Oct 10

No-sew Animal Hats

by Hannah Holt »


Last year for Halloween, I wrote a post about no-sew animal costumes. At the time, I had several people ask me about animal masks/hats.

Because I don’t sew (unless it’s astro-turf), this is the method I use. This post could also be titled… What to do when your child comes home and says this:

What You’ll Need

  • a balloon
  • tinfoil
  • newspaper strips
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1 cup water
  • paint (or other decorating supplies)

1) Inflate the balloon until it’s about the size of your child’s head. Then take tinfoil and shape it around your child’s head. Shape any ears, beak or other animal features with the tinfoil as well.

2) Place the balloon in a bowl and let the tinfoil rest on the balloon (so the tinfoil will hold its shape better).

3) Mix the water and flour well. Dip the newspaper strips in the flour mixture. The newspaper should have a thin coat of paste. Cover the tinfoil with the newspaper. It will take a couple of coats. (You do not need to cover the underside of the tinfoil.)

4) Let the newspaper dry for 24 to 48 hours.

5) Once dry, paint the head piece the desired colors. This is what we ended up with:

6) Just for added measure I created a wattle by painting part of a kitchen glove red, and I glued on white feathers as well. Here is the final chicken hat:

By they way, do you know who a chicken’s favorite composer is?

Bach, Bach, Bach!

Oct 08

Columbus Day

by Hannah Holt »


Here’s a quick craft for Columbus Day. Total time to completion: five minutes.

Note: the boat will take on water after a while, but my son still had a lot of fun with it in the bathroom sink. You can always take it out; let it dry; and play with it again later.

Oct 02

Astroturf Dress

by Hannah Holt »


Last year Josh went to our Halloween party as a golfer, and I went as the green. Here’s how my turf frock came into being…

A while ago Josh and I picked up Astroturf at Lowe’s. We needed something to cover the splintery wood on our back deck until it gets replaced. The Lowe’s sales-rep sold us the end of a roll at a deeply discounted price. That left us with yards and yards of extra fabric. I took one look at all that turf and knew just what to do:

front back

Since I’m feeling rather expertish on the subject of Atsro sewing (and I KNOW you are all DYING to get you one), I thought I’d share a few tips.

-Pick a pattern with few seams. No gathers or darts. This is essentially carpet sewing.

-When cutting, you don’t need to allow for much seam. You’ll be sewing and gluing the pieces almost edge to edge.

-Immediately after cutting, apply a sewing glue to ALL the edges. This will keep it from fraying to pieces, and enable you to sew the edges without it falling apart. This will need drying time.

-Do NOT use a sewing machine. Hand sew a simple stitch down each seam to draw the edges together. Then hot glue all the seams.

-You do not need to hem. Just cut a straight line on the bottom and fray check.

-Make the dress a tight fit. It will loosen up after a couple wearings.

-To clean, spray with hose.

-I was too lazy to line the dress, so I just bought a simple under-dress from a thrift store.

-Don’t forget your matching masquerade glasses.


Yes, this is my first (and only) handmade dress.

Sep 26

Paper Dolls for my Daughters

by Hannah Holt »


A few years ago, I was out collecting data for a mall redevelopment in Salt Lake City and had my headphones tuned into NPR. As I worked I heard part of Larry Summers’ infamous lecture on diversifying science and engineering.

At the time Mr. Summers was president of Harvard, and in his lecture he postulated that there aren’t as many women in science and engineering because of “issues of intrinsic aptitude” (or lack thereof). I found his remarks puzzling but finished my data collection and headed back to the office.

I’m an engineer, writer, and woman. I’m not an academic. However, I can tell you why there aren’t more women in science and engineering, and it has nothing to do with intrinsic aptitude.

It’s because being different is hard. It’s much easier falling in line with expectations.

When I told my darling grandmother I was majoring in engineering, she scolded me, “What?! So you can wear coveralls and crawl around in attics all day?”

At university, there were the occasional anonymous creepy notes. Once while working in the computer lab at 2 am, someone inside the lab hijacked my computer screen and started sending me updates about my personal appearance. I bought a bike, so I wouldn’t have to walk home alone in the dark.

Now I found engineering, the profession, to be mostly welcoming towards women. However, stupid people seem to gravitate towards minorities. On my second day of school, a tall boy walked up to me and said, “I don’t know why they let women into school here. It takes more spots away from men, who will be the bread winners after all.”

I believe in the power of words. Even false ideas said over and over again start sounding like truth. So we must give our daughters different words to live by.

Here are three stories to help them change the tune.


For a pdf copy of the engineering paper dolls click here.

For a pdf copy of the firefighter paper dolls click here.

For a pdf copy of the scientist paper dolls click here.

I made the dolls interchangeable. So if you want Barbara to be a firefighter or Leela to be a scientist, you can mix and match.

When I pitched the idea for this paper doll series on my Facebook Page, I received a tremendous response. I loved the range of suggestions for other non-traditional paper dolls. In the coming months, I plan to make more. In the mean time, if you have a career suggestion for my collection, please tell me in the comment section.

Sep 19

Five Projects with Fall Leaves

by Hannah Holt »


Let your imagination take flight.

The leaves started falling this week. I’ve been collecting them almost as fast as they hit the ground. Here’s what we’ve been up to.

1. Leaf pressing. Just like flower petal pressing. Set them up in a cheap frame from from the local thrift store and… ta da!

2. Crayon rubbing. Always a classic fall craft.

3. Magazine cut outs. I took a few pictures from magazines (see the butterfly above and the dinosaurs below) and used them as a template to cut shapes from the fall leaves. Note: this works best if the leaves are still supple.

4. I made a leaf collage activity page for the kids. You can download my pdf template by clicking here.

5. We had a leaf scavenger hunt. You can make up your own or use the one I created.