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How to Make Plastic Canvas Gift Tags

Looking for a different way to label your gifts this holiday season?

These personalized plastic canvas gift tags are quick and easy to make and are reusable as charms after the wrapping paper’s been recycled.

You only need a few supplies to get started:

  • plastic canvas – I used 7-ct but if you have a more complicated design that you want to fit into a small area, you can use 10-ct or 14-ct. (The “count” is how many holes per inch).
  • plastic lobster hooks – metal will work just as well. You can even cannibalize hardware from broken keychains or charms you already own
  • yarn – scraps from other projects will work great for this
  • yarn needle
  • scissors

The first step is to choose your designs so you can create a chart. My example tags were made for a young boy whose name starts with a “B” and was really into Minecraft, and a young girl whose name starts with “K” and was really into Monster High. So I decided to put their initials on one side and something iconic from each theme (Creeper & Skullette) on the other.

I used Excel to create my charts but you can just as easily use graph paper. If using Excel resize your cells into squares and then use the color fill to draw your designs, 8-bit pixel-style.

For the Creeper tag I went with a square shape since most Minecraft mobs have square heads. I then “drew” a capital b in a grid of the same size as the Creeper face. I decided not to do the typical blend of colors for the Creeper since this was just a quick add-on to the birthday party gift we were giving, but you can get as creative as you’d like!

For the Monster High tag I found a free-use Skullette chart and used the size of that chart as a basis for my “K” chart, which I drafted in a font similar to that of the Monster High lettering.

You have freedom to design anything you’d like for your tags! Your only limit is the total size you’d like your tags to be, as the bigger your design, the bigger the results.

The next step is to cut out plastic canvas pieces the sizes required for your tags. Remember that it takes 2 holes on the diagonal to make 1 continental or cross stitch with plastic canvas, so if your grid is 10×10 pixels then you need to cut out a piece of plastic canvas 11 holes x 11 holes, etc.

Stitch your pieces as desired. I used continental stitch (half of a cross-stitch) and did the green background for each piece first, leaving one piece with a tail about 3-4 times as long as the full perimeter. This is optional but by leaving the seaming yarn as your tail it’s one less end to hide later.

After the green I filled in the spaces with black for the “B” and the Creeper’s face.

I followed the same process for the other tag, working from background first to the details last, so the details would remain sharp and not risk getting fuzzy at the edges. First I did the white background (flipping Skullette so the bow would be on the right since the original chart was for Perler beads which get flipped after ironing), then the purple (as I didn’t have pink scraps handy), and finally the black, which I also used to backstitch some shading under the “K”. I didn’t do the tail trick for this one as I wanted to seam it with a different color.

To seam, hold the pieces with wrong-sides together and go from back to front through the first corner 3 times. Next whipstitch around the first side and when you get to the next corner, go through it 3 times again, and continue this process around. When you get to the corner where you’d like to put the hook, do the first corner wrap, then wrap twice while also going through the hook’s jump ring, then go through the corner alone once more.

After all 4 sides are fully seamed you can skim your needle through one side’s wraps and pull the yarn through, for about an inch, then trim the excess as close as you can.

These little tags are under 3″ making them perfect to clip onto a schoolbag or tote.

They really add a personal, handmade touch to a gift without taking too much time or costing the bank.

Have fun creating your own!

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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Easy Jughead Cosplay

There are 4 more sleeps until Halloween, and that’s plenty of time to make most of the costume and prop tutorials I’ve been sharing over the last few weeks. Today’s post is so quick and easy that you can make it in under an hour and probably have all the materials you need already!

Back in 2019 Henri couldn’t wear his actual Halloween costume to school because the Neighbor outfit (from Hello Neighbor) had a mask. It didn’t take any time to come up with a school-safe alternate idea for my little brunette food-machine – Jughead! Henri’s a voracious Archie comics reader and we joke that his favorite food is “food” so combining the two was a no-brainer.

The costume is really simple because you can wear any school-appropriate outfit that a teenager would wear. The main key to get the look is Juggie’s trademark hat, and then as a bonus you can include a burger to really sell it.

We went with the comics version, not the Cole Sprouse version from Riverdale, mostly because I didn’t feel like knitting the whoopie cap.

Step 1: A burger. If we’d had a toy or squishy burger I’d have used that, but since we didn’t I went with an easy thought bubble because Mr Jones is always daydreaming of his favorite food.

You can find free clipart online and prepare the image in any software that will allow you to manipulate images. My preference is Excel but you can also use Word, BeFunky, Photoshop, etc. You can also draw the image digitally in something like Procreate or draw it outright on cardstock and color it in with any art supplies you have already. You want to scale your final image to fit as large as possible on a single sheet of paper (if printing it) or can go as large as you like if drawing it on something larger like a Bristol board.

I’ve included the image I used here as a free download. For best results print directly onto cardstock or print onto computer paper and then glue it onto cardstock or cardboard. A panel from an old cereal box or shipping box from the recycling bin is perfect.

