Saturday, November 20, 2010

More Fun with Felt... Fold & Button Playmats

Watching Miss S having so much fun road-testing the Felt-board Birthday Card from my previous post, I decided to make something similar to send to NZ for all the preschool-aged cousins and friends she has there.

These mini felt mats fold and button down flat and are very light.  I think they would be an wonderful travel toy - great for the chair pocket of a car or plane, or even to pop in mum's handbag to bring out while the family are waiting for dinner at a restaurant.

In addition to the fun the child can have making pictures with the felt shapes, the buttons on the front will help them practice the fine motor-skills involved in buttoning and un-buttoning.   The button wrap can also be used as a felt-mat to make pictures on.

To make one you will need:

* A large piece of mid-blue felt, about the size of a piece of printer paper
* Another piece of felt same size as the above, in red or whatever colour you like (for the button wrap)
* Felt scraps in whatever colours you like
* Scissors, or a rotary cutter and board
* Pencil and light card to make templates
* Needle and embroidery floss in white and to match the colour of your mat (in my case, blue)
* 2 largish buttons (or you could close the wrap with velcro or domes if you prefer)
* Sewing machine to make button holes

Stitch a border around your large piece of blue felt using two strands of the embroidery floss and a running stitch.

Begin to cut out shapes.  I started with the squares, rectangles and triangles, and used my rotary cutter and mat.  This was a super-quick way to do it as I needed enough shapes to make four mini felt mats.

I used the measurements on my quilter's board to cut the shapes quickly and without having to make marks with a ruler and pen.

Here's my cupcake template if you want to do cupcakes...

... and my bacon and eggs.

And here is the mat showing all of its pieces.  For instructions on how to make grass, stars, moon and trees, please refer to the instructions on my felt-board birthday card post.  I found the best way to cut multiple pieces with an irregular shape, such as the cupcake pieces, tree trunks etc, was to cut one from felt and then place that on the felt and cut around it.  This also means you don't have pen marks on any of the pieces.

Now for the buttoned wrap.  Fold your playmat in thirds as shown then take a measurement of it's height (from A to B).  You want your wrap to be about 1cm shorter at the top and the bottom.

Cut two strips of felt using this measurement as your width.  My strips were 3 & 1/2 inches wide.

Using a tight and wide zig-zag stitch, sew your two strips together as shown.

Now wrap it around the folded mat and note if any needs to be trimmed from the short edge.  I had to take 1.5 inches from either end of my wrap.

Now border the wrap with a running stitch, using two strands of your blue embroidery floss.

Now make two button holes with your sewing machine.

Wrap it around your folded mat and pin.

Removed the folded mat from the wrap.  Thread a needle with your blue embroidery floss and bring it up from the back through the button hole to mark where the button should go.

Sew on your buttons.

All done!

My road-tester gets to work...


This project was featured on...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Felt-board Birthday Card...

I've been desperate to get my hands on some felt for a while as I have so many ideas that use it, but not even a scrap of it in the house.

So today I went a bit crazy and bought these.  Two of each colour in the store!  I'm sure I'll use them though.

My first idea was to make a card for a little friend of Miss S's (whose birthday it is tomorrow).  I had the idea at 4:30am (!) this morning to make a felt-board card that he can then play with after the party.

It was all experimentation, but I am really happy with the result, so here's how to make one if you'd like to try this idea yourself.  It could be given as a card, as I am doing, or as the main present.  It would make a great Christmas gift for the preschooler in your life!

To make a felt-board card, you will need:

* One piece of medium-blue felt about A4 size
* Scraps of felt in whatever colours you like.  I used, red, brown, yellow, orange, green, purple and white.
* Needle and embroidery floss in a variety of colours
* A large cereal box or A4 sized piece of medium card (if you'd like to make it into a card)
* Black ink pen
* Scissors
* Glue stick
* A range of small objects to draw around - I used a tealight, gluestick and cookie cutters

Fold your piece of A4 sized felt in half to make a crease.

Unfold and with two strands of embroidery floss and a running stitch, stitch a border all around one half. This will be the cover of the card.

Now begin making shapes for the card.  I did two scenes:  One a house, trees/grass and a sun, and one a rocket with stars and a moon.  Pieces of the two scenes are interchangeable to make different pictures.

Here's how I made some of those pieces:

The trees:  I drew around a tea light using a black ink pen and cut the circles out.

Then on some scrap cardboard I drew around my tea light again and then drew a trunk shape.  You could print out the picture above to use as a template if you like.

Cut out the trunk and draw around it onto some brown felt.  Cut the trunks out.

I then embroidered a few stitches on the trunk using two strands of light brown floss and using backstitch.

Next I made the house by cutting a large rectangle out of red felt and bordering it with a running stitch in yellow.

Then I made a door, windows and a roof using the same technique.  The door handle is a french knot.


I also made some grass by drawing freehand on to some green felt and cutting it out.

Then I added a sun and a moon the whole picture was complete.  You could add whatever you like to your picture and embroider whatever details you like as well.

Now for the rocket in space scene...

Cut a red rectangle for the body of the rocket, an orange triangle for the roof, three small yellow circles for the windows and orange fire coming out of its base.

Trace around a star shaped cookie cutter to make stars and around your tea light to make a moon.

Stitch around the border of the larger shapes as desired.

If you would like to make yours into a card, stick two pieces of cardboard down to either side of the card using fabric glue (I used gluestick which worked just fine).  Leave a gap of about 5mm in the middle to ensure it can fold properly.

I then covered one side with green felt again so that the inside could be used too.  On the other side I will write the birthday boy a message.

Now it was finished I decided to "road test" it with Miss S (4) and it was an instant hit!

She opened the card up to use the whole piece of felt and set to work making pictures with the shapes.

This was a robot...

Then I started getting requests for new shapes... "I need pink squares! I need more orange triangles!  I need wings for the rocket!"  So I obliged with a few additional shapes.

She even found a red scrap on the table that I hadn't tidied away yet and made a tail for her shooting star.

I think it's safe to say it passed the preschooler road test.  I really hope Miss S's little friend likes it!
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