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Make Baby Stuff Newsletter, Issue #009-- Halloween & Robots!
October 02, 2008

This monthly newsletter is brought to you from the Make Baby Stuff website. Each issue brings you up to date with new crafty happenings, contests, instructions, reader questions, more tips and our featured crafty artist of the month! It is your kick in the pants to get crafty!

Handmade Baby Quilt Contest Update...Entries are Rolling In!

As I write this, we have 82 entries to our handmade baby quilt contest, wow! PS - since our last newsletter, Sublime Stitching was also added as a sponsor & each winner will receive an embroidery pattern from them! Check out the current entries by going to the very bottom of the contest page and be sure to submit your own baby quilt...just one month left to enter! Contest page is here.

Themed Birthday Parties - Robots

robot birthday We've been in "robotland" in our house lately as my son suddenly fancies robots. No idea where this came from, no TV or movie watching yet, but I do admire his hip taste. Robots are cool!

Anyway, we just celebrated his birthday and "robot" was the the theme. I love themed birthday parties for crafting and all of these projects can be easily transformed into whatever your child is into for their birthday. Once you pick a theme the ideas start flowing! Here are a few things we did:

robot magnetsFirst, as a gift (and also as party favors) I made robot magnets. Have you tried out printable magnet paper yet? This stuff is a dream! Pick images (I used robot images from a Japanese toy catalog I've been holding onto) arrange in a document, print it out onto magnet paper and then cut them out. Done! My son and his friends were thrilled with these and couldn't have been happier arranging them on the fridge. I don't think I've ever "crafted" something quite so easy. It can be tough to come up with cheap (but not plastic, China, lead-paint know what I mean) birthday party favors for kids so these magnets are an easy option. Making homemade stickers is another good birthday party favor project!

robot gocco shirtSecond, what better way to have your little one feel special than by creating a very special shirt for their birthday? We made a shirt (with a robot of course) that had the number "2" on it for his age. All day long he pointed to his shirt and said, "Robot. Two" A custom themed birthday shirt like this can easily be made with the freezer paper stencil method or if you want to get serious into shirt making, here is a new Gocco printing on baby shirts tutorial!

Last, but not least, the cake of course has to match the theme...and you guessed it, ours was another robot. An "orange robot" as requested by our son. Orange being his favorite color of course. Don't be afraid of getting a little creative with your cake. A simple sheet cake can be cut into parts and reassembled into almost anything! The frosting will cover it all up and make it look good.

Hope your birthday celebrations are wonderful...and we'd love to hear about any handmade birthday party projects you crafted!

Reader Show & Tell

Speaking of projects you've created...check out these awesome wooden toys that Kelly made after reading our wooden scrollsaw toys tutorial! She freehand drew that horse herself! She also agreed that operating a scroll saw is easier than using a sewing machine. I think they turned out awesome, thanks for sharing, Kelly!

wooden toys

Reader Crafty Tip

Not only did fellow crafty mama, Regina Arlauckas write in with the crib sheet tutorial mentioned below, but she also shared this great baby crafts tip which might come in handy for many of you now that the weather is getting colder: (well, at least those of you on my 1/2 of the planet...I'm not forgetting about my "down under" readers who are now just heading into the warmer season!)

"I used a purchased pattern for a polarfleece jacket for my son when he was 1, but used the idea of the built in "mitts" from the hospital gowns and created a fold over polarfleece mitt at the end of each sleeve.  No chasing mittens or having a string through his coat - I just folded over the ends and his hands were nice and cozy."

Thanks for your crafty tips, Regina! You can check out her blog at the queen bee buzz.

I LOVE hearing about stuff you do that is inspired by projects on our site and I love getting tips from you too. Really, it totally makes this all worthwhile. Feel free to drop me a line and share what you've made or tips you'd like to share with other crafty moms.

New Tutorials

Costumes!: - A few Halloween costume patterns & tutorials have been added in the last couple weeks, some notables include the Deviled Egg Costume and the Ladybug Costume among others! Halloween is coming up soon, have you planned your homemade baby costume yet?

Crib Sheets: - Sewing your own crib sheets is a snap with this sheets tutorial that explains it step by step and includes measurements.

Castle Cake: - Birthdays come but once a year (well, unless you celebrate 1/2 birthdays like a few of our friends do) so you have a whole year to plan a fantastic cake. This castle cake looks impressive but is really easy, even for non-bakers.

Celebrate Growth: - A whole new section all focused on crafts that showcase how a baby grows through the years! Check out this Growth Chart Ideas section for some ideas.

Check our Newest Tutorials Page for More New Articles! Our newest tutorials page lists all the newest projects as soon as they go live on the site! Never miss a new tutorial by simply checking this page.

Meet the Crafty Mama

piddies dana Who: Dana Robison of Piddies, lives in a charming little bungalow in Salt Lake City with her husband, daughter and an ambivalent cat and a "one-eyed albino Wonder-Dog" named Maggie. (now this sounds like a dog I'd like to meet!)