To finish the prop and protect it, laminate it with packing tape! I like to cut the image out first so when I laminate I can have a thin edge of tape just past the paper, so no moisture can get in. Cut out your image and lay strips of packing tape evenly across the front of the image, smoothing down any bubbles as you go. Next, flip the image over and repeat the process. Use your fingers to make sure the seal around the edges of the image is tight, and then trim away the excess tape. Finally, tape a stick of some kind to the back. I used a wooden chopstick from takeout sushi that I covered with white electrical tape.

Step 2: The whoopie cap. If there’s ANY key piece for a Jughead cosplay, it’s his unique hat. Cut a strip of cardboard the height of the cap, and long enough to go around the wearer’s head with about an inch of overlap. If you want to paint it gray do that now, though we didn’t bother. Cut the top into points and then try it on the wearer again to make sure it fits and that the points line up where the seam will be.

Draw or paint on the iconic buttons Juggie always has. I used permanent markers and White-Out. Finally, staple or tape the edges together.

That’s all there is to it! So quick and easy it can be ready for school the next day without keeping you up into the late hours of the night.


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Cartoon Girls Trio – UPDATE (19WIPtoFO2019)

Back in January 2019 (!) I posted 19 projects I was determined to complete in 2019.  Spoiler alert – I failed – but I have made significant progress on about half of the projects on the list. Inspired by the recent Masters of the Universe and Suicide Squad remakes, here’s the current progress on my trio of 80s cartoon girls.

What I said: I’ve never shown these before, except for the odd glimpse in the background of Instagram pics.  I started this trio of plastic canvas portraits when I moved in August 2017.  While I love how they look in black and white (and blue), I designed them to be in full color and I’d love to see them complete.

What I did: Quite a bit of progress! 

I’d never shown them on the blog prior to that post, so here’s a look back at how they got to where they are now.

I’d moved in 2017 and was really excited to be able to fill my space with all the crafty, nerdy little things that make me who I am. 

Every shelf and table has some item that references my varied interests, and I’ve even used some previous projects as home décor – see the Minecraft heads from my tutorials peeping from above the kids’ desk, along with an as-yet-unshown secret project hidden among the books – so I was really excited to fill a blank wall space in my dining room with a handmade project.

First I purchased three of the largest plastic canvas sheets I could find. When looking for inspiration for what to stitch on them I really didn’t need to look very far. There are Archie comics in nearly every room in my house, thanks to my kids enjoying them as much as I do. In addition to the coloring book from my last post, I’ve drawn Betty on the blog here before, and Henri had drawn Archie a few years back. (He was even an Archie comics character for Hallowe’en last year, and I’ll be sharing that project here in October.) So clearly, Betty Cooper would be one of my cartoon trio.

Initially I drafted up Betty, Archie and Veronica, and planned out a triptych of the three of them, but the more I thought about it the more I realized it was Betty specifically that I like, and that I didn’t care if I saw Archie and Veronica daily, so I scrapped them and looked around for more inspo. As soon as I had the freedom to look beyond Riverdale I knew Harley Quinn HAD to be one of them. I’ve adored her for decades, and she’s featured in assorted places around my house, including in two different spots on this one shelving unit:

Finally, it wasn’t hard to decide on Teela as my third girl. I grew up watching He-Man and playing with the toy sets along with my younger brothers. I don’t know if it’s that she’s a strong, independant woman or if it was because she often wore a cobra headpiece and had a snake staff, and I’ve always adored snakes… but either way she had to be the one to complete my cartoon trio. I’ve shared Teela and a portion of my 80s toy collection on the blog before, and they’ve now found a home in a cabinet along with other childhood relics:

The hard part done, the next step was to create charts for each character. Instead of doing it the easy way and importing reference images into a stitch software, I decided to go the hard route and chart them myself in Excel. I found reference images for each character, adjusted the Excel cells to be square and marked off an area with the same stitch count as my total canvas size. From there it was just a matter of redrawing each girl, pixel-art style, and tweaking the design until they looked right. I’d originally planned to use continental stitch to save time, but quickly realized the angles would be skewed and that cross-stitch would be best, using one stitch for every pixel/cell in my chart.

I ordered a bunch of yarn from Knit Pics, then got started.

Here you can see the initial stages. I didn’t want to have to refer to the charts throughout the entire stitching process so decided to start with the black outlines first, so I could then later fill them in, coloring-book-style. Plus I didn’t know how long they would take to complete into full color and wanted to be able to hang them on the wall in the meantime. Considering I started these in 2017 and I’m typing this post in 2021, I’m glad I had that foresight!!

After finishing most of Betty I moved on to chart HQ next. I bet you’re wondering why I left Betty mostly done instead of finishing the rest of her border? Took me a moment to remember too lol but it’s because I left myself things to work on that didn’t require concentration, so when I had more time I would work on HQ and follow my charts, and when I had the kids with me or was watching something that required more focus I could work on Betty’s border that didn’t require much thought or any chart reference. Basically it was the cross-stitch equivalent of having knitting or crochet projects of varying difficulty levels.

