Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon
Please do not reproduce images or content from this site without permission. Thank You!

Email the Editor

Archive for Tag 'giveaway'

Twinkletoes First Shoes + Giveaway

How to Make a Pair of “First Walker” Shoes

By Sharon Raymond of

How many pairs of shoes does a child grow out of before he or she is fully-grown? I don’t know the number, but I do believe if we were making some of those shoes, the cost of raising a child would plummet (a slight exaggeration) and our children’s feet would be healthier.  And, if we use recycled materials to make them, our children’s shoes would have a smaller “footprint” on the earth.

Here’s a pattern and directions for making simple children’s shoes in a “first walker” size. The pattern can be reduced or enlarged on a photocopy machine by about 8 percentage points without becoming too distorted to be usable.

I think these shoes make great baby shower gifts. There will, no doubt, come a time when these “first walkers” will fit perfectly.

Consider checking the sizing of this pattern by making a “mock-up” from inexpensive felt to try on your child before cutting into your actual shoemaking material.

Pattern and Materials:

Pattern: twinkletoes shoe pattern by Sharon Raymond

Uppers: Make the upper parts of the shoe from thrift-shop leather goods, leather or fabric upholstery remnants, hand-made felt or felted wool coats, recycled denim or canvas.

Soles: To make children’s footwear as flexible as bare feet, there are a couple of materials I use. For those who want their children’s shoes to be made of all natural materials, natural rubber soling is available on my etsy shop. A child wearing shoes with natural rubber soles can feel the topography of the earth, yet will be protected. This soling must be stitched with a stitching awl as described below, as holes pre-punched in it seal right up.

Another option, readily available and thin enough to provide that barefoot feel, but in no way “natural”, is the grey hall-runner available at home building centers. It has rubberized material on the backside that can serve as soling. If you put a few layers of fabric or felt, or a single layer of leather over the fuzzy side-up, the texture won’t be noticeable underfoot.

A third option is to cut them from thrift store leather goods. If you use leather, I suggest that you use two layers, with the “fuzzy” sides facing out. The fuzzy side on the bottom provides traction and the one on the top absorbs perspiration. This is the option I have used on the sample pair of shoes shown here. If you prefer rubber bottom soles, cut them from bicycle inner tubes.

Thread: I use heavy-duty waxed braided cord from Tandy Leather. Four-ply waxed Irish linen or stitching-awl thread can also be used. It’s best to use a synthetic thread when stitching the upper to the sole, as organic materials deteriorate when in contact with the ground.

Elastic: For this size shoe, I use six inches of  3/8″ elastic for running through the channels. To get the elastic through the channels, make a little tool from a piece of plastic milk carton, about 5″ long and 3/8″ wide. Cut a little slit at one end. Use like a sewing needle or bodkin to pull the elastics through the channels.

To make colored elastic, I use permanent markers to “dye” the elastic in the area where it is exposed, between the toe piece and the heel piece.


The tools for making these shoes are simple – a decent pair of scissors, a “scratch” awl from the hardware store for punching stitching holes, a couple of layers of corrugated cardboard to place below your upper material when punching holes with the awl, a glue stick, a marker appropriate for your material, permanent markers for “dyeing” the elastic and a couple of tapestry needles for stitching leather shoes, or sharp needles for stitching fiber shoes.

If you want to make proper round stitching holes in leather, the 00 round-hole drive punch from Tandy Leather, # 3777-33, is the tool for you. You will need a plastic cutting board to place under the leather piece while punching, and a rubber mallet or other non-metal hammer for pounding on the punch.  The little “spring punch”, # 3236-00, from the same source, can punch holes nicely if they aren’t more than 1/2″ or so from the edge.

A stitching awl (Tandy Leather # 1216-00) can be used for stitching the upper to the sole. A video showing its use can be seen at

left to right: spring punch, stitching awl, 00 drive punch, scratch awl, rubber mallet.


