Creative Crafts ~ Morse Code Bracelets

Nadene creates2I found this really cute idea on HonestlyWTF.  Erika uses embroidery floss and sliding beads to expand and fit her bracelets.  She explains in an excellent tutorial ~

“You’ll pick 4 colors for each bracelet. A base color, a color for the dots, a color for the dashes and a color separating the dots and dashes.”

Morse code braclets

image from HonestlyWTF

But after experimenting, I found the embroidery floss difficult to thread through my smallest seed beads.  I also struggled to find the right bead for both ends to slide through snug enough to “fit” the bracelet, and so I decided to simply use basic beading elastic.

Using this online Morse Code Translator and a Morse Code Translator app on my smart phone, I wrote out the codes for some messages I wanted to create in some gift bracelets.

Morse code words

Most my gift bracelets had 3 short words or one simple word.  I used the person’s favorite color for base color.   I attached the gift bracelets to some cardstock and wrote out the message with its Morse Code.  Most folk simply loved the bracelets, but they were really touched by the message when I explained how it worked.

It is a lovely way for your kids to learn and practice Morse Code.  Have fun creating!



Creative Crafts ~ Bleach Painting

 Cheap, instant, magical … bleach painting adds a stunning creative touch to clothes!Kate's art2 Nadene Oct

Some bleach painting tips:

  • Always test on a scrap of similar fabric or on a part of the garment where the bleach effect can be tested but not seen (like inside a seam or on a hem).  Most dyes leave a trace color after the bleach has worked.  Some fabrics are extremely color-fast and do not bleach out.
  • Work on a plastic sheet and newsprint.  I bleached my skirt over a covered ironing board.  Place a plastic sheet or plastic packet inside a shirt so that the bleach doesn’t bleed through to the other side.
  • You can use basic domestic liquid bleach and a waterpaint paint brush.  You can also use water brushes and even simple ear buds/ Q-tips!
  • You can paint bleach on to stamps and press the stamp onto the fabric.
  • Plan your design on your garment with a chalk pencil or fading fabric markers.
  • I found great simple designs on Pinterest.
  • Stencil designs work well too!
  • Note – the bleach is invisible at first, but within a moment or two begins to fade the fabric.  If you paint over a bleached area after it has dried it may go even lighter!  I loved the magical appearance of the design a few seconds later!
  • Caution – some fabrics become fragile under bleach.  Hand wash carefully.
  • Caution 2 – wear protective clothing when working with bleach.
  • This is an excellent activity for middle-school children and teens.  Ask them to bring an old colored T-shirt to class and provide small cups of bleach and Q-tips for them to paint and design patterns and images on their shirts.
  • You can spray bleach with a fine misting bottle over a stencil or design pasted onto the material.  Some folks use freezer paper.  Lettering or a simple cut out design works well.

Bleach painting is addictive!  You may find good reasons or no reasons at all to bleach paint a huge number of your clothes!  Stop before your wardrobe looks like it fell into a bleach fountain!

Have some creative fun this festive season!


Creative Crafts ~ French Patio Ideas

I recently created some wonderful crafty decor for our patio in French Provence style.

Bunting always creates a festive atmosphere!

Using unbleached calico I made some French Style Bunting with fabric painted details ~ use the free stencil download below for ideas).  Baste the triangle pieces edge-to-edge on wide ribbon and then fold the ribbon over and serpentine stitch the ribbon to cover the top of the bunting.  (Remember to add at least 1m of ribbon to either end of your bunting to use to knot over poles or around trees.)

French patio1

My daughter and I created a Printed Table Runner.  Pop over to my Project Page for the tutorial.

French patio

I painted some patio cushion covers for my bench and wicker chairs.

French patio2

Lastly I hung a few lanterns on blue ribbon over the table for some ambient light and intimacy.


A week of creative fun transformed my patio into a festive French-styled outdoor area.

For some French Provence stencil ideas here is a free download ~ Provence patio stencil ideas



How Handicrafts and Life Skills Become Great Assets

I strongly advocate handicrafts!  Not just because we are an “arty-crafty” kind of family and love to make gifts, do projects that beautify the home, and create things to trade/ sell.  Many gifts and ideas are frugal – making “something out of nothing”.  But I have seen the value of a child learning valuable practical skills when they work with their hands.

