I like upcycling, repurposing and crafting with my kids

Archive for the category “Craft with kids”

Kids’ craft: Milk bottle boats

This was a fun afternoon in the school holidays – making boats from recycling scraps! This craft is easy for children of any age and a great rainy day boredom-buster – plus when it brightens up you can go and float your boats in a stream!

For this project we used the following (washed!) items from the recycling bin:-

  • plastic milk cartons
  • lids from liquid laundry detergent
  • lolly sticks
  • fabric scraps (from my huge mountain of scraps, including some old shirts!)

From our craft supplies, we used:-

  • PVA glue
  • hot glue (to glue plastic and wood)
  • pom poms
  • pipe cleaners
  • scissors
  • sellotape
  • felt tip pens

plastic milk cartons repurposed as boatsAs you can see, the larger milk cartons (in this case, 4 pints) make an excellent “hull” if you cut them lengthways. A responsible adult really needs to do this part, but as none was available I did it 😉

decorating milk carton boats

We had three children for this activity (my two plus a friend) and it was great to see 3 different approaches to decoration. Here, pipe cleaners were attached to the hull to make a mast and flag pole.

milk carton boat with scrap fabric carpet

My daughter decided hers needed a purple carpet, pink pennant flag and several pompoms!

making sails for milk bottle boats using lolly sticks and scrap fabric

This upcycled shirt fabric made a great sail, along with some lolly sticks 🙂

Scrap recycling toy boats

I particularly love the ingenuity that went into this craft – the main boat was a plastic detergent bottle cap, extended with pieces of milk carton, lolly sticks, pipe cleaners and a milk lid for the crow’s nest.

milk carton and detergent bottle lid repurposed as a boat

Don’t you just love it when kids really get into an idea and make it their own? A great way to spend a rainy day, which we followed up with a sailing contest in the stream!

What ingenious uses do you put your recyclables to? Comment below or tweet me @ShabbySheUK 🙂



Crafts with Kids: Weaving with CD looms

We’ve been up to a bit of crafty recycling fun recently with some old CDs and wool scraps. The inspiration came from this beautiful post on Make it a Wonderful Life – this lady is a teacher and has had her students weaving an amazing wall hanging with this clever green craft!

Woven CD looms displayed on wall hanging

Beautiful hanging display – Courtesy of

Recycled CDs made into art using wool

CD weaving inspiration – from

For this easy-peasy craft you will need:-

  • old CDs or DVDs
  • wool scraps (you can use fabric but this sounded more complicated)
  • a plastic lid (from yoghurt, houmous pot etc)
  • a hole punch

The plastic lid is to make some needles to help the children weave the wool through their loom. I discovered (through my daughter accidentally unthreading it once or twice) that the needle is actually essential – it’s just too fiddly without. You will need to knot the thread onto the needle though, especially for younger children.

We started off by finding some old CDs which were no longer wanted. My kids were very quick to find some song collections we’d had free with something or other and a Peppa Pig DVD. (Please don’t pelt me with eggs, parents of younger children – my two are suddenly Too Grown Up for Peppa! It will come to them all…!)

Use old CDs to make looms

Unwanted DVD and CDs, ripe for recycling

Don’t you just ❤ my tablecloth?? 

Next we made some plastic needles…

Needles for a loom made from a plastic lid

This is fun! I cut a sort of narrow fish-shape from the lid of a large pot and used a holepunch to create an ‘eye’. As the originator of this idea said, it’s a good idea to round off the needle’s point as it will prevent snagging.

Hole punch used to make eye in plastic lid needle

If you don’t have a hole punch you could pop it over some plasticine or Blue Tac and pierce a hole with a skewer – definitely a job for Adult Helper though.

I made quite a few as little fingers tend to drop them on the floor and lose them! They’re quite sturdy though and should see us through a few projects like this.