Once the outlining was all done I worked on each of their eyes, as I thought it would look better on the wall, and truthfully HQ was a bit creepy without them. Then, while I still had the blue out, I added Betty’s shirt. Her top was red in my reference image but blue is my favorite color so I swapped it out, plus I liked having a color that was in each of the 3 images, to help tie them together. The middle pic above is the one posted on the blog back in 2019, and where they sat for basically most of the last 3 years. At some point I filled in their mouths and got started on Betty’s skin, and that’s where I’d stopped and moved on to other projects.

Eventually I started working on them again. I’d always had it in mind to work on equal parts of each, so as they hung on the wall they’d look similar in completion. First Betty had the slow progress on her face and neck…

…and then this past summer Teela got the same treatment, using stash yarn so she wouldn’t have the exact same skin tone as Betty’s.

Technically I should have done Harley’s face next, for them to all match, but these sheets are large and get folded up against my body or resting under my arm as I work. Since Harley’s face is white, and clearly a focal point of the image, I decided to hold it off for last so it wouldn’t get dirty or faded, and work on her costume instead.

At that point I was on a roll! The new Netflix Masters of the Universe had just come out, and it was kinda cool to start working on Teela’s tiara while watching the premiere. In fact, I got so into it that I kept watching until I found I’d binged the whole first season!

Spoiler-free take: ignore the men complaining about the show. It’s awesome to see the old gang again, even Stinkor! (Man I can still remember the smell of that toy!) I love the focus on Teela and magic vs tech. Made me think about Skylanders and my girl Sprocket – guess I’m always drawn to my tech girls! Also, as a big Buffy fan, with Sarah Michelle Gellar as the voice of Teela, it’s fantastic to hear Buffy kicking butt again. ♥

This is where the girls are now. I’ll be working on HQ’s white bib and pompom next, to complete her outfit, and that will put me into the home stretch with only 2 sections left on each girl. At the end I’ll have to do one run of border around each one, as the edges are currently unfinished, and then finally attach rings for hanging them properly, as I’m currently holding them to the wall with thumbtacks.

I know it’s not conventional wall art for an adult woman, but I love them.


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Harry Potter: Knitting Magic (including a design by ME!)

I’ve been waiting so long to share this wonderful project with you, and I’m delighted that I finally can, because the book is officially out today!

Harry Potter: Knitting Magic – The Official Guide to Creating Original Knits Inspired by the Harry Potter Films

Featuring more than 25 projects, the 192-page book includes patterns for clothing, home projects, and keepsakes pulled straight from the movies – and even includes a few iconic costume pieces as seen on-screen.

There are projects designed with the movies’ actual costumes in mind, like the House Scarves:

…and the Beauxbatons students’ capelet:

…as well as projects inspired BY the movies like this gorgeous sweater based on Hermione’s time-turner:

…and this adorable hanger featuring the Sorting Hat and the animals that represent each House:

Even the staging and photography of the book is incredible- I mean COME ON-

This entire Umbrage scene is perfect!!

The book also includes fun facts, original costume sketches, film stills, and other behind-the-scenes treasures.

The book has already gotten really good press reviews (Martha Stewart, The Nerdist, Mental Floss, House Beautiful, Apartment Therapy, among others) and I’m seriously honored that I got to be a part of it, and thrilled to finally present my pattern: The Order of the Phoenix Lace-Knit Throw Blanket.

It’s a circular blanket knit from the center out in alternating strands of a beautiful orange/red hand-dyed yarn that reminded me so much of Dumbledore’s cherished phoenix Fawkes.

The center of the blanket features flames to represent the phoenix’ fire, and is separated from the next section by a jagged dividing line that is actually Harry’s lightning bolt scar.

The middle section proudly proclaims the title of the fifth HP book (and blanket inspiration) in an eyelet font.

Anyone who’s knit my Lullaby blanket pattern can attest that while it might seem daunting, the text charts are really easy to follow and work up pretty fast.

Finally the border section features Fawkes’ feathers, elongating in rows until finally ending in individual feather tips.

I loved every aspect of designing, swatching and knitting this blanket, and I truly hope you enjoy it too.

You can click HERE to get your own copy.


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Crafty Compilation – w/e 01/07/17

2017.  Wow.  I can’t believe I started this blog roughly 13 years ago, nor that some of you have been around since the very beginning.  Whether you’re one of my original few hundred subscribers or one of the couple thousand who discovered my site when looking for my most popular Halloween DIY, hi there, happy holidays, and happy New Year!  I’ve got a lot planned for this little blog over the upcoming year, so if you’re an old friend- thanks for sticking around… and if you’re new- I hope you’ll pull up a chair and stay a while.

