Hello Kitty & Black Cat Pumpkins

This year we don’t have a traditional jack-o-lantern. We have Hello Kitty and a black cat with glowing eyes! I didn’t take step-by-step pictures with these, but they’re very simple and self-explanatory. You can see in the pictures how to do any of the steps listed.

Hello Kitty

What you will need:

  • Oval, squatty pumpkin
  • Small witch’s hat (usually has headband attached ~ if it does, just remove the headband)
  • Foam sheets in white, black, and yellow
  • White spray paint
  • Craft glue or hot glue
  • Toothpicks
  • Clothespins or paper clips
  • Small tack nails and hammer (optional)
  • Thick black wire (optional ~ not pictured)

What to do:

  1. Spray paint the entire pumpkin and let dry completely.
  2. Cut one triangular ear shape from the white foam, two oval eyes with lashes from the black foam, and one oval for the nose from the yellow.
  3. Before gluing, hold the face pieces up to the pumpkin to determine the best locations for each. Remember that the bottom of Hello Kitty’s eyes are about even with the top of her nose, and her eyes are widely spaced. Glue in appropriate locations.
  4. For the ear, you’ll need to bend it in the bottom center. Arrange the ear on the pumpkin so the bottom is flush against the gourd. Press one toothpick in on each side to support the ear but so that they are not visible from the front. (As pictured, you cannot see the toothpicks behind the ear giving it its shape.) Glue the ear to the toothpicks. You may need to use clothespins or paper clips to hold it in place until the glue dries. Once it dries, remove whatever you used to hold the ear to the toothpicks.
  5. For the hat, put a line of glue around the seam between the cone and brim and place it on the pumpkin. If it does not sit well, or if you want to be sure the hat does not fly away in the wind, you may want to use small tack nails to secure it in place. These also work well if the brim will not sit just how you want it. Just tap the nail gently through the brim and into the pumpkin.
  6. If you want to add her whiskers (not shown), cut six short pieces of heavy black wire (pieces of clothes hanger painted black will work, too). Insert three on each side near the outer edges of the face as Hello Kitty’s whiskers are drawn almost on the sides of her face rather than by her nose. The top whisker is about even with the top of her eye, the bottom whisker is about even with the bottom of her nose.

Tips & Variations:

  • Spray glitter would look cute over the white on the pumpkin.
  • You can paint her eyes, nose, and whiskers instead of cutting them from foam.
  • A small mask would look cute in place of the hat. You may need to place the second ear if you use a mask instead of the hat.
  • You can go with any costume theme for Hello Kitty!

Black Cat

What you will need:

  • Tall oval pumpkin
  • Short oval pumpkin small enough to proportionally stack on top of the tall pumpkin
  • Black spray paint
  • Paring knife
  • Metal spoon
  • Black foam sheet
  • Toothpicks or thin dowel rod cut into short pieces
  • Craft glue or hot glue
  • Clothespins or paper clips (optional)
  • Votive candle (traditional or battery-powered)

What to do:

  1. Spray paint both pumpkins black and let dry completely.
  2. Cut out the stem side of the smaller pumpkin just as if you were carving a jack-o-lantern. Discard the stem section. Scoop out the inside of the pumpkin and turn upside down (the hole needs to be on the bottom). Cut out two cat eyes.
  3. Set the smaller pumpkin on the top of the taller pumpkin. Make note of where the gourds meet. Insert toothpicks or dowels in the tall pumpkin where the smaller pumpkin touches. These will help the smaller pumpkin stay on the taller pumpkin. Set the votive candle on the top of the taller pumpkin, and press the smaller pumpkin down on top of the toothpicks/dowels.
  4. Cut two triangular ears and one curved tail from the foam sheet.
  5. Attach the ears as described above for the Hello Kitty pumpkin. Attach the tail on one side in a similar fashion.
  6. When it’s dark outside, light the candle and the eyes will glow.

