Super Easy Pen Pals

Hello! And welcome to my tutorial on how to make a super easy pen pal. This isn't an original idea, I saw a photo on Pinterest of someone who had made a pen family, but the link didn't work to the website so I have figured out my own way of doing it and thought I should share.
This is a really simple and quick twenty minute project to jazz up your pencil case, or make a personalised present for a friend. I first made mine with my Girl Guiding unit who made them for their Guiding Pen Pals- they were so popular a lot of the girls have since gone on to make even more.

So...all you need (and you can improvise and deviate from this ingredients list) is:

* Scissors
* PVA Glue
* A Biro Pen (with the lid removed)
* Embroidery threads (other threads/wools would probably work just as well)
* Double Sided Tape
* Cocktail sticks or Craft Matches
* Thicker Wools/Raffia

To start with, cut a piece of the double sided tape and wrap it around the point end of your pen. I found that it is much easier to start with the bottom of your pen friend and work up (you don't get covered in ink that way). Remove the paper layer to leave only the sticky stuff.

Take one of your embroidery threads (for the trousers or skirt) and place the fluffy ends of the thread slightly higher then where you want the thread to actually start, then move down to the edge of the sticky tape and start winding the thread around, covering the fluffy ends of thread. Make sure when you are winding that all of the fibres are lying nice and flat next to each other and not bulking up in places.

Keep winding and spinning the pen in your fingers to ensure smooth, even coverage with the thread. When you are about halfway up, cut another piece of the tape and stick it around the pen. Continue winding the thread until about halfway through the tape before cutting and sticking the fluffy ends down.

To start your new colour (for the top/shirt), work exactly the same way as before, stick the fluffy ends slightly higher up on the tape, move down to where the previous colour stops and wind back up, hiding all loose edges. Note: In this example, I have chosen to have a two-tone top so am using two threads at the same time. You could just have one thread or even three!

Wind the new colour a couple of times around the pen, then stick a new bit of tape just above, wind round once or twice more.

Now we need to add the arms. In this example I have cut a cocktail stick in half, but craft matches (without the flammable bit on the end) worked just as well when the Guides made theirs. Stick one end of the stick/match to the tape above the threads. This won't hold it but should make it stay long enough for you to attach another piece of tape over the top.

Repeat on the other side, making sure that the bottom of the cocktail stick is level.

Taking the thread once more, you now have to wrap around the sticks as well as the pen. The double sided tape that you used to attach the sticks should help you to continue an unbroken coverage of the thread, and will keep it all in place. Continue winding until all of the sticks are covered.

Decide where you want your skin tone to start and attach another piece of the tape, continue winding with the second thread colour until you are halfway through the tape.

Start winding your skin tone colour in the same way as before, hiding all of the fluffy ends of thread. Before you get too close to the end of the pen, it is a good idea to attach a final piece of double sided to the very end of the pen (so you don't have to unwind threads when you realise you haven't put anything there to stick it down!), then continue winding until you are a couple of millimetres from the top.

To finish off the skin tone layer, wind right to the top but leave enough of the tape to carefully cut the thread and stick the fluffy ends down. You can always hide these ends within the hair later.

How to make the hair is totally up to you, you could plait strings, create a foam coiffure or needlefelt a beehive. I have gone for the quick and easy with double knit wool. Cut three pieces of the wool, roughly 10cms long. Tie them together with the knot in the middle, then unravel each of the pieces of wool.

Crazy hair!

Add a blob of PVA glue to the end of your pen.

And stick the knot part of the hair on the end. To fully cover up the end of the pen and the glue, I snipped small pieces of the wool and stuck them around the edge of the knot.

Draw on a little smiley face (tiny googly eyes would probably also work quite well here) and there you have it!

A little pen friend to keep or give away. Now you know the basics, you can make all sorts of friends, a whole family even! You could also try wrapping thin strips of fabric around instead of thread, making fairies by adding wings, or using wire instead of cocktail sticks for arms.
If you do make a pen friend of your own, take a photo and send it in, I would love to see what you do with this idea.

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