The Coziest Spot in the House (& a discount for you)

We have had a spectacular fall here in Minnesota, but we know that those cold days of winter are not far away. I’m looking forward to snowy days in front of the fireplace with a novel and a hot drink. I decided to make things really cozy by sewing up a whole bunch of faux fur throw pillows.
Faux Fur Pillows
Seriously, doesn’t that look like the perfect spot to ride out a snowstorm?! These pillows were a cinch to make too since I didn’t bother with with zippers or anything. You can read my tips on sewing pillows with faux fur here. I got all my faux fur at Joann Fabric. It is really reasonably priced and they currently have some wonderful plush versions with coloring that is so realistic.

I want to talk to you guys a little bit about pillow inserts. I make almost all the throw pillows for our house. It is a fun way to change things up seasonally without spending a lot. The thing is I am picky about my pillow inserts and I’ve been a little unsatisfied with the ones at the craft store. I find they are typically not stuffed enough or go flat really fast and are cheaply made. (I can’t tell you how often I’ve had one with an unsewn seam.)  Plus, the range of sizes tends to be limited. So, I was excited when Pillowcubes asked me to try their inserts. They offer five kinds of fillings and seventy-four sizes and shapes from 5″ x 5″ all the way up to 40″ x 40″. All their pillows are made in the USA. (They even have inserts made for outdoor use, great for dressing up the patio.)
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I wanted something that will still work on the couch, but was big enough to use as floor pillow, so I ordered a 24″ x 24″ Two feet doesn’t sound that big, but next to my regular couch pillows it looks huge. I decided to try the eco-friendly pillow which uses a plastic fiber fill made from recycled plastic bottles and covered in an unbleached cotton. This was a well sewn, tightly stuffed pillow which felt a lot better made than the typical inserts I buy.
Faux Fur Pillows
I’ve got to tell you guys, I love this new big pillow (though I am tempted to order a 40″ x 40″ now too). It’s great to find a new source for a supply that I use all the time.

Pillowcubes is offering a 10% discount for readers of Just Crafty Enough. Just enter the code JustCraftyEnough10 when you check out. You can get an even bigger discount if you order inserts in bulk which is great if you make pillows to sell or as gifts.

* Disclaimer: I was given a pillow insert by Pillowcubes to try, but all opinions of the site and the insert are my own.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://justcraftyenough.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact us at jcraftyenough AT gmail DOT COM. All patterns, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted.
© 2005 – 2015 Kathy Lewinski & Susan Cornish

Piping Tutorials

I have been doing a series of pillows this year. While I am proud of the ones that I have created, I have learned a lot. In an effort to take things a step further, I did a little research. I found a few videos that are so informative that I wanted to share them with you.

First the “One Step Piping Application” video. This one is so amazing. Peg Baker is showing us how to make piping and apply it to a pillow all with one seam. AND she does it with no pins. It is just a sight to behold.

Next is an impressive series on how to lay out a pillow that features both piping and a zipper. I have made these before with some success, but each time I think “there must be an easier way”.  In this set, Ms. Baker would certainly make you believe there IS an easier way! She makes it look like a breeze!

(I am not sure what kind of turbo drive iron this woman has, but I would swear that it irons the shirts AND washes the dishes at her house! My WORD! She holds her iron over the fabric and hits her shot of steam, and the iron almost has a recoil on it! It’s that powerful!)

Part 1
There is some great stuff in this one, including the notches that she adds. Those would be very helpful.

Part 2
Are you kidding me? In this installment Ms. Baker just inserts the zipper without any pins. Just lickity split “start here,” “use a zipper foot” and BOOM your zipper is in! That is some of the most impressive sewing I have ever watched.

Part 3
Here we watch the master finish off the corners to perfection.

I am excited to try some of these tricks and see how much easier my project becomes!

I have been doing a lot of research this past year. I teach sewing at the middle school. The kids are so EAGER, but they also have a broad range of skill, from just above pre-school level to adult level. Their fine motor skills are one piece of the puzzle.  Another piece is their patience and their ability to follow a set of steps. The last piece is their own attention to detail. These tutorials taught me so much personally, but ironically, very few of the tips and tricks here will be applicable to working with kids. The girls have some trouble cutting and controlling the scissors, so notching the fabric could prove to be lethal.  We will have to stick to chalk and disappearing ink. And setting a zipper with no pins is not going to work for a 10 year old. It’s interesting to reflect on the skills in this way.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://justcraftyenough.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact us at jcraftyenough AT gmail DOT COM. All patterns, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted.
© 2005 – 2015 Kathy Lewinski & Susan Cornish

 

Pattern Review: No Yoking Matter

Spring in the Stitch Lab included some seamstresses who were advancing in their skills. (Oh yes!) So we ventured into the real world of following store bought patterns. I let the girls pick out patterns that suited them and then I helped them pick fabric that would be appropriate for the pattern.

