Just Plain Sweet

knitting, sewing and crafting by Kendra Turner

Halloween Treat Bags … Lined Fabric Bags with a Drawstring Top

IMG_6593Now that fall is upon us, it’s time to talk about HALLOWEEN! I know it’s more than a month away, but when you’re a crafter, and an enthusiastic costumer, you have to start early!!!

Each year the children, my husband and I select a family theme for our costumes, and it takes me a whole month to get things together. Last year we did Mario Brothers characters, the year before it was Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and before that we were farm animals. Before Emilia, when there were only three of us, we dressed up as a family of gnomes… and my personal favorite, a lion, a tiger and a bear — OH MY!

This year however, the children haven’t been able to decide what they want to do. Emilia is debating a pink kitty, a ballerina, about a dozen different princesses and Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6.

Everett has thrown out mime, astronaut and magician. We may not be able to pull off a theme this year… and I’ve accepted it.

Additionally, we’ll be out-of-state for the holiday this year, which means we won’t be home to decorate. SAD FACE.

Since everything is so “up in the air” I’ve decided to start with something practical, simple and not dependent on anyone’s costumes… Trick-or-treat sacks. Normally, the kids use plastic pumpkin buckets, but I can tell you I’m not stuffing those in a suitcase and I also have plenty of cool Halloween fabric in the stash (which I keep telling myself I’m going to use).

Recently, and by that I mean a few months ago, I found this awesome drawstring bag tutorial online. If you’ve searched Pinterest, you know these tutorials are a dime a dozen, but this one IS FAR superior! The reason? It’s made by a quilter who comes at this design from a time-saving and fabric-saving angle. The lining and the exterior are sewn together at the start and everything is nice, neat and enclosed. IT’S AWESOME! This pattern/tutorial makes a small-ish box-bottom bag, which I followed exactly to use up my Lorax fabric. I love how they came out.


But I’ve also modified it to make this toddler backpack. All I did was add an inch of width to all the pieces and three inches of height to the main exterior and lining pieces. Then I skipped the box bottom and added two fabric loops to the exterior bottom to anchor the straps. So versatile!!!


Here’s the link for this detailed tutorial (Read it and give it some love. You can also find it on my Pinterest “sewing” board):


So, for the treat bags, I want to make large-ish sacks without boxing. I figure this will give it a pillowcase feel but with the added awesomeness of pretty lining and a closeable top! Making your own bag out of quality fabrics, even if you can get something for $1 at Target, means you can personalize it and get use out of it for years. So much more fun! Plus, because I added these fabrics to my stash when they were on clearance, these bags only cost me about $2 each to make! Keep in mind you can use fabrics that coordinate with your child’s costume to make things extra-special!

We’re going to work through this pattern in the following steps:

3stepCollagelast3step Collage

So first, measurements. (Keep in mind I’m making these for a 3 and 5-year-old) I think this size is plenty big for any child, but, to each their own. 🙂

Main exterior fabric (Cut 2): 14″ x 14.5″ (For directional fabric, it’s helpful to cut a piece 14.5″ x 28″, then cut that in half)

Exterior accent fabric (Cut 2): 14.5″ x 4″ ( You can also do 14.5″ x 8″, then halve)

Lining fabric (Cut 2): 17.5″ x 14.5″ (14.5″ x 35″, then halve)

Once you cut the fabrics, you want to align them, and sew each panel, right sides together, in the below order.

Check out my amateur illustration!

Scan_20150915 (2)

Just like the original tutorial, we’re going to fold this long runner-like strip of fabric in half and sew all the way around the bottom (main outside fabric side) and up the sides to our drawstring opening. Then we’ll sew from the end of the string opening (a 1″ opening in our accent fabric) up to the top (lining) side, where we leave a 3″ to 4″ opening for turning our bag.

Another amateur illustration:


Once you turn your bag right side out, you’ll need to sew the hole in your lining’s bottom closed. Then press your bag so that the lining and the outside have a nice crisp meeting point. Pin the top so that your lining and outside are nicely aligned. Now we’ll make the drawstring channel.

With a water soluble pen, mark two lines across your bag’s front and back that indicate where the drawstrings will rest. This should be a 1″ opening if you’re following the original tutorial and these illustrations. Sew along the lines, and be sure to check that the opening’s edges are tucked nicely inside so we don’t see any unfinished edges.

The last step: Add the drawstrings!

