Some Not So "Crafty" Undertakings

As the mother of a 6-year-old who loves crafts, I bought the book Making Stuff For Kids for some "easy" craft ideas I could do with my daughter. And what better time to start than on a long weekend...

We looked at the book together, and she showed me the one she wanted to do first, the Bean Bag Buddy, an odd, but fun looking little cat. (Click on above-book link to see the cat on the book's cover.)

(If you have a favourite craft book or site you would like to share, please leave us a note in the comments. I'm a big fan of foolproof craft activities.)

At the outset, I explained to her that the cat would take some time to make because it involved drawing a pattern, cutting it out and sewing it together by hand. As my daughter tends to be a perfectionist, I told her that our cat might not look exactly like the cat in the book. She seemed to understand this. I also informed her that the activity would take more than a few hours to do. Yes, she understood that too.

The material used looked like a knit in the activity. I thought that a knit might be a little difficult to cut out, so I chose some old denim, which is easier to cut and holds its shape better...I'm so darn smart.

We drew the pattern in chalk complete with cutting and sewing lines, and my daughter helped me cut it out. She was so enthused about the project that she was up early the next morning to continue the sewing we had started the night before. So far so good. By 11:00 am Saturday morning, we were ready to cut a hole for the mouth and stuff the cat with beans.

I encountered a problem when I tried to sew the mouth shut. Since I used denim instead of a knit, every time I tried to sew the mouth shut, it frayed, and the hole opened again. After the third time, frustration set in. The large ugly stitches on the cat's mouth made it look angry and slightly disturbed. My daughter came over to have a look and said, "Oh Mom, that doesn't look very good!"

And I didn't have a reasonable solution in iron-on patch, a set of lips. This might throw the perfectionist into a tailspin. Within a few minutes, there was a tug at my elbow, she wanted to know when we would finish the cat. I didn't have an answer. I tried one more type of stitch so the freakin' frackin' denim wouldn't fray...but it was hopeless.

I set the cat aside...okay, so I threw it. The cat had a nice weight, and it felt good...but this was not the type of behaviour I wanted to be modeling for my daughter. She came over, patted me on the back and told me "not to get upset, that I did a great job, and the mouth was just a small part." I felt a little foolish.

I had an idea and explained to my daughter that the cat would not look like the picture because we would have to sew something over the mouth. She was fine with that. I went out in search of a sewing store open on the long weekend and eventually found one. I bought some felt to make a cat nose, some embroidery floss and a bell to make a cat collar.

In the end, fixing the hole did not take long. I embroidered a mouth and added a collar, which wasn't part of the pattern. The cat did not look like the one in the book. In fact, ours looked like he might be planning a coming-out party in the near future.

I had some mixed feelings about the end result, but my daughter loved it and was anxious to start the next craft in the book...

Here's how I described our initial crafting experience to the Twitterverse.


Amanda | May 20, 2009 at 11:32 PM

I love crafts, but sometime I think the crafts they have in craft books, or the way they tell us to make them, are rather dumb so I often improvise when making crafts anyway. It was smart to put a patch on the cat for the mouth. It makes the craft seem a little more original.

Heather | May 21, 2009 at 5:35 AM

Hadn't thought about it that way. But you're right. We always end up improvising. I guess maybe I'm just as much a perfectionist as my daughter. Thanks for dropping by.

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