turns with it, so plan your cuts accordingly. You want to come in to the corners from the outside.

Step 3
Then it’s time to paint. Along with not being an excellent drawer, I’m not a very good painter, so I kept that simple too. I just spray painted the whole thing white, used a Sharpie to draw the bodies back on, and painted on the faces. A very light touch with a sponge in gray paint will emphasize the edges and make the ghosts look a little less flat.

Step 4
Now it’s time for hardware so these ghosts can stand up. You need another piece of wood to act as your kickstand. Mine is scrap wood from another project spray painted white to match the ghost. Attach it to the back with a hinge, but be careful you don’t use screws so long they go through the plywood. Like someone I know.

Step 5
You need a way to keep the hinge from opening up all the way and falling flat on the ground. So I used two hooks, one screwed into the back of the ghost and the other screwed into the kickstand, with a piece of chain keeping them connected. Now the hinge can only open as far as the chain will let it.

Ghost Family
This is one of those decorations that you could find in a catalog and spend too much money on. Or, you could just make it yourself. We are all so delighted by having a ghost family that matches our family, I think any family would get a kick out of that.

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Spooky Potion Bottle Ornaments

Potion Bottle Ornament
Last year the Halloween trees never made it out of the garage. I was still recovering from my time in the hospital and I had zero energy to dedicate to optional tasks, no matter how much joy those might bring me. So this year, I’m bringing Halloween back with a vengeance. And first up is a little refreshing for those Halloween trees with a new ornament. This is the perfect “non-crafter” craft since it’s just putting glitter in a bottle and slapping on a label, so if you have a Girls Night Out or a Harvest Festival or PTA night or something where you have to entertain a whole bunch of different skill levels, this project is perfect for you.

Step 1
Collect your bottles. I got mine at the craft store, but this is a great opportunity for upcycling. Any bottle will work, you just need a way to close it, preferably with a cork. Then you let your creativity go wild filling the jar with something that looks spooky. I used a variety of glitters in different colors and sizes because these are going on a very glittery tree, but I think raiding the backyard would yield some interesting results, and same for anything from the hardware store to the pet store to the dollar store. These would look awesome full of bird seed or even little plastic spiders.

Step 2

Pop the cork back in place with a little hot glue to keep all those little glitter pieces in their place. Don’t be shy with the glue either because this has to be in place firmly enough to hold the weight of the bottle.

Step 3

Use a little more hot glue to secure a screw eye into the cork. Or lid. These are easy to find at the hardware store in the section with the hanging supplies. A little dab of glue to keep it from pulling out, then just screw down into the cork.

Step 4

Then it’s just a matter of decorating the bottle. I kept it simple with a little label, but you could go big with ribbon and fake spider web and anything you can imagine. Here’s my genius secret for these labels: just go to Avery.com/print and use one of their templates. This is not a sponsored post or an ad. I was in the middle of designing something from scratch when I realized I needed to go to the website to download their template and discovered a whole mess of them already made up for me. So I shrugged, figured ‘why reinvent the wheel’ and just printed off what was already available. I had to make some size adjustments to get them to fit on the bottle, but that’s because I picked weird shaped bottles.

Potion Bottle

To hang these, just add some string through that eye screw and tie a knot to make a loop. I have mine tucked into the branches of my whimsical tree and it’s amazing how much they add to the overall look of the tree. Adding a big splashy ornament is just what they needed to look brand new.

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Super Why Halloween Costumes

Super Readers
I had so many big plans for our Halloween costumes this year. Atti has never shown the slightest bit of interest in the holiday, so it didn’t occur to me that he might actually have his own plans for the day, but this is the year things clicked for him. He’s been talking about Halloween all month, begging to watch the Halloween episode of Super Why every day when he comes home from school, singing his Halloween songs, and reciting his Halloween stories. I asked him if he wanted us to all dress up like Super Why characters and his smile nearly split his face.

Alpha Pig
The Super Readers all travel around in little vehicles called Why Flyers, so I knew I could make my little guy even happier by turning his wheelchair into a jet that travels through story books. I basically sewed a big inner tube with wings, and this is so his favorite part of the costume. I think he might actually keep playing with it after today. It made me wish I’d made it a little sturdier.

The Super Why Family
When we went shopping for fabric he stroked each bolt and announced, “That’s for Super Why! That’s for Princess Presto!” He sat on my lap as I sewed and sang songs about teamwork. But he won’t wear the pig nose, or the goggles, or the hard hat. He loved the idea of dressing up, but he’s still not a fan of it in actual fact.

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Halloween Craft: Witch and Skulls Mobile

Halloween Porch Mobile
Every good Halloween house needs a little spooky something to greet Trick or Treaters, but since I still have a little guy, I’m not really a fan of Halloween houses that cover the front porch in gore. Finding something that’s cool and spooky but not gross can be a hard task, which is yet another reason why it’s so awesome to be a crafter. This project will take you 30 minutes not counting the time it takes for paint to dry, and you can have it up and making your front porch festive in an afternoon.