Make the soles: If your material is sturdy and sueded on both sides, you might only need one layer for soling. If your soling is different, cut out the leather or fiber topsole, then use a glue stick to adhere it to the bottom sole material. When the glue has dried, cut out the bottom sole to match the topsole. Mark the stitching holes onto the topsole with silver pen or permanent marker.

Cut out the upper pieces: Draw around the toe piece and the heel piece onto your upper material, then cut the pieces out. Be sure to flip the patterns over when drawing the second shoe.

Punch out the stitching holes: Punch out the stitching holes on the patterns and transfer them to your shoe pieces. Also, mark the center of the heel and the toe, and the location where the heel piece meets the toe piece, indicated on the patterns by a spiral. On fabric or felt, use whatever mark-maker that is suitable for your material, to mark the location where stitches should go through the fiber.

For leather, I like to use a silver gel pen to mark the location of stitching holes, it usually comes off with soap and water applied with a cloth.  After marking, punch out the holes. To accomplish this, either place your shoe part on a few pieces of cardboard and punch down with an awl, or use the 00 punch as described above.

Make the channels for the elastic to pass through: if you are using leather, punch out the stitching holes along the two lines shown on the patterns. If you are using felt or fabric, you have made stitching marks. You can turn the channel either to the inside or the outside. Use the “simultaneous running stitch” to stitch the channel.

For the simultaneous running stitch, cut a piece of thread about four times the length of the distance you are going to stitch, and put a needle on each end of the thread.

For stitching fiber shoes, attach a sharp needle to each end of the thread. Stitch into the first mark on one end of the heel piece, then down through the corresponding mark on the sole. Bring that thread back up in the second mark in both sole and heel piece, and tug on your threads so they are the same length. Pass the second needle down into that second mark, while holding the thread that is already there to the side, to protect that first stitch from being split.

Give a good tug on both threads after each stitch to create a nicely-seated seam.

Keep repeating this process.

Hiding knots: Each time you stitch, at the end you have two loose threads. To tie the threads in a hidden knot, put each needle through only one layer of your shoe material so the threads meet inside the area stitched. Tie a tight square knot, then run the ends of the threads under a few stitches before cutting them off.

When working with leather, you will have punched stitching holes. Proceed as described above, and for the neatest appearance, develop a pattern of which thread goes into the hole first (from the top or bottom) and whether the second thread goes to the right or left side of the first. Consistency is the key – and that’s why your work won’t look as neat if you make a running stitch with one thread all along the seam, then fill in the gaps with the other thread; you’re missing that tug on both threads after each step that makes the threads grab each other and settle in.

Embellish: Embellish the shoes if you like – embroider, applique, reverse applique, stamp, paint.  Since I made shoes from leather, I punched holes along the decorative lines on my pattern, about 3/16″ apart. I then transferred the marks to my toe piece, punched them out, then stitched with 4-ply waxed Irish linen.  It’s fun to add a little touch of embellishment to the heel piece also.

 Run elastic through the channels: Use the plastic bodkin to pull the elastic through the channel so it emerges at the other end. Put one end of the elastic through the slit, then pull it all the way through with your plastic strip.  Once the elastic is through both channels, check for twisting, then overlap the two ends about 3/8″ and stitch them together. After stitching, pull on the elastic until the stitching is hidden inside a channel.

Stitch toe-piece and heel-piece to the sole: Now that the uppers and soles are complete, stitch the shoes together. I usually start stitching on the inside of the shoe, where the heel piece meets the toe piece. Cut a length of non-degradable thread about four times the distance around the shoe, which is about 12 inches x 4 = 48″.

For fiber or leather soles, use the “simultaneous running stitch” described above to stitch the shoes together, unless you are using a natural rubber sole. As described above, a stitching awl is needed to stitch a natural rubber sole to the shoe.

