Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Creating a Wind in the Willows Birthday Party

It's been a while since we had a fun DIY'd birthday party to share and heaven knows we all could use more celebratory fun this year, so without further ado, here's our  
Wind in the Willows Birthday Party!
Our party theme was inspired by the stop motion animation Wind in the Willows film & tv series by Cosgrove Hall from the 1980s.  Both are based on the classic children's book of the same name by Kenneth Grahame.  We discovered this enchanting series at our local library when my bigger kids were small and fell in the love with it.  We bought all of them on dvd and the book & have been enjoying them ever since. 
This is one of the first shows we've let our little guy watch and he LOVES the characters Ratty, Mole, Badger and, most especially, the silly & outgoing Toad.  Since we haven't been able to do many things he enjoys out & about in the past year, thanks to the craziness of the outside world, bringing the imaginary world of Wind in the Willows to life seemed ideal for his 3rd birthday.
We are huge fans of the talents of Cosgrove Hall, so I want to be clear that everything I put together was for our personal use only.
I started by making a little digital invitation using the cover of one of the dvds & iPiccy:

Since there were no manufactured party supplies even remotely close in theme, I had to really put my thinking cap on to pull a design together.  

I found some forest path design plastic tablecloths on Amazon, which gave the perfect "Wild Wood" vibe.  As did some log print paper plates.  A wicker picnic basket we had in a closet came in handy as a party prop since picnic hampers are featured heavily in many of the adventures the animals go on:

I used some plastic grass sheets and a moss covered basket (from Hobby Lobby and Michaels) to add some dimension & texture to our party table.
I also found a few high quality still images from the show online.  I printed those on card stock and laminated them to make some character themed party decor.  Laminating them meant my little guy could keep them after for playtime, which he has really enjoyed.  
I lucked out big time when I remembered we had a plastic motorcar from a Victorian-themed Playmobil set and that it was green, so it looked just like Toad's.  Boop-boop!

Years ago I'd found a used Wind in the Willows board game on eBay and it came with these charming wooden game pieces.  They were great decorating additions too:

Our favorite local bakery, Sorella's, came through in creating this incredible cake, with an edible image of the beloved characters:

 My little guy's face lit up when he saw his favorite friends on it.  Of course he wanted Toad to be on his piece.  And then he insisted on trying Mole.  Everyone else loved eating up the buttercream leaves:

 This shirt was another one of my 11th hour craft brainwaves.  The idea only occurred to me the evening before his party.  I drew the Toad design and scanned it to make into a cut file to use with some heat transfer vinyl.  I whipped it together in next to no time and was feeling pretty pleased the morning of the party....

Semper Bufo is Latin for "Always Toad" which is Toad's motto.  I thought that would be fun on a shirt so he could wear his favorite character.  Except in my rush to make it I didn't think to do a spell check and the transfer I originally made said "Buffo", which my husband noticed was wrong as I was setting up the table.  Doh!!  I knew no one else in our family - especially my 3yr old - would even know that, but I couldn't leave it.  I had just enough black HTV left (and a single blank shirt in my stash), so a couple hours before the party I did a correct version.  Phew!

The one thing party thing I was most unsure about, but ultimately most pleased with, was my handmade Toad pillow.  There was no plush toy anywhere that resembled his beloved Cosgrove Hall Toad, so I spent some time looking at still images like these:


 Then drawing & drafting a pattern to create this version of Toad using materials I had on hand - some snake-skin print & solid chartreuse fleece fabric, a bit of faux leather and black felt:


I'm not the greatest illustrator, but I feel like he came out pretty well given I scrounged my stash to make him.  It was either a miracle from above or a sign my stash is out of control.  I may even share how I made him in a future tutorial.  To go full on Wind in the Willows, I snagged a few used picture books, circa the '80s, on eBay, so all his presents from us would be in theme too.  


The tough part, as both a mom & crafter, was that my little guy was overwhelmed with all the big, bright and action-packed gifts he got from everyone else.  So during present opening time he didn't pay much attention to Mr. Toad, or the shirt.  After, when things were quiet (and he wasn't hepped-up on birthday cake), he was cuddling with him and asked to have Toad in his bed with his other favorite softies.  Since then Toad holds a special place next to his blankie and he frequently asks us to "make him talk" by saying Toad's key phrases with it.  He's worn his shirt a bunch of times too, so I know he really enjoys them, which makes all the work worth it.   