You’ll notice I chose parachute cord for the drawstrings on my Lorax bags and the mustache backpack. But, as the original tutorial suggests, you can also use ribbon, twill tape, or make your own fabric straps! For Everett’s bag I used a Halloween theme satin ribbon, and for Emilia, a satin purple cord. I like to pull the strings through with a giant 11.5mm crochet hook, but you can also use the old-fashioned safety pin trick to get them through the channel.

I hope this gave you some ideas! See you next time with Halloween costume fun!



Little Millie’s Rainbow Scarf

I originally saw this scarf on Pinterest as a crochet pattern… too bad I have no idea how to crochet anything! But it immediately made me think of my daughter Emilia – its sunny, adorable and a little bit MLP Rainbow Dash-y. So, I scrounged up some colors from my ever-growing yarn stash and made this little garter stitch scarf.


I didn’t want it to follow the traditional rainbow color pattern, and because it was for Emilia, I definitely had to include pink and leave out blue. Ultimately, I think these colors are all joyful shades that speak more to girls than the usual ROYGBIV.

I was so pleased with the simplicity and feeling of this scarf that I decided to add it to the Etsy shop and the winter craft show inventory. It’s just one of those projects you can enjoy making again and again AND it appeals to so many different girls and women. That doesn’t happen very often ;).


6mm circular needle at least 29” in length (I like Susan Bates Velocity needles if you’re looking for a recommendation)

6 shades of worsted weight yarn (color and order are up to you)

I used I Love This Yarn  in the following colors and order:

  1. Red
  2. Hot Rose
  3. Mulberry
  4. Turquoise
  5. Keylime
  6. Yellow

Gauge: 16 stitches and 32 rows = 4 inches in garter stitch.

Sizes: Little Girl (2-5)/ Bigger Girl (6-12)/ Grown Girl (13 and up)

Finished Measurements: 3” wide and 48”/60”/72” long

To Begin, with color #1, CO 190/238/286 stitches. I used a long tail CO, but you may use whatever you prefer. Keep your stitches nice and loose so you don’t warp this end of your scarf.

Continuing with color #1, knit two more rows. You should now be back at the side of your work where the leftover yarn from your long tail cast on is hanging.

Change to color #2. Knit four rows, until your back at the joined edge.

Change to color #3. Knit four rows, until your back at the joined edge.

Continue this way for colors #4 and #5.

Now change to color #6. Knit ONLY two rows. Bind off loosely.

Weave in all your ends.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?!


Everett’s Toddler Snuggler

I know. I’ve been gone for almost two months. I guess I was enjoying summer vacation a little too much LOL! I’ve got about a dozen projects made during that time and none of them blogged!!! So, first one from the summer: Everett’s blanket.

He kept pestering me to make one and I didn’t want to (I know he’ll out-grow it soon enough). But who can say no to this face?


First, we went shopping. Everett picked out a few colors from Lion Brand’s Vanna’s Choice line – I figured if he chooses, he’s much more likely to actually USE the blanket. I think he was drawn to them because they’re very “boy.” I like that they’re really rich colors, combined with serious wash-ability at a reasonable cost. I used 8 skeins total (The original pattern uses 7, but he wanted the blanket to be taller than he is). Each stripe used virtually a whole skein. I generally ended the stripes with only 6-7 yards remaining. Because I was able to use my Joann 50% coupons for this yarn, I paid only $16. YAY! You’ve gotta make good use of all those e-mails they send you!

The original pattern for this blanket is from The Purl Bee. They always have the cutest modern blankets! But because I used a yarn with more body and structure than they did, I used 10mm needles instead of 8mm needles. The larger needles and extra stripe increased my blanket size to 31”x 45” (the original pattern is 26”x33”). If you’d like to use a Lion Brand yarn with the smaller 8mm needles, I’d recommend their Heartland line. It’s also worsted weight, but nice and delicate so it won’t stiffen up on you. If you’re making this for a spring/summer baby, and you want to use cotton, I’d recommend I Love This Cotton… great colors, great texture for this project and not too pricey.



The great thing about this pattern is that there are only 2 rows to memorize and it yields a beautiful design! Also, big needles = FAST.

blanketyarnIf you’re wondering what colors these are…

  1. Kelly Green
  2. Fern
  3. Sapphire
  4. Dusty Blue
  5. Charcoal Grey
  6. Silver Grey
  7. Rust
  8. Mustard

I’m definitely thinking I’ll make another of these one day… but baby size. It’s just a fun project and it’d make a fabulous baby shower gift! If you try it, I’d love to see pictures!






