Accessories Minnie Mouse hat image via Shutterstock (1 of 1)

Published on July 3rd, 2012 | by Julie Finn

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Pirates, Princesses, and Mouse Ears: Upcycled Disney Crafts

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Minnie Mouse hat

Yes, we are drinking the pixie dust-flavored Kool-aid this fall. We’re going to Disney World!

How will a hater of store-bought crap function in a land of expensive Disney-themed merchandise, you might ask, and honestly, I’m a little curious, myself. Will I freak out and buy my kids a bunch of plastic character-themed toys, or will I stick to my guns? Will my head quietly explode as I outwardly smile and watch my kids instead each spend an entire year’s worth of saved allowances (saved because I told them that I wasn’t going to buy them any store-bought crap) on a bunch of plastic character-themed toys?

To stave off some angst from both sides of the equation, my kiddos and I have been spending the summer crafting our own Disney souvenirs, primarily from upcycled and recycled materials. The stuff that we’re making is cute, it’s Disney-themed, and it will hopefully at least cool down the consumerist frenzy for Disney stuff that we can’t help but be bombarded with in Orlando this fall.

Here are some of our favorite crafty green (and cheap!) projects so far:

Disney Notebook

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Sarah Nelson

  1. Autograph books: Upcycle any old notebook or sketch pad to create this personalized Disney autograph book from This Crazy, Blessed Life. Since you’ll be completely covering the cover with your paper scraps and decorations, you really can use any kind of notebook, even one that’s partly used, since it doesn’t need to have a ton of pages. And since you can completely personalize it, your book will be even more fun than anything that you can find in the Disney stores. We’re upcycling half-used spiral-bound sketchbooks for this project, and the children will be using them as travel journals/trip scrapbooks, not necessarily as autograph books, although if they do decide that they want autographs, I bet that I’ll be even happier to have these already made!
  2. T-shirt Mickey pendant: Using nothing but an old T-shirt and some stiff felt, Yellow Blackbird crafted an upcycled Mickey headband to wear on her trip to the theme park. Her project is so versatile that the same T-shirt Mickey could be made into a brooch, a necklace, a hair clip–anything! It’s also special because simply choosing an old T-shirt of a different color can drastically change the look of the project. I’m making a few of these in secret and attaching them to hair ribbons, and I’ll be surprising my girls with them before our first morning at Magic Kingdom.
  3. T-shirt refashions: Depending on the color of your existing or thrifted T-shirt, either of these projects could work for you. For white T-shirts (or socks or beach towels), check out the Mickey Mouse tie-dyed T-shirt tutorial from Disney Dreamer Designs–read through my tie-dye tutorial for tips for making tie-dyeing a kid-friendly activity. For shirts of any color (or tote bags or skirts or blankets), try this Mickey Mouse appliqued T-shirt tutorial from Serenity Now (read our tutorial for sewing without fusible interfacing for some tips first). My kiddos are making tie-dyed Mickey Mouse T-shirts for themselves, using white T-shirts that they already own, and I’m sewing them each a little tote bag, appliqued with a Mickey Mouse head, to hold Disney-themed activities for our long car trip down to Florida.
  4. Countdown calendars: Although we’re long acquainted with using paper chains to count down to every event and holiday, I love the fact that this Disney paper chain countdown calendar from The Peas in Our Pod includes a little handwritten note on each link. We plan to make our own Disney paper chain countdown calendar next month, and on every few links I plan to write out a Disney-themed activity–such as those tie-dyed T-shirts!–to do.
  5. Costumes: My kiddos normally are quite contented with only a wide variety of play silks to use for dress-up, but I have been warned enough about the prolificacy of princess costumes in the Disney parks that I’m contemplating sewing one or two to surprise my girls (and to avoid melt-downs, since I’ve also been warned that even a year’s worth of saved allowance is NOT going to buy a six-year-old a Cinderella dress there). If you’re interested in clothing refashion, it would be a fun project to thrift or de-stash the materials to sew Belle’s gown (tutorial from Crafterhours), Snow White’s dress (tutorial also from Crafterhours, but you could also substitute these puffed Snow White dress sleeves from Craftiness is Not Optional), and Cinderella’s ball gown (tutorial from Make It and Love It).

(Minnie Mouse hat image via Shutterstock)



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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



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