Wednesday, April 20, 2011


New toy!

I finished Jenna's Christmas present! I finished it two nights ago!
When the husband saw it yesterday, I informed him proudly, "That's Jenna's Christmas present!"
"A bit early, isn't it?" he asked.
"Not really," I returned. "Considering that it was LAST year's Christmas present."

Who finishes their Christmas presents on time nowadays? Craft-punctuality is a farce, at least in our house. We never believe in "Better late than never." We prefer to punch our fists in the air and shout, "Only 45,233 projects left now!"

Ah well, it feels good to finally clear away the mess and gummy scissors*, I say. It had all been sitting in a pile in the corner of the living room, where I'd sit at nights and chip away at the mammoth task of cutting, cutting, cutting out all the shapes. But I'm getting ahead of myself. You want to see the Thing.

Bag -

unzips -

opens out - 

and out slides a magnetic whiteboard.

Opens out more - shelves of little jars -

filled with somethings -

oh - cookies -

and cupcakes -

- and elements thereof -

-and donuts and decorations -

it's a magnetic bakery!

Where you can lay out cookies on a baking sheet

pop them in the oven

and (this is very important, says Jenna) when they're cool, frost them

and take a picture - see the photographer's teeny toes!

And you can also line a (pretend) cupcake pan

fill it with batter

bake for 5 seconds and - Ding! - they're done.

Cool them, frost them

and, if it's someone's birthday, dip into the candle jar

and celebrate.

And because we looooooooove donuts, we make those too - 

Jenna was busy all day yesterday, baking up a storm and selling sweet confections to anyone who would buy them. She'd been sick and stayed home from school, so it was just as well that she got to enjoy this now rather than at Christmas. Hooray for procrastinating good timing.

If you've spent any time with Jenna, you'll know there are fewer things she loves more than rainbows and baking. She always asks to bake cookies and cupcakes, and she absolutely adores frosting things and making them colorful and pretty. That was the motivation for making these confections in layers to assemble. But she also loves sorting and organizing, and so I gave her the clear jars for compartmentalizing her bakery, and made the various pieces in sets of 6 and 12 and factors thereof. She will be counting and dividing to her heart's content for a long time. 

Overheard to Kate, "The cookies cannot all have the same frosting!"
"Why?" asks Kate.
"It's my bakery." says Jenna.

I'd love for you all to have a go at making this, if your kids are cupcake/cookie/donut aficionados like Jenna. But a full tutorial would just about do me in. So I just took a lot of photos and hopefully you can figure it out on your own by looking at them.

First, the magnetic pieces themselves - 

here are my templates - click on them to download them:

  • I cut the shapes out of the thinnest scrapbook paper I could find. You could use plain printer paper and decorate them with markers yourself, but I didn't want to take the time to do that. 
  • Next, I stuck them onto adhesive magnetic sheets. I used this, which I got at Michaels. 
  • Then I cut them out (hellooooooo gummy scissors) and stuck them upside down onto THIN clear laminating sheets. I used these. You can skip the laminating, really. There is a chance that the magnetic effect might be weakened by inadvertently using a laminating sheet that is too thick. For that reason, I would strongly advise you NOT to use contact paper (the cheap kind that comes in rolls) or a thermal laminating machine. The laminating does extend the life of the pieces, but test one piece first before you laminate the whole batch, to make sure the layers still stick to each other.
  • Then cut the shapes out again (helloooooo more gummy scissors). 

If I remember right, I used 3-4 rolls of magnetic sheets (they are 1' x 2' each) and 8 laminating sheets (they are 9.5" x 12") for the entire project, which was
  • 6 donuts
  • 12 cookies
  • 48 cookie frosting pieces
  • 18 donut frosting pieces
  • 12 cupcakes
  • 12 cupcake liners
  • 6 candles
  • 12 cupcake frosting pieces

Next: the jars.

Here's what I used:
  • Clear vinyl (bought from Joann Fabrics), cut into jar shapes. I'm not providing templates for the jars - their sizes are entirely dependent on the number of magnetic pieces they need to contain.
  • Twill tape for the labels. I printed the words out on transfer paper and ironed them onto the twill tape. This is the transfer paper I used for my inkjet printer. If you have a laser printer, you need to pick the kind for laser printers. You'll also need to get your word processor to flip the words so they are in mirror image - this way they'll iron onto the twill tape the right way. Alternatively, you can just write on them with a fabric marker.
  • I bound the edges of the jar with normal bias tape. Then I sewed the two sides and bottom onto the background to attach the jar like a pocket.
  • The lid is felt appliqued in place above the vinyl portion.

The oven:

  • This is just a huge pocket with a window, with flat felt knobs appliqued on.
  • The window is the same clear vinyl as the jars. If you are tolerant of unfinished edges, you can just make the oven single-layered and have all the unfinished edges on the inside. My oven is double-layered because I like the unfinished edges to be hidden. You don't have to be anal like I am.
  • The pocket has a depth because of the thickness of the magnetic board it stores. This is introduced simply by sewing the corners like so:
You can of course omit this, and just sew a big flat pocket - you only need to ensure that the board fits.

