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Abby Pecoriello is a dynamo: fast-talking, energetic and confident enough to wear a "10-minute tutu" and "no-sew Mohawk" while being photographed for the paper.

"I don't mind making a fool of myself," said Pecoriello as she tugged on the pink tutu, which was accented by silk flowers and small rhinestones.

Beyond the obvious age-appropriateness of the tutu and "Mohawk," what made the ensemble unique was the fact Pecoriello made both items herself. Along with being the mother of two girls and a writer for Nickelodeon, she is a crafter and the author of a new book titled "Crafty Mama Makes 49 Fabulous, Foolproof (Baby & Toddler) Projects" (Workman, $15.95)

It's a sassy and easy-to-read book. Pecoriello includes detailed instructions for each craft and offers tips for how and where to buy essential materials such as rhinestones, fabric, beads and paper.

Crafts in the book include the "no-sew Mohawk," which is a fleece hat with a Mohawklike fringe. Pecoriello said she loves the "insta-bib," which is a clip moms can attach to a napkin or cloth to create a bib.

Her 5-year-old, Lily, loves the "10-minute tutu," while her 2-year-old, Sasha, loves to wear a new iron-on shirt each day.

One of Sasha's most recent shirts had a picture of Arthur Fonzarelli, or "The Fonz," from "Happy Days."

"She likes them because she likes the attention she gets for them," Pecoriello said, laughing. "When she goes into school, I teach her, 'OK, today it's the 'the Fonz."'

For Pecoriello, crafting became a necessity after giving birth to Lily in 2003. She said it was something that helped defuse the stress of being a new mom.

"I was like, 'I need to succeed at something right now and know that I'm succeeding at it,"' Pecoriello said. "So I turned to crafts. I just started making things and they were tangible and at the end of the day I had something cute celebrating my baby."

She encourages mothers to make crafts together as a way to connect about the ups and downs and emotions of motherhood. Pecoriello began teaching "crafty mama" classes at her home soon after the birth of her daughter.

The classes eventually expanded to a local community center. Each week, the group would meet and do things such as decorate their diaper wipe boxes, make fleece blankets, create "brag" books about their babies or design charm necklaces.

"We could talk about all these issues we were going through and then defuse the angst with a comment like, 'hey, do you think I should use the blue rhinestones or the green ones?'" Pecoriello said. "It was really nice for women to just talk and relate and just feel good and not get broody and overwhelmed."

She advises moms who want to start a craft group to pick an easy project first, then expand to larger projects. Beyond that, her advice is to be creative and don't stress about making a mistake.

"Even if it doesn't come out so great, who cares," Pecoriello said. "It's so nice to have something in your life that doesn't matter, because everything always matters with kids."

For more information about Pecoriello's book, or to share your crafting stories with her, log on to: www.craftymamas.com.


E-mail: nwarburton@desnews.com