Crafty ideas for Norwich kids

Summer is short but sweet, although if the rain is pouring down outside or your children have reached the 'I'm bored!' stage of the holidays, it can feel like it drags on forever. STACIA BRIGGS went to Jarrold's art department to craftily stock up for the summer.

Subversive sampler: Gone are the days when every girl learnt the basics of sewing by stitching a sampler. If I suggested to my 13-year-old that she commit hours to a piece of cloth in order to show her husband-to-be that she was handy with a needle and thread, I think she'd give me a withering look and say 'whatever' to me. So that's what I asked her to sew, instead. We took a simple cross-stitch alphabet pattern from the internet, a few flower patterns from the Cath Kidston Sew book, �15, Quadrille Publishing Limited and embroidery thread and canvas from Jarrold. Having charted out the design on graph paper, our subversive cross-stitch project began. A few hours later and we had our 'sampler' and a teenager converted to the joy of cross-stitch.

Sparkling squares: You'd think that this was a craft for tinies, but in fact older children love it too. Squares of sticky-backed plastic are cut into shapes, anchored to a line of thread and then filled with all manner of shiny things to create a bespoke mobile or sun-catcher. Just cut equal sized squares of sticky-back plastic and place one, sticky-side up on a table. Knot some embroidery thread to stop it fraying and make a loop at the top so that you can hang up your artwork. Then remove the film from the square and place the thread through the centre of the square, leaving a long tail so you can add further squares later. Fill the remaining sticky square with torn off bits of tissue paper, sequins and beads. Then take the other square of sticky-backed plastic and press it firmly on top of the first to create an airtight plastic pocket. Repeat until you have a line of squares, above. You could spell out a name or a word in the squares or simply keep them abstract.

Creating a toy from a child's drawing: This is a great idea for children who have mastered the basics of sewing. Remember that the toys you'll produce won't be suitable for under-threes and won't be the most robust creations. Take a simple drawing – we used my son's trademark 'Evil Pacman' design which he transformed into 'Love Pacman' for my Mother's Day Card. I increased the size of the drawing on a photocopier by 200pc, making two copies – one for a paper pattern and another to refer to when I was adding the detail. I then took squares of felt from Jarrold's and, using the paper pattern, cut two body-sized pieces, leaving a 1cm hem. I sewed the two pieces of felt together, cut out two legs, sewed them inside the body and then stuffed it with toy stuffing.

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Mosaic: This brilliant Craft Magic kit from Jarrold's contains everything you need to make your very own mosaic, above right. Paint the pre-cut wooden shape and leave to dry. Add two sticky-back plastic fins and glue the dolphin's eye in place and then make like a Roman and start sticking on your tiles.

Bunting: This is a simple, fast craft to make, below, if you have a sewing machine and you can pick up 'how-to' guides from Jarrold's which contain a triangle template.

Mark the triangles using the template on your fabric and cut out using pinking shears. Place two triangles back to back and sew around the edges using a straight stitch. On a piece of cotton tape, mark where you want the triangles to be – leave a 14cm gap between each triangle. Fold the tape in half and stitch together, placing the triangles in between the tape where the marks have been made. The top edge of the triangle should be in the crease. Remember to leave a gap at the end of the tape so you can hang your bunting!

Alien baby brooches: These were the undisputed hit of the crafting session: on the day I made these, there were six children under the age of 13 in the house and every single one desperately wanted an alien baby of their own. For each alien baby, you need three different colours of Fimo – we used glow-in-the-dark for full extra-terrestrial effect. We used seed beads for eyes.

All you need to do is make an alien head, make hollows for the eyes and press in the seed beads. Then, roll out a 'blanket', a square of Fimo which is around 1/8th of an inch thick. Place the square on a flat surface with a corner at the top – in a diamond shape – and put the alien head on the blanket. Roll up the bottom of the square and then the sides. Hey presto, alien life is born!

Top tip: use jewellery findings to convert your alien babies into brooches, above right.

Fimo robots: Although I am often heard to boast about my Fimo modeling abilities, even I can't manage to model something quite this impressive without considerable help. This is one of the new Fimo modeling packs from Jarrold's. In addition to all the Fimo you need, you also get step-by-step instructions as to how to assemble your robot.

Top tip: make sure the surface you're working on is clean. Fimo picks up dirt very easily!

Fabric bag: This is a great idea for parties or for afternoons where you have a few children to entertain. Jarrold's sells a selection of cotton bags which you can decorate with fabric pens in all manner of bespoke designs, right. They'd make brilliant presents for people, too.

Top tip: make sure you place a hardback book inside the bag to stop colour seepage and to give you a good surface to work on.

Finally, two brilliant kits: the Felt Works sausage dog kit is perfect for older children who know how to sew and contains everything you need to make an adorable little dog, while the Calafant pirate ship offers you the opportunity to decorate your own ship and then play with it, too.