Tips & Variations:

  • Spray paint plastic ear pieces from pumpkin decorating kits instead of making foam ears.
  • Add wire for whiskers.
  • Use your favorite method for preserving a carved pumpkin.
  • Add very small pumpkins (painted black) for feet.
  • Make one laying down. Instead of a tall oval pumpkin, choose a large short pumpkin and offset the “head” so that it looks like a cat laying down.
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DIY Picture Stand

This is an original by me. (I’m sure other people have done something similar, but what I mean by “original by me” is that I came up with this on my own and made it without getting ideas elsewhere.) It’s so simple! It all started when my kids’ pictures came in and we needed 2 small easels for the storyboard collages we ordered. Could I find any little tiny artist-looking easels? Nope. Seen them all the time before, but, as always, they were not to be found when I actually needed to buy them. So after being disappointed in Hobby Lobby, I went over to the wood stuff and bought what I needed to make my own creation to hold the storyboards. I spent a grand total of $7, and that let me make 2 picture stands with tons of materials left over for other projects. To buy 2 of the cheapest plate stands as an alternative to the easels would have been $8, and I wouldn’t have anything left over for other stuff.

What you will need:

  • Toy wooden wheel
  • Finial cap
  • Dowel that fits snug into both the wheel and cap
  • Spray paint (optional)
  • Tiny clothespin
  • Hot glue gun or wood glue
  • Ruler
  • Pen or pencil
  • Saw (I used a hacksaw)

What to do:

  1. Place your wheel in front of you and hold the dowel and ruler together so that you can read the numbers on the ruler. Hold your picture up and figure out about where you want to picture to be when you finish. Measure enough room on the dowel above the picture for the finial cap and clothespin.
  2. Mark for your cut. Remember, “Measure twice, cut once!” Cut the dowel to your desired length.
  3. Assemble the stand. Squeeze a dab of glue into the hole in the center of the wheel. Push the dowel in so that it is snug and secure. Squeeze another drop of glue into the whole in the finial cap and press the cap on the top of the dowel.
  4. Spray paint the stand if you wish to do so.
  5. Attach the clothespin with hot glue or wood glue.
  6. Clip on your picture and admire your handiwork!

Tips & Variations:

  • Tie ribbon, raffia, or yarn around the top. The colors should complement either your decor or the picture.
  • Beads, sequins, glitter, or metal lief add extra appeal.
  • Make a small tag with a title, caption, or the names of people in the picture and clip it along with the picture to the stand.

Fabric Flowers: Tutorial #1 – “Fold and Layer”

It is not enough to say that I love fabric flowers; I am bordering on obsession with them! I pin every new tutorial for them that I find on Pinterest and am impatient to try any I haven’t tried yet. Unfortunately, since the last three months of the year are insanely busy for us (more so than most people’s as many people on both sides of our family have birthdays at the end of the year, plus holidays), I haven’t gotten around to trying out several of them. I tried a new-to-me one last night and took step-by-step pictures along the way. I will have to go back and do the same for others that I’ve already tried, so stay tuned for those!

What you will need:

  • Old t-shirt, cut into
    ~  8 flowers
    ~  1 circle, slightly smaller in diameter than the flowers
  • Flower template (for cutting flowers out of t-shirt)
  • Pen/pencil (for cutting flowers out of t-shirt)
  • Fabric scissors (for cutting flowers out of t-shirt)
  • Fabric or craft glue
  • Button or bead
  • Needle and thread

(ignore the second shirt and extra buttons ~ I was going to make 2 but afterward decided to stick with 1)

What to do:

  1. Fold 4 flower shapes in half then in half again. Glue them to the fabric circle, corners in the middle.
  2. Fold 3 more flower shapes in the same way. Layer these over the four and glue.
  3. Fold the last flower shape in half and pinch and bend it so that it forms a sort of ring on the top, as pictured. Glue only in the center so as not to stick any of the edges of the “petals” down.
  4. Sew a bead or button into the center, as shown in the finished product at the top of this post.

Tips & Variations:

  • When sewing the bead/button in the center, sew all the way through the fabric circle at the bottom. This will leave a short section of exposed thread with which you can attach a bobby pin or safety pin to the flower, making it usable for your hair or clothing.
  • You can glue or sew a strip of fabric to the bottom of the flower and tie it to clothing, scarves, purses, etc.
  • These can be attached to headbands and hair ties to create easy hair accessories.
  • Layering two pieces of different fabric together adds visual impact. The fabrics can be different colors, types, textures, whatever sparks your fancy. To do this, simply cut out 8 flower shapes of the same size from each of two types of fabrics. Layer one of each flower shape, fold, and assemble as directed. The second layer will peek through in the edges of the petals.

