Cinderella Story: Make a Princess Dress

two princessesThis winter, I posted a sneak peek of a Cinderella dress created by local high school junior, Vicky Gebert. The dress was constructed of bubble wrap, trashcan liners, drinking straws, t-shirt bags, forks, plastic blue lace print, Styrofoam, and chicken wire. It looked utterly amazing.

dress on stairsVicky’s dress was the centerpiece of a Cinderella Story: Make a Princess Dress program our library hosted last weekend. Kids were invited to channel their inner godmothers and create a dress out of art supplies (including supplies you might not immediately consider when planning a grand night out).

If you can’t wait to see some of the creative dresses, scroll past the instructions and let the fashion show begin. Otherwise, here are instructions for building your own princess dress!

For the dress base, you’ll need:

  • A 11″ x 28″ piece of poster board for the bodice
  • A 4″ x 28″ pieces of poster board for the skirt sash
  • 4′ piece of ribbon for the bodice
  • 2′ piece of ribbon for the skirt sash
  • 2, 20″ pieces of tulle ribbon for shoulder straps
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch

I used black poster board to make the example dress (it shows up better in photos), but for the actual program, the bodice and skirt sash were made of white poster board. Definitely use the thicker variety of poster board (i.e. 6-ply) because it’ll hold up to all the art supplies you’ll be adding later. I also used 3/8″ white ribbon. It was easier to lace that particular width of ribbon through the punched holes without tearing the poster board. The tulle ribbon I used was 3″ wide to allow easier threading as well.

The Nearly New Shop, a local thrift and consignment store, was kind enough to loan us a dress mannequin for the program. It really helped to have the dress base on display so grown-ups could see what the final product should look like.

OK, ready to get started? First, wrap the largest piece of poster board around your upper body until both ends almost touch behind your back. Trim with scissors if the bodice is too long, cuts into your armpits, or if you want to create an unusual neckline.

Use a hole punch to make 5 matching pairs of holes down the back of the bodice
(our holes are marked with white rings in the photo so you can see them better).

bodice lacingStarting at the top of the bodice, lace the 4’ piece of ribbon through the holes. Tie
a bow at the bottom.

bodiceNext, wrap the smaller piece of poster board around your waist until both ends almost touch. Use the hole punch to create 2 pairs of holes.

skirt sash holesLace the 2’ piece of ribbon through the holes. Tie a bow.

skirt sashLastly, your shoulder straps! Slip on the bodice and adjust it to the right height on your chest. Punch a hole in the front of your bodice, directly underneath your shoulder. Punch a matching hole in the back. Thread a 20″ piece of tulle ribbon through the hole in the front and knot securely. Pull the tulle ribbon over your shoulder and thread through the hole in the back. Knot tightly and cut off any excess. Repeat on the other side. The finished straps should look like this:

strapsYour dress base is complete!

finishedNow that you know your dress fits, I recommend unlacing the bodice and the skirt sash and laying them flat for decorating. This is especially useful for the skirt sash. It’s easier to make a huge fluffy skirt on a flat surface than a curved surface.

Here are the art supplies we used at the program:

What can I say? We had a tremendous time! The kids not only made dresses, but matching crowns, wands, accessories, hairpieces, and jewelry. It was wonderful.

ringAnd here’s the inspiration for the program, artist Vicky Gebert! Vicky answered questions about her dress, crafted with kids, and generally lent her awesome creative magic to the program.

vickyWe were also joined by two Princeton University student groups – the Sustainable Fashion Initiative and the Stella Art Club. They were incredibly creative and incredibly sweet with the kids.

design 1 And now…some of those fantastic, fabulous, and fanciful dresses! Fanfare please…

dress 1dress 9 dress 12 dress 3dress 10 dress 2 dress 20dress 16 dress 19 dress 18 dress 17dress 13 dress 14 dress 11 dress 8 dress 7 dress 6dress 4 dress 5

Let it Shine

dream friendsTwinkle twinkle little light! Are your ready for your journey to dreamland? This beautiful lantern and dream friend will help guide you on your way!

little lantern

We read Dream Friends by You Byun (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013). Melody has a very special friend…a dream friend. They fly, play hide-and-seek, have marvelous adventures, and watch fireworks. But only in her dreams. In reality, Melody is a shy girl in a new neighborhood. Since her dream friend can’t leave her dreams, Melody decides to close her eyes and imagine her friend is with her. While dancing on the playground, Melody draws the attention of another little girl who asks to join her. Soon, the whole playground is dancing with Melody. Magical!

You’ll need:

  • A 5″ plastic bucket container (more on this below)
  • A 3.5″ x 5″ rectangle of mirror board
  • Foil star stickers (the kind you find at office supply stores)
  • Regular markers
  • Hole punch
  • 1 LED votive candle
  • A set of window markers
  • Lullaby CD
  • A selection of shimmer ribbon
  • Gold curling ribbon

A bucket container (also sometimes called a craft container) is constructed of plastic and metal. It’s meant to hold party favors, candy, etc. I purchased mine from Oriental Trading Company. You can purchase them individually at Michael’s Craft store.

bucket container

To begin this project, use regular markers to draw a “dream friend” on the back of the mirror board (i.e. the white, non-reflective side). You could use white card stock instead of mirror board, but the mirror board is fantastic at reflecting the light of the lantern in the dark.

When cutting out your dream friend, make sure to leave a little tab at the top. Punch a hole through this tab (and round the edges if you’d like). This is where your ribbon will go later.

dream friend steps

Open the bucket container and stick the foil stars on the “floor” of the container and the underside of lid. Some kids stuck stars on the plastic sides of the container. This is fine – just make sure they keep the stickers on the interior of the container so they won’t interfere with the markers later.

