The school where I teach runs American Girl camps in the summer. The history teacher in charge of AG camp is pregnant and had to go on bedrest at the end of the school year, so the school needed last minute subs to run the two camp sessions. Clearly, I am totally qualified to run this camp, but I was hesitant to accept the job. I immediately had visions of American Girl crafts run amok since I tend to think big and have difficulty prioritizing and gauging what is realistically possible for little hands. 20+ campers and overly complicated mini craft projects are not always a good combination. Nevertheless, I took on the challenge, and we just finished the last day of American Girl camp today.
I recycled many of my American Girl craft projects, but I also designed some new ones too. This past Monday was Kaya Day. With the help of my nieces who are still staying with me, we engineered tepees out of brown butcher paper, strung Nez Perce-like beaded necklaces, and wove mats for the tepee.
brown butcher paper (I used painter’s floor covering paper from Lowe’s)
wooden dowels– 1/4″ diameter, 24″ length (4-5 per tepee)
duct tape or masking tape
mini hair bands or Rainbow Loom bands
My oldest niece has the original Kaya tent. She traced the outline of the cloth tepee cover for me to use as a template. The tepee shape is basically a half circle. The diameter is 48″ with a small circle cut out at the center of the straight edge.
Using the template, we traced the shape onto the brown butcher paper and then cut out the shape.
I added Native American looking patterns and symbols. I cut geometric shapes out of poster board for the campers to use as templates for designs on the paper.
I also shared a handout with some Native American symbols.
After decorating, turn the tepee paper over and tape 4-5 dowels to the paper. Space the dowels evenly around the tepee shape, and the bottom of the dowel needs to be even with the bottom edge of the tepee.
Fold the paper in half and stand up. Pinch the first and third dowel together and wrap a rubber band around the top of the dowels. Pull the rest of the dowels together to make them look like the poles at the top of the tepee. Add another rubber band around all of the dowels. (We also wrapped some twine around the top to make it look more authentic).
Spread the part of the dowels that touch the floor out and fiddle with the paper to get the desired tepee shape.
waxed cotton thread
plastic beads– various shapes (perler beads work well too)
lanyard clips (2 per necklace)
Cut 3 pieces of cotton thread in 3 different sizes– 14″, 13″, and 12″.
Line up the 3 pieces of thread so the ends are even. Keeping the ends even with each other on one side, tie a “granny knot” around the lanyard clip.
Thread beads onto all 3 pieces of string. You can create any bead order and partially fill the string or fill the string full with beads. Leave space at the end to make it easy to tie the threads into a knot.
After adding beads, gather the loose ends of the strings and even them up. Tie them in a knot to a second clip making sure the ends are even with each other.
When the necklace is on the doll, the strings will hang at 3 different lengths in a similar way to the quill necklaces worn by the Nez Perce Indians.
Cut scrapbook paper into the mat size you would like. Our mats were 5″ x 5″.
Fold the mats in half with the design facing in.
On one side of the folded paper, draw guidelines for cutting. The lines begin at the folded end of the paper and stop about 1/2″ from the opposite edge (the open side of the folded paper). My lines are 1/2″ apart. You can adjust based on the mat size you use.
The campers made cuts along the lines being careful to stop when the line stopped. Then, kids opened up the paper flat and weaved strips of scrap paper over and under securing each end with a glue dot. My strips are about 1/2″ wide, and I used a paper cutter to make all of the strips.
The mats fit neatly inside the tepee, and if our American Girl doll had been living with Kaya in the mid 1700s, the mat would have helped keep rain out of the tepee.
For more DIY American Girl ideas, visit my other AG posts or check out my Crafts link in the menu bar to the right!
Guess what Miss Priss got for Christmas? An American Girl dress shop craft book! I practically ripped the book out of Miss Priss’ hands. I did control myself briefly while we visited my parents during the holidays, but then some of my nieces asked about AG crafts, so I made one tiny stop at Hobby Lobby, and you can probably fill in the rest.
Miss Priss actually did a lot of the work on the hats and purses, but there is hot glue involved in the gowns, so I have been handling most of the design on the dresses while Miss Priss acts as consultant.
The craft book kit comes with two shopping bags, a receipt book, play money, a foldable paper laptop computer, and other paper items you can use to decorate your store. The book gives suggestions for using old clothing and other found items to make doll hats, purses, and gowns. I did source my massive craft supply inventory and end of the year donation pile, but I still needed a few trips to Hobby Lobby for odds and ends to make the shop look really professional. I have a materials list at the end of the post.
We used tiny bottles I had leftover from the American Girl Campout and wrapped them in fabric. We put a strip of double sided tape around the bottle first, then brought the edges of the fabric up and tied around the top. You can then add a strap by tying another piece of ribbon around the gathered fabric at the top or hot gluing a looped strap near the top. You can add little beads or sparkly stickers to the sides.