Here I offer our attempt at Simplicity 2364.
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We were making the image shown, version B. It is a long top, and that is very current. We were using a cute white knit with a dot pattern on it. There was a little bit of lycra in it, so we had some forgiveness built in.

I am happy to see lots of other ladies who had some success with this pattern on the internet, because I can tell you, for us, this one ended in a ball of flames. The back piece was pretty straight forward. The front kind of had a “self lining”, so you cut the front and then you cut “up and over” and folded that down so that there was a double layer at the chest. This one feature was the beginning of the end. Now you had two layers in the front arm pit area.

Next we added the yoke piece. We got the giggles with our “This is no yolk” puns. “Stop yoking! I don’t know how this works!” And on and on, in the manner of a fifth grader. That was unavoidable. The yoke piece somehow folds down and is secured into the side seams in the arm pit area. (The math is adding up now, the back, the front, the fold-down and now the doubled over AND GATHERED yoke will all be in the side of the armpit seam.) We cut out the sleeves. They were standard cute, small cap sleeves. We had a big discussion about careful marking. We made sure we were joining this yolk in the proper place. I thought maybe if we added the sleeves the shirt would make sense. I hoped the arm holes would come into focus and the whole thing would take shape. I had the model try this strange thing on. It was dress-length on her. (more fits of giggles.) And the yolk part was just wrong. I tried pinning where I thought it was supposed to go, and then the arm pits did not meet up correctly. I tried just adding sleeves and ignoring the yolk in hopes that we could cut that off and just get a t-shirt out of the story. But no, this was not going to happen. My lovely G just looked up at me with huge eyes. Her dark, thick hair framed her face, and she was begging to be set free. All of her friends were making tote bags and mermaid tails and even wide leg pants. She was trapped in this “yoke” thing. I got down on her level, and looked right in her eyes and said, “Are you going to be okay if we just end this? You have put a lot of time and effort into really trying to make this thing right.” She eagerly nodded her head. “Okay, take it off, and be done.” The other girls were solemn. “What are you going to do with it?” someone asked. “Oh, I think we are going to acknowledge the lessons we learned, and then do a little dance and throw it away.” Gasp.

I am all about “not wasting” and the “up-cycling.” They all know this. Some of them suggested, “She could wear it as pajamas!” But really, it was so far from fitting. It didn’t have sleeves. The yoke debacle meant that it hung down below her chest AND had gaping wide open arm holes. We would have to work hard to get this to a point where it would be even decent as pajamas. So, with relief, G came back in her regular lavender ensemble, holding the shirt. We said, “Don’t yoke about wasting fabric! Its not funny!” Then, we threw it in the trash and did a little dance. She was so relieved. She is free to work on something else now.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://justcraftyenough.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact us at jcraftyenough AT gmail DOT COM. All patterns, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted.
© 2005 – 2015 Kathy Lewinski & Susan Cornish

Trouble with Crayons

For Valentines day I wanted to make little crayon molds with Jambi for her classmates. I thought it would be a fun craft project to do together. This was also going to be a great recycling victory and I was so pleased about that.

Here is how it started. Every restaurant that ever had a kid darken their doorway has adopted a practice of giving out a kids menu and a pack of four crayons. I would watch at our dinners how many crayons got left on the tables and then were pitched when the table was bussed. The waste was mind blowing (to me anyway). So, I spoke with the manager and asked if they could collect the crayons for me, promising I would be back before the pile got out of hand. Sure enough, he agreed and I got a bag of crayons, and then another, and then another. I was rubbing my hands together like a starving woman in front of a Thanksgiving dinner.  I rescued all these crayons! Wow! The possibilities were ENDLESS! I could make those crayons-dripping-down-canvas pictures.  Or melt them into Lego molds. Or make them into hearts for a little class party. … Oh my, so many choices!

I started WAY out ahead of time, so this was not a “night before” panic situation. The first step was to get the paper off the crayons. We peeled them with our fingernails. That works, but it is not a solution for 200+ crayons.