Forrest the Moose-Deer is Live!

forrestnew5Here he is! My first stuffed animal! Truthfully, I’ve never even made a stuffed animal, let alone designed a pattern for one. It was so much more fun than I could have imagined! I’ve knit through this pattern six times, so I’m confident you’ll find it workable. Also, I’ll say it’s a pretty simple pattern, in that any beginner at knitting in the round can probably accomplish this guy! I wanted to link to some helpful tutorials on a couple of techniques I use for Forrest.

First up, the increase:


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I love TechKnitting’s awesome illustrations! One of these days, I’m going to figure out how they make these! LOL

The other tutorial I want to leave you with is a simple “pick up and knit” on a cast on/bind off edge. I really like pick up and knit, though I know not everyone uses it as frequently as I do. Maybe this is because I use it for hats quite often… so I feel the need to use it in other applications. Anyway, If you’re not as comfortable with this technique as you’d like to be, this is a pretty good link for you. It really is the same for knitting in the round as it is for knitting flat work.


You can find Forrest the Moose-Deer on Ravelry.com as well as the Etsy shop:




Thanks for checking him out!!!

Attack of the Giant Squid!

squiddoneSo, this past week I was “invited” to make a giant 8-foot squid pillow. My cousin’s 14th birthday was fast approaching (two days away to be exact) and her father posted this tutorial to her Facebook wall. Since I was probably going to be phoning in her present, because, let’s face it, who knows what a 14-year-old girl wants, I decided bring this thing to life before she or her mother could get around to sewing it themselves. They have mad skills.


I would like to point out that this pillow earned a “best gift EVER!” from said teen. Internet for the win!

To make this pillow you’ll need:

  • 2 yards of solid color fleece
  • 1 yard of printed fleece for the “suction cup portion of the tentacles”
  • A yard stick for drafting the pattern
  • A large sheet of paper (at least 4 feet long) for patterning
  •  5 pounds of poly-fil
  • A sewing machine
  • Matching thread
  • Something to wiggle stuffing down into the tentacle ends (I used a 15 mm knitting needle)

The original blog post is from build-a-diy and it provided great measurements and instructions for assembly. (See the full post below!)

You’ll notice, however, that the crazy woman who made that 8-foot squid hand-stitched the ENTIRE thing! What the what?! I am soooooo anti-hand-stitching that I actually managed to machine stitch the WHOLE pillow.

Also, (probably because it was easier for hand-stitching) she used felt and printed cotton. Who wants to cuddle up with that??? Sounds itchy to me. So I used blizzard fleece to make mine. At first I was worried the fleece would warp, but I had no such problems. I did decide to cut the patterned fleece on the bias, just because it seemed stretch-ier than the solid fleece, but, all in all, it was quite easy to work with! Please note I did use some scrap felt for the eyes.

This pillow cost me about $20 to make in May (the same amount it would cost to produce with felt). I spent $14 on poly-fil (I bought 5 pounds and used about 4.5) and $8 on three yards of fleece. In December, it could easily cost twice as much. Fleece is seasonal, so if you have to make this in the winter, try to use a coupon.

Because the pattern pieces are too large to print out, you do need to draft them yourself. This will probably take a good hour. I used a roll of heavy brown kraft paper I bought from Home Depot in the paint department… you never know when old project supplies will come in handy! If you’re making more than one squid, this stuff will stand up to lots of tracing, so at least you reuse the pattern and shave some time off the second squid.

The pattern uses 8 total pattern pieces. Please see the illustration in the original post for complete measurements to the pattern pieces.

I would also like to note that instead of cutting one 9”x30” rectangle for piece #6, I cut two 9”x 15” rectangles. Why? To help with eye placement. The original post has you hand stitch the eyes on AFTER the pillow is completed. But as promised, my version requires zero hand-stitching. Therefore, I sewed piece #8 to piece #7 with black thread (my #8 is different that the original), then sewed one eye to each of the rectangles, precisely centered, with white thread. I then sewed one side seam to form a long rectangle, to which I attached the legs as described in the original post.


I took one extra step after attaching all the legs. I added a “topstitch” along the tentacle edge. Just fold the raw edges of the rectangle and tentacles over 1/4″ or so, and sew it down. Now we have a nice finished edge for when we close this baby up!

To orient the eyes with the sides of the body, I pinned and stitched the rectangle seams to align with the center of the body pieces (piece #3), and likewise the body seams to the center of head rectangles (piece #6). Man that seemed confusing, but you know what I mean, right?


