Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kid Friendly Holiday Decor- A Table Runner to Give Thanks

My son's class had their Thanksgiving party last Friday. I usually make sure I have a corner on doing the craft project. I love coming up with something that the kids enjoy, that is meaningful, and won't get surreptitiously tossed in the recycling the next day. I usually try to wrap into it some sort of material or technique that I'm interested in right then as well. So the project I designed this year was a table runner. Each kid got a rectangular piece of canvas (roughly the size of a place mat and a half) with a bright border, that they wrote on with fabric marker and then stamped on. Quick, easy, and it allowed for some individual expression. I plan on having ours out each November for the next few years and getting Jasper to write something new that he's thankful for. I think it'll be fun to see his thoughts and his writing change over the years. So... if you're looking for a way to emphasize the "thanksgiving" part of the holiday with your kids- read on!

Thanksgiving Table Runner

Tools and Materials
Strip of heavy canvas fabric (26 1/2" long and 11 1/2 " wide) 
Assorted yellow and brown patterned fabrics
Fusible interfacing, sewable
Sewing machine
Hand carved or purchased leaf stamps
Distress Ink pads in assorted fall colors
Mini Mister or spray bottle with fine nozzle
Fabric Marker, brown

At Home Prep:
Most of my school projects for this age (6-7) require quite a bit of prep on my part as the kids are only able to do so much.
1.Start by cutting out 16 pieces of canvas fabric.
2.Next, I got out the iron and ironed under about an inch on each of the long sides. The ends I left raw.
3. Next, I pulled out my patterned fabrics and ironed fusible interfacing to the backs of those I liked best and then hand cut those pieces into strips that were anywhere from an inch to 3/4" wide. I tried to cut them a little haphazardly so that they were uneven.
4.Then, using the iron, I ironed these strips to the sides of my runner (see pic). Cutting the strips to various lengths as I went for a fake patchwork look.
5. The final step was using my handy dandy NEW sewing machine (really this was all just an excuse to play with it a bit) and ran a straight stitch down each of the long sides about 1/2" from edge (you can switch up steps 4 and 5 and seam the edges before adding the patchwork strips so the stitching isn't as obvious). I like obvious. 
6. If you want to, hand carve a few different leaf shapes. I did an oak, maple and an elm.

At the School Party:
This is where I had the fun of watching the kids get creative. Each was a little different but they had a sample that I had made to go by so they kind of new what size to make their big letters.
1. With a fabric marker have the kid write their name on the back of the runner. Then we all did "Thank You God" along the center of the runner in about 3 1/2" letters. Next, I had each child write something they were thankful for with their name if they were going to bring it home and let their siblings add their thought as well.
Sprayed and Unsprayed- It's a personal choice :)
2. The second part of the decorating was the stamping. Each stamp is carved by me out of ez cut carving blocks. Check out my stamp carving tutorials for the how-to make these directions. We used Distress inks in straw, vintage photo, rusty hinge, and peeled paint. When you first stamp on the fabric the image is pretty faint. BUT- Add a little mist of water and you get this cool water color effect that's much darker. It's cool to talk this up as almost being magic ink to the kids. They LOVE it! I love that a couple of them started mixing the inks on the stamp to get multi colored prints like little artists. Let the ink dry and it should be permanent. Test it by dabbing it a bit with a wet cloth before laundering. Although I'd only launder these if absolutely necessary.

Notes: You can use other inks, as long as they're permanent once dry. You can use Sharpies instead of fabric markers. Please do let the kids doodle all over it if they want- it's artistic expression! I worked with 3 kids at a time. It worked best with the three stamps, and I would recommend you have 3 fabric markers available as well as more then one mister. Cover the work surface as the inks if placed face down on the table, don't want to come off. Tell them to ink the stamps with the image facing up so they can tell where they applied the ink. You can also use purchased stamps. You can even used purchased place mats for the project. Just keep it easy and you'll keep it fun for them!
One more super cool thing: As part of the party the kids took turns at a sandwich station where they made 200 sandwiches for the organization 363 days to distribute to the homeless in our area. Honestly, if you ask them it was their favorite part! Just throwing it out there as an idea...:)