So I had the brilliant idea to soak them.
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Then I tried to score the paper and get them off that way.
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The results were not better than doing them by hand. Argh. It was not faster and it was not cleaner. It was just a frustrating soggy mess. The cheap crayons had TONS of glue and that was going to stick wet or dry.
Here are some “good” ones.
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And it took a LONG time for them to get like that.
Sigh.
There were a precious few Crayola crayons in the bunch and look how clean they are.
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They soak well. The paper peels RIGHT off. There is not an excess of glue. The colors are pure and bright. Crayolas all the way!!! But here, I was working with recycled goodness. The point was not to go buy Crayolas. It was more of a challenge-type of project. “How can I use these crayons I have?”

I took the few peeled crayons, broke them up, put them in a mold and into the microwave. Now, I am not sure what compound these crayons are made of, but it is not wax. It might be recycled Barbie dolls. Or old milk cartons. These crayons DO NOT MELT. Two minutes, three minutes, four, five six, didn’t do it. Seven minutes in the microwave on HIGH, and these suckers were not even sweating. Enough.

I tried another project where I heated a baking sheet as hot as I dared to, turned it over on hot pads on the counter, and spread butcher paper over it. Then I gave Jambi a crayon to do a “melting” picture. (It was a VERY supervised project, and I only have one kid, and I could almost touch the cookie sheet without burning myself. Fear not for our safety. But if you have younger kids or lots of kids or kids who do not always remember instructions, I would caution you on this encaustic endeavor.) Guess what happened. Not much, that’s what. It was pretty much the same as regular crayon on paper. Not worth one minute of the hassle.

At this point here, I had tried wet, dry, wet heat, dry heat… I was done. Put a fork in it. I took the rest of the crayons out of the water and dried them on a kitchen towel. Then I bagged them all up, and I took them into the kindergarten class. I let our beloved kindergarten teacher know the provenance of these crayons. She smiled a huge smile at my crafty fails and accepted them for coloring.

The moral of this tale: all crayons are not created equal.

 

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://justcraftyenough.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact us at jcraftyenough AT gmail DOT COM. All patterns, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted.
© 2005 – 2015 Kathy Lewinski & Susan Cornish

Inspiration File: My Pinterest Love Affair

I am inspired visually. I still love to look at a magazine and daydream about how I am going to make this area or that area just perfect. So when Pinterest came out I grabbed a hold of it and never let go.  I have special boards for projects or rooms that I am working on. I have boards that are specific to a certain craft, like knitting, or  felting.  I have some boards that are for things that I may never do myself, but they are fun to look at like a swimming pool. But the best folder of all is the catch-all folder that houses all the crafts that inspire me. It is my favorite board, and it is the biggest board now. It’s called Crafts I Want To Make.

When it comes to working on things for this site, if I find myself drawing a blank, I can just to to this board and POOF, there is a fire lit under me. The funny thing is, I really think that “someday” I will get to attack ALL of these. Whew. That is kind of a sick admission. At last check there are 196 pins on this board. And at last check there are 365 days in a year. Just a “back of the envelope” equation reveals that I would be on a “one project every 1.8 days. Uhm… not realistic. (And that is not allowing time for ANY original ideas either. I would like to think that I come up with one or two ideas all my own every ONCE in a while.)

So, just to keep hope alive, I will share my very favorites

 The Doll Suitcase By Pretty Prudent.

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Fabric circle cork boards by Christina Crafts
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Patchwork Posse shows this GREAT tutorial about how to embroider your house!

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Bus Stop does not give a tutorial for this, but I think we all get the general idea.
Plastic toys in a box frame
I love that. And I feel confident that I could make one if I spent about 15 minutes on the floor of my daughter’s room.

The fairy things never get old. This toadstool in a felt egg from 54 Stitches is charming my socks off.
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Moving into a bigger scale, I would SO like to do a big huge table for the back yard. But A. my husband does not know of this passion and B. wood work is way way outside of my comfort zone. I would like to think I could do it. But the truth is, I am not sure it would turn out. I would really want the results to be amazing.

Like this one from Home Evolution

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Or THIS with hair pin legs. (swoon) By Smile and Wave
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Be still my heart.

That’s enough for now. You can see my whole list of dreamy things on my board. Crafts I want to Make.

Do you have a big list like that? Little stuff that you could make tomorrow? Or big things that you wish were in your wheel house, but in reality, they are $500 of new tools (band saw, sewing machine, interchangeable wood knitting needles) away? In truth what holds me back from a lot of this wish-list stuff is the $$$ outlay of tools and materials, only to feel like I might not succeed. Or succeed with only crooked- home made looking results. ?

Oh well, I have the board pinned! I’ll knock them off one at a time!

Happy Crafting!

