Monday, November 5, 2012

Week of Handmade: Six Simple Felt Ideas

This weekend I gathered up lots of handmade goodness from around the house to share at our local library. The idea was to share somewhat quick projects that would be great gifts. Many folks from far and wide wished they could join us for an afternoon at the library chatting about handmade projects, but a trip to Nova Scotia being out of the question, they could not make it. So. This is my way of sharing for those who could not gather round the table of handmade in real life. 

I have broken the projects down into categories to make it easier for me to organize and for you to find what you might be interested in making yourself... or for passing on to friends who sew, knit, paper craft, etc... as a not so subtle hint about what you might want in your stocking or for your little people this holiday season.

So today we start with felt..

1. Felt Stuffy Critter from a Drawing

This idea was inspired by The Artist. He was drawing some lizards the other day and decided that it would be great to have a stuffy that looked just like the one he drew.

Off to the printer he went to make a clone (copy) of his drawing. We cut it out to make a pattern, dug around the box of felted sweaters I have on hand for such making, cut him out, and we were off and stitching. It took a little extra time with his help (estimated project time lengthens exponentially with extra little hands stitching) but that makes it fun and so much more his own.

We added an underbelly piece that looks like a long pointed oval to spread out his belly a bit.

It would be great to surprise a little one with a real life version of their drawing or have an older sibling draw and help stitch a little critter for a younger. So fun!

2. Pins -n- Needles Book

This little book was super fast to stitch up and so very practical. I saw the idea long ago in one of the hundreds of books we check out from the library but now can recall which one. If you know please do give credit in the comments.

A thinner felt was used for the cover. The inside pages are also felt but I have used muslin pages in the past. They get a bit frayed but I kinda like that look as well.

A great stocking stuffer for the sewer in your life and also older kids who need help keeping pins and needles out of little sibling hands, feet, knees...

This is a great project for a child just beginning to stitch on their own. The cover could be simplified with buttons or cut felt bits stitched on for decoration.

3. Felt Play Mat

This mat was super fast to sew up and has seen lots and lots of play... WWII battles, peaceful village life, medieval jousting tournaments... they have all happened right here on this bit of wool.

I picked up a large piece of wool fabric at the thrift shop and put it through the wash for the base. You could also use an old wool blanket.

The road and river are bits of old wool sweaters I felted.

I hand stitched the road and river on with embroidery floss but they could have also been sewn on by machine for an even faster result.

Hours and hours of play ahead for this mat.

4. Felt Solar System

This project was the brainchild of The Naturalist. The solar system is a topic she comes back to again and again, thinking up new ways to represent the celestial bodies each round. I love this version because unlike the others (clay & paper) this has been around for quite some time.

Looking through that wonderful box of felted sweaters she found the colors she liked to represent each planet. She cut them out and sewed on their features before sewing them up with the seams out (leaving a small opening for stuffing) and stuffing them. I did have to help her guide them along a bit... that circular sewing!

At one point when sharing this elsewhere someone suggested that making earth with the year embroidered on it, and a little loop for hanging, it would make a great ornament. Neat idea.

5. Felt Dinos

When the kiddos saw the book Toys to Sew the felt dinos were at the top of their list. With patterns in hand we rummaged through the felt box and got to work.

Baby Stegosaurus in its little egg was the first up and super easy. Mama Steg came next with a bit more stitching (and helping little hands) she took a little longer, but Pterodactyl was fairly quick. They have seen all kinds of play and when I snuck them away to share this weekend I realized I need to add a few more to this collection... I must admit that T-rex and Brontosaurus look a bit more complex but I am sure we could stitch them up next to the fire some rainy day.

6. Wool Trivet (or Frisbee)

Maya Donenfeld's book reinvention is filled with awesome ideas for reusing old fabric for new and useful items. As you will see this week I love to reuse!

This wool trivet was one of the first projects I made from the book. It took one trial trivet to get the hang of lining up the circular sewing but once I figured it out the next ones were really fast.

While I have given away the more circular of the circular sewn trivets I have my trial trivet right in my own kitchen and use it everyday. In a pinch I even use it to pull things out of the oven... it works great.
She also made coasters with the same technique.

A friend of mine and her daughter came to help me set up at the library this weekend and as soon as her daughter saw this she tossed it across the room like a Frisbee. It flew really well! I think I will make some more colorful versions for the kiddos to play with...

Another variation I have been thinking about trying is to sew the outside circle then let the kids take over with freemotion sewing for the inside portion. I will let you know how it goes when we do it.

Other Ideas & Resources
  • Making a felt board. Lori wrote a great post & how-to for making your own felt board. It has been on my list ever since. I have an old window I broke before it could become a coldframe. While I made it into a chalkboard my plan it to make the bottom portion a felt board once I get a large enough piece of felt.
  • Lisa over at lil fish studios is amazing with felt. While much of her work is very detailed, and I would say does not fall into the quick & simple catergory, her site is worth checking out for inspiration alone!

~~ Do you have any "quick" felt projects that would make great gifts? Please share in the comments and leave a link if you have one. Thanks!

~~ Next week I am going to post a few tutorials. If you would like me to put together a tutorial for a project please let me know in the comments.


  1. I love all of these projects! I think my favorite idea is simply the notion of having a box of felted sweaters around for whenever the muse strikes! Felt is so great for kids' projects, and the fabric from felted sweaters is so much nicer than the cheaper felt you can buy.

    That lizard and the dinos are pretty cute!

    Felt wee folk was pretty popular around here too.

    1. I love that box!
      I am waiting for the little man to ask for help with a felt tank. Thankfully not yet.
      As for wee folk... I made Wee Folk Darth Vader, Luke and Han a few years ago. So fun to figure out. I could see a Wee Super Hero collection being made!

  2. love all of this! the play mat is such a great idea and would get so much action over here. and i have a 4yo that would go crazy for the dinos.

    such great ideas dawn!

    1. They do love the play mat... so many ways to play.

  3. i love that felt lizard - looks like The Artist could very quickly be running his own softie shop!

    1. Yes. And he has a wonderful role model in you. He LOVES his turtle... and as you know we were just on your shop... dreaming.

  4. Dear Dawn Suzette
    Great felt projects. The solarsystem and play mat are my favorites and i will show my son your dinosaurs. I'm sure he want a one like this. as you named them all, i asume, that you've got a (young) palaeontologist at home like me.

    Kind Regards Natalie

    1. Thank you Natalie!
      My daughter still plays with her felt solar system all these years later. And yes. She is also the resident paleontologist and all around lover of all things in the natural world!
      Hope you get the chance to make some Dinos for your little man. These are well loved around here!