For Jade Laswell, founder of the charitable crafting organization Craft Hope, it all started with 29 pillowcase dresses collected for Mexican orphanages. Or, really, with the revelation that came just before: "I was a stay-at-home mom, and a lot of us were making stuff all the time and showing it off to each other on our blogs -- 'Look, I made a skirt!' 'I made an apron!' -- and I thought, 'There has got to be something we can do that's bigger than this.'"
There was: 150,000 handmade items later, Craft Hope has become a major matchmaker for charitable projects, pairing energetic makers and their kids with people and communities in need. Jade posts available opportunities to craft for a cause on her Craft Hope blog and Facebook page, and her fans share the call to action far and wide. Since 2009, Craft Hope has partnered with 22 projects, and, in the process, provided 1,767 Christmas stockings for tornado survivors in the Southeast, 1,416 handmade bibs for orphans in China, and nearly 3,000 pairs of decorated flip-flops for children in Nicaragua.
Jade describes Craft Hope as "a love-based organization with the simple idea that small handmade projects can make a big difference." And they do make a big difference, in the lives of everyone involved. "It's not just the receiver that gets the gift in this," Jade explains. "If you get your kids involved in making something for someone else, it's one of the biggest gifts you can give them. We're teaching them to think outside themselves and showing them that there are tangible ways to change the world."
Now there's another way for crafty kids to help. FamilyFun and Craft Hope are partnering with Enchanted Makeovers, a nonprofit organization with chapters in all 50 states that turns drab shelters for women and children into happy, comfortable places.
We're asking our readers to help with Enchanted Makeovers' Capes for Kids project by crafting homemade superhero capes for children living in shelters. Why capes? Enchanted Makeovers founder, Terry Grahl, explains that it's not just because they lend themselves to imaginative play, but also because they remind kids, don't wait for a superhero...be one. Terry remembers, "One mother wrote a note that said, 'My daughter is sleeping in her cape.' The girl didn't want to take it off. Think about it, the empowerment of all these children wearing these capes! It's so beautiful."
Make a cape with your family, make a bunch with your Girl Scout troop, or throw a cape party and make dozens. You'll be doing something important -- giving hope to kids in crisis -- while being creative and having fun. "With a handmade item," Terry says,"all this positive energy and love is built into it. And people feel that. You can't get that off a shelf."
How you can help!
1. Make a cape, or several, following our directions on the next page!
2. Take a photo of your finished cape. Creative posing is encouraged!
3. Upload your photo to our Facebook page by going to facebook.com/familyfun, and clicking on the "capes for kids" tab.
4. Mail your capes to:
12663 Hipp Street Taylor, MI 48180
Want to do more?
Visit crafthope.com to learn about Jade's latest projects. Go to enchantedmakeovers.org to find other ways to help families in transition.
Make a cape!
These easily customized capes require no sewing and are made with a velcro closure for safety.
You will need:
1 yard prewashed knit fabric
1 yard of 5/8-inch grosgrain ribbon
1. Cut a 27- by 30-inch rectangle from the fabric (knit fabric doesn't fray, so you won't need to hem it).
2. Lay the ribbon on the fabric along one of the 27-inch-long sides, about 1 1/2 inches from the edge.
3. Working on several inches at a time, run a line of fabric glue about 1/4 inch below the ribbon. Fold the fabric over the ribbon as shown and press with your fingers, taking care not to get any glue on the ribbon. Let the glue dry.
4. Gather the fabric toward the center of the ribbon so that it bunches slightly. Glue the ribbon to the fabric on each end of the neckline, as shown, to hold the bunches in place.
5. Trim the ribbon with pinking shears so that each end hangs down about 4 inches. Attach a velcro dot to the overlapping ends.
Add an emblem!
Decorate the back of your cape with a super-powered symbol. You can get our lightning bolt, star, and exclamation point templates below. Mix and match the templates with any of these three emblem techniques.
Iron a Design
Draw a design, or trace a template, in reverse (any letters should be backward) onto paper- backed fusible web. Cut out the shape, leaving about a 1/2-inch border. With an iron on the cotton setting, press the web shape to the back of a piece of decorative fabric. Cut out the design through both layers. Peel off the paper backing and iron the shape to the cape.
Stencil a Pattern
Draw a design or trace a template onto the non-shiny side of a sheet of freezer paper, leaving several inches of paper around the design. Cut out and discard the shape. On the cotton setting, iron the stencil, shiny side down, onto the fabric. Use a foam brush to apply fabric paint, brushing from the paper toward the center of the fabric to prevent the paint from seeping under the stencil edges. Peel off the paper while the paint is wet.
Sew a Shape
Cut your design (either hand-drawn or from a template) from a piece of knit fabric (it won't fray). Secure the cape inside a large embroidery hoop and pin the shape to the cape. Using an embroidery needle and thread, sew a running stitch around the edge of the design.
Originally published in the December/January 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.