Creating a CD loom using wool

We knotted a length of wool onto the CD and began making the ‘spokes’ to create a loom. The instructions on Make it a Wonderful Life said to make sure you have an odd number of spokes (in this way, as you come back your starting point, the wool passes under instead of over and vice versa, making a tight pattern). I would add that more is more – the more spokes you have, the tighter the weave. The first two CD looms we made had only 7 and 9 spokes which made the weave very open and loose.

Use wool to create a simple loom from a CD

Once your spokes are in place, you can start weaving! We tied our first piece of wool onto the back of the loom but this made things a bit fiddly, so it may be best to glue the first strand to the disk or just weave around the first spoke a couple of times to secure it.

Making a CD and wool loom

Trial and error are part of the fun!

We all had a great time with our individual looms! Surprisingly (to me) – my 5 year old daughter was the most into it and actually completed hers (albeit a mini one – she just thought it looked nice like that!) My 7 year old boy is usually more focussed on crafts but he declared his “Done for now” and said he’d return to it at a later date. My own one is the fullest but due to only having a few spokes it has quite a loose fluffy look.

My plan is to make a few more and hang them vertically in a single line – a great boredom buster for kids and adult alike, don’t you think? x

CD looms - woven with wool

Kids’ Easy Sewing Projects – Teddy and Keyring

Picture the scene – the children are happily playing downstairs. You slip upstairs to the “do some housework” and fire up the sewing machine. Peace reigns supreme – we are all in our happy places and doing what we enjoy most.

But hang on, here they are, buzzing around like flies, picking up pieces of fabric and cotton reels and begging to use Mummy’s sewing machine. Darn it!!

This happens frequently in my house and I usually bat them away with a snack and drink, maybe some TV, and a “Later – just let me finish this first”. However I had to finally cave in and allow my children to have some of the sewing machine fun 🙂

Easy first sewing projects for kids

Easy does it – the children display their makes!

They decided they wanted to make a gift for each other, how sweet is that??

I established 3 basic ground rules to ease them into sewing toys on the machine which would be useful for any project involving young children:

1. They could choose their own material, but only from recycled fabric, not Mummy’s Best Stash – after all, there are plenty more used and outgrown t-shirts & jumpers where these came from!

2. We would start with a basic pattern or shape and one I have tried and tested before (typically my son chose a teddy shape which is a bit grander than I expected, but we managed it together!)

3. They had to sit carefully, keeping fingers, eyes and feet where I showed them and c.o.n.c.e.n.t.r.a.t.e.! They managed this amazingly well and really listened!

On previous occasions when one of them has wanted to “help” with my sewing, I’ve allowed them to press the foot pedal with their hands while I guide the fabric. This time they both took it in turns to take the helm and I just told them when to stop and start so I could help rotate the fabric. We had to pile some boxes under the table so their little legs could reach the pedal 😀

My 5 year old chose to make her brother a soft keyring using some denim jeans fabric and her old stripy jumper which regular readers might recognise from a certain teddy bear I made for her! I helped her draw an oval shape and cut it out with pinking shears to avoid fraying. She then stitched round it, sewing the denim tag in the top, and leaving a small gap for the stuffing (adding the stuffing was almost as much fun as using the sewing machine!) Then we stitched it all the way round again to seal it all in.

Easy kids sewing craft - DIY keyring

Pretty pleased with her first machine-sewn project!

My son’s brainwave was to make a teddy bear for his sister from an old pink t-shirt – a bit trickier as we had to stop and rotate the shape more and it took a lot of self-control on his part not to go nuts with the pedal (boy racer in the making!!) He did so well though – here he is proudly sporting the finished shape, prior to decoration with a Sharpie pen.

Easy teddy toy on sewing machine

Look what I made Mummy! His first soft toy project.

We found some pink ribbon for the teddy’s bow tie and my son drew in some features to finish the toy. He later added his initial and a couple of stars to his keyring gift too and it is now featured on his school bag!

They both did so well and it goes to prove that I don’t have to be a control freak with them ALL the time – they’re actually pretty good at stuff when I trust them to do themselves 🙂

Sewing with kids - easy first makes

We love our presents!

I’ll be linking this up on Threading my Way and Handmade Harbour’s Handmade Monday – do pop over to them and have a look at other people’s fantastic creations – Happy Weekend to all! x

Back to School – Upcycled Juice Pouch Lunch Bag

Let your child be the Green Hero of the school with a fun recycled lunch bag!

diy upycled juice pouch lunch bag

Lunch bag made from recycled juice pouches

This is a quick and easy upcycle that older children can get involved in making for themselves: a lunch bag made from repurposed foil juice pouches of the likes of Capri Sun.

There are loads of tutorials online for stitching these juice pouches into fun upcycled items such as wallets, totes and pencil cases – all of which I will attempt at a later date as this is such a quick and fun craft! My favourite tutorial is here at which requires only the following items:-

  • 14 juice pouches (used!)
  • sharp knife & scissors
  • sewing machine and thread
  • ribbon (I used webbing strap instead, as you’ll see)
  • Optional – velcro closure ( didn’t bother with this)

First things first: get your children sugared up to the eyeballs by drinking their way through 14 Capri Suns or similar juice pouch drinks! This is obviously best done over a period of time rather than all in one go or they won’t be able to concentrate at the sewing machine very well 😉 For our lunch bag, we had managed to acquire 12 pouches and then as luck would have it we met up with friends and they were drinking Capri Sun from France (how exotic!) so we added their two pouches to the mix!

Reusing juice pouches

French Capri Sun adds some Chic to the Shabby!

First things first – Getting Started

The pouches need to be slit open so they can be cleaned out thoroughly with hot soapy water and left to drain dry. I have to fess up to a slight bodge here à la ShabbyShe – I slit mine at the top (above the straw hole) instead of underneath (in the hidden pouchy part) where it would never be seen! As a consequence I had to be careful to overlap my stitching to close the opening I had made.

Making the front, back, sides and bottom panels

As you can see from the pictures, I started by sewing 2 pouches together (top to bottom) and making sure I overlapped them just enough to close the (incorrectly applied!) slit at the top. To these 2 pouches I added 2 more to make a front panel of 4 pouches, then did the same for the reverse of the bag. Lining up was easy as the straight lines are all there for you, and even though I used 2 different brands of juice they were a standard size.

For the sides of the bags I did the same but just used 2 pouches. The bottom required slightly more effort as you have to join 2 pouches but cut them to the width of the front panel. I joined mine bottom to bottom as the Aldi juice pouches have cute apples with eyes which are more interesting than the logo 🙂

Attaching handles

The handles I’ve used for this bag are webbing strap which you can order online or buy in a fabric shop – I have this one in red, green and taupe and had a hard time choosing my favourite for this project! I zizgzagged the straps onto the bag then added a cross box type of stitch to secure (not sure if there’s a proper name for this? Do let me know if you know!)

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Once the handles are on, all you do is stitch all the parts together – easier than I thought it would be. I started by attaching the front panel to the bottom of the bag by joining them wrong sides together – this was not specified in the Instructables tutorial but I felt in contrast to “normal” bag making it would look better with external seams – the picture above of the sewing machine shows me doing this part. The picture below, however, shows the hazards of working with quite thick materials and a rather blunt needle…. Oops :S

Broken needle on sewing machine

Disaster strikes – a squiffy needle!

New needle in place, I soldiered on!

Inside recycled juice pouch bag

All parts attached, ready to whizz up the sides to finish 🙂

This is how it looks inside before the final side stitching is done. I have to say here that I doubted my methods briefly looking at other people’s bags online – they all seem to have plain silver inside and I wondered whether you are supposed to cut the juice bags open and remove the backs. But I decided that maybe American Capri Sun pouches don’t have all this stuff on the back. The ones pictured here are from Aldi mostly, as you can see.