Halloween Mobile Tutorial Step 1
Most of the work of this project is done by just shopping for the right stuff. I picked up this witch hat and three skulls from my local Michaels. They came as unpainted paper mache figures, and a quick coat of spray paint took care of that. I used spray paint, although any paint you have on hand will do, just because it was super fast, I had some handy, and I really loved the glossy look it gave my witches hat. I sprayed a coat of black on the skulls as well, particularly on the inside, to serve as a base coat.

Halloween Mobile Tutorial Step 2
Then I sponged on the white so that the skulls would have a little depth to them.

Halloween Mobile Tutorial Step 3
With the paint dry it’s just a matter of assembly. Take out your morbid aggressions by stabbing your skulls in the head with an exacto knife. Then use the back of a paintbrush to make the hole bigger.

Halloween Mobile Tutorial Step 4
Thread whatever you’re using to hang the skulls – this black silk cord in my case – on to a large needle. Push it down through the hole you’ve made and pull it out through the jawbone. Take the needle off and tie a knot in the end of the cord, large enough so that it can’t pull back out through your hole. Do this for your other two skulls too.

Halloween Mobile Tutorial Step 5
To make the witch’s hat look like a witch was wearing it, I used this cool green and tan excelsior basket filler. Run a line of hot glue on the inside of the hat and carefully push the excelsior into the melted glue. Careful about burns! The glue loves to seep through the excelsior when you’re not paying attention.

Halloween Mobile Tutorial Step 6
I thought the whole thing could use a little color, so I found this great glitter ribbon to make a hatband out of. I left long tails to dangle down the back.

When your hat is totally decorated, push a hole through the top of it just as we did for the skulls, and thread all three cords from the inside of the hat to the outside, so that you can gather them altogether on top of the hat. Tie a knot right where you want the hat to stay and put some hot glue on the bottom of your knot. Push the hat into the glue so it will stay up high where you want it and not collapse down on the skulls. Tie another knot in the strings to hang the mobile from and cut off the extra.

Halloween Mobile Closeup
This still manages to look grown up and fun without potential scaring any of the littlest trick or treaters. Maybe when Atti gets bigger I’ll discover a love of gore, but I won’t need it if I have stuff as cute as this.


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Halloween Craft: Caramel Apple Yarn Balls

Caramel Apple Decor
Way back when I first made my Halloween trees, I wanted to do some kind of caramel apple inspired ornament. That resulted in one of my favorite craft fails of all time, and the idea was filed away in the back of my brain. It’s been percolating away for years and I’ve finally cracked it.

These little yarn covered “caramel apples” are so simple to make it’s great for kids who want to help make a Halloween present for their teacher, or just if you need to keep small hands busy while you’re working on anything else. Who cares if the yarn isn’t neat? Caramel doesn’t exactly stay where you put it either.

Caramel Apple Tutorial Step 1
Take any size styrofoam ball you want, and cut off a wedge to make a flat side. This is just so that it can stand up if you want it to. I used a bunch of different sizes of balls to make an interesting looking grouping, but I wish I’d gotten even more extreme in my choices.

Caramel Apple Tutorial Step 2
Cut a square of green felt big enough to come about halfway up the ball. Use silk pins – those metal pins with flat heads – to pin the felt in place. You will need to push and pull a little to get it to not wrinkle. Flat objects going over round objects can be a bit complicated. Just keep pinning and you’ll get there.

Caramel Apple Tutorial Step 3
Use another pin, this time with a ball head, and push it through the center of the bottom. This makes your “blossom” for the apple.

Caramel Apple Tutorial Step 4
Push a popsicle stick through the other end. Dip the end in a little glue before you shove it into the styrofoam and it will stay there for good. Then start wrapping your caramel colored yarn all the way around it using pins as necessary to keep it in place until it dries.

Caramel Apple Tutorial Step 5
Keep wrapping all the way around. Once you get to the bottom half and the ball begins to curve down, the yarn doesn’t want to stay where you put it. Keep using pins to hold the yarn until it dries.

Faux Caramel Apples
So if these were real caramel apples, the exposed apple part would have to be at the top by the stick and the caramel would be covering the bottom. Because you dip the apples into the caramel that way. But I decided to flip it because it was easier to deal with the felt that way, it was easier to deal with the yarn that way, and I figured that you’d still get the idea. In this made up world the caramel is apparently poured over the apples. If accuracy really matters to you, then you’ll have to work harder to get the felt to lie flat, cut a slit in the felt to fit the stick through, and try to coil the yarn on the flat surface and over the edge of that, and all that must mean that you really really care about how your caramel apples are caramelled. But hey, there are things I really really care about too. No judgment.

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