Hop Skip Jump

 Baby, Toys, Books & Movies  Comments Off on Hop Skip Jump
Nov 202011

It seems like a lifetime ago but before I had children I used to love spending time on crafty projects like quilting and sewing. It goes without saying that I was never very good at it but I always really enjoyed it and found it incredibly relaxing and sometimes the end result wasn’t to bad at all. If I had more time I would love to pick up this hobby once again, there are so many beautiful handmade things out there that I would like to attempt to make. Even if you are an amateur like me you could try the easy projects in Hop Skip Jump.

Hop Skip Jump by Australian mum Fiona Dalton features 20 absolutely gorgeous eco-friendly toys to sew. If you have visited Fiona’s blog before you will know that her work is unique, beautiful and timeless and a delight to both make and give to the special little people in your life. The designer toys in Hop Skip Jump are no exemption, any child would be happy to receive a lovingly made sausage dog called Doris, a tortoise called Harriet or a cute mouse called Eddy.

Fiona is passionate about doing her share for the environment so she uses as many recycled, preloved materials as possible and of course they are often cheaper too. She has used parts of an old woollen jacket, pieces of felt, second-hand linen and other bits and bobs to come up with a range of classic toys that will remind you of your childhood and are made to last. The step-by-step instructions are written in easy to understand language and are accompanied by clear drawings and photo’s. The photography in this beautiful, hardcover book is just gorgeous and will make your fingers itch to get started on a Hop Skip Jump project of your own.

All the patterns you need to create your own Hop Skip Jump toys are included on a separate sheet of paper, making it very easy to mark your fabrics. Patterns are stored in a handy envelope pocket at the back of this book so they won’t get lost. I tried my very inexperienced hand at putting together Eddy the Mouse from a small piece of fabric I had left, he is far from perfect but the kids think he looks great (they are just trying to be polite).

You can find Fiona Dalton’s Hop Skip Jump (RRP $35, published by Viking) in bookstores across Australia as well as at online book retailers.

Little Things For Busy Hands

 Eco, Toys, Books & Movies  Comments Off on Little Things For Busy Hands
Oct 142011

Just a few more days and the school holidays are over, a relief for many mums who have struggled to keep the kids busy whilst they were stuck inside due to the rainy weather. Sometimes it can be hard to come up with craft projects for kids and craft books are often not much help as you need a whole range of craft supplies, tools and machinery to make them work and most of them require lots of adult help and supervision too.

The new book Little Things for Busy Hands: 16 crafty projects for kids to make without a sewing machine! by Katie Evans contains 16 simple craft projects for kids that they can make (pretty much) by themselves. With the help of colourful images, step-by-step instructions (aimed at children) and clear diagrams children can create all sort of things. From mobiles to soft toys, jewellery to wall art and everything in between, this book will give them plenty of ideas to keep them busy.

What I really like is that the projects in this book often require just a few supplies and many of them can be ‘leftovers’: small scraps of fabric, a stick from the garden, a couple of pieces of used wrapping paper, some bits of wool. This leaves plenty of room for recycling items you would otherwise throw out and it keeps the costs down too (we all know most craft projects don’t hang around forever). The books also leaves a lot of room for variations, so you can easily replace some of the items by alternatives.

The paper beads are very easy to make, just cut a longish triangle out of coloured and/or patterned paper and roll it around a pencil to create your own unique beads. It will be a fantastic way to recycle all the beautiful wrapping paper that stays behind after birthdays or Christmas and it makes a real original piece of jewellery. Each process is carefully explained (it takes 5 steps to create the Paper Bead necklace) so the instructions are very clear and easy to follow.

Although the twins are a little bit too young to try their hands at these fun projects they loved looking at the beautiful images and instructed me to make them a wild thing puppet. I didn’t have any fabrics as beautiful as Katie’s, nor did I have any felt but with a few scraps of fabric and some ribbbon I made them a miniature wild thing puppet to fit their small hands. It took me just 1 hour and I am pretty happy with the end result (and they must be too because they took their puppets to bed with them last night)!

You can find Little Things for Busy Hands (RRP $24.95, 136 pages) in bookstores across Australia as well as at online book retailers.