Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Felt Rocks

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So I'm working on some loose pieces for felt small worlds. These will all add up to a whole playscape that will fit on our felt-covered train table. I have a few ideas for play mats that I'm working on which are based on various habitats (such as river, grassland, tundra, dessert, forest, etc). Of course we will be using our Safari Ltd Toobs! Their toobs are usually separated by habitat, but you can mix and match as kids are want to do. :)

On to the felt rocks! I started by layering two felt sheets together so that they were all the same size and cut out different sized squares, rectangles and the occasional triangle.

Then I cut out random shaped rocks. I mean, they are rock-like. But I aimed to make them similar to what river rocks look like. I hope I achieved that! I also made sure to keep the felt sheets together so that they line up perfectly. I recommend sharp scissors, preferably fabric scissors like these, if you are cutting through multiple sheets of felt. It makes a difference!

Then I sewed along the edge. For my first batch I used a blanket stitch, but I decided I didn't like the way it looked. So for the rest of the rocks I used a whip stitch. This allowed them to fluff up more easily!

And instead of filling them with regular poly-fil stuffing, I used felt scraps! Because I save them like a hoarder, knowing that someday I'd need them. And they worked wonderfully! The rocks are firm and lumpy and perfect! I honestly considered filling them with sand or pebbles, to add some weight and more texture to them. But I worried they would turn into fun throwing toys... So I used felt scraps and I am so glad that I did!

I closed off the stitches and tucked in the threads. This is what it looks like with a blanket stitch and you can see that the edges stick out a bit.

Am I crazy for saving so many felt scraps? Naw... Even scraps can have a purpose!

First batch with the blanket stitch. It was at this point that I decided I wanted a small army of rocks and switched over to the whip stitch. Using the whip stitch I made sure not to sew them too tightly. If they are carefully sewn without being too loose, the edges won't stick out at much and they will line up smoothly when they are fluffed. I made sure to stuff them to almost bursting because the felt inside settles and needs to be squished up and smooshed to give the rocks a lumpy shape. :)

I picked out some more colours. I stuck with natural rock colours and included a "moss stone" and red stones, like you find more commonly in the dessert. I picked out DMC embroidery floss colours that most resembled the felt. Some were perfect and others were a bit off. But oh well! ~

Ok, so as much as I loved how they looked flat and spread out like this, I had to turn them into 3-D rocks. But now I totally want to make a river rock spread like this that is all sewn in place. I love it!!

Bean, I mean Spider-Man, is my little sewing buddy! I gave her a piece of felt, a yarn needle (they are large and blunt tipped, but still sharp enough to pierce through felt) and tied on some embroidery thread. She ended up making a kite that she swung around the living room for an hour. :)

Flat rock vs 3-D rock. Personally I really like the 3-D rocks and I look forward to seeing how the kids use them in their small worlds!

As I said, a small army. :) And for some reason the red rocks look way brighter in this picture than they actually are...

My kids have only seen a few of the finished rocks, and since they are visiting their aunt today, I used the time to set up a fun playscape for them to come home to! I decided to go with a simple river scene. I cut out a few logs and lily pads and added in some random leaves and scattered the rocks around the light blue felt river. (This makes me seriously want to invest in some gorgeous playsilks for small worlds like this! If you have never seen silk being used for play, I recommend checking out Sarah's Silks. They are lovely!!)

 Frogs and turtles look right at home!

You could even add in a frog life cycle set to learn about while they play!

I added in a few buggy friends to join the fun!

Or you could add a dragon! He's King of the Rock. :)

Depending on the river, you could add crocodiles and alligators and even a swarm of turtles!

Because this is a river, I added some river friends! They look small compared to the rocks. But hey, maybe they are actually boulders?

All in all, I love how the rocks came out!! I look forward to making trees and bushes and all sorts of things next!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter Egg Felt Board

I tried a few different felt crafts for Easter, starting with our Felt EggsWoven Felt Baskets and Felt Chocolate Bunnies (which are a healthy alternative to a traditional chocolate bunny, and they last much longer!). Now I'm sharing another easy-to-make Easter themed felt craft! And of course, it's an Easter Egg Felt Board! As you may know, we love felt boards! And it's always my goal to make a couple different ones around the holidays, not only to play with, but to learn about the different themes of the holiday. Well, with all our Easter sensory bins (which I haven't had time to share with you! So sorry!) and small worlds, I have lost track of time and haven't even begun working on the other felt boards I had planned!