So that’s it, it’s so easy and fun! The hardest part is getting enough pouches for lunch bags for everyone, although the kids do enjoy that part!! They didn’t help with the construction for this project but I’m sure in a year or so my eldest could. I might get him to wear goggles though, in case of needle-breakage!

Repurposed juice pouch bag

My lovely upcycled lunch bag!

Lunch bag made from recycled materials

Recycling fun 🙂

Happy Tuesday everyone – we are Back to School tomorrow – boo! x

Easter Egg Hunt (without chocolate!)

Upcycled greetings cards into game

Fun Easter Egg hunt game using upcycled birthday cards!

This is a fun game you can play with the kids over Easter – an Easter Egg hunt without the chocolates!

I took some of the children’s birthday cards and used the back of one to draw an oval to use as the template.

I then chose some brightly coloured cards and traced the egg shape onto them (checking there was no text or other markings on the back).

Recycling birthday cards for an Easter game

Choose cards with lots of bright colours and details to make effective looking Easter Eggs

I then created two larger egg shapes for them to use as answer cards as they went round hunting for the little eggs.

Recycled card for Easter game

Numbered lines on the answer card “eggs” for the mystery word

On the back of the little eggs they found a number and a letter, which they had to write on the corresponding numbered line on their answer card eggs.

Recycled cards as Easter egg game

Eggs have numbers and letters for the children to find and decode the Mystery Word…!

I stuck the little eggs around the house (it was a bit chilly outside for this game) and they had fun hunting for them and filling in their cards.

Best of all, the eggs make a sweet Easter decoration after the game is finished. We will definitely be doing this again 🙂

Easter egg decorations made from recycled birthday cards

Easter Egg display – a dual purpose activity!

Happy kids (even without chocolate) and a fun Easter display, what’s not to love?? Happy Easter everyone 🙂

Mixed Media Decorated Eggs – Fun Easter Craft for Kids

Painted egg kids craft

Blown egg decorated with acrylic paints

We’ve been playing with various materials and techniques to make some fun decorated eggs for Easter.

First we blew an egg and decorated it with acrylic paint. There are lots of good tutorials on how to blow an egg – my favourite is at the excellent Red Ted Art. Obviously I did this part as it’s quite tricky, plus I’m too much of a control freak!

blown egg before painting

Blown egg mounted on a cocktail stick and play doh

I put the blown egg on a cocktail stick and used some play doh to stand it up (homemade, naturally – see my previous post about Homemade Play Doh). It kept swivelling round on the stick as she painted it but this added to the swirly effect. My daughter loved painting with acrylic paint as she was allowed to daub the paint all over and mix it up.

Decorating egg with acrylic paint

My 4 year old painting her egg with acrylics

Look at the focus on that face. This is Serious Fun!

Next we hard-boiled some eggs and I allowed the kids to choose their own media for decoration. They had all sorts of sequins, stickers, paints, glue, scissors, ribbons and pens at their disposal, but both went for the trusty old felt tip pen! The googly eyes were a hit though – they both decided to make Egg Heads…

I ended up using my hot-glue gun to glue everything firmly in place once they had finished their designs as PVA glue doesn’t stand up to the job. So the children got to do their eggs how they wanted and I still got to play with my glue gun – everyone was happy!

Which is your favourite? x

Adventures in Advent Calendars

Painted wooden advent house

Re-recycled Advent House, ready for some Advent Adventures!

Time to wheel out our huge advent calendar again (recycling in action!) It’s lovely creating new Christmas season traditions when you have a family of your own, and this one will continue as long as the kids want to do it! Last year if you remember I tried giving them little Advent Activities to enjoy instead of gifts, sweets & stickers (see – it was a massive hit with them and my son actually asked if we could do the same again this December!