We had so much fun with the party that we left all the decorations out for him to play with for a couple of weeks.  I may even do an "open road" or "on the riverbank" WITW celebration with them outside when some big renovations to our backyard are completed for summer.  In the meantime we've got some wonderful photos to remind us of his special day and hopefully helps us recapture it again in the future:)

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Craftastic Monday Link Party

Happy Monday Crafty Friends!  Time to link up all those creations you've been busy making.  Share them below & find some inspiring ideas from others too.
Last week I shared Why I'm Not Buying the Cricut Mug Press and would love to hear your thoughts:
 Share lovely projects you've made with one of my Sew Can Do patterns or Tutorials!  This week's feature is this adorable newborn hat made by Millicent L. for her heart melting newborn grandson:
Millicent used my FREE Sweet Little Bunny Hat Pattern:

If you've made something with one of my tutorials, send a photo to and I'll be happy to feature it here!
Here are this week's Craftastic Picks:
Simply Beautiful By Angela did this incredibly stenciled dress makeover:
Sum of Their Stories showed how to turn a men's shirt into this cute simple top:

Fresh Vintage By Lisa transformed a papier-mâché rabbit into a charming bunny topiary:
Vikalpah created this fabulous DIY spring wreath with perler beads:

Heritage Home Ec shared not one, but FIVE fantastic homemade salad dressing recipes:
homemade salad dressings in little glass jars with bowl of salad
If you're one of this week's features, be sure to grab my Featured On button over on my Buttons Page to share the good news. 

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Link back to the party somewhere on your blog.

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Party rules are simple: 
  • As long as it's crafty, and made by you, it's Craftastic (no links to other people's work or to businesses/shops).  
  • Add the link to your specific post. Product reviews, plagiarized or sponsored posts for random items will be immediately deleted.  
  • Grab my party button & put it on your post, party page or blog somewhere.  If you want the chance to be featured, this is key.  The button code can be found HERE.
  • Check out some of the other fabulous links and share some crafty comment love.  We all love getting comments!!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Why I'm NOT buying a Cricut Mug Press

Today's post is kinda different, kinda bold for me.  Instead of being a project or sharing my experience with a new craft product, I'm sharing my thought process with holding back on buying a craft product.  It feels a little weird, but hear me out.
I'll be honest, over the years I've been a huge impulse craft supply shopper.  If something was new & fun (or just new to me), I was ALL about buying it.  My inability to walk out of JoAnn's, Michael's or Hobby Lobby with just a single item is proof of that.  
I needed all these...for something...although I didn't know what (and still don't).

These just "accidentally" fell in my cart....every single time I went in.
Cricut has been a craft supply brand that I've felt the same about.  They come out with new gadgets & supplies on the regular, with much online & in-store fanfare, and I always oohh and ahhh.  Their marketing team really knows how to make us crafty types swoon!  Their products are attractive, easy to use and made for the at-home hobbyist.  
I've shared a number of posts with projects I've made using their Explore™ & EasyPress™, including one of my most visited posts ever:

So I feel like I can say I'm a fan of their work.  A few weeks ago Cricut announced a new upcoming product, the Cricut Mug Press™.  It started to make the rounds on blogs that the company has sponsor deals with - in posts showcasing what the blogger created with it and giving their key marketing talking points for the new product.
So what is the Cricut Mug Press™? A small scale sublimation press specifically for ceramic mugs.  
How does it work?  You make a digital design that will fit on a mug using Cricut Design Space™ and use a Cricut Explore™ or Maker™ (or another cutting machine/hand cut) to cut it out of some infusible ink transfer material, then stick it on the mug, pop it in the press and presto!  You have a custom design mug that won't crack, peel or fade and is totally dishwasher & microwave save.  You can also use their infusible ink markers with the press to draw or stencil a permanent design too.