 

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://justcraftyenough.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact us at jcraftyenough AT gmail DOT COM. All patterns, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted.
© 2005 – 2015 Kathy Lewinski & Susan Cornish

Unicorn Fail

It’s not often that the word “unicorn” and the word “fail” would be in the same sentence for us. We live in a magical time right now where fairies and unicorns RULE.

We do a lot of homemade projects in our house, but often times, these are more “the fun of doing it” than the end result. So when we go to a kit, we do expect the results to be good if not great. We recently got this kit to make a stained glass type window sun catcher. Let me show you where the word “fail” came in.
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Here is the kit, Makit n’ Bakit. Right there, the name should have been a give away that this was not going to go well.
The kit comes with these little tiny plastic bits in tiny bags and a unicorn frame for them to sit in.
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We started by making a foil tray on a baking sheet. We were both armed with tweezers and I even donned my reading glasses. We got serious. When every single plastic bead was down in the exact right place, and there were NO colors mixed, we carefully set this project in the preheated oven.
And here is how it came out:
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The directions said to heap the little crystals in the middle. It warned that they will melt and shrink a little bit. Oh, we heaped. And yet, in our final product we got something that looks like lace. There are tons of holes, almost as it they evaporated.
Here is their head and our head.
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Why does the example have white instead of clear? And what is the hot pink outline that appears around all the pink areas. That is deceptive.
Here it is coming out of the oven
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It wasn’t that it looked a little different, it just looks NOTHING like the picture. The plastic must have literally jumped when the foil heated or the unicorn body lifted slightly away from the foil and allowed the little bits to roll under and loose their way.
There was a whole lot of extra melted beads all around that were not there when we put the project INTO the oven.
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This does not represent a significant loss financially. However, I would like my time back, thank you. But more than that, this project shattered the illusion that if you use a kit the project will work out well. We would have been better off just going free-form. Or making a shape in a cookie cutter. Or just making cookies!!!! So be warned. If you see this kit at your craft store, run to a different isle.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://justcraftyenough.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact us at jcraftyenough AT gmail DOT COM. All patterns, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted.© 2005 – 2015 Kathy Lewinski & Susan Cornish

Paper Fox Kits

I saw these foxes at the Paper Source and I bought them immediately. They are for the teachers as part of our end-of-the-year thank you gifts. Here is how the story goes…
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On the rainy days at my daughter’s school, they miss outdoor play time. So to “get the wiggles out” they put the dance game on the screen and encourage all the kids to join in the dance. It doesn’t seem to matter to them that they are not “hooked up” to the game, they just all dance together. It is really a spectacle of extreme cuteness. At the end of one song, they shout out their requests for the next song. One of the kids FAVORITES is “What Does the Fox Say”. (Warning, play at your own risk. This is an ear worm kind of song.) After a few days of rain (back when it was raining) this song was no longer allowed. “Gummy Bear”? One Direction? Those were fine. But “What Does the Fox Say” just wore the teachers RIGHT OUT. When I saw the kits, I knew we had to make them.

Here is how ours came out:
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GREAT!  They make me smile.

I got help gluing, she drew the eyes in and I got some help cutting.
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They were a great project to work on together. It was a joke that my daughter could be “in on”. She was smirking the whole time. “We are going to bug them. They are tired of that song.”
The kit comes with everything you need except glue. That was fine with us, because it meant we would use our favorite kid-friendly glue.
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We put these on the top of the package for each teacher. We actually made the Lightning Fast Picnic Blanket for each of them. I hope they have many happy hours under a tree with great food.

 

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://justcraftyenough.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact us at jcraftyenough AT gmail DOT COM. All patterns, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted.
© 2005 – 2014 Kathy Lewinski & Susan Cornish

Cleaning Tools

I have some new brushes in the house. I love them so much that I wanted to share them with you. I am really excited about them. (Is this super dorky? Maybe.)

First is the Evriholder Cutlery Cleaner
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This tool is quick and easy to use. I drizzle a little dish soap over the mouth of this animal, and then bob the knife blades up and down in the bristles. It is super safe, and it works well on sticky or gooey messes, like honey, or cream cheese, or the dreaded peanut butter.

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This picture is from the manufacturer. Because I have a black sink. (Oh, and also because there are a few things on my counter.) Mine is on the front of the sink, so it is handy, but also, it does not show from across the room.

Next are the Munchkin Brushes.
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I bought my first set to get into the plastic straws on my daughter’s drinking cups. And since then I have gone on to get another set. One set stays in the kitchen, but the other brushes have gone to do chores around the house. I have cleaned the lint out of my sewing machine. I have used it to get the little tiny places in the dash board of the car cleared out. And I have used it to get the tricky spot between the gears and blades of the can opener. Anywhere that gunk can build up, they are ready to scrub is away.

