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Father's Day Crafts: Homeade Gift

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Dads need to be reminded of how much they're loved, just as kids do. As Father's Day approaches, now is the perfect time to encourage your little one to create a gift that shows Dad how special he is. When your child makes a leather cover for his cell phone or personal organizer with a message of love tucked inside, he strengthens his bond with his dad and gains an array of skills. Creating the cover involves cutting, stitching, and decorating a piece of thin scrap leather with simple tools you're likely to have around the house.

Producing this practical-yet-sweet gift will boost your child's abilities in many ways, says Sharon Strubbe, program director of the Association for the Advancement of Arts Education in Cincinnati. "Kids will develop math skills when they use a ruler to measure the cover, fine-motor skills when they use scissors, and hand-eye coordination when they stitch the sides together," she says.

To make the sewing easier, you can help your child by measuring the placement of the holes and punching them through the leather with a sturdy paper punch or a leather punch. Using thick embroidery thread and a blunt embroidery needle will make stitching more child-friendly too. If you can't find leather in your local craft store, you can buy it online at www.wanderingbull.com.

Once the cover is complete, your child can personalize it with a handwritten note on a piece of ribbon inside. As an alternative, he could paint or emboss designs on the outside. "Buy a little extra leather and encourage your child to practice his designs," says Strubbe. "An old bottle cap or small cookie cutters could be used to make impressions in the leather."

Materials

  • Scrap leather,less than 2 mm thick
  • Marker
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Sturdy paper punch or leather punch (should make 2 mm holes)
  • Round-tipped embroidery needle (tapestry needle)
  • 6-ply embroidery thread in matching or contrasting color
  • Satin ribbon
  • Fabric markers
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Fabric glue

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1. Have your child measure, mark, and cut a piece of the leather that will accommodate Dad's phone or organizer. The length of the cutout should be twice the length of the gadget and twice its thickness; add another 1 1/2" for the flap. The width should be equal to the width of the device plus its thickness with an extra 1" for give. Cut out the rectangle.

2. From the bottom of one short side, measure a distance equal to the length of the phone plus 1/4", and mark a point near one side of the cut leather strip. Repeat on the other side. Align a ruler with these two points across the leather, and encourage your child to draw a horizontal line across the strip -- this will mark the fold line.

3. Starting 1/4" from the fold line on the shorter section of the strip and 1/4" in from one long side, measure and mark dots at 1/2" intervals so that the last dot is between 1/2" and 1/4" from the short end. Measure and mark an equal number of dots along the longer section on the other side of the fold line, again starting 1/4" from the fold line and 1/4" in from the long side -- this way, the dots will match up when you fold the leather. Repeat on the other side.

4. To make the thin leather band that holds the flap, cut a strip of leather that's 3/4" wide by the width of your holder. Ask your child to measure and mark two dots 1/8" in from both long ends on both sides and 1/4" in from both short ends so you'll have a way to anchor it. Use a sturdy paper punch or a leather punch to create 2 mm holes at all the marks you've made.

5. Cut a piece of six-ply embroidery thread to a length that's equal to three times the long side of the cover. Thread one end through a large, round-tipped needle and knot the other end with a triple or quadruple knot. Fold the large piece of leather along the fold line and align the holes. Starting at the fold, have your child thread the needle through the lowermost holes on one side and stitch to the next-to-last hole. Place the leather band over the top two holes, and make the last stitches through both pieces of leather. Continue the stitch back to the bottom. Tie another triple knot and trim the excess thread. Repeat on the other side. Snip the sides of the flap to taper them.

6. Ask your child to write a note to Dad on a strip of ribbon equal to the width of the leather case. Fold under the ends about 1/4", and iron flat. Use fabric glue to attach it to the inside flap.

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Copyright ? 2002. Reprinted with permission from the June/July 2002 issue of Child magazine.