Image ©

My first impression was excitement and wanting to find out more details.  The product video on their site had me imagining all kinds of coordinating mugs to fill up our cupboard (& finally get rid of the multi-shape/design hodge podge assortment we have) and the idea of making fun mugs that I could gift for all sorts of occasions.  The product wasn't going to be released for another week so my buy-it-now impulse had a little think time to really weigh the pluses & minuses once the initial excitement calmed down:

Mug Press Pros

Easy push button use.  No massive learning curve to use it or temperature calculating (although it can be adjusted slightly).
Permanent design - unlike using vinyl or Sharpie, these designs will stay exactly the same, even with heavy use and machine washing & heating.
Speed.  The actual pressing is just a few minutes.  The longest time spent is on the design/cut part & cool down time.  You can have a completed mug ready to use in under an hour. 

Cute edge designs.  The short sides of your design that face the handle can be straight, scalloped, wavy, etc. which is fun.
 Compact product size.  It's as minimal as possible and the sleek shape can fit with many shelves and cupboards.
Mug Press Cons
Mug Limitations.  The press is sized for straight wall 12 or 15oz mugs so forget about doing tall, oversized, latte or other shapes.  Or other products.
Cricut mugs only.  You can't just grab any old blank mug at the dollar store.  You need to use specially formulated blank mugs to do the sublimation design.  You might be able to find other sublimation blanks that are the same size, but Cricut won't promise they'll work with the press.  Maybe it's 'cause they only want you to buy theirs, but you'd have to be willing to waste some $$ materials and do some trial & error to find out for sure and at your expense.

Designs can only be on the outside.  You can't put a design on the inside, bottom or handle, just a wrap-around on the outer side.
Limited infusible colors & designs.  The PR images give the impression you can do any design, but in reality, it's only what infusible sheets Cricut offers.  It appears they only have 5 solid colors and 5 printed design options (like night sky or buffalo check).  So it's not like you can create a totally custom design in whatever multi-color look you want - and forget about making photo mugs.  And same as ⬆️ with using other brands sublimation sheets, maybe they're fine, but Cricut's not one to give handy tips on using competitor's products in their devices.
Availability.  One of my big pet peeves about Cricut is the spotty availability if you do want to buy something new.  There was such big fanfare the week before its release and now just a few weeks later it's still showing as "Coming Soon" on their site.  Bundles of a machine with materials are Out of Stock in their shop.  On Amazon a machine will be available to ship out in a week at soonest.  A case of mugs (the most economical price/mug) will be 1-2 months.  Some big box craft stores have various Mug Press stuff, but it's limited availability in-store or slow ship times online.  And like most Cricut devices, it's excluded from sales & coupon discounts so the price is the same everywhere and likely will stay that way for some time.
Gives you the vapors.  No seriously.  In the fine print it says: Adult uses only.  CAUTION: Use in a well-ventilated area—vapors from heating process may be irritating to sensitive individuals.  So that's something else to consider if you're like me and have a bunch of kids in the house all the time or have any concerns about what you're breathing in...which is the entire world last time I checked, thanks to Covid mania.
Suddenly I wasn't so sure about forking over $200 for one.

And that's just the price of the machine itself.
Blank Mug Price: cheapest option is buying a 12 oz 6 pack at about $4.00/each
(unless you buy a set of 36, which would be just $2.16, but is conveniently out of stock)

Ink Price: the infusible ink sheets come 2 per box for about $7-11.  If you use an entire mug-sized sheet mug, that's $3.50-5.50 per mug.  Interestingly these mini sheets are considered compatible with the Cricut EasyPress (for using on fabric), but the larger, less expensive, infusible ink sheets they sell for the EasyPress state "Requires compatible Infusible Ink blank (sold separately) and Cricut EasyPress™ 2 or heat press that reaches 400°F (205°C). Will not work with incompatible base materials" which pointedly leaves out using them with the Mug Press. 
Heat Resistant Tape Price: You need this to hold the transfer sheet onto the mug while it's in the press.  That's about $5/roll too.
Actual Mug Total Costs: So each mug you make costs about $3.50-5.50 in just materials, and the machine itself is $200.  So if you make 24 mugs (which seems like a lot for a hobbyist) the total per mug cost is about $12-18 per mug, assuming you already own a cutting machine (which would cost you another $200 if you don't).
Investment: you need to fork out a couple hundred on the Mug Press, a variety of transfer sheets and blank mugs.  It's kind of a big splurge for something that's a one trick pony craft project-wise.
Limited Space:  While Cricut does a good job making its machines small and unobtrusive, it is still another device to have to store.  And collect dust in since it doesn't appear to have a covering for the actual press part, which is weird.  I can't see using it as often as my Explore or EasyPress because it's strictly for making mugs of a certain size, so taking up more of my already extremely limited space isn't ideal.
Other Options:  My husband did a quick search and found several other machines that cost a couple hundred more, looked a bit more commercial and were a bit larger, but were able to do mugs of all shapes & sizes, water bottles, glassware, etc.  My feeling is if I were going to drop hundreds on a new craft device, I'd want it to be as versatile as possible to maximize use.