There you have it.

Happy Spring Cleaning to you.
(We were not sponsored in any way to write these reviews.)

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://justcraftyenough.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact us at jcraftyenough AT gmail DOT COM. All patterns, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted.
© 2005 – 2014 Kathy Lewinski & Susan Cornish

Shrinky Dinks

(In an effort to craft with my 5 year old daughter and turn off the TV, we do a lot of projects. We are running a series of posts about the kits that we did in our house. I’ll tell you all about them and how it all worked out. You can also read about the Paper Bead Maker, the Jeweled Heart Box, Goldie Blox and the Parade Float and the Hummingbird Stain Glass Window. )

My daughter and I worked on some Shrinky Dinks one afternoon. This project was from a kit and it was actually great.
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Inisde the box this is what we got.
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The pencils were such a welcome surprise. That meant that we did not end up with the Sharpies everywhere. (Everywhere. Those suckers do not come off!) This box came with lots of little pre-made, pre-cut little animations. Some heads, some tops and some bottoms were included.
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She colored this little set in and we baked it.

Shrinky Dinks are thrilling and scary in equal measure when they are in the oven. They curl when they melt, and it is always a nail biter if they will uncurl or if they will fold over and melt onto themselves. We had a wild moment when we were beating our creature with a spatula. I noticed later that she suffered a little tiny crack in the leg of her pants, but it is not sharp or dangerous and I didn’t see it right away. So, we will chalk that under “live and learn”.
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A needle nose pliers will help with the jump rings.
I love the way this little girl turned out.  I think it is charming. My daughter got NO help in the coloring phase at all. And the pencils were a fantastic element of the kit. They offered great coverage for very little effort.  (I don’t know if they are special in some way that allows them to bake or if colored pencils are all created equal and you could try with a set you have on hand.)

I know you can go get shrinky dink film at the store, bust out the sharpies and away you go. But I loved the structure of this kit. I did not have to trace the shapes for my kid or cut them out for her. What they gave us in the kit appealed to her (and to me) and she felt more autonomous then if I had stepped in and done more.  This is just a great project overall and I highly recommend this box if you are looking for a little bit more formality and prep work done. Happy Shrinking!

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://justcraftyenough.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact us at jcraftyenough AT gmail DOT COM. All patterns, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted.
© 2005 – 2014 Kathy Lewinski & Susan Cornish

Goldie Blox and the Parade Float

(In an effort to craft with my 5 year old daughter, and turn off the TV, we do a lot of projects. We are running a series of posts about the kits that we did in our house. I’ll tell you all about them, show you where you can buy them and tell you how it all worked out. You can also read about the Paper Bead Maker, the Jeweled Heart Box and the Hummingbird Stain Glass Window. )

We recently opened this box and spent time with the story and building the figures. The concept is intriguing. It is kind of a “snap together” Tinker-toys-meets-Lego type of kit. It comes with a storybook that acts as instructions too.
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In reality, the story is thin and did not resonate with either me or my daughter. The hitch in the whole thing is that they have you build something and then take it apart to build the next thing. That is not a popular plan for my kid. She didn’t want to break her creation apart. I thought it was cumulative, but it was not. So we skimmed to the final project.
The 3rd set of instructions help you build this big Parade Float.
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It is fun and the wheels allow her to pull it around.

From the parental standpoint, here are my notes:
I have a hard time getting past the “message”. This is clearly meant to be a “engineering toy” “marketed to girls”. I was surprised when I opened the box and the story was about The Miss Princess Pageant where they had to build something as their talent. WOW! I feel like I am being force fed “a better message”. But it’s not really an improvement. I don’t even necessarily want Pageant to be a vocabulary word. Oh well, ditch the book and just build with the components.

The joins are not “locking”. So you can push the rods all the way through. In order to build the float, you need to stick the rods 1/2 way through, and then add another rod from the other side.
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That middle ground is hard for the little people to estimate.
The animals are neat, but they are heavy. So instead of waving from their perch, they topple upside down.
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This bothered Amelia too and she spends a lot of time correcting the characters positions.
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There is a spot on the neat leash for an animal to pull the float. But if you put one of the animals on the leash, you will be missing one from the float. This asymmetry also bothered her, but she wanted someone to fit in the collar.
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Pieces fall off and the float needs tinkering along the way. In reality, she is learning how to knock it back together quickly. She loves this toy. And so that is what is important.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://justcraftyenough.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact us at jcraftyenough AT gmail DOT COM. All patterns, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted.
© 2005 – 2014 Kathy Lewinski & Susan Cornish