And finally, the bag/playmat itself:
  • It is literally six pieces of canvas/duckcloth with no interfacing or anything - just three pieces sewn in a row on one side, and three pieces sewn in a row on the other side. I sewed all the details on each side of the playmat before putting the two sides together.
  • There are two straps sewn into the relevant seams between these pieces.
  • The shelves are just strips of brown duckcloth top-stitched in place.   
  • The zipper was sewn with its raw edges tucked away. This was incorporated into the bag while the bag was inside-out, and then turned right way out again. This way I didn't have to bind all round the playmat. But it does take some visualizing and some zipper experience to do this. Alternatively, you can omit the zipper and sew velcro or buttons or something else to fasten the bag closed. Or you can sew the two sides of the playmat together, right sides out, attach the zipper and sew a binding all around to enclose the unfinished edges. 

I had a lot of fun with this project, even if the cutting out was mind-numbing at times. What a daftist I was to think I could set a time limit on something like this!

And with this project, this blog has come full circle! My very first project ever posted here was another detail-insane magnetic thing, also with a storage bag, and also with a zipper. 

* Cleaned the gummy scissors off with Goo-Gone. Like magic! 


  1. so stinking cute!!! i know a gajillion kids who would love one of these!!!!!

  2. WOW!! Another magnificent project! I just can't imagine doing all that! What this extended winter has driven you to do... hey, it's been good for SOMETHING! ;)

  3. Can you adopt me? I'm pretty low-maintenence, a few toys like this and I'm happy as all get out.

    Seriously, this is awesome. That brain of yours, there should be a way to bottle it's essence and market it. I'd buy some.

  4. That is, without question, absolutely fantastic!

  5. wow!!! You are my hero now =D
    This is an amazing gift for the girly ones!!! Beautiful idea and as always, very well made.

  6. Awesome project!! Coolest thing I've seen in a long time ;)

  7. seriously, I am in awe. This is the most thought out, most inspired thing I have seen in a while. I am oohing and awwwing over it. So. very. cool.

  8. do you know how awe-inspiring you are? Not only are you insanely talented, but insanely talented with little kids in tow. Most people in your position only Survive, but you LIVE!

  9. Super fun! I love it. Deciding if I can pull it off in the next couple weeks for my daughter's birthday.

  10. I love it. Cute and portable. I may have to make one.

  11. Saw the FB link from Erika - this is an amazing project! Wow, double wow.

  12. That is amazing! As with so many of your toys it is something I would have LOVED as a child. I love how it is self-contained and so thorough! I may just have to make one for me to play with. :)

  13. I think I will have to make this for my niece for Christmas. Yes, that list is already getting big, but I think that this is just the most amazing thing EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. oh wow! I can't say anything else, I'm speechless!

  15. What an insanely great idea! I seriously need to get myself (and sewing projects) more organized to be able to make fun toys like this for the kids. The mini tute were great, very clear! You rock!

  16. I follow your blog and you never cease to amaze me with what you do. This is fantastic! If I'd attempt something like this, my kids would have left home and married before I got around to finishing it! LOL

    Love your work!

  17. Wow...that's amazing...what a fantastically thought out idea and so totally well executed!!...I accidentally found your blog and am now hooked!!! going to add you to my list of luvly blogs!! Am so inspired!!!

  18. This is a wonderful idea. I think my son would have a lot of fun with something like this. It would work great keeping him quiet during church.

  19. Oh my goodness, this is AMAZING! You are a creative genius! Is it OK that I really want one of these even thought I'm a grown up?!

  20. What an amazing and special gift - this is incrediable, I had to reread this post several times to take in the wonderful details. I am still waiting for your book deal. Somewhere in the intro should read "craft punctuality is a farce".

  21. Wow! That is so fantastic! Good job persevering through ALL that cutting!

  22. Wow, you have the greatest ideas! Thanks so much for all the inspiration you give us through your blog. I always enjoy reading it.

  23. Wow! This is wonderful!! It's such a brilliant idea!!!

  24. SOOOO Clever - I love this idea, thanks for the inspiration, might have to start now to get one of these ready for next Christmas!

  25. What an amazing mum you are - I'm sure that she felt that gift was well worth the wait. Hmmm, this would probably take me about 3 years to make - would my daughter still want one when she is 9?

  26. Oh this is AMAZING! I WANT ONE!!! FOR ME!
    So I could FINALLY have my own bakery! :-)

  27. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! This is the best idea EVER!!

  28. This is literally the most adorable thing I have ever seen!!!!! I bought a Melissa & Doug sandwich kit, and this is by far cuter than that one!!! I can see why it took 2 christmases to make :)

  29. Brilliant idea! I need to hurry up and produce offspring so I have a more legitimate reason for making and owning this :) Well done! And thank you Stumble for helping me find this!

  30. Wow!! What a great idea, and so beautifully presented. May have to put this one in the 'to be attempted' file for a later date. :)

  31. Oh my goodness, this is the cutest thing I've ever seen! Perfect for a travel toy! I can't wait until my niece gets a little older so I can make it for her!

  32. OHHHH, WOW! This is absolutely the cutest, most loving present I had ever seen!!! You are so talented. I am "stealing" this idea for my grand nieces! Right now I'm on the "I'm making things for my future great-grandkids while I can" mood. This will be added to my "bucket" list:)
    Thank you sooooooo much for sharing, and including pictures and templates.


Thank you for talking to me! If you have a question, I might reply to it here in the comments or in an email.