So, anyhow, after you attach the fins to the body, and the legs to the head rectangle, and the rectangle to the body, you stuff the main cavity and…

If you’re like me, you don’t hand stitch.

First off, don’t overfill the head if you want to shove this thing through the machine, try to stop about an inch or two shy of the opening. Pin the oval in place (piece #5), raw edge of the oval together with your topstitched rectangle/tentacle edge. Yes the raw edge of the oval is on the outside of your work. This is where fleece is very forgiving. I set my machine to a blanket stitch and sewed through both layers (oval facing you, so that the straight edge of the blanket stitch hits right along the oval’s raw edge and the nice clean edge of the head/tentacle piece). You can always trim any excess fleece that pokes outside of the nice finished edge of tentacles. I think it looks pretty good this way, and it only takes a few minutes of blood, sweat and tentacle wrangling, compared to an hour of ladder stitching!!!

And done! That only took FOREVER!






Altering Costume Shoes! (with a no-sew option)

Ever bought your little princess a set of dress up shoes that were too big because the next size down was too small? Nothing’s worse than tripping in your glass slippers! If your kiddo has narrow feet like mine does, you may have come across this problem before. Luckily, we can easily fix any shoe with a custom fit strap!


These are a pair of Princess Sophia shoes purchased from Disney.com. Like most of their shoes, they have no elastic or leather bands over the top of the feet to improve fit. This trick will also work if you need to replace a strap that is too small and digging into your child’s chubby little foot.

First thing you need is a 1/4″ grommet tool kit. If you want a nice finished look, buy a good one!!! The Dritz kit at Walmart is NOT going to give you the results pictured here. But for a little more money ($9) you can order the Lorde & Hodge kit I use. I got mine on Amazon, because I have a Prime account and I can shop there in my pajamas. But I’m sure any leather shop in your local area would carry a good one!


The great thing about these grommets is that they work well with thin fabrics (like the lace on these shoes) AND thicker materials like denim and leather.

one eyelet

Place the shoes on your child’s feet and mark where the band should be added — one dot on each side of both shoes. Now you need to punch a hole through each marking. You can use the hole-making tool in your kit, or a fabric hole punch like a Crop-a-dile. I like to use my Crop-a-dile for projects like these simply because I can control the tool better.

Now set those babies! If you’ve never done this before don’t fret! It’s easy peasy. Follow the directions for YOUR kit to ensure the best results. Generally, you’re going to 1) set up on a solid surface like a heavy wood table or countertop, 2) put down the base piece first, then the taller grommet piece, 3) place your fabric hole over/around the grommet, then add the flat grommet piece, 4) place the metal hammering piece in the center of all of that and …whack it!

Now here’s where you can decide… to sew or not to sew. Any ribbon or shoe lace can be tied into a bow right here and you’d be done!

shoes with ribbon

My little girl can’t tie shoes though, and I foresaw many meltdowns over this issue. I instead decided to use a decorative elastic I had in the craft stash. An elastic band means she can slide these on and off all on her own. I originally purchased this elastic at Hobby Lobby for about $2 if you’re interested. First I cut an adequate piece (8″-12″), looped it through the grommets and pinned it while on Emilia’s foot. Then took the shoe to my sewing machine and used a stretch stitch to close the loop. If you’re as paranoid as I am, sew two parallel lines of stitching… I like to have backup! Because this stuff has a ribbon edge, I did seal the ends with the flame from a lighter.

That’s it! Now they actually fit. Best part? Looks like I bought them this way!


finished shoes



Fingerless Mitts For Everyone!

everett's mittJust when I thought spring was here to stay… SNOWFLAKES! Good thing I just finished these fingerless mittens for Everett! I had pulled out my old grey fingerless mitts during our last snowstorm, when Emilia took notice of them… I had to make her a pink set that night! Then Everett saw hers and wanted a green pair for himself. No one is ever happy unless they have what the other one does. *sigh*

I looked at almost every pattern Ravelry had to offer, and I found this adorable pattern for FREE! It’s very basic and can be easily customized (lengthened, cabled, or cinched with a bow). It beat out the other top contenders because it offers specific measurements for little ones ages 12 months to 7 years as well as adult small, medium and large. I made a set of size 2 and size 5-7 and found the measurements to be very accurate. Did I mention it’s free?


Myla Wilson’s Ravelry pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/alevins

You’ll notice that I knit the bottom of my mitts all the way to the kids’ knuckles to keep their hands super cozy (longer than pictured in her pattern). My children like these because they can still play with their iPads in the car or pick their noses whilst wearing them! Also, I think it’s nice that both mitts are exactly the same so they can’t put them on “the wrong hand.”