The Apple Effect:  Cricut is the Apple of the craft machine world.  They create innovative, cool looking products and market them well, but usually, about 12 months after a new product hits the shelves, they release a newer version of it.  With better features, kinks worked out, more use options, etc.  Suddenly that first version is outdated, but it's too big an investment for most of us to just toss and plonk down the same $$ for another one so soon after.
 My BIGGEST reason to hold off: Zazzle, CafePress, Printify, VistaPrint, Printful and other custom print companies already offer the ability to do 100% custom mugs with your unique design.  And offer it on bowls, glasses, bottles, jars, as well as a slew of other products.  I did these that way a number of years ago and still love & use them regularly:
 Custom Print Pros:
More Design Options: The design is still your original creation, except you can do whatever colors, patterns or photos you want.  No limits on how much can go in one design compared to the small selection of transfer sheet options.
More Product Options: Want the mug to be two tone?  Latte or espresso sized?  Bone china?  Or maybe be frosted glass or a water bottle or tumbler instead of a mug?  You can do any of those with a custom printer.   
Same or less cost per mug.  They frequently have coupon codes & sales to lower the price even further and no quantity minimums.

Convenience.  Making a digital design and clicking buy is a lot easier than having to drag out the cutter & a bunch of materials, cut a design, apply it in the press, wait until it cools and put all the devices away.  All that is a bit of a hassle if you have small kids that can easily cause trouble with machines or a breakable project like a mug.  I don't have enough spare counter space to leave all that stuff out and not be in the way either.
Guarantee.  If your item doesn't look quite right or as you expected, most custom printers will offer a refund or replacement.  If you goof on how straight you tape on your transfer sheet or leave a bit of dust on your mug with the Mug Press, it's a permanent mistake and materials wasted. 

Custom Print Cons:

Lack of Instant Gratification.  Yeah, if you have all the gear on hand, the Mug Press gives you the finished item in an hour, which is great craft turnaround time.  In our Amazon Prime world, waiting a week for a printer to make & ship something feels like eternity, but realistically, it isn't that long. 

So after doing some soul-searching and practicality consideration, I've decided this isn't the craft product for me.  At least right now & with the current specs anyway.  I may change my mind someday, but for now, it just doesn't make sense for a lot of reasons.  Weirdly, I've never tried to do designs of any kind (paint, vinyl, marker) on mugs before but now my interest is piqued and I may give some a go.  I hand wash a lot of baby bottles & glass and steel water bottles these days, so more items to hand wash isn't a huge turn off.  Maybe I'll give some of those options a go and make some of my custom mug dreams come true, even if they aren't sublimated;)
I'd love to hear what others think.  Will you buy a Cricut Mug Press™?  Have you already?  Are there reasons for or against buying one I've missed?  Have you done custom mugs in another way?  Share your thoughts or experiences in the comments!    

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter Craftastic Monday Link Party

Happy Easter Everyone!  It's a time of joy, hope & renewal.  He Is Risen!  This Easter week is the perfect time to share with all your uplifting, seasonal or Easter themed project, so link up whatever you have & we'll celebrate.
Last week I shared my up & down adventure with a DIY'd Little Lamb Easter Baby Dress Set & Teether:
I've also got another a bonus party feature, Reader Made, to share lovely projects you've made with one of my Sew Can Do patterns or Tutorials.  This week's feature is the Halloween-themed backpack bag by Karen P:
If you've made something with one of my tutorials, send a photo to and I'll be happy to feature it here!
Here are this week's Craftastic Picks:
Little Yellow Corner Store shared how to make a fluffy butter lamb.  As someone who has a hard time finding store-bought butter lambs (which is a long time family tradition), I'll be trying this next Easter:
Haekelfieber showed how to make this sweet-for-spring crochet bunny blanket:

 Penny's Vintage Home transformed some yard sale ceramic houses into a charming Easter village:
Modern on Monticello created this fun dog paw dogwood blossom wreath:
 dog paw wreath
Marilyn's Treats shared this timely recipe for egg salad sandwiches, since many of us have leftover eggs to eat up:
With the ingredients of egg, mayo, mustard, onion, salt and pepper to complete this salad you are assured of having everything you need to make an emergency lunch. 
If you're one of this week's features, be sure to grab my Featured On button over on my Buttons Page to share the good news. 

 Want a Chance to 

Be Featured Next Week?  

Link back to the party somewhere on your blog.

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Party rules are simple: 
  • As long as it's crafty, and made by you, it's Craftastic (no links to other people's work or to businesses/shops).  
  • Add the link to your specific post. Product reviews, plagiarized or sponsored posts for random items will be immediately deleted.  
  • Grab my party button & put it on your post, party page or blog somewhere.  If you want the chance to be featured, this is key.  The button code can be found HERE.
  • Check out some of the other fabulous links and share some crafty comment love.  We all love getting comments!!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

My DIY'd Little Lamb Easter Baby Dress Set & Teether

What could be sweeter for Easter for a baby girl than a little lamb outfit?  I thought it would be an ideal change from the usual bunnies & flowers and better suited to the meaning of the holiday.
I couldn't find a pattern that had all the features I wanted: puff sleeves, full skirt, pullover neckband, so I drafted up my own. 
Since the weather here usually is chilly at Easter, I also made a coordinating pair of leggings with the Ottobre Design Lola pants pattern:

I used that pant pattern it just a month ago with this outfit:
The fabric I used this time was a soft rib knit velour, that is cuddly, but light in weight:

I also used it for the neckband on the dress and the color was a perfect match:

I also found some decorative lace elastic in my stash so I added that as an extra detail on the sleeves:

I even made a matching silicone teether toy (and one to send as a gift for my baby nephew too):

I'll be honest though, I didn't think this new Easter outfit would be done in time.  I literally just finished it and it was 50/50 until the last stitch that I was going to have to scrap the dress and scramble to do something else.  The fabric was super cute, and I'd bought it months ago eagerly waiting to use it for Easter, but it just didn't seem to want to cooperate.  Literally everything seemed to go wrong. 
There were several times when the thread randomly bunched up during basic stitching.  Total bird nests.  The fabric curled quite a bit when cut and shifted around a lot when sewing too, even when well pinned and using a walking foot.  Even with fresh bobbin, re-threading & fresh needle it was fiddly, which was odd since euro knits usually sew like a dream.  My seam ripper got a work out!
My gathering technique with cord for the skirt portion normally works well too - where you baste a wide zig-zag around some thin cord to easily pull the ends & gather.  This time the cord kept jumping as I stitched so it threaded through the cord in a number of spots.  That meant I couldn't pull it without snipping those stitches.  It should look like this, captured between them:

And I'm not going to totally blame the fabric, because I may have made the sleeves a little tight with the elastic as well. 

When I first stretched the elastic to gather the sleeves it didn't seem to cinch up enough and looked too loose despite it being several inches shorter than the sleeve width.  I tried steaming it to shrink up a little, but it did nothing.  So I unpicked an entire sleeve and stretched the elastic a bit more as I sewed, which looks better, but may now be a bit too snug on her chubby arms.  
I'm going to try it on her today & if it is I may do a chop shop on the sleeves to remove that section and re-hem them (thank God I made them a little longer than I usually do so there's a little extra length there!).  I also ran out of my favorite fusible tape, which makes hemming on knits that curl MUCH easier, so there was more messing around to finish that too.

I was really pleased with how quick the teether toys came together though.  I'd bought the beads from different places, but I feel like they paired together really well:

I'd originally planned to make them circular but didn't like how they looked as I threaded them, so I did clip versions instead and these cute angel wing heart teethers I had in my bead stash were perfect for the tail ends:

When all is said & done, the outfit did turn out as I'd imagined despite the hurdles.  I'm going to try my pattern on another fabric and if it works out there, I'll make it into a free PDF & tutorial.

Happy Easter!


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