Three years ago, our Unit Guiders decided to try a new crafting philosophy. We would plan our crafts according to three main ideas:
- Take our cue from the girls about how often and what types of crafts to make.
- Emphasize useful crafts.
- Buy as little as possible – make do with what we had, scavenge, and up-cycle.
The idea was to limit the amount of waste our crafts would make, and how much might end up in the garbage at home.
First thing to do was ask the girls about crafts. It was a huge YES to making crafts, but they surprised us a little when many of them said they wanted to make useful things for their rooms. (And cute animals. Always animals.) For our first project, we chose no-sew pillows. After a successful call for unwanted polar fleece blankets and sweaters, we still needed to purchase some polar fleece, but that first batch of fleece led to three years’ worth of craft projects. I took it as a challenge: just how far could I stretch that one core supply?
Project 1: No-sew pillows. It took a whole meeting, and while some Brownies needed help with the knots, overall, everyone stayed focused and left really pleased with their project.
Project 2: Fleece scarves, three different ways. All three versions started with the same size strip of fleece.
Project 3: Monster dolls. This was more ambitious, so we spread it out over several meetings. Each girl designed her own “doll” on paper for the pattern, and sewed a unique stuffed creation. We realized that pretty much everyone needed help with sewing.
Project 4: Cute clothes for cute stuffed animals. Everyone brought in a stuffed friend, and following simple patterns made super hero capes and masks, camps blankets and tutus, using only fleece scraps and scissors. Self-adhesive foam leftovers worked really well as decorations.
But wait, there’s more!
Project 5: Spa nights are always popular, so the fleece came out again as the base for spa eye masks – owl shaped, of course!
By now, we were down to pretty much just scraps. I considered (only briefly) tossing the leftovers, but I like a challenge, so we found yet another craft.
Project 6: Flower or monster hair pencils! It was handy that we had some leftover floral tape on hand to make this one work, but it could probably work with masking or duct tape.
We could have made cat and dog toys for the local animal shelter, but by the end of this year it was getting really challenging to pull enough reasonable sized bits together. Along the way, I learned to provide the Brownies with just enough material to allow for choice, but to limit waste. We also emphasized that we would not throw out leftovers – that the material was still useful. Fabric scissors were also an essential investment – we know they will last and will be very useful.
The polar fleece has reached the end of its useful craft life. Reduced to a small bag of really tiny scraps, it hurt a little, but I made the decision to get rid of it.
Guest post by Kathryn Lyons, with the 12th Ottawa Guiding Group, Sandy Hill, Ottawa. Kathryn has been a Guider with 12th Ottawa for five years, and with Brownies for the past three (check out her owl-shaped eye mask, right!). The accomplishments, support, encouragement and team work of each of her co-Guiders also make it much more than worth it every year. Check out her previous posts: How do you organize all your Guiding stuff? A Billion Brownies; Should Girls Bring Tech to Camp; Watching Girl Greatness.
I love this! So many times the girls have leftover craft stuff. Every so often we just get it all out and have a “random craft” evening, when we challenge them to make something from scraps. Always a popular one.
What an incredible idea. We made the rugs out of milk bags and we made proddy rugs out of jeans donated by a goodwill. The scraps from the pants went to a lady that uses the pockets to make quilts and another that uses the trim for pot holders.
Such fun ideas! I love the pillow idea, now to figure out how to make it.