In the toe area, the distance between stitching holes or marks is greater on the toe piece than on the corresponding holes on the sole; this causes the toe area to “pop-up” and not press down on the child’s toes. I usually wet leather when stitching in this area so it’s moldable, and do my best to gather the leather so it doesn’t overlap on itself.

If you are concerned that stitching through the soling might result in these stitches wearing out sooner than you’d like, remember that the part of the foot that touches the ground is the part you can see when walking barefoot in wet sand. However, if your child does wear through stitches, you have the skills to re-stitch!

When you’ve stitched all around the shoe, hide your knot as described above. Spray water inside the toe piece of a leather shoe, and stuff it hard with fabric or paper bag scraps. Let it dry for a few hours until it keeps a nice, rounded shape.


For twenty five years, Sharon Raymond has had a passion for making simple footwear. She first learned shoemaking when living in England in the early 1990s; since then she has written seven books about shoe making, and taught the craft of shoemaking to hundreds of students. She delights in learning, then sharing, how to make simple footwear, often inspired by ancient and far-away cultures.

Sharon disseminates her joy of shoemaking from her home studio in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts.

You can read more about Sharon’s work on her website:



Sharon will send out a PDF of her book, How to Make Simple Shoes for Children with Your Own Two Hands! to five lucky winners! Enter a comment on this post by Sunday March 24th,  Midnight PST for a chance to win.


March 21st, 2013: A note from Sharon:

“Beautify the earth, sister!”   Now that’s a comment in response to the “First Walkers” tutorial that brightened my day! Along with the other 100 and more – I’ve never experienced such an audience!

In gratitude, I will send a pdf of How to Make Simple Shoes for Children to anyone who makes a pair of these shoes and sends me a photo at by Thursday, Midnight, March 28. I’d love to post a gallery of them on my Simple Shoemaking facebook page.

Plus, I’d like to learn how the pattern works when made in a variety of materials, from fiber to felt to leather; what types of embellishments you create; tips that you would like to share with others, and how the pattern might be improved.

Please feel free to email questions that come up along the way, and have fun “beautifying the earth!”   Sharon


Posted by Living Crafts on Mar 10, 2013 06:31 PM | 115 Comments

Books: Room for the Baby

Room for the Baby by Michelle Edwards

(Random House) Michelle Edwards does it again, with her new story for kids who are awaiting a new baby in the house!

In her story, the mom has a lot of items that she’s kept to recycle and reuse — some day.  Sounds familiar?!  Now, a baby is on the way, and the big brother-to-be is helping mom and dad make room for new baby, and not only they find room for the baby, but also a lot of everyday discarded items that they can recycle into useful items for her.

Filled with practical uses of the new and used supplies you have held onto “for future use,” this story is sure to appeal to your children who experience the love of crafts in their household, and awaiting their new sibling’s arrival.

Following is a quote from the publisher’s website: “Inspired by her creativity, the neighbors get involved, and soon everyone is stitching and knitting something. As the months go by and the family celebrates the Jewish holidays from Passover to Hanukkah, big brother helps his mom get ready, too. But things move slowly and he continues to worry: will there ever be room for the baby?”

Michelle Edwards has been a columnist for our Evolving through Crafts column, and also her book Knitter’s Home Companion has gotten rave reviews on our blog.  To read the review click here.



Random House is giving away a copy of Room for the Baby to a lucky winner!  Enter a comment on this post by Sunday, February 17, Midnight PST for a chance to win a copy of this book.  You must reside in U.S. to win a copy.

Posted by Living Crafts on Feb 4, 2013 10:34 PM | 42 Comments

Beads and Buttons Tutorial and Oakmeadow Giveaway!

 Beads and buttons are fun to make, especially by children who love hands-on learning, but clay can also be used to explore any academic subject.  Here are just a few ideas to get your imagination started:

- Create letter and number shapes for alphabet and math learning.

- Sculpt bird heads when studying how bird beaks are shaped differently fo rdifferent purposes.