This pattern uses 4.5 mm needles, which are the smallest I can stand to use, and it calls for worsted weight yarn. (Which every knitter has tons of!) I used Lion Brand Heartland for both the pink and green set and carried them with a thin accent yarn… glitter for Emilia and lime wool for Everett.emilias mitt

Oh! And if you don’t like the way the thumb holes are written (casting off a few stitches and adding in the same amount later), you can always just knit up to the hole, turn your work and knit in back in forth rows (not in the round) for the desired length, then re-join your work! Even a beginner at in-the-round knitting can handle it!

Hope you give these a try! Or you can hit me up for a pair… *wink wink*


Emilia’s Rotating Dress Up Closet


Emilia didn’t want to pose, so my son, Everett, stepped up to the plate!

Little Emilia has lots of dress up stuff. There are always tutus, crowns, purses, princess wands and jewelry pouring out of the toy boxes. Last year I installed some hooks on her bedroom wall to alleviate the problem, but that’s no longer cutting it. I like to give my children a “practical” present for their birthdays (since they get so many toys from everyone else). So, this year, I decided to build her something to solve our little problem: a pretend play wardrobe inspired by a Pinterest project I saw about a year ago. Don’t worry… even though its practical, it was still her favorite gift this year!

The original wardrobe post was a stationary version made from an old bookshelf. It was painted purple, had a closet rod at the top, all shelves removed, and a fancy “princess” mirror on the outside.

I had intended to make a similar model and spent a couple of weeks looking for a good solid bookshelf on Craigslist and our local buy-sell-trade Facebook site, but found nothing. Tired of waiting around for the right post to come along, I decided to try out a used furniture store down on historic Union Avenue. As luck would have it, I didn’t find a traditional bookshelf, but instead found this superior little gem for only $35! You can’t beat that price. It has four sides, two with deep removable shelves and two with ledges designed for books. It had four casters and 6 shelves included. This wasn’t what I had envisioned, but the wood was in immaculate shape, it didn’t need any work, and it was the perfect size for a toddler.BOOKSHELF

Because I’m nosy, I looked up this exact piece of furniture online to see what it sells for brand new. The best deal I found was $214 with free shipping at this link: http://www.wayfairsupply.com/Guidecraft-Big-4-Sided-Library-Book-Display-G97012-EZ1234.html

It is made in America and constructed of solid Birch. I would give this product 5/5 stars for quality and durability.

As soon as I got it home, I realized the casters weren’t going to work on the high pile carpet in Emilia’s room. I could push it with some effort, but she couldn’t. Solution: turn it into a Lazy Susan. In order to make this spin, I needed a base. I got really lucky on this one, because my brother-in-law had gifted me a random giant wooden circle about a year or two ago; specifically a 32-inch diameter Rev-a shelf Lazy Susan shelf. It’s been collecting dust in my garage. “You’ll find something to do with it,” he had told me… and I finally had! As if by fate, the wood color matched my bookshelf! My point being, USE WHAT YOU HAVE!

I had never installed a Lazy Susan mechanism before and I will tell you it was a HUGE PAIN! But, it was definitely worth the effort and I can now see why, though very confusing, the instructions were written the way they were. Home Depot sells only one choice; a 6’’ Lazy Susan by Everbilt for $4.48. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-6-in-Square-Lazy-Susan-Turntable-with-400-lb-Load-Rating-49548/203661089

The packaging states that you should install the top plate of the Lazy Susan to the shelf (in this case the bottom of the bookshelf) first, then uninstall it. WHAT? WHY? I didn’t take this seriously and instead just marked the holes on the bottom of the unit and drilled pilot holes. BAD IDEA. The darn thing is so tricky to align once you screw the bottom plate to the base. I had to undo it and start over. If you follow the directions, installing it should probably take you only 30 minutes, even without experience. An extra set of hands is helpful for this part! A BIG THANK YOU to my husband for working through this with me!

The base piece from my garage. Pretty good match huh!?

The base piece from my garage. Pretty good match huh!?

Now for the modifications I made to the unit:

(For ease of construction, I would do these things prior to attaching the unit to the Lazy Susan. I found it much more difficult to screw things into the wood when it was wiggling all over the place!)