Some of you may note that I’ve slowly made changes to the type of content that I post.  I’ve never been a mono-crafty person, and the blog will always adapt to whatever creative pursuits I’m into at the time, whether they’re knitting or crochet, cosplay or cakes.  Coloring books are going to have more of a showing on the blog, as will as a variety of crafts beyond the yarn-based ones.  For the last two years I’ve taken step-by-step photos of all the projects that I’ve made with the intent to focus more on sharing helpful DIYs, tutorials and tips going forwards, instead of merely showing off whatever I’ve made.  I’m going to have more reviews coming up, both sponsored and non, and while there might be affiliate links popping up at the end of some posts, I can promise you that my reviews will always be strictly my honest, unbiased thoughts.

Another feature I’m going to add is a weekly roundup, to both keep track of and hold accountable to the projects I’ve got ongoing.  Not everything needs to wait for a finished reveal, and sometimes quick projects or small pastimes get lost in the shuffle of the day-to-day.  To that end – this is my first Crafty Compilation.  I plan to post these on Sundays and to cover the previous week’s goings-on, but this first one is being posted on Thursday because life LOL.  Amazing how, even when one is off work in post-op recovery, when it comes to crafting, there still isn’t enough time!  This first CC will cover some stuff worked on over the holidays, as well as last week.


Knitting

  • Gift knitting

Over the holidays I knit a special baby hat.  One of Yannick’s closest friends had a baby girl just before the holidays, and when he showed me the gifts he planned to bring for the friend and his other young daughter, I told him I knew just the thing to make for the new arrival.  The little girl’s dad has similar geeky tastes as we do, and I thought this pattern would be perfect.

I’ve knit it once before, back in 2013, as part of a Hallowe’en costume for a baby girl aptly named Leia. This was a pic of Jakob trying it on for me at the time:

jakob-in-leia-hat

and this is a pic of the little sweetheart in her full costume.  Cutest Leia I’ve ever seen!leia-in-princess-leia-hat

The pattern is very well written and it’s a pretty quick knit, even with all the icord.  The hat and the ear puffs each took a night’s worth of knitting to work up, then the assembly took barely an episode of Elementary.

leia hat collage.jpg

Forgive the bad pics, it’s hard to take hat pics without an appropriately-sized head! 🙂 I’m really pleased with how the hat came out, even though I’d knit it before and expected it to look the same.  One thing I love about this pattern vs others out there is how it incorporates ‘bangs’ and the center part (not clearly visible in these photos but seen better in the one of Leia wearing it above).

  • Drops v-neck sweater

I also completely frogged a sweater I’d been working on.  Back in September I’d started a garter-stitch oversized sweater with a lovely gray yarn from my stash.  I’d thought it would be perfect ‘no-look’ movie or tv knitting but after measuring a sweater I own that had the fit I wanted, I realized that what I was making wouldn’t have the proper shape.  Plus I’d been having a nagging feeling that the garter stitch was eating up too much of my limited yarn.  So I frogged it one evening last week and began this pattern instead.  I’m pretty sure I’ll have enough yarn, and if not I’ll work the neckband and/or cuffs in something contrasting.

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So far I’m at about 32cm of the 34cm I need to be at before splitting for the low v-neck.

Coloring

  • Doodle Fusion ‘Christmas Tree’

A few weeks ago I’d taken a page from Dede Willingham and done color washes across a bunch of my coloring book pages.  From what I’ve seen she primarily uses acrylic paints, but I mixed it up a bit, using not only paint, but also my Neocolors (seen previously here, in imagimorphia) and my Inktense (last seen here, also in imagimorphia).  This particular page, from Zifflin’s Doodle Fusion, seems to deliberately invoke a Christmas tree, so that’s how I decided to approach it.  I colored over the whole image with the Inktense in shades of green.  The first pic is immediately after wetting the pencils, and the second is the next day, after the page had dried.

doodle fusion christmas tree 00.jpg

My plan is to color the characters in colored pencil over the Inktense, keeping them muted and dark, but to color all the eyes and anything round-ish in bright gel pens, so they’d (hopefully) look like bright ornaments on the tree.  If you squinted at it.  Maybe.

doodle-fusion-christmas-tree-01

This was after my first pass with the gel pens.  I think I got all the areas I’d wanted, but I’m sure as I work on the figures I’ll find more.  I’m looking forwards to coloring the characters now in dark tones to really make the gel pen pop.

PS- this book is crazy, and I love it.  I’ll be showing a lot more of it in future posts.

I finally finished a page I started coloring back in November in the Disney Villains coloring book Yannick had bought for me, but as this post is getting long I’ll save them for another.  That’s another excellent coloring book that I’ve been working in quite a bit.

UPDATE: those pages are posted here.  🙂

Other Crafts

  • While the boys were off school for Christmas break I tried to keep them occupied with more than just Minecraft, Little Big Planet, or their new Skylanders Imaginators. Every few days we had ‘technology-free’ time during which we’d color, or do pencil puzzle books, and during one of those afternoons I taught them how to make their own stuffies.  However I took a TON of photos and so I’ll share the step-by-steps of their work in another post

Alright, that’s it for this round-up!

 
This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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Last-Minute DIY Pikachu Costume

All month Henri has been telling me he planned to wear his Creeper costume for Halloween this year.  He’s brought it up many times and even pulled the head out of the dress-up bin in our den to try it on and be sure it still fit.  And then this past Friday his class went to circus school for the day and he came home like this:

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and then told me he wanted to be Pikachu for Halloween.

This guy:

pikachu

Um.  Okay.  We had nothing at home I could use to make a physical costume, but I knew we’d be going to Walmart the next day so I told him if we found a set of face paint, I’d buy it and would paint his face like Pikachu.

Saturday we were at Walmart and found some inexpensive face paint, but then he started complaining that he didn’t have Pikachu’s ears.  I thought about it a little and told him we’d be going to the dollar store next; if he found a headband that fit him I’d buy some yellow felt and make him some ears.  He found a girl’s one with a plastic bow attached, but it was yellow and fit him, and they had a pack of felt with yellow in it so we brought it home and I set it aside.

Yesterday I was at my parents’ house for dinner and Henri made a comment about being excited to wear his Pikachu costume to school the next day and I realized – oh crap, Halloween is tomorrow!

Ahem.  Forgive me, my brain has been a little foggy lately.

We got the kids home and to bed and then I sat down and made Henri’s costume.  It was quick, and it was easy, and it used either dollar store supplies or things you may already have on hand, so if you’re stuck for a last-minute costume, here’s how you can whip  this up in plenty of time to go trick or treating tonight.  Grab a friend who’s dressed like a Pokemon Trainer and you can be your very own live Pokemon Go team.  🙂

Here’s what you’ll need:

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The first thing I did was carefully cut off the plastic flower on the head band, then I put it on Henri’s head and marked off where the ears should sit.  As it happens we have a large Pikachu doll that was the right size to trace for the ear shape, but you can just freehand it.

post-pikachu-diy-costume-01

After the ear shape was drawn, I drew a second line about a quarter inch outside it, for a seam allowance.  Then I cut out the shape through all 4 layers of yellow felt.

post-pikachu-diy-costume-02

The next step is to sew the ears together.  I used yellow thread and a simple running stitch since the ears wouldn’t really be under any tension.  I left the open end edges unsewn for about a quarter inch so I had enough fabric open to gather over the heandband.  If you don’t want to sew, you could also glue the sides shut, but if you do make sure to put the ear side that you drew on on the inside to hide the pen markings.

Next I colored the ear tips with a black sharpie.  The mess you see on the right is the transfer of ink from one side when I flipped it over to color the other side.  I’m showing you this so you can be prepared and cover your work surface.

post-pikachu-diy-costume-03

Once the tips were colored I stuffed each ear with some loose batting then sewed them over the sides of the headband where I’d previously marked.  I used a blanket stitch to close the open edge but you can use any stitch you like, or glue them shut as well.

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Here are the finished ears.  They look silly off but are kind of cute on.

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(Yes I had to try them).

While I was working on the ears I kept glancing over at the tail on our stuffed Pikachu and realized it wouldn’t take that much more effort to make one too, and surprise Henri.

To start I took some cardboard from our recycling bin and sandwiched it between two sheets of white cardstock with a regular glue stick.  To make sure it dried well I placed it flat on the table and set some heavy books on it.  Once the ears were done the cardboard had fully dried and I was able to trace Pikachu’s tail onto it.

post-pikachu-diy-costume-05

Then I cut out the tail.  I brainstormed a few different ways to attach it to Henri.  I don’t like the idea of sending a 7yo to school with a safety pin on his butt, so I came up with a belt method.  To make it work I carefully pried back about an inch of the tail section and folded the cardstock on each side outwards.

I used my Spectrum Noir markers to color the yellow of the tail and then colored the lower edge with a black Sharpie, completely overlooking the fact that it’s supposed to be brown, because I was working in dim lighting.  D’oh.  You can use any permanent markers, and do the proper colors.  🙂

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To make the belt section, I first cut two holes into each side flap.  I then threaded three strands of yellow yarn through each side, made a knot to secure them near the top, and then braided them into belts which I could then slide through the belt loops on his jeans and tie at the front.  I made them longer than needed because I didn’t have his waist with me to try them on, and had planned to cut the excess this morning but we ended up just tucking the ends into his jeans.

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And there you have it!  Add in some yellow face paint, bright red cheek circles and a black triangular nose and poof-

post-pikachu-diy-costume-08

You’ve got one happy Pikachu.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

henri-pikachu-collage-site

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Looking for more Halloween costume ideas?  Check out here.

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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How to make a Minecraft Enderman head (with bonus diamond block trick-or-treat basket)

Update: This tutorial is now also available as a downloadable PDF here. More details at bottom of this post.

Some of you may, like me, be suddenly realizing there are only ten days left until Halloween.  No stress – there’s still plenty of time to make a Minecraft Enderman costume, complete with a matching diamond block trick-or-treat basket!

enderman-costume

For Halloween last year Jakob wanted to be a Minecraft Enderman.  For reference, these are the tall, spindly black figures who appear out of nowhere to steal your blocks.  They’re neutral mobs who can teleport and will only attack when provoked by looking them in the eyes (which, to be honest, is kind of hard to avoid, seeing as how they’re the most vivid part of the things!).

minecraft-enderman
minecraft-diamond-block

In the game Enderman can’t actually pick up diamond blocks, but that’s what Jakob wanted anyways.  To be an Enderman carrying a diamond block.

photo-2015-10-25-8-10-14-pm

I was fresh off my “Skylanders Sprocket wrench pulling double-duty as secret purse” achievement so I thought if he’s gonna be schlepping a box around anyways… why not make it useful and turn it into his trick-or-treat basket?  So that’s what I did.  🙂

The first thing to do was assemble all materials.  In total the two parts of the costume required the following:

  • 2 boxes (one large enough to fit over the wearer’s head, & a second box to be the treat basket)
  • craft paint in the appropriate colors
  • masking tape
  • ribbon
  • double-sided tape
  • scissors
  • craft knife
  • paint brushes
  • something to use as a palette (I used a styrofoam plate)
  • gauzy black fabric (optional, and I cut mine from a dollar store scarf)
  • spray sealant (optional)
enderman-head

Everything but the boxes and scissors came from my local dollar store, making this not only an easy costume to make, but a really inexpensive one too.

ENDERMAN HEAD

Top row:

  1. Assemble all materials
  2. Cut off the flaps on the side of the box you want for the opening.  Tape down all other flaps securely, cover all seams and use tape to cover the cut edges at the bottom.
  3. Measure out your grid on all 5 remaining sides of the box.

Middle row:

  1. Cut out the eye holes.
  2. Cover the cut edges of the eye holes with masking tape, then paint the Enderman’s eyes with two different shades of purple.
  3. Paint the rest of the Enderman’s head.  I followed a actual chart pattern using shades of charcoal and black but you can just as easily paint the whole rest of the head solid black.

Bottom row:

  1. Optional: tape a piece of sheer black fabric over the eye holes so they don’t show from the outside but can still be seen through on the inside
  2. Enjoy your new Enderman head!
  3. Wear with black sweatpants, a black sweatshirt, and black stretchy gloves.  Add a diamond block trick-or-treat basket for a complete Halloween costume!
  4. (optional- seal the paint with spray sealant, more on that below)
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diamond-block

DIAMOND BLOCK TRICK-OR-TREAT BASKET

Top row:

  1. Assemble all materials
  2. Cut off the flaps on the side of the box you want for the opening.  Tape down all other flaps securely, cover all seams on the outside and cover the cut edges at the bottom.
  3. Mix aqua and white together to get a few different light aqua shades.

Middle row:

  1. Following an in-game image of a diamond block, paint one side in shades of aqua, making one lower corner darker for shading.  Repeat on the other 4 sides.
  2. Add a border to all 5 sides using the aqua paint at its full strength.
  3. Paint the inside of the box black.

If you prefer a more accurate version, I have compiled this tutorial into a downloadable PDF (linked at the bottom of the post) which includes full-color screen-accurate charts for both the Enderman and the 16×16 grid of the diamond block, including the hex codes for each color so you can color-match accurately.

Bottom row:

  1. Make 2 holes in 2 opposing sides.  Knot ribbon through the holes to act as handles.
  2. Enjoy your diamond block trick-or-treat basket!
  3. Add to the Enderman head for a complete Halloween costume.
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One optional step that I did but is not obligatory at all is to spray the painted sides with a sealant.  I didn’t know what the weather would be like on Halloween and didn’t want to worry about rain causing the paint to run.

*Update in 2020: the heads are still going strong! The boys outgrew them of course, but we keep them as nerdy shelf displays and they look exactly the same as they did back when I made them.

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And that’s it!  The longest part in making these costume pieces is waiting for the paint to dry.  🙂

(PS: Looking for the big guy’s little buddies?  Check out my tutorial for Minecraft Steve and Creeper heads here!)

minecraft heads wip 12

I hope this post shows you how easy and fast it can be to make your own Minecraft Steve and Creeper heads!

You can adapt the tutorial to make any Minecraft mob, and I’ve got an assortment compiled for you here.

As mentioned above, if you’d like an easy-to-print-and-save PDF version of this tutorial, I have made it available on Etsy here. The 12-page PDF includes full instructions with additional details, clear photographs, as well as game-accurate full-color numbered charts for all 5 sides of both the Enderman’s head and the diamond block, along with their hex codes for perfect color matching.

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More Minecraft-themed fun:

How to make a Minecraft Steve and Creeper Heads

How to make Minecraft Lootbags

How to make Minecraft Mob fondant cake/cupcake toppers

How to make a Minecraft cake

Throwing a Minecraft birthday party

Minecraft Zombie Charts

Minecraft Jack-O’-Lantern Charts

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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Halloween help

My phone has been pinging quite a bit lately, notifying me that people have been saving my pins.  While I think that’s awesome, and am flattered, I was also confused because I couldn’t think of what I’d posted that would be so popular at the moment.  And then I remembered – it’s almost Halloween!  Sure enough, it was my Minecraft-related pins getting all the love, the Creeper/Steve head tutorial especially.