Now for the fun part. I dropped a twinkling LED votive in each container, darkened the room, put on a lullaby CD ( I highly recommend Sweet Dreams: Lullabies for Guitar by Nina Gerber), and the kids used window markers to decorate the exterior of their containers. The room was full of excited yet peaceful kids, decorating away amidst mellow, glowing lanterns.

dream workshop

A tip about window markers. I purchased this brand from Discount School Supply (alas, there is no purple marker in this set). I know from experience that this particular brand works on glass AND plastic.

window markers

You have to draw slowly with window markers and allow them a little time to dry (about 30-45 second). Once they completely dry, then you can go back over them with another color. Otherwise, they get smudgy. So if you want to draw little stars with smiley faces like mine, just wait 30-45 seconds before you use the blue marker to draw the face on the yellow star.

decorated container

To complete the project, thread some shimmer ribbon and gold curling ribbon through the punched hole in the dream friend, then tie to one side of the lantern. Sweet dreams!

lit up

Beware of Squirrel

beware of squirrelIt might look like an innocent tree…but beware! This leafy vision of loveliness has a feisty squirrel puppet hidden inside it. Get too close and you’ll receive a serious scolding!

squirrel in tree

We read ‘Ol Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013). ‘Ol Mama Squirrel is super-protective of her babies. Any cat, owl, or dog who even shows the slightest interest in her family gets a serious scolding (“Chook! Chook! Chook!”). This treatment also applies to kites, airplanes, and an innocent man who comes to prune the tree. But when a grizzly bear shows up, ‘Ol Mama Squirrel is outmatched. But not for long. She rallies mama squirrels from fire escapes, under the tracks, in the tree tops, and all over the park. Together, they scold the bear right out of the park!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large oatmeal container
  • A box cutter
  • A 9.5″ x 17.5″ piece of brown construction paper
  • A sheet of green tissue paper (mine was 20″ x 29″)
  • A 1.75″ x 6″ rectangle of tagboard for tree branch
  • A square of green tissue paper (mine was 6″ x 6″)
  • Extra tagboard pieces for “wooden” hearts
  • 1 brown paper lunch bag
  • A 3″ x 4.5″ rectangle of tagboard for the mouth
  • A pair of 2″ x 2.25″ rectangles of brown construction paper for ears
  • A 1.25″ x 1.75″ rectangle of red construction paper for the tongue
  • A pair of wiggle eyes
  • 1 small pom-pom for the nose (mine was 1″)
  • A 1.5″ x 2″ rectangle of white card stock for the teeth
  • A 3.5″ x 7.75″ rectangle of tagboard for the tail
  • Tape, stapler, and scissors for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

Begin by taking the lid off the large oatmeal container. Then use the box cutter to remove the circular cardboard bottom from the container. You now have an oatmeal container tube.

tubeUse markers to draw lines of “bark” on the brown construction paper and then wrap it around the oatmeal container. The important thing to remember is that the plastic ring around the top of the oatmeal container is also the top of your tree. The cut end of the container is too ragged and will catch your squirrel puppet as it pops in and out of the tree.

wrapped treeGently bunch one end of the sheet of green tissue paper together, then securely tape it to the tree, just underneath the plastic ring. Wrap the tissue paper repeatedly around the top of the oatmeal container, stopping every once in a while to secure it to the tree with pieces of tape.

tape treeMake sure that the tissue paper doesn’t hang over the edge of your plastic ring and droop into the oatmeal container. Otherwise, your squirrel puppet will get caught in the foliage as it pops in and out of the tree. I found some butterfly stickers in the art cabinet and we added those to the foliage for a little extra color.

Next, cut the first rectangle of tagboard into a branch shape. Use markers to add some “bark” lines, and fold on one end. Staple a crumpled green tissue paper square to the other end. Then tape (or hot glue) the folded end of the branch to the tree trunk.

branchCut two “wooden” hearts out of tagboard and write names in them. I suggested “Mama” or “Mom” and then the child’s name or a simple “Me.” Tape (or hot glue) them to the front of the tree.

treeAll this tree needs is a fiercely protective squirrel inside it! Cut your second tagboard rectangle into this shape:

mouthThen fold it lengthwise to create your squirrel’s mouth.

folded mouthHot glue the mouth inside the paper lunch bag

mouth in bagYou could skip the tagboard mouth entirely, but I found that it made the puppet easier to operate. The rest of the squirrel’s face is very simple.

front of squirrel

Make two ears out of brown construction paper and tape (or hot glue) them to the back of the bag. Use red construction paper to create the tongue, and tape (or hot glue) it into the mouth. Hot glue wiggle eyes and a pom-pom nose to the bag. Use markers to add eyebrows and eyelashes. Last come the teeth – basically, a piece of white card stock folded and cut like so:

teeth

Attach the teeth to the mouth with tape (or hot glue). The face is done – all that remains is the tail! Cut the third tagboard rectangle like this, and scribble all over it with marker.

tail

Staple to the back of the squirrel.

back of squirrel

Ready to load your squirrel puppet in the tree? Put your hand into the puppet, then gently insert it into the bottom the the tree. Guide the squirrel up the tube and push it slowly and gently out the top (you might have to squish it’s head a little when you’re doing this).

To operate the puppet, use your free hand to grab the bottom of the tube. Then pop your squirrel puppet in and out of the tree. Don’t forget to scold!

puppet in action