I removed all but the top two shelves, one on each side. Make sure your kiddo can reach it! You want to be sure you do this first, because we’ll need to install the closet rod in relation to the shelf.

top shelf

For the closet rod, DON’T use a tension rod. It WILL fall down on your poor kid every day. For $1.49 you can buy these plastic sockets at the hardware store. Allow at least 1” of space between the bottom of the shelf and the top of the socket. You want to be sure the hangers go on and come off the rod easily! http://www.homedepot.com/p/Prime-Line-Closet-Pole-Sockets-1-3-8-in-Plastic-N-6568/202636660

You’ll also need a wooden dowel rod (usually located right next to the sockets at the store) http://www.homedepot.com/p/Unbranded-1-1-4-in-x-48-in-Hardwood-Dowel-114-4EDC/100006905 $4.76 for 48”. I needed only needed two 15” pieces, so I cut it down with my miter saw when I got home. If you don’t own a circular or miter saw, the staff at Lowes or Home Depot can cut your rod down to size for you. Be sure to use short screws to install the sockets so they don’t poke out the other side of the bookshelf. Then just sit the pole down inside the sockets.

I didn’t want to waste any opportunity for additional storage so I also screwed in a double hook on all four panels flanking the curtain rod. I paid $2.98 for each of the hooks.




That’s all I did to it! Grand total: $25 in supplies.

Initially, I wasn’t sure if I was going to modify the two sides of the bookshelves lined with ledges, but as I sorted through Emilia’s things, I found these 2 1/2’’ pockets were perfect for purses and dress up shoes. She could also toss small things like jewelry in there. If you’re looking for alternate design ideas, I did consider installing four pretty glass knobs on the face of each ledge for more hanging space. The ledges could also hold Barbies and other small dolls!

I haven’t put any “decorations” on this wardrobe, but you can easily personalize it with removable wall decals featuring your child’s favorite princesses or little ballerinas. Perhaps I’ll get around to it… 😉



Everett’s Mario Kart Party… DIY Galore!

Oh, Internet, how I have missed thee. Between my kids’ hectic schedules, three ear infections, potty training, and a nagging head cold, we just haven’t had enough time for each other. But don’t worry… I’ve still been making awesome stuff that I can’t wait to share with you!

Two weeks ago we hosted Everett’s Mario Kart birthday party! This year’s theme yielded some fun and crowd pleasing crafting. Nintendo is one of those companies that doesn’t put out as much birthday party merchandise as a Disney-type company, so you’ve got to get creative to flesh out decorations and games.

MarioBagsFirst up, simple treat bags that look like Mario and Luigi’s hats. I made these with nothing but white sticker paper and my Silhouette cutting machine… and of course, lunch bags. They took a whole twenty minutes to make. Surprisingly, no one out there seemed to have a tutorial for this method which can be used on party hats and so much more!

I am fairly new to my Silhouette Cameo cutting machine, so don’t expect anything mind-blowing here. LOL. First, buy the bag, box or hat you want to adhere these stickers to, that way you can scale the round logo appropriately. (There’s nothing worse than cutting everything out and then kicking yourself for NOT measuring!)

I used standard size lunch bags that I bought at Walmart in the giftwrap aisle (5 ¼”w x 10”h). They’re made by Hallmark and are 3/$1. You can buy cheaper bags at the party store, but they are also cheaply made and can’t hold the weight these did, so I’m standing by the pricier bag. Next I bought some Silhouette brand “White Printable Sticker Paper” at Michaels. Of course, you can use any old brand you come across. (Avery sells sheets of plain full page white sticker paper in the office supply section at Walmart.)

I decided on 3 ½” circles for the logo stickers. If you’ve never drawn a circle in Silhouette before, you can keep it perfectly round by holding down shift while pulling it to 3 ½”. Duplicate it to the right. Now for that perfect font to match The Mario Brothers’ hats. I looked at EVERY SINGLE font in the Silhouette store and “JW Space Alphabet” was the winner. I used 200 pt. font size. Make an “M” in one circle and an “L” in the other. Group them by selecting both the letters and circles with your mouse while holding shift, then right click and select “group.” Last, just “duplicate below” twice. Done! Cut setting is blade level two. Line it up on your mat and cut. Boom! You just customized these so fast you’re laughing!

If you’re doing paper party hats, use the same stickers! And of course, if you want to get fancy, you can always buy red and green foam visors at the craft store and cut these logos out of white craft foam and hot glue them on!

I’d also like to point out that you can use these stickers on plain red or green note cards to make matching thank you notes.

The possibilities are endless!!!