So for anyone who found my blog via those pins, or anyone else who’s interested, here are some quick links to my (few) Halloween/costume-related tutorials.  I do have more coming up this month, so be sure to come back and see.

For those with some boxes and paint lying around: here’s how to make Minecraft Steve & Creeper heads.

For those who need an easy addition to their Gryffindor robes, here’s a quick free scarf pattern.

For those with a young’un eager to train a dragon, here’s how to make a viking vest.

And finally, for those with a lot of knitting time on their hands, here’s how to make a child’s first superhero costume, as well as a look at how I used that same pattern to turn Jakob into Superman for his first Halloween.

I hope you enjoy the links!  For my fellow Minecraft-loving folks, I’ve got a matching Enderman tutorial coming up, complete with his very own diamond block.  Stay tuned!

 


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Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake

Only 3 months late, here’s (finally) the completed Pitfall: The Lost Expedition birthday cake.
pitfall the lost expedition birthday cake
The morning of Henri’s party I woke up and went downstairs, peering cautiously into the gloom of the laundry room to see how the cake had held up overnight.  There’s always the chance for decorations to slip, or icing to crack or worse – to discover that one of the kids had found the cake and begun to dig in…so I was nervous when I slowly approached.

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Then I breathed a sigh of relief.  It looked good.  I’d finished so late in the morning that I’d passed out, so seeing the cake again was a pleasant surprise.  I was actually feeling quite proud of myself.

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Oh yeah, I thought- Henri’s gonna love it!  All that remained was to transport it to the party without incident and then it would be-pitfall-cake-party-day-01

W-wait.  Why does something look wrong…?

Oh.

Oh no.
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Do you see it?

Remember in my last cake post when I was all cocky about the vines working out?  Hmm.  Looked like I’d spoken too soon.  The first vine I’d attempted had had a chance to set up while laying horizontally… so when I hung it over the edge of the back board to test out it held its shape perfectly.  The new vines, however… I’d rolled each out and tucked them into place under the top cake right away.  And they’d looked good.  ‘Great’, even, if I may be so bold.pitfall-cake-party-day-04

But overnight gravity took hold, and the once relatively-uniform vines began to sag slowly.  Some had narrowed enough to look delicate and thin, twisting and tangling among others in a pretty cool, natural way (see the ones on the right).  Others, though… like the ones on the left… they’d basically collapsed.  Luckily they’d thinned before falling, so the resulting puddle of vines still looked pretty natural, I guess…which was good because it would have seriously messed things up to try and detach them.  The only one I did detach was the vine that had attached itself to the waterfall.  I thought it ruined the illusion of flowing water to have a vine stuck up alongside.  😛pitfall-cake-party-day-06

This pic was taken on my lap in the car en route to the party, and is probably the only pic taken strictly with sunlight.  The color is pretty accurate though I find the blue too bright.  (That may have been my phone, it’s notorious for having a hard time photographing blues and purples accurately).
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I took a last quick set of pics at the party before serving.  Here’s the backside.  You can see how the vines here too have thinned and sagged.
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And here’s the finished cake, complete with Pitfall Harry himself.
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I waited until the very last moment to stick him in the cake, partially to avoid the risk of snapping the figure, and partially so he wouldn’t absorb moisture from the cake/icing and then have the fondant soften and fold over.  I likely needn’t have worried… there was probably enough ‘paint’ on the front at least to seal the moisture out, but the back was still bare fondant and I didn’t want to take a chance.pitfall-cake-party-day-10

Add one quick candle for the birthday boy’s age, and then I wheeled it over to his table.  It was a huge hit!  The kids got their choice of location to eat from and we served some to the parents as they came to pick up their children.

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In the end this is all that was left – a tiny bit of cake and a filthy board.

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I had planned to take it home and pop the fondant off the base stand so I could use it again, but sadly I broke it.  The fondant ‘glue’ was so strong in adhering the stand to the cake board, that when I was trying to separate the two I cracked the plastic of the stand itself.  I was impressed with the strength… but unfortunately it meant I had to throw out the stand.  Ah well.