- Make a model of a Mesopotamian ziggurat, a Mayan temple, an adobe dwelling, or an Egyptian pyramid.

Enjoy this craft from Clay Fun, an Oak Meadow original publication, which is part of our Second Grade curriculum.





Oak Meadow Curriculum and School has generously offered a complete homeschooling curriculum package for one grade of your choice (preschool through 8th grade). That’s a value of $120-$420! Simply visit Oak Meadow’s latest issue of Living Education, a quarterly journal that inspires and informs home learning with strategies, tips, and crafts.

Leave a comment here with feedback and/or suggestions for future issues and you’ll automatically be entered in the giveaway! We will pick one lucky Living Crafts winner on Tuesday, December 18th, 2012.

Posted by Living Crafts on Dec 6, 2012 09:50 AM | 369 Comments

Tiny Treasures- Felt Painting Boards and Giveaway

Felt Painting Boards are the fifth project in a seasonal series of  little, quick-to-make gifts we so often need for the holidays. For planned or last minute occasions, for tooth fairies, pocket ladies, and winter fairs; for classmates, neighbour’s and host’s children; for advent calenders and stockings! Tiny treasures that can be made with a small amount of materials and a small amount of time- 20 minutes or less!

Painting with wool roving is such a warm, tactile and pleasing craft. Washes of color or detailed images- they all look lovely made with wool. And, most importantly, they can be changed at any time to become a whole new “painting”.  These little kits make fantastic creative gifts, not only for children! Make the felt board on a log cut, as we have, or on a piece of  finished wood, include a little pouch of colored wool, and the wool painting can start! We’ve included instructions below on making a simple tree image. It can be helpful to show children how to make an image first, to develop a hand and head understanding of how to use the materials….how to build up a picture, enjoy it, and then take it apart and make another!


a log slice or piece of finished wood, about 5 inches in diameter or a 5 inch square. Log slices can often be obtained from craft supply shops. If you are cutting your own, make sure the wood is dry.

5″ x 5″ piece of wool felt.  A fluffy felt works especially well as a background to hold the paintings in place. A piece of felted blanket or sweater would work well, or National Non-Wovens wool felt in white dyed using this method.  All felt will work for this though!

small amounts in a rainbow of wool roving/batting colors

tiny twigs

wood glue

Cut a piece of wool felt to fit on the wooden base. Cut to a size so there is a nice wooden frame left visible around the wool felt.

Apply glue well over the entire back of the wool felt piece. Glue onto the wooden base. You may want to weight down the wool felt while it dries to get the best adhesion to the wood.

To make the wool tree painting:

First we need to lay down some earth for the tree to put down it’s roots and grow…

This step sets up the basic painting with wool technique- Use only very small wisps of wool. Hold down one side and draw or paint the wool out, pulling it where you want it to be on your board.

Push your twig tree trunk a little way into the earth, and roll a little on the felt base to hold it in place.

Paint the branches on your tree.  Hold the green woolly wisp at the top of the tree trunk and pull the wool out into boughs.  Add a few on each side and down the trunk.

We can make some decorations for our tree by using just a few wool fibers and rolling them into a ball between thumb and forefinger.  Drop them randomly onto the tree.

If it’s going to snow in your picture, pull out small white wool wisps of snow and have them fall in drifts across the ground and on a few boughs. When the snow melts and the holidays are over, the snow and decorations can be taken off the tree.

Or maybe the whole tree will come off and the wool and twig be made into something completely different.  Here are some ideas:

These wool paintings can be hung on a wall, displayed on a table or mantlepiece, or hung on your tree. It can be changed through the day or the year to create new seasonal pictures. Ideal for travelling, during appointments, or family gatherings.

You can read more about painting with wool in Living Crafts- Fall 2008.

Watch for more in our Tiny Treasures series- we’ll be featuring at least one new tutorial each week until Christmas,  including wooden castle blocks, and poppy pod people, plus other small and simple natural gift making inspirations.

