Sunday, July 26, 2015

Handicraft Gift Idea: Make an Apron

If you are looking for a handicraft gift idea to make for someone special, perhaps that person would like an apron.  When we think of aprons, we often think of mothers and grandmothers in the kitchen, but men can often benefit from having an apron as well.  They often enjoy barbecuing, for one thing.  They also can use an apron in the workshop.  Children, too, can use an apron for many of their activities, such as arts and crafts.    Here are simple instructions for making a handicraft gift of an apron that can be adapted for anyone.

Start with a piece of sturdy fabric suitable for the individual for whom you are making the handicraft gift.  The fabric needs to be wide enough to wrap 1/2 to 3/4 of the way around them and long enough to cover them from collar bone to just above the knee.  For a large adult, 25 to 30 inches wide by 36 to 40 inches long should be about right.  A slimmer adult can use a narrower apron, but if they will be wiping their hands on the sides of it, they might appreciate the extra width.  An apron for a child of 10 could start with a piece of fabric about 18 inches wide by 25-30 inches long.

The best types of fabric to use are sturdy cottons, such as medium weight denim or twill.  Soft cottons such as broadcloth or muslin are all right in the kitchen, but will not last long, and would not hold up in the garden or workshop at all.  Other materials you'll need are thread and a sewing machine.  You will also need enough extra fabric to make a strap to go around the neck, ties for the back, and pockets.

When designing the handicraft gift, you can be as creative as you like with pockets.  Every apron is more useful with pockets.  A person who cleans houses, for instance, can use pockets for odds and ends they pick up as well as for their spray bottles, sponges, and scrub brushes.

To make the apron, fold the piece of fabric lengthwise.  This will allow you to cut the shape with one cut, making the two sides symmetrical.   What you will be shaping when you make the cut will be the bib section of the apron.  The bib for an adult sized apron will need to be about 9 inches wide.  Measure from the fold about 5-1/2 inches.  This is half the width of the bib plus an inch to fold under twice to form a hem.  The piece you will cut off the side to shape the bib will be a half bullet shape with the tip of the bullet being where the ties will be attached.  The length of the half bullet shape should be about a foot, and the width will be from the spot you marked 5-1/2 inches from the fold to the outside edge of the fabric.  When these pieces are cut off, the result should be an apron shaped piece of fabric.

Now decorate the apron with pockets and any other decorations you desire.  After this it is time to fold under the edges all around and stitch down with sturdy stitching for a nice hem all around the handicraft gift.  Cut two pieces of fabric a yard long by two inches wide.  Fold lengthwise and fold raw edges to the inside.  Press and stitch down along the length to make the ties.  Attach the ties at the waist of the apron handicraft gift.  (If these ties seem a little long, it is because a lot of people like to bring the ties to the front and tie them there.)  Cut another piece of fabric 18 to 20 inches long by 5 inches wide fold in half lengthwise and press.  Press again with the raw edges of the long side tucked under 1/2 inch.  Stitch down the open side.  Attach this piece to the sides of the top of the bib, sewing it to the back of the bib and topstitching on the front side of the bib.  Be careful not to twist it when you attach it.

People who work hard at homemaking, barbecuing and in the workshop will appreciate a handicraft gift of a sturdy apron.  Mostly they will appreciate the effort and design you have put into making a handicraft gift that they can use.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Golf Holidays to Get Away From It All

If you have been working too hard for too long and just need to get away and play some golf, you will want to check out golf holidays package vacations from your travel agent.  These travel arrangements are often referred to as "stay and play" plans because you stay at a certain hotel and receive rights to play at a certain golf course while you are there.  When making these arrangements, make sure there are not special requirements that will make playing inconvenient or impossible for you.  Some of these plans require you to limit your arrival dates and departure dates or have other unacceptable limits so read the fine print.

You can take golf holidays to all sorts of locations depending on your personality and desires.  For instance, you can choose to golf in a course located near or in a major city, taking in museums or theatres when not golfing.  Or you might choose to visit a golf course in an area of rugged natural beauty such as the mountains.  While there, you might take a day to fish instead of golf.  Whatever your needs, you can find golf holidays packages to meet your needs.