However, I am mighty please with the way this one came out! I simply cut out two large egg shapes out of blue (peacock) and purple (violet) felt. Then I went through my stash of felt scraps and cut out lots of geometric shapes, along with a few special ones, like raindrops, leaves, flowers, stems, and a rabbit. The kids really enjoyed decorating the eggs!

Munchkin, of course, called dibs on the bunny! And he loved all of the little circles so he placed them around the rabbit. Bean has really taken to flowers so she used those first to create a pretty scene. She used the yellow circle for the sun and raindrops to feed the flowers.

Munchkin took a break and Bean snagged his egg. She really likes geometric shapes and we worked on creating this pretty pattern with the triangles. She eventually removed his circles and actually this pattern ended up extending off of the egg.

When Munchkin came back from his milk break (because yes, he has milk breaks), he swept all the triangles aside and used some of the basic pieces I cut out to create a fence (he's obsessed with them). But Bean was not impressed by his random placement of the flowers, so she "fixed" it for him. To each their own, right? Luckily they don't fight over things like this... Notice how she added the purple eggs? She said they were hidden for the Easter egg hunt. Can you tell she's preparing herself? Too cute.

Munchkin really just likes to do his own thing. He removed her flowers and his rabbit took over the rain scene. Bean chooses her pieces very carefully and builds a scene so she can tell a story about it.

Have you created any felt Easter crafts with or for your kids? Feel free to share them on our Facebook page!

Next: Felt Rocks!

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Flower Felt Board

A few weeks ago I shared a photo on Facebook of a flower themed felt board I was working on... Well I finally get to share it! Sorry for the delay!!

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Spring is here! The weather is warm and the wind is only occasionally chilly. We can actually feel the sun's warmth when we go outside. And we can finally visit our local park now that the snow is gone and the mud has dried. But besides playing outside, spring time means the plants are coming back! Well, in our area, everything is still pretty bleak (the trouble with living in a city). But this was the perfect time to teach them about plants and how they grow. So I created a felt board! 

We decided to stick to flowers (at least for now). I started with the roots. I looked through my stash of felt and chose a colour that most resembled roots. This was as close as I could get (this colour is called sandstone at Jo-Ann's). I cut out several different sized squares and rectangles. 

I made sure to leave a space for the roots to connect to a stem and cut out root-like designs. I just freely cut them out, so they each look different.

The kids picked out a few different colours for flowers. Bean described what kind of flowers she wanted and referred to pictures in books. For instance, in the picture below, she wanted the pistil to be the same shade of yellow.

Some pieces needed to be glued on, but for the most part the flowers consisted of a single piece or separate petals.

We also made the flowers in various sizes.

I was given a potted rose on Valentine's Day and the kids have loved watching it grow. They wanted some of their own pots, so I made a handful of them. (I plan on making a sewn version as well, for a pretend play flower shop... more on that soon!) I simply cut out a basic flower pot shape and to create dimensions I cut out a separate rim. The colour is called copper canyon from Jo-Ann's. 

I used Elmer's fabric and paper craft glue and spread a thin layer over the rim area.

I gently pressed it on and set it aside to dry. I personally think the flower pots look a little more realistic this way.

They had so much fun "growing" their flowers!

Bean even made sure to show me when little sprouts started to grow!

This flower has grass growing around it.

The kids now have lots of different ways to "grow" and learn about their flowers.

Roots come in many shapes and sizes!

And the cool thing about the flower pots is that you can still add the roots. Bean kept checking on them and would occasionally change out the smaller roots for larger ones, saying that they had "grown so much!"

We also discussed the food chain and how plants play an important part. We learned about different kinds of plants, what plants eat and who eats plants. They also loved learning about how butterflies and honey bees help plants reproduce.

We also learned about the life cycle of a plant! They really love that they can learn all about plants with their felt board!

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