Pumpkin Centerpiece

This is a great decoration that will last through October and November. You can even spookify it for Halloween and then remove the ghoulish flare to make it Thanksgiving-worthy. It’s super quick, super easy, and looks fantastic as a centerpiece on your table, on the mantle, or on a side table.

What you will need:

  • Variety of pumpkins, gourds, leaves, and pinecones (it’s all really up to you–whatever you want to use)
  • Bowl or basket
  • Empty plastic container or piece of foam that fits in the bottom of the bowl

What to do:

1. Place the plastic container upside down into the bowl, or place the foam into the bowl if that’s what you are using.

2. Lay leaves facing out along the inside of the bowl. It’s great if the tips stick up above the edge, but they don’t have to. Their main purpose is to hide the container/foam.

3. Add pinecones between the leaves. I found it’s easiest to place them with the bottoms against the bowl with the tops pointing inward.

4. Arrange the pumpkins, gourds, leaves, and pinecones as desired. Just play with it and rearrange until you’re satisfied and all of the filler is covered.

Tips & Variations:

  • For the filler, the idea is just to use whatever you have on-hand. You could wad up paper towels, use an old rag or t-shirt, socks, whatever.
  • You can also do this with Christmas ornaments or Easter eggs.
  • Place a candle in the center. Never leave it lit while unattended.

Clothespin Wreaths

Another Pinterest-inspired craft that I wanted to try. The clothespin wreath pictured I hung on the inside of our front door. Anything we need to remember when we leave the house (water bill, daycare check, etc.), we clip it on the wreath and so far we haven’t forgotten them anymore because we see it as we open the door. I made another one for the kitchen and clipped all my tea bags to it, making a cute and functional piece for the kitchen.

clothespin wreath unassembled

clothespin wreath

What you will need:

  • Cardboard (heavy enough to support the weight of the clothespins and anything you pin on)
  • Scrapbook paper for background and for clothespins
  • Clothespins
  • Mod Podge or some other type of glue
  • Hot glue gun
  • Ribbon
  • Hook to hang it on
  • Spray paint (optional)
  • Various bits for decoration (optional)

What to do:

  1. Trace a circle onto your cardboard; cut it out. Trace a smaller circle in the middle, and cut that out, too.
  2. Trace your cut-out cardboard wreath on the back of the scrapbook paper. Cut it out outside of the lines so that you have enough to wrap around the cardboard. Cut perpendicular to the line to make tabs in the paper for the inner and outer circles.
  3. Lay your paper flat, printed side down. Place the cardboard wreath on the paper, and glue the tabs down one by one with Mod Podge or whichever glue you choose to use.
  4. While that dries, cut strips out of coordinating scrapbook paper the same width as the clothespins. Cut the strips to the length of the clothespins and glue them on with Mod Podge. (If you want to spray paint the clothespins, do that before starting on step 1 so they’ll dry in time.)
  5. Hot glue the clothespins to the wreath. Stay aware of your spacing as you’ll need a little wiggle room when you open/close the clothespins.
  6. If you want to add decorations such as stickers or odds and ends, do so now.
  7. Tie the ribbon around the wreath.
  8. Hang it up and put it to use!

Tips & Variations:

  • For the background of the wreath pictured above, I used pastel green cardstock as the background. Then I took it outside and gave it a liberal dusting of oil rubbed bronze spray paint followed by a light dusting of gold spray paint. When it dried, I used Mod Podge to create small swirls and then put down a gold foil leaf sheet left over from an Easter egg kit. I let that sit for a minute, then peeled it off. Since that particular sheet of foil had been used before, it only left little pieces instead of a full, solid line. Exactly what I wanted! It left me with an aged look that I liked. After all of that, I sprayed it down with a glossy acrylic sealer. Then I glued on the clothespins (also spray painted oil rubbed bronze, and then dusted with gold spray paint after I glued on the paper, finished with a coat of acrylic sealer). I finished up with some stickers I found in Hobby Lobby, and tied it off with various ribbons and some raffia.
  • You can also use fabric strips on the clothespins. You can further this by layering a soft fabric beneath a thinner strip of heavier fabric, fray the edges, and vary the widths to wider and thinner than the clothespins.