I found small, round bead boxes at Hobby Lobby. We covered those smoothly in fabric using double sided tape and hot glued a fabric handle (see the little white round purse in the picture of the purse wall above).
There are mini drawstring gift bags in the wedding or bead section of Hobby Lobby. We added trim to the bags and other sparkly buttons for another type of purse.
First we painted wooden discs, candle stick looking things, and knobs I found in the wooden pieces section at Hobby Lobby with acrylic paint. Once the pieces dried, we hot glued them into hat stands. (We also painted mini wooden spools, which are used to hang the purses on the wall of the shop.)
I purchased round cardboard gift boxes, and we covered those with fabric, trim, and buttons or sparkly stickers to make pillbox hats. The lids work better than the bottom half of the box, but we used both top and bottom box pieces for hats.
I found tiny clips and baby barrettes, and we hot glued tulle and little flowers leftover from the American Girl wedding cakes to make fascinators (very Kate Middleton).
My favorite hat is the stocking cap. We made a trip to Goodwill and bought blouses and knit tops that had fun designs or fancy fabric. I cut the sleeve from a silver knit sweater about 6 inches from the wrist end. Then, I turned the knit inside out and tied the cut end tightly with a piece of thread. Finally, I turned the tied sleeve right side out and added a little button decoration to the outside.
I went through the remnant section and trim section at Hobby Lobby and bought things that seemed fluffy and fun. I also used some of the lacy ribbon I had leftover from the American Girl Sweet Shop and other scraps of fabric I have lying around. As I mentioned in the hat directions, we made a stop at Goodwill for blouses and tops that we could cut apart.
For the gowns, I cut the sleeve off of a blouse or stretchy sweater and put it on the doll to size. Then, I would remove the sleeve and cut the length as needed. From there, I would hot glue or sew trim on the dresses. Do NOT do any gluing or embellishing while the gown is on the doll. Always remove the dress before adding anything permanently. I did use my sewing machine a little, but most of the design could be handled with hot glue and safety pins. On some dresses, we simply wrapped and clipped with small hair clips (kind of like a toga). Miss Priss takes the wrap dresses on and off and re-wraps a new design each wearing.
We made some armholes by cutting small slits about 1 1/2 inches from the hemmed edge of the sleeve. Pull the dress or top on the doll by starting at her feet.
Hobby Lobby even has those tri-fold science fair backboards, so I did not have to make an extra stop! Use a science fair board to make the background of the shop. We hot glued mirrors to the sides of the backboard. Along the sides of our “full length” mirror, we hot glued the small painted spools, so we could hang purses on display. We used glue dots to stick the posters that came with the craft kit to the center of the backboard. I did have to measure everything to make sure it was centered and even.
I bought a handful of clear acrylic boxes in a variety of sizes. We stuffed the insides with colorful tissue paper and leftover fuzzy boa trim. Stack the boxes around the store and use them to display the hats and purses.
Cost is (almost) no object when it comes to my crafty projects. I happened to see this pink hanging rack at a local store before Christmas. I did not get it at the time, but when we started building the dress shop, I knew we had to have it– um, I guess I mean Miss Priss needed it. The rack really does add a little something special to the store! It even came with hangers and the bench seat box. The Doll Boutique Kit comes with a cardboard hanging rack that mounts (glues) to the wall. Wooden dowel to complete the hanging rack is not included.
The Fashion Show
The last page of the Doll Boutique book gives an address to mail pictures of any favorite fashion creations. Guess what we are doing next? Any votes for which dress design we should submit?
Kit is wearing a cotton striped tube gown with lace and bead trim. There is a one shouldered floral strap. The drawstring purse has matching bead trim, and the look is finished with a smart pill box hat.
Kit is wearing a lilac satin pleated skirt with ruffled waist band. The outfit is finished with a silver tank top and tulle fascinator. Kit has a small lilac purse with wrist strap.
Kit is seen here in a white satin evening gown with red floral overlay and off the shoulder straps. The top is finished with delicate pearl beading around the neckline. A red flower fascinator completes the look.
Kit looks stunning in this silver evening gown with matching fur trimmed poncho. She is red carpet ready and even has a small pill box purse to finish the look.
The Materials List
tri-fold project poster board
3-5 clear acrylic boxes, variety of sizes
mini bottles, small bead containers, little pill boxes
Miss Priss ran out of sleeping space for her American Girls, so I offered to make some sleeping bags. Well, if you make an American Girl a sleeping bag, she will need a campfire to go with it. If you have a campfire, you will want to toast marshmallows. If you toast marshmallows, bugs might show up for a snack. If bugs show up, you will need a bug jar…
Cut one piece of 30″ x 21″ cotton and one piece of 30″ x 21″ fleece.
Pin the two pieces of fabric together. The cotton should have the wrong side facing out.
Sew the two pieces of fabric together about 3/8″ from the edge. Leave an opening along one long side.
Turn the fabric right side out through the opening. Push the corners out with a finger, so they are square. Fold the fabric in half.
Cut a piece of ribbon about 30″ and fold the ribbon in half. Insert the folded end of the ribbon into the fabric opening and secure the ribbon with a pin.
Pin the fabric along the edge that has the ribbon and halfway up the open side.
Sew the edge with the ribbon and the partial side together.
Campfire and Toasting Marshmallows
tissue paper in fire colors cut into small squares (2″ x 2″?)
I love twice baked potatoes all ways, but I am posting recipes for two of my favorite versions. The casserole is great for pot lucks, tailgating, and casual parties. The mini twice-baked potatoes are a great appetizer, look fancy, but have that comfort food factor, and… are mini. As some of my readers know, I live for mini. Unfortunately, there is no way around baking the potatoes twice, so both recipes require time. It is worth the wait, though!
Twice-Baked Potato Casserole
8 medium-size baking potatoes (~4 lbs), baked and cooled
2 c. (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 (16-oz.) container sour cream
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
½ c. milk
½ c. butter, melted
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. chopped fresh chives
1 ½ t. salt
½ t. pepper
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
Scoop pulp out of potatoes into a large bowl and coarsely mash with a potato masher (discard the empty skins). Stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese, sour cream, and the next 7 ingredients. Spoon into a lightly greased 13×9-in. baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese and bacon. Can garnish with additional chives too if desired.
Twice-Baked New Potatoes
12 new potatoes, scrubbed clean
2 T. olive oil
4 oz. sour cream, softened
1/2 c. sour cream
1 1/2 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese or white cheddar
1 T. minced chives
1 garlic clove, finely minced
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle the potatoes with the olive oil and toss to coat. Roast the potatoes for 20 to 25 minutes until tender, and the skin is slightly crisp. If your new potatoes are on the large size, you will need longer roasting time.
Remove potatoes from the oven and let cool slightly. Halve the potatoes. Use a small scoop (I like my little gelato scooper) and remove the insides leaving a little margin of potato. Put the scooped out part of the potato in a mixing bowl.
Add cream cheese, sour cream, grated cheese, chives, garlic, salt, and pepper to the potato pulp. Mash until the potato mixture is smooth. Taste and add salt as needed.
Scoop potato mixture back into the shell (gelato scooper works well for this too). Sprinkle bacon bits on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown on top.
If you have seen the American Girl or the Bitty Cupcakes post, you may already suspect that I am partial to mini things. I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to mini things. Last year, I was visiting Sewing Sister and discovered a mini matchbox Valentine that my nieces made. I have been hanging on to that idea ever since, and I am happy to report that we will be sending mini matchbox Valentines this year. As usual, Michael’s and Hobby Lobby are reporting increased sales.
small matchboxes (I found bricks of 10 at the grocery store)
festive scrapbook paper
paper cutter or scissors
craft scissors with the fancy cutting edge
decorative brads and mini screwdriver (optional)
mini candies (mini M&Ms, candy hearts, chocolate covered sunflower seeds…)
Measure the width of the matchbox and cut strips of scrapbook paper to match width (my matchboxes were 2 1/4″ wide). I own a paper cutter, and if you want these kinds of projects to look good, you should invest in one too.
Wrap one cut strip around box to get the length. The paper should overlap across the top about 1/4″ to 1/2″ (my strips were ~4 1/2″ long).
Using the fancy craft scissors, cut the end of the paper to the needed length.
Smear glue on the back of the scrapbook paper and begin wrapping around the box. Make sure you wrap so the inner box still slides out. Begin gluing the plain end of the scrapbook paper to the top of the box, press the paper around the sides, and glue down the fancy end to the top of the box last, overlapping the starter end, as it comes back around to the top of the box.
OPTIONAL PART: Remove the inner box. Using the little screwdriver, gently drill a hole in the center of the top of the box. Push the prongs of the brad through the hole and flatten brads to attach to the box. Carefully slide inner box back into the outer part of the matchbox.
Fill box with mini candies. (This is the part Miss Priss and Mr. Star Wars get to do. After all, the Valentines are for their friends.)
Cut a piece of baker’s twine. If you do not have the brad, wrap the baker’s twine around the matchbox like a Christmas present. If you opted to use a brad, fold your piece of twine in half and wrap the loop over the top of the brad. Pull both ends of the string around the box covering the sliding ends of the matchbox. Wrap the loose ends around the brad again the way you would close an interoffice mail envelope.