It’s such a nice alternative to those chocolate calendars which have them baying for more sweets at breakfast time! Plus whoever heard of an Advent calendar having 25 doors – it should be 24, right?

For this Advent season, I’ve used my heart shape cutter to make little hearts and written an activity or event on each one.

Paper hearts with advent activities

Paper hearts for the Advent Activities

This requires careful consultation with my diary to make sure I don’t plan something we’re doing something else. Now they are both in school, we can include some school activities such as Christmas parties which makes life easier!

I then folded up the hearts and wrote the date, all ready to stick in the little numbered windows. Easy as pie!

What are you doing for Advent this year?

Crafty Halloween!

We’re busy getting ready for our little Halloween tea party tomorrow at ShabbyHQ! The children were able to help with these simple Halloween craft ideas and they are so excited about the spooky celebrations to come.

Halloween ghost lanterns

Recycled jars and fabric make great spooky ghost lanterns

These ghostly lanterns are a brilliant 5 minute craft which even the littlest hands can make unaided. Just take a few strips of bandage (we improvised with left over curtain lining fabric!), glue, googly eyes and a glass jar. Pop a tea light in and they make a great Halloween deco.

Meanwhile, inspired by the need to upcycle these stripy tights from an outgrown Halloween costume, plus some fab ideas on Pinterest, we thought a little welcome from the Wicked Witch of the East would let any little Trick or Treaters know we are Halloween Friendly 😉  These are just tights, rolled brown paper (from inside a roll of wrapping paper) and inadvisable shoes.

Wicked Witch of the East legs

It has been a bit windy here lately…!

Happy Halloween everyone! Enjoy your celebrations 😀

Easy Kids’ Craft – Upcycled lid Suncatchers

My little ones love making crafty bits and pieces too. These suncatchers are so simple but look lovely hanging in a sunlit window. As they require mainly things you already have at home or bits from the recycling bin they are super-cheap too!

Suncatcher craft

Simple suncatcher to decorate a bedroom window

Suncatcher hanging in window

Evening sun shines through the colourful suncatcher

We saved plastic lids from the tops of large yoghurt pots and houmous, washed and dried them, then glued torn or snipped pieces of coloured tissue paper on. We then used a permanent marker pen to outline the design to give it a “stained-glass” effect.

Decorating upcycled suncatcher

Glueing tissue paper to the suncatcher

I got to do the most fun part, which was making a small hole for the wool to hang it up using a blown-out match – my children won’t be allowed to use matches until they’re at least 35 😉

Decorating the suncatchers

The focus achieved by a 4 year old when doing something easy & fun is amazing!

Toilet Roll Craft – the Octopus

The humble toilet roll was the subject of our snowy day craft activity today. Posh websites might call them cardboard tubes but I call a spade a spade!

Making octopus legs

Rolling the legs around a paintbrush to make them curl up

We had a look at some fun ideas on Pinterest and settled on an octopus, as you do. It’s so easy, all you need is:

1. a toilet roll tube
2. green & red poster paint
3. scissors
4. tissue or kitchen paper
5. small round stickers (or dots of paint)
6. googly eyes

All of which we had lying around already. I never throw any of those little pots of paint away you get with craft kits as there’s always more supplied than you need. I also keep googly eyes off birthday cards and little toys when they’ve had it.

My son painted the tube outside and sort of inside, shabby styley, then I cut 8 incisions and he rolled up each leg/tentacle around a paint brush. The paint dries really quickly as it’s on cardboard.

Painted toilet roll octopus

Painted and be-tentacled – ready for the fun bit

Next we balled up the kitchen paper and he stuffed it into the tube and painted the top for a rounded head. The final touch was adding some small round stickers – we have loads which came with one of those office wall planners nobody uses.

The googly eyes and red mouth were duly applied and I have to say we were very pleased with the result! What do you think?

Toilet roll octopus

The finished item – Toilet Roll Octopus

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