Monday, September 23, 2013

DIY Felt Board


We love felt creations! Felt toys, felt games, you name it, we love it! Felt is just.. versatile! You can use it for so many things, like arts and crafts and sewing projects, to make doll and toy accessories and for pretend play (clothes line activity). But our favourite way to play with felt is on our felt boards!

For the past few months we have been using two Creatology felt boards (the dinosaur and vehicles ones). Both of  these boards are lap sized, which is perfect because my kids usually play with them on the couch (Munchkin is playing with this one while I type this up next to him and Bean is tracing letters on her dry-erase board).


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And over the months I have been cutting out different shapes and objects and animals for the kids to add to their felt board. Lately we have been creating themed boards (Autumn Tree and Leaves Felt Board) and I'm currently working on a Halloween board (more to come on that one!). 

Now, originally I was going to create our DIY felt boards using photo frames (like this one from Mama. Papa. Bubba.). And if that had been the case, I was only aiming to buy two. That they could each have their own and I would just create interchangeable felt backings, depending on the theme or activity. That seemed like a lot of extra work. 

So while I was checking out the photo frames at Michael's (and mind you, this was at 8:20pm and the store closed at 9 and I still had to stop at Jo-Ann's!), and I wasn't seeing anything I liked, I decided to check the canvas aisle. Just in case. And lo and behold, I found a 6 pack of lap-sized (12in x 16in) canvases for $20! I had a 50% off coupon, so yes please! This way I could make 6 separate boards and they could use them all at once or separately. I was crunched for time, but I did check the clearance section - tons of Thanksgiving crafts on sale!! 


Anyways.. I made it to Jo-Ann's with 20 minutes to spare. Phew! Just enough time to pick out some felt colours. I bought a half-yard of premium green felt and a half-yard of white, black, light blue, bright blue and brown felt. Black for space and night time, white for winter and as a plain backing, light blue for sky, bright blue for ocean and sky, dark green for forests and grass (I will be making another one using a lighter shade of green later), and brown for dirt and mud. For Christmas, I will be making them a much larger (probably 4'x4') felt board that will be half green for grass and half blue for sky. 


I also picked up a few sheets of felt in Halloween colours!


As well as a tube of Aleene's Super Fabric Adhesive. (If you are aiming to make 6, you will need a second tube of glue to complete them all. I picked up a different fabric glue the following morning to finish the last felt board.) Unfortunately for me, the first tube of glue exploded halfway through the project. Ok, it didn't actually explode. But I have this habit of forgetting to roll up tubes as I use them... and yeah, it was completely my fault, but a small nick suddenly appeared in the tube while I was squeezing the bottle. And then I had stinky glue all over my hands. So maybe one tube is enough for 6 felt boards if you don't get a bunch of the glue on your hands? (Vegetable oil works great for breaking down glue, so that's what I used and I had no issues washing it off.)

(Please note: Aleene's Super Fabric Adhesive should be used in a well-ventilated area. It dries clear and is permanent. In the future I will invest in a staple gun to simplify things, although the glue did end up working great.)

I rolled out the half-yard of felt and used the eye-balling method of measuring.


Then I used the side of the canvas to trace a line across the fabric and cut along it. (I forgot to take a picture of this step with the blue, so hopefully you can see the line in the brown.)


Once the fabric was cut, I lined up the edges so they were all the same length. 


Then I spread a layer of glue on each side and folded the felt over, pulling it taunt so the fabric wasn't loose, and pressed down to hold it in place for a few seconds. I did each side one at a time and trimmed some of the edges if it was too bulky when it was folded over. See the end pieces sticking up in the picture below? I cut out that small section before gluing and folding the felt in place. 


This is what the back looks like when everything is glued. The end pieces still stick up a bit, so I may eventually staple them down if it becomes an issue. Let the felt board(s) dry overnight and check them in the morning to make sure they are completely set before letting your child(ren) play with it. 


The finished product! They all came out great and I'm very happy with the results. The kids are especially happy that they have so many to choose from now!


And on the first night, 5 were finished! I now have SO MUCH felt leftover! And since they were on sale, I only paid about $8 for all that felt! Amazing! I think from now on I'll just wait for felt fabric to go on sale at Jo-Ann's and stock up instead of buying the sheets.


Let the creative playing begin! 

The following morning I set up the 5 finished boards and let the kids create their own scenes. Bean immediately created a volcano world and even made sure to include lava rocks!


Then she switched boards and put some trees in the air (since she recently learned that trees produce air - hey, she's learning!).


Munchkin liked looking through all the pieces and held them all up to me to take pictures. :)


Over the course of the day, they kept going back to playing with the boards. I put the white board away and set up the other 4 boards on the coffee table with the bin of all their felt pieces in the middle.


Vroom-vroom.


Munchkin played with the dinosaurs and had them stomping across all the boards roaring and munching arms.


Tea break! (While Munchkin throws crayons around in the background.)


Munchkin used our tiny red leaves to scatter them to the wind! I love this one!


That night I finished up the last felt board (black) and let it dry overnight. I compared the glues used in the morning (Aleene's and Scotch fabric glue) and they both came out pretty much the same, except the Scotch glue was initially much harder to use. It just wouldn't stay in place and I had to press it down for longer. It dried fine though and so far it works just as well.


Next I compared the fabrics. I definitely prefer the texture of the premium fabric (green), but it normally costs almost double. I was lucky to buy it on sale. The premium felt is softer, smoother and thicker. The other felts are thinner and not as soft, but still work perfectly fine.


I stood up both boards and tested out their felt power. I used different textured felts against them to see if anything fell off and nothing did.


I am no expert on felt boards though, so I am just happy that they came out the way I expected! 


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Please always supervise your child(ren) when they are playing.


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