Are you going to take your own golf clubs with you when you travel on golf holidays?  You probably would prefer to use them rather than the clubs that can be rented at the course to which you are travelling.  If you choose to take them with you, you will need to think about the arrangements a bit.  For instance, do you have a really high quality golf club bag which will protect those expensive golf clubs.  If not, you'd better get one.  You won't be able to carry your clubs on if you are flying, so you'll need a bag that can take airport luggage handling and still protect your clubs.  So get a good one.

When picking a destination for golf holidays, pick the course you wish to play on first, and then find out about lodging at hotels, resorts, or stay and play package plans.  Make sure the tee times that are set for you when choosing a stay and play package are going to work for you.  People who are staying at a golf course's own resort generally get first serve when choosing tee times.  If it's really important to you to get the tee time you desire, it may be worth it to you to stay at the resort instead of a less expensive hotel.  Either way, you are sure to find refreshment and restoration when taking golf holidays.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Family Holidays: Tips for Peace and Harmony

What do you like to do on family holidays?  Go to the beach or spend a week in the country?  Maybe you like camping or visiting relatives.  Whatever you enjoy, family holidays are a chance for everyone in the family to get reacquainted and spend quality time together.  It's a chance for parents to really talk with their teens and find out what's going on in their lives.  It's important to keep the communication lines open, and a family holiday is a good time to do that.  Having a good relationship with their parents is one of the most important factors in keeping teens out of trouble.

Studies have shown that when families take holidays together, they are more likely to eat together and are less likely to argue.  They do not watch as much television because they are involved in doing things together.  Kids even report that their parents seem to act differently while on holiday.

While family holidays are a good time to connect with your kids, communication problems that are already there will not automatically disappear.  Especially with teenagers it is important to listen and be flexible.  Find out what the kids would like to do and eat and plan accordingly.  While even teenagers need boundaries, it is important for parents to try to avoid needless confrontation.  Explain why you make the decisions you do and show them positive attention.

Kids will appreciate being included in travel plans.  There's a good chance they will choose a theme park or the beach if those are among the options.  Sometimes it works well for a teenager to take a special friend along on family holidays.  While this might increase the parents' load, the teen is likely to really appreciate it.  Also, sometimes it works well for kids to go on holidays with their grandparents instead of their parents.  Sometimes there is a special relationship here that can help kids open up and communicate about their concerns.

While on family holidays, if teens are uncooperative or behave improperly, try to deal with the problem in private.  Teens are very aware of embarrassmant and it is needlessly mean to exploit this sensitivity.  In fact, you might explain to the kids how their behavior embarrasses you, and they in turn might work harder at getting along and acting appropriately.

Kids will be happier on family vacations if they have snacks, drinks, and entertainment.  Few kids enjoy a long ride in the car!  Try to provide individual CD players or hand-held video games, and don't forget to take plenty of bathroom stops.  Sometimes kids enjoy the ride more if they can help you follow the map.  This is an educational activity for them as well.  By following these suggestions, your family holidays can make a happy memory.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Cruise Holiday Tips for Smooth Sailing

Is anything more luxurious than taking a cruise holiday?  Traveling to exotic locations on a luxury ship, catching sunrays, and breathing the salty breezes can renew and replenish anyone, no matter how shopworn from the cares of work.  However, a cruise holiday requires planning in order to be the best it can be.  Check out these tips to have a cruise experience you will remember.

So where do you start when planning a cruise holiday?  First, what is your budget like?  Do you need to hold down expenses?  Then here are a few tips for economizing on your cruise holiday.

When scheduling your cruise holiday, you should be aware that there are off season and on season dates, and that you want to schedule your trip in the off season to get the best deal.  What you may not know, however, is that cruise lines actually change prices a number of times throughout the year.  Ask and find out when their absolute lowest season prices are.  In addition, keep your plans somewhat flexible so that you can change ships at the last minute.  Sometimes a ship is not filled to capacity, so the cruise line will sell the last few tickets at a real bargain.  It is always to their advantage to sail filled to capacity because people on holiday spend money on souvenirs, drinks, etc.  Use this knowledge to get a really great deal.

Where you cruise to on your holiday can make a big difference in your cost as well.  If you pick a popular spot, you can travel cheaper than if you choose a less popular spot.  Another consideration is whether you really care about those ports of call.  If you just want to stay on the ocean liner and enjoy the luxuries, book a cruise that doesn't stop anywhere.  These "cruises to nowhere" are just as luxurious as the others but cost less.

