Today I thought I would post what was one of my first crafty endeavors. Last Christmas, I made my kids some personalised "theme" present boxes. I took some cardboard boxes and covered them with these funky and inexpensive IKEA fabrics. This was very easy - I cut the fabric to fit and glued it on with simple craft glue.
Then I chose a theme for each kid's box. My son loves arts and crafts, so I bought him some special art supplies, like nice markers, pastels, paints, coloured washi tapes, construction paper, and a craft book: Kid Made Modern by Todd Oldham. I also included some special crafts he could do: some wooden tops he could paint, and some 'bubble magnets' to assemble and put on the fridge - I purchased them on Etsy from the shop Urban Homesteaders.
For my daughter, I decided on a "forest" theme.
I used some more of the IKEA fabric and made a playmat she could roll out as a forest floor. Again, very simple - cut two pieces of fabric the same size, place right sides together, and sew around it, leaving a space of 5 inches or so on one side. Then pull the fabric through the opening to turn it right side out. Iron it, and sew up the opening.
I had an idea that I wanted to make a felted house because I'd once seen one in a store. I had taken a workshop at a local knitting store on basic needle felting, and so I tried to make a house that way. Bad idea. It was not strong enough for a three-dimensional structure. Here's what it looked like though. Later I put it in the washing machine on a hot cycle to try and felt it some more, and that helped a bit.
A lot of my ideas for this present box were inspired by the Etsy shop Beneath the Rowan Tree and her blog. I bought her instructions for needle felting these cute hedgehog balls. That gave me the basic understanding of how to do them, and I made other animals - most of which I had seen on her site, and one or two I made up.
Here are some of the other things I included in the box:
The little house at the back left was made using a pattern for "Wee Dwellings" by Beneath the Rowan Tree. It was knitted, then felted in the washing machine, and then the decorations were needle felted on top. It was much more successful than my own improvised house above! To make the toadstools, I used instructions from the Beneath the Rowan Tree blog, and painted some old drawer pulls that I had taken off this dresser I had restained. I think you can also buy unfinished drawer pulls at a hardware store.
The leaf-style doll beds are made of felt, and I sewed them with embroidery thread, once again copying them from Beneath the Rowan Tree. I bought the little wood peg-people who are inside from her Etsy shop - she painted them in a lovely manner, and they are styled after the characters from the book Children of the Forest by Elsa Beskow, a Swedish children's classic from 1910. (Nothing to do with Game of Thrones, which apparently is the first internet match for that title!) I put a copy of that book in the box too.
Finally, I knit the "Chocolate Dahlia Flower Fairy" (it looks like a flower when you turn it upside down!) using this pattern purchased from the knitting website Ravelry.
The boxes have been a hit, and they have lived in our living room over the past year - they are good for storage and don't look bad or scream "kid toys" because the fabric kind of goes with my decor. (Am a big fan of funky prints.) My only recommendation to anyone who thinks of doing this is to use a more sturdy cardboard box than I picked.
I had thought about doing a "winter theme" box this year, but I don't think it will happen. But maybe next year. This was part of my effort to make Christmas a little less commercial - and to go with all the other name brand stuff they received from Santa!