Project Naptime: Fingerpainted Notecards

DIY Fingerpainted Notecards

I don’t want to brag or anything (yes I do), but Norah A. Babysaurus has the distinction of being the best painter in the baby room at her daycare. How so? She’s the only one who actually smears the paint all over the paper before she tries to eat it. (The downside to this is that she’s easily distracted from eating by smearing drips of baby food around her high chair tray.) It’s important to us to encourage her innate artiness, but there’s only so many paintings we can hang on the refrigerator or store in archival boxes to treasure forever and ever.

Instead, we can control the pileup and share her artistic genius with friends and family by sending notecards that feature Babysaurus originals. It’s a fun and simple way to put those childhood works of art to good use and surprise someone with some extra special snail mail. Smiles all around!

DIY Fingerpainted Notecards - Materials

This project is nice for repurposing a child’s artwork (in this case the abstract expressionist works of an 8-month-old), but it’s not only for children’s work. Finger painting can be very therapeutic for grown-ups, too, if you catch my drift.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Materials

  • Artwork, created on paper or cardstock
  • Plain notecards and envelopes — I used 4-bar sized cards (**two 8.5″ x 11″ paintings made a set of ten 4-bar cards)
  • Craft glue
  • Sponge or brush
  • Ruler and scissors/craft knife OR a paper cutter

Cut the painting to fit the cards

Begin by measuring and cutting your artwork to fit on the notecards. I measured mine 1/4 inch shorter than each the width and length of the card, so that I would have a 1/8-inch margin on each side.

Glue the painting to the card

Take one of the cut pieces and flip it over so that the back is facing up. Squirt craft glue all over the back, then use a sponge or brush to spread the glue evenly, all the way to the edges. Position the artwork over a notecard and press down so that the artwork adheres nicely to the notecard. Press and smooth from the center outward so that you don’t get bubbles or wrinkles trapped in the middle.  

Repeat!

DIY Fingerpainted Notecards

Let the cards dry between sheets of wax paper inside (or underneath) a heavy book for a day or two to help keep them flat.

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Project Naptime: Easy-Peasy Crochet Fleecy

Project Naptime - Easy-Peasy Crochet Fleecy

It’s almost September, and even though here in Maryland we’ve still got another month of warm weather, I’m already in an autumn state of mind. Bonfires. Camping. Curling up with a movie and hot apple cider. Pie.

And that means blankets. Scarves. Shawls. Things soft and cozy. Things made by hand. But who has time to make an afghan, really? I’ve done it, but it took a lot of time and effort before there was Norah A. Babysaurus, and now? Well, things just take a little bit longer.

Rest assured, there is a solution: one that’s faster and (let’s face it) cheaper, and it’s called crochet-edged poly-fleece.

Poly-fleece is soft, cozy, and loveable. Who doesn’t love fleece?! It’s washable, and all you do is cut it down to size — no sewing required! Sometimes that’s enough. But not today. Today, we’re putting an edge on fleece: a simple crocheted edge, to be exact, which I think is just the thing to elevate a plain fleece blanket (or shawl, or scarf) to new heights of cuddliness.

Ingredients

INGREDIENTS

To do this project yourself, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Poly-fleece (see notes)
  • Sharp scissors
  • Straight edge and/or ruler
  • Chalk (for dark material) or erasable fabric marker (for light material)
  • Acrylic yarn, light weight (#3)
    (I used something called Sensations Cuddle in Turquoise)
  • Crochet hook, size H/8 (5.00 mm)
  • Yarn needle

OPTIONAL:

  • Rotary cutter

NOTES:

  • The quantity of poly-fleece and yarn you’ll need depends on the size of your project. To do a throw-sized blanket, you’ll need 2–2 1/2 yards of fleece and one 400-yard skein of yarn.
  • Although I love natural fibers as much as any other yarn fanatic, I chose acrylic for this project because the blanket material is synthetic, and by using synthetic yarn, you are more likely to avoid any disappointing shrinkage or distortion that can happen in the laundry when you mix synthetic and natural fibers. (In other words, you don’t want your yarn border to shrink while your fleece material remains its original size.)
  • I’ve tried to make my instructions as simple and clear as possible, but if you’ve never crocheted before or you’re having trouble following along with my written instructions, check out this free instructional series on the Lion Brand Yarn website.
  • Even though there’s no hemming or sewing involved, I still like to wash the fleece before beginning.

Let’s get started!

Prepare the Fleece

PREPARE THE FLEECE!

Trim the edges. Fold the fleece in half, and trim the open edges using a straight edge and rotary cutter or scissors [1]. Be sure not to trim the folded edge, or you’ll end up with two smaller pieces of fleece.

Round the corners. I did this by taking an oatmeal can (a mug, coffee can, or some other cylinder with a pleasing radius will do) and positioned the can so that it was just touching the edges of the fleece [2]. A firm press downward will leave a clear indentation in the fleece [3] that you can use to trim the corners [4 and 5]. I did this with the fleece still folded in half so that I only had to trim twice (two corners at once) — make sure you’re not cutting on the fold!