PITFALL CAKE COLLAGE SQUARE

All the ‘making of’ posts:

1. Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 01

2. Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 02

3. Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 03 part 1- Pitfall Harry, crocodiles and a healing spring

4. Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 03 part 2- assembly

5. Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 03 part 3- finishing


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Making a Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake, day 03 part 3- finishing

It’s been brought to my attention (*cough*Michelle*cough*) that I never finished posting Henri’s Pitfall cake.  That is correct… February sort of got away from me, so I’ll take care of that right now.  This post will cover the final details of finishing the cake the night before the party, and my next post will show the final cake at the party, complete, and enjoyed.  🙂

In my last Pitfall cake post I left off with the cakes assembled and dirty-iced.  I set them aside for a little bit so the icing could crust and mixed up some green for the grass.  I deliberately gave it a bit of an aged, almost faded color so it would match the tones of the fondant leaves and the brick wall.  The wall was so dirty and stained/old-looking that a bright, primary-colored grass base would have looked really, really out of place. pitfallcakeday03part03-04

I covered the top cake with the same cake-filled chocolate icing as I used on the lower base, blocking out an area for the small pool at the top of the waterfall.  Then I used green icing to block out the larger pool at the bottom.  Once the brown and green were done I used more white icing to thicken the base coat on the various water areas.pitfallcakeday03part03-05

Then I realized that the pool I’d created wasn’t wide enough to fit the crocodile I’d already made.  Oops!  So I used more white icing to widen the water.

My cakes are often like this.  Very rarely is something sprung to life, fully formed, exactly as it was in my head.  It might be close, in the way this cake very closely resembles my initial sketch, but the actual details in the getting there are always very fluid, and often borne of the desperation and delirium that comes from cake decorating in the wee hours of the night when stores are closed and coffee is cooling.pitfallcakeday03part03-06

Next I mixed up some blue for the water and layered it on over the white.  I didn’t worry so much about the edges where the water and grass meet as I knew I’d be placing leaves there, and I deliberately left it choppy on the waterfall where I wanted it to look like there was some motion and churning.  I also played with swirling my knife around to make the water look a bit rough because the waterfall would prevent it from being a clear, calm pool.  Above you can see the cake as I worked on it (with the parchment protection) and then how it looks once I removed the parchment.  I always keep the parchment in place until I’m ready for the finishing details as it’s much easier to remove dirty parchment from around a cake than icing from the cake board.

One of the things I’d been thinking about in the days leading up to D-day (decorating day) was how to make vines.  I figured I’d just roll out some fondant pretty thin and hope it wouldn’t crack once it dried.  But when at the dollar store that afternoon during my unexpected child-free time I hit on the idea to try using caramels.  pitfallcakeday03part03-01

I figured they were already pliable, and edible, just like fondant… but had a better stretch.  Hmmm…could this work?

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I’d decided to do a quick test before going to pick up the kids from the party.  I softened 2 caramels in the microwave and then when they’d cooled enough to touch, added a touch of green food gels.  I kneaded it together just like dough/fondant and was thrilled that the caramel took the color evenly, with no streaking or dissolving from the added moisture.  I quickly rolled out a quick, curly vine and set it aside to dry while I was out.pitfallcakeday03part03-03

This is what I came home to (above).  A perfect, jungly-green colored, held-its-shape vine that was smooth, crack-free and best of all, delicious.  (Okay, there had been 2.  Yum.)

Sweet!

(Pun intended).vinepintereststrip

For my Pinterest friends, here’s a graphic for you!

Now that I knew I had the solution for the perfect vines, I got to work.  I wanted to set the vines in place before finishing the grass because I knew working on one could destroy the other.pitfallcakeday03part03-07

I rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled, placing each vine in place before rolling out the next one.  The vines that draped around the wall stuck pretty well with a tiny touch of water, only on places where I wanted a curl or end to stay up.  For the most part, though, I left them unstuck so gravity would work on the caramel and make it look more natural.*

I had an image in my head of vines hanging down like curtains, helping to hide the secret healing spring.  So for those vines, as I made each one I used the tip of a knife to lift the cake board that the top cake was sitting on, just enough to wriggle the end of the caramel underneath, and poking it in with a needle tool if I had to.

After the vines were done I tackled the grass.  My first thought was to use my grass tip and pipe out the grass like I’d done around the Betty Boop cake.  Only problem was I knew I was going to use my remaining green icing to do grass around the edges of the cake where it met the board and I didn’t think I had enough icing left.  I was tapping some piping tips against my palm, trying to figure out if I had enough icing mixed up for all the grassy areas, when I looked at the marks I’d left on my skin and got another bout of inspiration.  (My pain = cake gain).pitfallcakeday03part03-08

I used an open star tip and basically poked the hell out of the grass areas.  My icing had crusted enough to be an ideal surface, but if your icing is still soft I’d stop every now and then to clean your tip, as the grass effect works better with smaller pokes vs larger flat areas.  It was remarkably convincing for grass, and I’m really, really happy with how it came out.

Plus it left me with enough green icing left to pipe long, marshy grass/weeds around the base of the cake.  I did that, then stuck down the leaves I’d darkened, then decided to call it a night.

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In the back you can see the remaining leaves I didn’t end up using.  Don’t worry, they didn’t go to waste.  The kids ate them all over the next few days.  🙂

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I tried to vary the lengths of the grasses to make it look more natural than an even, trimmed border.  pitfallcakeday03part03-11

In these final two pics you can see the two sides of the cake, and the finished vines and grasses.  I’d added some long grass to overhang the vines as well.pitfallcakeday03part03-12

Next time – the cake in situ!

*remember this for my next post :/