Backpacks for Foster Care: Crafting for a Cause with Cricut

As a parent, I've always followed the motto that more is caught than taught. I want my kids to see me living a generous life and giving to others. I want them to understand that there are human faces and stories behind every set of numbers and statistics. Did you know that there are more than 440,000 children in Foster Care nationwide?  When most children enter into the Foster Care system it's through an emergency situation. Children are experiencing uncertainty and upheaval in their lives and most of them don't have an opportunity to grab those items that are familiar and comfortable for them. Many kids entering the system are given black trash bags to carry whatever few belongings they do have. 

I've partnered with Cricut to help personalize backpacks for children entering Foster Care. I'll be donating them to The Blue Ribbon Project and showing you how you can join in too!

unicorn backpack, space backpack

Backpacks for Foster Care

The Blue Ribbon Project makes this easy by providing a list of items needed for each child, specific to their age and gender. Think about items a child could use in the first 24-48 hours that would provide just a little bit of comfort for them as they face a lot of unknowns. 

backpacks for children in the foster care system

I'm showing you how I made a backpack for a girl 2-3 years old and a boy 8-9  years old. It was fun to think about things kids those ages would like and take comfort in. 

Girls Unicorn Backpack

cricut tutorial for unicorn

Here is what you need for a girl's unicorn backpack because who doesn't love the magic of a unicorn?

using cricut everyday vinyl iron on

Here are the supplies you will need:

Cricut Explore Air 2 {seriously, why do you not have one yet?!!}
Easypress {this would be a great project for this smaller version called the Cricut Easypress Mini}
Everyday Iron-on {I used Sugar Berry Sampler}
Backpack {this is the one I purchased on Amazon}

Start by finding a design in the Cricut Design Space. This is 100% why I love having Cricut Access. The possibilities are endless and so are the projects. I don't feel limited in my creativity at all! 
I found a unicorn head I wanted to use for the top of the backpack and a full-body unicorn outline I wanted to cut for the bottom pocket. It's easy to use the shapes already in the Cricut Design Space. It literally tells you how to cut the various pieces out and color codes them all for you.

The logo for the backpack was right at the top where I wanted to put my design. Did you know you can easily remove them with a handy seam ripper? Listen, I'm super familiar with my seam ripper {thanks junior high Home Ec.!} and you'll remember how to use yours too. It's like riding a bike as they say!

Removing that logo at the top, gave me more options for where I could place my design. So don't let those logos hold you back from creating!
using color sync in cricut

How to use Cricut Color Sync

I did change the small unicorn outline to the same color as the pieces I wanted to be cut out, that way, they could all be on the same piece of vinyl together as it cut. You simply do this by going to the upper right where it says Layers and Color Sync. Open the Color Sync window in the panel and drag and drop the images onto the desired color layer you want your image to be cut. 

Now you are ready to cut!

cutting with cricut

After the images were cut on my Cricut Explore Air 2, I weeded the images and got ready to iron using the Easypress. 

Wondering if you need an Easypress if you have an iron? I'm answering your burning question!

using the cricut easy press

Some tips for using the Cricut Easypress on a backpack

Work on a hard flat surface

I often use my ironing board and of course, my Easypress mat.

Pre-press as best as you can

Pre-pressing is important to get out wrinkles so your image lies flat, and takes out the moisture in the backpack. This was difficult with the various shapes and contours of the backpack, but do the best that you can. It's why I think the Easypress Mini would have been perfect for this project.

Slip a piece of cardstock inside

The inside of backpacks are generally made with some form of plastic lining. Once you apply heat, sometimes that plastic sticks together. Slip a piece of cardstock inside the pockets so you don't have that problem.

using vinyl on a backpack

Carefully peel away the plastic coating and turn the backpack over to add heat to the back to secure your Everyday Vinyl to your backpack.

I packed my backpack for a 2-3-year-old girl and this is the list of items requested for the child
using infusible ink

Boys Space Backpack

packing backpacks with cricut handmade

For the boy's backpack I used a space design with Infusible Ink. I've never used Infusible Ink before {honestly, it was a little intimidating for me at first!}, but I shouldn't have been scared. It created a really cool effect.

handmade backpacks using the cricut

Here are the supplies you will need:

Cricut Explore Air 2 
Infusible Ink {I used Galaxy}
Backpack {this is the one I purchased on Amazon}

layering a design with infusible ink for Cricut

How to layer designs using Infusible Ink

I knew I wanted a layered design for the boy's backpack, but I wasn't quite sure how I could make that happen using Infusible Ink. Layering with Infusible Ink is different than layering with vinyl. Because you are using ink transfer sheets, the ink actually becomes one with your material. 

If you layer the Infusible Ink transfer sheets one over the other, the colors can blend and the ink can fade when exposed to heat. 

In order to layer Infusible Ink, you have to create an image that fits together like a puzzle rather than an image that overlaps. 

1. In Design Space, find an image that you want to use. I  liked this space image. Design it to fit the backpack space that you have.
2. Ungroup your image
After I ungrouped my image, I took out a few pieces I didn't want in my design anymore. For instance, that large grey piece that was the back of the meteor. 

3. Put together the images you want by welding. Welding allows your pieces to stay together in one place so they cut out with the proper spacing too.
4. Select the slice tool so you don't overlap and make the ink change colors with heat. You do this by putting the images on top of one another again and then select the whole image together. Slice will come up as an option, click on that and then take apart your design removing the part you won't need so your piece can fit together like a puzzle.

See that navy blue piece? I deleted it because once it was removed, the grey piece could fit there like a puzzle.
Now you can safely layer your image without compromising the quality of the design.

cricut crafting for a cause

Follow the directions on the Cricut website when using Infusible Ink for the best results.

cricut crafting for a cause, backpacks for foster care

Once your backpacks are complete, you get the fun of stuffing them!

Use this item checklist from The Blue Ribbon Project for the various age and gender child you are creating a backpack for.

The boy's backpack was created for an 8-9-year-old boy in mind. This is the packing list for the boy.

vinyl for the cricut on backpacks

You could organize a community group, business or team to help organize a backpack drive.

handmade backpacks for kids in foster care using the cricut cutting machine
Cricut for good crafting for a cause

This is a great way to team up with a great organization and use the power of your creativity that Cricut gives you to create something tangible. I can't wait for you to join me in donating a custom backpack for a child.

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