Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Back-to-School Supplies

September is:
Today I will show you how to make everything you will need for back to school!
(I had planned to have all of September actually posted in the month of September, but well... my life keeps getting in the way!- Anyway, I hope you enjoy my ideas!)
My daughter was a great inspiration for many of the items you see below! She wanted a "homework folder", and a "water bottle" so I had to get really creative to figure out how I was going to make a "water bottle"! Check out below to see how I did it. My son even got into the act and suggested "chocolate chip cookies", which we all made together. Actually, many of the items can be fun crafts that you can do together.
11/26/12- I just want to announce the opening of my new etsy shop! I am offering an easy to follow pdf pattern for a School Backpack and bonus Lunch Bag. It is especially great for those who are interested in making the backpack from store bought fabric rather than recycled items. I also have for sale a few upcycled doll items. Please check it out at: A Doll For All Seasons- etsy shop
Backpack includes everything on her "Back-to-School" Supply List:
Backpack, Lunch box, Sandwich, Apple, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Water Bottle, Pencil Case, Yellow Pencils, Box of Crayons, Pencil Sharpener, Calculator, Spiral Notebook, Spelling Sight Word List, Homework Folder with Homework, Library Book, Composition Notebook, and Legal Pad.
Before we start, I want to mention that many things that I show here for the backpack are tiny and may not be suitable for small children! Please, keep this in mind. 

I found this mini tin at a thrift shop for 75 cents!
It was the perfect size for a lunch box- 2 3/4" x 4 1/4".

And for lunch she has a bologna sandwich..

For the bread, I used a sheet of 1/8" thick craft foam in Tan color for "whole wheat" bread.
You can also use white craft foam for "white" bread.
I made a pattern out of cardboard, 1 5/8" high by 1 1/2" wide in the shape of a slice of bread.
Using a brown waterproof marker I  traced around the pattern. Do not use a washable marker as this will rub off!
I made two and cut them out with scissors.

With the same brown marker, I drew a thin line on the back edge and along the side edge to create a "crust". 
For the "cheese slice" I used 1/16" thick craft foam in a yellow orange color and cut a 1 1/4" square.
For the "bologna slice" I cut a 1 3/8" circle out of a 1/16" thick craft foam in a brown color.
To make the "lettuce" I used 1/16" thick green craft foam and drew freehand two leaf shapes about 1 3/8" around in a waterproof dark green marker.  I also added veins and some squiggly lines along the edges of  the lettuce for a little added realism.
I used a white craft glue to glue it all together- the more the better because the glue dries to look a bit like mayo!

To finish the look I used a mini zip lock bag, the kind you get when you buy beads or jewelry at craft fairs.
 I used one that was 3"x 3 3/4".

"Chocolate Cookies" anyone?
These were my son's idea and we all made them together.
We started with 1/16" craft foam in a tan color and cut out 3/4" circles.
Next we used a dark brown waterproof marker for the "chips". Make random dots of Brown on both sides of the "cookies".
I added a mini zip lock bag and you have the perfect afternoon snack!
See notes for sandwich for the zip lock bag.

So, when my daughter wanted her doll to have a "water bottle" for her backpack, I thought "HOW AM I GOING TO MAKE THAT?"
As it turns out, I didn't have to!
I searched the house for something the right size(3 3/4" tall by 1 1/8" wide) and I hit the jackpot!
I had some travel shampoos and this one was the perfect size and (a bonus) the top works like many water bottles with a snap shut top!
So I used up the shampoo, rinsed it out, soaked off the label and let it dry out.
Then for fun, I added an over sized sticker from my daughter's collection to the front and Ta Da! A water bottle!

The "Yellow Pencil" is actually made from a 1/8" thick bamboo skewer.
I measured 2 1/2" from the pointed end and cut with a sharp knife using a rolling action on a cutting board.
Then I sanded the cut end slightly to make it smooth.
Next, I painted the yellow in craft acrylic paint leaving the pointed end as bare wood. Then I painted the cut end with a red craft acrylic paint to create an "eraser".
To make the metal piece that attaches the "eraser" to the pencil, I used a small sweep of metallic silver paint about 1/8" in width.
To make the "lead" I used a black permanent marker and just dabbed the very tip of the pointed end all around about 1/8" up.
The "Pencil Sharpener" is actually a novelty button I found that was the perfect size- about 5/8' long.

I will show you how to make the "Pencil Case" as well as the "Backpack" in my next post.

Every Elementary school "School Supply List" includes a box of CRAYONS!
I took an actual box of crayons and carefully opened it up, took it apart at the side seam, and laid it out flat.
I scanned it on my computer @ 100res and printed it @300res so that it was 1/3 of the original size.
You can also color copy it @33%.
Then I cut it out along the edge.

Next I used a glue stick to glue it to a lightweight piece of cardboard.
Next I cut it out along the edge. This now looks like a mini version of the original box laid out flat.

I used a straight edge to help fold along all the places that were folded on the original.
I used the original as a guide.

This is how it looks ready to be glued.
Glue along the side seam same as the original box

Doll sized box of crayons shown with the actual size crayon box!