Stocking Pumpkins

I’ve seen this idea floating around online and wanted to make my own. I want to reuse them year after year without having remake them, so I bought a couple of fake pumpkins to use instead of real ones. The instructions I give are how I did it; there are other ways to do this, but you still end up with the same result. Do whatever works best for you.

Stocking Pumpkins

~ Sorry! I don’t have step-by-step pictures for this. I made them a few days ago and only took pictures after I finished.

What you will need:

  • Pumpkins, real or fake (make sure they are a size that will fit into the legs of panty hose)
  • Panty hose with a design (lace, spider web, etc.)
  • Needle and black thread
  • Fabric rosettes (optional)
  • Ribbon (optional)
  • Hot glue gun (optional)
  • Paint (optional)

What to do:

  1. If desired, paint the stems of the pumpkins. I used oiled bronze spray paint because it was dark and I had it on hand. You could use acrylic paint, too. I found that using a plastic grocery bag with a little hole ripped in the bottom for the stem to go through worked very well to cover the pumpkin.
  2. Cut one full leg off of the panty hose. Turn the pumpkin upside down in your lap and push the panty hose over the whole pumpkin. This is a little tricky; it takes some finagling. Arrange it as desired. Tie a simple knot in the hose at the bottom.
  3. Thread your needle and use a gather stitch on the panty hose around the stem. (In case you don’t already know, a gather stitch is simply pushing the needle through, up and down, and then pulling the thread tight so that the fabric bunches up–or gathers.) You want the edge of the panty hose at the base of the stem. Tie off your thread, and trim any excess fabric away from the stem, if needed (be careful not to cut through your stitches!).
  4. If desired, hot glue fabric rosettes and ribbon to the pumpkin.

Tips & Variations:

  • Instead of tying a knot beneath the pumpkin, you can stitch it up. This lets it sit flat. If your pumpkin has room beneath or is heavy enough, this may not matter.
  • Spray paint the pumpkin before putting on the panty hose. (See my silver pumpkin in the picture above.)
  • Glue on glitter, buttons, or whatever odds and ends you may have. Just remember, less is more, so keep it simple; you already have a lot of visual interest going on with the stocking design, so anything you add should enhance that.

Quick & Easy Ghosts

These cute ghosts are very quick and easy to make. In fact, my four-year-old helped me make some of them. We hung ours from the trees in our front yard, but you can hang them anywhere or even insert a stick into the bottom and stick them into whatever and have them “standing.”

Hanging Ghost

~ Sorry, I don’t have step-by-step pictures of this. I made these a few days ago and only took “after” pictures.

What you will need:

  • Styrofoam ball of desired size and number (one ball per ghost)
  • Cheesecloth
  • Black permanent marker or fabric paint
  • Needle and thread

What to do:

  1. You will need to cut the cheesecloth into sections. You want each to be long enough to extend well past both sides of the ball and leave room for tying (the ball will be in the middle of the section).
  2. Unfold each section until it is folded only once (leaving a double layer). Cut in half length-wise so that you have 2 double layer strips.
  3. Place the ball in the center of one strip. Tie the long ends in one simple knot. Turn the cloth and ball 1/4 turn and repeat with the other strip.
  4. Using the marker or paint, create a face for your ghost.
  5. Using the needle and thread through the very top of the ghost, create a hanging loop. Tie it off and cut the loose ends of thread. It’s ready to hang!

Tips & Variations:

  • For the bigger ghosts, I spray painted the balls with glow in the dark spray paint.
  • I like to use Sharpie markers so that it bleeds a little on the cheesecloth, leaving feathered edges on the eyes and mouth. I think this looks a little more spooky than the clean edges left by paint.
  • Instead of creating a hanging loop on top, insert a small dowel or similar object into the bottom before tying the knots (tie the knots around the dowel). You will be able to stick the ghost into a planter, vase, or otherwise enable it to “stand” rather than hang.
  • I used wire clothes hangers and bent them to hang the ghosts in our trees.