Dana spends her free time reading, hiking, backpacking, sewing, cooking and listening to NPR. She also collects vintage 1950's sewing patterns and knows how to bottle, can or pickle anything that grows. She explains, "I have a wild fantasy of living in the country and growing and making my own everything."

She recently started offering mama & baby slipper sets which I think would be such a cozy thing to give or receive this coming holiday season. Can't you just picture wearing matching slippers with your little one and snuggling up to read a book on a frosty morning? Plus, don't miss the details on her slippers, like the cheese under the mice or the embroidered feet under the birds. Details like these make me appreciate the art of handmade items.

ladybug slippersWhat lead up to starting Piddies? 

I have always been a go-getter, and though I was comfortable and happy with the decision to stay home with my daughter, Ella, I felt that I needed an outlet that was just my own.  I began by making 10 pairs of slippers and listing them on Etsy to get a feel for their marketability.  The first pair sold within an hour - I thought I had broken my shop when they disappeared!  Things took off quickly after that.

mouse slipper Why slippers?

I really couldn't have predicted it, but I made the first pair of Piddies for Ella and realized soon after that there just might be a market for them.  My love for making and building things has always fueled my seemingly inborn entrepreneurial spirit.  I can remember at the age of 6 or 7 thinking that I could find people to buy all the "pretty rocks" I collected and broke open to reveal how sparkly they were

What was your goal when you started Piddies and have you reached it?

I was honestly just looking for a little outlet that could be my own and not about being a mother or a wife.  The interest in Piddies and the response to them on Etsy has been a total surprise and a bit overwhelming.  It has already surpassed my expectations.

piddies-batWhat is your favorite part of your creative process from idea to sale?

My favorite part is seeing the slippers come together in reality after I've seen them in my head or on paper.  They almost always end up even cuter than I could have imagined them, and it's such a thrill to see them come to life.  The creative design process is also a lot of fun, and I affectionately refer to my husband as my "design department".  The bird feet on the soles of the bird slippers, the cheese on the underside of the mice, and the "water" coming out of the blowholes on the whales were all his fabulous ideas.  I love our late-night brain-storming sessions.

What is your least favorite part?

Cutting out all the pieces!  For some reason I find the cutting to be much more tedious than the sewing.

When do you find the time to create?

piddies yellowI do almost everything in the evening after Ella has gone to bed, and when she is napping during the day.  I spend a few hours every weekend cutting out pieces for popular styles to try to stay ahead of the curve.

What are your tips to balance business and family?

I'm not sure I have found a really good balance yet, but I'm always working on it.  Planning ahead seems to be key.  If I can look ahead at the upcoming week and know approximately how many slippers I am going to need to make, then I can work around the other things I need to be doing at home.  My husband is also amazingly supportive, and it is often he who helps me maintain my sanity.  He chips in any time he sees a need, which lifts my burden considerably.  Keeping priorities straight and putting family first while still spending enough time on my business to be successful is the most important thing.

fish slippersWhat do you do to ensure that you don't burn out?

By the time Spring was over this year, I admittedly did feel a little burned out.  Learning not to undersell myself, which leads to overwork and burnout in a hurry, has definitely been an important lesson.  Fortunately for me, summer is the slow season on Etsy and I had a few weeks to rejuvenate before hitting it hard for Fall.  Creating new designs is really exciting, and always having that next design waiting to come to life keeps me going.

Are you crafty in other ways? If so, what do you make?  

I have sewn, crocheted, and cooked for as long as I can remember, and I love designing and making clothing for Ella and myself (when I have the time).  Cooking, especially baking, is another creative outlet for me.  I also have a passion for building things, and have a garage full of power tools and a house in a perpetual state of renovation.

Any future Piddies business plans?  

For the time being, I am just enjoying the ride.  I would love to find some help making my slippers so I can get them out in more markets, but I don't want to see them mass-produced.  Keeping the handmade principles alive is important to me.  Right now I am doing every design, cut, and stitch on my own, so there is a limit to what I can accomplish.  The ideal situation for me would be to sell enough to make the effort worthwhile, while limiting the quantity sold enough to maintain their uniqueness.

bird slippersIf you had to wear a pair of your slippers every day, which ones would they be and why?

Oh, that's a hard one!  I love the Tutti-Frutti Birds because of the bright colors.  Halloween is my favorite time of year, so I adore the Vampire Bats, but they wouldn't do for every day.  I would probably have to toss a coin between the Tutti-Frutti Birds and the grey Mice.  The mice, with their big, round ears and cute little whiskers are probably the cutest slippers in person.  (But I do love the bright colors of the birds!!!...)

Thanks Dana! Visit her shop at Piddies and buy handmade!

Wishing you & your family a Happy Halloween & a wonderful October!

If you like this newsletter, please "email it forward" to someone you know who might appreciate it. If a friend did forward this to you and you like what you read, please subscribe now!

As our site and community grows, I hope that you drop me a line and tell me what crafty baby stuff you are up to! Did you make something that was inspired by something on our site? Pretty please play "show and tell" with the rest of us! Often, having an audience for your crafting is just a kick in the pants that you need to get working.

Feel free to send in tips or questions too! We love mail!

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