Measure and snip. It’s virtually impossible to poke a crochet hook through poly-fleece (I spent way too long trying), so you’ll have to use a pair of sharp scissors to snip a row of small holes all the way around the edge. I tried to eyeball it, but found in the end that it’s easier to take the time to measure and mark the holes with a ruler and chalk or washable fabric marker [6]. I made mine one inch apart, about one inch from the edge of the fleece.

Then snip a hole at each mark, just big enough to insert your crochet hook through [7]. Anything too big will allow the yarn to slide around and buckle the fabric.

SAFETY NOTE: Please be careful not to snip your fingers.

Crochet the Border

CROCHET THE BORDER!

This pattern uses single crochet, double crochet, and chain stitches.

I joined the yarn to the fleece with a single crochet stitch through one of the small holes; it doesn’t matter where you start, although I recommend that you avoid starting with a corner.

If you know how to read a crochet pattern, this is what we’ll be doing for the first round:

  • Straight edge: [Sc 1, ch 3] across, until you reach a corner
  • Corner: [Sc 1, ch 5] until you reach a straight edge
  • Join with sl st

Make one single crochet stitch (sc 1). Find one of the snipped holes [1]. Insert your crochet hook from the front, and yarn over the hook by wrapping the yarn around from the back of the hook. Pull a loop of yarn back through to the front of the fleece [2] — you’ll now have two loops on your hook. Pull the second loop up so that it is as tall as the distance from the hole to the edge of the fleece; this will cause the fleece edge to bunch up, so you’ll want to flatten the fleece edge back out again to ensure the stitch is tall enough before continuing [5]. Yarn over the hook again [4] and pull the yarn-over piece through the other two loops [5].

Make three chain stitches (ch 3). You should be left with one loop on your hook again. Yarn over the hook and pull through the loop [7]. This makes one chain stitch. Repeat two more times for three chain stitches total [8].

Repeat. Continue making one single crochet in each hole, followed by three chain stitches along each side of the fleece. (sc 1, ch 3)

Crochet Border - Round 1 with Symbols

When you get to a corner, you may want to increase the number of chain stitches to five (ch 5). This is because the distance between the tops of the single crochet stitches is greater than the distance between the holes you made for the base of the stitches. (It’s like running on the outside of a track versus the inside.) If you only make three chain stitches, the corners of the fleece will curl and buckle. By adding a few more chain stitches, you’ll ensure that the corners will lay flat.

Join with a slip stitch (sl st) when you’ve come back around to the beginning. Insert your hook into the first single crochet stitch, yarn over and pull the yarn back through both the first single crochet stitch and the loop on your hook.

If you like the simple border, you can stop here and fasten off your yarn, then use the yarn needle to weave in the end. I continued with a second row to make a scalloped border.

Crochet Border - Round 2 with Symbols

Crochet a scalloped border. If you know how to read a crochet pattern, this is what we’ll be doing for the second round:

  • [Ch 1, sc 1 in sc of 1st rnd, dc 5 in ch sp] around, join with sl st

Make one chain stitch followed by a single crochet into the first single crochet of the first row. (ch 1, sc 1)

Make five double crochet stitches into the chain space (dc 5 in ch space) — so you’ll be forming your stitches around the chains. Yarn over the hook once, then insert your hook from front to back in the space between the chain and the fleece. Yarn over again and pull the hook back through, so that you have three loops on your hook. Yarn over again and pull through two loops; then yarn over again and pull through the remaining two to complete one double crochet stitch. Repeat four more times for five double crochet stitches total.

Repeat. Continue making one single crochet into each single crochet stitch of the first round, and five double crochet stitches into each chain space, until you reach the beginning of the second round. Join with a slip stitch to the first single crochet of the second round.

Fasten off and use the yarn needle to weave in the end. Then cuddle up!

Crochet-edged fleece blanket: loved by Babysauruses around the world.

Project Naptime: Rock Doodles

Here’s a project that can take as much or as little time as you want. It can be purely decorative or functional, too. It requires no set up or clean up. And it only takes two ingredients: a paint pen (any color you like; I think white, gold, or silver look especially nice) and river rocks.

So how do you do it?

Step one: Grab the paint pen with your dominant drawing hand — or your opposite hand if you’re feeling adventurous. I happen to be a lefty.

Step two: Draw on a rock.

That’s it!

So with a little imagination, the possibilities are endless! I use it as an opportunity to keep my hands busy when I have a few minutes here and there, and have a small — but growing! — collection in a dish, which I think is fun to look at. Patterns, feathers, animals: whatever strikes my fancy.

A larger rock would make a nice paperweight for yourself or a friend. Gather thirty rocks and make a checkers set; gather thirty-two and make it chess! Backgammon! Tic-tac-toe! Whatever you like. You could even write a special message or use them as place cards for a special dinner party. Label plants. Anything!

I realize that “anything” can be a bit daunting. But it’s what I like most about this project; there’s no pressure to make it perfect, and because I usually only make one or two at a time, I’m free to do whatever comes to me at the moment. So if you’re feeling frustrated by a lack of ideas, try to relax, let go of that conscious effort, and approach it instead like you would doodling in the margins of a notebook. Start by making random dots or lines, spirals or squiggles, and see what happens from there. The point is to have fun!