This is a very cute, very sparkly, little notebook that I found for $1.00.
To make this even smaller and perfect for a doll's backpack, I needed to cut it down to size.
First, I opened the notebook and I measured down from the top of the notebook 3 1/2" and drew a line straight across on the inside front cover.
I cut along this line using an X-acto knife.
Next, I closed the cover on the top only and clamped it together.
Then using the knife again, I cut through all of the layers of paper and the back cover using the cut edge as a guide.
Here you see the cutting in progress.
After I finished cutting through all of the layers of paper and back cover, I needed to cut the spiral wire.
I used wire cutters but you probably could cut it with and old pair of scissors.
You can save the cut away notebook piece as a fun extra notebook!
Next, I opened the notebook again and measured from the spine edge 2 3/4" and marked along outer edge of the front inside cover.
I cut along this line with my knife.
Same as before , I clamped the notebook shut and cut with my knife along the cut edge through all sheets of paper and the back cover.
 I saved the cut paper and used it as paper for a "spelling List". 
 It could also be used  for "mom's notes from home" to put in the lunch box.
The extra front cover piece makes a great sparkly book mark!

My daughter wanted a "Homework Folder" So I got to work.
Here you can see a full size notebook with the mini version!
First I started with an actual folder.
Whenever possible, I like to make things easier for myself and use what is already done for me.
In this case, I used the existing fold lines. This is not necessary, you can cut from any part of the folder and fold later.
Above, you can see how I measured 3 1/2" from the center fold line and 4" up from the bottom edge.
I then cut out this rectangle shape.
(If you are not working from the existing fold lines, you will cut out a 7"Wide  by 5 3/4"High rectangle.)
Next, I measured 1 3/4" up from bottom edge of mini folder and cut along inside portion only to create the pocket.
If you are working with a piece that is not already folded, you will need to first fold 1 3/4" up from the bottom, then fold the whole folder in half vertically.
Then I trimmed away 1/8" along outside edges of the pocket portion on both sides as shown.
Next, I folded the outer edges in by 1/4" on both sides. I used a straight edge to insure a straight even crease.
Next, I used a hole punch and made half circle cuts just above the top of pocket as shown above.
Using a glue stick, glue the folded back portions down and clamp with clips until completely dry as shown above
Now the folder is finished!
For fun, I copied and printed out a page of my daughter's homework and a spelling test and added that to the folder.
I also added a few sheets of notebook paper cut to 2 3/4" by 3 3/4".

I made a mini version of my daughter's Composition Notebook.
I started by making a copy of the original notebook opened flat and printed at 33%.
(I scanned it on my computer at 100 res and printed it at 300 res. You can also color copy it at 33%)
Next, I took several sheets of loose leaf paper and laid it next to my copy.
 I cut from the top of the sheets, a width slightly larger than the notebook copy width.
I also cut a piece of card stock paper in solid white the same size as the lined paper.
I placed the card stock on the bottom of the stack.
Next I used a stapler and stapled in two places as far in as the stapler would allow as shown above.
Fold along the stapled line so that the card stock is on the outside.
Add glue onto the back side of the cut out photo copied cover with glue stick.
Put the glued side of cover down onto the card stock carefully matching the center spine edge of the cover with the stapled fold line of the stack of papers.
Rub down the cover so there is no bubbles and press along fold line.
Carefully cut away excess notebook paper to match the cover size with an X-acto knife.
Finished notebook! Super cute!
I used the same technique to make a reading book only I used blank white paper instead of lined paper.

Here is a mini version of a favorite book, using the same technique as for the composition notebook.

The Calculator was purchased at Staples for 99 cents and it has doll sized buttons!
It is meant to be used as a key ring, so the chain and ring part look real cute when I put the calculator in the front pocket of the backpack! Plus- It really works!

The apple was a little wooden one that I already had from... well, who knows where?! It just happen to be the perfect size.( About 1")

The mini legal note pad was purchased at Staples. They came in a set of 3 for $1.00.
The size was close enough to what I needed (5 1/4" by 3 1/2").
One pad for the doll and two handy note pads for me!

Thanks for checking in!
I hope I gave you lots of ideas for your doll and "Back-to-School".

I will show you how to make the backpack and pencil case next time.

Creatively yours,

They are talking about me at


  1. I love your blog. I will be SURE to make all of these items!!

  2. Hi!

    I've been scrolling through and reading all of your archived posts. I just love this post about making school supplies. I've recently started making doll clothes for my granddaughters and have become interested in making some accessories like these. Your blog has been very inspiring.

    1. Thank you so much, I'm glad you find my blog inspiring! This post has been the most popular by far to date!

  3. Brilliant work. Your collection is fantastic and your little girl has a bunch of cool new accessories to have fun with!

  4. AWESOME. Great job!

  5. Everything is adorable! My girls and I are making a list of all the things we've found on your blog that we need to make now. Thanks!

  6. Love your upcycled tutorials! I did elect to order the backpack pattern from your Etsy store however. Looking forward to it and I'll post back after I've made it. Thanks again for all of the wonderful ideas!

    1. Thank you for your kind words! I'd love to hear how your backpack comes out!

  7. Love your blog!This craft was so cute!I'll be sure to try it out!Thank you so much!

  8. I love this! I love that you used stuff that most people would likely have at home already! That makes my life easier! I am going straight to my craft room to try these out! I can't wait to see my daughter's face when she sees this stuff! Your daughter must LOVE you! :D