Second DIY for this party: Super Star balloons. Our party store (yes there’s only one in our city) doesn’t carry ANY Nintendo merchandise, so we customized some plain gold foil star balloons. I purchased a roll of ¾” black duct tape to make the stars eyes. (Same size as electrical tape if you can’t find this) Cut two pieces 3 1/2” to 4” long, stick them on and voila! You’ve got legit Mario star power! For minimal effort, you’ll earn big party points with these!


Third, we decided on an alternative to your average piñata – piñata balloons! Its winter in Colorado right now, so we couldn’t go outside to hit piñata with a bat (it snowed before, during, and after his big day). Balloons are better for an indoor party, plus it gives a nod to Mario Kart balloon battles! 5-year-olds think popping balloons is fun and challenging… and they fight less if they know the balloon they’re holding guarantees they get their own candy.

Of course, getting candy inside a balloon is easier said than done, so I devised this method. Grab a sturdy tube from around the house with an opening about 1 ½” in diameter. I used a vacuum attachment which I rinsed out and dried before use.

Select candy that will not only fit in the tube but will also fit nicely into an uninflated balloon… think Rolos, Starburst, wrapped gumballs, Jolly Ranchers, stuff like that. You’re only going to be able to fit about 6 pieces inside, so choose wisely. Pull the entire neck of the balloon over the tube so that the candy drops directly into the wide part of the latex balloon and doesn’t get stuck. Send the candies down the tube one at a time so you don’t clog the tube. Last, just remove the balloon from the tube being careful not to let anything pop out and then just blow it up as usual. You can do these up to two days in advance without losing air. I stored mine in a few large black trash bags from the garage.

To be sure that everyone has fun and we don’t traumatize anybody, warn anyone who doesn’t like the sound of popping balloons to leave room before beginning. It’s also a good idea to have some thumb tacks on hand for grownups to help any child who is struggling. This was a HUGE hit at the party! The kids enjoyed it simply because it was different.

Last, but certainly not least, homemade Pin the Mustache on Mario and Piranha Plant Bean Bag Toss games.

gamesThese were easy to make and SOOOOO fun for the kids. I started with a big furniture box we had in the garage. I cut out two 29”wide by 32” high rectangles with a serrated knife and found images of Mario and the Piranha Plant that I felt were simplest to recreate.

Here are the links:



To minimize your stress level when free-handing these, use white chalk to start. You can erase any markings with a Kleenex and avoid layers of confusing lines on your cardboard. Once you’ve got a good outline, trace it with a black sharpie so they have staying power.

You’ll only need a few bottles of acrylic craft paint to fill these in. For Mario: red, black, blue, brown, flesh tone, white and whatever color you want for the background (I used green). For the Piranha Plant: red, white, green, and the background color (blue on mine). With a sponge brush and a small paint brush for the tight spaces, fill in your outline with paint all the way to the lines. Last, come back with a chisel tip marker (I like the narrow side of a Marks-a-lot permanent marker) to outline everything and clean up the paint lines. For your Piranha Plant, cut out a hole in the middle of its mouth approximately 9” wide. Use a serrated knife for maximum control. (A bowl or plate can be helpful here).




I fastened Mario to the wall with some push pins and bought a set of mustache stickers at Hobby Lobby for $1.99. That’s it! For the plant, I got a “tri-fold presentation board” for $2.99 whilst at the Hobby Lobby. When I got home, I cut it in half and hot glued the pieces to the back of my painting. These sturdy sides fold up easily for storage and provide great stability while the kids play. I didn’t go out and buy any bean bags, I just picked out a set of my kids toys for the task, specifically, their indoor snowballs. They’re lightweight and don’t hurt anyone if a ball hits somebody.

When the children completed each game, they got a prize! Gold chocolate coins, and Mario Kart stickers and some cool Nintendo Wii tins filled with gumballs. Prizes encourage participation, plus, it gets kids excited about those favors you put so much thought into!


Here’s a list of additional decorations I bought to complete this party theme:

Birthday banner from Hobby Lobby and the closest match I could find to Mario Brothers’ lettering: $4

Two checkered flag pendants also from Hobby Lobby: $4 each

One large checkered flag from Party America: $.99

Two removable wall sticker sets from Party Bell:

http://www.partybell.com/p-33507-mario-kart-wii-removable-wall-decorations.aspx ($10.43 and reusable after the party for Everett’s bedroom décor)

http://www.partybell.com/p-33627-mario-kart-wii-luigi-giant-wall-decal.aspx ($32.54 These are giant! Everett got the Luigi from his room and we gave the rest of the set away after the party. You can also buy sets starring Princess Peach, Mario, Toad or other characters)


Party Favors:

Sheets of 6 stickers which I cut in half to give each kid 3: http://www.partybell.com/p-33503-mario-kart-wii-sticker-sheets.aspx ($1.21 for 4 sheets)

Wii Remote Gumball Tins: http://www.partybell.com/p-21120-mario-kart-wii-remote-gum-tin.aspx ($22.17 for 8 tins, that’s $2.77 per person. This was our splurge item!)