I seldom blog about my eldest daughter, now 16 years old, who amazes me with her flair with sewing, embroidery, flower arranging and handiwork. May I share a little about her ~
  • She is in grade 10 and has  a lovely business called Captivating Beauty Boutique  where she and her dearest friend who lives about an hour and a half away sew and create bridal dresses, bridesmaids and flower girls dresses which they rent for weddings to the workers in the district.
  • They have done 2 weddings already! They did the brides and bridesmaids’ make-up, hair and accessories, transforming these ladies into beautiful women for this special day.
  • They helped arrange tables and decorate the halls for receptions and created beautiful church flower arrangements.
  • They hosted their first fashion show in July 2010, showcasing their wedding apparel to the local community.
  •  Not only did they sew the clothes, they trained and dressed the models, did their hair and make-up and selected jewelry and accessories.
  • They created beautiful flower arrangements and they organized friends and family to help with the music and the lovely tea afterwards.
  • Right now she is hard at work preparing for the next fashion expo for the matric/prom dresses and evening gowns to be held next month.

Flower girls model pink satin and organza dresses made by my daughter

  • In addition to her handiwork skills, she demonstrates a flair on the computer with graphic art.  She designed their business cards, created professional posters for advertising, made stunning invitations and created lovely programs for their expos.  In time she will create a fantastic blog too!
  • I have every confidence in her future!  She has demonstrated the necessary skills to make and create beautiful garments, work with clients, meet deadlines, organize, prioritize, delegate and assist others in big projects.
  • Once she has completed her schooling she may well rent a gorgeous little Victorian house, convert the front into a vintage tea room and sell dresses from her exquisitely arranged boutique   … or she may join a business and be an asset as an employee.
I agree with Miss Charlotte Mason”s four points kept in mind when selecting handicrafts and life skills  (from Home Education, p. 315)

  1. The end-product should be useful. The children should not “be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like.”
  2. Teach the children “slowly and carefully what they are to do.”
  3. Emphasize the habit of best effort. “Slipshod work should not be allowed.”
  4. Carefully select handicrafts and life skills to challenge but not frustrate. “The children’s work should be kept well within their compass.”

This year my younger 2 daughters and I started quilting.  Our first project was an appliquéd and quilted hearts for gifts/ decoration.

Miss. L9's mini quilt in progress

The second quilt project is still in progress.  We are sewing a set of appliquéd quilted squares to hang in the dairy area of our kitchen.  My youngest (9) still needs to finish stitching the binding and my 11-year-old needs to complete the tabs and press her quilt square – quite a lovely simple project!  I can’t wait to hang these mini quilts on a dowel stick and enjoy seeing their handiwork everyday when we strain and store milk and make our dairy products.

What skills can your children learn?


  • Beading
  • Calligraphy
  • Carving
  • Ceramics
  • Chalk drawing
  • Charcoal sketching
  • Clay sculpturing
  • Crocheting
  • Cross-stitching
  • Embroidery
  • Finger painting
  • Flower arranging
  • Gardening
  • Iron sculpturing
  • Kiting
  • Knitting
  • Latch-hooking
  • Leather tooling
  • Loom weaving
  • Macrame
  • Oil painting
  • Pencil sketching
  • Photography
  • Picture framing
  • Pottery
  • Quilting
  • Robotics
  • Rubber stamping
  • Scrapbooking
  • Scroll sawing
  • Sewing
  • Spinning fibers
  • Spool-knitting
  • Videography
  • Watercolor painting
  • Weaving
  • Weaving pot holders
  • Whittling
  • Woodworking

Life Skills

  • Auto mechanics
  • Baking
  • Canning
  • Changing a car tire
  • Changing a lightbulb
  • Checking the car’s oil
  • Cleaning: mirrors, sinks, toilets, tubs and showers, baseboards
  • Clearing the table
  • Cooking
  • CPR
  • Driving a car
  • Drying: clothes, dishes
  • Dusting
  • Electrical wiring
  • Emptying trash
  • First Aid
  • Folding: clothes, towels, sheets
  • Mopping
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Organizing: closets, cupboards, sheds, attics
  • Painting a room
  • Plumbing
  • Raking leaves
  • Setting the table
  • Sweeping the floor
  • Vacuuming
  • Vegetable gardening
  • Wallpapering
  • Washing: clothes, dishes, windows, car
  • Welding

Life Skills but also Business Skills

  • Computer skills
  • Keyboarding/Typing
  • Tracking personal finances
A child is equipped when she learns practical skills.  A child may discover a gift or talent when they learn a craft.  Their self-image is boosted when they are able, useful and can say “I can”.
I hope your projects and handicraft activities bring you and family great joy!


This post has been submitted to the upcoming Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival.