A little background,
2 years ago I was put on bed rest during a pregnancy it was also around this time that I spent my daughters college fund on a beautiful pink retro kitchen set, I think you know which one I am talking about, you know the one everyone passes and says, “who would pay that!?” Well I did. Anyway for Christmas that year along with her lovely kitchen she received some wooden play foods, which being very little she promptly used to scratch and dent her wonderful kitchen! Needless to say those little suckers were gracing the shelves of goodwill by weeks end!
But what can you do in a play kitchen without play food? I wasn’t about to bring a bunch of plastic junk into my home, then the solution presented itself in the form of felt food. I have now made everything from soup to nuts, literally. After crafting felt food for sometime I began to get frustrated trying to find the bits and pieces I needed to to create the things I wanted to. So together with my BFF and fellow crafter Amelia I decided to create the store I was looking for, American Felt and Craft. Please stop in sometime and take a look around. And as always if you have any questions I am just an email away and I’m happy to share my knowledge and a few of my favorite patterns with you!
Technically you can actually make soft play food from anything. But take heed most fabrics don’t hold up to the wear and tear a child can give to a well loved toy and if you’re not fond of surging EVERY seam to avoid a catastrophe you’ll need something that doesn’t unravel easily. This is why felt is the obvious choice. It also comes in a litany of colors and spans the gap between to thick and tough (like canvas) and too floppy (like cotton) landing firmly in the center -perfection!
When making felt food coloring is key, the closer the color is to the actual food the better it will look and the more recognizable it will be. It can be tough finding felt in a full range of colors since most craft stores want to sell you 5 maybe 6 colors, unless you want to buy plastic felt and trust me you don’t. When I started out I used eco-felt after about a month of serious use I was forced to throw most of the items I had crafted from them away. They fuzzed and tore at the seams, and nothing is more frustrating than spending a whole day making something you want to be around for your grand kids only to see it misshapen, torn and fuzzy the next week. For more on this you should read Felt smackdown, I think you’ll see why I consider 100% wool and blended felt to be heirloom quality and acrylic/ ecofelts to be junk.
How much will I need?
Your time is worth something whether you spend a few days or even a half an hour you’ll want to know that your artistic creation will last a long long time, and you ‘ll be surprised how little felt it takes to make felt food. Which is why it’s totally worth buying a higher quality felt. But before you can buy your felt you’ll need to know how much to buy.
When I am planning a project I first make a list of everything I am planning on making, then visualize the pieces on a standard size piece of paper, sometimes I even draw them out to see how the sizes look. At AFC we sell all our felts in 9 x12 sheets which are a bit larger than a standard size sheet of paper, the size helps to make it easy to plan projects and buy all the colors you need with having to store a ton of felt or spend a fortune.
For example lets say your going to make pancakes, for that you will need to decide the size, personally I think a 5 inch circle is about right, you’ll need a front and a back so that means on a standard 9 x 12 sheet you can make one pancake, keep in mind you will be left with some great scrap, or frap (felt scrap) as we call it around here. These can be used for cookies, tortilla chips, wontons or a million other things.
I have reused a million pieces of frap for detailing or smaller projects. Frap is so important that I keep it in a little Velcro bag which fits inside my rolling bag (and in a larger bin in my studio)
You should also keep in mind that most felt is dyed in lots so there are some very slight color variations this is usually not a big deal but if you’re doing large pieces like cakes your really going to want to order all the felt you need and some extra for mistakes.
Lastly if you’re not sure of the colors (i.e. which is tomato sauce red?) I would HIGHLY recommend picking up whatever you are considering. You cannot tell color properly in a craft store the light is not a natural light and you may find your watermelon pink is actually a raspberry. And although all of our pictures are taken in a natural light there may be slight variations based on monitor settings and dye lots. Personally I have always bought all the colors I am considering , it’s usually pretty easy to narrow it down to 2 or 3 choices and it’s much easier than making a trip back to the craft store or placing another order, plus then I have more colors on hand when inspiration strikes.
Stop by and check out the store.