Enjoy our earlier tutorials in this series:  Tiny Toadstools, Rainbow Rocks, Frost Gnomes and  Pinecone Gnomes.


National Non-Wovens has generously offered a wool felt assortment pack for the lucky winner! Their gift includes a collection of gorgeous colors in 100% wool felt sheets!

Please leave a comment on this post by Thursday, December 15 for a chance to win this wonderful giveaway.


Fiona Duthie

Fiona Duthie is a regular contributor to Living Crafts.

In her studio on Salt Spring Island, BC, she creates in a bountiful beauty of color, wool, and texture, inspired by the natural world. Fiona designs fine feltwork, felting and knitting patterns, gives workshops in natural craft, and runs her hand dyed, artisan fibre company, Kattikloo. You can read more about her fibers, projects and creative living at and on Facebook.

Posted by Fiona Duthie on Dec 11, 2011 09:47 PM | 397 Comments

Tiny Treasures- Frost Gnomes and Giveaway

Frost Gnomes are the third project in a seasonal series of  little, quick-to-make gifts we so often need for the holidays. For planned or last minute occasions, for tooth fairies, pocket ladies, and winter fairs; for classmates, neighbour’s and host’s children; for advent calenders and stockings! Tiny treasures that can be made with a small amount of materials and a small amount of time- 20 minutes or less!

We love making these tiny frost gnomes, to adorn a gift, slip into a stocking or even hide in the forest or garden for someone small to find. They are made in icy, crystal colors of wool felt, and have a Swarovski crystal atop their cap. They fit happily in a pocket or purse and are lovely for little stories in the car, in line at the grocery store, or on holiday visits.


small amounts of wool felt in icy colors. Shown here are pastel blue, lavender, lilac and ecru, all from BearDance Crafts.

wooden peg person 1 11/16″ tall x 5/8″ base, available at Stockade, Woodworks Ltd., Caseys Wood Products, or most local craft stores.

sewing needle and threads to match felt


a small length of mohair yarn (about 16 inches) or wool locks

optional: Swarovski crystal or glittery crystal bead

Frost Gnome Pattern Pieces

Apply a small amount of glue over the body. Wrap the tunic around the body and sew up the back of the tunic using whip or blanket stitch. Sew around the neck of the tunic using running stitch. Pull tight to gather the tunic around the neck.

Sew across the top of the cape using running stitch. Leave long ends on both sides to tie the cape securely around the neck.

Apply glue around the back of the head and a little under the chin. Wrap the mohair yarn around the head- higher at the back and under the chin at the front.

Sew the crystal or bead to the tip of the hat. Fold the hat in half and sew up the back using blanket stitch.

Apply a ring of glue around the inside rim of the hat. Slip the hat onto the Frost Gnome’s head until it is in just the right position. If he gets any glue on his face, gently wash it off before it dries. A clean frost gnome is a happy frost gnome!  Allow the glue to dry for at least one hour (ideally 6-12 hours) before play.

Watch for more in our Tiny Treasures series- we’ll be featuring at least one new tutorial each week until Christmas,  including wooden castle blocks, wool painting boards, and poppy pod people, plus other small and simple natural gift making inspirations.

Enjoy our earlier tutorials in this series:  Tiny Toadstools, Rainbow Rocks


Bear Dance Crafts is giving away a collection of 5 holiday craft kits from Atelier Pippilotta to one lucky Living Crafts blog visitor.
Included in the giveaway are the kits: Little Star Child, Three Little Angels, Little Winter Hut, Three Holly Children and Three Little Light Bearer’s.

These are such sweet kits- to make yourself for your loved ones, or as a perfect crafty gift for a creative friend.
Please leave a comment by Thursday, December 8th, sharing your favorite holiday decoration, to be entered in the draw.

Use the comments section below the full tutorial post, rather than the individual picture of the giveaway- Thanks, and Good Luck!


Fiona Duthie

Fiona Duthie is a regular contributor to Living Crafts.