Chocolate Coins from Target: $1 for 8.

Foxy …


My little Emilia in the toddler sized hood.

My little Emilia in the toddler-size fox.

I’ve been super busy knitting! This time last year I hadn’t picked up my needles in months, but I’ve been on a binge lately. (I kind of bounce between crafts) This week I made my third fox hood and my first in an adult size. It’s big!!! (24 inches long to be exact) I will say, when I first tried this pattern I wasn’t too happy with the result, but after working through it a few times, I’ve decided the problem was that my seed stitch is just too tight. Does this ever happen to you?

Heidi May, the designer of this “Failynn Fox Cowl” and owner of the Velvet Acorn shops on Ravelry and Etsy, uses seed stitch quite a bit. And while it’s pretty, I find mine becomes too tight to keep her patterns as loose and natural as they should be. I don’t seem to have a problem with seed stitch in a more structured pattern, but when I combine it with a free-moving stockinette stitch… I fail.

I first discovered this when I made her billed hat pattern “Aralynn Slouchy.” The hat worked up beautifully, but when I added the bill to it, the thing just curled up to the body of the hat and wouldn’t lay flat. Like any other knitter, my hand just doesn’t jive with every pattern… which is why we must adapt.

For my fox hoods, I ditched the seed stitch detail on the bottom of the work and substituted a rib stitch. When I made it with the seed stitch, the bottom opening was too tight to really stretch over the chest area like it does in Heidi May’s photos. A rib stitch, as we knitters know, has plenty of stretch… and visual interest. Functional, practical and pretty — perfect combination! Either a 1×1 or 2×2 will work fine with the pattern. If you end up purchasing this pattern, or already own it, you will notice it begins with an odd number of stitches to accommodate the seed stitch. Simply drop one stitch and you will find it aligns perfectly with her first decrease row. Easy-peasy change.

I also omitted the seed stitch detail around the face opening. Her hood lays away from the face, but mine closed-in quite a bit. Leaving the top portion of the hood “plain,” just knit in stockinette, certainly makes for faster knitting – but you lose texture. I compensated by using more rows of crochet edging when I finished the hood. I used 3 to 5 depending on the size of the hood… use your judgment!

Side view!

Side view!

Speaking of crochet… I’m terrible at it. I dread crochet details even though I use them fairly often. It takes all my concentration to make something as simple as a circle. I look like an idiot doing it too! Last year I promised myself I’d learn it… better than I already knew it. I may actually be worse now LOL! Because my stitches have a tendency to tighten, I used the biggest hook I had to make the edging (11mm). It calls for a smaller needle. It also calls for single crochet, but I used half-double since I can usually make this stitch look good and my hand is comfortable with it.

I know, I know, I made a lot of changes… it seems like I’m bashing the pattern, but really it IS a great design. I’ve found the math in this pattern to be right on-point, which is really the most important part. I’ve made a toddler, child and adult size… they fit great! What I am saying is… don’t be afraid to ad-lib. If you’re having trouble, try these suggestions.

Links to buy this:



This pattern is certainly unforgettable. Don’t believe me? Go see what they’re selling for on Etsy — you might just choke. Apparently I’m not the only one who loves them!

Oh! I will also mention that a craft-show friend of mine wanted to make the crochet version of this pattern, but was shocked that it called for 4 skeins of Lion Brand Thick and Quick. That’s a lot of yarn! I’ll tell you now, this is one of those times when knitting is an advantage. A toddler size used one skein, the adult took two and the child size was right in between. I got my yarn ON SALE at Michaels for $5 a skein!!! Then I nearly cried today when I saw it was down to $3.99! The only time I’ve found a better price on this yarn was when Hobby Lobby discontinued it to replace it with something crappy. It was marked down to $3 a skein and I bought it ALL. Unfortunately it’s already gone from my stash. So naturally, I bought 20 skeins when I was at Michaels. I have a problem. Happy knitting peeps!


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