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Craft Safety for Kids - Did You Know...

...that there are lots of ways to do fiber crafts projects with younger kids that are completely safe and pretty easy? We get calls all the time from parents and teachers wanting ideas for simple, non-toxic projects to do with their kids. Here are some ideas that you can use for;

  • gifts to make in school for the parents
  • things to sell to raise money for the class or team
  • projects for parents wanting to keep their kids busy while they are out of school


Art on fabric and clothing items are so long lasting and useable as opposed to paper and cardboard. So we thought we would throw out what we have found to be the most popular projects for this time of year. We are also starting a new section of our website called “Dharma’s Customer Stories”, a perfect venue for you all to send in your own recommendations! Watch for it in the very near future.

Here are some of the suggestions we have for really fun, safe activities with kids that need minimal adult supervision (from the safety point of view – mess we take no responsibility for!):

 

1.  Silk painting – smaller Habotai scarves (6 X 24, 8 X 54 & 22 X 22) are very inexpensive and affordable for class and group projects. What Mom wouldn’t like a lovely scarf painted by her child?  For Dads, we have silk twill handkerchiefs (17 x 17) and, of course, the ever classic ties! Colored “play silks” enchant children who love to run and dance, so you can even incorporate a performance! We also have several sizes of stretched silk on wire hoops that make great window or Holiday ornaments, and silk gift bags that look lovely painted. Have the kids outline their designs with Pebeo’s non-toxic water based resists already in applicator tubes and then paint with our thin, flowable fabric paints like Dynaflow, and Setasilk, add beautiful metallic accents with Lumiere or Setacolor Metallics, let them dry, have an adult iron them, and they are done! To make the scarf painting easier without stretcher frames, you can iron them to freezer paper before painting, then when they are dry, peel them off before heat setting.

 

2.  Fabric painting – Almost every single one of our fabric paints is non-toxic and water based, without the requirements of chemicals or fixatives. Dry and iron. That’s it. You can use stencils, block prints or simple stamps with the thicker ones like the Versatex, Jacquard and Speedball Screen Printing Inks. They are not just for silk screening! Folks even use them for doing hand prints on tees, totes or fabric for a quilt. Our medium thick paints like Jacquard Textile Colors, Setacolor, DecoArt and Lumiere/Neopaque are perfect for hand painting on all fabrics. The radiant metallic Lumiere colors are even used inside clear glass ornaments, for something different. Jones Tones is a glue based 3 dimensional outlining paint that kids love, with some colors that have glitter in them, and can be used to decorate just about anything. It needs no heat setting. The possibilities are endless!  Some particularly popular (and economical!) projects to paint this time of year are:

    A. Placemats, napkins and table runners, painted with holiday designs, make great gifts for the parents.  Also good for class fundraisers.
    B.  Aprons – we have all sizes, from kid to Dad! Handy for holiday cooking, heck, handy to put on the kids while they are doing their other arts and crafts projects. Look great painted and decorated.
    C.  Banners and nylon Mini Flags – great for school plays, dressing up the school room or the parent’s yard!?
    D. Totes – who couldn’t use a re-useable shopping tote painted by their kid?
    E.  Quilt squares – every kid decorates a square to make a class quilt as a fundraiser for auction, or family quilt to give as a precious gift. Dharma has many low priced white fabrics that are perfect for this.
    F.  T-shirts – what list would be complete without the ever popular mainstay of the American wardrobe? We have great prices!
    G. Bandanas – very inexpensive and you can do a lot to ‘em.

 

 

3.  Markers and crayons – All of the items above, including the silks, can just as easily be colored with markers or fabric crayons! Even easier for the littlest of artists, and less messy than paint, we have a number of non-toxic markers can be used  on silk, like Tee Juice,  and Setascrib, which need ironing, and FabricMate, which don’t. Dyesticks are like crayons, which work on all natural fabrics. Again, just iron to make permanent.

 

 

4.  Sun Painting – even though the sun is a little more scarce in the fall and winter months, it is still very popular as a group project.  You can get wonderful patterns of leaves & ferns, pastas, laces, cutouts that the kids make, etc. on useful items like table cloths and linens, quilt fabrics and tees. If the sun fails you, you can even dry your items under heat lamps such as those used by restaurants to keep food warm (work well, but carefuI they get VERY hot!) also any incandescent “sun lamps” used to grow plants indoors.

 

 

5.  Tie-dye – Our Fiber Reactive dyes are the best for tie-dye, and we have handy kits already made up for groups.  Tie-dye is an ever popular event for families, classes and other groups around all the holidays. But using the dye with the chemicals does require the adults to be in charge of the dye mixing, soda ash dipping and washing out. With kids who are too little to understand about not touching their eyes if they might have soda ash on their gloves, or too young to control the direction the squirt bottle of dye is squirting, we often recommend doing tie dye with the thinner, non-toxic fabric paints. You can tie items up in patterns, then squirt or sponge on thinner fabric paints, like slightly diluted (with water) Jacquard Airbrush Ink or Setacolor Transparent, or you can use the even thinner fabric paints like Dynaflow and Setasilk. Let them dry as much as possible, cut the ties away and let them dry the rest of the way, iron to heat set, and it is done! Pigment dye is even more economical that regular fabric paints, if you have large groups, as it can be diluted more.  It gives a slightly more faded “stonewashed” look than fabric paint or fiber reactive dyes, and once entirely dry, can be heat set in a home dryer to cut out the ironing step.

 

6.  Faux Batik – Faux meaning imitation or fake – But nice none the less, and much safer in a classroom setting or with young children than trying to heat wax and using dyes and chemicals. Kids can paint or stencil on our totally non-toxic Inko Resist that is made of casaba paste in designs of their choice. Then let it dry (which can be sped up with a fan, hair dryer or heat gun). Then let the kids paint or sponge on diluted  or thin Fabric paints like we have listed above. Let them dry, heat set the paints, wash out the resist, and all done. They can imitate real batik even further, if you have more time, by doing layers of color and resist.  For this best to use very diluted thin paints so they don’t build up too much. Let one layer of paint dry, then use the resist in more designs over that color, let it dry, paint on another color over the first, etc.  The colors combine to form new colors, just like batik artists do with dye. Any design under the resist retains the original color of the fabric or paint layer that it was applied to.

 


7.  Transfer Papers – this requires more adult supervision, of course, to get the photos you take or computer designs printed on the papers, then ironed or heat pressed to any of the above cotton items or other items of your choice. But it is extremely popular way of customizing your art projects with family or school photos, photos of your favorite pets, etc. for works full of memories. Can be combined with most of the ideas above for truly customized unique gifts.

Well, we hope that helps, and we really hope you all have great fun and enjoy your holidays. So send us photos while the kids are working and what they make, with a story of how it went, and we can post them on our new “Dharma’s customer stories” pages!


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