In her studio on Salt Spring Island, BC, she creates in a bountiful beauty of color, wool, and texture, inspired by the natural world. Fiona designs fine feltwork, felting and knitting patterns, gives workshops in natural craft, and runs her hand dyed, artisan fibre company, Kattikloo. You can read more about her fibers, projects and creative living at and on Facebook.

Posted by Fiona Duthie on Dec 5, 2011 12:48 PM | 247 Comments

Homeschooling Curriculum and Giveaway

True intelligence arises when children are given the opportunity to engage their hearts and hands as well their minds. That’s the educational philosophy behind Oak Meadow’s uniquely creative K-8 homeschooling curriculum. Oak Meadow involves the whole child by including assignments that not only ask children to read, write, and think, but also to paint, draw, play music, write poetry, and build things. Check out to learn more about what Oak Meadow Curriculum and School has to offer your family.


Oak Meadow Curriculum and School is offering Living Crafts readers the chance to win a complete homeschooling curriculum package for one grade of your choice (K-8) . That’s a value of up to $400! Simply visit to view their homeschooling curriculum and resources, and then post a comment here letting us know what you like about Oak Meadow. Deadline to post your comment is Friday, December 2nd midnight. We will pick one lucky winner!

We have a winner!

Susie H. Submitted on 2011/11/17 at 1:27 amA friend had recently mentioned she was considering Oak Meadow – I went to peek at the website then and ended up devouring and soaking in much as I could. I am THAT intrigued by the program! I have considered making the switch to homeschooling (my oldest is 1st grade) and this would be the one.
I love how the curricula is based on matters relevant to the child. Neighborhoods, nature walks, fairytales, etc. – and learning seems to be a process of discovering via these relevant areas. It seems like a method that will encourage the child to take the initiative to learn even more.


Posted by Living Crafts on Nov 15, 2011 09:33 AM | 653 Comments

Winner: A Living Crafts Wedding Story and Giveaway

Wedding Shawl

We have a winner for the Wedding Shawl Giveaway!


Submitted on 2011/08/15 at 4:16 pm

This shawl is beautiful!! Thank you for the lovely giveaway.

Wedding Shawl Yarn

Even if you did not win the giveaway, you can still enjoy these lovely fibers at a special price.

Kattikloo is offering 20% discount to Living Crafts readers, until September 1st. Visit the Kattikloo shop and use the Living Crafts reader appreciation code:  LCSUMMER2011

Posted by Living Crafts on Aug 21, 2011 12:16 PM | No Comments

Happy New Year!

Here’s some news: We have many posts and giveaways coming your way soon, and a knitted gnome hat photo contest! Those of you who’ve knitted the 2009 Fall Issue gnome hat please have your photos ready, and enter the drawing when it’s up! Those of you who did not knit it yet, go ahead and do so – you have time until February 7th. If you win, you’ll have a $100 shopping spree at a yarn website! The upcoming giveaways include a wool and ArtFelt materials worth $250, an art set including 36 Lyra pencils and accessories and pencil holder, felt package, fiber dyes in every color imaginable, and the list goes on and on! A huge 3-5 day tutorial coming up on making your own yardage fabric, and Fiona Duthie has provided me with the popular hat pattern on our first post, in BABY size.

Stay tuned.



Posted by Living Crafts on Jan 5, 2011 06:36 AM | 9 Comments

Winter Solstice Winner #11 Photos and Story

As many of you know Christine Schreier of The Puppenstube decided on Winter Solstice Eve to give away all 11 of her gnomes instead of the one she had originally offered. Tree, who was listed as winner #11  blogged her story and photo of the gnome she received from Christine, with her daughter. It is very sweet. Thank you Tree!

Posted by Living Crafts on Dec 31, 2010 09:43 AM | 5 Comments


© 2010-2011 Living Crafts Blog.
All original images and text on this website are copyright and the property of Living Crafts Inc. and