To be safe on a cruise holiday, don't take a lot of expensive equipment or jewelry with you.  Make sure your passport, health insurance, and other papers are up to date.  Be sure to ask about laws you may inadvertently be breaking when you get off the shore you are accustomed to.  Laws in ports and even in the water can vary, and you sure don't want a big hassle with a foreign law enforcement agency.

To travel lighter, find out about equipment that will be available on the ship.  For instance, if the cruise line provides irons or hair dryers, you won't need to pack yours.  Also pack your own sample size shampoo, toothpaste, and other toiletries because these items will cost more in the gift shop.  You should have access to laundry facilities on your cruise holiday, so you don't have to take a huge amount of clothing.  Pick a wrinkle proof lightweight outfit for every two or three days and pick separates in colors that coordinate so you can get different looks.  Be sure to pack a formal and or semi-formal outfit if you will be taking part in these sort of activities on your cruise holiday.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Creative Handicraft: Potholder from Scrap Fabrics

If you need a gift for a special person, or just need some time to unwind, make a creative handicraft.  Crafting is therapeutic when you are feeling stressed, and it also can yield a useful or decorative item.  Everyone has some measure of creativity, and with modern kits and patterns, a creative handicraft does not have to end in frustration.

If you have a sewing machine, you can learn to make a creative handicraft that will be a useful and welcome gift.  Potholders are a great beginning sewing project that can be made from scrap material or unwanted clothing and a bit of double-fold bias tape.  Here are the simple instructions for this creative handicraft.

First cut two 8-inch (21 cm.) squares of fabric to be the front and back of the potholder.  Choose coordinating fabrics that match your kitchen for these pieces.  To make it easier, you can make an 8-inch square pattern from a piece of cardboard to use as a pattern.  Cut more 8-inch squares of any old fabric to stack for the filling.  You want the stack of fabric squares to be thick enough to protect you from a hot pot, but thin enough to be flexible and able to be sewn through.

Stack all layers so that the outer layers are facing to the outside and the filler layers are inside.  You can put a couple of large straight pins through all layers to keep them together.  Now sew right across the middle of the stack.  Sew across the middle again, perpendicular to the first stitching.  You will have divided the square into 4 squares.  Sew across the stack again from corner to corner, and again from the other corner to corner.  The layers should be joined and sturdy now.

To bind off the raw edges of your creative handicraft, trim with scissors so that all the layers are again even at the edges.  Open out one folded edge of the  bias tape.  The wider bias tape might seem to be easier to use, but the narrow type makes a neater finished product.  Starting at one corner, line up the edges of the tape with the edges of the potholder, and start stitching through all layers along the first fold line, which will be about 1/4 inch from the edge.  Stitch neatly and slowly, attaching the opened tape all around the edge until you reach the beginning corner.  Cut the bias tape off, leaving 3 inches, (7 cm.) to make into a hanging loop.

Fold the bias tape over the raw edge so that the middle fold lines up with the outside of the potholder and the other fold is hiding the raw edge of the bias tape.  Now, for best results, hand sew the binding down, forming a loop on your creative handicraft when you get to the end.

This potholder is just one example of a creative handicraft you can create if you have a sewing machine.  When it is finished, you will have a useful item made from all recycled materials.  Feel free to give this creative handicraft away or keep it for yourself.

Friday, January 2, 2015

How to Come up With a Craft Idea for Kid Programs

Are you a camp director or Sunday School teacher looking for a craft idea for kid enrichment?  Maybe you feel like you are just not the creative type, and you struggle with coming up with craft projects.  It is true that some people just have a knack for finding or even inventing craft ideas, but your creativity can be improved.  There are ways to make it easier to find a craft idea for kid needs.

First, lay aside any perfectionism.  Locking yourself into thinking there is only one right way to do something makes every decision harder.  Regardless of the kid program you are helping with, there are always many suitable craft ideas out there.  Don't worry about picking the wrong one!  If you've taken into consideration the age and skill levels of the kids involved, your choice will be adequate.

Next, consider your budget.  When choosing a craft idea for kid programs, you need to be aware that some of them are expensive.  Prepackaged kits to make a fun foam picture frame or a craft stick cross are affordable for a few kids, but if you are needing to do a craft with a lot of kids, these kits might cost too much.  It's often easy to do almost exactly the same project by just looking at the craft kit components and buying the same materials in bulk at the discount store.  You may have to do some preparation, like cutting out shapes ahead of time, or at least making cardboard patterns for the kids to use in cutting out their own.  The savings will be worth it, however.

Another consideration is this:  in spite of years of indoctrination from women's libbers, the fact remains that boys and girls like different sorts of crafts!  If the craft seems a little girly, don't use it at boys' camp.  Stick with lace-up leather billfolds, Indian artifacts, dinosaur art, and similar projects.  Girls will like beads and anything that's pink or purple.  For a craft idea for kid camp where there are kids of both sexes, keep it on the boyish side and provide some pink materials to keep the girls happy.

An aspect of creativity that the non-creative types don't realize is that ideas spring from other ideas.  That is, if you look over a book or website of craft ideas, maybe none of them will appeal to you, but if you let them, they will spark an idea for a similar project.  Use what you can and change what you must in the craft directions.  For instance, the craft may have a slogan to be written across the front.  If you need to change the slogan to fit your own needs, it's perfectly OK.  For instance, the pictured project might say "Girls rock!"  You can change that to "He is the Rock!" if that meets your VBS needs better.

A final suggestion is to realize that you don't have to change the instructions or create something new to have a good craft idea for kid use.  Feel free to follow the instructions to the letter if that works better for you.  The kids will have a great time either way.  Just pick a craft idea, for kid creativity beats adult creativity everytime!  The kids will make it creative, even if you have doubts about your own ability in this area.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Craft Idea for a Group: Make a Mural

Most craft ideas are geared to individuals, whether kids or adults.  Sometimes you'd like to have a craft idea that works for a group of kids working together.  Making a mural together is an idea that works for a group.  By working together, you are creating something to decorate a shared area.  Individual crafts can be displayed, but one unique item is often more effective than a group of items that are almost identical.  In addition, sometimes kids' crafts, like it or not, just become clutter when they are taken home, and it isn't long before Mom throws it out.  This craft idea of making a group mural can be displayed for several weeks and will not become clutter in anyone's home.

The basic materials for a kids' group mural is freezer paper.  Freezer paper is about 18 inches wide, and it is very tough.  One side is plastic coated.  That is the side that is designed to be placed against the food.  You will have better luck drawing on and gluing things onto the other side.  Class or group murals can feature a number of different design elements.  You can mix up some finger paint and let the children make hand prints (or even foot prints!) on the paper.  You can let them scour old cast-off magazines and color catalogs for pictures they like and let them cut the pictures out and glue them on.  They can add scribbles, designs, signatures, slogans, or pictures using markers, crayons, or gel pens.  They can attach stickers to the mural as well.  This craft idea is very flexible!

For making the mural, choose a topic that relates to the group in some way.  If the group are girl scouts, for instance, and have been learning to camp, the mural can feature pictures of items related to camping.  If you've been learning about dinosaurs, you can use them as a theme.  If you want a really messy project that makes a cute mural for fall, mix up finger paint in fall colors.  The children can each make a tree by first laying their forearm in brown paint.  Then they lay their arm on the paper to make the trunk of the tree.  They should spread out their fingers so their arm print has five short branches at the top.  To make the leaves, the children make fingerprints all around the top of the tree using paints in other fall colors.  If you add a few drops of dishwashing detergent to finger paint when mixing it up, it will be easier to clean off the children's arms.  Do make sure they have old clothes or smocks for this craft idea.

Little preschoolers will like making a mural with an animal theme.  You should probably find and cut out animal magazine pictures to start with, and then let the children choose the ones they like for gluing down.  Glue sticks are neat to use with small children.  They will paste some of the pictures upside down.  Expect it and do not scold them.  It is the process that is important in this craft idea.  The children can also use animal cookie cutters dipped in finger paint to stamp animals on the mural, too.  You may need to tape the paper to the table so it doesn't slide around while the children work.

An elaborate form of this craft idea that adults often make is a quilt around a theme.  Each person in the group creates a quilt square to represent some aspect of what the group stands for.  These quilt squares can be colored with fabric pens or crafted of patchwork or applique.  Again, the craft idea is to build group solidarity and not to highlight one artist's skills over another.  When the quilt top is completed, it can be a group project to tie it or quilt it.  It can be hung in a special central location or given to an appreciated leader or member.